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February 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Lori Andrews became a consumer activist when she was seven and her Ken doll went bald. She wrote a letter to Mattel and got results. Now Andrews’ attention is focused on online privacy. Her new book is titled I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy. Then, What does a novelist do when his books won’t sell and he’s got writer’s block? Play online poker, of course! Ted Heller’s Pocket Kings is about a novelist with writer’s block who finds a new  - and very lucrative -  stream of income in a virtual world that appears to give him everything he lacks in the real one.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dutch foreign correspondent Linda Polman has spent the last 20 years reporting from West and East Africa, Afghanistan, and Haiti.  Her experiences covering humanitarian disasters have led her to be critical of aid agencies and non-governmental organizations, and she has spelled out her criticisms in books like War Games: The Story of War and Aid in Modern Times and The Crisis Caravan: What’s Wrong with Humanitarian Aid.  Bob speaks to her about what she calls the “humanitarian aid industry.” Then, Michel Gabaudan is the president of Refugees International, and a former member of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. His organization conducts field missions around the world to gather information about the basic needs of displaced people.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, until the early 20th century, borrowing money for personal use was done at the fringes of the economy because under the usury laws of the time it was not profitable. But by the 1920s, personal debt began to be a mainstream part of American life. Now we are a nation deep in debt. The average American has $15,000 in credit card debt —- and then there are mortgages, car notes and student loans. In Borrow: The American Way of Debt, economist Louis Hyman explains how personal credit created the middle class and almost bankrupted the nation. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Opal Ruth Prater.  When a marriage ends early because of an unexpected death, the surviving partner is often devastated. Prater’s husband died 15 years ago, and she’s never stopped loving him. Prater says her husband’s death affected their family greatly, but his life impacted it more. She finds his spirit both in her memories and in the eyes of their four children.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Pioneer TV journalist Belva Davis overcame racism and sexism to become the first black female news anchor on the West Coast.  She tells her story in her memoir Never in My Wildest Dreams: A Black Woman’s Life in Journalism. It’s now out in paperback.  Then, Frank X Walker’s book of poems, Isaac Murphy: I Dedicate This Ride, was inspired by a 19th century jockey who rode three Kentucky Derby winners.  The son of a slave, Murphy’s success earned him wealth and international fame.   In the early years of thoroughbred racing, most of the jockeys were African-American.    As the profession became more lucrative, black jockeys were replaced by whites.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Today 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 new book Charles Dickens: A Life sheds light on the life of this famous writer.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

When Pastor Robert Jeffress called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints a cult on national television last year, Mormons and even some non-Mormons took offence.   But the incident proved that although the LDS church continues to grow in numbers, there are still many people who don’t understand who or what they are.  With Mormon presidential hopeful Mitt Romney campaigning fiercely for the Republican nomination, Matthew Bowman’s book The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith offers context and explanation for this sometimes mysterious religion. Then; Paul Bachmann, host of SiriusXM Pops (channel 75) and director of Public Radio programming on SiriusXM, talks with Bob about the classical music categories in this year’s Grammy Awards, held on Sunday, February 12th in Los Angeles.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or the STOCK Act, is aimed at barring lawmakers from making insider stock trades. Alexander Bolton is a senior writer for ‘The Hill’ and he joins Bob to discuss the existing laws and the political tug-of-war in congress over this issue. Then, the Grammy-nominated wind quintet Imani Winds commissioned a special piece from contemporary composer Mohammed Fairouz to chronicle events from the Lebanese Civil War.  Bob talks with Imani Winds members Monica Ellis and Mariam Adam and Fairouz about this work, titled Jebel Lebnan (Mount Lebanon).


