No Man is an Island

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Friday, July 01, 2011

For today's show we're replaying some favorite interviews from the past few months. Tim Flannery gives us a history of planet earth—from its origins as a galactic cloud of dust to the rise of us, Homo sapiens. Diane Ackerman talks about her husband Paul West’s debilitating stroke and road to recovery. Environmental writer Eugene Linden tells us about the few remaining indigenous cultures that have refused to join the modern world. And Sarah Vowell describes the Americanization of Hawaii in the late 19th century.

Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet

Tim Flannery, scientist, explorer, conservationist, and co-founder and Chair of the Copenhagen Climate Council, discusses the Earth’s evolution—from a galactic cloud of dust and gas to a planet teeming with life. Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet describes how the Earth’s crust and atmosphere formed, how its oceans transformed from toxic brews of metals to life-sustaining bodies of water covering 70 percent of the planet’s surface, and how our own species evolved.

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Diane Ackerman's One Hundred Names for Love

Diane Ackerman talks about her husband, Paul West’s, stroke and long recovery. He was afflicted with aphasia—loss of language—and Diane, frustrated with traditional therapies, relied on her scientific understanding of language and the brain to guide Paul back to the world of words. Her book One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing is an account of stroke, aphasia, and recovery, as well as a love story.

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Encounters at the Ragged Edge of the World

Environmental writer Eugene Linden talks about how the far corners on the earth have been changed by—or have resisted being changed by—modernity. The Ragged Edge of the World: Encounters at the Frontier Where Modernity, Wildlands, and Indigenous Peoples Meet looks at this environmental frontier—Vietnam, New Guinea and Borneo, pygmy forests and Machu Picchu, the Arctic and Antarctica, Cuba and Midway Island.

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Sarah Vowell on Unfamiliar Fishes

Sarah Vowell tells the history of the fiftieth state—Hawaii. Her latest book, Unfamiliar Fishes, gives an account of the transformation of the islands by New England missionaries who arrived in 1820, an incestuous princess pulled between her new god and her brother-husband, and also looks at sugar barons, lepers, con men, Theodore Roosevelt, and the last Hawaiian queen: a songwriter whose sentimental ode "Aloha 'Oe" serenaded Barack Obama, the first president from Hawaii, during his inaugural parade.

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