Tickets on sale July 23 for John Kerry, keynote speaker for Morristown book fest, Oct. 12

John Kerry will deliver the keynote at the 2018 Morristown Festival of Books. Photo by Kelly Campbell
John Kerry will deliver the keynote at the 2018 Morristown Festival of Books. Photo by Kelly Campbell

There’s no telling what political controversy will dominate headlines in the weeks preceding the 2018 midterm elections.

But you can be sure of a fascinating insider analysis in Morristown on Oct. 12, when former Secretary of State John Kerry delivers the keynote for the fifth annual Morristown Festival of Books.

Tickets go on sale Monday, July 23, at noon. Details will be announced at the book festival website.

morristown book fest 2018 logoKerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran, five-term Senator from Massachusetts and 2004 Democratic nominee for president, will publish his memoirs, Every Day is Extra (Simon & Schuster, $35) in September.

Festival Chairwoman Linda Hellstrom said she was “incredibly excited an honored” to announce Kerry this year.

“As a Vietnam veteran he worked with John McCain on post war MIA/POW issues. As a senator he reached across the aisle and worked with leaders of both parties on many issues with a focus on international relations,” Hellstrom said in a statement.

“As Secretary  of State, involved in diplomacy,  his work in this area makes his appearance extremely relevant and timely.  We are excited that our community will benefit  from hearing about his insights and experience,” she said. 

Tickets for the Friday evening lecture at the Mayo Performing Arts Center are $50 for adults and $25 for students. Adult tickets include a signed, hardcover copy of Kerry’s new book. Call 973-539-8008 for details.

The talk precedes a full day of free talks by dozens of top authors on Saturday, Oct. 13. The roster will be announced soon.

Venues include the Morristown & Township Library, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, St. Peter’s Parish Hall, the Parish House of the Presbyterian Church, and the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer.

Festival organizers estimated 7,500 people came to last year’s festival for talks by Pulitzer Prize winners and best-selling children’s authors.

In a recent tweet, Kerry, 74, said his ninth book has “been an interesting exercise looking back on life & lessons while still fighting.”

john kerry's memoir, Every Day is extraEvery Day Is Extra is Kerry’s passionate, insightful, sometimes funny, always moving account of his life,” states his publisher’s website.

“Kerry tells wonderful stories about colleagues Ted Kennedy and John McCain, as well as President Obama and other major figures. He writes movingly of recovering his faith while in the Senate, and deplores the hyper-partisanship that has infected Washington.”

As Secretary of State from 2013 to 2017, Kerry negotiated the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement — subsequently undone by the Trump administration–and dealt with the Syrian civil war and ISIS terrorism.

The son of a diplomat and an activist, Kerry graduated from Yale in 1966, enlisted in the Navy, and was wounded while commanding a swift boat in Vietnam. He came home and demonstrated against the war, testifying before Congress and famously throwing away his medals at a protest.

Earning a law degree at Boston College, Kerry served as a prosecutor in Massachusetts before becoming lieutenant governor. His Senate career began in 1985.

A Republican group backed by Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens attacked Kerry’s record as a war hero during his 2004 race against President George W. Bush; veterans who served with Kerry refuted the accusations.

These days, Kerry is a Distinguished Fellow for Global Affairs at Yale, and Visiting Distinguished Statesman for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  He is described as a devout Catholic, and is a survivor of prostate cancer.

Kerry joins a list of Morristown book festival keynote speakers that includes Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Ron Chernow (Hamilton, Grant), Sebastian Junger  (The Perfect Storm, Tribe),  Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (A Path Appears) and William Cohan (The Price of Silence).

Large and enthusiastic crowds in Morristown have created a buzz in publishing circles for New Jersey’s biggest book festival, Hellstrom said, which has “allowed our program chairman, Heather Alexander, to attract people like former Secretary of State John Kerry to our community. We are all in this together.”


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