Friday, February 10, 2012

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to discuss the latest political news. Next, In Rampart, Woody Harrelson is the anti-protagonist, a cop who says, “I’m not a racist. I hate all people equally.” This film reunites the actor with Ben Foster and director Oren Moverman of The Messenger. Foster discusses the film which is based on the Rampart Scandal that rocked the Los Angeles Police Department in the 1990s when 70 police officers in the anti-gang unit were implicated in widespread corruption and misconduct. Finally, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Kathy Heffernan. Every parent knows the morning wail of small children — “I don’t want to go to school!” Heffernan’s son Sam was part of the protesting chorus, until he met his sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Hogan. Heffernan says other teachers had seen a boy who refused to pay attention, but Mrs. Hogan recognized Sam as a knowledgeable, capable student who loves to read. Her reward was a Valentine’s Day box of chocolates.


Monday, February 13, 2012

With the end of the Civil War and the passage of the 13th Amendment, 4 million former slaves embarked on new lives with the promise of freedom. But labor laws and practices that arose during the post-Emancipation era effectively created new forms of slavery in the South that persisted well into the 20th century.  A new documentary based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Douglas A. Blackmon explores this little-known history of forced labor. Slavery By Another Name premieres tonight at 9:00 PM ET on PBS stations nationwide.  Bob speaks with the film’s director, Sam Pollard. Next, we revisit music and conversation with the American Spiritual Ensemble. The group was founded by Dr. Everett McCorvey in 1995 and is based in Lexington, Kentucky. Dr. McCorvey and twenty-five members of the Ensemble discuss and perform examples of the American Negro spiritual — music created by slaves with African roots and biblical text.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Interrupters is a documentary that tells the story of three people who work to protect their neighborhoods from the violence they themselves were once a part of. Their job titles are “violence interrupters” and that’s exactly what they do —- step into escalating situations to try to stop the violence before it starts. The film has been praised by critics and it won many awards on the festival circuit. Now The Interrupters has its national television premiere today on the PBS program Frontline. Bob speaks with the film’s director, Steve James, whose earlier work includes the Peabody award-winning documentary Hoop Dreams.  Then, for many, those heavy and sometimes dull books dubbed “the classics” are an annoyance that one must put up with in high school and college English classes.  But for journalists Jack Murnighan and Maura Kelly, the classics are a rich source of dating and romance advice.  They share their findings in Much Ado About Loving: What Our Favorite Novels Can Teach You About Date Expectations, Not-So-Great Gatsbys and Love in the Time of Internet Personals.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Andre Dubus III grew up poor in Massachusetts mill towns, the oldest of four children of the renowned short-story writer Andre Dubus. The younger Dubus’s life didn’t start out impoverished. As a well-paid and much-admired college professor, Dubus the father had set up a bucolic existence for his family in the New England countryside. But after he abandoned them in 1968 for a young student, his son’s life became marked with the violence and rage that often accompany poverty and abandonment. Now a celebrated writer himself, Andre Dubus III tells his candid life story in a new memoir, Townie.  Then, if it weren’t for love gone well and, maybe more importantly, love got bad, a lot of music simply would not exist. Our resident folklorists Steve Winick and Nancy Groce dig through the folklife archive at the Library of Congress to share some early examples of songs and music about bad relationships.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

“Extraordinary rendition,” “enhanced interrogation,” and “waterboarding” seem like modern products of the War on Terror, but Vanity Fair editor Cullen Murphy makes the argument that all sprung “directly from the practices of the medieval Roman Catholic Church.” He explores the idea in his new book, God’s Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World.  Then, actor Max Von Sydow has portrayed priests, doctors, dads, a James Bond villain, Jesus Christ, the devil, an assassin, a soccer loving Nazi and Ming the Merciless in a Flash Gordon remake, to name just a few of his many roles. Bob talks with the Swedish-born actor about his long career and about his latest role. Von Sydow received his second Oscar nomination for his part as “the renter” in the new film Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, Agnieszka Holland gained international acclaim for her 1991 film Europa Europa which earned a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.  The Polish filmmaker’s most recent film is also set during the Holocaust.  In Darkness depicts the true story of a low-wage worker who helps hide a group of Jews in the sewer system beneath their city.  Holland discusses the making of the film, the themes of trust and betrayal, and her personal connection to the war. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Emily Walshe.  Most of us are so busy, we wish for more hours in the day. Between work and family obligations — and time spent driving between the two — there’s very little time left for repose. This time of year puts Walshe in mind of hibernation. She says time for rest should be a part of everyone’s life, and looks to the rhythm of nature for inspiration.


