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December 2012


Monday, December 3, 2012 

 Author Jesse Prinz jabs at the nihilism of the nature/nurture debate in his book Beyond Human Nature: How Culture and Experience Shape the Human Brain. Prinz shares with Bob his belief that “…nurture can transcend nature.”  Then, USC Professor Sarah Banet-Weiserinterrogates popular culture, professionally.  Her books question national identity, beauty pageants, consumer citizenship, neoliberalism,… Nickelodeon.  Her latest book Authentic: The Politics of Ambivalence in a Brand Culture argues that “branding” is not just a marketing tool, but a mirror for cultural and social relations.

 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

James Fallows just got back from China where he toured several factories including the Foxconn facility, made infamous for reports of worker abuse and suicide nets. In the December issue of The Atlantic magazine, Fallows reports on new labor trends and developments in China. Then, David Von Drehle has pinpointed 1862 as “the most eventful year in American History.” He writes about it in his new book Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year. Drehle is the editor-at-large at TIME magazine and the author ofTriangle: The Fire That Changed America.

 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ralph Nader, named by The Atlantic as one of the 100 most influential figures in American history – one of only four living people to be honored as such – joins Bob to discuss current affairs and his new book The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Then, Jon Meacham won the Pulitzer Prize for his 2008 biography of Andrew Jackson titled American Lion. Now the executive editor of Random House turns his attention to the third president of the United States with his new bookThomas Jefferson: The Art of Power.

 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

We remember jazz legend Dave Brubeck.  His hit “Take Five” became a jazz standard and the bestselling jazz song of all time.  In 2005, Bob talked with Brubeck about his life, career, and his CD titled London Flat, London Sharp.  Dave Brubeck died Wednesday at the age of 91.  

 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, for most of his career, Thomas Ricks has observed generals up close and his new book, The Generals, is a coincidently timely review of six decades of Army leadership.  Ricks believes that General David Petraeus’s departure from the CIA tells us more about the state of our nation than it does about Petraeus, and that President Obama should not have accepted his resignation. Now a fellow at the Center for a New American Security and contributing editor for Foreign Policy magazine, Ricks is a former military correspondent who has shared two Pulitzer Prizes and been a finalist for a third for an earlier book, Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. Then, the latest installment of our ongoing series This I Believe

 

Monday, December 10, 2012  

Anne Applebaum won the Pulitzer Prize for her last book, Gulag, about the history of the Soviet Union labor camp.  Now the columnist for The Washington Post and Slate takes a wider look at the brutality of Communist rule with her new book title, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945 – 1956. Applebaum uses recently released archives to detail the daily lives of people as they succumbed and then adjusted to life under the brutal communist regimes. Then, In the course of his work, Indian journalist Aman Sethi met Mohammed, an educated and talented man living on the streets.  In his debut book, A Free Man: A True Story of Life and Death in Delhi, Sethi tells Mohammed’s story, giving readers a picture not just of one man but of Indian society.

 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012  

This year marks the 200th anniversary of writer Charles Dickens’s birth.  The author of A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities and others, Dickens was the Victorian era’s most beloved writer.  Biographer Claire Tomalin’s book, Charles Dickens: A Life, sheds light on the life of this famous writer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Wednesday, December 12, 2012  

Bill Ayers is a former Catholic priest who answered a different call when he left the church to start an organization dedicated to the eradication of hunger. WhyHunger is partnering with Sirius XM this year for their annual Hungerthon.  Then, the son of Bucky Pizzarelli, jazz guitarist and banjoist, John Pizzarelli grew up surrounded by music royalty.  Benny Goodman and Les Paul were regular guests in their home, and John has played with some of the most memorable: Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, James Taylor and Paul McCartney.  Still performing and hosting a weekly radio program with his wife, Pizzarelli will share his stories as written in World on a String: a musical memoir.

 

Thursday, December 13, 2012  

 Football is the most popular sport in the United States, from the NFL all the way down to the Pop Warner leagues. In Belle Glade, Florida, high school football is more than a popular pastime; it’s a path to salvation. In the new book, Muck City, Bryan Mealer tells the history of Belle Glade. It rose from swampland, carried an empire of sugar, collected thousands of migrant laborers from several countries, and now produces a bumper crop of talented football players. Then, a discussion of the year 2012 in Sports with columnist and author John Feinstein.

 

Friday, December 14, 2012  

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Timothy Egan recounts the life and career of the turn-of-the-century’s most famous photographer, Edward Curtis, in his book Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis.  Then, the latest installment of our ongoing series This I Believe.

 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Grammy award-winning violinist Mark O’Connor talks with Bob about his career and most recent album, America on Strings, as well as about his holiday album, An Appalachian Christmas

 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It’s been 200 years since the Brothers Grimm first shared their collection of fairy tales with children and adults alike.  The lure of “once upon a time” captured people’s imagination, making  Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Rapunzel and many others some of the Western world’s most beloved stories.  Harvard professor Maria Tatar edited The Annotated Brothers Grimm and talks with Bob about these enticing and often grisly tales.  Then, Craig Whitney makes a liberal’s case for the Second Amendment in his new book, Living with Guns.

