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Bob Elsewhere

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MAY 2009

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May 2-3, 2009



History is bound to repeat itself, and the world’s financial history is no different. In False Economy: A Surprising Economic History of the World, author Alan Beattie explains how history can teach us to address our current economic woes.

Beginning this weekend, we’re airing classic audio essays from Edward R. Murrow’s 1950s This I Believe series. Each week, Bob will talk with This I Believe, Inc. executive producer Dan Gediman about a featured essayist and play the essay as originally broadcast more than 50 years ago. In addition to Edward R. Murrow’s personal essay, you’ll hear in weeks to come essays by baseball legend Jackie Robinson; writer and activist Helen Keller; and Walter White, the long-time executive secretary of the NAACP.



No one in American culture has been immune from Joe Queenan’s scathing observations. Now the satirist and critic has set his sights on the life of a poor young man, the son of an alcoholic high school dropout, who grew up in a Philadelphia housing project: himself. Queenan explains his life in a memoir, called Closing Time.

In the mid-1920s, thousands of Jewish immigrant garment workers moved out of Manhattan ghettos by pooling their resources to build four cooperative apartment complexes in the Bronx. Even though most were first generation and Communist, the strength of that community helped propel them socially and economically. Producer Michal Goldman discusses the families and the challenges they faced, which are featured in her documentary, At Home in Utopia. It’s airing this weekend on PBS as part of the Independent Lens series.


May 9-10, 2009



As the first American woman in space, Sally Ride inspired a generation of young girls to get interested in science. In 2001, she founded Sally Ride Science, a company that creates entertaining science programs and books for kids, with a particular focus on girls. Ride’s latest books - Mission: Planet Earth and Mission: Save the Planet - teach kids about global warming and how to become responsible energy consumers.

In 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin named American-born George Koval a Hero of the Russian Federation, the highest honorary title awarded to a Russian citizen. Putin revealed that Koval, who worked at the U.S. military research center in Oak Ridge Tennessee, passed along nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. Journalist Michael Walsh writes about George Koval for Smithsonian Magazine’s May edition in “Iowa-Born, Soviet-Trained.”

We continue airing classic audio essays from the original This I Believe series. This weekend, Bob talks with This I Believe Inc. executive director Dan Gediman about the essay from Edward R. Murrow, who hosted the original series from 1951 to 1955. The newsman gained acclaim for his CBS Radio broadcasts during World War II. Later, his television series tackled subjects ranging from Joseph McCarthy to farm worker rights. In his essay, Murrow describes the fear and uncertainty Americans felt in the early 1950s.



Writer Arthur Phillips uses our modern culture’s preoccupation with iPods, cell phones,and the internet to question whether we are actually closer as a society or further apart in his new novel The Song Is You. Phillips is also the author of the best-selling novels Angelica, The Egyptologist and Prague.

Jonah Lehrer’s newest book examines how the human brain makes decisions. Lehrer uses examples from professional “deciders” — quarterbacks, poker players, serial killers and pilots —- to help explain what’s happening in the brain when it’s trying to make up its mind. Lehrer’s book is called How We Decide.

Then essayist Tom Bodett describes his decision to join the online social network Twitter.


May 16-17, 2009



Bob talks with political strategist and author James Carville about his new book 40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation.

Actor and director Kenneth Branagh is best known for working with the plays of Shakespeare, but now he’s starring as the scruffy Swedish detective Kurt Wallander in the new Masterpiece Mystery! miniseries. Wallander is based on the bestselling novels by Henning Mankell and it airs Sunday evenings on PBS until the end of the month.

For the latest installment in our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with executive director Dan Gediman about the essay from Marty Mann. Born into a wealthy Chicago family, Mann worked as a magazine editor, art critic and photographer. She was the first woman to join Alcoholics Anonymous and she also created the National Committee on Alcoholism.



