The death of North Korea's controversial leader, Kim Jong Il, was announced earlier this week by DRPK state television. Although North Korean legend claimed that Kim was born on Mount Paekdu — a cherished Korean site — Soviet records indicate that he was born in Siberia in 1941. His father Kim Il Sung was a guerilla fighter who became a communist leader in Korea in 1945 after the defeat of Japan in World War II. After the Korean peninsula was divided into two states — the North, administered by the Soviets — and the South by the United States, the stage was set for the beginning of the Korean War. After the North invaded the South in 1950, three years of bloodshed ensued, killing millions and leaving the peninsula permanently divided to this day. Kim Jong Il became the country's "Dear Leader" in 1994 upon the death of his father. Kim Jong Il was widely criticized throughout the world for devoting much of his country's resources on building up its nuclear arms arsenal, while at the same time his countrymen were suffering from a prolonged famine. His youngest son, Kim Jong Un, has been designated as his successor.
Vaclav Havel, the longtime dissident who later became the leader of the Czech Republic passed away December 18 at the age of 75. Havel was better known as a poet and playwright when he led his nation through the bloodless Velvet Revolution in 1989 that toppled the decades long Soviet regime in Czechoslovakia. Havel later went on to serve as president of Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1992. After the federation peacefully split into two states he served as president of the Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003. The other state became Slovakia. Among those expected to be at his Friday funeral are Bill Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the presidents of Germany, Poland, Austria, Slovakia, Lithuania and Estonia.
Mark Twain, one of America's best-known and well-loved authors, was born on November 30, 1835. His works have been translated into hundreds of languages, and Hollywood continues to produce film adaptations of his books. The first volume of his autobiography was published in 2010 on the centenary of the author's death as he did not want some of his more scalding opinions and observations in print until he had been dead at least a century. The book was published by the staff of the Mark Twain Project — an archive that contains Twain's private papers.
On November 9, CPL hosted a Diwali Celebration program that featured traditional and contemporary Indian music, dance, food, and more — all centered around the festival of lights. If you couldn't make it that night, check out the video above and pictures below to get up to speed:
The National Book Awards 2011 will be webcast live from New York City on Wednesday, November 16 at 8:00 PM. Actor, author, and musician John Lithgow will host this year's award ceremony. No registration necessary. Check the National Book Foundation's website for more information.