Shaping America, Shaping the World

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On today’s show: we’ll look at the Senate of the 1960s and 1970s, which gave us the Civil Rights Act, Great Society legislation, and battled with the executive branch over abuses of power. William H. Gass talks about his latest collection of essays. Today’s installment of A History of the World in 100 Objects is all about a stone fragment from a pillar erected by the Indian Emperor Askoka. Deborah Feldman talks about her experience in the Satmar Hasidic community. Historian Robert Kagan, who has the ears of both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, tells what he thinks the world would look like if America’s role in it were diminished.


The Last Great Senate

Ira Shapiro recounts the Senators of the 1960s and 1970s who overcame opposition to civil rights, passed Great Society legislation, and battled the executive branch on Vietnam, Watergate, and its abuses of power. In The Last Great Senate, he looks at how the Senate changed with the 1980 elections, and he offers insight into how the Senate used to work and what happened to diminish it.

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William H. Gass on Life Sentences

William H. Gass discusses his newest collection of essays, Life Sentences: From Literary Judgments and Accounts , which explore reading, writing, form, and thought. He examines the work of some of his favorite writers, including Kafka, Nietzsche, Henry James, Gertrude Stein, and Proust.




Deborah Feldman talks about what it’s like inside the Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism. In her memoir, Unorthodox, she reveals what life is like in a religious tradition that she believes values silence and suffering over individual freedoms, and what happened when she rejected her Hasidic roots.

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Robert Kagan on The World America Made

Robert Kagan, one of the country’s most influential strategic thinkers, looks at whether America is in decline and shares his view of what the world might look like if the United States let its influence wane. The World America Made  investigates what the world would look like if America were to reduce its role as a global leader in order to focus on solving its problems at home and asserts that the current pessimism about America’s stature is misplaced.


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