Table of Contents       





programs recorded prior to 2007 may be found in the Index

2009 2009

Thomas Frank
Hostages of Vandalism


A nation without a government is a perverse idea. It also happened to be the goal of the last Republican administration.  At best, the United States will require decades to undo the damage done; at worst, we'll never recover.

Historian and political observer Thomas Frank is the author most recently of The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule. In it he documents decades of Republicans serving the interests of Big Business at the expense of the American people. Mr. Frank, a former Young Republican, also wrote What’s the Matter with Kansas? and One Market Under God, contrasting everyday cultural conservatives with predatory acts of free-market fundamentalists and right wingers committed to destroying government. He was founding editor of The Baffler, is a contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine, received the Lannon Award and is a regular columnist for The Wall Street Journal.

[ December 22 — January3]

Russell Shorto
Descartes' Trinities


René Descartes' work has had a profound impact on western thinking.  Through diligent research, Russell Shorto has provided an important update on the man and his ideas. Emotions replace God in uniting mind and body.

Following his success with the best-seller, The Island at the Center of the World, Mr. Shorto has written Descartes’ Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason. He is a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine and director of The John Adams Institute in Amsterdam, where he lives.

[ December 7 — December 22]

Paul Ekman
the Dalai Lama and Dreams of Darwin


Collaborations between western scientist and Buddhist scholars are yielding fruitful results, particularly on such subjects as the nature of consciousness and the role and control of emotions.

For more than 4 decades psychologist Paul Ekman has been researching emotions and their expression in the human face.  His most recent book, Emotional Awareness, was written in collaboration with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Time magazine included Dr. Ekman as one of the 100 most influential people of 2009. The author of many books, he is also the science advisor to the television series Lie to Me and is the model for the series' protagonist. He regularly critiques that program on the program website.

[ November 22 — December 7]

Daniel Levitin
Musical Minds


Music speaks to us all, perhaps more compellingly and convincingly than normal speech.  Daniel Levitin argues that many of the mysteries which have challenged humans for millenia have been satisfactorily addressed. The final frontier, he says, may be the human brain or, more generally, intelligence of all sorts.

Formerly a session musician, sound engineer, and record producer with artists including Stevie Wonder and Blue Oyster Cult, Dr. Levitin now runs the Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition, and Expertise at McGill University. The author of This Is Your Brain on Music and The World in Six Songs: How Music Created Humans, his extensive publications appear in scientific journals and music magazines including Grammy and Billboard. He lives in Montreal.

[ November 7 — November 22]

Carolyn Jessop
Crimes of "Religion"


Religious scholar James Carse would say that the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) is not a religion but a "belief system." Carolyn Jessop says that the FLDS is a cult and a criminal organization.


A former member of the radical polygamist FLDS cult, Ms. Jessop, working with the Utah attorney general on church abuses, was crucial to the arrest, conviction and sentencing of FLDS leader, Warren Jeffs. Ms. Jessop’s memoir Escape traces her life, born into the sixth generation of polygamists and forced at 18 to become the 4th wife of a 50 year old man who fathered her 8 children in 15 years. She is the first woman to be given full custody of her children in a contested suit involving the closed world of the FLDS, Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, an off-shoot of the Mormon church. Ms. Jessop now actively campaigns in defense of women and children still trapped in polygamy nationwide, including boys ejected from polygamist cults totally unprepared for the larger world, and for active enforcement of anti-polygamy laws.

[ October 25— November 2]

Susan Faludi
Myths, Lies and 9/11


The events of September 11, 2001, have been shamelessly exploited in America by politicians, religious fundamentalists, xenophobes and mass media. Susan Faludi presents a compelling case that much of the success enjoyed by these groups is based on errant myths about helpless women and killer/protector men. The consequences of misunderstanding ourselves have been tragic for America and for the world.


A journalist and cultural observer, Susan Faludi is the author of The Terror Dream, an analysis of the roots of and antidotes for fear and fantasy in post-9/11 America. Ms. Faludi won the Pulitzer Prize for her Wall Street Journal reporting showing the human cost of high finance. Both her Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, which won the National Book Critics circle Award for Nonfiction, and Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man were best-sellers. Other publications for which Ms. Faludi has written include The New Yorker and The Nation magazines, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

[ October 16— October 25]

Lawrence Hill
Someone Remembers


Slavery continues to haunt America. A small, sad minority of its citizens cannot accept an African American as President; the notion of a Black person in that position drives them to mouth-frothing excesses.  Lawrence Hill's parents left America because of its racism. He has written a novel which encapsulates the humanity of the slave experience, and its absence.

