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January 2012

Monday, January 2, 2012

Dr. Sandra Spanier is a professor of English at Pennsylvania State University and the General Editor of the Hemingway Letters Project.  This long-term project has brought together a team of international scholars to prepare legendary writer Ernest Hemingway’s 6,000 letters for publication.  They recently released Letters of Ernest Hemingway Volume 1: 1907 – 1922

 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Verlon Thompson is Guy Clark’s longtime songwriting and touring partner, but he’s a performer in his own right and has recently released his own CD, Works. Thompson shares some of his “literate story songs” in a performance chat with Bob.  Then, the unlikely life of Stanley Ann Dunham, who was born in Wichita, Kansas, yet married a man from Kenya and ultimately raised a future President of the United States.  New York Times reporter Janny Scott interviewed nearly 200 people to complete A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother.  Bob chats with Scott about the President’s mother and how she didn’t live to see her son’s political success.  Scott’s book is now out in paperback.

 

Wednesday, January 4 2012

Eric Weiner was solidly agnostic until a health scare landed him in the hospital and a well-meaning nurse asked him an unexpected question: “Have you found your God yet?”   The nurse’s question set him on a journey to try to come up with an answer. He recounts his experience in a new book, Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Devine. Weiner describes himself as “a former foreign correspondent for NPR, a philosophical traveler—and recovering malcontent.”  Then, the scandals and drama continue in the second season of the award-winning PBS Masterpiece Classic series Downton Abbey.  Actors Elizabeth McGovern and Hugh Bonneville play the Countess and Earl of Grantham as their privileged world at Downton Abbey is turned upside down as World War I rages across the Channel.

 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Despite ample evidence that there is no connection between autism and vaccines, some parents are still hesitant to vaccinate their children. In his book, The Panic Virus, science journalist Seth Mnookin investigates this story of medicine, science and fear.  His book is now available in paperback.  Then, Adepero Oduye stars in a gripping coming-of-age story about teenage lesbian, “Alike,” who is taking control of her identity.  In the film, her mother, portrayed by Kim Wayans, strongly opposes Alike’s transformation, as the young hero also struggles with being a friend and girlfriend to others.  Oduye and Wayans join the writer and director Dee Rees and producer Nekisa Cooper in studio to discuss the risks and benefits of bringing Pariah to the big screen. 

 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, known as a folk and rock guitarist, David Bromberg fell in love with the mystery of historic and valuable violins during a break from his other career.  Bob visits with Bromberg at his very high-end violin shop in Wilmington, Delaware to discuss his business and his resumption of performing and recording. Bromberg’s latest album is called Use Me. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Brian Schoeni. He and his wife knew they would have kids some day. They also knew those children would be adopted. For Schoeni and his wife, adoption was a first choice, not a last resort. Schoeni says adoption affirms the best in humanity, proving that people can love each other unconditionally, no matter their genetic makeup.

 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Greg Palast is best known as the investigative journalist who uncovered how Katherine Harris kept thousands of African Americans in Florida off the voter rolls in the 2000 presidential election. The Chicago Tribune has called Palast’s work “doggedly independent, undaunted by power… They’re so relevant they threaten to alter history.” For his new book, Palast took a closer look at the BP oil disaster. It’s called Vultures’ Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores.  Then, we’ll take a closer look at the unlikely life of Stanley Ann Dunham, who was born in Wichita, Kansas, yet married a man from Kenya and ultimately raised a future President of the United States.  New York Times reporter Janny Scott interviewed nearly 200 people to complete A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother.  Bob chats with Scott about the President’s mother and how she didn’t live to see her son’s political success.  Scott’s book is now out in paperback.

 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Doors were only together for five years before the death of their lead singer, Jim Morrison. But the band and its music have remained intriguing and popular, even as the era it represented slipped into history. In a new book, Greil Marcus considers the band in performance, using bootleg recordings, and analyzes how its music reflected the mood of the nation from 1966 to 1971. The book is titled The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years.

 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Gordon Adams was the senior White House official for national security budgets from 1993 to 1997.  He joins Bob to discuss President Obama’s proposed Pentagon budget. Then, a Mexican custom called la cuarentena holds that a new mother gets 40 days of rest during which she is taken care of and allowed to bond with her baby. And in Vietnam, money clubs help members plan for vacations, taxes, even weddings and college tuition. These are just two of the customs that Claudia Kolker writes about in her new book, The Immigrant Advantage: What We Can Learn from Newcomers to American about Health, Happiness, and Hope. Kolker talks about many other customs that have been brought to the United States by immigrant groups, and adapted to American life by the second generation.

 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bob marks the second anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti with Sirius XM’s Joe Madison, who talks about the devastation and recovery there.  Then, Meshell Ndegeocello has built a devoted audience by pairing deeply funky grooves with liltingly beautiful lyricism. Her latest album Weather is a finely crafted work of artistry and honesty. Ndegeocello plays a few songs from Weather and discusses her career in music, from a chart-topping duet with John Mellencamp to soul-searching ballads and funky jams.

 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, while most of the nation was shocked at the death of Martin Luther King Jr., Jesuit priest and professor of theology at the College of the Holy Cross canvassed the East Coast in search of African American students to admit to the university, students who would play their part in America’s racial integration. Diane Brady’s book Fraternity tells this story from the perspective of the students who would later become defense attorneys and activists, a Supreme Court Justice, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Literature. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Dave Stewart.  After Stewart grew tired of his career in manufacturing, he bought a farm in New Hampshire. He grows vegetables and raises, chickens, sheep, pigs, and cows. Stewart’s grandfather was a dairy farmer, and now he has found the same pleasure in the simple routines of milking and grazing.

 

Monday, January 16, 2012

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday we bring back Bob’s conversation with Clarence Jones.  Jones served as Dr. King’s attorney and advisor for eight years and helped craft some of King’s most beloved speeches.  Then, Bob talks with Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis about a collection of CDs titled Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement.

 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Alan Bennett is the playwright and author behind The Madness of King George and The History Boys.  His latest book is titled Smut: Two Unseemly Stories.

 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Actress Angelina Jolie is now something she swore she would never be: a director.  Bob talks to Jolie about the making of her directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey.  Then, Catherine the Great’s life was one of coups, plots, murders, regicide, and lovers. And it was a life that intersected with the likes of Voltaire, Diderot, Mozart and Frederick the Great.  Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Massie is the author of Peter the Great, Nicholas and Alexandra, and The Romanovs.  Now he tells the story of another of history’s most intriguing figures in his book Catherine the Great:  Portrait of a Woman. 

 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

As a banjoist for The Punch Brothers, Noam Pikelny has helped expand the sound of bluegrass.  He earned the first annual Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass Music, and now has released his second solo album, Beat The Devil and Carry A Rail.  Pikelny joins Bob in the Sirius XM Performance Studio to discuss his work and play a few tunes.

 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, in the new film Joyful Noise, Dolly Parton plays a Georgia choir member who is trying to lead her group to victory at the “How Sweet the Sound” competition in Los Angeles. The Queen of Country Music talks with Bob about working on the movie, her long musical career and her philanthropic work in her home state of Tennessee.  Then, Bob talks with Mervyn Warren, the music producer, composer and arranger behind Parton’s new filmThen finally, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Tim Wilson.  He is a sergeant in the California Highway Patrol. A few years ago, Wilson wrote a letter to his children, offering advice about life. It sits in an envelope in his locker at work, to be opened only in the event that he does not make it through the day. Wilson says he’s seen life snuffed out many times during his career, and seeing the letter every morning in his locker reminds him to be careful out on the highway.

 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bob speaks with Thomas Frank, author of the bestseller What’s the Matter with Kansas? and now,  Pity the Billionaire.  The book chronicles the story of how the American Right has been reinvigorated by the recession. Then, Gar Alperovitz, professor of political economy at the University of Maryland, and the author of America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy.  He joins Bob to discuss how workers can reestablish their rights.

 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

This month marks the first anniversary of the tragedy in Tucson, Arizona that left six people dead and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords severely injured. Tom Zoellner, a fifth generation Arizonian, has written a cultural and historical analysis of the terrible events that unfolded on the morning of January 8th, 2011 called  A Safeway in Arizona: What the Gabrielle Giffords Shooting Tells Us About the Grand Canyon State and Life in America. Then, Steven Pinker discusses his new book, The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence has Declined.

 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Before Gates, Jobs, and Zukerberg, there was Larry Lee Hillblom – a billionaire genius who co-founded the fastest growing corporation in history. DHL (Dalsey, Hillblom, and Lynn) is responsible for demolishing a postal monopoly. Writer and filmmaker, James Scurlock will discuss his latest work King Larry: The Life And Ruins Of A Billionaire Genius and give a close look into the secretive life of Larry Lee Hillblom, a man with “a voracious appetite for underage prostitutes.”  Then, Pulitzer prize-winning editorial cartoonist Ann Telnaes and cartoon historian Warren Bernard remember illustrator Ronald Searle, creator of St. Trinian and many other beloved books, who recently passed away at the age of 91.

 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

National Geographic explorer-in-residence Wade Davis takes readers along George Malloy’s ill-fated and harrowing attempt to climb Mt. Everest in his book Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest.

 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, Ken Ballan is a former federal prosecutor and congressional investigator who spent five years as a researcher interviewing more than a hundred Islamic radicals. He was tasked with finding out more about their lives, faith and motivations. Terrorists in Love tells the stories of six of the men - from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia – and gets past the clichés about terrorism to reveal the surprising hearts and minds of some Jihadists.  Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Cande Iveson. With the approaching presidential election, political news is heating up. Iveson will not be choosing sides, though. In politics, as in religion and just about every other issue with extreme and opposing viewpoints, Iveson finds herself squarely in the middle. She says being in the middle is not just a non-position, but has its own, legitimate, truth.

 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Jonathan Gruber served as a health care reform advisor to Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts and to President Obama as he worked to pass the national Affordable Care Act.  The legislation has confused many people and it’s an issue that is sure to be at the center of the presidential campaign.  To help sort through the misconceptions and confusion, Gruber has distilled the very complicated bill into a very simple format: Health Care Reform: the comic book.  Then, as fuel costs eat into household budgets, a national obesity epidemic continues.  All the while, a simple but profound solution to both these problems rolls by us every day. James Rubin is co-author of The Urban Cyclist’s Survival Guide, a primer for cyclists of all levels who wish to trade traffic and road rage for constant motion and easy exercise.

 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock documents the life of forgotten civil rights activist Daisy Bates.  Filmmaker Sharon La Cruise spent seven years researching and interviewing people about this remarkable woman.  La Cruise’s documentary premieres on the PBS series Independent Lens on Thursday, February 2nd in conjunction with Black History Month.  Then, the new Muppet movie is a box office smash, reconfirming that Jim Henson knew what he was doing when he created the beloved characters. Tale of Sand is a Jim Henson-written screenplay that was released as a graphic novel. Stephen Christy is the editor of the project and he joins Bob to talk Henson’s surprising and unexpected work.