Monarchs and Masters

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

The turmoil in Egypt is being compared with another public uprising against an unpopular U.S.-backed leader in the region—Abbas Milani looks at the life and rule of the Shah of Iran and how he shaped the modern Middle East. Then, Granta editor John Freeman and two writers from Spain discuss the current state of fiction writing in Spanish around the world. Also, learn about an unusual friendship between George Bernard Shaw and the 1920s world heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney. Plus, Backstory looks at the Egyptian Vice President's relationship with the CIA.

The Last Shah of Iran

Abbas Milani discusses Mohammad-Reza Shah Pahlevi, the last Shah of Iran, who shaped Iran’s modern age and the contemporary politics of the Middle East, and gives an account Iran’s turn from politically moderate monarchy to totalitarian Islamic republic. His biography The Shah is an account of the man full of contradictions, who made Iran a global power, and how U.S. and Iranian relations have reached the point where they are today.

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The Latest Update from Egypt

Today the Supreme Council of Egyptian Armed Forces met to discuss the continuing protests against president Hosni Mubarak and the demands that he step down. Wall Street Journal reporter Charles Levinson gives us an update on the results of those talks, the protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square, and what the government transition might be if President Mubarak leaves power.

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The Best Young Spanish-Language Writers

Spanish writers Andres Barba and Javier Montes and Granta editor John Freeman discuss the state of fiction in the Spanish-speaking world. Granta’s issue The Best of Young Spanish Language Novelists, showcases of 22 of the finest young writers in the Spanish-speaking world, and includes writers from Spain, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Mexico, Peru, and Colombia.

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The Prizefighter and the Playwright

Jay R. Tunney tells about the unlikely friendship between champion boxer Gene Tunney and celebrated writer George Bernard Shaw. The Prizefighter and the Playwright: Gene Tunney and George Bernard Shaw chronicles the relationship between this odd couple who came from very different worlds.


Backstory: Omar Suleiman and the CIA

Egypt’s new vice president, Omar Suleiman, has been heading up negotiations with the opposition. He’s also been described as “the CIA’s man in Cairo.” Lisa Hajjar, associate professor at University of California at Santa Barbara, examines Mr. Suleiman’s relationship with our government and his role in controversial U.S. rendition and interrogation operations in Egypt.

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Backstory: Earmarks

We’ll explore how the Congressional earmarks process works, its history, why it has become so controversial and whether earmarks are a “necessary evil.” We’ll speak with Steve Ellis, Vice President of Taxpayers for Common Sense, and Dave Levinthal, editor of

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How the Protests in Egypt Are Helping Break Down Sectarian Barriers

“In fact, many Egyptians believe that the security apparatus played a key role in fueling sectarian tensions because that played into its hands. And the reality – I’m not saying there were no tensions - but the scenes in the Liberation, the Tahrir, Square really show very clearly that Egyptians are finally getting to know one another and this is really one of the most important lessons of what has happened in Egypt.”

-- Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle Eastern Politics and International Relations at the London School of Economics. You can hear his whole conversation with Leonard about the many different roles of mosques in the protests in Egypt here.


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