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September 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

In 2009, Gourmet magazine ceased monthly production, but not before Barry Estabrook authored a scathing exposé of the tomato industry and the inhumane treatment of its workers. “Politics of the Plate: The Price of Tomatoes” earned Estabrook a James Beard award for magazine feature writing and he’s expanded his work into a book, titled  Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit. Then, Aaron Burr is remembered first as the man who killed Alexander Hamilton, second as the vice-president turned traitor and third, a lady’s man.  But in her biography, historian Nancy Isenberg argues that Burr has been unfairly tarred and feathered by historical memory.  Bob talks to Isenberg about her book called Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to talk about politics and other news. Next, Wyatt Cenac is a correspondent and writer for The Daily Show where he sometimes takes on the position of Senior Race Analyst and the voice of a puppet version of the Chairman of the Republican Party, Michael Steele. Now he’s going solo with the DVD and CD release of his stand-up routine, “Wyatt Cenac: Comedy Person.” Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Jeff Nixa. Everybody told Jeff Nixa not to buy a house in a bad neighborhood. But he moved in anyway, and the neighbors welcomed his family. They broke bread, shared stories and became friends. In his “bad” neighborhood, Nixa says he found a real community, full of diversity and energy.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Today is Labor Day and we celebrate it with a conversation about Bob’s favorite job: journalism. We bring back Bob’s 2005 conversation with writer, director, and actor George Clooney and actor David Strathairn about their film Good Night and Good Luck.  The movie takes on the relationship between Edward R. Murrow, TV news, and the reign and eventual downfall of Senator Joseph McCarthy.  Then, we remember Dean Faulkner Wells.  She was the niece of writer William Faulkner and the last living member of the family who grew up at Rowan Oak, Faulkner’s home in Oxford, Mississippi.   To her, the Pulitzer Prize winner was simply “Pappy.”  Earlier this year, Bob talked to Wells about her book titled Every Day by the Sun: A Memoir of the Faulkners of Mississippi. She died in July after suffering a stroke.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

During the U.S. Global War on Terror, former CIA undercover agent and interrogator Glenn Carle was charged with interrogating a man the CIA believe to be a key member of Osama bin Laden’s circle.  But as their sessions progressed, Carle began to doubt if they had the right man.  In his book The Interrogator, Carle tells his story as a covert operative in one of our country’s darkest moments.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Thomas Jefferson is revered as one of the visionary founding fathers of our country, but his tenure as governor of Virginia during the Revolutionary War nearly derailed his legacy. Led by Benedict Arnold, the British took Virginia with relative ease and Jefferson was forced to flee his beloved home. The memories and lessons gleaned from these events had a profound effect on the rest of Jefferson’s life. Michael Kranish is a reporter in the Boston Globe’s Washington bureau and the author of Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War. Then, best-selling author Lev Grossman returns to the fictional land of Fillroy in The Magician King, the sequel to his 2009 hit novel The Magicians.  The story picks up with Quentin Coldwater as now king of the magical land he discovered in The Magicians, in this dark and modern mash-up of Narnia, Oz, Hogwarts and beyond.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

The new film Higher Ground is Oscar-nominated actress Vera Farmiga’s directorial debut, building on her previous work in The Departed and Up in the Air.  Farmiga discusses her role in making the film about an evangelical community that becomes fractured when a local women questions her belief in God and marriage.  Next, writer Barry Werth joins Bob to discuss his book about the first month of the Gerald Ford administration - a pivotal time in the American presidency.  President Richard Nixon stepped down on Aug. 9, 1974. Just one month later, he was pardoned by Gerald Ford.  What happened during that time in the White House is the subject of the book 31 Days: The Crisis That Gave Us the Government We Have Today.  Then, shortly after the terror attacks of 9/11, writer Joan Murray read her poem, “Survivors Found,” on NPR’s Morning Edition, the program Bob hosted at the time.  Ten years later, she’s back to reflect on that poem, and how it helped people heal from the tragedy.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to talk about politics and other news.  Next, after years of controversy and debate over how to commemorate the victims of 9/11, the National September 11 Memorial is opening at the site of the Twin Towers in New York on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. Over 5,000 proposals from 63 nations were considered for the memorial and the one finally accepted was “Reflecting Absence” by New York architect Michael Arad and Californian landscape architect Peter Walker.  Arad joins Bob to discuss the memorial which covers eight acres and includes two pools with 30-foot waterfalls that flow into the footprints of the towers, surrounded by a plaza of almost 400 oak trees. The names of the 2,982 victims are listed on parapets surrounding the pools. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Helena Marie Carnes-Jeffries.  As the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 approaches, Carnes-Jeffries recalls her feelings at the time. A few days after the attacks, she attended an interfaith prayer vigil in Chicago. And now, even after a decade of war and increasing religious tensions, her faith tells her that peace remains the ultimate goal.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Matt Taibbi’s writing makes the powerful squirm. In one of his Rolling Stone articles he compared Goldman Sachs to a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.” In his book, Griftopia, Taibbi argues it’s a new, powerful grifter class that is creating a redistribution of wealth in this country — taking it out of the hands of the working class and putting it into the coffers of the super rich. His book is now out in paperback. Then, Richard Buckner makes beautifully haunting music, but it’s been five years since his last CD. He does have an excuse for the creative delay – actually several excuses. There were technical glitches with a crucial bit of equipment, a stolen laptop and a suspicious murder. Finally, Buckner has released Our Blood and his fans won’t be disappointed. He talks with Bob about the new music and about choosing better neighborhoods.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Last year, the Obama administration presented a blueprint for education reform – an issue of great concern to Diane Ravitch.  She’s Research Professor of Education at New York University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Ravitch will discuss the proposed changes and her book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. Her book is now out in paperback. Then, in one of the summer’s most anticipated new novels, first time novelist Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers tells the story of a now-grown woman raised as a foster-child who uses age old flower symbolism to communicate and make sense of her troubled past.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

David Rakoff describes his book of essays Half Empty as a look at “the positive side of pessimism.” Then, writer Michael David Lukas takes readers into the decline of the Ottoman Empire, as young Eleonora Cohen finds herself in Stamboul, Turkey and becomes an advisor to the Sultan. The Oracle of Stamboul is now out in paperback.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dr. Nassir Ghaemi, the director of the Mood Disorders Program at Tufts Medical Center, argues in his book A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness that when the world is in crisis, mentally ill leaders are our best hope. Then, 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 into K Blows Top: A Cold War Comic Interlude, Starring Nikita Khrushchev, America’s Most Unlikely Tourist.


Friday, September 16, 2011:

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to talk about politics and other news.  Next, everyone in the U.S. knows Independence Day is July 4th, but Constitution Day, September 17th, gets little notice.  Authors Denise Kiernan & Joseph D’Agnese’s book Signing Their Rights Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men who Signed The United States Constitution tells the individual stories of the 39 men who helped create a future for their country.  Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Andrew Flewelling.  He grew up outside of Boston. His parents were a mixed race couple, and even his father’s role as a minister couldn’t protect Flewelling from feeling marginalized. He says that as he grew older, he learned to shut out the preconceived notions of society and listen to his inner voice.


Monday, September 19, 2011:  The art of political name calling in this country goes back to the beginning. Now it’s “latte liberals” and “tea-baggers,” then it was “pettifoggers” and “slang-whangers.”  Linguist Rosemarie Ostler has compiled the history in her new book, Slinging Mud: Rude Nicknames, Scurrilous Slogans, and Insulting Slang from Two Centuries of American Politics.  Then, Bob talks with author Nancy Kriplen about her book, The Eccentric Billionaire.  For her biography of John D. MacArthur, Kriplen interviewed his relatives and former associates — and used recorded interviews of the reluctant philanthropist.  MacArthur’s money is behind the “genius awards” and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011: You’ve most likely heard of Natalee Holloway, the fresh-faced teenager who went missing during her senior class trip to Aruba and is believed to be dead. But have you ever heard the names Pamela Butler, Ashley Porter or Santasia Scarborough? All are missing, . . and black. Natalie Wilson is the co-founder of Black and Missing, an organization that tries to bring attention to the missing person cases that go unnoticed by mainstream media. She joins Bob to talk more about the work her organization does and  the specifics of some of the thousands of cases that have come up cold.  Then, artist and children’s book illustrator Allen Say won the Caldecott medal for The Boy of the Three-Year Nap (1987) and Grandfather’s Journey (1994).  The later is about his grandfather voyage from Japan to the U.S. and back again.  Say’s latest book is Drawing from Memory, an autobiographical account of his own journey as an artist. 


