Free Lance-Star reporter Amy Umble covers Stafford County schools and other education issues

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Learn more about Vonnegut’s war years

            Tune in Saturday to hear the associate director of the Great Lives Lecture Series on the radio.

Charles J. Shields will explore how Kurt Vonnegut’s experience as a World War II prisoner of war influenced his later writing during an interview on the “With Good Reason” public radio program beginning Saturday, Jan. 28.

The interview can be heard on Jan. 28 at 4:30 p.m. on WCVE 88.9 FM and on Sunday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. and Monday, Jan. 30 at 12:30 a.m. on WAMU 88.5 FM. The segment, “From Combat to College,” is expected to be online beginning the week of the show here.

Shields’ biography, “And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut, A Life,” is the first full-length, definitive biography of Vonnegut based on interviews with him and 125 of his contemporaries, friends and family members. Shields spent five years researching Vonnegut for the biography.

The man who emerges in “And So It Goes” is not the man his readers may have believed him to be. Shields reveals the effects of Vonnegut’s mother’s suicide, his internment as a POW in Dresden during World War II, his many years as a literary failure before his breakout success in his late 40s, his adoption of three children when they were orphaned by his sister and brother-in-law, his bouts of depression and his own attempted suicide.

Shields received a master’s degree in American history and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of the New York Times-bestselling biography, “Mockingbird, A Portrait of Harper Lee” (2006). Co-founder and vice-president of Biographers International Organization, Shields and his work have been featured in numerous publications, including The New York Times, Publishers Weekly and The Washington Post. He also will appear on WABC-AM‘s “John Batchelor” show at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Feb.2.  The New York City talk show can be accessed online .

The Great Lives Lecture series is an annual University of Mary Washington event.