Across Cultures

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Eric Jay Dolin discusses America’s first encounters with China in the 18th century...and what those encounters on the high seas can tell us about the relationship between the two super powers today. Historian Sönke Neitzel looks into the mindset of German soldiers during World War II. Andy Borowitz offers his take on the presidential election and the vice presidential debate. Plus, Hal Needham joins us for our Please Explain segment—it’s all about stuntmen!

When America First Met China

Eric Jay Dolin traces the United States’ fraught relationship with China back to its roots in the 19th-century. In When America First Met China: An Exotic History of Tea, Drugs, and Money in the Age of Sail, Dolin tells an epic tale of opium smugglers, sea pirates, and dueling clipper ships.

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German Soldiers in WWII

Sönke Neitzel, Professor of International History, London School of Economics, discusses his investigations into the mind-set of the German fighting man during World War II. Soldaten: On Fighting, Killing, and Dying, written with social psychologist Harald Welzer, is based on declassified transcripts of covert recordings taken within the confines of the holding cells, bedrooms, and camps that housed the German POWs, providing a view of the mentality of the soldiers in the Wehrmacht, the Luftwaffe, the German navy.

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The Borowitz Report

Andy Borowitz, author of the Borowitz Report on, is back to talk about how Joe Biden and Paul Ryan performed in the vice presidential debate. He’ll also look at Mitt Romney’s post-debate bump and what it means for President Obama’s campaign. 

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Please Explain: Stunts

Jumping off buildings, running from a car engulfed in flames, getting into a brawl with a villain all some of the feats we see frequently in movies—and they’re performed by stuntmen (and women). Two experts join us to explain how stunts are performed in movies and on television: Hal Needham worked as a stuntman on more than 300 feature films and he was a pioneer in improving stunt technology and safety. He also directed the films Smokey and the Bandit, Cannonball Run, and Hooper, among others. He’s written about his career in Stuntman! My Car-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Bone-Breaking, Death-Defying Hollywood Life. And Blaise Corrigan, a stuntman who has worked in New York for more than 20 years in such films as The Avengers, The Departed, The Bourne Legacy, and the television shows Boardwalk Empire, 30 Rock, and Law and Order.

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Joe Biden on the Leonard Lopate Show in 2007

Having watched Vice President Joe Biden debate Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan last night (you can hear Andy Borowitz's take on the night here), we thought we'd post the audio from Leonard's 2007 conversation with then-Senator Joe Biden. He doesn't call Leonard his friend, but he does call him a wise guy.

Joe Biden on the Lopate Show in 2007

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Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

National Book Award Nominees Announced

The 2012 National Book Award nominees were announced this week, and many of the finalists in the fiction and nonfiction categories have been on the Lopate Show to talk about their work. We love great conversations about great books! Listen to those interviews:


Junot Diaz on This is How You Lose Her

Louise Erdrich on The Round House

Ben Fountain on Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

Kevin Powers on The Yellow Birds 


Katherine Boo on Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Robert Caro on The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power

Nada Bakri on her late husband Anthony Shadid's memoir House of Stone. Anthony Shadid died while covering the conflict in Syria in February 2012.


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