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On the Father of the Sandy Hook Killer; Life in a Cape Town Township; Poverty in America; How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia

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Monday, March 17, 2014

poverty Camden Empty homes in Camden, New Jersey, October 11, 2012. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Camden is the most impoverished city in the U.S. with nearly 32,000 of residents living below the poverty line (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images/Getty)

On today’s show: New Yorker contributor Andrew Solomon talks about his conversations with Peter Lanza, father of Adam Lanza, who killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Harper’s contributor Justine van der Leun tells us about spending two years getting to know the people living in a township outside Cape Town, South Africa. For our new series Strapped: A Look at Poverty in America, Sasha Abramsky and Chris Wimer talk about about how we have defined poverty over time. And Mohsin Hamid discusses his novel, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia.

The Father of the Sandy Hook Killer Searches for Answers

Although the killing 26 people at an elementary school remains incomprehensible, one journalist's conversations with a grieving father can give us insight into what went wrong.

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A Portrait of a South African Township

Gugulethu, a township on the outskirts of Cape Town, is an apartheid-era invention, established in the early 1960s to absorb the overflow of migration to the city from other parts of the country. Now it contains almost 100,000 residents, almost all of them black. Justine van der Leun spent more than two years in Gugulethu, and she gives us a vivid portrait of daily life there, as well as a window into the politics and vulnerabilities of South Africa. Van der Leun is a Harper’s magazine contributor, and her article “A Portrait of a Township” is in the March issue.

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Strapped: A Look at Poverty in America

For the first installment of our series Strapped: A Look at Poverty in America, Sasha Abramsky, author of The American Way of Poverty, and Chris Wimer, researcher at Columbia Universty's Population Research Center, discuss how poverty is defined, and how that definition has changed—or remained stagnant—over time. They’ll also talk about what living in poverty means for individuals, families, and children, the ways of addressing poverty, and the successes and failures of the war on poverty in the 50 years since it was launched.

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How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia

Mohsin Hamid talks about his new novel, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. It’s a tale of a man’s journey from impoverished rural boy to corporate tycoon, and it steals its shape from the business self-help books devoured by ambitious youths all over “rising Asia.” It follows its nameless hero to the sprawling metropolis where he begins to amass an empire built on that most fluid, and increasingly scarce, of goods: water.

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Tributes: David Brenner

Unlike most comedians who went on The Tonight Show and headed straight to the couch, David Brenner performed first.  The reason was, as Johnny Carson would explain, "I like to sit back, smoke a cigarette and laugh for six minutes."  The lanky, toothsome Philadelphia native started out as a writer and director of television documentaries, before deciding to try comedy, relatively late, in the 1970s.  He would appear on The Tonight Show over 150 times, as both a guest and a substitute host.  He died recently at the age of 78.  You can hear his conversation with Leonard from October 2003, about his book, I Think There’s a Terrorist in My Soup, about staging a comedy tour in the wake of the September 11th attacks.

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Tributes: Joe McGinniss

Joe McGinniss had a nose for news, and was tireless in pursuing, and immersing himself in stories, be it then-presidential candidate Richard Nixon (The Selling of the President 1968) or 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin (The Rogue).  Along with Joan Didion and Tom Wolfe, he was known as one of the writers of New Journalism.  He died recently at the age of 71.  He spoke to Leonard in April 2009 for his story about the deal that Palin struck to build a $40 billion pipeline, which had little chance of being built. 

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