Mr. Hill’s novel Someone Knows My Name (published in non-U.S. markets as The Book of Negroes) won the international competition for the prestigious 2008 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize. An African-Canadian author whose parents came from the U.S.A., Mr. Hill’s non-fiction includes Black Berry, Sweet Juice, a memoir of his black father and white mother, and The Deserter’s Tale focused on an Iraq War soldier. Mr. Hill is a reporter for The Globe and Mail in Toronto and Parliamentary correspondent for The Winnipeg Free Press, his film, Seeking Salvation: A History of the Black Church in Canada won the United States’ “Wilber Award” for best national television documentary.

[ October 9— October 16]

Jeffrey Toobin
the FINAL Word


The ersatz "personhood" claimed by corporations accounts for many of the social, political and environmental challenges facing America. The U. S. Supreme Court has been central to sustaining that fiction. Quoting former justice Robert Jackson, Jeffrey Toobin says that the Court is final because it is infallible, but infallible because it is final. Actually, it is neither. Despite the selective readings of "strict constructionists" and "original intent-ist", the Court changes with time and with the will of its sovereign, the People.


Attorney and reporter Jeffrey Toobin is author of The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court. This book is Mr. Toobin's in-depth report on the current Supreme Court and how it came to be as it is. He is also author of best sellers Too Close to Call, A Vast Conspiracy and The Run of His Life. He is a CNN senior legal analyst. Before becoming a New Yorker magazine staff writer in 1993, he served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Brooklyn and as an associate counsel in the office of independent counsel Lawrence E. Walsh investigating the Reagan Administration Iran-Contra scandal. Mr. Toobin graduated from Harvard Law School magna cum laude and lives in New York City with his family.

[ October 2 — October 9]

Marvin Krislov
Life Lessons


Despite plentiful evidence to the contrary, colleges are not trade schools. Universities and colleges exist to prepare their students for life and for living in a complex, changing world. In democracies, advanced education should also contribute to the quality of debate and the soundness of decisions. The quality and tenor of current debates in America about health care, energy policy, foreign policy and the environment suggest that our colleges and universities need to recalibrate their vision.


Marvin Krislov is the 14th President of Oberlin College. Inaugurated in 2007, President Krislov was previously vice president and general counsel for the University of Michigan, where he devised the legal strategy with which the University successfully defended its affirmative action policies before the U.S. Supreme Court. At Oberlin, he carries on the teaching he has done since 1991, having previously worked for the U.S. Departments of Labor and Justice, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C., and the Office of the Counsel to U.S. President Clinton. With undergraduate and law degrees from Yale, President Krislov earned his master’s in history from Oxford University’s Magdalen College as a Rhodes Scholar.

[September 24 — October 2]

John Dean
a Very Different Country


After 8 years under the leadership of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, the Republican Party left America in a mess. Former Republican insider John Dean says that Americans were suckered. It will take many years and trillions of dollars to dig the nation from under this Republican led debacle.

John Dean is an attorney, author and key "Watergate" witness. His Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches, Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush, and Conservatives Without Conscience, form a trilogy based on 40 years inside his "former tribe", the Republican Party. Once White House legal counsel to President Richard Nixon, Mr. Dean’s Blind Ambition, published in 1976, was followed by a number of other books. He had also served as chief minority counsel for the House Judiciary Committee and an associate deputy attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice. Following a successful career as a corporate attorney, he is now a columnist for and with his wife, Maureen, lives in California.

[ September 16 — September 23]

Robert A.G. Monks
Corpocracy: Betrayals of Trust


Contrary to what is specified by the United States Constitution, the government now effectively has four branches, of which the most powerful is the one composed of large corporations. Health care reform, energy policy, environmental regulation are all hostage to this "branch". The result, says Robert Monks, is that we have effectively privatized essential governmental functions. Sovereignty has been transferred from we, the people to they, the corporation.


Robert A.G. Monks is a venture capitalist, shareholder activist, lawyer, and author most recently of Corpocracy: How CEOs and the Business Roundtable Hijacked the World's Greatest Wealth Machine -- And How to Get It Back. He’s founded a number of investment funds and asset management companies, started Institutional Shareholder Services, the environmental research company Trucost, and The Corporate Library. He’s served on the board of a dozen publicly-held companies; headed Boston Trust; and held several influential government positions in the Reagan Administration. In addition to Corpocracy, Mr. Monks also wrote The Emperor’s Nightingale, Reel and Rout, coauthored Watching the Watchers and Power and Accountability with Nell Minow.

[September 9 — September 16]

Bill McKibben
Let's Try This Another Way


Accelerating economic growth is simply not sustainable on our planet, says Bill McKibben. Closely related to this constraint is the continuing growth of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Human-caused climate change is assured; the challenge facing us is what we will do to mitigate the damage.


