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June 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

Historian and author Thurston Clarke talks with Bob about the lessons we can learn from Robert Kennedy’s presidential bid in 1968. Clarke’s latest book is titled, The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America. It’s now out in paperback. Then, Bob talks to director Seth Gordon about his documentary King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. Gordon documents the battle between gaming legend Billy Mitchell and newcomer Steve Wiebe (WEE-be) for the title of Donkey Kong champion. In the latest development, Stride Gum has offered Wiebe $10,001 in quarters if he can beat Mitchell’s world record.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

When novelist W.D. Wetherell turned 50, he left his family to go on a month-long fishing trip in Yellowstone. He recounts the story in Yellowstone Autumn. Then, Bob has been a fan of Ian Tyson forever but has never had the chance to interview him. The Canadian country-folk legend’s newest CD is titled Yellowhead to Yellowstone and other Love Songs.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Next, historian and cultural educator Simon Schama didn’t look too far back in time for his latest book The American Future: A History. Using the 2008 presidential election as a reference point, Schama examines the history of four on-going social debates in the U.S.: war, religion, race and immigration, and economic division. Then, book critic Laura Miller enlightens Bob on the best of the new fiction out this spring.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

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. Then, musician Yusuf Islam, also known as Cat Stevens, is one of the most beloved songwriters of his generation.But at the height of his fame in 1977 (and with 8 gold records under his belt), Stevens converted to Islam, changed his name, and left music to do philanthropic work in the Muslim community.Yusuf returned to music in 1995, and this spring has a new album out titled Roadsinger.

Friday, June 5, 2009

David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk politics.The Rote Kapelle, or Red Orchestra, was what the Gestapo called a group of ordinary Germans who tried to bring down the Nazi regime from within Germany. After years of research and exclusive interviews, Anne Nelson has published Red Orchestra: The Story of the Berlin Underground and the Circle of Friends Who Resisted Hitler. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with executive director Dan Gediman about the essay from Helen Keller. As an infant, Keller was struck by a fever that left her deaf and blind. But with the guidance of her teacher Anne Sullivan, Keller learned to communicate through the eyes and ears of others. After graduating from Radcliffe College, Keller became a renowned author, activist and lecturer.

Monday, June 8, 2009

In the tradition of the 1973 classic book The Boys on the Bus, journalist Eric Boehlert offers Bloggers on the Bus: How the Internet Changed Politics and the Press. Boehlert uses the 2008 presidential race to show how bloggers influenced voters, the candidates and their campaigns.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Paul Petersen was a child actor—-kicked out of the original Mouseketeers for “conduct unbecoming a mouse.” He was later the young heartthrob on The Donna Reed Show and was one the reasons that millions of teenage girls never missed an episode. Today Peterson is an advocate for the physical, mental and financial well-being of performing minors.Then, the theory of evolution was introduced 150 years ago by Charles Darwin. Yet, still most medical schools do not teach how the human body and mind evolved from the Stone Age. Dr. William Meller has spent the bulk of his career studying evolutionary medicine and traveling to countries like Bhutan, Myanmar, and Peru to study ancient methods of healing. Meller discusses evolutionary medicine and how scientists can better learn through the study of anthropology.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

First, Christine Todd Whitman served as governor of New Jersey from 1994 to 2001 and EPA administrator for much of George W. Bush’s first term. She and Bob talk about her experiences in government and her take on the current political and environmental landscapes. These days, as co-chair of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, CASEnergy, Whitman is an advocate for nuclear power. Then, at the Summit of the Americas in April, Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela, pressed a book into President Obama’s hands: Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent. The book was published in 1971 by one of Latin America’s most distinguished authors. Eduardo Galeano, who is Uruguayan, has criticized his own work for reducing “history to just one dimension,” and in recent years he’s turned to fiction and what he describes as “fictive” histories. Galeano talks with Bob about his latest book to be translated into English. Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone comes out this month.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

After he left the White House, Harry Truman drove his car from Independence, Missouri to New York City and back again, stopping at motels and diners just like any other tourists. Matthew Algeo retraces the excursion in Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip. Then, Bob discusses the latest in entertainment with regular contributor David Kipen.

