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Fresh Air

Fresh Air

Fresh Air from WHYY, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio's most popular programs. Hosted by Terry Gross, the show features intimate conversations with today's biggest luminaries.

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Episodes

Chef Marcus Samuelsson Writes Black People Into U.S. Food History

Samuelsson's new book, 'The Rise,' is a celebration of Black excellence in the culinary world ? and the many Black cooks who have influenced American food, often without credit. He also talks about converting his Harlem restaurant Red Rooster into a community kitchen during the pandemic, and his roots in both Ethiopia and Sweden.

Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews 'The Witches,' an adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic children's book.
2020-10-26
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Father Of The Psychedelic Movement, Timothy Leary

Psychologist Timothy Leary, who died in 1996, was the father of the psychedelic movement of the 1960s and its experiments with mind-altering drugs. In 1960, Leary joined the faculty of Harvard at the Center for Personality Research, where he analyzed the effects of psychedelics and personality. As part of his research, he introduced L.S.D. and other psychedelic drugs to many, and also used them himself. Leary was eventually asked to leave the university, and later served time in jail on drug charges. We listen back to Terry Gross' 1983 interview with Leary as well as our 1990 interview with spiritual leader Ram Dass, who joined Leary in some of his psychedelic experiments. And we'll hear from journalist Michael Pollan whose 2018 book 'How to Change Your Mind' explored the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics.

Also, TV critic David Bianculli reviews HBO's 'The Undoing,' starring Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman.
2020-10-23
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Best Of: Novelist Rumaan Alam / 'My Octopus Teacher' Filmmaker

Rumaan Alam's novel, 'Leave the World Behind,' centers on two families ? one Black and one white ? who are sharing a vacation home during a mysterious disaster. It explores issues of race and class, fear, and how we respond to crisis.

Ken Tucker reviews a new deluxe edition of Prince's masterpiece 'Sign O' The Times.'

Craig Foster spent a year diving ? without oxygen or a wetsuit ? into the frigid sea near Cape Town, South Africa. One octopus began coming out of her den to hunt or explore while Foster watched. He documents their unlikely friendship in 'My Octopus Teacher,' now on Netflix.
2020-10-23
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SCOTUS Correspondent Nina Totenberg

Nina Totenberg is widely regarded as the dean of legal journalists. She started covering the Supreme court in 1971 and became NPR's legal correspondent in 1975. We talk about breaking the Anita Hill story, her friendship with the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and her early career as a pioneer for women in journalism. This conversation was recorded from a live Zoom event for WHYY.
2020-10-22
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Novelist Sigrid Nunez

Nunez's new novel, 'What Are You Going Through,' is about facing mortality and the relationship between a writer dying of cancer and the friend she asks to stay with her.

Lloyd Schwartz reviews a collection of performances by Leontyne Price, the first Black soprano to have a major career at the Metropolitan Opera. And John Powers reviews the Netflix miniseries 'The Queen's Gambit.'
2020-10-21
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Free Speech In The Age Of Disinformation

'New York Times Magazine' writer Emily Bazelon talks about how the lies and conspiracy theories sweeping through American media are leading some scholars to question our faith in free speech and in minimal government regulation of speech. Bazelon says false content moves through the Internet unchecked ? undermining the political process along the way.

Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews 'El Duelo.'
2020-10-20
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John Brown, Abraham Lincoln & The Fight To End Slavery

Historian H.W. Brands' new book, 'The Zealot and the Emancipator' looks at two very different 19th century leaders, John Brown and Abraham Lincoln. Brown was a militant abolitionist who embraced violence and was hanged after he tried to spark an insurrection at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. President Lincoln resisted conflict as long as possible, hoping laws and reason would keep Southern states in the Union, and eventually bring an end to human bondage.

Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews 'Martin Eden,' an adaptation of the Jack London novel.
2020-10-19
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Best Of: Broadway Stars Danny Burstein & Rebecca Luker / 'Nice White Parents' Creator

Married Broadway stars Danny Burstein and Rebecca Luker both contracted COVID in the spring, just as theaters went dark. Burstein was starring in 'Moulin Rouge' at the time. Burstein's case was severe and he nearly died. Luker's case was mild, but it came soon after she had been diagnosed with ALS. They talk with Terry Gross about how their illnesses have changed their lives and careers, and their hopes for the future.

Also, John Powers reviews 'David Byrne's American Utopia' on HBO, directed by Spike Lee.

'This American Life' producer Chana Joffe-Walt says progressive white parents may say they want their kids to go to diverse schools ? but the reality tells a different story. "I think white parents are pretty savvy at evading the explicit conversation around race, although it's clearly shaping our thoughts about schools." She examines the complicated history of gentrification in a Brooklyn school in her new podcast, 'Nice White Parents.' It's a production of 'Serial' and 'The New York Times.'
2020-10-17
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How Women Have Been Left Out Of The Constitution / Remembering MLB's Joe Morgan

As a teen, Heidi Schreck debated the Constitution in competitions. Later she realized it had failed to protect four generations of women in her family. "I believed it was perfect. I believed it was a tool of justice. I did not realize as a 15-year-old girl how profoundly I had been left out of it. I didn't realize that it didn't protect me," Schreck says. Her award-winning Broadway play, 'What the Constitution Means to Me,' is now streaming on Amazon.

Also, we remember Joe Morgan, one of the few second-basemen to make it into baseball's Hall of Fame. He died Oct. 11 at the age of 77. He spoke with Terry Gross in 1993.
2020-10-16
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'My Octopus Teacher' Filmmaker

Craig Foster spent a year diving ? without oxygen or a wetsuit ? into the frigid sea near Cape Town, South Africa. One octopus began coming out of her den to hunt or explore while Foster watched. He documents their unlikely friendship in 'My Octopus Teacher,' now on Netflix.

Also, TV critic David Bianculli reviews the Netflix film, 'The Trial of the Chicago 7,' written by Aaron Sorkin.
2020-10-15
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2 Broadway Stars Grapple With Illness And Uncertainty

Married Broadway stars Danny Burstein and Rebecca Luker both contracted COVID in the spring, just as theaters went dark. Burstein was starring in 'Moulin Rouge' at the time. Burstein's case was severe and he nearly died. Luker's case was mild, but it came soon after she had been diagnosed with ALS. They talk with Terry Gross about how their illnesses have changed their lives and careers, and their hopes for the future.
2020-10-14
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Lessons For A Post-Pandemic World

CNN host and 'Washington Post' columnist Fareed Zakaria says COVID-19 presents a chance to make positive changes: "We could well look back on these times 10 or 20 years from now and say, 'This was the turning point.'" His new book, 'Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World' examines the way COVID-19 will change everything from our trust in government to our relationship with technology.

Also, John Powers reviews 'David Byrne's American Utopia' on HBO, directed by Spike Lee.
2020-10-13
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How 'Nice White Parents' Can Undermine School Integration

'This American Life' producer Chana Joffe-Walt says progressive white parents may say they want their kids to go to diverse schools ? but the reality tells a different story. "I think white parents are pretty savvy at evading the explicit conversation around race, although it's clearly shaping our thoughts about schools." She examines the complicated history of gentrification in a Brooklyn school in her new podcast, 'Nice White Parents.' It's a production of 'Serial' and 'The New York Times.'

Also, Ken Tucker reviews the album 'Private Lives' from Philly band Low Cut Connie.
2020-10-12
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Best Of: Ethan Hawke / Lenny Kravitz

Ethan Hawke plays 19th-century abolitionist John Brown in the seven-part Showtime series, 'The Good Lord Bird.' He says Brown's story feels particularly relevant today, as America confronts systemic racism and the legacy of slavery. Also, Justin Chang reviews the film 'The Forty-Year-Old Version.' Lenny Kravitz talks about growing up the son of a Jewish father and Black mother. His new memoir about his life up until his breakout album is 'Let Love Rule.'
2020-10-10
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Remembering MLB Pitcher Bob Gibson

We remember Bob Gibson, one of baseball's most intimidating pitchers. He dominated hitters from the mound for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1960s and '70s and he holds the record for most strikeouts ? 17 ? in a World Series game. Gibson died last week at the age of 84. First we'll listen back to Terry's 1994 interview with Gibson when he had just published his memoir. Then, in our 2009 interview with Gibson and Hall of Fame slugger Reggie Jackson, we hear him talk about the classic confrontation between the player at the plate and one on the mound.

