On a High Note

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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

On today’s show: Tarek Osman explores what has happened to Egypt since President Nasser took control of the country in 1954. Then Idina Menzel talks about her New York Philharmonic debut and her latest CD, “I Stand.” Plus, Zadie Smith discusses joining Harper’s magazine as a book reviewer. And acclaimed biographer Frank Brady discusses the meteoric rise and sad decline of the enigmatic chess genius Bobby Fischer.

Egypt On The Brink: From Nasser to Mubarak

Yesterday, President Hosni Mubarak announced he would continue to stay in power through September, despite massive demonstrations around the country demanding that he step down immediately. Tarek Osman, author of Egypt On The Brink: From Nasser to Mubarak, talks about what's happened in Egypt since President Nasser came to power in 1954 and what's been happening on the streets this week. 

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Idina Menzel

Singer Idina Menzel discusses her latest CD, "I Stand," and her New York Philharmonic debut February 5—where she’ll be performing selections from "Rent," "Wicked," classic pop, and songs from “I Stand.”

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Zadie Smith on Books

Zadie Smith talks about joining Harper’s to review books for the “New Books” column. She’ll also discuss her latest book, Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays, just released in paperback, a collection that shows she’s equally at home in the world of great books and bad movies, family and philosophy, British comedians and Italian divas. 

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Who Was Bobby Fischer?

Frank Brady traces the meteoric ascent—and confounding descent—of enigmatic genius Bobby Fischer, who was only 13 when he became the youngest chess master in U.S. history. When he defeated Soviet champion Boris Spassky in 1972, at the historic Cold War showdown in Reykjavik, Iceland, he was greeted as an American hero. Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness  draws from Fischer family archives, recently released FBI files, and Bobby’s own e-mails to tell the story of Fischer’s entire life—from his impoverished childhood, to making the covers of Time, Life and Newsweek, to becoming a notorious recluse.

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Egypt on the Brink

On Wednesday, as events continued to unfold across Egypt, Leonard spoke to Tarek Osman about what’s happened in Egypt over the last 55 years, since the rise of Gamal Abdul Nasser.

While Osman, the author of Egypt on the Brink: From Nasser to Mubarak, saw the roots of today’s events as going all the way back to Napoleon, he described great changes in the last 60 years:  

"If you look at 1950, the midpoint of the 20th Century at Egypt and try to speculate how this country would look 50 or 60 years down the line…most speculators, most strategic thinkers would have imagined an Egypt that is very different from Egypt today. Today, Egypt is very conservative; at that time it was very liberal. At that time, in the 50’s, it was very nationalist. Today it’s very sectarian oriented. It was very cosmopolitan. Today it’s not cosmopolitan. At that time, Egypt was a worldly city – even in terms of social glamor. Today, it’s certainly far from that.”


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Find what Idina Menzel is secretly a fan of!


Guest Picks: Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith stopped by The Leonard Lopate Show to talk about some of her favorite books, films, and more!


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