Books

Joan Marcus

In America, the split between conservatives and liberals can be dramatic. Today, we find out how the concept of American exceptionalism can divide and separate us from ourselves and our Western counterparts. Then,  Actors' Equity president Kate Shindle makes the economic argument to keep funding of the National Endowment for the Arts in the federal budget. She also talks about her role and the issues explored in the groundbreaking musical Fun Home.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Monday's bombing in Manchester, England, shows the global war on terrorism has been unsuccessful thus far in stopping extremist violence. Today, former Department of State advisor Steven Koltai suggests a new approach to stopping the bloodshed: encouraging entrepreneurship.

The University of Edinburgh

Nearly all your Web activity — from Google searches to your Amazon shopping cart — is saved, stored, and used to individualize the internet to you, or at least what an algorithm thinks is you. Today, we find out how your online footprint creates a digital profile, and where that profile goes wrong. Then, we consider whether the paradigm through which prospective reformers view problems in the education system needs to be changed.

The New York Times calls him "one of the most acclaimed travel writers of his time." In this encore presentation, a chat with William Least Heat-Moon about his Kansas City roots, his new novel and how he got his name.

Guest:

  • William Least Heat-Moon

Lynsey Addario

Your job might be challenging, but Lynsey Addario's is literally a battlefield. She's been injured, ambushed, and kidnapped while working as a photojournalist in war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Today, we learn why the results motivate her to continue crafting stories out of conflict. Then, the life of a major league ace isn't all about 100 mile-per-hour fastballs ... or is it? We talk about the evolution of pitching with writer Terry McDermott.

Richard Nixon Presidential Library

Before President Donald Trump's thin-skinned, media-obsessed administration over a country deeply divided, there was Richard M. Nixon. Historian John A. Farrell's new biography includes astonishing revelations about the 37th president that have some drawing political parallels to the current chief executive.

Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoman Collection / Doubleday

Even suave people blunder a bit here and there, but research suggests those weird traits have some advantages. Today, we look at the science behind social awkwardness. Then, we learn how vast new oil wealth among Oklahoma's Osage tribe engendered a heart-rending greed that led to a series of murders in the 1920s, and helped the fledgling FBI make a name for itself.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

For many people, it is a career change, a promotion, or maybe an industry award that propels their professional life to the next level.

For Tom Toro, it was the first time he sold a cartoon to The New Yorker.

"It happened in a very modern way," says Toro. "My life changed via email."

It seems like a somewhat underwhelming email. The subject line, Toro says, read simply, 'Okay.'

Taber Andrew Bain / Flickr - CC

As V-E Day approaches, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Rick Atkinson discusses the lasting impact and significance of World War II. Then, many consumers remain wary of check-cashing and payday-lending businesses. We speak with a professor of city planning who worked as a check casher in New York City to research the industry and find out why low- and middle-income Americans are using them in increasing numbers.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Renowned historian David McCullough has produced many books and speeches that touch on the country's stories and accomplishments. In a new collection, he samples those words to remind readers of The American Spirit. Then, Kansas City cartoonist Tom Toro shares his approach to successfully churning out editorial satire.

LitFestKC

Today, Jon Scieszka and Javaka Steptoe, heavy-hitters on the kid's lit scene, talk about promoting literacy and how the environment for fostering it has changed since they were little. They also reveal the creative processes behind some of their best-known works.

Advocate Jamie Manzer, right, shows reporter Mike Tobias a bag of essential items that a nonprofit gives trafficking victims.
David Koehn / NET News

The suburbs and shopping malls don't excite modern urban planners, but they were innovations in their own time. Today, we learn about urban designs that shape our cities. Then: Contrary to popular belief, sex trafficking is not just an urban phenomenon.

Courtesy Unbound Book Festival

On a recent Wednesday morning at his home Columbia, Missouri, Alex George was ignoring his day job. He’s an attorney and author whose second novel, Setting Free the Kites, was released in February. But on this day he was working on neither writing nor lawyering.

Candice Millard

Apr 14, 2017
Paul Andrews / http://paulandrewsphotography.com/

She's a bestselling author who has written books about James Garfield, Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. We talk with Candice Millard about how she found her niche of writing about the lesser-known incidents in a historical figure's life, and how her work and her life have intersected.

Guest:

Blake Stoppel

Kansas City’s BkMk Press has a new collection of poetry by Native American writers about the Middle East.

