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September 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

Anne Applebaum won the Pulitzer Prize for her book, Gulag, about the history of the Soviet Union labor camp.  Now the columnist for The Washington Post and Slate takes a wider look at the brutality of Communist rule with her book title, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945 – 1956 and it’s now out in paperback.  Then, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Timothy Egan recounts the life and career of the turn-of-the-20th century’s most famous photographer, Edward Curtis.  Egan’s book, Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis is now available in paperback.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013 

On June 10th of this year, Army veteran Daniel Somers left behind a grieving family and heartbreaking letter that began, “I am sorry that it has come to this.  The fact is, for as long as I can remember my motivation for getting up every day has been so that you would not have to bury me.”  Unfortunately, Daniel is one of 22 U.S. military veterans who take their own lives every day.  Considering that figure, coupled with the massive backlog of veterans waiting for help from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Bob wanted to find out if there is a connection.  In this feature documentary, “End of Watch: What Happens to US Veterans Waiting for Help,” he talks to former VA workers who resigned in protest of the VA practices and procedures, along with veterans waiting in line – currently more than 700,000 service men and women – to get the benefits they were promised upon enlisting.  What Bob learns is an infuriating and vexing mix of stories and opinions.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

We continue the series, “End of Watch: What Happens to US Veterans Waiting for Help,” as Bob talks to Howard and Jean Somers for the full hour.  Their son, Army veteran Daniel Somers, took his own life in June of this year after ten long years with PTSD and a lack of help from the Department of Veterans Affairs.  They discuss what happened before and after the suicide.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

As part of our special series, “End of Watch: What Happens to US Veterans Waiting for Help,” Dr. Gordon Williams, clinical psychiatrist, recently resigned from the Department of Veterans Affairs due to frustration with management.  He’s joined by fellow veteran Michael Swinford who helps give support to suicidal veterans while struggling with his own suicidal tendencies.  Then, until December 2012 when he resigned in protest, Steven Coughlin was a senior epidemiologist at the Department of Veterans Affairs where he was lead author on two of the biggest studies the VA has conducted on veterans of the Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan wars. 


Friday, September 6, 2013

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, concluding this week’s series, “End of Watch: What Happens to US Veterans Waiting for Help,” Bob talks to Justin Fraley, an Iraq War combat veteran with PTSD who’s struggled to get proper diagnosis and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.  He and his wife Brittneyare in marriage counseling in addition to his own therapy, which they are paying for out of pocket.  Then,Bill Black is a Vietnam War combat veteran who has also struggled to get benefits from the VA.  His original request was denied in 1972.  Last November, he submitted a new request to the Baltimore VA, and is still awaiting a response.  Then, Bob talks to reporter Aaron Glantz of the Center for Investigative Reporting.  Through leaked internal VA documents, he discovered the full extent of the veterans benefit backlog and the incoherent reasons for it.  Finally, the latest installment of our ongoing series This I Believe.


Monday, September 9, 2013

More than 400,000 children are in foster care in the United States.  It’s a patchwork system. Each state has different rules, and each city contracts with many different child welfare agencies to place children in foster care. The result is that thousands of foster children live in many different homes during their most formative years, and they’re often unprepared to live on their own once they age out of the system. In the new book, To the End of June, Cris Beam writes about the experiences of several foster parents and the children they try to raise.  Then, new music enthusiastPaul Schomer joins us again with another batch of artists you’ve probably never heard of.  Schomer runs the new music discovery blog called and shares new songs by Jack Wilson, Lo Fine, Huxlee and Northern Hustle. He’s also here to spread the word about the fundraising campaign to commission a memorial gravestone for deceased blues singer Mamie Smith.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Inspired by her own experiences caring for her parents at the end of their lives, science writer Katy Butler’s new book, Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death, is an in-depth look at our medical community’s end-of-life care.  Then, activist and entrepreneur Ben Foss founded Headstrong Nation, a non-profit that helps the dyslexic community.  Dyslexia is a brain-based genetic trait that affects over 30 million Americans.  His book is The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child’s Confidence and Love of Learning.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Andrew Bacevich returns to the program to discuss a book that was intended to be a conventional narrative history of U.S. civil-military relations since World War II.  Instead, he was steered onto a different course by his conviction that our military system is broken and no amount of patriotic sentimentality can disguise it.  Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country is Bacevich’s seventh book.  For twenty-three years Bacevich served as an officer in the U.S. Army and his son was killed by an IED while serving in Iraq in 2007.  Bacevich is now a professor of history and international relations at Boston University.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

A few years ago, this program aired a documentary about “The Human Terrain System,” an audacious military social science experiment that operates on the premise that soldiers need to understand the enemy and its culture. But it’s proven brutally difficult to implement in Afghanistan as Vanessa Gezari documents in her new book, The Tender Soldier: A True Story of War and Sacrifice.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, tenor Alfie Boe shot to stardom after director Baz Luhrmann cast him as the lead in his 2003 Broadway production of La Boheme.  The role earned Boe a Tony and he’s been a mainstay in the classical crossover world ever since.  His new album Storytellerfeatures Boe with a four-piece band performing classics from American and British folk music. Finally, the latest installment of our ongoing series This I Believe.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Al Gini, Chicago Public Radio’s philosopher-in-residence and professor of Business Ethics, returns to the show. This time he shares his research on what attributes make for a good leader —— not the hatchet-wielding CEO types whose success is measured by profit margins and stock dividends, but the ones who view leadership as stewardship, serving the needs and well-being of the people that they lead. Gini’s new book is titled 10 Virtues of Outstanding Leadership.  Then, Jean Shepherd is an almost mythical figure in radio history.  His radio program started first in Cincinnati and took him to New York City, where he became something of a cult figure.  Editor Eugene B. Bergmanntranscribed a collection of Shepherd’s stories about his years in the U.S. Army Signal Corps for a new volume titled Shep’s Army: Bummers, Blisters, & Boondoggles.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