In Mr. McKibben's 1989 book, The End of Nature, this widely acclaimed writer and environmentalist catapulted global warming into mainstream consciousness. Between then and Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, he has become one of the world’s most respected voices championing a livable future on earth. He has written a series of influential books, is an adjunct professor, appears in all kinds of publications, is regularly in the mass media representing solutions and responsibilities to environmental crises, organizes grassroots efforts urging political action on global climate change and draws attention to its crisis proportions at the website:

[August 31—September 9]

Andrew Solomon
Ennobling Affliction


It is eminently reasonable to find the current economic and political environment depressing. But take great care that "depressing" does not become "depression". Depression is the most common disabling disease in the developed world. Once one falls into that black hole, finding the way back out is extraordinarily difficult ... and painful. Andrew Solomon has lived in deep, clinical depession and has written brilliantly about his experiences and the state of medical, psychiatric, psychological and pharmaceutical knowledge.


Writer/reporter Andrew Solomon's best-seller, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, won the National Book Award in 2001. Educated at Yale and Cambridge Universities, Mr. Solomon writes regularly for The New York Times Magazine as well as The New Yorker and ArtForm. He is author of The Irony Tower: Soviet Artists in a Time of Glasnost and a novel which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times First Fiction Award.

[August 24—August 31]

Frederick Ferré
Life and Living


Does human life have meaning? does any life? Though battered and bruised and much abused, philosophy still counts says philosopher Frederick Ferré.  Reaching beyond the failures of materialism, logic and deistic complacencey, Dr. Ferré says that philosophy can provide genuine help in living a life.

Philosopher Frederick Ferré is the world’s leading Constructive Post-Modern philosopher. Dr. Ferré is Research Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, The University of Georgia, and Associate Fellow at Dickinson College where he also taught for many years. His extensive body of work includes his crowning trilogy, Being and Value, Knowing and Value, and Living and Value. In them, he addresses much of Western philosophy and articulates his own inspiring invention, “kalogenesis,” the creation of beauty. Professor Ferré’s Philosophy of Technology is a lucid and comprehensive view of humanity’s ongoing relationship with technology, for good and for ill. He and his wife Barbara Meister-Ferré, a linguist, live in Munich, Germany.

[August 17—August 24]

Michelle Goldberg
The Multiple Benefits of Treating Women as Humans


In many parts of the world, the notion that basic human rights actually apply to women is an alien idea. Michelle Goldberg says that issues of war and peace, of poverty and development and of globalization and the environment are closely linked to the roles women choose and are allowed to play.

Investigative journalist Michelle Goldberg is the author of The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power and the Future of the World. Her prior book, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism. A former senior writer at, among the many who have published her work are The New Republic, The Nation, Glamour and Rolling Stone magazines in the U.S. and The Guardian in the U.K. Ms. Goldberg has taught at New York University’s graduate school of journalism, she earned her graduate degree at the University of California - Berkeley.

[August 10—August 17]

Alexandra Fuller
Killing Wyoming


Over her lifetime, Alexandra Fuller has watched Zimbabwe destroying itself. Now she lives with her family in Wyoming and is watching, and fighting, what she characterizes as "a war on the environment, a war on ourselves."

Alexandra Fuller won the international Ulysses Prize for literary reportage in 2005. Ms. Fuller’s book The Legend of Colton H. Bryant takes place in the gas and oil fields of Wyoming, USA, where she lives. Born in the U.K., she grew up in Africa in the midst of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe’s civil war, then in Malawi and Zambia. She explores those years and their aftermath in her best-seller Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight and Scribbling the Cat. In addition to writing books, Ms. Fuller is published widely in newspapers including The New York Times and magazines including The New Yorker and National Geographic.

[August 3—August 10]

Alan Alda
The Meaning of Laughter ... and Other Things


In his half century as an actor, Alan Alda has enriched the roles he's played and the audiences which have relished them. He has learned that being absolutely present in each moment is essential for an actor. It's also good advice for living a life. "I found that there's not much point in how much meaning my life has if I don't notice it," he says.

Actor, director, screenwriter, activist and author, Alan Alda has won 6 Emmy’s, 6 Golden Globes, nominations for both an Academy Award and a Grammy. His early fame came as “Hawkeye” Pierce, the character he created over the 11 years M*A*S*H was a smash-hit television series. In addition to writing and directing a number of those episodes, he’s also written and directed many feature films and appeared regularly on Broadway. During 11 years as host of PBS’s Scientific American Frontiers, he engaged his own active curiosity about science. A devoted family man and son of a famous actor, Mr. Alda revisits it all in his best-selling books, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed and Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself.

