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The Bob Edwards Show Schedule (August 3-7, 2015)


Monday, August 3, 2015: Today we offer some inspiration as you try to squeeze in one more road trip this summer. Ever the Englishman, writer, actor, and comedian Stephen Fry traveled across the United States in a black London cab, visiting all 50 states to experience first-hand what makes America unique.  Fry stopped in Georgia for Thanksgiving, marched in a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, learned how to pick a banjo with hillbillies, and palled around with Ted Turner on his Montana ranch.  Fry’s book is appropriately titled, Stephen Fry in America: Fifty States and the Man Who Set Out to See Them All.  Then, another long drive. After he left the White House, Harry Truman drove his car from Independence, Missouri to New York City and back again, stopping at motels and diners just like any other tourist.  Matthew Algeo retraces the excursion in Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015: Over 100 years after his death, Frederick Law Olmsted is still America’s most famous and influential landscape architect.  The designer of Central Park, the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, and many other notable projects, Olmsted was also a conservationist, fighting to preserve Niagara Falls and Yosemite for future generations.  Biographer Justin Martin details his life in Genius of Place: the Life of Frederick Law Olmsted: Abolitionist, Conservationist, and Designer of Central Park.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015: From 1942 until 1949, Oak Ridge, Tennessee did not exist on any map.  It was a secret city, built and operated by the United States Army as one of the sites of the Manhattan Project.  And although at its peak 75,000 people lived there, most had no idea what they were working on until the day the bomb was dropped.   There are still plenty of Manhattan Project alumni living in Oak Ridge, and Bob spoke with several of them during a visit. Colleen Black started working as a leak detector when she was just 18-years-old; Bill Wilcox, now the city’s historian, worked as chemist; and Richard Lord arrived 10 days after graduating with an electrical engineering degree.

Thursday, August 6, 2015: August 6 marks the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima blast, the world’s first use of an atomic weapon in war.  The A-bomb was the brainchild of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the brilliant physicist whose postwar advocacy for a nuclear weapons ban brought him into conflict with the same military and government on whose behalf he had created the ultimate weapon.  Bob speaks with Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin, authors of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Friday, August 7, 2015: Capital punishment is a controversial topic. The death penalty is debated…death row inmates are sometimes granted clemency…sometimes, new evidence clears them completely. But there is another, quieter death penalty being served right now by roughly 50,000 American prisoners. They are inmates who have been sentenced to “life without parole” – who are destined to live the rest of their lives behind bars. They know that they won’t leave until they die. Bob talks with husband and wife filmmakers Alan and Susan Raymond about their brand new documentary on the subject called Toe Tag Parole. Then, on this date in 1974, a young Frenchman named Philippe Petit pulled off the “artistic crime of the century.” After eight months of planning, Petit, aided by a band of co-conspirators, rigged a high wire between the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center and then spent nearly an hour dancing between the two.  The cops were waiting for him when he finally came off the wire.  Unsure of what crime he had committed, the NYPD charged him with Man on Wire. That’s the name of the Academy Award-winning documentary about Petit directed by my other guest, James Marsh.



Bob Edwards Weekend (August 1-2, 2015)


Blues guitar great Buddy Guy just celebrated his 79th birthday and he has a brand new CD out called Born to Play Guitar.  Guy’s father bought him his first guitar, a “worn-in instrument with two strings,” for $4.35.  Since then, Guy says life “ain’t never been the same.”  Bob talks to Guy about his music and his journey from Lettsworth, Louisiana to Chicago and beyond.  Buddy Guy wrote about it all in his memoir titled When I Left Home: My Story.  



Today we’ll talk about some inspirational summer trips.  First, Bob talks with travel writer Rick Steves.  Throughout his career, Steves has advocated for thoughtful and informed traveling in his PBS series, his radio show, and of course his best-selling travel guide books.   In his book, Travel as a Political Act, Steves writes about why we travel and how being a good traveler creates positive ties with the citizens of other nations. 

Then, Bob talks to Keith Bellows, former editor of National Geographic Traveler magazine. Bellows compiled a list of the 500 greatest trips the world has to offer, encompassing every continent and every possible mode of transportation, including the world’s top 10 elevator rides. That book is titled Journeys of a Lifetime.


