Hiding in Plain Sight

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On today’s show: We’ll find out how the CIA used the guise of a science fiction movie to rescue six of Americans hostages in Iran in 1979. Jeanne Marie Laskas looks at the men and women who work in those unseen jobs that keep our country running—like coal miners and air traffic controllers. Filmmaker Ric Burns talks about how the massive death toll during the Civil War reshaped the United States. And Salman Rushdie talks about what happened in the years after the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa in 1989 that called for his death.


Antonio Mendez gives an account of leading the 1979 rescue of six American hostages from Iran. He's joined by his wife, Jonna Mendez, also a former CIA agent. Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled off the Most Audacious Rescue in History, written with Matt Baglio, tells the full story of how Mendez, a top-level CIA officer, devised an incredibly risky plan to rescue the six escaped hostages. He disguised himself as a Hollywood producer and traveled to Tehran under the guise of scouting locations for a fake science fiction film called “Argo.”

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Hidden America

Jeanne Marie Laskas tells stories of coal miners, migrant laborers, ranchers, air traffic controllers, landfill operators, long-distance truckers, and even cheerleaders. Her book Hidden America: From Coal Miners to Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make This Country Work is a tour of the often overlooked people who are crucial to keeping the country running.

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“Death and the Civil War”

Ric Burns discusses his documentary “Death and the Civil War,” based on the book by Drew Faust, talks about how the nation was transformed by the death toll of the Civil War, an estimated 750,000 people were killed—nearly two and a half percent of the population—from 1861 to 1865. “Death and the Civil War,” will premiere on American Experience on Tuesday, September 18, at 8:00 pm on PBS, in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, which is to this day, the single bloodiest day in American history.

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Salman Rushdie on Joseph Anton

Salman Rushdie discusses how his life changed when he was “sentenced to death” by the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989, because of what he wrote in his novel The Satanic Verses. Rushdie was forced underground, moving from house to house, with the constant presence of an armed police protection team, who called him by his alias, Joseph Anton. Rushdie tells the story for the first time in his memoir, Joseph Anton, about the sometimes grim, sometimes comic realities of living with armed policemen, struggling for support and understanding, and finally regaining his freedom.

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Wyclef Jean Performs in Our Green Room

After Wyclef Jean's interview with Leonard, in which he said he wanted to sample Leonard on his next album, he sat down at the piano in WNYC's green room and played a song.

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