Ever feel like you missed the beginning of an important news story? Leonard will catch you up during Backstory. 

Recently in Backstory

Backstory: Senator Pedro Espada's Early Political Career

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Before he was one of the most powerful people in the New York State Senate, Pedro Espada started his political career with a fringe political group called the New Alliance Party. The NAP has long since disbanded but many of its members are now part of the active New York ...

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Backstory: Coups in Central America

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Though the recent coup in Honduras is the first to take place in Central America since the end of the Cold War, the incident is part of a long history of political upheaval and military-sponsored coups in the region. On today's Backstory we'll put the turmoil in Honduras into historical ...

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Backstory: The Kurdistan Workers Party

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

There are an estimated 28 million Kurds and the PKK (The Kurdistan Workers Party) hopes to unite them in an independent Kurdistan. It is considered to be a terrorist organization by the United States, NATO and EU countries. Aliza Marcus explains the PKK’s origins and how the movement became radicalized. ...

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Backstory: The Argentina Presidential Race

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

This month’s Backstory looks at the presidential run of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in Argentina, whose husband, Néstor Kirchner, is the current president. The election was held on Sunday, October 28, and she won with 45 percent of the vote. Mike Reid, Americas Editor at the Economist, examines whether Cristina ...

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Backstory: China’s Political Leaders

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Who are China’s political leaders and why are their names virtually unknown? This is the focus of this month’s Backstory. Susan L. Shirk, the Director of the University of California’s Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, joins Leonard to discuss the relative strength ...

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Backstory: Zimbabwe

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

In the space of just seven years, Zimbabwe has managed to transform itself from one of Africa’s most stable and prosperous countries to one of its poorest and most chaotic. One estimate suggests that three million Zimbabweans have fled across the border in recent years. On this month's Backstory, we ...

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Backstory: Iran

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

This month’s Backstory will look at our complex relationship with Iran. Just this week, a new round of negotiations about Iraq was announced and Iranian-American scholars who are being detained appeared on Iranian state television. We will also look at Iran’s nuclear program, statements from the Bush Administration about Iran’s ...


Backstory: Bush in Albania

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

When President Bush visited Albania earlier this month, he received a hero's welcome there that’s become unusual these days. The Balkan country is one of the staunchest allies of the US. On today's Backstory, Nicole Itano of the Christian Science Monitor explains why Albanians are so pro-American.

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Backstory: The Alternative Energy Bill

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Congress is working on an energy package that will include the first raise of fuel economy standards since 1983…but it also could give subsidies to the coal industry to explore the use of liquid coal as an alternative fuel. We’ll look into what this energy package will do, who it ...

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Backstory: Primaries

Monday, May 21, 2007

In the past 40 years, primaries have become more important in selecting nominees than the conventions. On today’s Backstory, Linda L. Fowler focuses on the role primaries play in the nomination process, and explains how early primary states force candidates to focus on certain issues. Plus, we discuss the changes ...


Backstory: Third Party Candidates

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The campaigns of third party candidates like Theodore Roosevelt, Ross Perot, and Ralph Nader have enlivened political debate and stirred up controversy during elections. On today's Backstory, Ron Rapoport from the College of William and Mary, and Walter Stone from the University of California-Davis, assess the impact third party candidates ...


Backstory: Netflix

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Last month, Netflix delivered its 1 billionth DVD to a subscriber in Texas. On today’s Backstory, Andreas Kluth, the Bay Area technology correspondent for the Economist, explores the inner workings of the film rental giant.

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Backstory: France’s First Female Presidential Candidate

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

On today's Backstory, Matthew Kaminski, the editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe’s op-ed page, joins us by phone from Paris to discuss the major issues in France's presidential race. Ségolène Royal--France’s first female presidential candidate--is the Socialist candidate, and Nicolas Sarkozy is the Conservative candidate.


Backstory: Nigeria's Oil Pipelines

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

On today’s Backstory, Sebastian Junger tells us about his recent trip to Nigeria to cover the conflicts and controversies surrounding the country’s oil pipelines.
"Blood Oil" in Vanity Fair


Backstory: Dubai

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

On today’s Backstory, Julie Sell, Finance correspondent for the Economist, explores Dubai--a shipping hub, growing financial center, and one of the most diverse cities in the Middle East.


Backstory: Daniel Ortega

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

On today’s Backstory, Richard Lapper, the Latin America editor for the Financial Times, discusses Daniel Ortega’s political comeback. He explains how the newly re-elected President of Nicaragua resuscitated his political career, talks about why he won, and looks at how the US and other foreign countries are reacting.


Backstory: Ban Ki-Moon

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ban Ki-Moon is the new Secretary General-elect of the United Nations. On today’s Backstory, Diana Geddes, the Legal Affairs Editor for The Economist, examines his long career in South Korean international relations, and talks about what his selection means for ongoing reform initiatives at the UN.


Backstory: Arab Nationalism

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Michael Hudson, a professor of Arab Studies at Georgetown University, examines the history of Arab Nationalism, and looks at whether it’s being replaced by Islamism on Backstory.


Backstory: Hezbollah

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Fawaz Gerges, the Christian A. Johnson Chair in International Affairs and Middle Eastern Studies at Sarah Lawrence College, joins us for a Backstory on Hezbollah.

Journey of the Jihadist: Inside the Muslim Militancy is available for purchase at


Backstory: Shamil Basayev

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

On today’s Backstory, foreign policy expert Anatol Lieven examines the life of the Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, and looks at how his recent death may affect Chechen-Russian relations.