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February 2011


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bob talks with Michael Lewis about his book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. It’s a look at the mortgage crisis and the few visionaries who saw it coming and made a fortune. His book is now available in paperback.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In 2007, photojournalist Tim Hetherington and writer Sebastian Junger  traveled with an American platoon to Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, a strategic passage wanted by the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and one of the deadliest pieces of terrain in the world for U.S. forces. Restrepo, a chronicle of their experiences, is nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary. National Geographic Channel will air Restrepo Wednesday, February 2nd at 8PM ET/PT.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

In anticipation of this weekend’s Super Bowl, we remember one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, Vince Lombardi. We begin with Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss, author of the book: When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi. The best-selling biography served as a basis for the new Broadway playLombardi. Bob speaks with lead actors Dan Lauria and Judith Light.


Friday, February 4, 2011

David Broder is away so we turn to Jeffrey Goldberg for news from abroad, particularly Egypt. Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic who has reported from the Middle East and Africa. Next, Lyle Lovettrecorded a new CD since he was last on The Bob Edwards Show in 2007. It’s called Natural Forces and the title track refers to both Lovett’s love of horses and his desire to honor those who serve in the military.  Over the past year, Lovett has taken on more acting roles. He recently appeared on an episode of the NBC show Castle, playing a mysterious federal agent. And in December, he performed Shakespeare in a production of Much Ado About Nothing alongside Helen Hunt. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Lee Reeves.  She embodies a line from the Gershwin tune, “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” — she sings off-key. But when her daughter was born with a serious illness and needed hours of motherly attention, Reeves learned to sing with abandon, ignoring wrong notes and focusing on the love she was expressing.


Monday, February 7, 2011 

No one has a voice like Ken Nordine, and there’s nothing quite like Word Jazz, the audio art he created. It mixes atmospheric sound effects, free-form jazz and Nordine’s unique rumbling bass voice, pondering philosophical questions, plumbing the depths of his id, or simply wondering what’s in the fridge. In December, Bob visited the 90 year-old Nordine at his house in Chicago, which he’s lived in for more than half a century. We’ll tour his home studio and hear about his early days in radio, collaborations with The Grateful Dead and Tom Waits, and how he created Word Jazz.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011  

In his most recent book, William Hartung presents an in-depth portrait of Lockheed Martin and how the defense contractor wields influence within the Department of Defense and beyond.  He’s the Director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation and the book is Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.  Then, in You Know When the Men Are Gone, writerSiobhan Fallon tells eight stories, each from the perspective of a military wife.  Fallon’s inspiration for the book came from her own experience living at Fort Hood, Texas, while her husband was in Iraq for two tours of duty.  Fallon candidly describes the extramarital affairs, health crises, and financial strife of living without a spouse who’s off at war.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011 

Mark Pendergrast’s new book, Inside the Outbreaks, is a history of the Epidemic Intelligence Service, the front-line disease detectives of the CDC.  It covers an amazing array of medical mysteries all over the world, from an insider’s perspective, and it took him more than five years to research and write.  Then, after 18 years in America, Tony and Janina Wasilewski’s family is torn apart when Janina is deported back to Poland, taking their 6 year old son Brian with her.  Set on the backdrop of the Chicago political scene, and featuring Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez at the heart of the immigration reform movement, this film follows the Wasilewski’s 3-year struggle to be reunited, as their Senator Barack Obama rises to the Presidency. Bob talks with director Ruth Leitman about her documentary Tony and Janina’s American Wedding.


Thursday, February 10, 2011  

Private eye Leonid McGill must track down a young woman before her murderers find her in award-winning novelist Walter Mosley’s book Known to Evil.  Translated into over 20 languages, Mosley is best known as the author of the popular Easy Rawlins’s detective series.  This is Mosley’s second novel about McGill, a bad-guy turned good-guy contemporary detective working the means streets of New York City. His book is now out in paperback.  Then, in novelist Sarah Blake’s book The Postmistress, American radio reporter Frankie Bard is the first woman to broadcast from the Blitz in London during World War II.  Her reports from 1940 bring war into the living rooms of millions of Americans, including two women from a small Cape Cod town who soon find their lives caught up this foreign conflict. Her book is now available in paperback.


