Monday, May 9, 2011: In the UK it was published as Alex’s Adventures in Numberland. The US version has a cleverly improved title, Here’s Looking at Euclid. Whatever the title, Alex Bellos has managed to write a best-selling book all about math. Bellos traveled around the world interviewing people whose lives are connected to math. Bellos’ ambition is to prove to a wider audience — starting with Bob — that “the world of math is a remarkable place.” His book is now out in paperback.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011: Tim Green is a former NFL player, a lawyer, and a sports analyst for television and radio. He’s the author of several books, including thrillers for adults and kids. His latest book is titled Best of the Best, and it’s about a Little League star trying to make it to the World Series during his parents’ divorce. Bob talks with Green about writing for young people, coaching Little League, and issues in professional sports. Then, Johnny Appleseed lives as an icon in American folklore, a happy farmer who skipped across the country spreading apple trees and good health. But the real man behind the myth was John Chapman, a strange loner, failed entrepreneur, and nutty religious mystic. Howard Means writes about Chapman in his new book, Johnny Appleseed: The Man, the Myth, the American Story.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011: Noah Webster was an educator (he helped found Amherst College), a newspaperman (he was editor of New York’s first daily), a lawyer, an author, and a statesman. He counted George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton among his friends. In The Forgotten Founding Father, writer Joshua Kendall chronicles the life of the man best known for his 1828 publication, An American Dictionary of the English Language, what later became the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Then, filmmaker Bill Morrison works within a genre called “found footage filmmaking.” His latest film is an homage to the coal mining history of North East England. The Miners’ Hymns is a 52-minute wordless documentary that combines archival footage alongside modern images of a community that was ultimately destroyed by mining.
Thursday, May 12, 2011: Stiff, Spook and Bonk were the titles of Mary Roach’s previous books, all exploring some strange sides of science (cadavers, the afterlife and sex research respectively). For her latest book, Roach takes readers to the final frontier, or at least the road astronauts take to get there. In Packing for Mars, Roach investigates space simulations and all their weirdness. Roach’s book is now out in paperback. Then, Space Shuttle Endeavour is scheduled for its final mission this week. And to celebrate the occasion, we bring back Bob’s 2008 visit to the Kennedy Space Center where he witnessed the November 14th launch of the Endeavour and learned about the past, present and future of NASA. Bob also speaks with public radio reporter and NASA expert Pat Duggins about his book Final Countdown which chronicles the history of the Space Shuttle program.
Friday, May 13, 2011: Doyle McManus, Washington Bureau Chief for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to talk about politics and other news. Next, English writer Andrea Levy won the Whitbread Book of the Year and the Orange Prize for Fiction for her novel Small Island, which was later made into a PBS Masterpiece series in 2009. Her most recent book, The Long Song, is told by Miss July, a former slave who lived in Jamaica through the Baptist War and end of slavery. The Long Song was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2010 and is now out in paperback. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Scott Shakelford. For fans of science fiction, stories that take place beyond the stars, with a cast of droids and aliens, are so compelling that they sometimes intrude into real life. For instance, we’ve all seen photographs of people dressed as storm troopers outside of movie theaters. Shakelford says his real-life connections to science fiction go beyond dress-up. He and his father share a devotion to the genre, and he says that has strengthened their relationship over the years.
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