[July 27—August 3]

Edward Lengel
Arrogance of War


117,465 Americans died in World War One. The United Kingdom lost almost a million men, more than two percent of the U.K.'s population. France lost more than four percent.  Historian Edward Lengel says that American losses would have been many fewer had American generals bothered to learn from the miserable experience of their allies. Arrogance is expensive, though rarely so for the arrogant.

In To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne, 1918, Dr. Lengel honors the bloodiest battle in American history. If remembered at all, it’s for Carey Grant’s movie portrayal of Sergeant Alvin C. York, Dr. Lengel’s cousin. Other military history books Dr. Lengel has written include General George Washington: A Military Life. Dr. Lengel, in conjunction with the Papers of George Washington documentary editing project, received the National Humanities Medal. He makes frequent appearances on television documentaries and was a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize.

[July 20— July 27]

Elizabeth Strout


You are what you eat, and that applies to the many things we ingest in addition to food. The stories, ideas and imaginings we imbibe contribute mightily to who we are and what we become.

Novelist Elizabeth Strout won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Olive Kitteridge, a novel composed of a series of short stories, Ms. Strout is also author of the national bestseller Abide with Me and of Amy and Isabelle. Both won major prizes. A finalist for both the PEN/Faulkner Award and England’s Orange Prize, Ms. Strout’s short stories have been published in magazines from The New Yorker to O: The Oprah Magazine, and elsewhere. She grew up in Maine, is currently is on the MFA faculty of Queens University in Charlotte, NC, and lives with her family in New York City.

[July 13— July 20]

Jonathan Mahler
United States v. Habeas Corpus


Consequences of the ill-conceived, Bush-inspired "Global War on Terror" still plague American policy. The objections and legal challenges to the Bush administration's detention policy were well represented in the case of Salim Hamdan versus Donald Rumsfeld. Mr. Hamdan is now back in Yemen, but the Constitutional issues and the broader saga continue.

Jonathan Mahler is a journalist and the author of The Challenge: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and the Fight over Presidential Power. In it, Mr. Mahler captures the drama that culminated in this crucial test of presidential power and the rule of law. He also wrote the highly regarded Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning, in which baseball brings 1977 New York City into sharp focus. He is a writer for The New York Times Magazine and lives in Brooklyn.

[July 6— July 13]

Rodger Schlickeisen
at War with Wolves and Ourselves


Wolves don't kill people. The amount of livestock wolves kill is miniscule and ranchers are compensated. So why do Sarah Palin and other assorted macho-types insist on expending major resources to slaughter them? Perhaps they never outgrew their childish fairy tale fears of Little Red Riding Hood says Rodger Schlickeisen.

Rodger Schlickeisen is President & CEO, Defenders of Wildlife, one of the United States’ most prominent conservation advocacy organizations. Mr. Schlickeisen’s leadership since 1991 has resulted in the organization growing to over a million members. Formerly, he was CEO of a leading consulting firm specializing in advancing the world of progressive advocacy organizations. He served in the Carter White House in the Office of Management & Budget, was Chief of Staff for U.S. Sentator Max Baucus. Mr. Schlickeisen is also President of Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, a political non-profit working to elect pro-conservation national leaders. He serves on the advisory committees of the Earth Communications Organization and the Environmental Media Association. He has earned degrees from the University of Washington, Harvard Business School and a doctorate from George Washington University. His opinion pieces and articles are widely published.

[June 29— July 6]

Malcolm Gladwell
People Power


This week we reach into our archives to review an idea with renewed currency: the tipping point.  In his book by that title, Malcolm Gladwell looks at the elements of significant, unexpected changes.  American politics may have reached one of those flexion points.

Author of The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Mr. Gladwell is a staff reporter for The New Yorker magazine. He is a former business and science writer at the Washington Post, and a Canadian by birth. His more recent books include Blink and Outlier.

[June 22— June 29]

Tim Weiner
Democracies Betrayed


Any nation engaged beyond its borders needs to know what's going on out there and to how to influence those whats. Diplomacy and good intelligence are the sine qua nons of such engagement. Tim Weiner says that the Central Intelligence Agency has consistently failed to deliver that intelligence since its founding after the Second World War.

Award winning reporter and author of Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, Mr. Weiner is also a winner of the coveted National Book Award. Afghanistan is among the nations he has traveled investigating CIA covert operations. He has focused on the United States’ intelligence establishment for more than 20 years, earning a Pulitzer Prize for his work on secret national security programs. A reporter for The New York Times, Mr. Weiner’s forthcoming books report on the FBI and the United States’ Department of Defense.

