Then and Now: Ukraine and Russia, Money and Politics

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Monday, June 02, 2014

Men hold Russian (R) and Soviet Union flags in Simferopol's Lenin Square on March 16, 2014. Polls opened yesterday for a referendum on the peninsula of Crimea. (FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty)

On today’s show: Historian Serhii Plokhy argues that disagreements between Russia and Ukraine played a major role in the collapse of the Soviet Union. Cellist Alisa Weilerstein, who’s been called one of the greatest classical musicians of her generation, on playing at the New York Philharmonic’s Biennial. Smith Henderson talks about his latest novel, Fourth of July Creek. Kenneth Vogel tells how American politics came to be dominated by very rich people with rather outsized personalities.

The Final Days of the Soviet Union

The narrative that the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War was linked to the triumph of democratic values over communism has persisted in American public discourse for decades, but a prize-winning historian says the collapse didn’t have much to do with the United States.

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Cellist Alisa Weilerstein

She discusses performing at the New York Philharmonic’s Biennial on June 6.

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Smith Henderson's Novel Fourth of July Creek

PEN prize-winning writer Smith Henderson discusses his new novel, Fourth of July Creek. After trying to help Benjamin Pearl, an undernourished, nearly feral 11-year-old boy living in the Montana wilderness, social worker Pete Snow comes face to face with the boy's profoundly disturbed father, Jeremiah, a paranoid survivalist waiting for the coming End Times.

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The Ultra-Rich Hijacking American Politics

Politico reporter Kenneth Vogel on how millionaires and billionaires became "the new kings of politics." 

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Guest Picks: Alisa Weilerstein

Alisa Weilerstein was on the Leonard Lopate Show recently to talk about her upcoming performance as part of the New York Philharmonic's Biennial. She also told us that she's a fan of Venezuelan baseball. Find out what else the cellist is a fan of! 


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