Episodes
In 'The Splendid And The Vile,' author Erik Larson details Winston Churchill's first year in office, during which England endured a Nazi bombing campaign that killed more than 44,000 civilians. Larson says Churchill told his citizens the truth and inspired them to resist. Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'The Glass Hotel' by Emily St. John Mandel.
Published 03/30/20
Comic and 'WTF' podcast host Marc Maron named his new Netflix stand-up special 'End Times Fun' before the COVID-19 pandemic started — but now the title feels eerily apt. He talked with Terry Gross about how he's handling the crisis as a "recovering hypochondriac." Hank Azaria plays a colorful baseball announcer in the IFC comedy series 'Brockmire,' which is now in its 4th and final season. Azaria spoke with Dave Davies about the series, and why he doesn't voice the Indian American...
Published 03/28/20
Sondheim, who turned 90 on March 22, composed the music and wrote lyrics for 'Sweeney Todd,' 'Into the Woods,' 'Company' and other Broadway shows. He spoke with Terry Gross in 2010 about his career in musical theater. (Part 1 of this interview was released on March 20.)
Published 03/27/20
Journalist Benjamin Wittes spoke with Terry Gross about how President Trump has changed the presidency fundamentally — and how we're seeing the impact during the COVID-19 pandemic. He is the author, with Susan Hennessey, of 'Unmaking the Presidency.' We remember Broadway playwright Terrence McNally, who died March 24 due to complications related to COVID-19. He won Tony awards for 'Kiss of the Spider Woman,' 'Ragtime' and 'Master Class.' He spoke with 'Fresh Air' in 1993.
Published 03/26/20
'Omnivore's Dilemma' author Michael Pollan talks about his audiobook, 'Caffeine: How Coffee and Tea Created the Modern World.' He describes caffeine as the world's most widely-used psychoactive drug. (Originally broadcast Feb. 2020) Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a new album from guitarist Jeff Parker.
Published 03/25/20
Author Max Brooks became an expert on disaster preparedness — from pandemics to nuclear war — through researching for his books, 'World War Z,' 'Germ Warfare' and the forthcoming 'Devolution.' He spoke with Terry Gross about how the federal government is designed to respond to crises like COVID-19 — and what is preventing the tasks forces from being deployed. He'll also explain why "panic is not preparation," and how to have good "fact-hygiene."
Published 03/24/20
Maron named his new Netflix comedy special 'End Times Fun' before the COVID-19 pandemic started — but now the title feels eerily apt. He talked with Terry Gross about how he's handling the crisis as a "recovering hypochondriac," and what he's doing to pass the time in isolation. Maron co-stars in the Netflix series 'GLOW' and hosts the interview podcast 'WTF.'
Published 03/23/20
Octavia Spencer stars in the new Netflix limited series 'Self Made' as Madam C.J. Walker, America's first black, female, self-made millionaire. She sold hair and makeup products to black women in the early 1900s. John Powers reviews the Hulu series 'Little Fires Everywhere,' starring Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon. The Philadelphia Orchestra has shuttered its doors in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin reflects on their final performance in an empty...
Published 03/21/20
Broadway is dark because of the virus, but that doesn't need to stop us from celebrating the 90th birthday of Broadway's best living composer and lyricist—and one of the best in the history of Broadway, Stephen Sondheim. His 90th birthday is Sunday. We're listening back to our interview from 2010, which we recorded on the occasion of his 80th birthday. He wrote the songs for 'Sweeney Todd,' 'Follies,' 'Into the Woods,' 'Sunday in the Park with George' and 'Merrily We Roll Along.' Revivals of...
Published 03/20/20
The Philadelphia Orchestra has shuttered its doors in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin reflects on their final performance in an empty concert hall, which was livestreamed for more half a million viewers at home. He spoke with Terry Gross about the unusual performance and how music comforts us in troubling times. Also, we'll hear an excerpt of our interview with the conductor from last year.
Published 03/19/20
Jesse Wegman, author of 'Let the People Pick the President,' says the Electoral College's winner-take-all rule is not mandated by the Constitution: "There's nothing keeping us from changing it." Wegman talks about how winner-take-all came to be, attempts to change it, and how the Electoral College disproportionately affects people of color.
Published 03/18/20
Azaria plays a colorful baseball announcer in the IFC comedy series 'Brockmire,' which is now in its 4th and final season. Azaria spoke with 'Fresh Air' about sobriety, his flamboyant character in 'The Birdcage,' and why he doesn't voice the Indian American convenience store owner Apu on 'The Simpsons' anymore. Also, John Powers reviews the Hulu series 'Little Fires Everywhere,' starring Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon.