Friday, February 11, 2011

The New Yorker dubbed Simone Dinnerstein “The pianists’ pianist of Generation X”  following her 2007 break-out recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations.   Dinnerstein returns to Bach’s keyboard works with a recording called Bach: A Strange Beauty.  She is also the founder of “Neighborhood Classics,” a fund raising concert series for the New York City public school system. Then, with Valentine’s Day approaching we revisit a conversation with This I Believe Executive Director Dan Gediman about the collection “This I Believe: On Love.” Finally, we’ll hear a new This I Believe essay, this one by Louise V. Gray, whose own young love did not end in “happily ever after.” Over many years, she and her boyfriend came close to marriage, fell apart, reconciled, and eventually grew distant. Gray writes about the gifts of this difficult love, and what it taught her to look for in a soulmate.


Monday, February 14, 2011

The February issue of the National Geographic magazine features an article about the current state of Afghanistan’s opium war.  Journalist Robert Draper spent time in Helmand Province, where most of Afghanistan’s opium is grown. He writes about why farmers choose to grow opium poppies instead of other crops, and the efforts underway to wean farmers off of growing poppies.  Then, writer Ariel Sabar, winner of the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award for his memoir My Father’s Paradise, tells the stories of nine couples who met and fell in love in one of New York City’s public places.  His book is called Heart of the City: Nine Stories of Love and Serendipity on the Streets of New York.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Just as some people appreciate a fine wine, literary critic Stanley Fish is a connoisseur of beautifully constructed sentence.  Fish, a law professor at Florida International University and columnist for The New York Times, shares his love of well-ordered words in his new book How To Write a Sentence and How To Read One.  Then, Peter Sokolowski is the Editor-at-Large for Merriam-Webster where he is responsible for the Word of the Day.  He’ll discuss the history of Merriam-Webster, Noah Webster’s philosophy about the English language, and how some politicians could better use the dictionary.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

KFC is as an iconic American company, but Colonel Sanders generates more revenue from the Chinese than Americans.  And because of their collective buying power, the chicken-eating decisions those Chinese consumers make influences the menu at the KFC on Main Street, USA.  Karl Gerth is an Oxford historian who studies the implications of Chinese consumerism.  His first book, China Made: Consumer Culture and the Creation of the Nation, examined the connections between nationalism and consumerism in China in the first half of the twentieth century. His newest book explains why we should all care about the everyday choices made by ordinary Chinese. It’s called As China Goes, So Goes the World: How Chinese Consumers are Transforming Everything.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

The biggest operation in the now 9 year war in Afghanistan occurred last February 17th.  Operation Mostarek saw some of the most intense fighting in the war and journalist Ben Anderson caught it on camera.  On the first anniversary of the operation, HBO airs Anderson’s powerful documentary. The Battle of Marjah shows the hour-by-hour account of the very dangerous mission to liberate the town of Marjah.  Then, independent filmmaker Matt Porterfield discusses his new film, Putty Hill.  In this feature, friends and family members gather in their working class Baltimore neighborhood to remember a young man who just died.  Through their attempt to reconstruct his life, they reveal their own.  Porterfield describes the storyline, actors and documentary techniques used in the film.