The Bob Edwards Show Schedule (July 27-31, 2015)


Monday, July 27, 2015: 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 and drawer pulls. 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 his book titled Willpower: The Science Behind Decision Making and Self Control. Then, Bob talks with multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird about his career and the music from his CD called Break It Yourself. Primarily known as a violinist, Bird has been playing since he was four, and collaborated with the Squirrel Nut Zippers during their later recordings.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015: The rest of the week is devoted to birthdays. Jim Davis turns 70 today. He started out writing and drawing a comic strip called Gnorm Gnat.  It ran for five years in an Indiana newspaper, but when Davis tried to take it national, an editor told him, “Your art is good, your gags are great, but bugs — nobody can relate with bugs!” And so the bugs were replaced with an ornery, chubby, orange cat who loves lasagna and hates Mondays. Garfield made his first appearance in 1978.  It’s now the most widely syndicated comic strip in the world — translated into 45 languages and delighting more than 200 million readers. Jim Davis has kept the Garfield operation in his home state, Indiana, where Paws, Inc., employs about 50 people, most life-long employees.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015: Long before he directed The Last Picture Show and Mask, Peter Bogdanovich was an enthusiastic moviegoer who spent hours upon hours in the theater, watching everything he could. So it makes sense that in 2005 Turner Classic Movies asked him to host The Essentials, their weekly showing of Hollywood’s greatest movies. Bob and Bogdanovich talk about his list of essential movies, the history of American film, and about the director’s art. Bogdanovich is turning 76 years old.

Thursday, July 30, 2015: Blues guitar great Buddy Guy celebrates his 79th birthday today. His father bought him his first guitar, a “worn-in instrument with two strings,” for $4.35.  Since then, Guy says life “ain’t never been the same.”  Bob talks to Guy about his music and journey from Lettsworth, Louisiana to Chicago and beyond.  Buddy Guy wrote about it all in his memoir titled When I Left Home: My Story.   

Friday, July 31, 2015: Stanley Jordan is one of the most innovative jazz guitarists around today.  Known for his “tapping technique,” which he demonstrates for Bob, Jordan has inspired an entire generation of musicians. Jordan joins Bob in the studio to play a few tunes, discuss his career and his passion for music therapy. Today, Stanley Jordan celebrates his 56th birthday.



Bob Edwards Weekend (July 25-26, 2015)


In 2012, Joshua Oppenheimer made a very disturbing documentary film about a genocide in Indonesia that happened 50 years ago. The Act of Killing was nominated for an Oscar and showed the bizarre and casual callousness of those who carried out the crimes in the 1960s.  Now Oppenheimer has followed that film with a brand new sequel called The Look of Silence. He’s here to discuss how the survivors and family members live among the now elderly perpetrators – many of whom are still powerful in Indonesia. 

Plus a short remembrance of novelist E.L. Doctorow who died Tuesday at the age of 84.



Bob talks with his old friend Simon Winchester.  The erudite Brit used to inform Bob and millions of public radio listeners about the news in the rest of the world when he was a journalist for The Guardian newspaper in England. Since those days, Winchester has become an American citizen and written many non-fiction best-sellers - about interesting people, historic events, brilliant ideas, even the biography of an ocean. His latest book is for kids – a first for Winchester. It’s called When the Earth Shakes: Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tsunamis.



Buzz Aldrin's Magnificent Desolation 

NOTE: This blog entry is from May 2013

The first time Buzz Aldrin filled out the forms to be a NASA astronaut, his application was turned down.  He was a jet fighter and the newly formed space agency was only interested in test pilots.  Aldrin applied again and this time he was accepted, partly because NASA was intrigued by the thesis he had recently completed at MIT: “Guidance for Manned Orbital Rendezvous” – an outline of a plan for two piloted spacecraft to meet in space.  This would hardly be the first time Aldrin would have ideas for NASA.  The underwater training for the first Apollo mission was his idea. And he holds three US patents for his schematics of a modular space station, reusable rockets and multi-crew modules for space flight. 


Many decades have passed since Aldrin stepped onto the moon’s surface and uttered the words that popped into his head: magnificent desolation.  And he still has a lot more ideas fo space exploration: cycling ships and a flexible path concept; Block 1 Exploration Modules and the Aldrin Mars Cycler — all things he talked about in his interview with Bob.  Aldrin also talked about an infamous punch he once threw. You can see it here:


Aldrin’s new book, published by National Geographic, is Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration