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July 2011


Friday, July 1, 2011 

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to talk about politics and other news. Next, scientists at the FDA estimate that the painkiller Vioxx directly led to the deaths of 40,000 people over the five years that the drug was on the market. Former NPR reporter Snigdha Prakash covered the story while it was unfolding and now she has written a book about the trials that eventually led the drug company Merck to reach a multi-billion dollar settlement. In All The Justice Money Can Buy, Prakash describes the legal maneuverings and scientific manipulation that make it very difficult to hold powerful corporations accountable. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Joan Skiba.  She grew up in a military family, and Skiba was a perfect patriot. As a young woman in the 1960s, she served as a nurse in Vietnam, treating wounded soldiers. That experience taught her about the dangers of patriotism. Skiba says that a true patriot should celebrate her country, but question the decisions of her government. 


Monday, July 4, 2011  

We dip into the archive to bring back Bob’s interview with popular music scholar Philip Furia about his book America’s Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley. It’s about the most beloved songs of the last century, from the misery of the Depression-era “Brother Can You Spare a Dime?” to the postwar optimism of “Young at Heart.” Then, our resident folklorists Nancy Groce and Steve Winick from the Library of Congress dip into the archive of the American Folklife Center and bring along songs, poems, and stories about food.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mara Hvistendahl explores how the rampant trend of sex selective abortion has left over 160 million females “missing” from Asia’s population. Her new book is titled Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men. Then, as a young American girl in Paris, jazz singer and musician Madeleine Peyroux drew inspiration from the likes of Edith Piaf and Billie Holiday.  Her debut album Dreamland (1996) paid tribute to both women, along with Patsy Cline, Bob Dylan and others, and earned her a devoted following among music aficionados.  Peyroux is back with her fifth solo album, this one titled Standing on the Rooftop.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011 

Last month key Republicans in the House of Representatives quietly blocked a bipartisan plan that would have ended $167 million in government subsidies to agribusiness and wealthy farmers who make more than $750,000 a year. Elizabeth Kucinich explains what happened and the ramifications of the political maneuver. Kucinich is the director of government affairs for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.  Then, in 1945, Champaign, Illinois resident and mother Vashti McCollum filed a lawsuit that became one of the most important First Amendment cases in American history, and changed the relationship between religion and our public schools.  Because McCollum’s son was bullied when she refused to allow him to attend a school sponsored religion class, McCollum sued the school district, setting off a firestorm against her and leading to her landmark Supreme Court case.  Director Jay Rosenstein’s documentary The Lord is Not On Trial Here Today won a Peabody Award and is airing throughout the summer on PBS.


Thursday, July 7, 2011  

While notable big city newspapers are shrinking and failing, many rural weeklies are thriving. Award-winning journalist Judy Muller shares some big stories from small towns and talks with Bob about her new book Emus Loose in Egnar. Then, Bob talks with Louisiana native Lucinda Williams about her music career and about growing up all over the south with her father, the poet and traveling literature professor Miller Williams. Many of her songs celebrate Southern place names like Lake Charles, Greenville, Bus To Baton Rouge, Crescent City, Lafayette and Jackson. Lucinda Williams’ latest CD is titled Blessed.


Friday, July 8, 2011 

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to talk about politics and other news. Next, legendary attorney Clarence Darrow was immortalized by actor Spencer Tracy in the film Inherit the Wind, a dramatization of the Scopes Monkey trial.  Journalist and writer John A. Farrell’s new biography Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned examines the attorney’s landmark cases, and role as a Progressive hero. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of English professor Kristin Kelly.  She is in love with the tools of her trade, the way a carpenter might collect chisels, or an artist might gather brushes, Kelly buys books. Her father taught her to love books, and now Kelly spends much of her extra cash to own what she calls pieces of heavenly art.