Justin Chang reviews two new documentaries, 'Totally Under Control' and 'Time.' The former is about the Trump administration's handling of the pandemic; the latter chronicles the impact of long-term incarceration on one family.
2020-10-09
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The State Of The Affordable Care Act

As President Trump recovers from COVID-19 and candidates debate the issue of insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, we take stock of the nation's health care system. We talk with the 'New York Times' health policy reporter Sarah Kliff about the state of the Affordable Care Act, after 10 years of legal assaults and attempts in Congress to repeal the law. "Republicans have been trying to drive a stake into the heart of Obamacare pretty much since it was passed," Kliff says.

Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews the album 'General Semantics,' by the trio Geof Bradfield, Ben Goldberg and Dana Hall.
2020-10-08
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Novelist Rumaan Alam

Alam's novel, 'Leave the World Behind,' centers on two families ? one Black and one white ? who are sharing a vacation home during a mysterious disaster. It explores issues of race and class, fear, and how we respond to crisis. We'll also talk about Alam's upbringing as the son of Bengali immigrants and why he has hope about his children's generation.
2020-10-07
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Lenny Kravitz

Kravitz talks about growing up the son of a Jewish father and Black mother, finding his musical style, and how Lisa Bonet changed him as a songwriter. His new memoir about his life up until his breakout album is 'Let Love Rule.'

Also, Maureen Corrigan reviews 'The Searcher,' a suspenseful crime novel by Tana French.
2020-10-06
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Ethan Hawke

Hawke plays 19th-century abolitionist John Brown in the seven-part Showtime series, 'The Good Lord Bird.' He says Brown's story feels particularly relevant today, as America confronts systemic racism and the legacy of slavery. We also talk about 'Training Day,' collaborating with filmmaker Richard Linklater, and how stage fright made him a better actor.
2020-10-05
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Best Of: What If Trump Contests The Election? / Filmmaker Kirsten Johnson

'Atlantic' staff writer Barton Gellman says if President Trump claims mail-in votes are fraudulent and contests the results, Republican legislatures might then try to ignore their states' popular votes and send Trump representatives to the Electoral College. His latest article is 'The Election That Could Break America.'

Kevin Whitehead reviews the first album from an all-star band of jazz women, called Artemis.

After filmmaker Kirsten Johnson's father started showing signs of dementia, she had a hard time accepting that his death was getting closer. Her new Netflix film, 'Dick Johnson is Dead,' enacts his death from a series of imagined accidents.
2020-10-03
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A Cave Diver On The Thrill & Terror Of Going 'Into The Planet'

Diver and photographer Jill Heinerth shares some of her most dangerous and exhilarating experiences underwater ? like getting trapped inside an iceberg in Antarctica. Heinerth also explains how she stays calm when things go wrong: "I take a really deep breath and try and slow my heart, slow my breathing, and then just focus on pragmatic small steps," she says. Her book is 'Into the Planet.'

David Bianculli reviews the Showtime documentary series 'The Comedy Store,' about the iconic comedy club.
2020-10-02
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What Happens If Trump Contests the Election?

'Atlantic' writer Barton Gellman says the 2020 election could trigger a constitutional crisis, and if the election is close, it could take weeks to determine the results in key battleground states as mail-in ballots are scrutinized for technical flaws and counted. If President Trump cries fraud and his supporters take to the streets, state legislatures could resolve to set aside the popular vote in their states and choose their own partisan delegations to the Electoral College. "This is not going to be a normal election. ... Preserving its legitimacy is going to take extra effort," he says.
2020-10-01
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Filmmaker Faces Her Dad's Mortality In 'Dick Johnson Is Dead'

After Kirsten Johnson's dad started showing signs of dementia, she had a hard time accepting that his death was getting closer. Her new Netflix documentary, 'Dick Johnson is Dead,' enacts his death from a series of imagined accidents. Johnson has been the cinematographer for over 50 documentaries, including 'Citizenfour.' We'll also talk about her 2016 film 'Cameraperson,' which she's described as a memoir. She spoke with 'Fresh Air' producer Sam Briger.

