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Bob Edwards Weekend - December 2011


December 3-4


Los Angeles Times columnist Doyle McManus joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.

Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff was sent to federal prison after pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, and tax evasion in 2006.  He joins Bob in studio to discuss his life, the weakness of our current lobby laws and the details of his new book, Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist.

In this week’s installment of our series This I Believe, we hear the essay of John Warley.   When Warley’s children were young, his family almost broke apart in divorce. That close call taught him to cherish the short time when everyone slept safely under the same roof, before sleepovers, curfews and college cast his kids into the wider world.


Dr. Richard Muller is a prominent physicist who had been skeptical about humanity’s role in global warming.  Now, as the founder and director of Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature, Dr. Muller recently published a report that shows the earth is indeed warming. The study was funded in large part by the Charles Koch Foundation – the Koch brothers are oil tycoons and seen as deniers of global warming.  Dr. Muller joins Bob to discuss the report, how the findings compared with their expectations, and the value of skepticism in science.

Long before pay-per-view, the WWE and Hulk Hogan, the world of professional wrestling was like the Wild West. And Memphis was its Dodge City. A new documentary from director Chad Schaffler tells the story of Memphis wrestling, from the carnival days of Sputnik Monroe, to integration, female wrestlers, and Jerry “The King” Lawler. The film is titled, Memphis Heat: The True Story of Memphis Wrasslin’.  Then, we’ll visit ‘Nightmare’ Ken Wayne Wrestling School in West Memphis, Arkansas that carries on the tradition of regional training and performances.


December 10-11


Peter Van Buren has written a decidedly undiplomatic account of the year he spent as a diplomat in Iraq.  His book is titled We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People.  Van Buren describes his project as “career suicide” and indeed some of his former colleagues have skewered the book. 

Executive Director of This I Believe, Inc. Dan Gediman discusses the essays in the new book, This I Believe: Life Lessons.

In this week’s installment of our series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Sudie Bond Noland.  When Noland was a teenager, the car she was riding in was hit by a drunk driver. He was sentenced to prison and she was left with chronic, painful injuries. But Noland realized that the prison sentence did not bring her closure. That only came later, when she was able to find compassion for the drunk driver and forgive him for his actions.


Michael Ondaatje is the author of five novels, including The English Patient and Anil’s Ghost.  He joins Bob in studio to discuss his most recent, The Cat’s Table, the tale of an eleven-year-old boy aboard a ship in the 1950s traveling from Sri Lanka to London – a trip Ondaatje also made as a young boy.

Director Tomas Alfredson’s film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy takes audiences into the heart of Cold War intrigue and hypocrisy that dominated Britain’s intelligence world in the 1970s.  Based on the novel by John le Carre, actor Gary Oldman plays MI6 officer George Smiley as he struggles to identify the enemy in the murky landscape of double crossings.


December 17-18


Last year, the conservative talk show host Glenn Beck regularly singled out an obscure academic calling her an enemy of the Constitution. Frances Fox Piven, Beck warned, was after a progressive take-down of America and was responsible for a plan to “intentionally collapse our economic system.” The newfound attention from Beck sent Piven’s books to bestseller lists, but she also received hundreds of death threats from Beck listeners. The interest in Piven was rooted in an article she wrote with her husband, Richard Cloward, in 1966, “The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty.” Now her research and writings have been collected in an updated book, Who’s Afraid of Frances Fox Piven? The Essential Writings of the Professor Glenn Beck Loves to Hate.

Husband and wife public radio hosts and syndicated columnists Joe and Terry Graedon are back with a new book called Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.  Each year, more than six million people are harmed by doctor errors, prescription mistakes and diagnostic disasters – and about a hundred thousand hospital patients die every year from preventable medical errors – including Joe Graedon’s own mother.

In this week’s installment of our series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Susan Hall.  Her son was born with a disorder that has stalled his cognitive development, but nothing has limited his love of music. Hall’s home is a warehouse of electronic keyboards, and her son’s favorite activity is to play along with the tunes programmed into the keyboards. Hall says the musical playtime allows her to accomplish household chores, but it also opens a window of connection she wouldn’t otherwise have with her son.


When world-renowned ceramicist Edmund de Waal inherited a collection of 264 Japanese wood and ivory carvings called netsuke, he decided to find more about his family’s past and how they came to own such a priceless collection.  His memoir The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance is the story of de Waal’s ancestors, the Ephrussis, one of Vienna’s most powerful and wealthy dynasties.  The family and their fortune were almost entirely destroyed by the Nazis during World War II, and the netsuke is all the remains of their once-fabulous wealth.

It’s time for our annual visit with Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis.  He’ll share his list of the best CDs of 2011, just in time to include on your holiday shopping list.


December 24-25


Psychologist Daniel Kahneman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on the rational model of judgment and decision making. He’s the author of Thinking, Fast and Slow and he talks with Bob about the two systems that drive the way we think: the fast, emotional system and the slower, logical system.

American conceptual artist Mel Bochner becomes the first living artist to show in the National Gallery of Art’s Tower Gallery with the new show In the Tower: Mel Bochner.  One of the last remaining important American conceptualists, Bochner’s work examines the political and social consequences of language. The exhibit will be on display through April 8, 2012.

In this week’s installment of our series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Becky Sun. Most kids believe in Santa Claus, and lose their faith as they get older.  Sun has followed the opposite trajectory. An early childhood disappointment had her convinced Santa didn’t exist — a belief she held into adulthood. Then a friend with a big heart and a bearded father helped change her mind.


Scholar, writer, and BBC host Adam Nicolson is the author of the book God’s Secretaries: the Making of the King James Bible. Celebrating its 400th anniversary this year, the Bible has—more than any other book in English—shaped our language and beliefs. Nicolson tells Bob about the good book’s creation, legacy and some of the men who translated it.

Sirius XM classical music host Martin Goldsmith explains some of George Frideric Handel’s musical trickery in his masterpiece “The Messiah.” For this festive season, Goldsmith presents programming on ‘Holiday Pops,’ Sirius XM channel 75 until December 26.