 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

There’s an old adage that only two things in life are certain: taxes and death. But modern medicine has made the latter less certain. These days, dead people can live for a long time on life support. For instance, stroke victims are regularly kept alive long enough to donate their organs, and brain-dead pregnant women are sometimes kept alive long enough to deliver their babies. Dick Teresi details the long, complicated history of the changing definition of death in his book, The Undead: Organ Harvesting, the Ice-Water Test, Beating-Heart Cadavers – How Medicine Is Blurring the Line Between Life and Death. It’s now available in paperback.  Then, Bob talks with Salon.com book critic Laura Miller about the best book of 2012.

 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Since it is no surprise that good writers are also good readers, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that these good writers and readers are also passionate advocates for good bookstores.  The title of editor Ronald Rice’s book explains it all: My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop.  Rice and writer Ann Patchett talk with Bob about why physical bookstores are important to our society.  Then, it’s time once again for our annual tradition of wrapping up the year in music just in time to help you finish off your holiday shopping list. Bob talks with Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis who shares his favorite albums of the year.

 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, in August 2011, after serving 17 years in prison for the murders of three young boys, the “West Memphis Three” were released.  Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Jr. and Jason Baldwin entered so-called Alford pleas which says, “I’m guilty but I didn’t do it.”  Amy Berg’s new documentary, West of Memphis, features previously unknown affidavits about the stepfather of one of the murdered boys.  Berg will join Damien Echols and his wife Lorri Davis to discuss the new evidence, how film can influence justice, and the possibility of reopening the case. Then, the latest installment of our ongoing series This I Believe.

 

Monday, December 24, 2012

It’s Christmas Eve and your last chance to make a good impression on Santa.  So we present you with Bob’s classic interview with etiquette expert Judith Martin about her book Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior.  Next, a look at faith.  Bob talks with Karen Armstrong, author of the blockbuster A History of God and one of the world’s most highly regarded scholars on comparative religion.  Then, the fabulously witty Marshall Chapman reflects on Christmas in a special commentary.

 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Starting today we highlight Bob’s best interviews of the year and we start with blues guitarist and singer Buddy Guy.  His father bought him his first guitar, a “worn-in instrument with two strings,” for $4.35.  Since then, Buddy Guy says life “ain’t never been the same.”  Bob talks to Guy about his music and journey from Lettsworth, Louisiana.  Guy’s book is titled When I Left Home: My Story.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

We continue with the Best of 2012, moving from music to sports.  For nearly fifty years, Frank Defordhas been dissecting the sporting world and interviewing some of the most famous and important athletes and coaches around.  He has covered just about every sport, in every medium, and he wrote about it all in his memoir, Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter.  Then another of Bob’s old friends, John Feinstein, talks about golf, basketball, football and tennis – all of which he covered in this year’s One on One: Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game.  Feinstein is famously the author of A Season on the Brink, the bestselling sports book of all time. 

 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

It’s more of the Best of 2012 and today we focus on notable lives.  First is Bob’s interview with Penny Marshall.  She was the first female director to make a movie grossing over $100 million but she calls her successful Hollywood career a “happy accident.”  Marshall wrote her memoir this year, talking about playing the tough-talking tomboy in the sitcom “Laverne and Shirley” and telling funny stories about her famous friends. It’s called My Mother Was Nuts.  Then, Rodriguez.  He is an American folk singer discovered in Detroit in the late 1960s.  His music received praise from critics but sales bombed and he dropped off the scene mysteriously, only to unknowingly become the voice of justice in apartheid South Africa.  Filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul captured the story in this year’s documentary Searching for Sugar Man, which is the subject of lots of Oscar buzz.

 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Our week-long celebration of the Best of 2012 concludes today with our regular news analyst, LA Times columnist Doyle McManus, looking back at the year that was.  Next, we bring back Clay Johnson, one of the architects of Barack Obama’s wildly successful online campaign.  This year Johnson wrote an analysis of our media culture and found that we not only suffer from information overload, but we have also lost the ability to filter all the data we ingest every day.  He laid out the problem and offered solutions in his book The Information Diet: a Case for Conscious Consumption. And lastly, this year’s final installment of our ongoing series This I Believe.

 

Monday, December 31, 2012

Gil Scott-Heron’s memoir The Last Holiday is a testament to the extraordinary life of the activist, musician and poet. Scott-Heron is commonly known for his 1970’s hit “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. His publisher, editor, and long-time friend, Jamie Byng tells Bob about the book and shares the legacy of Gil Scott-Heron. It’s now available in paperback.