Monday, October 12, 2009


Today is Columbus Day and we celebrate by dipping into the archive to bring back two of Bob’s interviews.  First, James Reston explains how pivotal the year 1492 was in his book Dogs of God: Columbus, the Inquisition, and the Defeat of the Moors.  Then, former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and producer Ed Pettersen talks about their collection of songs that tell the history of America back to 1492. The 50-song set includes 50 different musicians including John Mellencamp, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Martha Wainwright, and Andrew Bird.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009


For the past eight years, attorney and journalist Amy Bach has been investigating the systematic shoddiness in America’s court system. The resulting book, Ordinary Justice: How American Holds Court, is being described as the Silent Spring or Unsafe at Any Speed for the U.S. criminal justice system.  Then, a provision that would have given more freedom to doctors to talk with their patients about end-of-life planning sparked a firestorm about “death panels” and “rationing” care for the elderly. End-of-life care remains a rarely discussed topic even though almost everyone needs it. Karen Cantor is the director of “Last Rights,” a documentary that examines the choices available to people who are dying. The film follows four terminally ill patients as they confront illness and plan their final days.   


Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Nanci Griffith has been performing and touring for more than two decades. Her classic tunes have been recorded by the likes of Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris, but Griffith has also released 19 of her own albums. Her latest, The Loving Kind, is her first studio record of new, original material since 2005.  And Griffith says it’s her most politically charged album to date.  She and Bob talk politics and music in Sirius XM’s performance studio.



Thursday, October 15, 2009 


Tomorrow is the 150th anniversary of abolitionist John Brown’s 1859 raid on the West Virginian town of Harpers Ferry.  Although the two day raid didn’t result in a slave revolt as Brown had hoped, it did act as a catalyst in moving up the Civil War.  Journalist Fergus Bordewich wrote about John Brown in the article “Day of Reckoning” for the October issue of Smithsonian Magazine.   Then, historian Carol Berkin tells the story of three wives of notable Civil War figures whose marriages gave them unique perspectives into “The War Between the States.”  History is usually about the people in the forefront, but in her book Civil War Wives, Berkin focuses on the lives of Julia Grant, Varina Howell Davis, and Angelina Grimke Weld, who experienced a very different war from their husbands. 



Friday, October 16, 2009 


David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk politics. Next, when photographer Julius Shulman passed away earlier this year, his obituary in the Los Angeles Times stated that, “his mission was to use his photography to build the reputation of architects who were bringing innovative design to the West.”  Director Eric Bricker’s new film Visual Acoustics, narrated by Dustin Hoffman, explores the life and work of the man who has been called the world’s greatest architectural photographer. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with executive director Dan Gediman about the essay from critic, journalist, novelist and feminist Rebecca West.  She is known for her studies of the Nazi war crimes trials at Nuremburg, for which President Harry Truman called her “the world’s best reporter.” In 1959, West was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire, the female equivalent of an honorary knighthood.