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July 2010

Thursday, July 1, 2010  

In Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town, Nick Reding tells the story of the methamphetamine epidemic as it sweeps the American heartland, focusing on the small Iowa town of Oelwein.  His book is now out in paperback.  Then, Juan Gabriel Vasquez was educated in Colombia, his home country, and in Paris at the Sorbonne.  His book The Informers is a novel set in Vasquez’s native country and tells the story of a man who publicly betrays his son and how the family secrets, long buried in the blacklists of World War II, come to light.

 

Friday, July 2, 2010  

Sean Lennon released a CD, a soundtrack for a low-budget vampire flick called Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead. Lennon composed the moody, instrumental score on his home computer and he runs Chimera Music out of his kitchen. Lennon is the only child of John Lennon and Yoko Ono and he talks with Bob about vampires, music, working with his mom, memories of his father and the highs and lows of being the famous son of very famous parents.  Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with curator Dan Gediman about the essay of Will Durant.  He was a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and philosopher. He spent nearly 50 years writing his 11-volume work The History of Civilization. Many of his later works were written in collaboration with his wife, Ariel. Durant received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977.  

 

Monday, July 5, 2010  

We bring back Bob’s conversation with Pulitzer Prize winning historian David McCullough about 1776, his book on the American Revolution. It’s written as a companion work to John Adams, his celebrated biography of the second president, and includes research from hundreds of letters and several diaries kept by people on both sides of the conflict.  Then, Tom Bodett reflects on how history is part of the landscape in New England.

 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010
 
General Stanley McCrystal resigned late last month as the commander of the international troops in Afghanistan, ostensibly, due to disparaging comments about the Obama administration he and his staff made in a Rolling Stone article.  But at the heart of those comments was a debate about the current strategy in Afghanistan, an issue overlooked during the personnel change.  Caroline Wadhams is the Director for South Asia Security Studies at the Center for American Progress.  She’ll discuss the counterinsurgency strategy and its progress in Afghanistan.  Then, in their new book, Merchants of Doubt, historians of science Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway tell the story of how for more than four decades, a small group of pro-industry, politically-connected scientists carried out effective campaigns to mislead the public.  They argue that ideology and corporate interests, helped by a lazy media, have clouded public understanding of some of the most critical issues of our time. 
 
 
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
 
We continue our series of music interviews recorded at this year’s New Orleans Jazz Fest, this week with Roger Lewis, a founding member of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Lewis talks with Bob about his band’s progression from revolutionizing upstarts more than thirty years ago to established — though still inventive — old masters. Lewis spoke with Bob in the green room of the famous club Tipitina’s, in Uptown New Orleans.  Then, Truman Capote wrote the novella that became a beloved film classic starring Audrey Hepburn in her most iconic role.  But if Capote had had his way, Marilyn Monroe would have played the naïve and sprightly Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, not Hepburn. Sam Wasson has authored a new book exploring the making of the movie and its influence on the contemporary woman — the “little black dress” is just the beginning. Wesson’s book is titled Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman.
 
 
Thursday, July 8, 2010
 
Award winning writer William Dalrymple, author of The Last Mughal and From the Holy Mountain, has lived in and written about India for over twenty-five years.  His latest book, Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India, examines how ancient religious traditions are surviving and in many cases being adapted for a rapidly changing India.  Then, in celebration of Romantic composer Gustav Mahler 150th birthday, Martin Goldsmith, host of Sirius XM’s Symphony Hall, explains the great composer’s life and music.  
 
 
Friday, July 9, 2010
 
David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk politics.  Next, Bobby Bare Sr. and his son Bobby Bare Jr. join Bob to discuss a new CD they co-produced which celebrates the songwriting of Shel Silverstein. It’s called Twistable Turnable Man and features contributions from My Morning Jacket, John Prine, Kris Kristofferson, Ray Price, Todd Snider, Lucinda Williams and Nanci Griffith. The Bares each sing a song as well with Sr. covering “The Living Legend” and Jr. now singing the grown-up lead vocals with his daughter on “Daddy What If.”  Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with curator Dan Gediman about the essay of Chester Bowles.  He gave up a successful advertising business to be a public servant, political figure and diplomat. He worked in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations until 1948, when he was elected Governor of Connecticut. Bowles later served as U.S. Ambassador to India and Nepal.
 
 
Monday, July 12, 2010

Inspired by the farm movement in Northern California, Novella Carpenter transformed the abandoned lot next to her Oakland, California home into a working farm, complete with turkeys, geese, chickens, and a 300 pig.  Her book Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer is out in paperback. Then, when Ayelet Waldman declared in a New York Times magazine story that she loved her husband more than her four children, moms across America vilified her. To explain herself, Waldman took to the talk show circuit, even facing (and holding her own against) Oprah’s angry mob. Now Waldman has published a book of essays about maternal guilt. It’s called “Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace.”

