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‘First Friends’ author Gary Ginsberg to speak Oct. 19

The event is sponsored by the American History Book Club and Forum and Furman University

Event Types: Literary Arts

Oct 19, 2023 5:29 PMOct 19, 2023 7:00 PM

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American History Book Club and Forum


[email protected]


Author Gary Ginsberg will discuss his bestselling book “First Friends: The Powerful, Unsung (and Unelected) People Who Shaped Our Presidents,” with Furman University Trustee Alec Taylor on Thursday, Oct. 19, at The Poinsett Club in Greenville.

The evening, sponsored by the American History Book Club and Forum (AHBC) and Furman University, begins with a book signing at 5:30 p.m. followed by the conversation with the author at 6.

For more information and to purchase tickets ($50), visit or email [email protected].

This year’s A.V. and Kate Huff History Scholars student and alumni award winners will also be recognized at the event. The awards are named for A.V. Huff, a former Furman professor, dean and vice president for academic affairs, and his wife Kate Huff, a former elementary school teacher.

The winner of the A.V. Huff History Scholars Award is Furman University student Bryant Garrison ’25 of Six Mile, South Carolina. An accounting major on the pre-med track, Garrison will conduct an oral history project involving residents of The Woodlands at Furman retirement community, bringing to light national, local and Furman history. He recently completed a research project for the Friends of Bald Rock.

The Kate Huff History Scholars award will go to four area teachers who are alumni.

Ashley Causey ’97 M’05, a social studies teacher at Hillcrest High School who earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Furman, will use the $1,000 grant for materials related to an extensive unit on the relationship between ethnic identities and genocides.

Cassie Heinz ’12 M’13, Stefanie Garrett ’12 M’13, and Jessica Rahn ’07, M’10, fifth-grade teachers at Buena Vista Elementary, will share the $1,000 grant to fund part of a trip for their students to Washington D.C. to see historic sites and museums that will be connected to South Carolina’s fifth-grade learning standards for social studies.

Ginsberg, a first-time author, is a former attorney, member of the Clinton Administration and media executive. He received his undergraduate degree from Brown University and his law degree from Columbia University.

Foreign Affairs says “First Friends” examines “the men and women who can relieve the loneliness a president lives with, help him think through what to do about a major problem, and say things to him that no one else can. The resulting book is an entertaining, sometimes thought-provoking read.”

A few of the friendships explored in the book are those between Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed, Daisy Suckley and Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy and David Ormsby-Gore, a British diplomat.

The author’s website says the book “provides fresh insights into the lives of the men who held the most powerful political office in the world by looking at the friends on whom they relied. “First Friends” is an engaging, serendipitous look into the lives of Commanders-in-Chief and how their presidencies were shaped by those they held most dear.”

The Poinsett Club

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