Books

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.

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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.

The New York Times calls him "one of the most acclaimed travel writers of his time." 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

Ken Doll / Kansas Center for Economic Growth

The Sunflower State's budget is a mess and lawmakers in Topeka are struggling to solve the state's fiscal woes. Today, a former budget director evaluates the precarious situation. Also, we speak with novelist Ellen Hopkins, who experienced the kidnapping of one daughter and the drug addiction of another.

Courtesy of Brit Bennett

A new species of rat has made its way to Discover Magazine's list of top scientific discoveries in 2016. KU professor Robert Timm shares how he came across the Rattus detentus, and why he named it after a detainment center on the mammal's home island off the coast of Australia.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

When Donald Trump declared his presidential candidacy, few guessed he stood a real chance. The now-president's longtime friend and former adviser Roger Stone thought otherwise. Today, he shares his insight. Then, we learn about the evolution of Kris Kobach's voter Crosscheck program and the story of how one Kansan got caught up in it.

Penguin Random House

Valentine's Day is next week, and it can be either the greatest or the worst holiday of the year. Today, we get some perspective on the nature of romantic love, and try to reconcile two different ways of thinking about it. Then, Sue Klebold recollects the morning her son, Dylan, and Eric Harris opened fire at Columbine High School. She speaks of the aftermath of the shooting, and her advocacy for mental health and suicide prevention.

Edward C. Robinson III / ECR3.com

A filmmaker from Poland and a former journalist from Kansas hope a combination essay-contest-and-documentary-film-project will help bridge the state's (and the country's) well-documented divides.

That's what happened in Europe and New York state, says Ewa Zadrzynska, the filmmaker who started Poetry Unites in Poland in 2006. 

E.G. Schempf

When Grand Arts closed in the fall of 2015 after a 20-year tenure in the Crossroads, Stacy Switzer, the artistic director of the organization (calling it a "gallery" would be inadequate), said it had been a place of "extraordinary" freedom for artists. 

Miguel Vieira / Flickr - CC

During the 20th year of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, outside of Strong City, Kansas, a new documentary explores how the park was created and is sustained. Then, we learn about the life of Forrest "Phog" Allen, who amassed 590 wins in 39 seasons coaching the KU men's basketball team.

Sage Ross / Flickr - CC

Do you drink pop ... or soda? Do you wash something or "warsh" it? Those answers depend on where you grew up. Today, we learn How to Speak Midwesternand discover why the Heartland dialect is so different from our Illinois and Minnesota neighbors. Then, consumer advocate Ralph Nader shares an important message in his latest book, Animal Envy, a fable akin to Charlotte's Web and Animal Farm.

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