Also, Justin Chang reviews 'The Forty Year-Old Version,' a film by Radha Blank.
2020-09-30
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Inside The Mueller Investigation

Andrew Weissmann, a lead prosecutor in the Mueller investigation, shares his experience with the probe and its report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Weissmann says the constant threat that President Trump might fire Mueller and shut down the probe and the prospect of Trump granting pardons to key witnesses had an effect on Mueller and his team. Weissman believes Mueller was timid when he should have been aggressive in getting information and testimony, and he says the final report should have been far clearer in its conclusions about the president's conduct. His book, 'Where Law Ends,' takes us inside the 22-month investigation.

Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews the novel 'Leave the World Behind,' by Rumaan Alam, which she calls a signature read for 2020.
2020-09-29
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The 'Secret History' Of Nuclear War

In his new book, 'The Bomb,' journalist Fred Kaplan pulls back the curtain on how U.S. presidents, their advisers and generals have thought about, planned for ? and sometimes narrowly avoided ? nuclear war.

Also, Kevin Whitehead reviews the first album from an all-star band of jazz women, called Artemis.
2020-09-28
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Best Of: Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin / Inside Trump's Businesses

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor of the Metropolitan Opera and Philadelphia Orchestra, talks about Verdi's "Requiem." He'll talk about how Verdi communicates suffering and hope through music, and how music has helped him find a sense of connection during the pandemic.

Ken Tucker reviews a new EP from singer-songwriter Mickey Guyton, one of the few Black women recording country music hits.

Also, we'll talk about Donald Trump's finances with 'Forbes' senior editor Dan Alexander. His new book is 'White House Inc: How Donald Trump Turned the Presidency into a Business.'
2020-09-26
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Feminist Activist Gloria Steinem

The new drama 'The Glorias' is based on the feminist activist's memoir 'My Life on the Road,' and follows Steinem from ages 20 to 40. Steinem spoke with Terry Gross in 2015 about her unique childhood, the illegal abortion she had when she was 22, and how aging has been liberating. We'll also hear an excerpt of her 1987 interview, about the 15th anniversary of 'Ms.' magazine, the feminist publication which she co-founded.

Also, TV critic David Bianculli reviews the fourth season of 'Fargo,' starring Chris Rock.
2020-09-25
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Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin On Hope & Suffering

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the young, charismatic conductor of the Metropolitan Opera and Philadelphia Orchestra, talks about Verdi's "Requiem." He chose the piece for his inaugural performance as music director of the orchestra in Philadelphia. We'll talk about how Verdi communicates suffering and hope through music, the piece's meaning in Yannick's own life, and how music has helped him find a sense of connection during the pandemic.

And John Powers reviews the new Apple TV+ series 'Tehran,' about a female Israeli spy sent undercover to Iran.
2020-09-24
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Political Meddling In The Fight Against COVID-19

'Politico' reporter Dan Diamond describes efforts by Trump loyalist and HHS spokesperson (currently on leave) Michael Caputo to alter weekly CDC reports and have scientists change their findings on the course of the coronavirus pandemic. "Caputo walked in the door of the health department in the middle of this once-in-a-century pandemic, having been personally recruited by the president, and the goal was very much to execute the president's agenda and to knock down any messaging, any communications that were seen as conflicting with what President Trump was saying about coronavirus."
2020-09-23
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How Donald Trump Turned The Presidency Into A Business

'Forbes' senior editor Dan Alexander examines President Trump's sprawling business interests in his new book, 'White House, Inc.' Alexander says the president has broken a number of pledges he made about how he would conduct business while in office. We talk about Trump's holdings and potential conflicts of interest, and what Alexander found when he looked closely at the numbers.