Friday, June 12, 2009

David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk politics. Next, the new film Food, Inc. presents an enlightening and sometimes disturbing view of the American food system. Director Robert Kenner and food activist Michael Pollan join Bob to talk about their new film and to discuss some of the problems and solutions for modern food. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with executive director Dan Gediman about the essay from Walter White. He was executive secretary of the NAACP from 1931 to 1955. As a writer and activist, White lobbied for federal anti-lynching laws and the desegregation of the United States armed forces. Although fair-skinned with blond hair and blue eyes, White considered himself an African-American.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Jennifer Niles is the founder of the E.L. Haynes Public Charter School which was the first public school in the District of Columbia to implement a year-round schedule. They have also created an intense teacher training program in collaboration with American University. Niles will discuss the mission of the school and the student achievement she has overseen in the first five years. Then, Archie Green was a scholar of what he called “laborlore”— the folklife of the working people. Most of Green’s work is housed at the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center. It was largely though Green’s efforts that the Center was created in the first place. For seven years, Green actively lobbied Congress for the passage of the American Folklife Preservation Act, finally passed unanimously by Congress and signed by President Ford in 1976. Two of our resident folklorists from the Center knew Green very well. Peggy Bulger and David Taylor share stories and sounds from Green’s collection. Green died earlier this year at age 91.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

An “ombudsman” is a representative who handles complaints about an organization from the public. In Sweden where the term originated, it was a government position. Here, some media outlets also have ombudsmen – but not enough, says Jeffrey Dvorkin. He’s the Executive Director of the Organization of News Ombudsmen. While the concept of self-regulation among journalists was on an upward trend several years ago, it’s starting to get resistance as newsrooms are forced to cut positions. Then, Vin Scully has been calling baseball games on radio and television for almost 60 years now. He began in the booth with the legendary Red Barber in 1950, then moved with the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958. Author Curt Smith joins Bob to discuss the long-overdue biography he’s written called Pull Up a Chair: The Vin Scully Story.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Then, playwright, screenwriter, and director Arthur Laurents has 50 years of accumulated Broadway experiences and memories. Among his notable accomplishments are directing newcomer Barbra Streisand in I Can Get It for You Wholesale and directing La Cage aux Folles, Broadway’s first openly gay musical. Laurents also wrote the books for West Side Story and Gypsy, which remain two of Broadway’s most legendary musicals. His memoir is Mainly on Direction: Gypsy, West Side Story and Other Musicals. Then, Bob talks with Sirius XM’s Seth Rudetsky, host of Seth’s Big Fat Broadway on channel 77 about the recent Tony winners and what’s new on Broadway for the summer.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ross Donaldson is part of the team that is helping to re-build Iraq’s medical system. Only 33-years-old, his specialty is a relatively new and growing field at medical schools: humanitarian medicine. In The Lassa Ward, Donaldson writes about researching — and catching — a deadly disease in Sierra Leone. Dr. Donaldson is also the editor of the upcoming Tarascon Medical Translation Handbook, a manual that will help healthcare workers communicate with their patients in 18 different languages. Then, Bob speaks to author Tori Murden McClure in front of a live studio audience at the Bomhard Theatre at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. McClure was the first woman (and first American) to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Being the scholar-athlete that she is, she has now written a terrific book about the experience in A Pearl in the Storm.