 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The United Farm Workers has launched a new campaign called Take Our Jobs, in which immigrant “farm workers are ready to welcome citizens and legal residents who wish to replace them in the field.” The online application warns, “Duties may include tilling the soil, transplanting, weeding, thinning, picking, cutting, sorting and packing of harvested produce,” among other difficult working conditions. Giev Kashkooli is UFW National Vice president — he’ll describe the goal of the campaign and the likelihood of its success. Then, Al Punto translates to “To the Point” and is the Spanish-language version of Meet The Press, broadcast Sunday mornings on Univision. Jorge Ramos hosts that program and a nightly newscast, Noticiero Univision. The Mexican-born journalist discusses his tenure in Latin American news, current events, and his most recent book, “A Country for All: an Immigrant Manifesto.”
 
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

We continue our series of music interviews recorded during this year’s New Orleans Jazz Fest, this week with Jimmy Carter, a founding member of the Blind Boys of Alabama. Bob spoke with Carter in a classroom at the New Hope Baptist Church in New Orleans before the group performed for a packed house. Every chair, seat and pew was filled and fans from the neighborhood and beyond lined the aisles to experience the Blind Boys brand of gospel music. Their latest CD is titled “Duets” and features the group performing with the likes of Randy Travis, Bonnie Raitt, Lou Reed, Charlie Musselwhite and Asleep at the Wheel.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
 
In 2004 Robert K. Wittman founded the FBI Art Crime Team, a small group of special agents who recover art and artifacts snatched from museums and private collections all over the world. During his 20 year career with the FBI, Wittman has recovered rare antiquities and paintings by masters like Picasso, Monet, and Rembrandt totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.  His memoir is “Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures.” Then, we remember comic book icon Harvey Pekar. Author of the autobiographical series “American Splendor,” Pekar died this week at age 70.
 
  

Friday, July 16, 2010


David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk politics. Next, singer-songwriter Kevin Welch left his Oklahoma home at age 17 to pursue a life in music, settling in Nashville in 1978. Welch was very active in local clubs, performing with different bands and finally his own band - The Overtones. His popularity grew and in 1988 he signed a record contract with Warner Brothers. He has charted five singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts and released eight studio albums. Welch newest cd is titled “A Patch Of Blue Sky.” Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series “This I Believe,” Bob talks with curator Dan Gediman about the essay of foreign correspondent William L. Shirer. He wrote the acclaimed World War II histories The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and Berlin Diary. Shirer reported from numerous European cities including Paris, Vienna and Rome, and had the distinction of being bombed in Berlin by the British and bombed in London by the Germans.
 
 
Monday, July 19, 2010  

 

“Only after covering it for years did I understand that the war on terror never really existed.”  So says journalist Megan Stack in the prologue to Every Man in This Village Is a Liar: an Education in War.  In that book, she chronicles her experience covering Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon for the Los Angeles Times and describes how in war countries around the globe that you can “survive and not survive, both at the same time.”  Then, The Smithsonian American Art Museum celebrates the American ideal with a new exhibit of artist Norman Rockwell’s iconic paintings and drawings.  The exhibit is Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010  

 

Filmmaker Natalia Almada turned to her own family’s past for her documentary El General, winner of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival U.S. Directing Award.  Almada’s great-grandfather, Plutarco Elias Calles, was the notorious Mexican revolutionary general who became president of Mexico in 1924.  Almada used 1978 recorded memories from her grandmother Alicia Calles to give both a familial perspective and historical look at this man who helped found Mexico’s modern political system.  El General airs on July 20th as part of PBS’s documentary series POV.  Then, Reality Radio: Telling True Stories in Sound celebrates today’s best audio documentary work by bringing together some of best-known and most influential radio producers of our generation.  In these nineteen essays, documentary artists tell—and demonstrate, through stories and transcripts—how they make radio the way they do, and why.  John Biewen, audio program director at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, talks about his collection and why the radio documentary has developed into a vibrant form of creative expression.  

 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Patrick Jeffries is a superintendant for EPIC Divers & Marine, which provides commercial diving and marine services world-wide, including gas and oil platform and pipeline service, well repair, and underwater inspection and construction.  Jeffries discusses life as a commercial diver, his current work in the Gulf of Mexico and the ongoing recovery effort since the explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Then, as part of our ongoing series of interviews with musicians in New Orleans, we’ll feature someone who was passing through during this year’s Jazz and Heritage Festival. Keely Smith got her musical and matrimonial debut from Louis Prima back in the 1950s. They set up shop in Las Vegas, performing big band numbers mixed with entertaining banter. Bob talks with Smith about her successful life after Louis, both in love and music.

