This Week


November 30-December 4, 2009


Monday, November 30, 2009 

Today would have been Mark Twain’s 174th birthday. In honor, we’re bringing back Bob’s interview with Ron Powers, author of  Mark Twain: A Life. Twain (whose real name was Samuel Clemens) is still the most-read author in American public schools, but until Powers’ book there hadn’t been too many studies of how Twain’s life influenced his work. Because of Twain’s celebrity, temperament, and success, Powers believes Mark Twain to be the country’s “first rock star.”  Late last week, conceptual artist  Jeanne-Claude died. Today, we revisit Bob’s interview with Jeanne-Claude and her husband and creative partner, Christo.  Last November, they spoke to Bob about their exhibit Christo and Jeanne-Claude:  Over The River, a Work in Progress. The exhibition of more than 150 photographs, collages, drawings, and maps, will chronicle the artists’ process as they prepare to assemble and suspend massive panels of silvery fabric horizontally over the Arkansas River in Colorado.



Tuesday, December 1, 2009  

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, in November of 1943, U.S. Marines landed on Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands and met a Japanese force of 4,500 who fought nearly to the last man.   Nearly two thousand Marines and Navy personnel were killed.  Leon Cooper was one of the Navy officers who landed Marines on the island and never forgot the carnage he witnessed.   Along with documentary filmmaker Steve Barber, Cooper returned to the island in February, 2008 to check out reports that garbage littered the battlefield.   While there, he learned that hundreds of American dead remain on the island in graves that receive no care. The film, Return to Tarawa: The Leon Cooper Story, is part of an effort to give proper respect to the fallen heroes of World War II.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In Hollowing Out The Middle, authors Patrick Carr and Maria Keflas examine the exodus from America’s small towns.  To do this, the two moved to a small town in Iowa where they conducted over a hundred interviews and ultimately traveled to fifteen Midwestern states.  Bob talks with Carr about his new book.  Then, contemporary master of the epic historical novel, Edward Rutherford turns his attention from his native England to The United States’ largest metropolis.  New York: The Novel begins in a small fishing village on the island of Mannahata and follows the settlers and their ancestors for four centuries, as the fishing village grows into America’s most important city.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

President of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Frances Beinecke, discusses the climate change legislation making its way through the Senate, the role the United States will have at the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December, and why our national security depends on our ability to curb carbon emissions.  She’s also the author of a new book - Clean Energy Common Sense: An American Call to Action on Global Climate Change.  Then, growing up on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, Paul Nicklin started off as a biologist who liked to take pictures.  Eventually he realized that photography was the best way to get his message of wildlife appreciation and conservation to the public. His new book of photography is called Polar Obsession and it’s published by National Geographic.


Friday, December 4, 2009

David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk politics.  Next, guitarist and singer Chuck Prophet, discusses recording his latest CD in Mexico City — during the height of the Swine Flu hysteria. The record is called Let Freedom Ring and Prophet will also perform a few tracks in our studio. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, Bob talks with executive director Dan Gediman about the essay from Oscar and Esther Hirschmann.  They lived in New York City, where Oscar was a poet writing under the pen name of Oliver Hale. Their essay was the only statement on the original This I Believe series to be delivered by two people.