Friday, June 19, 2009

David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk politics. Next, just in time for Father’s Day weekend, Bob talks with Michael Lewis about his new book Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with executive director Dan Gediman about the essay from John Cromwell. He was acclaimed for his work in the theater and movies. He directed some 40 films and is the father of actor James Cromwell. We’ll hear James’ reaction to his father’ essay, which he had never heard before.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Environmentalist Bill McKibben returns to the show to talk about his latest project: The number 350 – as in parts per million – is the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. McKibben talks about that magic number, why this year is so crucial to scientists concerned about climate change, and what he is planning for October 24th, the International Day of Climate Action. Then, Chancellor Michelle Rhee is one of the more controversial figures in education right now. Immediately after starting her new post in 2007, she fired scores of teachers and administrators throughout the DC Public School System. Rhee argues she’s doing what’s right for the students, even if it’s unpopular. As the next segment in our ongoing series on education reform, Rhee will discuss the value of teachers and how to motivate low income and minority students.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The United States Coast Guard has roughly 50,000 members and has rescued over a million people in its nearly 220 year history. Writer David Helvarg’s book Rescue Warriors: The U.S. Coast Guard, America’s Forgotten Heroes charts this often-overlooked organization’s history and their contemporary work in disasters like Hurricane Katrina. Then, under the provisions of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, 25 recordings deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” are added to the National Recording Registry each year. Gene (Eugene) DeAnna, the head of the Recorded Sound Section at the Library of Congress, joins Bob to discusses this year’s selections which include Marian Anderson’s recital at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939; the sounds of the ivory-billed woodpecker in the Louisiana swamp forest; Etta James’ “At Last”; Winston Churchill’s “Sinews of Peace” speech; and the original cast recording of “West Side Story.”


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Writer Luis Alberto Urrea’s latest novel,Into The North, tells the epic journey of 19 year old Nayeli, as she sets out from her native Mexico to find her own “Magnificent Seven” to save her village from the drug dealers who have taken over the town. Inspired by the 1960 film, Nayeli travels to America in search of protectorates. Urrea was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and has won an American Book Award, among many other honors; his previous books includeThe Hummingbird’s DaughterandThe Devil’s Highway.Then, we last had neuroscientist Daniel Levitin on the program when he wrote a book titled This Is Your Brain on Music. Now, Levitin expands on the subject, pairing up with musicians including Bobby McFerrin and Yo Yo Ma for the documentary “The Music Instinct: Science and Song.” The two-hour program investigates the connections between music and the human mind. It premieres Wednesday June 24, at 9 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings).


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Iran Inside/Out at the Chelsea Art Museum presents 50 contemporary artists living both inside and out of Iran. The curators, Till Fellrath and Sam Bardaouil, describe the context and intent of the show, and four of the artists –Pooneh MaghazehePouran JinchiSamira Abbassy, and Shoja Azari– discuss their art, the challenges they faced implementing this exhibit, and the importance of self-expression in the face of a repressive government….and pending revolution.


Friday, June 26, 2009

David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk politics. Next, in the late 1920s, Henry Ford built an agricultural and industrial utopia in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. The size of Tennessee, “Fordlandia” had a golf course, square dances, a library, restaurants, clapboard houses with front porches——a little slice of Americana in the Brazilian jungle. Ford’s plan was to create the largest rubber plantation on the planet. Inevitably, it was a complete failure. Historian Greg Grandin writes about Ford’s failed project in Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with executive director Dan Gediman about the essay from Louise Dickinson Rich. Her life in northern Maine became the fodder for her best-selling book, We Took to The Woods. Following her husband’s death, Rich moved with her children back to her hometown of Bridgewater, Mass., where she wrote numerous adult and young adult books.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Peter Carlson isn’t sure which anecdote it was that turned him into a self-described Khrushchev-in-America buff. It could have been the one about the irascible Soviet leader throwing a fit because he wasn’t allowed to go to Disneyland. Or it could have been Khrushchev’s suspicion that Camp David was really a leper colony. Or it could have been Khrushchev arguing with Nixon over which kind of animal dung smelled the worst. But Carlson synthesized the stories intoK Blows Top, a book about Nikita Khrushchev’s great American road trip which he took fifty years ago this month. Then,in his song, “Money, Compliments, Publicity,” Todd Snider maintains that he can’t get enough of all three. He also sings about the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Dock Ellis pitching a no-hitter on acid – a true story. The tunes are all on Snider’s newest album,The Excitement Plan. Snider will play some of his songs for Bob in Sirius XM’s performance studio.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council since 1975, Robert Redford has dedicated nearly as much of his life to the environment as he has to filmmaking. Redford joins Bob on stage at the Lincoln Center in front of a live audience to talk about his film career, support for young artists, the many NRDC campaigns he has supported in the past – and why that work will still be needed for years to come.