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Two years ago, Dan Baum, wrote a book called Nine Lives about what happened in New Orleans between the twin catastrophes of Hurricane Betsy in 1965 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Baum covered those 40 years by telling the stories of nine citizens. Coleman deKay and Paul Sanchez took those stories and set them to music. Their CD is titled Nine Lives: A Musical Adaptation and features New Orleans musicians and singers. They will perform the songs live at a concert in Los Angeles this weekend and hope to turn the project into a Broadway musical someday soon.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted in December 1791 yet to this day, it can spark a controversial debate.  Adam Winkler is a Professor of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles and his most recent book is Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America.  Winkler discusses the history, myths, and how racism has shaped our nation’s gun laws.  Then, this week, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation named Jad Abumrad as one of their new MacArthur Fellows for 2011.  In 2009, Abumrad along with his co-host Robert Krulwich talked to Bob about their nationally syndicated program Radiolab, where the idea for Radiolab came from and what they try to do with each new show. 


Friday, September 23, 2011

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to talk about politics and other news. Next, Jane Goodall is largely responsible for changing our perceptions of the relationship between humans and animals. Now 77-years-old, and still on the road 300 days of the year, the famed chimpanzee researcher will appear in theaters nationwide via satellite on Tuesday, September 27, presenting Jane Goodall Live. This one-night-only cinematic event commemorates the half century that has passed since Goodall first traveled to Africa to study wild chimps, and it will include never-before-seen footage shot during those first years that she recently discovered in her attic. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Leah Ollman.  Every Friday, Ollman bakes challah, the bread eaten on the Jewish Sabbath. The weekly ritual takes a lot of time, and it reminds her to step out of the hectic pace of life, slow down, and savor the process of creating something meaningful for her family.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Garry Wills has written about Jack Ruby and John Wayne; Saint Augustine, Saint Paul and Jesus; James Madison and Abraham Lincoln. Now he writes about himself. His autobiography is titled Outside Looking In: Adventures of an Observer. It’s now out in paperback.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Jeff Tweedy founded the band Wilco in the mid-‘90s. And for the past 15 years, the group has been either recording albums or touring virtually non-stop.  Their new album is titled The Whole Love. But before the band began work on this eight record, they tried something new – they took a long vacation.  Tweedy says the break allowed him and his band mates to “put the old songs out of mind long enough to write some new ones.” Tweedy joins Bob to talk about those news songs from the Loft, the group’s Chicago recording studio. Then, Bob speaks to sports writer Ron Rapoport about his book The Immortal Bobby: Bobby Jones and the Golden Age of Golf.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Jazz vocalist John Boutte is a seventh-generation Creole and a native of New Orleans. He sits down with Bob to discuss growing up in the musical stew of the city’s Seventh Ward, which was home to jazz men Jelly Roll Morton and Lee Dorsey, rappers like Lil Wayne and three mayors of New Orleans. Boutte is also the voice you hear singing the theme song for the HBO series Treme. Then, more Louisiana music with Michael Doucet. He’s one of the founding members of the Cajun band, BeauSoleil. When he was young, Doucet says Cajun music was marginalized. But during his lifetime, the genre has become more accepted. BeauSoleil has played all over the world, earning countless accolades from other musicians and fans. 


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bob Edwards Show regular, Calvin “Bud” Trillin, has been on the program to talk about his last four books (Obliviously On He Sails, A Heckuva Job, Deciding the Next Decider, and About Alice). He still manages to make Bob laugh out loud.  Now he’s back to talk about his latest title, a compendium of funny stuff he’s written over the last forty years, Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin.  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.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to talk about politics and other news. Next, Michele Norris, co-host of NPR’s All Things Considered, initially planned to write a book about “postracial” America after President Barack Obama’s election in 2008.   As Norris began to research America’s racial past, she was surprised to discover that her real story was much closer to home.  Her book is titled The Grace of Silence: A Family Memoir.  It’s now out in paperback.  Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Allan Barger.  He is uncertain about many things — and he thinks more people should admit that their views might not be correct. Barger was an Evangelical pastor with hard-and-fast beliefs. He also happened to be gay. Eventually, Barger let go of his religious certainties and learned to become more humble and more willing to question his own beliefs.