Episodes
We talk with journalist Evan Osnos about the former vice president's long career in the Senate, how personal tragedy changed him, and some of the political missteps he made along the way. Osnos' new biography is 'Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now.'
Published 10/27/20
Samuelsson's new book, 'The Rise,' is a celebration of Black excellence in the culinary world — and the many Black cooks who have influenced American food, often without credit. He also talks about converting his Harlem restaurant Red Rooster into a community kitchen during the pandemic, and his roots in both Ethiopia and Sweden. Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews 'The Witches,' an adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic children's book.
Published 10/26/20
Psychologist Timothy Leary, who died in 1996, was the father of the psychedelic movement of the 1960s and its experiments with mind-altering drugs. In 1960, Leary joined the faculty of Harvard at the Center for Personality Research, where he analyzed the effects of psychedelics and personality. As part of his research, he introduced L.S.D. and other psychedelic drugs to many, and also used them himself. Leary was eventually asked to leave the university, and later served time in jail on drug...
Published 10/23/20
Rumaan Alam's novel, 'Leave the World Behind,' centers on two families — one Black and one white — who are sharing a vacation home during a mysterious disaster. It explores issues of race and class, fear, and how we respond to crisis. Ken Tucker reviews a new deluxe edition of Prince's masterpiece 'Sign O' The Times.' Craig Foster spent a year diving — without oxygen or a wetsuit — into the frigid sea near Cape Town, South Africa. One octopus began coming out of her den to hunt or explore...
Published 10/23/20
Nina Totenberg is widely regarded as the dean of legal journalists. She started covering the Supreme court in 1971 and became NPR's legal correspondent in 1975. We talk about breaking the Anita Hill story, her friendship with the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and her early career as a pioneer for women in journalism. This conversation was recorded from a live Zoom event for WHYY.
Published 10/22/20
Nunez's new novel, 'What Are You Going Through,' is about facing mortality and the relationship between a writer dying of cancer and the friend she asks to stay with her. Lloyd Schwartz reviews a collection of performances by Leontyne Price, the first Black soprano to have a major career at the Metropolitan Opera. And John Powers reviews the Netflix miniseries 'The Queen's Gambit.'
Published 10/21/20
'New York Times Magazine' writer Emily Bazelon talks about how the lies and conspiracy theories sweeping through American media are leading some scholars to question our faith in free speech and in minimal government regulation of speech. Bazelon says false content moves through the Internet unchecked — undermining the political process along the way. Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews 'El Duelo.'
Published 10/20/20
Historian H.W. Brands' new book, 'The Zealot and the Emancipator' looks at two very different 19th century leaders, John Brown and Abraham Lincoln. Brown was a militant abolitionist who embraced violence and was hanged after he tried to spark an insurrection at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. President Lincoln resisted conflict as long as possible, hoping laws and reason would keep Southern states in the Union, and eventually bring an end to human bondage. Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews...
Published 10/19/20
Married Broadway stars Danny Burstein and Rebecca Luker both contracted COVID in the spring, just as theaters went dark. Burstein was starring in 'Moulin Rouge' at the time. Burstein's case was severe and he nearly died. Luker's case was mild, but it came soon after she had been diagnosed with ALS. They talk with Terry Gross about how their illnesses have changed their lives and careers, and their hopes for the future. Also, John Powers reviews 'David Byrne's American Utopia' on HBO,...
Published 10/17/20
As a teen, Heidi Schreck debated the Constitution in competitions. Later she realized it had failed to protect four generations of women in her family. "I believed it was perfect. I believed it was a tool of justice. I did not realize as a 15-year-old girl how profoundly I had been left out of it. I didn't realize that it didn't protect me," Schreck says. Her award-winning Broadway play, 'What the Constitution Means to Me,' is now streaming on Amazon. Also, we remember Joe Morgan, one of...
Published 10/16/20
Craig Foster spent a year diving — without oxygen or a wetsuit — into the frigid sea near Cape Town, South Africa. One octopus began coming out of her den to hunt or explore while Foster watched. He documents their unlikely friendship in 'My Octopus Teacher,' now on Netflix. Also, TV critic David Bianculli reviews the Netflix film, 'The Trial of the Chicago 7,' written by Aaron Sorkin.
Published 10/15/20
Married Broadway stars Danny Burstein and Rebecca Luker both contracted COVID in the spring, just as theaters went dark. Burstein was starring in 'Moulin Rouge' at the time. Burstein's case was severe and he nearly died. Luker's case was mild, but it came soon after she had been diagnosed with ALS. They talk with Terry Gross about how their illnesses have changed their lives and careers, and their hopes for the future.
Published 10/14/20
CNN host and 'Washington Post' columnist Fareed Zakaria says COVID-19 presents a chance to make positive changes: "We could well look back on these times 10 or 20 years from now and say, 'This was the turning point.'" His new book, 'Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World' examines the way COVID-19 will change everything from our trust in government to our relationship with technology. Also, John Powers reviews 'David Byrne's American Utopia' on HBO, directed by Spike Lee.
