Long before the era of the news anchor, the pundit, and the mini-cam, one man blazed a trail that thousands would follow. Reporting live from the streets and rooftops of London as Nazi war planes rained terror from the skies during the Battle of Britain, Edward R. Murrow brought the stark horror of war and the shock of breaking news events directly into American living rooms for the first time, and that was just the beginning.
"Very interesting book, easy-listening"
For the full hour, Bob talks with Sister Helen Prejean about her book The Death of Innocents. Sister Helen is the woman who wrote Dead Man Walking and is an advocate for abolishing the death penalty. In her new book, she documents the executions of two men whom she believes were innocent, Dobie Gillis Williams in Louisiana and Joseph O'Dell in Virginia.
On this Thanksgiving Day we dip into our archive to bring back two of Bob’s interviews. First, English 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.
George Saunders is a bestselling writer of short fiction, essays, novellas and children’s books. The New York Times Magazine called his newest collection, Tenth of December, "The best book you'll read this year.” Bob talks to Saunders about that book and his writing process.
Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist with the American Museum of Natural History, where he is director of the Hayden Planetarium. These days he is best known as the host of the first season of Cosmos on Fox. Bob spoke with Tyson back in 2007 about his collection of essays titled, Death by Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries.
On this date in 2006, Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling of Enron were found guilty of fraud and conspiracy for their roles in the spectacular rise and fall of energy giant Enron. Bob talks with Alex Gibney, writer and director of Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. This documentary features revealing insider accounts and rare audio and video tapes from inside the bankrupt energy company. Gibney is joined by Fortune magazine writer Bethany McLean, who did extensive reporting on the Enron story.
We celebrate our 8th anniversary by replaying some of Bob’s favorite music interviews. First, actor, comedian, writer and musician Steve Martin talks with Bob about his second album Rare Bird Alert, a follow-up to 2009’s Grammy-winning The Crow. Martin is joined on the album by his backing band The Steep Canyon Rangers, with special guests The Dixie Chicks and Paul McCartney singing a couple of Martin’s original tunes.
Bob talks with Emily Bingham about her brand new book. It's a biography of her great aunt Henrietta who lived life to the fullest during the Jazz Age. She was both intoxicating and often intoxicated as she tore through love affairs with men and women of the 1920s. Bingham's book is titled Irrespressible.
Anne Applebaum won the Pulitzer Prize for her book, Gulag, about the history of the Soviet Union labor camp. Now the columnist for The Washington Post and Slate takes a wider look at the brutality of Communist rule with her book title, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945 – 1956.
Inspired by her own experiences caring for her parents at the end of their lives, science writer Katy Butler’s new book, Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death, is an in-depth look at our medical community’s end-of-life care.
The Byzantine Empire spanned some 1000 years and consumed most of the countries surrounding Mediterranean. This largely Greek speaking empire was also predominately Christian, a fact that we often forget today in light of the Near East’s association with Islam and Judaism. Historian Roger Crowley is the author of 1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West and talks with Bob about this often-overlooked civilization.
Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin envisioned a Communist Western Europe, turning his attention first to the United Kingdom. Writer Giles Milton tells the story of the men who stopped him in Russian Roulette: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin’s Plot for Global Revolution. Then, Bob remembers renowned poet, author, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, who died yesterday at the age of 86. Angelou is known best for her award-winning writing, including her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and her collection of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Diiie. In 2010, President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our highest civilian honor. Bob spoke to Maya Angelou in 2006 and we share their conversation on writing, aging, and being an American.
Mystery writer Martha Grimes is best-known for her prolific Richard Jury mystery series and was the recipient of the 2012 Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award. But her new book, Double Double: A Dual Memoir of Alcoholism is not a mystery novel but her true story of alcoholism and its effects. Written by Grimes and her son Ken, Double Double is personal look at a disease that affects nearly 45 million Americans each year.
Bob speaks with singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen. He's been a monk, a songwriter, and a poet. Now he treats us to a new book of poetry called Book of Longing and a new documentary, Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man, coming to theaters in June. Cohen also talks about his newest collaboration with his one-time backup singer and now lover, Anjani. The album is called Blue Alert.
In 2007, Bob talked with director Kenneth Branagh and actor Michael Caine about their film Sleuth. It was a remake of the 1972 thriller which starred Caine. But really the interview was just an excuse for Caine to tell hilariously charming stories to entertain Bob and Branagh. Then, 80-year-old Leonard Cohen has a new CD out now titled Popular Problems, but back when he visited with Bob in 2006, they discussed Cohen’s collection of poetry called Book of Longing and a documentary titled Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man. Cohen has been a monk, a songwriter and a poet.
The first time Sue Monk Kidd heard about Sarah Grimke she was intrigued. In an act of rebellion against her wealthy, slave-owning family, Sarah traveled the country speaking out against slavery in the years before the Civil War. A fictionalized Sarah is at the heart of Kidd’s new novel, The Invention of Wings. Her first-person narrative is weaved together with that of Hetty “Handful” Grimke’, an enslaved girl given to Sarah for her 11th birthday. This is Susan Monk Kidd’s third book. Her first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, was a huge best-seller and, like this new one, an Oprah Book Club pick.
Ted Olson is an unlikely champion of gay marriage. He built his career as a very conservative jurist, serving two republican presidents and successfully arguing the 2000 election case that put George W. Bush in the White House. But it was Olson who led the charge to overturn Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage. Olson tells the story of his work on the case in a new book titled Redeeming the Dream: The Case for Marriage Equality.
Actor Oscar Isaac stars as the title character in the new Coen Brothers’ film Inside Llewyn Davis. Set in 1960s Greenwich Village during the folk music scene, the film charts a week-in-the-life of Isaac’s struggling musician.
As the 19th century came to a close, America’s big cities worked out how to move people quickly and efficiently. Author Doug Most tells the story of mass transit in his book The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry that Built America’s First Subway.
The Cold War is long over and with the collapse of the Soviet Union, there is little threat of an all-out, mutually destructive nuclear war. But investigative journalist Eric Schlosser points out that most of those weapons are still out there…and many of them are still on hair-trigger alert. In his book Command and Control, he writes that school children no longer practice to "duck and cover" – even as the danger of an accidental war or accidental nuclear detonations may have increased.