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Biography

The Leonard Lopate Show

The Life and Work of Spencer Tracy

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

James Curtis describes the life and work of the actor Spencer Tracy, one of the most revered screen actors of his generation, considered by many to be the actor’s actor. Spencer Tracy: A Biography looks at Tracy’s career, his Catholicism, his devoted relationship to his wife, his drinking that got him into so much trouble, and his 26-year-long bond with his partner on-screen and off, Katharine Hepburn.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

George Harrison: Living in the Material World

Friday, November 04, 2011

George Harrison’s widow Olivia Harrison talks about his life, from his guitar-obsessed boyhood in Liverpool to his astonishing Beatles years to his days as an independent musician, movie producer, and bohemian squire. George Harrison: Living in the Material World  includes a record of Harrison’s deep interest in Indian music, a trove of photographs, and stories and reminiscences from Harrison’s friends, including Eric Clapton, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and others.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Death of Alexander the Great and the War for Crown and Empire

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Classicist James Romm tells the story of Alexander the Great, who united his empire and his army by the force of his will. His death at age 32 spelled the end of that unity, and Romm focuses on the dramatic saga of the empire’s collapse in his book Ghosts on the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great and the War for Crown and Empire.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

October's Book: Cleopatra: A Life, by Stacy Schiff

Monday, October 31, 2011

Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Stacy Schiff joins us to talk about Cleopatra: A Life. Famous long before she was notorious, Cleopatra is remembered in history for all the wrong reasons. Relying on classical sources, Schiff separates fact from fiction to rescue the magnetic queen whose death brought forth a new world order. She recreates the world that Cleopatra lived in, rich in political and sexual intrigue, and draws a vivid portrait of her as a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator. She had children with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, two of the most prominent Romans of the day—and she and Antony attempted to forge a new empire, an alliance that spelled both their ends.

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The Takeaway

Gilad Sharon on His Father's Legacy and Israel's Future

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ariel Sharon served as Israel's prime minister from 2001 to 2006, but Sharon's long career in public service began with Israel’s War of Independence in 1948. Sharon suffered a stroke in 2006, leaving him in a coma-like state. While he is now immobilized, Ariel Sharon leaves a legacy that will no doubt affect his country for decades to come. 

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The Takeaway

New Book Explores the Legacy of Steve Jobs

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Walter Isaacson's highly anticipated new biography on Steve Jobs hit book shelves this week and reveals layers of a man most of us never knew. The book has kept Jobs in the global conversation and Howard Rheingold, visiting lecturer in Stanford University's Department of Communications and author of the book, "Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution," shares with us what he believes is missing from the conversation about Steve Jobs that all of us should know.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Stan Musial: An American Life

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sports reporter George Vecsey talks about the life and career of baseball great Stan Musial. Stan Musial: An American Life looks at how this great player, considered one of the greatest hitters in baseball history, is still underrated and often overlooked despite his 3,630 career hits, three World Series titles, and 17 major league records.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Journals of Spalding Gray

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nell Casey discusses putting together The Journals of Spalding Gray. Culled from more than 5,000 pages and including interviews with friends, colleagues, and family, the book paints a haunting portrait of a creative genius. Gray writes about his childhood; his craving for success; the downtown New York arts scene of the 1970s; his love affairs, marriages and fatherhood; his travels, and his passion for the theater.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Life and Opinions of Papa Jo Jones

Friday, October 07, 2011

Paul Devlin talks about the jazz drummer Papa Jo Jones. Rifftide: The Life and Opinions of Papa Jo Jones presents Papa Jo’s Jones inimitable life and opinions, as originally told by Jones to jazz historian and novelist Albert Murray over the course of eight years, beginning in 1977. Devlin has transcribed, arranged, and written the book’s introduction.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Story of Economic Genius

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sylvia Nasar talks about the birth of modern economics, and how it rescued mankind from squalor and deprivation. In Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius Nasar looks at the role of Charles Dickens and Henry Mayhew in bringing to light the conditions of the poor majority in mid-19th-century London, the richest city in the world. She describes how activist thinkers—from Marx, Engels, Alfred Marshall, Beatrice and Sydney Webb, and the American Irving Fisher to John Maynard Keynes and American economists Paul Samuelson and Milton Freedman to India’s Amartya Sen—transformed the world.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin

