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August 2014

Friday, August 1, 2014

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Then, Bob talks to actor Brendan Gleeson and director John McDonagh about their new film, Cavalry. And finally, we hear a new commentary from children’s book writer and illustrator Daniel Pinkwater.

 

Monday, August 4, 2014

On this day in 1944, Anne Frank and her family were captured by the Nazi Gestapo and transported to concentration camps.  Almost since its publication, Frank’s record of her two years in hiding has been required reading for many junior high and high school student, but most people fail to revisit it in adulthood.  When writer and critic Francine Prose reread The Diary of a Young Girl, she realized that it was the work of a great writer.  Her book, Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, examines the prose and cultural effects of this young woman’s diary.  Then, East African singer-songwriter Somi moved from New York City to Lagos, Nigeria to find inspiration. She returned 18 months later with a heart full of stories and an album to boot. Somi joins Bob for a conversation about her life, her travels, and her sophomore albumThe Lagos Music Salon.  

 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The title of science writer Marc Abrahams’ new book says it all: This Is Improbable Too: Synchronized Cows, Speedy Brain Extractors, and More WTF Research.  Here, Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, shares with readers his odd collection of strange scientific findings.  Then, Bob talks with children’s book writer and illustrator Daniel Pinkwater about his second job as a dog trainer, and Daniel recommends a book about dogs, Nancy F. Castaldo’s Sniffer Dogs: How Dogs (and Their Noses) Save the World.

 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

 Today marks the 69th anniversary of the Hiroshima blast, the world’s first use of an atomic weapon in war.  The A-bomb was the brainchild of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the brilliant physicist whose postwar advocacy for a nuclear weapons ban brought him into conflict with the same military and government on whose behalf he had created the ultimate weapon.  Bob speaks with Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin, authors of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.  

 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

In his book, Hallucinations, neuroscientist Oliver Sacks tells stories of his patients and of his own mind-altering experiences to explain what hallucinations tell us about the organization and structure of our brains. He argues that hallucinations have influenced every culture’s folklore and art, and the potential to experience them is present in us all.  Sacks’ book is available in paperback.  Then, Bob talks with Rhett Miller, the founder and lead singer of the Old 97’s, about the band’s two decades together and about the music from their latest album.  Their CD is titled Most Messed Up.

 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, writer Barry Werth joins Bob to discuss his book about the first month of the Gerald Ford administration - a pivotal time in the American presidency.  President Richard Nixon stepped down on Aug. 9, 1974. Just one month later, he was pardoned by Gerald Ford.  What happened during that time in the White House is the subject of the book 31 Days: The Crisis That Gave Us the Government We Have Today. Bob talks with reporter Thomas DeFrank about the Gerald Ford the public never knew.  DeFrank covered President Ford’s White House years and over time, developed a close friendship with the former Commander-in-Chief.  DeFrank complied their 16 years of interviews in his book Write It When I’m Gone, revealing Ford’s funny, candid, and sometimes even gossipy side.

 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Bob talks to Ernest Hemingway’s grandson, Sean Hemingway, about a new edition of Hemingway’s first novel, The Sun Also Rises.  Sean Hemingway compiled and edited this new edition, which includes deleted chapters and rare archival material.  Ernest Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in l954, and died in l961.  Then, Bob revisits Ben Eldridge(founding member/banjo) and Dudley Connell (lead vocal/guitar) of the iconic bluegrass band The Seldom Scene.  Smithsonian Folkways just released their new record, Long Time. .  .Seldom Scene, and it features newly recorded staples from their catalog, live show favorites, one previously unreleased song, and a collaboration with longtime friend Emmylou Harris on a cover of The Byrd’s tune, “Hickory Wind.”

 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

 Today, Bob talks with two authors about the challenges of writing the third volume of their trilogies.  The Magician’s Land is the final installment of best-selling author and Timemagazine book critic Lev Grossman’s Fillory books.  Then, Bob welcomes back famed author Margaret Atwood to discuss MaddAddam, the conclusion to her trilogy which started with her Booker Prize shortlisted novel Oryx and Crake.  MaddAddam is now available in paperback.

 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

 Bob talks with Ken Turan, a film critic for the Los Angeles Times, about his new book.  Not To Be Missed blends cultural criticism with historical anecdote, and charts Turan’s fifty-four favorites from a lifetime of film.  Then, the Berlin Airlift has been called the first battle of the Cold War. For almost a year, young men flew old planes over Berlin dropping food, fuel, medicine — even candy — to the two million people below. In his book, Daring Young Men, historian Richard Reeves tells the stories of the civilian airmen who carried out one of history’s largest humanitarian campaigns.

 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Oceanographer Sylvia Earle has spent thousands of hours underwater studying our planet’s marine life and is alarmed by what she’s seen.  After witnessing the glaring effects of pollution, overfishing and climate change, Earle says we must get past the mindset that our oceans are too big to fail.  Bob talks with Earle and with co-director Robert Nixon about their new documentary Mission Blue.  Mission Blue will be available tomorrow on Netflix.  Then, Salon.com senior book critic Laura Miller shares with Bob books to help us through the final dog days of summer, and she offers a preview of this year’s best fall books.