[June 15— June 22]

Mary Ann Mason
Family Values


Today the majority of college graduates are women. Women receive roughly the same number of PhDs as men. Yet they are still thinly represented in the top echelons of business, academia, government or most professions.  Mary Ann Mason says that the problem is the rules for the fast track, who gets onto the track and who gets bumped. The game has to change and, perhaps, what winning means. This isn't just about women; it's about families and about what we esteem.

Mary Ann Mason is a lawyer, an historian and served as the University of California-Berkeley’s first woman appointed Dean of the Graduate School. With her daughter, Eve Mason Ekman, Dr. Mason has written Mothers on the Fast Track:  How a New Generation Can Balance Family and Careers based in part on Dr. Mason’s own first-hand experience struggling to balance family responsibilities and a fast-track career. She is a national expert on child custody issues, her books including the highly esteemed The Equality Trap, From Father’s Property to Children’s Rights and The Custody Wars. She is married to psychologist Paul Ekman.

[June 8— June 15]

Kevin Phillips
Money, Empire and Collapse

When everything else fails, try looking at the facts, the evidence. For four decades Kevin Phillips has been looking at the facts of American democracy. He has repeatedly warned that the United States is following the path of failed empires and that wreckage of the economy and democracy will inevitably follow. The current economic decline puts us, sadly, right on course. The semi-good news? Finance, as a sector of the American economy, is much smaller than it was a year ago.

Kevin Phillips is a political & economic analyst, and author. Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism joins Mr. Phillips’ other bestsellers: American Theocracy, American Dynasty, The Politics of Rich and Poor, Wealth and Democracy, and The Cousins Wars. A former Republican strategist, he first became known for The Emerging Republican Majority in the late ‘60s, and has subsequently written more than a dozen highly regarded books. Mr. Phillips writes for the Los Angeles Times, Harper’s Magazine and Time.

[June 1 — June 8]

Tony Horwitz
Unknown America


Americans still think of the country as a young one; but European exploration and settlement began more than half a millennium ago.  The real history of the country is much more complex and much richer than the standard Anglo-centric model.

In A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World , reporter and non-fiction author Tony Horwitz revisits the two-century blank spot in American history between 1492 and 1607.  Mr. Horwitz's other best sellers include Confederates in the Attic, Baghdad Without a Map, and Blue Latitudes. He started as a reporter in Indiana, then worked for a decade in Australia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. As a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, he reported on wars and conflicts as a foreign correspondent before returning to the U.S. where he won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting and worked as a staff reporter for The New Yorker. Now a full-time author, he, his wife Geraldine Brooks, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and their son live on Martha’s Vineyard.

[May 25 — June 1]

Leonard Shlain
Evolving Women


We were deeply saddened to learn on Monday that Leonard Shlain is dying. His bold imagination, commitment to science and to people and his skills as a communicator helped us experience the world in rich, new ways. The point of life is to live it and Dr. Shlain has done it very well.

With a keen interest in biological and cultural evolution, Dr. Shlain builds in Sex, Time and Power: How Women’s Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution on ideas he first presented in The Alphabet and the Goddess. He wrote and lectured widely and was also the chief of laparoscopic surgery at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.

[May 18 — May 25]

Annette Gordon-Reed
an American Family


Americans have long resisted coming to terms with the chattel slavery which is central to our history. The necessary empathy comes when we stop seeing people as objects or categories and begin to engage them as humans, as individuals, in the stories of their lives. Annette Gordon-Reed has diligently, resourcefully researched many such stories, particularly ones that orbit the life of our third president, Thomas Jefferson.

Ms. Gordon-Reed is professor of law at New York Law School and of history at Rutgers University. She is the author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family,which won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for history. She has also written Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, edited Race on Trial: Law and Justice in American History, and coauthored with Vernon Jordan Vernon Can Read! A Memoir. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School, she and her family live in New York City.

[May 11— May 18]

Stuart Kauffman
Creating a Science of the Unknowable


Charles Darwin addressed the origin of species and the descent of man. He did not tangle with the origin of life. Stuart Kauffman thinks that agency is a key to understanding life and, perhaps, consciousness.

Stuart Kauffman is a theoretical biologist and author. Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason and Religion joins his At Home In The Universe and other books intended both for a general audience and for his colleagues at the forefront of emerging science. An early MacArthur Fellow, Dr. Kauffman is one of the world’s leaders in the study of complexity and the Founding Director of the Institute for Biocomplexity and Informatics at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. Among the original participants in the Santa Fe Institute, Dr. Kauffman is once again on its external faculty. He lectures around the world.

[May 4 — May 11]

Millicent Monks
What Money Can't Buy


Millicent Monks spent much of her childhood in her room, alone, hiding from her mother. 