The book's title — The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East — was inspired by advice given to BkMk managing editor Ben Furnish by a teacher years ago.

End-of-the-world scenarios have always been a popular fiction trope. Now, there's one scenario that doesn't seem so fictional, at least not anymore: climate change. Our Bibliofiles join us to talk about climate-fiction, or "cli-fi," and recommend their favorites in the genre.

Guests:

Joyce N. Boghosian / National Museum of American History Smithsonian Institution / Flickr - CC

Scott Simon, journalist and longtime host of Weekend Edition Saturday, is known for his calm, civilized demeanor, but that attitude quickly changes when it comes to the Chicago Cubs. We speak with NPR's Saturday morning voice about his ties to the baseball team and how their thrilling 2016 World Series win drove him to write a book about his beloved Cubbies.

Kashif Pathan / Flickr - CC

If President Donald Trump's budget blueprint were to become law, the agency that administers federal museum and library programs would cease to exist.

In the 2016 fiscal year, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) had a budget of $230 million. Nearly 80 percent of that money went to fund library services throughout the country, according to their website.

Jim Mathis / Johnson County Library

Kansas City, Missouri, voters approved a series of general obligation bonds aimed at improving infrastructure throughout the metro, and totaling more than $800 million. Today, Councilman Quinton Lucas tells us how he expects the investments to affect local communities. Then, public libraries may be facing cuts at both federal and state levels. We speak with local library directors to find out how they are faring in an era of "skinny budgets."

The U.S. National Archives

When President Harry Truman moved into the White House, he thought the creaks and groans meant it was haunted. It turns out it was just in imminent danger of collapse. Today, hear the story of how the executive mansion was completely gutted and restored. Then, what takes more than seven years and 900 international volunteers to complete?

nrkbeta / Flickr - CC

Matthew Dowd's career is an unusual one. He was a strategist for Republican President George W. Bush's re-election campaign, and, before that, a staffer for Missouri's Democratic Congressman Dick Gephardt. Now, he is taking an Independent tack to get past partisan gridlock. Today, we speak with the ABC News analyst about his life, his career, and the political situations in Austin, Springfield and Washington.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

For all the times that scientific research has improved our lives, there are other times when science got it horribly wrong. Today, Dr. Paul Offit describes the lessons we have learned, and should be learning, to separate good science from bad.

www.facebook.com

When he was a senior at Blue Valley North, Alex Haughey made a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Now, he's coming back home with a new movie that's screening at the KC Film Fest. The five-day festival runs April 5 - April 9 at Cinemark on the Plaza. 

Courtesy Jewish Community Center

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is a classic because its themes keep pace with the passing decades. Whether it’s the novel published in 1953 or Bradbury’s stage adaptation from 1979, each version is concerned with the control of information and media as a means of keeping the populace in its place.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

More than 100 literary nerds and public radio geeks packed recordBar Tuesday for reBOUND, an annual book exchange hosted by Generation Listen KC and the Young Friends of the Kansas City Public Library

Missouri Auditor's Office

Today, bestselling author and political activist Francine Prose shares her thoughts on the importance of the written word. She says the First Amendment is under threat, and explains why what we write counts now more than ever. Then, we speak with Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway, who says certain executive payments the University of Missouri System awards break the law.

Wikimedia Commons

The Vietnam War didn't end silently, it went out to the loud riffs of rock n' roll. Revisit the songs that shaped the 1960s and '70s, and captured the moods of soldiers overseas and civilians at home. We also find out how the electric guitar became the international symbol of freedom, danger and rebellion.

A rural farm in Kansas. A wealthy family with a dark secret. A missing young woman. That's the basis of a new book by a local author. She shares how a real-life small Kansas town — and her background as a criminal defense attorney — helped inspire her novel.

Then, a look at how police department throughout the country (including in KC) are using technology that mines cell phone data.

Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

On March 20, 1978, William Least Heat-Moon left Columbia, Missouri in a Ford van. The van, which he named Ghost Dancing, would be his home for the next three months.

He was 38 years old. His marriage was falling apart. He'd lost his teaching job due to staffing cutbacks. His decision to get behind the wheel in search of America's stories was part dream, part desperation.

Now that the van is a literary artifact, he has to visit it in a museum. And he's careful not to get behind the wheel. Sitting back in that driver's seat makes him misty eyed.

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