Published 03/17/20
Spencer stars in the new Netflix limited series 'Self Made' as Madam C.J. Walker, America's first female self-made millionaire. She sold hair and makeup products to black women in the early 1900s. Spencer talks about Walker's legacy, playing a maid in'The Help,' and learning to speak up for better pay in Hollywood. Also, rock critic Ken Tucker reviews the K-pop group BTS' new album 'Map of the Soul.'
Published 03/16/20
James McBride's new novel, 'Deacon King Kong,' takes place in 1969, in a Brooklyn housing project similar to the one he grew up in. "In this book and in this community, people generally love each other," he says. RuPaul describes his drag persona as "one-part Cher, two-parts David Bowie, one-part Diana Ross and two heaping spoonfuls of Dolly Parton." The reality show he hosts and created, 'RuPaul's Drag Race,' is now in its 12th season on VH1.
Published 03/14/20
Roth's 2004 novel, 'The Plot Against America,' is an alternative history which imagines Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindbergh beats FDR in the 1940 presidential election and the U.S. sides with the Germans in WWII. We'll listen back to Terry Gross' interview with Roth about the novel, and TV critic David Bianculli will review the new HBO miniseries that's based on the book. Film critic Justin Chang reviews 'Never Rarely Sometimes Always' about a teenage girl in small-town Pennsylvania who...
Published 03/13/20
​Politico reporter Dan Diamond says dysfunction within the White House, infighting and the need to flatter Trump have caused distractions that have slowed the response to the new pandemic.​
Published 03/12/20
'New York Times' Beirut Bureau Chief Ben Hubbard says Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is full of contradictions: He ended a ban on women driving, but his agents also carried out the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Hubbard's book, 'MBS,' tells the story of the enigmatic leader. Hubbard says MBS could rule the country for the next 50 years. Also, Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Writers & Lovers' by Lily King.
Published 03/11/20
RuPaul describes his drag persona as "one-part Cher, two-parts David Bowie, one-part Diana Ross and two heaping spoonfuls of Dolly Parton." The reality show he hosts and created, 'RuPaul's Drag Race,' is now in its 12th season on VH1. He talks with Terry Gross about his early punk style of drag, becoming a "glamizon," and the best advice his mother gave him. Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead shares a remembrance of legendary pianist McCoy Tyner. He died last Friday at 81.
Published 03/10/20
James McBride's new novel, 'Deacon King Kong,' takes place in 1969, in a Brooklyn housing project similar to the one he grew up in. "In this book and in this community, people generally love each other," he says. McBride is best known for his '95 memoir 'The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother.' Also, Ken Tucker reviews Best Coast's new album, 'Almost Tomorrow.'
Published 03/09/20
Louise Erdrich talks about her new novel, 'The Night Watchman.' It was inspired by her grandfather, a chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa who fought a Congressional initiative to move indigenous peoples off their land and into cities. Critic John Powers reviews the genre-bending film 'Bacurau,' about a small Brazilian town grappling with a series of mysterious events. In her memoir, 'The Watergate Girl,' Jill Wine-Banks talks about confronting Nixon White House insiders on the...
Published 03/07/20
Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Robert Caro was never interested in only telling the stories of great men. Instead, he says, "I wanted to use their lives to show how political power worked." He talks about his two most famous works — biographies of Lyndon Johnson and New York City planner Robert Moses. Caro's memoir about his process, 'Working,' is now out in paperback. He spoke with Dave Davies last year. Also, TV critic David Bianculli reviews two new sci-fi/fantasy shows —...
Published 03/06/20
For 50 years, countries all over the world bought encryption technology from a Swiss company, called Crypto AG, to protect their communications with diplomats, soldiers and spies. What they didn't know is that the firm was actually owned by the CIA and German intelligence, which rigged the encryption products so they could spy on the countries that bought them. 'Washington Post' reporter Greg Miller tells the story. Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews the Western 'First Cow.'
Published 03/05/20
Erdrich's new novel, 'The Night Watchman,' was inspired by her grandfather, a chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa who fought a Congressional initiative to move indigenous peoples off their land and into cities. Erdrich says the policy amounted to tribal termination. "Termination was a way to finally resolve what Congress thought of as 'the Indian problem,'" she says. Also, critic John Powers reviews the genre-bending film 'Bacurau,' about a small Brazilian town grappling with a...
Published 03/04/20
In 2014, the 27-year-old son of adventurer Roman Dial walked alone into the Costa Rican wilderness. "I'm planning on doing 4 days in the jungle," he wrote in an email before leaving. "It should be difficult to get lost forever." Then he vanished. Dial talks about his frantic search for his son — and for answers to what happened. His book is 'The Adventurer's Son.' Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Scratched,' Elizabeth Tallent's new memoir about perfectionism.
Published 03/03/20