Monday, July 11, 2011  

The 1980s conjure happy nostalgia for some, while others remember it as a low point in American history. For the good and the bad, author David Sirota claims that the decade of Ronald Reagan and Bill Cosby has an outsized influence on our national perspective today. His book is titled Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now – Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Everything. Then, over the centuries, poets have looked to love, beauty, and the mysteries of life for inspiration.  But poet Brian McGackin felt it was time to give some of life’s lesser, but still poignant pleasures their due in verse.  He is the author of Broetry, which includes the poems “Ode to That Girl I Dated for, Like, a Month Sophomore Year” and “My Friends Who Don’t Have Student Loans.”


Tuesday, July 12, 2011  

Brooke Gladstone is the editor and host of the public radio program On the Media. Her new book, The Influencing Machine, is a guide through the complexities of modern media in comic book form. Then, book critic and Bob Edwards Show regular Laura Miller returns to recommend some of the best books of the summer for the long hot days ahead. 


Wednesday, July 13, 2011  

Actor Rufus Sewell is the title character in the new Masterpiece Mystery series Zen.  He plays Italian detective Aurelio Zen, whose honesty often gets him in trouble as he tracks down murderers and mysteries in Rome and the nearby Italian countryside.  The series airs Sunday evenings starting July 17th through the 31st on PBS channels across the country. Then, Texas bluesman Johnny Nicholas joins Bob to talk about his new record of blues, Texas soul and roots.  Future Blues is out today and Nichols recorded it at the roadhouse/restaurant he’s been running with his wife since 1980.


Thursday, July 14, 2011  

In the US, we celebrate Independence Day every year on July 4th to commemorate our nation’s independence from Great Britain.  On July 14th, the French celebrate Bastille Day, not to mark independence from another country, but to from their own sovereign.  Writer Ina Caro takes readers into French history via rail in her new historical travelogue Paris to the Past: Traveling Through French History by Train.  Then, thirty years before Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan, there was Joyce McKinney, a beauty queen whose antics often landed her on the front page of the gossip rags. Unlike most of today’s celebs du jour McKinney had an IQ of 168, but her behavior was just as bad and often much more bizarre. In his new film, Tabloid, director Errol Morris tells the story of McKinney’s strange odyssey in pursuit of a love interest – cloned dogs, magic underwear, and celestial sex included. Roger Ebert says, “If Tabloid is a love story, it is one only Errol Morris could film.” Morris’ previous films include The Fog of War, Fast, Cheap & Out of Control and Standard Operating Procedure.


Friday, July 15, 2011 

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to talk about politics and other news. Next, director Chris Weitz (About a Boy) talks with Bob about his latest film A Better Life.  This unsentimental drama focuses on a Mexican illegal immigrant living in L.A. struggling to give his son the opportunities he never had.  Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Reverend Dr. John M. Buchanan.  He is the pastor of Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church. Buchanan has found new meaning in the biblical assertion that God created humankind in His image as he has observed his granddaughter, who has Down syndrome. She participates in sports, theater and the church. For Buchanan, her success in life is proof that every person deserves respect and has something of the sacred within them.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Africa has a new country: the Republic of South Sudan.  After decades of fighting for independence, southern Sudan seceded on July 9th.  Co-founder of The Enough Project, John Prendergast, was in the country to observe the volatile split, where the predominantly Muslim north still disagrees with the predominantly Christian south on how to divide their oil-rich border.  Prendergast will describe what he saw, discussions with local leaders, and why war crimes are feared.  Then, Jeffrey Deaver is the author of twenty-eight novels but his next is a first.  No James Bond book has ever been written by an American, until now.  Deaver discusses Carte Blanche: A James Bond Novel, its villains, women, and British humor about Yankees. 


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jimmy Buffett is like a pied piper, but with a guitar, leading his Coral Reefer Band and his legion of fans known as Parrot Heads. Bob visits with Buffett in the state of mind called Margaritaville to talk about the song, the commercial enterprises, the Sirius XM satellite radio channel and about his connection to New Orleans.   