E. Ethelbert Miller is a poet and a champion of his fellow poets—though “literary activist” is the term he uses to describe himself. He’s also a baseball fan, and nearing 60 years of age, figures he’s in The Fifth Inning of his life. That’s the title of his second memoir in which he uses baseball as a metaphor for measuring his life so far.

Mike Tyson was boxing’s biggest star in the 1980s. He was dominant in the ring, but the same inner-demons that propelled Tyson’s ferocity eventually led to his downfall. After serving time in prison and falling into bankruptcy, Mike Tyson contritely tells his own story in the new documentary, Tyson. Bob speak with director James Toback about Mike Tyson and his fascinating life journey.

One simple question sent journalist and running enthusiast Christopher McDougall across the globe: Why does my foot hurt? In his quest, McDougall ran endurance races across America, visited science labs at Harvard, and spent time with a tribe in Mexico’s Copper Canyons, whose speed and health could match any Olympic marathoner. McDougall’s book is titled Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.


May 23-24, 2009



The McCallen Building was the first LEED certified structure built in Boston. To environmentalists, the green building methods are forward-thinking and socially responsible but the construction workers who actually put the place together didn’t see the point at first. The new film The Greening of Southie documents the ascent of The McCallen Building, explains LEED certification and illuminates their specific building techniques. The film is narrated by the building owner, architects, project managers…and most notably, the formerly skeptical construction workers. Filmmakers Curt Ellis & Ian Cheney join Bob to discuss their new documentary and the green building movement in general. Ellis & Cheney first spoke with Bob last year about King Corn, their eye-opening expose of the corn industry.

For the latest installment in our ongoing series This I Believe,Bob talks with executive director Dan Gediman about the essay from Educator and folklorist J. Frank Dobie. He wrote numerous books and articles about vanishing ways of life on the ranches of his native Texas. Dobie taught in the English department at the University of Texas for many years, and was a lecturer on U.S. history at Cambridge during World War II.



It’s been more than forty years since many Americans were shipped to and died in the jungles of Vietnam. For this Memorial Day weekend, we pay tribute to our service men and women with an encore presentation of our award-winning show Stories from Third Med: Surviving a Jungle ER. The documentary includes stories of the Navy’s Third Medical Battalion, which served alongside the Third Marine Division. They were based near the DMZ, closest to the enemy in North Vietnam. Four decades later, the doctors and corpsmen recount the horror (and humor) they can never forget, and reflect on the forces that drive men to war in the first place.


May 30-31, 2009



For his editorial cartoons, Mike Luckovich has won two Pulitzer Prizes – which he calls “the ultimate coloring contest.” Luckovich is the staff editorial cartoonist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution but his work is also syndicated to hundred of papers nationwide and regularly appears in Time, Newsweek, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

Writer Ruth Reichl is editor in chief for Gourmet magazine, former food critic for both the New York and the Los Angeles Times, and the author of three best-selling memoirs. Her latest, Not Becoming My Mother and Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way, is a tribute to her mother, Miriam Brudno, whose larger than life personality dominated Reichl’s younger years.

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with executive director Dan Gediman about the essay from Herbert Lehman. He co-founded the Lehman Brothers investment banking firm in 1908 and served in the Army during World War I, rising to the rank of colonel. Lehman, a Democrat, was Governor of New York from 1933 to 1942, and served as U.S. Senator from 1949 until 1957.



A third of all pet owners admit to buying birthday presents for their furry friends. Many pet groomers now offer pedicures as part of their routine service. And if your dog is deemed to be suffering from separation anxiety, your vet might prescribe puppy Prozac. It’s all part of the $43 BILLION a year pet care industry. Michael Shaffer has written a new book about our pet-obsessed culture called One Nation Under Dog.

Author and journalist Peter Laufer tells Bob all about his new book The Dangerous World of Butterflies: The Startling Subculture of Criminals, Collectors, and Conservationists. It touches on the relationships between butterflies and organized crime, ecological devastation, species depletion, the integrity of natural history museum collections and the role butterflies play in the art world.