The Night America's Greatest Scientists, Writers, and Scholars Partied at the Kennedy White House

"Dinner in Camelot" brings alive in vivid detail the largest and most important dinner of the Kennedy era. On April 29, 1962 forty-nine Nobel Prize winners were joined by other leading American scientists, writers and thinkers. The guest list included Linus Pauling, who picketed the White House earlier in the day; J. Robert Oppenheimer, whose presence represented redemption from his political exile in the 1950s; John Glenn, the hero of the hour who recently orbited the earth; and such great writers as Robert Frost, James Baldwin, William Styron, Pearl Buck, Katherine Anne Porter and John Dos Passos. Not only a fascinating story, this evening had historical repercussions. James Baldwin formed a relationship with fellow guest Robert Kennedy, beginning a friendship which would have an important impact on civil rights. President Kennedy called the event “the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

About the Author

Joseph A. Esposito is a historian, writer and educator. He served in three presidential administrations, most recently as a deputy undersecretary for international affairs at the U.S. Department of Education. He also held various positions over 11 years at the U.S. Agency for International Development, and was a working group chair for the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, which submitted its report to President George W. Bush in 2004. He has also taught history at three colleges, and is currently adjunct associate professor at Northern Virginia Community College.

Esposito received his undergraduate degree in history, Phi Beta Kappa, from the Pennsylvania State University, and has master’s degrees from the Pennsylvania State University, George Mason University, Georgetown University, University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Virginia. He also did doctoral work at American University.

He is a book reviewer for the Washington Independent Review of Books and Kirkus Reviews. He is a member of Biographers International Organization and the National Book Critics Circle.


Copies of the book will be available for sale courtesy of Hooray for Books. Book sales and signing will immediately follow the author's presentation.

RSVP for an event reminder; attendance is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sunday, October 14, 2018
2:00pm - 4:00pm
Barbara M. Donnellan Auditorium
Central Library
Events for Adults and Grade 6+ Only Good for Adults Age 55+ Good for Young Professionals (Lit Up)
Author Talk
Registration has closed.

About Our Events

Photographing Policy

Library events may be photographed or videotaped by staff for archival or promotional purposes.

Accommodations in the Library

Please email or call 703-228-5993 one week in advance.