Monday, February 20, 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 new book and shares the legacy of Gil Scott-Heron.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

John Feinstein has written several books on golf, basketball, football and tennis — including  A Season on the Brink, the bestselling sports book of all time. And Feinstein has interviewed some of the most enduring figures in sports – including college basketball coaches Bob Knight, Jim Valvano, Mike Krzyzewski, and Dean Smith - and athletes such as Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, and John McEnroe. Feinstein’s latest book is about his own experiences as a sportswriter, it’s called One on One: Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Opposition research, “oppo” to insiders, has become a standard part of the political campaign process… and the slimiest. In politics, finding the dirt on a candidate is multi-million dollar business, and Alan Huffman has made his fair share of the money after nearly two decades as an opposition researcher. The former journalist has recently co-authored a tell-all book about how the process works. It’s titled We’re With Nobody: Two Insiders Reveal the Dark Side of American Politics.  Then, in Allah, Liberty and Love: The Courage To Reconcile Faith And Freedom, Irshad Manji paves a path for Muslims and non-Muslims to transcend the fears that stop so many of us from living with honest-to-God integrity: the fear of offending others in a multicultural world as well as the fear of questioning our own communities. Among the most visible Muslim reformers of our era, Manji draws on her experience in the trenches to share stories that are deeply poignant, frequently funny and always revealing about these morally confused times.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges was a foreign correspondent for The New York Times for fifteen years until he was reprimanded for denouncing President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq.  Now he’s a columnist, senior fellow at The Nation Institute, and has taught at Columbia, New York and Princeton universities.  In his most recent book, The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress, Hedges warns, “Brace yourself.  The American Empire is over. And the descent is going to be horrifying.”   Then, Bob chats with old friend James Cromwell who is currently starring in the surprise hit silent film and Oscar favorite, The Artist.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, Bob talks Oscar nominations with The Daily’s Rich Juzwiak.  Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Jodi Webb. We’ve all heard that you can’t just throw money at a problem, and hope it goes away. You also need some effort. Webb says a community is only as strong as its volunteers. Churches, after school programs, and all manner of service organizations rely on volunteers to complete their good works. And Webb’s family is always on the front lines. Webb says volunteering is something her mother taught, and now she thinks of it as a family trait, like blue eyes or bossiness.


Monday, February 27, 2012

The number of African American baseball players in the major leagues has plummeted by two thirds since its peak in 1975.  And while it’s increasingly difficult to find black players on the field, the opposite holds true for Latinos. They are playing the game in record numbers and represent a full quarter of big-league rosters.  Sports historian Rob Ruck examines why blacks, who led the fight to integrate baseball, have now largely left the game. His book is titled Raceball: How the Major Leagues colonized the Black and Latin Game.  It’s now out in paperback.  Next, Bob talks to renowned historian Simon Schama about his book Rough Crossing: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution. Schama asks this provocative question: If you were black in America at the start of the Revolutionary War, whom would you want to win? Then, Bob talks with writer MT Anderson about his book The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation. This novel follows the story of a young Revolutionary-era slave, living in Boston, who discovers that his life isn’t all that it seems.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

From Warren Buffett’s secretary to Governor Mitt Romney’s personal IRA, how to change Federal tax policy will continue to be a major issue throughout this Presidential campaign. Bob hosts a discussion on the subject with Alan Viard, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Michael Ettlinger, Vice President for economic policy at the Center for American Progress.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

In Panther Baby: A Life of Rebellion & Reinvention, Jamal Joseph vividly recounts his introduction to Panther life, and his progression from a young, naïve street kid to a confident and outspoken member of an influential national movement, and later to an Oscar nominee and professor at an Ivy League college.”