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The majority of Americans oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Wall Street bailouts, but passivity reigns and people complain that they feel powerless.  In his book Get Up, Stand Up, psychologist Bruce Levine offers an explanation for this apathy, namely that major US institutions have created defeatism. And when defeatism set in, action becomes very difficult.  Then, 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.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

As a life time nerd, actor and comedian Simon Pegg knows his fan base well.  Growing up obsessed with Star Wars, Star Trek, and all things popular with the unpopular, Pegg was well-poised to take on starring roles in cult films Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Spaced.   Pegg writes about being different in Hollywood in his new book Nerd Do Well: A Small Boy’s Journey to Becoming a Big Kid.  Then, Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen’s novel is a satirical look at the likes of Lindsay Lohan.  It’s called Star Island.  He and Bob talk celebrity culture and Florida politics.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to talk about politics and other news. Next, at age 21, pianist Vanessa Carlton earned three Grammy nominations for her pop hit A Thousand Miles. However, she was unsatisfied with the product and process, so with her latest album, she self-produced and self-funded.  Carlton performs songs from “Rabbits on the Run” and talks about her growth as a musician. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Lex Urban.  He believes in living for the moment. Choosing to follow his interests, no matter the naysayers, has been fruitful for him. Urban was the captain of his college tennis team, and after graduation, chose service to others instead of chasing the almighty dollar. His experience with AmeriCorp helped shape his opinion about the important things in life.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Five foreigners, including an American, were pardoned by the Somali government recently after being arrested in May for bringing millions of dollars into the country to pay a ransom to Somali pirates. The UN estimates more than $110 million has been paid just in the past twelve months. Jay Bahadur spent a year in Somalia infiltrating the remote pirate havens of the war-ravaged country. His book, The Pirates of Somalia, is a first ever, close-up look into the lives of these men ­— how they live, how they spend the ransom money, how they treat the hostages, and the forces that created piracy in Somalia.  Then, “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 her book, Stack chronicles her experience covering Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon for the Los Angeles Times. 


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

In Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate, journalist Juan Williams uses his very public firing at NPR as a launching pad to discuss the countless ways in which honest debate in America—from the halls of Congress and the health care town halls to the talk shows and print media-is stifled. Bob talks with Williams about his new book, his departure from NPR and his expanded role at Fox News.  Then, Ben Sollee is a “folk-pop” cellist from Lexington, Kentucky who’s played with Bela Fleck, My Morning Jacket and Justin Townes Earle. Sollee chats with Bob about his second album Inclusions, bicycling cross-country (with cello attached), and his passion to end mountain top removal coal mining.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Author Erik Larson always wondered what it would have been like for an outsider to have witnessed firsthand the rise of Hitler’s rule — what Berlin looked like, felt like, smelled like, and why it took so long to recognize the danger posed by Hitler and his regime.  Larson’s newest book, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, is a portrait of the Nazi capital told largely though the experience of an American family which was there during Hitler’s first full year as chancellor.  Then, Sharks! The word inspires fear in some, awe in others and whole weeks of programming for some cable networks. In her new book Demon Fish, Juliet Eilperin travels around the globe investigating how people and cultures relate to the ocean’s top predator. Eilperin is the environmental reporter for the Washington Post. 


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Songwriter Josh Ritter can now add “prose” to the list of his cultural accomplishments.  Bright’s Passage started as a song and evolved into a novel about a recently widowed World War I veteran, Henry Bright, who must navigate a new and lonely world with his infant son.  Ritter talks about his literary inspiration and writing without a beat.  Then, most of us assume that Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is an obviously fictional tale that came from the imagination of the Bard.  But first time novelist Anne Fortier discovered that the tale of the star-crossed lovers was actually based on a historical event from 14th century Sienna, Italy and not fair Verona.  Her novel Juliet mixes the historical details with her fictional tale of a young woman in contemporary times.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to talk about politics and other news. Next, if the American people collectively will suffer when independent journalism disappears, should Federal money be spent to save it?  John Nichols of The Nation magazine and media critic Robert McChesney lay out their multi-billion dollar plan to resuscitate the American press in their book The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution That Will Begin the World Again. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Nancy Pieters Mayfield.  She says there’s nothing as satisfying as a job well done. In college, she spent her summers cleaning rooms at a luxury hotel. At first, she did the bare minimum, until the career maids scolded her and showed her how to take pride in her work. Mayfield’s strong work ethic carried over into her career as a journalist.