Mental illness is blind to great wealth, Ms. Monks demonstrates in Songs of Three Islands. The great-granddaughter of Thomas Carnegie (Andrew’s brother and business partner), Ms. Monks, unflinchingly relates the multi-generational impact of her great-grandmother’s, mother’s, daughter’s and granddaughters’ mental illnesses. She strives to help others to cope with mental illness, especially mothers. Her “islands”, both physical and metaphorical, stretch from the early, matriarchal Carnegie estate on Georgia’s Cumberland Island, through Ms. Monks’ adult life on an island in Maine, to her guiding metaphor and final destination, a patriarchal island far to the North.

[April 27 — May 4]

Paul Hawken
Suicide Interventions


Economic fundamentalists are killing our world, says Paul Hawken.  Unfortunately they have help from other sorts of fundamentalists.  The good news is that thousands of organizations around the world are diligently working to prevent our collective suicide.


Pioneering environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist and author, Mr. Hawken is one of the world’s foremost environmental leaders, having spent his life putting his commitment to justice into action. Starting his activism in Selma, AL, when he was 19 years old, he has founded multiple businesses including Smith & Hawken and now heads the Natural Capital Institute. He is an widely sought speaker internationally, has contributed to and appeared in countless media outlets, has written international classics include The Ecology of Commerce, Natural Capitalism (with Amory Lovins), and Growing a Business, which Mr. Hawken also took to television. He calls California home.

[April 20— April 27]

James Mann
False Image 


Conventional wisdom is frequently conventional, and seldom wise. For instance, take that well-known dove and friend of the Russians, Ronald Reagan.  James Mann has done what a reporter is supposed to do. He has examined the facts and the evidence and then made sense of them. The results have violated a lot of "conventional wisdom" and may change how you see America's recent history.


Prior to devoting full time to books, Mr. Mann was an award-winning Washington reporter, columnist, and foreign correspondent for 20 years at the Los Angeles TImes. The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War further enhances the Mr. Mann’s keen observations in his bestseller Rise of the Vulcans, bringing to clearer focus the individuals and influence of American conservatives and neoconservatives from the Nixon Administration forward. His several books on China include the best-seller, The China Fantasy. He is author in residence at the prestigious Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and lives near Washington, D.C.

[April 13 —April 20]

Thomas Cahill
Creating a Modern World


If one takes too narrow a view of history, one is likely to miss the major shifts which occur over decades, or centuries ... sometimes millennia. Monotheism is one example, says Thomas Cahill.


An historian and writer Mr. Cahill has extended his “hinges of history” series with Mysteries of the Middle Ages, which explores what he sees as the early stirrings of the “modern.” His earlier explorations include How the Irish saved Civilization, The Gifts of the Jews, Desire of the Everlasting Hills and Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea. Once prominent in the business of publishing, Mr. Cahill now devotes full time to his writing, dividing his time between Europe and New York City.

[April 6— April 13]

Ambassador Martin Indyk
Wages of Innocence and Ignorance


For literally thousands of years, the people of the Middle East has experienced the alien views of foreigners and the oppression of conquerers. The optimistic, can-do naiveté of Americans has been different, if no more welcome.


Former United States Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk is now Director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at The Brookings Institution. Ambassador Indyk’s carefully documented book Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Acount of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East details and critiques the broad sweep of U.S. policy in the Middle East he helped develop and implement. Ambassador Indyk was born in England and educated in Australia before making the United States his home in the early 1980s. Twice the U.S. Ambassador to Israel under President Bill Clinton, he also served in that capacity for the first six months of the Bush administration, as well as in a number of other high level roles over many years, making him one of the United States’ top diplomats.

[March 30 —April 6]

Edward Lengel
Arrogance of War


Believing themselves superior to the French and British soldiers, senior American officers sending (not leading) their troops into their early battles of the First World War  caused thousands of unnecessary American casualties.   They believed that American spirit was a fit substitute for artillery, machine guns and the protection  of trenches. It wasn't.


Historian Edward Lengel is the author of  To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne, 1918. In it, he honors the bloodiest battle in American history. (If remembered at all, it’s for Carey Grant’s movie portrayal of Sergeant Alvin C. York, Dr. Lengel’s cousin.) Other military history books Dr. Lengel has written include General George Washington: A Military Life. Dr. Lengel, in conjunction with the Papers of George Washington documentary editing project, received the National Humanities Medal. He makes frequent appearances on television documentaries and was a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize. Dr. Lengel teaches at the University of Virginia.

[March 23— March 30]

Joy Berry & Rafe Esquith
Teach Like It Matters, Learn 'Cause It Does


Fewer than three-quarters of students graduate from high school. Indeed, it is very likely that the number is fewer than two out of three. That is a prescription for economic and political decline, or worse. One of the keys to a successful education system is the creation of a "culture of learning" say Joy Berry and Rafe Esquith.
Educator and human rights advocate.