Also, Ken Tucker reviews Mickey Guyton's EP 'Bridges' and her single "Black Like Me."
2020-09-22
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Remembering RBG / Neurologist Oliver Sacks

Legal analyst and 'New Yorker' staff writer Jeffrey Toobin spoke with Terry Gross in 2013 about his profile of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, written as she marked her 20th anniversary on the Supreme Court. We'll talk about how her work led to breakthroughs in the equal treatment of women. And Toobin will tell a touching personal story she shared with him. Ginsburg died Sept. 18 at the age of 87.

A new documentary, 'Oliver Sacks: His Own Life,' chronicles the late neurologist's efforts to understand perception, memory and consciousness. Sacks spoke with Terry Gross in 2012 about how a hallucination saved his life.
2020-09-21
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Best Of: The Origin Of Data Science & Elections / Novelist Ayad Akhtar

Harvard historian and 'New Yorker' writer Jill Lepore tells the story of the Simulmatics Corporation. Founded in 1959, it used a so-called "people machine," a computer program it claimed could predict the impact of political messages or advertising pitches. Her book is 'If Then.'

TV critic David Bianculli reviews Ryan Murphy's new Netflix series 'Ratched,' an origin story of the notorious nurse from 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.'

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and novelist Ayad Akhtar talks about his new novel, 'Homeland Elegies,' which explores the experiences of a Muslim man who, like Akhtar, grows up in Wisconsin, the son of Pakistani immigrants.
2020-09-19
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'Watchmen' Writer Cord Jefferson

The HBO series 'Watchmen' uses sci-fi and action heroes to examine American racism. We talk with show writer Cord Jefferson, who wrote the episode of the series in which the main character narrowly survives the 1921 Tulsa Massacre, when white supremacists destroyed a prosperous Black community. The series has scored 26 Emmy nominations ? more than any other series.

Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews the grim thriller 'The Devil All the Time,' now streaming on Netflix.
2020-09-18
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Country Musician & Historian Marty Stuart

The Grammy winning singer-songwriter started out in Lester Flatt's backup band. Now he's being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Stuart played some of his own music in this 2014 interview, and talked about his archive of cowboy couture.
2020-09-17
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COVID On College Campuses

College campuses have become the pandemic's newest hotspots, with more than 88,000 COVID cases at the nation's colleges and universities. We talk with reporter Scott Carlson about the tough decisions colleges are facing as they decide how to continue classes, test students, and quarantine the sick. We'll also talk about the financial strain these institutions were already facing before the pandemic.

TV critic David Bianculli reviews Ryan Murphy's new Netflix series 'Ratched,' an origin story of the notorious nurse from 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.' And jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a new release by French-Canadian clarinetist and composer François Houle.
2020-09-16
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The Strange Origin Story Of Data Science & Elections

Harvard historian and 'New Yorker' writer Jill Lepore tells the story of the Simulmatics Corporation. Founded in 1959, it used a so-called "people machine," a computer program it claimed could predict the impact of political messages or advertising pitches. At the time, Simulmatics drew condemnation from scholars and political leaders who saw it as a threat to democracy. But now, 60 years later, the company's data collection practices and predictive models have become commonplace among political campaigns.

Her book is 'If Then.' Also, Maureen Corrigan reviews Sue Miller's book 'Monogamy.'
2020-09-15
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Writer Ayad Akhtar On Blending Fact & Fiction

Actor, playwright and novelist Ayad Akhtar won a Pulitzer Prize for 'Disgraced,' his play about an American-born Muslim who hosts a dinner party that sparks a heated discussion of religion and politics. Akhtar's new novel, 'Homeland Elegies,' explores the experiences of a Muslim man who, like Akhtar, grows up in Wisconsin, the son of Pakistani immigrants.