 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Then, one of the most legendary moments in rock & roll history started with an ad placed in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal: “Young men with unlimited capital looking for interesting, legitimate investment opportunities and business propositions.”  To mark the 45th anniversary of what was billed as “An Aquarian Exposition,” Bob talks with Greg Walter, who worked Woodstock backstage and came away with more than his share of stories.  They feature in his book, Woodstock: A New Look, along with photographs he shot during the festival.  And finally, we hear a new commentary from children’s book writer and illustrator Daniel Pinkwater.

 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bob talks to Daniel Lieberman, author of The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease.  Lieberman is the Chair of the Department of Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.  His book explains how millions of years of evolution have led our bodies to a paradoxical position.  People in developed countries are living longer than ever, having vanquished diseases that used to kill people by the millions:  smallpox, measles, polio and the plague. But we are also afflicted with more chronic, preventable illnesses and ailments, such as diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, strokes, dementia, depression and anxiety.

 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A few years ago, this program aired a documentary about “The Human Terrain System,” an audacious military social science experiment that operates on the premise that soldiers need to understand the enemy and its culture. But it’s proven brutally difficult to implement in Afghanistan as Vanessa Gezari documents in her book, The Tender Soldier: A True Story of War and Sacrifice and it’s available in paperback.  Then, Neko Case takes a break mid-way through her grueling tour to talk with Bob about her latest album with the impossibly long title, The Worse Things get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You.  This is the 42-year-old Indy musician’s sixth studio album, and it comes from a three-year period she describes as full of “grief and mourning.” Both of her parents, a grandparent, and several close friends all passed away in the space of just a few years.

 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

 Thirteen days before he was scheduled to leave Vietnam, the vehicle Robert Timberg was traveling in struck a land mine. He survived, barely, but was left permanently disfigured with third-degree burns over his face and body. After the war, he became a journalist and covered the Iran-Contra scandal which involved three of his fellow Naval Academy graduates, Oliver North, Bud McFarlane, and John Poindexter.  Now the author of The Nightingale’s Song looks back on his struggle to reclaim his life in a new memoir, Blue Eyed Boy.

 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Google maps and contemporary exploration have given us access—at least remotely—of some of the most far flung places on the Earth, so much so that it seems as though there is little left to discover.  Not so, says social geographer, Alastair Bonnett, in his book Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies.  Then, Bob talks with Jake Shimabukuroabout his music and his chosen instrument. The native Hawaiian has been called “the Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele” and Shimabukuro’s CD is titled Peace Love Ukulele. He’ll perform several new and old songs for us in our studio.

 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Then, Joshua Horwitz’s new book has been described as a non-fiction eco-thriller.  In War of the Whales we meet a marine researcher who teamed up with an environmental lawyer to prove that the mass strandings of whales occurring around the globe were being caused by high-intensity sonar used by the U.S. Navy.  The investigation culminated in a landmark 2008 Supreme Court case that ruled for the Navy, but the battle to save whale habitats continues.  And finally, we hear a new commentary from children’s book writer and illustrator Daniel Pinkwater.

 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Journalist Helen Thorpe takes us inside the minds of three women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan for twelve years. Thorpe talks with Bob about these women and her book Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women At Home And At War.  Then, Wall Street Journal music critic Will Friedwald calls French vocalist Cyrille Aimée “one of the most promising jazz singers of her generation.” The inventive songstress joins Bob to discuss her latest album It’s A Good Day.

 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Best-selling author and master storyteller Ben Macintyre (Operation Mincemeat) focuses his most recent book on Britain’s, and possibly the world’s, most notorious spy.  Charming and brilliant, MI6 agent Kim Philby rose to the top of Britain’s counterintelligence agency all the while passing information on to Russia.  Macintyre’s book is A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Greatest Betrayal.

 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

 Three-quarters of Americans’ eyes never switch to night vision because most of us never experience true darkness. In fact, there are only a handful of places in the United States where total darkness can exist. In his new book, The End of Night, Paul Bogard explores the deleterious effect of dark deprivation upon our world.   Then, with the Cold War long over, there seems little threat of an all-out nuclear war.  But, as investigative journalist Eric Schlosser points out in his book, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, most of those weapons are not only still out there, they are on hair-trigger alert.  Drawing recently declassified government documents and his own interviews with military personnel and nuclear scientists, Schlosser illuminates our illusion of nuclear safety. Command and Control is now available in paperback.

 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

In the new film, Love Is Strange, award-winning actor Alfred Molina plays George, a Catholic school teacher, who, after 39 years, marries his partner Ben, played by John Lithgow.  When George’s employer learns of his marriage, they fire him, sending the newlyweds on a difficult journey.  Love Is Strange opens wide August 29th.  Then, over fifty years ago, writer Michael Harrington’s book, The Other America,predicted that unless American society addressed it’s widespread poverty problem, another journalist decades later would write about the exact same conditions that he had chronicled.  Journalist Sasha Abramsky has done just that.  His book, The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives, tells the stories of people around the country who are struggling to make it.  The American Way of Poverty is available in paperback.  And finally, we hear a new commentary from children’s book writer and illustrator Daniel Pinkwater.

 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, in 2000, DJ John Peel called country singer-songwriter Laura Cantrell’s debut album, Not the Tremblin’ Kind, “my favorite record of the last ten years and possibly my life.”  Cantrell joins Bob in our performance studio to talk about her work and play a few tunes off her new album No Way There From Here.  Then, the latest installment of our ongoing series This I Believe.