As one of America’s over 200,000 doctors, Brendan Reilly has managed to stand out.  Profiled in Malcolm Gladwell’s best-seller, Blink, Reilly was also the chair of medicine at Chicago’s Cook Country Hospital during the years the hospital served as inspiration and setting for the TV show ER.  Reilly writes about his years in the medical world in his book One Doctor: Close Calls, Cold Cases, and the Mysteries of Medicine.  Then, Bob talks with Gloria Estefan about her long music career…from her early days with the Miami Sound Machine and their hit Conga to her brand new album of jazz standards. Estefan has won seven Grammy Awards during her three decades of recording.  The Cuban-born singer has also won the Ellis Island Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award given to a naturalized US citizen.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

 In reviews of her new book, Lara Feigel is being praised for capturing the mood of wartime London when “each moment had the exhilarating but unreal intensity of the last moment on earth.”  The Love-Charm of Bombs: Restless Lives in the Second World War chronicles the love lives of five prominent writers: Graham Greene, Elizabeth Bowen, Rosa Macaulay, Henry Yorke (aka Henry Green), and the Austrian exile Hilde Spiel.  Then, British writer Zadie Smith burst onto the literary scene in 2000 with the publication of her debut novel White Teeth.  Instantly hailed as a classic,White Teeth became a best-seller and won a trove of literary awards.  Smith’s most recent book, NW,follows a cast of characters living in the northwest corner of London and it’s now available in paperback.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Still Within the Sound of My Voice is the latest release from American music legend Jimmy Webb. Webb is the Chairman of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and for good reason. He has written many well-known classics for other musicians including “Wichita Lineman,” “MacArthur Park,” “Up, Up and Away,” and “All I Know.”   Several artists he’s written songs for are now repaying the favor with guest appearances on this new album including Lyle Lovett, Carly Simon, Keith Urban, Joe Cocker, Kris Kristofferson and Art Garfunkel.  Webb is the first and only artist to receive Grammys for music, lyrics and orchestration.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, income disparities in the United States are now more vast than at any point since the Great Depression. The average CEO makes over $11 million dollars a year while the median household income for African Americans is just over $32,000 a year. Peter Edelman explains why it’s so hard to end poverty in America in his new book, So Rich, So Poor, which is now out in paperback.  Finally, the latest installment of our ongoing series This I Believe.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Dr. Ike Padnos an anesthesiologist and record collector who started a festival in New Orleans called the Ponderosa Stomp.  Part music, film, history, record show, DJ party and public service, the mission of Stomp is to expose the “unsung heroes of Americana music.” It runs October 3rd to 5th.  Then, Lawrence Powellis a professor emeritus in Tulane University’s Department of History – so who better to write about the first 100 years of New Orleans?  His latest book is titled The Accidental City and it covers the period from the first hunters, trappers and explorers in the region through the end of The War of 1812.  It’s now available in paperback.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

From its early days in the 1920s, hardboiled crime fiction has been dominated by male writers.  But throughout the 20th century, female writers like Shirley Jackson, Dorothy B. Hughes, and Joyce Harrington put their distinctive stamp on fiction’s seamy underbelly.   Editor Sarah Weinman talks with Bob about these writers and her new anthology Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense.  Then, Bob sits down with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dave Barry to discuss his latest novel Insane City, which is now out in paperback. 


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

 Sena Jeter Naslund has written a novel-within-a-novel, The Fountain of St. James Court; or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman, and it tells the tales of two women—-one a fictional contemporary writer, the other, a renowned historic painter.   The book explores the transformative power of art, history and love in the lives of creative women.  Then, Wadjda is the first-ever feature film to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia.  That’s a feat in of itself but the fact that the writer and director is a woman is even more significant. The story Haifaa al-Mansour tells is about a gregarious Saudi girl who enters a Koran-memorization contest at her school with plans to use the prize money to buy a green bicycle. Biking was, until very recently, a banned activity for women, but Wadjda is determined to go faster than she can on foot. 


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fifty years ago, in his book The Other America, Michael Harrington predicted that unless attention was paid to the widespread problem of poverty in the United States, another journalist decades later would end up writing about the exact same conditions that he had chronicled. And now, fifty years later, Sasha Abramsky has done just that.  His book The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives tells the stories of real people around the country who are struggling to make it.  Then, once they were called robber barons; today it’s job creators.  In her book, PlutocratsChrystia Freeland writes about the rise of the new global super-rich, exploring the economics and psychology of the society that created them. It’s now out in paperback.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, David Von Drehle has pinpointed 1862 as “the most eventful year in American History.” He writes about it in his book Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year and it’s now out in paperback. Finally, the latest installment of our ongoing series This I Believe.


Monday, September 30, 2013

For over five decades, writer Lois Duncan has been scaring and entertaining young readers with books like her 1973 novel I Know What You Did Last Summer.  This fall, Duncan’s first book, Debutante Hill (1958), is being reissued by the new imprint, Lizzie Skurnick Books, which is giving new life to some half-dozen 20th century teen classics.  Duacan’s most recent book is One to the Wolves, On the Trail of a Killer.  Then, after writing an award-winning cookbook about Vietnamese cuisine, it makes sense that writer Kim Fay’sfirst novel is about the region she knows best.  Set in Cambodia in the 1920s, The Map of Lost Memoriesfollows a museum curator on her search for the lost civilization of Angkor Wat.  The Map of Lost Memorieswas a finalist for the 2013 Edgar Award for Best First Novel and is available in paperback.