Monday, September 19, 2011

Joe McGinniss talks about his controversial investigation of Sarah Palin as an individual, politician, and cultural phenomenon. The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin is based on his on-the-ground reporting and looks into Alaska’s political and business affairs and Palin’s political, personal, and family life to explain her beliefs, attitudes, and outlook, and influence.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Comic book artist Joann Sfar discusses directing his first feature film, “Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life.” He interprets the life of 1960s singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg (né Lucien Ginsburg to Russian-Jewish parents), beginning with his childhood years in Nazi-occupied Paris, then depicts his early years as a painter and jazz musician, and his life as a wildly popular performer, notorious bon vivant, and lover of some of the world's most glamorous women. “Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life” opens August 31 at Film Forum.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

John A. Farrell discusses the life of America’s legendary defense attorney and progressive hero, Clarence Darrow. His biography, Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned draws on previously unpublished correspondence and memoirs to offer a candid account of Darrow’s life—from his divorce and affairs to his feud with his law partner, Edgar Lee Masters to his controversial cases: from the landmark Pullman Strike case to the Scopes “Monkey Trial.”

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Ethan Allen

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Willard Sterne Randall tells about the life of the largely unexamined Founding Father Ethan Allen. His new biography, Ethan Allen: His Life and Times, chronicles Allen’s upward struggle from precocious adolescent to commander of the largest American paramilitary force on the eve of the Revolution. The book also examines his time as British prisoner-of-war and his role in gaining Vermont statehood.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Life of Ayrton Senna

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Director Asif Kapadia talks about his new documentary film “Senna,” about the Brazilian race car driver Ayrton Senna. The film spans the racing legend’s years as an F1 driver, from his opening season in 1984 to his untimely death a decade later, using footage drawn from F1 archives, much of it never before seen. “Senna” opens August 12 at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Life of President Obama’s Father

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sally Jacobs discusses the life and influence of Barack Obama Sr., father of President Obama. He was a brilliant economist, a polygamist, an alcoholic, and an ardent African nationalist unafraid to speak out. The Other Barack: The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama’s Father  illuminates Obama Sr.’s complicated life, from his upbringing in Kenya to his time at Harvard and Hawaii, and shows him as a man motivated by the dream of a better world.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness

Friday, July 08, 2011

Filmmaker Joseph Dorman discusses his film “Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness,” a portrait of the great writer who created an entirely new form of literature and whose stories became the basis of the Broadway musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” Sholem Aleichem captured a Jewish world in crisis and on the cusp of profound change, and he helped create a new modern Jewish identity. “Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness” opens July 8 at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Louis Armstrong’s Later Years

Friday, June 24, 2011

Jazz scholar and musician Ricky Riccardi discusses the remarkable final 25 years of Louis Armstrong’s life and art. What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong’s Later Years takes an in-depth look at his music in the years after World War II until his death in 1971, when Armstrong recorded his highest-charting hits, including “Mack the Knife” and “Hello, Dolly!”; collaborated with Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, and Dave Brubeck, among others; and toured the world.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Nom de Plume

Friday, June 24, 2011

Carmela Ciuraru tells the fascinating stories behind more than a dozen pseudonyms across centuries and cultures. She looks at the creative process and the darker, sometimes crippling aspects of fame. Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms is part detective story, part exposé, part literary history, and a psychological meditation on identity and creativity. Ciuraru looks at the people behind the pen names of Lewis Carroll, the Brontë sisters, George Sand, and others.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Deana Martin on the Legendary Dean Martin

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Deana Martin talks about her father, the legendary entertainer Dean Martin. The newly released DVD box set “The Best of the Dean Martin Variety Show” features hundreds of guest segments, sketches and musical performances from the show, which ran on NBC from 1965 to 1974, and included guests such as: Orson Welles, Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Duke Ellington, Rodney Dangerfield, George Burns, Tony Bennett, The Andrews Sisters, and Woody Allen. A hardcover book and 2-CD collection titled Cool Then, Cool Now and two collections of Dean Martin’s music, “Classic Dino: The Best Of Dean Martin” and a re-release of the Platinum-certified “Dino: The Essential Dean Martin” are forthcoming.

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