Readorama: Grenville Clark would hate the idea of his own biography

Nancy Hill
Nancy Hill

Grenville Clark won admission to Harvard’s top-shelf Porcellian Club, something his fellow Harvard student Franklin Roosevelt greatly envied and never achieved for himself.

Clark was a New York lawyer who helped promote preparedness movements before World War I and II and later became a peace activist. He called himself a Republican “by inheritance” yet often voted Democratic, which didn’t stop him from opposing his friend Roosevelt’s’ effort to pack the Supreme Court in the 1930s. And he avoided public attention at all times.

That all made Clark fascinating to Nancy Hill, who has published “A Very Private Public Citizen,” a biography of Clark.

Hill serves as administrator at the Diastole Scholars’ Center, associated with the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The nonprofit conference and art space began as a home for physician E. Grey Dimond and his wife, Mary Clark Dimond, a daughter of Clark.

“He was always careful about being out of the spotlight,” Hill said of Clark. “In this Kardashian age, that intrigued me.”

Hill speaks at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.

Football exile

Steve Almond, author of “Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto,” has specific suggestions for the sport.

One of them — in reaction to the growing evidence of brain injury and cognitive impairment among players — is a mandatory weight ceiling for individual players or entire teams.

Those expecting a tedious and buzz-killing book will discover one hilarious but still sobering.

“It’s only been in the last five or 10 years that I’ve even questioned football,” Almond said recently from his Boston area home.

“I think a lot of people are quietly in the same place. It doesn’t mean we hate football, but it does mean that we are starting — each in our own way — to think about football’s dark side.

“It’s a beautiful, exciting spectacle that binds fathers and sons together. It’s also this huge rapacious industry that grinds through its employees. It’s an engine of nihilistic greed that takes our devotion and turns it into profits, that normalizes a certain kind of violence, and that has infiltrated our education system to a disturbing degree.”

Local sports anchor Frank Boal will be host for a forum with Almond at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Kansas City Public Library’s Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.

Go to for information about either event.

To reach Brian Burnes, call 816-234-4120 or send email to