Published 10/13/20
'This American Life' producer Chana Joffe-Walt says progressive white parents may say they want their kids to go to diverse schools — but the reality tells a different story. "I think white parents are pretty savvy at evading the explicit conversation around race, although it's clearly shaping our thoughts about schools." She examines the complicated history of gentrification in a Brooklyn school in her new podcast, 'Nice White Parents.' It's a production of 'Serial' and 'The New York Times.'...
Published 10/12/20
Ethan Hawke plays 19th-century abolitionist John Brown in the seven-part Showtime series, 'The Good Lord Bird.' He says Brown's story feels particularly relevant today, as America confronts systemic racism and the legacy of slavery. Also, Justin Chang reviews the film 'The Forty-Year-Old Version.' Lenny Kravitz talks about growing up the son of a Jewish father and Black mother. His new memoir about his life up until his breakout album is 'Let Love Rule.'
Published 10/10/20
We remember Bob Gibson, one of baseball's most intimidating pitchers. He dominated hitters from the mound for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1960s and '70s and he holds the record for most strikeouts — 17 — in a World Series game. Gibson died last week at the age of 84. First we'll listen back to Terry's 1994 interview with Gibson when he had just published his memoir. Then, in our 2009 interview with Gibson and Hall of Fame slugger Reggie Jackson, we hear him talk about the classic...
Published 10/09/20
As President Trump recovers from COVID-19 and candidates debate the issue of insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, we take stock of the nation's health care system. We talk with the 'New York Times' health policy reporter Sarah Kliff about the state of the Affordable Care Act, after 10 years of legal assaults and attempts in Congress to repeal the law. "Republicans have been trying to drive a stake into the heart of Obamacare pretty much since it was passed," Kliff says. Jazz...
Published 10/08/20
Alam's novel, 'Leave the World Behind,' centers on two families — one Black and one white — who are sharing a vacation home during a mysterious disaster. It explores issues of race and class, fear, and how we respond to crisis. We'll also talk about Alam's upbringing as the son of Bengali immigrants and why he has hope about his children's generation.
Published 10/07/20
Kravitz talks about growing up the son of a Jewish father and Black mother, finding his musical style, and how Lisa Bonet changed him as a songwriter. His new memoir about his life up until his breakout album is 'Let Love Rule.' Also, Maureen Corrigan reviews 'The Searcher,' a suspenseful crime novel by Tana French.
Published 10/06/20
Hawke plays 19th-century abolitionist John Brown in the seven-part Showtime series, 'The Good Lord Bird.' He says Brown's story feels particularly relevant today, as America confronts systemic racism and the legacy of slavery. We also talk about 'Training Day,' collaborating with filmmaker Richard Linklater, and how stage fright made him a better actor.
Published 10/05/20
'Atlantic' staff writer Barton Gellman says if President Trump claims mail-in votes are fraudulent and contests the results, Republican legislatures might then try to ignore their states' popular votes and send Trump representatives to the Electoral College. His latest article is 'The Election That Could Break America.' Kevin Whitehead reviews the first album from an all-star band of jazz women, called Artemis. After filmmaker Kirsten Johnson's father started showing signs of dementia, she...
Published 10/03/20
Diver and photographer Jill Heinerth shares some of her most dangerous and exhilarating experiences underwater — like getting trapped inside an iceberg in Antarctica. Heinerth also explains how she stays calm when things go wrong: "I take a really deep breath and try and slow my heart, slow my breathing, and then just focus on pragmatic small steps," she says. Her book is 'Into the Planet.' David Bianculli reviews the Showtime documentary series 'The Comedy Store,' about the iconic comedy club.
Published 10/02/20
'Atlantic' writer Barton Gellman says the 2020 election could trigger a constitutional crisis, and if the election is close, it could take weeks to determine the results in key battleground states as mail-in ballots are scrutinized for technical flaws and counted. If President Trump cries fraud and his supporters take to the streets, state legislatures could resolve to set aside the popular vote in their states and choose their own partisan delegations to the Electoral College. "This is not...
Published 10/01/20
After Kirsten Johnson's dad started showing signs of dementia, she had a hard time accepting that his death was getting closer. Her new Netflix documentary, 'Dick Johnson is Dead,' enacts his death from a series of imagined accidents. Johnson has been the cinematographer for over 50 documentaries, including 'Citizenfour.' We'll also talk about her 2016 film 'Cameraperson,' which she's described as a memoir. She spoke with 'Fresh Air' producer Sam Briger. Also, Justin Chang reviews 'The Forty...
Published 09/30/20
Andrew Weissmann, a lead prosecutor in the Mueller investigation, shares his experience with the probe and its report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Weissmann says the constant threat that President Trump might fire Mueller and shut down the probe and the prospect of Trump granting pardons to key witnesses had an effect on Mueller and his team. Weissman believes Mueller was timid when he should have been aggressive in getting information and testimony, and he says the final...
Published 09/29/20