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History

Civil Rights Turmoil In Verse: Retelling Medgar Evers' Story

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Turn Me Loose captures the life and death of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, through poetry. The collection of poems is told in the imagined voices of the people in Evers' life, including his killer. Author Frank X Walker shares how he tried to connect readers to one of America's most volatile times.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The High-Flying History of Superman

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Larry Tye tells the history of Superman, who after 75 years remains one of America’s most enduring heroes. In Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero, Tye looks at the history of the Man of Steel and also of the creators, designers, owners, and performers who made him the icon he is today.

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NYPR Archives & Preservation

Concert Pianist Irene Jacobi: WNYC American Music Festival, 1943

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

At the height of World War II, WNYC invited concert pianist Irene Jacobi and her husband, composer Frederick Jacobi, to perform some of his works for the station's fourth annual American Music Festival.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Benjamin Franklin, who wrote more letters to his sister than he wrote to anyone else, was the original American self-made man; his sister spent her life caring for her 12 children. Historian Jill Lepore shows that Benjamin Franklin’s youngest sister was, like her brother, a passionate reader, a gifted writer, and an astonishingly shrewd political commentator. Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin brings Jane Franklin to life in a way that illuminates not only one woman but an entire world.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Chinese Revolution 1945-1957

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Frank Dikötter chronicles Mao Zedong’s ascension and his campaign to transform the Chinese into what the party called New People. Due to the secrecy surrounding the country’s records, little has been known before now about the eight years preceding the massive famine and Great Leap Forward. In The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution 1945-1957, Dikötter draws on hundreds of previously classified documents, secret police reports, unexpurgated versions of leadership speeches, eyewitness accounts of those who survived to reveal the horrific policies they implemented in the name of progress.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Moral Tribes; Ann Patchett on Her Memoir; Mao Changed China; Ben Franklin's Sister

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Neuroscientist Joshua Green explains how human brains have evolved to deal with the conditions of our modern societies. Ann Patchett discusses writing and relationships in her new memoir, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. We’ll look at the rise of Mao Zedong and his attempts to transform the Chinese into “The New People” at whatever cost. Historian Jill Lepore introduces us to Benjamin Franklin’s sister Jane, who was a gifted writer and a shrewd political commentator.

The Extraordinary Story Of Why A 'Cakewalk' Wasn't Always Easy

Monday, December 23, 2013

We call something that is easily done a "cakewalk." But why? The surprising answer dates back to a dance popular among slaves and plantation owners in the pre-Civil War South.

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A Jew And A Latino Walk Into A Recording Studio...

Saturday, December 21, 2013

It's an era of music that has faded from memory, but some say it's an integral part of American history: Latin-Jewish music in the mid-20th century. Steve Berlin of Chicano band Los Lobos says if this were the soundtrack to his Hebrew school experience, he would have never dropped out.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Gold: A History

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Matthew Hart explores humans' long love affair with gold. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the price of gold skyrocketed—in three years more than doubling from $800 an ounce to $1900. This spike drove a global gold-mining and exploration boom bigger than the Gold Rush of the 1800s. In Gold: The Race for the World’s Most Seductive Metal, Hart tells how gold became the world’s most precious commodity. 

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NYPR Archives & Preservation

William Orton Tewson - WNYC Literary Critic (1928-1934)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

W. O. Tewson was an editor and literary critic heard regularly on WNYC between March, 1928 and September, 1934 discussing literature and books. He wrote for The New York Times, Hearst newspapers, and was the editor of The New York Evening Post's literary review.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Life and Times of the Chelsea Hotel

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Since its founding by a visionary French architect in 1884, the Chelsea Hotel has been an icon of American culture—and counterculture. In Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York’s Legendary Chelsea HotelSherill Tippins tells the entertaining history of the Chelsea and of the  artists who have lived and created there, including Edgar Lee Masters, Thomas Wolfe, Dylan Thomas, Arthur Miller, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol, Sam Shepard, Sid Vicious, and Dee Dee Ramone.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed Free Speech in America

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Thomas Healy reveals how the Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes became a free‑speech advocate and established the modern understanding of the First Amendment. A lifelong skeptic, Holmes disdained all individual rights, including the right to express one’s political views, but in 1919, he wrote a dissenting opinion that would become the canonical affirmation of free speech in the United States. The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind—and Changed the History of Free Speech in America is a remarkable behind-the-scenes campaign by a group of progressives to bring a legal icon around to their way of thinking.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Bloomberg and Climate Change; the Chelsea Hotel; Winter Solstice Celebration; Oliver Wendell Holmes and Free Speech

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

On todays show, we’ll look into Mayor Bloomberg’s legacy of climate change legislation. We’ll take you inside a legendary place where many artists have lived, loved (and even died), the Chelsea Hotel. Grammy-winning saxophonist, composer, and bandleader Paul Winter gives us a preview of his upcoming Winter Solstice Celebration. And Thomas Healy explains how Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes changed changed the history of free speech in America. 

Zoinks! Tracing The History Of 'Zombie' From Haiti To The CDC

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Zombies populate our books, graphic novels, movies and video games with race and slavery playing an unexpected role. Our national obsession with zombies dates back centuries and can be traced to Haiti. Code Switch examines how the word "zombie" was born and how it has taken a life of its own.

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In The Background: Art You May Never Notice

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Why that unassuming museum art — which you'll find behind taxidermic bison and birds — deserves a closer look.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Invention of the American Meal

Friday, December 13, 2013

Why did Americans abandoned a rustic, single mid-day meal for complex roasts, sides, desserts, and—increasingly—processed foods?

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TED Radio Hour

Does Language Bring Us Together Or Pull Us Apart?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Mark Pagel says early humans developed language as a tool to cooperate. But with thousands of different languages, Pagel says language also exists to prevent us from communicating outside our tribal groups.

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TED Radio Hour

How Does History Change The Meaning Of Words?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Etymologist Mark Forsyth shares the surprising back story on the term "president."

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The Takeaway

The Myth of Race & Its Historical Consequences

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Race is embedded the fabric of American culture, and racial categories and their implications persist today. In "A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race from the Colonial Era to Obama's America," Jacqueline Jones, professor of history at the University of Texas, Austin, argues against our continued use of racial categories—at least in the ways Americans have used these categories since the country's founding. 

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The Takeaway

Retro Report: The Exxon Valdez Disaster

Monday, December 09, 2013

This week our friends at Retro Report look back at a cold March night in 1989 when the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground off the coast of Southern Alaska, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil into the waters of Prince William Sound and creating one of the worst oil spills in American history. Scott Michels, reporter for Retro Report, joins The Takeaway to examine how the spill happened and what we did and didn't learn from the disaster.

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