 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

There are an estimated 23,000 nuclear weapons in the world but we don’t even know where they are all. Lucy Walker is the writer and director of a new documentary, Countdown to Zero, that makes the case for worldwide nuclear disarmament. The film traces the history of atomic weapons, from their creation to the current debate in the Senate on the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), signed by President Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in April.  To see if Countdown to Zero is playing in your area, go to the Magnolia Pictures Web site. Then, 50 years ago, Alabama native Harper Lee’s novel To Kill A Mockingbird hit bookstores across America, becoming an immediate bestseller and an American literary classic. In celebration of the book’s anniversary writer and filmmaker Mary McDonagh Murphy compiled interviews with over two dozen contemporary writers, historians, journalists and artists for her book Scout, Atticus, & Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird.

 

Friday, July 23, 2010  

David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk politics.  Next, compassion, kindness, selflessness – none make logical sense biologically. And yet, examples of biological altruism are found throughout the animal kingdom.   Darwin never successfully explained the kindness gene, but a relatively unknown, eccentric scientist named George Price did.  Oren Harman is a professor of the history of science at Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv and the author of a new book, The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with curator Dan Gediman about the essay of Muhammad Zafrulla Khan.  He was the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, president of the All-India Muslim League in 1931, leader of the Indian delegation to the League of Nations Assembly in 1939 and leader of the Pakistan Delegation to the United Nations. In later years, Khan was a judge for and president of the International Court of Justice.

 

Monday, July 26, 2010

In memory of journalist Daniel Schorr who passed away on Friday at the age of 93, we’ll rebroadcast Bob’s January 2008 interview with Schorr.  Read more about Daniel Schorr here.

 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The documentary Presumed Guilty follows the story of Jose Antonio Zuniga through the Mexican judicial system.  Zuniga has evidence and witnesses on his side, but going against him are a prosecutor and a court system which maintains a 95-percent conviction rate.  Roberto Hernandez and Layda Negrete are Berkeley-educated lawyers who take up the case.  They discuss the extreme hardships faced by falsely accused Mexicans in a system where suspects are “guilty until proven innocent.”  The documentary airs today on PBS/POV.  Then, gambler Beth Raymer’s memoir “Lay the Favorite: a Memoir of Gambling” tells the story of her wild gambling career.  Raymer’s memoir talks about her wild life as a young woman in a high stakes world. She soon discovers the anxiety fueled world of sports betting.

 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We conclude our series of interviews recorded at this year’s New Orleans Jazz Fest with a musical import. Jon Cleary was born and raised into a musical family in a sleepy English town, but thanks to a traveling uncle he was introduced at an early age to the music and culture of New Orleans. Now Cleary has been living there for most of his life, made the switch from guitar to piano and possesses an amazing grasp of the secret ingredients of New Orleans music. Cleary shares the recipe with Bob on one of the four pianos in his home studio in the Bywater neighborhood.  Then, as our summer music series ends, we bring you a preview of our new series from southern Louisiana reporting on the endangered wetlands, the oil spill and how New Orleans is doing five years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. That series is titled No Place Like Home: The Vanishing Culture of Coastal Louisiana.

 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, a high-level Pentagon official and Vietnam War strategist, leaked 7,000 pages of top secret documents about the war to the press. It was a Defense Department study never meant to be seen by the public. Its publication in the New York Times proved the war was based on lies and eventually led to president Richard Nixon’s resignation and the end of America’s involvement in Vietnam. Bob talks with Ellsberg about his decision to release the “Pentagon Papers” and with filmmakers Judith Ehrlich andRick Goldsmith about their documentary called “The Most Dangerous Man in America.” It’s now out on DVD.

 

Friday, July 30, 2010  

David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk politics.  Next, once called “the American Olivier” by critic Frank Rich, actor Kevin Kline’s film and stage honors include an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for A Fish Called Wanda (1988), and two Tony Awards, for On the Twentieth Century (1978) and Pirates of Penzance (1981).  In his latest film The Extra Man, Kline plays Henry Harrison, an aspiring playwright who makes his living as a male escort for wealthy older New York women.    Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with curator Dan Gediman about the essay of journalist Lucy Freeman.  She covered mental health and social welfare subjects for The New York Times. Her first book Fight Against Fears detailed her own psychoanalytic treatment for social fears and insomnia. Freeman went on to write more than 70 books ranging from psychology topics to mystery novels.