Also, Ken Tucker reviews the album 'What Could Be Better' by the band The Happy Fits.
2020-09-14
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Best Of: Yaa Gyasi / How Torture Derailed The War On Terror

Ghanaian-American author Yaa Gyasi drew on her own ?experiences growing up in a largely white community in Alabama for her new book, 'Transcendent Kingdom.' In the novel, she explores themes of depression, addiction, religion and race.

Book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews pastry chef Lisa Donovan's memoir, 'Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger.'

Former FBI agent Ali Soufan interrogated dozens of Al-Qaida members and other extremists in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. He says he got valuable information by preparing carefully for interviews and building rapport with his subjects. When CIA contractors used coercive techniques ? like waterboarding ? Soufan says subjects ceased cooperating, or gave bad information to make the torment stop. Soufan's 2011 memoir about his experiences appeared with large portions redacted by the CIA. After a legal battle, the redacted material is now restored in a new version, called 'Black Banners (Declassified).'
2020-09-12
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'Devil All The Time' Novelist / 'PEN15' Creators Return To Middle School

Donald Ray Pollock worked in a paper mill and meatpacking plant for 32 years before becoming a writer. He spoke with Terry Gross in 2011 about his acclaimed gothic crime novel, 'The Devil All the Time.' The film adaptation, starring Robert Pattinson and Tom Holland, will begin streaming on Netflix on Sept. 16.

Also, we listen back to an interview with Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine, creators and stars of the Hulu comedy series 'PEN15.' They play 13-year-old versions of themselves, navigating the traumas of middle school in the early 2000s. Season 2 begins next week. They spoke with 'Fresh Air' producer Sam Briger.

Justin Chang reviews Charlie Kaufman's new Netflix film, 'I'm Thinking of Ending Things.'
2020-09-11
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What Happened To The 1 Million Displaced Persons After WWII?

Historian David Nasaw tells the story of the concentration camp survivors, POWs and other displaced people who remained in Germany following the war. Many had no home to return to. Nasaw's book is 'The Last Million.'
2020-09-10
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Novelist Yaa Gyasi

Ghanaian-American author Yaa Gyasi drew on her own ?experiences growing up in a largely white community in Alabama for her new book, 'Transcendent Kingdom.' In the novel, she explores themes of depression, addiction, religion and race. Her award-winning debut novel, 'Homegoing,' opens in Ghana in the 1700s and ?chronicles the legacy of slavery from the perspective of several generations of the same family.

Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger,' a memoir by pastry chef Lisa Donovan.
2020-09-09
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How Torture Derailed The War On Terror After 9/11

Former FBI agent Ali Soufan interrogated dozens of Al-Qaida members and other extremists in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. He says he got valuable information by preparing carefully for interviews and building rapport with his subjects. When CIA contractors used coercive techniques ? like waterboarding ? Soufan says subjects ceased cooperating, or gave bad information to make the torment stop. Soufan's 2011 memoir about his experiences appeared with large portions redacted by the CIA. After a legal battle, the redacted material is now restored in a new version, called 'Black Banners (Declassified).'

Also, critic David Bianculli reviews a new Peacock documentary, 'The Sit-In,' about the week that Harry Belafonte guest-hosted 'The Tonight Show' in 1968.
2020-09-08
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Celebrating Sonny Rollins / Octavia Spencer

Today is the 90th birthday of the great tenor saxophonist and improviser Sonny Rollins. We celebrate by hearing some of his music spanning five decades, with commentary from our jazz critic Kevin Whitehead. And we'll listen back to Terry Gross' 1994 interview with Rollins.

Also, we revisit Terry's interview with Octavia Spencer. She's nominated for a best actress Emmy for her performance in the Netflix limited series 'Self Made,' inspired by the story of Madam C.J. Walker, who was born in 1867 to parents who had been slaves. Through marketing hair products for black women, she became the first American female self-made millionaire.
2020-09-07
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Best Of: Cherry Jones / The Early Years Of The CIA

Cherry Jones is nominated for an Emmy for her role in the HBO series 'Succession' as Nan Pierce, the head of a family-owned media empire. She's also known for her roles on 'Transparent,' '24,' and her career in the theater. We'll talk about these roles and growing up gay in Tennessee.

