Monday, September 19, 2011: The art of political name calling in this country goes back to the beginning. Now it’s “latte liberals” and “tea-baggers,” then it was “pettifoggers” and “slang-whangers.” Linguist Rosemarie Ostler has compiled the history in her new book, Slinging Mud: Rude Nicknames, Scurrilous Slogans, and Insulting Slang from Two Centuries of American Politics. Then, Bob talks with author Nancy Kriplen about her book, The Eccentric Billionaire. For her biography of John D. MacArthur, Kriplen interviewed his relatives and former associates — and used recorded interviews of the reluctant philanthropist. MacArthur’s money is behind the “genius awards” and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011: You’ve most likely heard of Natalee Holloway, the fresh-faced teenager who went missing during her senior class trip to Aruba and is believed to be dead. But have you ever heard the names Pamela Butler, Ashley Porter or Santasia Scarborough? All are missing., . . and black. Natalie Wilson is the co-founder of Black and Missing, an organization that tries to bring attention to the missing person cases that go unnoticed by mainstream media. She joins Bob to talk more about the work her organization does and the specifics of some of the thousands of cases that have come up cold. Then, artist and children’s book illustrator Allen Say won the Caldecott medal for The Boy of the Three-Year Nap (1987) and Grandfather’s Journey (1994). The later is about his grandfather voyage from Japan to the U.S. and back again. Say’s latest book is Drawing from Memory, an autobiographical account of his own journey as an artist.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011: Two years ago, Dan Baum, wrote a book called Nine Lives about what happened in New Orleans between the twin catastrophes of Hurricane Betsy in 1965 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Baum covered those 40 years by telling the stories of nine citizens. Colman deKay and Paul Sanchez took those stories and set them to music. Their CD is titled Nine Lives: A Musical Adaptation and features New Orleans musicians and singers. They will perform the songs live at a concert in Los Angeles this weekend and hope to turn the project into a Broadway musical someday soon.
Thursday, September 22, 2011: The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted in December 1791 yet to this day, it can spark a controversial debate. Adam Winkler is a Professor of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles and his most recent book is Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America. Winkler discusses the history, myths, and how racism has shaped our nation’s gun laws. Next, on August 19th, 1862, Horace Greeley published an editorial in the New York Tribune called “The Prayer of Twenty Millions.” In the midst of the Civil War, Greeley lectures President Lincoln, arguing that many of the people who had voted for him were “sorely” disappointed and “severely pained” that the president had not freed the slaves. Within six months, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. That’s the power of the editorial page says Michael Gartner, the author of Outrage, Passion, and Uncommon Sense: How Editorial Writers Have Taken On and Helped Shape the Great American Issues of the Past 150 Years. Then, when he was 7 years old, John Baker saw a portrait in his social studies textbook of his great-great grandparents, slaves on the largest tobacco plantation in America. He has been digging for 30 years to find out where they came from and what happened to the children of hundreds of slaves since emancipation. The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation: Stories of My Family’s Journey to Freedom is his life’s work, part mystery novel, part memoir and part history of the American experience.
Friday, September 23, 2011: Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to talk about politics and other news. Next, Michele Norris, co-host of NPR’s All Things Considered, initially planned to write a book about “postracial” America after President Barack Obama’s election in 2008. As Norris began to research America’s racial past, she was surprised to discover that her real story was much closer to home. Her book is titled The Grace of Silence: A Family Memoir. It’s now out in paperback. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Leah Ollman. Every Friday, Ollman bakes challah, the bread eaten on the Jewish Sabbath. The weekly ritual takes a lot of time, and it reminds her to step out of the hectic pace of life, slow down, and savor the process of creating something meaningful for her family.