Joy Berry spent decades as a master teacher at the elementary school level, then was a principal at some of the toughest schools in New York City before moving to Atlanta in the late '70s, where she continued her career in education. Subsequently, one Georgia Governor appointed Ms. Berry to create the state's Human Relations Commission, then another appointed her to serve as a member of the State of Georgia School Board and a third Governor re-appointed her to that position. Her national standing as a State School Board Member was further enhanced by her leadership role in mandating and overseeing a complete update of Georgia's public school curriculum. Ms. Berry's many honors include being named Educator of the Year by the Georgia P.T.A.

For more than 2 decades, Rafe Esquith has taught and continues to teach 5th graders at Hobart elementary school in his native Los Angeles. His Hobart Shakespearean students are widely acclaimed, enhancing their English performing the plays of Shakespeare in the classroom. Mr. Esquith clearly articulates his winning approach to nurturing inner city students in Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire  and There Are No Shortcuts. The only teacher ever to receive America’s National Medal of Arts, Queen Elizabeth made him a Member of the British Empire. Many other awards include those from American Teacher, Parents magazine, Oprah Winfrey, and the Dalai Lama. Mr. Esquith and his wife, Barbara Tong, live in Los Angeles.

[March 16 —March 23]

Garry Wills
Faith and Enlightenment


Fortunately, says Garry Wills, the ideas underlying the founding of the United States were based in the enlightenment. However, there have been three outbreaks of evangelical opposition to science, reason and the enlightenment over the course of the nation's history. Curiously these happened at the beginnings of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.


Garry Wills is a scholar, historian, classicist and author. Professor Wills’ many bestselling books include What Jesus Meant, What Paul Meant and What the Gospels Meant. His Lincoln at Gettysburg won the Pulitzer Prize, his two dozen other books are also widely read and admired. As one of nation’s leading public intellectuals, he appears often in leading periodicals. Professor Wills took his doctorate in the classics after studying for the priesthood, a tradition with which he continues to identify and to critique. Many years a teacher of ancient and New Testament Greek at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Wills is now professor of history emeritus at Northwestern University.

[March 9— March 16]

Christopher Dickey
Know Your Terrorist


How can we make major urban areas "secure"? Christopher Dickey says a good, well-led police force working closely with all parts of the community. His "Exhibit A" is New York City.


An award--winning Newsweek reporter, Mr. Dickey is their Paris Bureau Chief and Middle East Regional Editor. Previously, he was Cairo Bureau Chief and Central America Bureau Chief for the Washington Post. Mr. Dickey, author of Securing the City: Inside America’s Best Counterterror Force -- the NYPD, also writes the weekly “Shadowland” column on counterterrorism, espionage and the Middle East for Newsweek online. His five other books include Summer of Deliverance. He lives in Paris and New York.

[March 3 —March 9]

Anthony Lewis
Why Speech Must be Free


In a republic, the people are sovereign. To exercise that sovereignty, the people have to know what's going on and be free to criticize their leaders. "That's the First Amendment," says Anthony Lewis.


Twice the Pulitzer Prize has been awarded to Mr. Lewis over his long and distinguished journalistic career. Author of Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment, his Gideon’s Trumpet has been in print for over 40 years. Mr. Lewis was columnist for The New York Times op-ed page from 1969 through 2001 and for many years the paper’s London correspondent. He has also been a lecturer at Harvard’s Law School, a visiting professor at the Universities of California, Illinois, Oregon, and Arizona, and since 1983, the James Madison Visiting Professor at Columbia University. He and his wife, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, live in Cambridge.

[February 23 — March 3]

Carolyn Jessop
Crimes of "Religion"

"Money laundering ... child abuse ... worse than the Taliban ... priesthood prostitutes ... ."
In America? In the name of religion?

Carolyn Jessop has documented the brutal physical and psychological force used to hold women and children in the sub-human state of God-sanctioned property by a "chosen" group of men.
Carolyn Jessop’s memoir, Escape, traces her former life as a member of the radical polygamist FLDS cult. Born into the sixth generation of polygamists and forced at 18 to become the 4th wife of a 50 year old man who fathered her 8 children in 15 years, Ms. Jessop was the first woman to be given full custody of her children in a contested suit involving the closed world of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), an off-shoot of the Mormon church. Working with the Utah attorney general, Ms. Jessop was crucial to the arrest, conviction and sentencing of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs. She now actively campaigns for education and in defense of women and children still trapped in polygamy including boys forceably ejected from the FLDS and for the enforcement of anti-polygamy laws nationwide.

