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October 2011


Monday, October 3, 2011

The conflict in the Eastern Congo is one of the worst in history, where more than 5.5 million have perished and it’s the most dangerous place in the world for women and children.  While “blood diamonds” were infamous in other parts of Africa, in the eastern Congo, it’s “conflict minerals” which are mined to be used in cell phones and laptops.  Actress Robin Wright is an advocate for the victims in the region and she joins Fidel Bafilemba of the Enough Project to discuss their recent trip.  Then, we remember Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai.  In 2007Bob talked to Maathai about her memoir Unbowed. Maathai grew up in rural Kenya and founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977.  Maathai died last Sunday at the age of 71.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The supermarket A&P was once the largest retailer in the world, so well-known that consumers called it “Grandma.” And long before anyone had ever heard of Wal-Mart, it was A&P changing the way Americans shopped and ate.  Marc Levinson writes about the chain store and uses its history to help explain the politics of Main Street in his new book The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America. Levinson is the author of an earlier book titled The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger. Then, Mark Vonnegut is a pediatrician working in the suburbs of Boston. He also happens to be the only son of the late writer Kurt Vonnegut. And, he used to be insane. Vonnegut has suffered four psychotic breaks in his life, but it’s been over 25 years since the last one. He shares stories about growing up, and cracking up, in his memoir Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So.  It’s now out in paperback.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Critics have called Irish singer-songwriter Julie Feeney the most “intriguing female voice to come out of Ireland since Sinead O’Connor.”  From her debut album 13 Songs (2006) to her latest release Pages, Feeney has established herself as an artist of unique talents and gifts.  


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Caldecott award winning illustrator Brian Selznick is the author of 2007’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which will be out in movie form this Thanksgiving from director Martin Scorsese.  Selznick most recent book, Wonder Struck, tells two congruent tales, one in illustrations and the other in words.  Then, Truman Capote wrote the novella that became a beloved film classic starring Audrey Hepburn in her most iconic role.  But if Capote 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 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.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to talk about politics and other news. Next, Texan Cameron Todd Willingham was charged for the 1991 arson murders of his three daughters.  He maintained his innocence until his execution in 2004.  Filmmakers Joe Bailey, Jr. and Steve Mims discuss the mystery, the forensic evidence, and the politics surrounding this controversial case.  The film, Incendiary: the Willingham Case, opens today in NYC.  Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Dani Weathers.  After Weathers’ father died in a car accident, she struggled with severe depression that eventually led to self-destructive behavior. She spent so many years in emotional darkness that she began to fear that without her depression, she would have no personality at all. Now Weathers has a renewed feeling of happiness. Her depression is still with her, but it no longer rules her life.


Monday, October 10, 2011

John Carlos won bronze in the 200 meter dash at the 1968 Olympics, but it was his raised-fist salute alongside gold medalist Tommie Smith that etched him into the lasting iconography of sports. His autobiography, co-written with progressive sports journalist Dave Zirin, is titled “The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World.”  Then, today is Columbus Day and we celebrate by dipping into the archive to bring back Bob’s interview with James Reston.  He explains how pivotal the year 1492 was in his book Dogs of God: Columbus, the Inquisition, and the Defeat of the Moors.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One of the most famous photographs to come out of the Civil Rights era is of a black high school girl, dressed in white, walking stoically in front of Little Rock Central High School, while behind her stands a white girl screaming racial epithets, her face showing rage.  The two girls are now grown women, and. In 1962, Hazel Bryan Massery tracked down Elizabeth Eckford and apologized. The two had a public reconciliation in 1997. Journalist David Margolick tells the history of their lives and complicated relationship in a new book, Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock. Then, our resident folklorists Steve Winick and Nancy Groce delve into the folk life collection at the Library of Congress to bring us sounds and songs having to do with law and order.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Decision fatigue can affect everyone from a judge on a long day of hearing cases, to a quarterback late in the game, to a shopper at IKEA trying to pick out wall mounts. But what people don’t realize is that making decisions uses the very same willpower that you use to say no to doughnuts, drugs or illicit sex. New York Times science writer John Tierney investigates the connection in a new book titled Willpower: The Science Behind Decision Making and Self Control. Then, Irish writer Eoin Colfer is famous as the author of the highly popular Artemis Fowl books for young people. Now he’s giving adults a taste of his fast paced and often very funny prose with Plugged, a noir crime capper set in New Jersey.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Deborah Fallows set out on a mission to understand the nuance of “ai,” the Mandarin word for love, after a Chinese friend asked her (in Mandarin) which of her sons she loved more. Fallows was learning the language while living in China for three years with her husband, Atlantic writer James Fallows.  In her book, Dreaming In Chinese, Fallows explains how learning Mandarin helped her better understand modern China.  It’s now out in paperback.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to talk about politics and other news. Next, scholar, literary critic and best-selling writer Stephen Greenblatt’s book The Swerve: How the World Became Modern examines the ancient Roman document that inspired the Renaissance.   As one of the founders of New Historicism and one of the most important scholars of our age, Greenblatt is also the author of, among other works, Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare.    Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Catherine McDowall.  When McDowall was in middle school, she threw a party for her classmates, and her mother made her invite everyone — popular and unpopular alike. Since then, the motto “everyone is included” has guided McDowall’s life. She strives to treat everyone equally, reaching out to provide a helping hand and a friendly smile.


Monday, October 17, 2011

George Black’s latest article for OnEarth magazine is titled “Coal on a Roll: Plundering America to Power the Asian Boom.”  In it, Black explains why Wyoming coal is exported, to what extent Warren Buffett is involved, and what the overseas demand portends for a low-carbon future.  OnEarth magazine is published by the Natural Resources Defense Council.  Then, musicians Gary Louris and Mark Olson are the founders and front men of the alt country-rock band The Jayhawks.  After an eight year gap, the group is back with a new album titled Mockingbird Time


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cultural critic Laura Kipnis’ 2010 book How to Become a Scandal examines why so many of us love to watch a good scandal, and why we can’t look away from someone’s public self-destruction.  A professor of media studies at Northwestern University, Kipnis’s work often focuses on gender issues in popular culture.   How to Become a Scandal is now available in paperback.  Then, Tom McGuane is the author of nine novels including The Sporting Club, The Bushwhacked Piano, and Ninety-two in the Shade, three works of nonfiction and two collections of stories.  His first novel in eight years is titled Driving on the Rim. It’s now out in paperback.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In modern society, the idea of privacy is rapidly becoming extinct. The feelings and actions we share online – intentionally or otherwise – are unthinkable to previous generations. In his second novel, The Visible Man, Chuck Klosterman explores the titillation of peeping into private lives through the story of a therapist and one of her patients, a man who uses secret government technology to make himself invisible. Klosterman is the author of Downtown Owl, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, and Eating the Dinosaur.  Then, Peter Sokolowski returns to talk about words of the day.  He is the Editor-at-Large for Merriam-Webster which recently announced new words added to their dictionary this year.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

We remember legendary writer, producer, director and performer Norman Corwin.  Corwin was the man behind such legendary radio productions as “We Hold These Truths,” “14 August” and his masterpiece, “On A Note of Triumph” - which marked the end of World War Two in Europe. Norman Corwin died Tuesday at the age of 101.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to talk about politics and other news.  Next, the Occupy Wall Street protests which started last month have now spread to more than 150 cities nationwide in addition to cities in Europe, Asia, and South America.  The Bob Edwards Show visits Zuccotti Park in New York City where the activists have set up camp to learn who’s there and why.  Then Bob talks to Dana R. Fisher, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Maryland, who focuses on the ways that social actors engage in decision-making processes.  She’ll discuss the successes and failures of civic participation and activism throughout American history.  And finally, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Andrew Paradis.  In the Marines, Paradis learned to put others before himself, always faithful to the mission and the group. The idea of semper fidelis — always faithful — was put to the test in his personal life when his wife developed serious health issues and attempted suicide several times. Paradis did not shrink from the challenge, but stood by his wife and his children, remaining faithful to the group.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Famed writer Margaret Atwood has just written a treatise on science fiction called, “In Other Worlds: Science Fiction and the Human Imagination.” She talks with Bob about her relationship with the genre and its subtleties.  Then, Sweet Honey in the Rock, the internationally renowned all-female vocal ensemble, brings its powerhouse sound to our performance studio for a conversation with Bob and to share a few of their songs.  The Grammy award-winning group was founded in 1973 and took their name from Psalm 81:16.  They are currently touring a new show that pays tribute to activists and musicians Nina Simone, Odetta, and Miriam Makeba. 


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In his new novel, Lost Memory of Skin, Russell Banks explores the aftermath of crime and punishment. The book follows a nameless young man as he does his best to survive a modern-day limbo. The Kid is a convicted sex offender, and he lives with others who share his fate under a causeway in south Florida – the only location available that is simultaneously close enough to parole officers and far enough from children. The Kid eventually meets the Professor, who also lives on the margins of society, and their friendship provides the Kid enough confidence to begin to take control of his life.  Then, Bob talks about Mark Twain with Cindy Lovell, the Executive Director of The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri. Lovell also was the executive producer for a new double CD called Mark Twain: Words & Music. It features readings by Jimmy Buffett, Clint Eastwood and Garrison Keillor and songs by Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Brad Paisley and Ricky Skaggs.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In 1994, President Bill Clinton appointed Justice Stephen Breyer as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.  One of the nation’s leading scholars and voices of constitutional law, Justice Breyer’s most recent book is Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge’s View.  He joins Bob to examine the American public’s relationship with Supreme Court decisions, addressing how the Court can maintain the public’s faith even in the face of unpopular rulings.  His book is now out in paperback.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Operation Enduring Freedom, the U.S. attack on Afghanistan.  Jonathan Steele has covered Afghanistan since 1981 and he joins Bob for an analysis of the current situation in the region. His new book is titled Ghosts of Afghanistan: The Haunted Battleground.  Then, when travel writer and historian Patrick “Paddy” Leigh Fermor passed away this summer at age 96, the world lost one of its great writers and personalities.  Described as a cross between Indiana Jones, James Bond and Graham Green, Fermor’s exploits are the stuff of legend.  Friend and renowned travel writer Colin Thubron remembers him.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to talk about politics and other news.  Next, filmmaker Jennifer Fox spent 20 years documenting the relationship between a Tibetan spiritual leader and his Italian-born son who refuse to follow in his father’s footsteps.  My Reincarnation opens today in New York and Los Angeles.    Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Bhavani Murugesan.  She is a college graduate and an attorney. Murugesan also lives with her parents. What started out as a matter of necessity has blossomed into a matter of choice.  Murugesan says that knowing her parents as adults, and participating in their daily lives, has made the family closer.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Ronald Bishop explores our society’s obsession with triviality, extravagance and spectacle in his new book, More: The Vanishing of Scale in an Over-the-Top Nation. Then, Amy Stewart is not an entomologist but that hasn’t stopped her from writing Wicked Bugs: The Louse that Conquered Napoleon’s Army & Other Diabolical Insects. It’s an A to Z list of terrifying stories about the havoc those tiny creatures can cause.