Calm Under Pressure

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On today’s show: Mark Hilan, former host of Morning Edition on WNYC and New York Times business editor Larry Ingrassia, who was working for the Wall Street Journal at the time, compare notes on how they handled reporting on 9/11, on a personal and professional level. Then, our latest Underappreciated segment looks at Ann Petry’s 1946 novel The Street. We’ll take a look at the French biopic, “Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life.” Plus, Richard White tells us how the transcontinental railroads shaped modern America.

Reporting the News on 9/11

Mark Hilan, former host of WNYC's Morning Edition, and  Larry Ingrassia, formerly of the Wall Street Journal and currently Business Editor at the New York Times, discuss having to make sense of the events on 9/11 both personally, and professionally, on the fly. Larry Ingrassia was part of the team that set up a newsroom within a few hours after the attacks and helped put together the Pulitzer Prize-winning edition of the Wall Street Journal. Mark Hilan helped keep WNYC on the air and brought people news of the events that morning.

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Underappreciated: Ann Petry's The Street

Farah Griffin, William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African American Studies at Columbia University, discusses Ann Petry's 1946 novel, The Street, for our final Underappreciated segment of the summer. The Street is about a young single black mother who is trying to save money in order to move her son away from the influence of 116th Street. When it was initially published, it made Petry one of the first female African-American authors to receive significant critical and popular acclaim. Lately, the novel been getting more critical attention for its representation of gender politics within Harlem. It also provides a rich portrait of Harlem at that time—its neighborhoods, business districts, bars, and music clubs, making it more than simply a protest novel.

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Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life

Comic book artist Joann Sfar discusses directing his first feature film, “Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life.” He interprets the life of 1960s singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg (né Lucien Ginsburg to Russian-Jewish parents), beginning with his childhood years in Nazi-occupied Paris, then depicts his early years as a painter and jazz musician, and his life as a wildly popular performer, notorious bon vivant, and lover of some of the world's most glamorous women. “Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life” opens August 31 at Film Forum.

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Richard White talks about how the transcontinental railroads transformed the nation in the late 19th century. His book Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America focuses on railroads as the first corporate behemoths, and how their attempts to generate profits from proliferating debt sparked devastating panics in the U.S. economy. The railroads also remade the landscape of the West and opened new worlds of work and ways of life.

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