Also, TV critic David Bianculli reviews the TCM series, 'Women Make Film.'

In his new book, 'The Quiet Americans,' author Scott Anderson profiles four daring and resourceful soldiers who became intelligence agents after World War II, when America was strong and respected after defeating Nazi Germany.
2020-09-05
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RuPaul / Padma Lakshmi

Both RuPaul and Padma Lakshmi are nominated for Emmys in the best reality/competition category.

RuPaul describes his drag persona as "one-part Cher, two-parts David Bowie, one-part Diana Ross and two heaping spoonfuls of Dolly Parton." The reality show he hosts and created, 'RuPaul's Drag Race,' has had 12 seasons.

Padma Lakshmi is nominated for her role as host and executive producer on 'Top Chef.' She spoke with Terry Gross about splitting her childhood between the U.S. and India and her early modeling career. In her new Hulu series, 'Taste the Nation,' Lakshmi explores the different cultures that contribute to American cuisine.

Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews the new live action 'Mulan.'
2020-09-04
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Kerry Washington / Comic Ramy Youssef

We're revisiting some of our favorite recent entertainment interviews, as we approach the 2020 Emmy Awards. Both guests today are nominated for their lead roles.

In the Hulu series 'Little Fires Everywhere,' Kerry Washington co-stars opposite Reese Witherspoon as Mia Warren, a bohemian artist single mom with a mysterious past. Washington spoke with Terry Gross about how she drew on her own mother for the role.

In the semi-autobiographical Hulu series 'Ramy,' Ramy Youssef plays a first generation Muslim American who follows some ? but not all ? of the rules of his religion. Youssef, whose parents immigrated from Egypt, also co-created the series. He says he can relate to his character's "picking and choosing" approach to his faith. "Sometimes we would call it 'Allah carte,'" he says.
2020-09-03
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The Struggle To Protect Trump From Himself

Pulitzer Prize-winning 'New York Times' reporter Michael Schmidt says it's unusual for White House officials to be so focused on preventing a president from hurting the country or breaking the law. His new book, 'Donald Trump v. The United States,' focuses on two staffers who stood up to Trump: Former FBI Director James Comey and former White House Counsel Don McGahn.
2020-09-02
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Tragic Miscalculations In The Early Years Of The CIA

In his new book, 'The Quiet Americans,' author Scott Anderson profiles four daring and resourceful soldiers who became intelligence agents after World War II, when America was strong and respected after defeating Nazi Germany. The CIA then embarked on hundreds of ill-considered covert operations in Eastern Europe, and its obsession with fighting Communism propelled it into the subversion of several democratically-elected governments around the world. Anderson says the result was the loss of America's moral standing in the developing world, where many had seen the U.S. as a beacon of freedom and democracy.
2020-09-01
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Actor Cherry Jones

Jones is nominated for an Emmy for her role in the HBO series 'Succession' as Nan Pierce, the head of a family-owned media empire. She's also known for her roles on 'Transparent,' '24,' and her career in the theater. We'll talk about these roles, growing up gay in Tennessee, and how she struggled with the violence in 'The Handmaid's Tale.'

Also, TV critic David Bianculli reviews the TCM series, 'Women Make Film.'
2020-08-31
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Best Of: 'Watchmen' Writer / Stephen Miller & The White Nationalist Agenda

The HBO series 'Watchmen' uses sci-fi and action heroes to examine American racism. We talk with show writer Cord Jefferson, who wrote the episode of the series in which the main character narrowly survives the 1921 Tulsa Massacre, when white supremacists destroyed a prosperous Black community.

Kevin Whitehead shares an appreciation of jazz great Charlie Parker for the 100th anniversary of his birth.

"It's impossible to understand the Trump era, with its unparalleled polarization, without tracing Stephen Miller's journey to the White House," journalist Jean Guerrero writes in her new book 'Hatemonger.' She describes the ideological arc of Miller's life and investigates his ties to right-wing mentors and far-right groups.
2020-08-29
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