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Progress and Protest

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Former New York Times foreign correspondent Chris Hedges tells us what he calls “the myth of human progress” and looks at the underlying causes of global conflict. Jonathan Lethem talks about L. J. Davis’ 1971 novel, A Meaningful Life, for our summer Underappreciated reading series. Helen Schulman discusses her new novel, This Beautiful Life, about the scandal that erupts when a teenage boy forwards a racy video sent to him by a girl. New Yorker contributor Wendell Steavenson tells us about her recent trip to Syria, in the midst of the protests and government crackdowns.

Chris Hedges on the Myth of Human Progress

Chris Hedges, senior fellow at the Nation Institute, former foreign correspondent for the New York Times, and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, discusses his two decades of experience as a war correspondent, and examines the American empire at home and abroad. The World as It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress looks at the constant struggle with the nature of war and its impact on human civilization.

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Underappreciated: L. J. Davis's A Meaningful Life

For this week’s Underappreciated segment, Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn, The Fortress of Solitude, and Chronic City, discusses L. J. Davis's 1971 novel, A Meaningful Life. It’s about a failed writer who attempts to channel his creative energy into real estate, in the form of a decaying Brooklyn mansion-turned-rooming house he buys in the late 1960s. The novel raises questions about gentrification that are still relevant today. Lethem wrote the introduction for New York Review Books release of the novel, grew up down the block from Davis in Boerum Hill.

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Helen Schulman on This Beautiful Life

Helen Schulman discusses her new novel, This Beautiful Life. It tells the story of what happens when a 15-year-old at a private school in Manhattan receives—then forwards to a friend—a sexually explicit video that an eighth-grade admirer sent to him. Within hours, the video has gone viral. The ensuing scandal threatens to shatter his family’s sense of security and identity and, ultimately, their happiness.

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Roads to Freedom: The Latest from Syria

New Yorker contributor Wendell Steavenson assesses the mood of the Syrian people in the midst of the protests and crackdowns that have been taking place over the last five months. “Roads to Freedom” is an account of her recent trip to Damascus, which is in near-lockdown—and displays abandoned tourist sites, secret police in casual clothing milling around many of the squares, and anti-regime protests.

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The Earthquake: Leonard Live

Leonard was on the air when yesterday's earthquake shook New York! He remained calm when he mentioned it, and when the shaking stopped he went back to wrapping up his interview with Mark Matousek on morals and ethics.

Leonard Lopate: Now I don't know if you felt this room trembling as I just did. There is the possibility that we just experienced a bit of an earthquake.

Mark Matousek: Or the subway.

LL: No. the subway doesn't..wouldn't do that to this room. It's never happened before.

MM: Is that true?

LL: Yeah. I'm wondering whether we're going to learn something after the show about earthquakes in Manhattan, something I didn't know could even happen.

MM: Well I'm from California. I don't even notice them anymore.

Listen here - at 19:50

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