[February 16 —February 23]

Edward Larson


Charles Darwin was born February 12, 1809, 200 years ago this week.  150 years ago, he published On the Origin of Species, a work which continues to have a dramatic effect on science.  To celebrate Darwin's birth, next week we'll be sharing Edward Larson's insights into Darwin, evolution, religion and the politics which continue to enshroud them.


Pulitzer Prize winning author, historian of science and lawyer, Dr. Larson won the Pulitzer for Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate over Science and Religion. Among his growing number of books, he has contributed Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory to the prestigious Modern Library series, written with the curious lay person in mind. His latest book is A Magnificent Catastrophe about the American Presidential election of 1800 between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Dr. Larson's articles have appeared in dozens of journals, including The Atlantic Monthly, Nature and Scientific American. He is both Professor of History and of Law at the University of Georgia and teaches at Pepperdine University in California.

[February 9 — February 16]

Geraldine Brooks
Heroes of the Book


Geraldine Brooks credits her years as a reporter for making her a better and more honest novelist.  She insists that there is an absolute and necessary line between truth and fiction.


Journalist and prize winning author Geraldine Brooks is a multi-faceted writer. Her novels include People of the Book which brings fiction and fact together in novel form, as she did in Year of Wonders and her Pulitzer Prize winner, March. Her non-fiction includes Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women and Foreign Correspondence. Ms. Brooks was The Wall Street Journal correspondent in Bosnia, Somalia and the Middle East. A native of Australia and married to author Tony Horwitz, she and her family live on Martha’s Vineyard after a number of years in rural Virginia.

[February 2 — February 9]

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
Who Are We?


During the 1950s, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas and her family were the first outsiders to live among the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert. These people were probably living much as our ancestors had 1500 centuries ago. That these people were well integrated into the desert ecology, though instructive, is not particularly surprising. What is unexpected is that they did not attempt to control their environment with magic or prayer, they sought only to control the one thing over which they had substantive influence, themselves.

The Old Way: A Story of the First People
is Ms. Thomas’ definitive exploration of humanity’s past and future. She combines her own and her family’s experiences as the outsiders to live with the Bushmen in the Kalahari in the 1950s, with her 50 subsequent years of writing and study. Widely known for her books, The Hidden Life of Dogs and Tribe of Tiger, her fiction includes Certain Poor Shepherds and her novels Reindeer Moon and The Animal Wife, bringing together her lyrical story-telling prowess and her keen observation of developments in the sciences. She is also highly regarded for her classic books, The Harmless People and Warrior Herdsmen.

[January 26 — February 2]

Peter Galbraith
Who Lost Iraq?


Former Ambassador Peter Galbraith is unequivocal:  George W. Bush lost Iraq.  Rather than take a strategic view based on a realistic assessment of the threats and opportunities facing America, the Bush administration has substituted ideology, wishes and optimism.  Mr. Galbraith's fear is that the alleged successes of "the surge" along with the fictionalizing of history will be used to assign blame to the incoming administration for "losing Iraq."
Diplomat and author Peter W. Galbraith was the first U.S. Ambassador to Croatia. He is author of The End of Iraq, a best-seller, and of Unintended Consequences: How War in Iraq Strengthened America’s Enemies. He is the Senior Diplomatic Fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, and a contributor to The New York Review of Books.

[January 19 — January 26]

Russell Shorto
Descartes' Trinities


Three and a half centuries after his death, René Descartes remains one of the most influential and radical thinkers in Western history. His view of the world and the values implied by that view continue to influence how we experience the world we inhabit today. Cartesian "dualism" was always mediated by a third element, initially God and then, in his later life, by passions ... what we now call emotions.
Journalist and author Russell Shorto has followed his best-seller, The Island at the Center of the World, with Descartes’ Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason. He is a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine, and director of The John Adams Institute in Amsterdam, where he lives.

[January 12 — January 19]

Alan Wallace
Happiness — a Science of the Mind


Some years ago Alan Wallace told us "If we’re not on the brink of a revolution -- or ... a genuine renaissance... then I think we’ll simply be following a path that seems, that has the outer appearance, of humanity being set on its own suicide." He also reminded us, paraphrasing A. Einstein, that "the mind that creates a problem, is not the mind to solve the problem." With all the challenges facing us today, he argues that we already have the resources to discover and create new worlds.

Alan Wallace is a scholar of science, Buddhist teacher and practitioner. With degrees in physics and the philosophy of science from Amherst College and a Ph.D. in religious studies from Stanford University, Dr. Wallace spent 14 years training as a Tibetan Buddhist monk. He was ordained by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Dr. Wallace's several influential books include Genuine Happiness: Meditation as the Path to Fulfillment. He founded and is President of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies and is on the Board of Directors and Scientific Advisory Board of the Mind & Life Institute.

[January 5 — January 12]

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