Monday, August 1, 2011: In 2008, Jeff Sharlet published a book called The Family about a religious movement, known to some as the Fellowship, where piety, politics and corruption meet. Sharlet now has a follow up titled C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy. In the book, Sharlet explains the comings and goings inside the Fellowship residence known by its Washington address and home to some of the most powerful men in Congress.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011: Writer Ben Mezrich tells the bizarre but true story of Thad Roberts, who, as only a man crazy and crazy in love would do, decided to steal the moon for his girlfriend. NASA fellows Roberts and his girlfriend attempted to steal moon rocks locked away in one of the most impenetrable laboratories on earth. Mezrich, author of The Accidental Billionaires (from which The Social Network was adapted), tells this true crime story in his new book Sex on the Moon. Then, compassion, kindness, selflessness – none make logical sense biologically. And yet, examples of biological altruism are found throughout the animal kingdom. Darwin never successfully explained the kindness gene, but a relatively unknown, eccentric scientist named George Price did. Oren Harman is a professor of the history of science at Bar Ilan (EE-lahn) University in Tel Aviv and the author of the book, The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011: Late in his career, Louis Armstrong was criticized for his showmanship, on-stage antics, and willingness to adapt to popular music trends with songs like “Mack the Knife” and “Hello Dolly!” But in a new book, music journalist Ricky Riccardi argues that the later years of Armstrong’s career deserve much more attention and praise. Riccardi is also the project archivist for the Louis Armstrong House Museum. His book is titled What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong’s Later Years. Then, Bernie Karp is an unremarkable teenager living a mundane life in a secular Jewish household – until he finds a rabbi encased in a block of ice in the basement freezer. Writer Steve Stern uses this shocking discovery to tell a tale of spiritual discovery that spans two centuries, two continents, and several generations. His book is titled, The Frozen Rabbi.
Thursday, August 4, 2011: Documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney is back – yet again – to discuss his latest project, Magic Trip. He uses archival footage shot in 1964 by Ken Kesey and “The Merry Band of Pranksters” as they traveled by psychedelic bus from the West coast to the World’s Fair in New York City. They documented their LSD-fueled trip to the “World of Tomorrow” with 16mm film, but never quite finished editing the 100 hours of footage. Then, Sports writer Frank Deford turned to fiction in his book Bliss, Remembered, about an American swimmer who falls in love with a young German man during the 1936 Berlin Olympics. When politics intervened, the young swimmer returned home to sort out the difficulties of mixing personal affairs with world events.
Friday, August 5, 2011: Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to talk about politics and other news. Next, August 6 marks the 66th 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. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Julia Pistell. She is never too busy to take a lunch break. She’s not hungry — she’s simply curious. Pistell has had many jobs in several countries, and her lunch breaks have given her an opportunity to meet new people, learn a different language, tame wild cats, and write letters to a far-off love. She says what you do at lunch is the true reflection of who you are.