First, Ambassador Allan Katz examines the diminishing role of civility in politics, and what might be done to reverse it. Then, the story of Forsyth County, Georgia, which became a "white county" in 1912, after a campaign of violence and intimidation against its black inhabitants. This week's Local Listen features Brody Buster's One Man Band.

We're used to mosquito bites here in the Midwest, but if you've found yourself intensely scratching a single, long-lasting bite for weeks, you've probably been bitten by the oak mite. The science behind these pesky critters that have made Kansas City their home, plus, another peek into nature with a writer who sowed his ideas in his gardens.


For Cuban exile Carlos Eire, coming to the U.S. as a boy was a gift but it took him a few years to realize the freedoms it afforded him. Then, a new book from journalist Gary Younge brings statistics to bear by chronicling the stories of 10 young people who were killed by gunfire on November 23, 2013.

How Uncertainty Builds Faith In 'A Gray World'

Sep 27, 2016

During troubled times some turn to prayer, but when left with no answers they may question their beliefs. Religion writer Bill Tammeus says that doubt is natural, and can play a big part in strengthening one's faith.

In the early 1690s, Massachusetts got swept up in the madness of witch hunts, which culminated in the Salem witch trials and the execution of 20 people. On this edition of Up To Date, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stacy Schiff talks about the 1692 tragedy that still fascinates us today, and how it compares to modern times.

Courtesy of LaBudde Special Collections / UMKC

UMKC alumna Jeanne Drewes spent years traveling to Cuba, partnering with Ediciones Vigía, an independent publishing company and collective of book artists in Matanzas, Cuba. Over that time, she amassed a sizeable collection of Cuban books, some of which she recently donated to the LaBudde Special Collections.

Monet's Final Endeavor Of 'Water Lilies'

Sep 19, 2016
Claude Monet / Public domain

Claude Monet's water lily paintings are some of the most beloved works of art in history, but the painter was endlessly frustrated by the elusiveness of his subject. Ross King, author of Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies, says the artist worked tirelessly on them, going so far as to have his barber trim his hair while he painted.

Before becoming one of today's most popular mystery writers, Canadian Louise Penny was a CBC journalist and radio host. She struggled while pursing her childhood goal of writing a book, but finally found her stride, and fame,  in a series of novels around the central character of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Out in Western Kansas, not too far from Dodge City, is the town of Jetmore. It’s home to about 900 people, including the Bradshaw family. Young Crystal Bradshaw had a happy childhood there, but one thing was missing, so she set out to solve a family mystery.

She ended up writing an important book about Kansas – before she even went to college.

A talk with a local visual and performing artist who has just released his first collection of poetry.


Chico Sierra has a reading on September 15 at the Raven Bookstore in Lawrence.


You may not know his name, but you might know his work: the giant, colorful animals lurking on walls around the Crossroads and Westport, and in the halls of Children's Mercy Hospital. Meet Scribe, who has a new children's book and an album of music inspired by his art coming out this month.


The kidnapping of a red-headed, half-Irish, half-Mexican Arizona boy was the unlikely impetus for the longest war in American history, says historian Paul Andrew Hutton. The Apache Wars lasted from 1861 until 1890, and revealed the tensions that existed between tribal communities and American settlers.

People in Atalissa, Iowa, knew about the intellectually disabled men who lived in the town’s old schoolhouse and worked in the nearby turkey plant, but they didn’t know those men were being neglected by a business set up to provide cheap labor. It's a heart-breaking story told by New York Times reporter Dan Barry in The Boys in the Bunkhouse.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Even if you're not a fan of science fiction, you've probably heard of George R.R. Martin. (Does Game of Thrones ring a bell?) Melinda M. Snodgrass is no slouch herself, having written and edited for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Together, they edit a book series called Wild Cards, which could soon be adapted for television.

If you feel like your smartphone has a mind of it's own, it's not just you. After years of stacking new systems on top of generations of old technology, things have become so complicated no one really understands it. 


