The War Room

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Monday, May 09, 2011

On today’s show: Guest host Elliott Forrest takes a look at the life and career of forgotten bluesman Big Bill Broonzy. Rudolph Herzog explores whether it’s become acceptable to laugh at Hitler... and how the tradition actually began in Germany during World War II. Plus, Adam Hochschild discusses the history of World War I, through the eyes of critics who opposed the conflict.

Force and Futility in Afghanistan

New Yorker staff writer Jon Lee Anderson discusses the ongoing war in Afghanistan and whether it’s time for coalition forces to leave the country. His article “Force and Futility,” in the May 16 issue of The New Yorker, tells what’s changed—and what has remained the same—in the region of Khost, Afghanistan, since the United States first tried to kill Osama bin Laden there in 1998.

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The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy

Bob Riesman tells the life story of Big Bill Broonzy, a major figure in American blues and folk music. Reisman’s groundbreaking biography I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy, traces Big Bill’s career—from his rise as a nationally prominent blues star, to his influential role in the post-World War II folk revival, to his overseas tours in the 1950s, which ignited the British blues-rock explosion of the 1960s.

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Humor in Hitler’s Germany

In Nazi Germany, telling jokes about Hitler could get you killed. Rudolph Herzog discusses whether it’s permissible to laugh at Hitler, and looks at the long history of jokes about the Nazis and what they reveal. Dead Funny: Humor in Hitler’s Germany examines the image of the “ridiculous Führer,” the suppression of the anti-Nazi cabaret scene of the 1930s, and the audible and whispered jokes about Hitler, the Nazis, and their actions during World War II.

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Loyalty and Rebellion During WWI

Adam Hochschild discusses World War I, which stands as one of history’s most senseless spasms of carnage. In To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918, he focuses on the long-ignored moral drama of the war’s critics, alongside its generals and heroes. Thrown in jail for their opposition to the war were Britain’s leading investigative journalist, a future winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and an editor who, behind bars, published a newspaper on toilet paper for his fellow inmates. He looks at whether we can ever avoid repeating history.

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Guest Picks: Rudolph Herzog

Read to find out what Rudolph Herzog is listening to right now.

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Arthur Laurents with Chita Rivera At Palace Theater On Broadway on February 26, 2009

Arthur Laurents, Dead at 93

Arthur Laurents was a triple threat: a playwright, screenwriter, and director behind two landmark Broadway shows, West Side Story and Gypsy - as well as the film, The Way We Were. He once wrote,  "Entertainment is dessert, it needs to be balanced by the main course, theater of substance."  He was responsible for a lot of both!  He died at the age of 93.  You can hear his last interview with Leonard from 2004.


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