Friday, February 18, 2011

The FBI’s Civil Rights-Era Cold Case Initiative attempts to solve racially-motivated murders that were committed before 1970.   More than 100 cases have been identified since 2007 when the FBI partnered with local authorities, the NAAPC, The Southern Poverty Law Center and others.  Documentary filmmaker Keith Beauchamp has chronicled the progress in a new series for Investigation Discovery called The Injustice Files.  He’ll discuss the program and its premier in honor of Black History Month.  Next, lions are among the world’s most beloved animals, but they and other ‘big cats’ face an uphill battle for survival. In the 1940s, there were nearly a half-million lions in the wild, today their numbers have dwindled to about 20,000. Dereck & Beverly Joubert live alongside these regal animals in Botswana, and their film, The Last Lions is being released by National Geographic in conjunction with the ‘Big Cats Initiative.’ The Jouberts join Bob to discuss the global effort to keep big cats from going the way of the dinosaur.  Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Savannah Lengsfelder.  She came to Washington DC as a Congressional assistant, expecting to be repulsed by an up-close view of government at work. Instead, she grew to appreciate the work of elected representatives, and the diversity of ideologies. Lengsfelder is now a law student working in South Africa on human rights cases.


Monday, February 21, 2011 

Today we replay Bob’s conversation with historian Thurston Clarke.  He wrote an entire book centering on the events of January 20, 1961 – it’s called Ask Not: The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy and the Speech that Changed America.  This interview features several snippets of that famous oration and concludes with the speech in its entirety. 


Tuesday, February 22, 2011  

The aptly named illustrator Edward Gorey (1925-2000) was a master of creating delightfully macabre drawings and illustrations.  Perhaps best-known for his introduction to the PBS series Mystery!, Gorey’s work cultivated a cult following and a dedicated fan base.  This month would have been the illustrator’s 86th birthday, and we mark the occasion by talking with his friend, writer Alexander Theroux, author of The Strange Case of Edwards Gorey.  Then, writer Michael David Lukas takes readers into the decline of the Ottoman Empire, as young Eleonora Cohen finds herself in Stamboul, Turkey and becomes an advisor to the Sultan.  The Oracle of Stamoul is Lukas first novel.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011 

Despite ample evidence that there is no connection between autism and vaccines, the rates of unvaccinated children continue to rise. And even though the doctor whose research initially caused the widespread alarm was recently barred from practicing medicine, B-list celebrities like Jenny McCarthy continue to receive ample media time to spread the myth. In his new book, The Panic Virus, science journalist Seth Mnookin investigates this story of medicine, science and fear. 


Thursday, February 24, 2011   

First, Reporter Charles Sennott of recently returned from Egypt. For PBS Frontline’s “Revolution in Cairo,” Sennott investigated the group behind the uprising and the Muslim Brotherhood. He joins Bob to discuss the transition facing Egypt and other countries throughout the Middle East. Then, English character actor Timothy Spall may be best-known as the groveling Peter Pettigrew in the Harry Potter series, but this classical trained thespian has been playing nuanced characters on stage and screen for years. He can currently be seen in the Oscar nominated film The King’s Speech as Winston Churchill. 


Friday, February 25, 2011

National Journal Group Congressional correspondent Susan Davis joins Bob to talk about politics and other news Next, when they were eight years old, Allen Shawn’s twin sister was abruptly sent away to live in an institution. Now 62, Mary was much later diagnosed with autism. His father was the storied New Yorker editor William Shawn, and after Mary was institutionalized, the Shawn’s would occasionally take the limousine to go visit her.  In Twin: A Memoir, Allen Shawn writes a story about family secrets and lifelong guilt grounded in the history and science of autism. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Madhukar Rao. As a child, Rao had to learn to fit in to new communities. He was born in India, but grew up in Massachusetts. His family moved again when he was in high school, and his new community was racially segregated. Rao learned the power that humility and simple questions have in an emotionally charged confrontation.


Monday, February 28 2011

Charles Burnett is an independent filmmaker whose first movie made while a student at UCLA in 1977 has become a cult classic. The Killer of Sheep examines life for Black Americans in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles from the perspective of a man who works at a slaughterhouse.  Burnett reflects on his life and work, and talks about how African Americans and American culture have shaped each other.