Some days are harder than others, but a little help from a loved one — or a stranger — can make all the difference. What better way to repay the favor than treating your friend to a film? This week, Up To Date's indie, foreign and documentary film critics have a selection of movies about vulnerable people in a seemingly callous world. 

Cynthia Haines

The Innocents, PG-13

Are we a society of bullies? We talk to two sociologists who make the case we can’t fix bullying in schools until we take a close look at the bigger institutional factors in America that encourage it.


In researching Topeka's Westboro Baptist Church, Arkansas State University sociologist Rebecca Barrett-Fox got an intimate view of the ministry's operations. Despite what most people think, Barrett-Fox found the congregation and its roots aren't that far off the beaten path.

These days, politicians who change their policy positions are called flip-floppers, but that epithet could easily apply to some of this country's most celebrated leaders. Journalist Larry Tye's book, Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon, illustrates the political evolution of Robert Kennedy.

While she comes from a writing family, Delia Ephron didn't start her writing career until her thirties. Since then she's made up for lost time, writing and producing screenplays, plays, books for children and adults and movies. Her latest novel, Siracusa, is already being adapted into a film.

Photo courtesy of Katherine Dumas

On June 30, Governor Jay Nixon appointed Aliki Barnstone as Missouri’s fourth Poet Laureate.

A creative writing professor at the University of Missouri–Columbia, her work has often appeared in UMKC’s New Letters magazine.  

The daughter of Greek visual artist, Elli Tzalopoulou-Barnstone, and American writer, Willis Barnstone, Aliki Barnstone was destined for a life in the arts.

For some people, music is a language that can be communicated without words. Up To Date's indie, foreign and documentary film critics add a new pick this weekend, that explains the beauty and power of music that speaks for itself.

Cynthia Haines

The Music of Strangers, PG-13

These days, political discourse may feature the occasional soaring oratory, but more often, it comes down to talking heads yelling at each other. Maybe what the world needs now is the kind of politics found only in books. As we approach the 2016 presidential election, we take a moment to explore the best books about politics with KCUR's Bibliofiles.


Before a college ballplayer can make it to the Majors, they've got to prove to coaches, scouts, and most importantly themselves, that they have what it takes. The Clarinda A's baseball team, and the small Iowa town that hosts it, has the unlikely distinction of not just developing that kind of talent, but of fostering hard work, integrity and responsibility in the process.


You may not be able to go out and blow stuff up with the same vim and vigor, but that doesn't mean you have to let the wet forecast put a damper on your Independence Day weekend. Up To Date's indie, foreign and documentary film critics have a few recommendations to keep you entertained — and dry! — while the rain passes through.

Cynthia Haynes

NUTS!, Not rated

We all remember the Titanic, but do you remember the Cap Arcona? The German luxury liner, regarded as the greatest ship since the Titanic, suffered a fate just as horrifying.


  The dog days of summer are just around the corner ... or maybe they’re already here. One way that kids can beat them is with a great book. Our panel of librarians were here again with their favorite titles of the summer.


  • Debbie McLeod, retired librarian.
  • Dennis Ross, director of youth services at the Johnson County Public Library.
  • Lacie Griffin, collection development specialist at the Johnson County Public Library. 


ProjectManhattan / Wikimedia--CC

Children’s literature is becoming more and more diverse, but choosing which books to share with children can still be difficult. 

KCUR’s Central Standard recently welcomed Kansas City authors Christine Taylor-Butler and Traci Sorell to a discussion of how representations of race in children’s literature have changed over time.

Here are their recommendations for books with diverse and nuanced characters and storylines.

Christine Taylor-Butler, children’s book author:

flickr user Peter Musolino

Many teenagers seek out jobs, often for the first time, in the summer. Writer and novelist Thomas Fox Averill was 16 when he started his first job at Mount Hope Cemetery in Topeka, Kansas.

Averill, a writer-in-residence and professor of English at Washburn University, spent three summers as part of the grounds crew at Mount Hope. He told New Letters on the Air host Angela Elam that the experience shaped his life and his approach to writing.