Society And Culture
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Singer-songwriter and producer Butch Walker talks about his experiences in the music business—from the greed, booze, and drugs to the infighting, swindles, and unfulfilled promises. In Drinking with Strangers: Music Lessons from a Teenage Bullet Belt, he documents his own rise to the middle of the charts and describes the delicate balance between success and selling out.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
John Summers, the editor of The Baffler, discusses the American critic and writer Dwight Macdonald, an uncompromising contrarian, a passionate polemicist, an anarchist, and a pacifist. Summers assembled new selection of Macdonald’s finest essays, Masscult and Midcult Essays Against the American Grain. It shows Dwight Macdonald as a critic of America’s susceptibility to cultural fakery—he dubbed this phenomenon “Midcult” and he attacked it on aesthetic and on political grounds.
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
The seemingly endless stream of news about war, crime, and terrorism, might make us believe we live in the most violent age ever seen. But Steven Pinker, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, explains that just the opposite is true: violence has been diminishing for millennia. In The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined he looks at human nature, psychology, and history to explain how this has happened.
Monday, October 03, 2011
Lisa Randall explains the latest developments in physics that have the potential to radically change our understanding of the world—its makeup, its evolution, and the fundamental forces that drive it. In Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World she explores the role of risk, creativity, uncertainty, beauty, and truth in scientific thinking through conversations with leading figures in other fields (such as the chef David Chang, the forecaster Nate Silver, and the screenwriter Scott Derrickson). She also explains the latest ideas in physics and cosmology.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Born in St. Kitts and brought up in the UK, Caryl Phillips has written about and explored the experience of migration for more than 30 years through his novels, plays, and essays. In Color Me English: Thought About Migrations and Belonging Before and After 9/11 he reflects on the shifting notions of race, culture, and belonging before and after the September 11 attacks.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Commentator and journalist Touré tackles what it means to be Black in America today, at a time when racial attitudes have become more complicated and nuanced than ever before. In Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?: What It Means to Be Black Now he examines the concept of “Post-Blackness” and tells how race and racial expectations have shaped his own life and the lives of luminaries such as Reverend Jesse Jackson, Cornel West, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Malcolm Gladwell, Kara Walker, Soledad O'Brien, and Chuck D.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Calvin Trillin, New Yorker staff writer and The Nation’s deadline poet, talks about his latest book of collected works, Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of Funny Stuff. He cover topics from the literary life to the horrors of witnessing a voodoo economics ceremony and the mystery of how his mother managed for thirty years to feed her family nothing but leftovers.
Monday, September 05, 2011
Christopher Turner talks about science, sex, and postwar America. In Adventures in the Orgasmatron: How the Sexual Revolution Came to America, Turner tells the story of the orgone box—which was thought to elevate one’s “orgastic potential”—and its creator, Wilhelm Reich, a psychoanalyst and disaffected disciple of Freud who brought his theories of sexual energy to America during World War II.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Richard White talks about how the transcontinental railroads transformed the nation in the late 19th century. His book Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America focuses on railroads as the first corporate behemoths, and how their attempts to generate profits from proliferating debt sparked devastating panics in the U.S. economy. The railroads also remade the landscape of the West and opened new worlds of work and ways of life.
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.”
Friday, August 26, 2011
Harvard professor of law Randall Kennedy looks at racial politics and the Obama presidency, and examines the complex relationship between the first black president and his African-American constituency. The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency explores the nature of racial opposition to Obama, whether Obama has a singular responsibility to African Americans, the challenges posed by the dream of a post-racial society, and cultural biases.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Chris Hedges, senior fellow at the Nation Institute, former foreign correspondent for the New York Times, and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, discusses his two decades of experience as a war correspondent, and examines the American empire at home and abroad. The World as It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress looks at the constant struggle with the nature of war and its impact on human civilization.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Pleasure works in mysterious ways, and Paul Bloom, professor of psychology at Yale University, looks at what we desire and why. In How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like Bloom investigates pleasures of all kinds—noble and seamy, lofty and mundane.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Marianne LaFrance, an expert in nonverbal communication, discusses the science of smiles and their extraordinary social impact. Lip Service: Smiles in Life, Death, Trust, Lies, Work, Memory, Sex, and Politics draws on her research and the latest studies in psychology, medicine, anthropology, biology, and computer science to explore the science behind the smile, revealing that this familiar expression is not as simple as it may seem.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Award-winning investigative journalist Eliza Griswold talks about the tenth parallel—the line of latitude 700 miles north of the equator—the geographical and ideological front line where Christianity and Islam collide. In The Tenth Parallel Griswold looks at Nigeria, the Sudan, Somalia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines—places where religious conflicts are also conflicts about land, water, oil, and other natural resources, and where local and tribal issues are often shaped by religious ideas.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Charles Mann explains how Christopher Columbus changed the world when he set foot in the Americas, setting off a series of vast ecological changes as European vessels carried thousands of species across the oceans. 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, is a new history of the Columbian Exchange, the reason there are tomatoes in Italy, oranges in Florida, chocolates in Switzerland, and chili peppers in Thailand, and explains how earthworms, mosquitoes, and cockroaches; honeybees, dandelions, and African grasses; bacteria, fungi, and viruses; and rats were moved across the globe, changing lives and landscapes.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Ina Lipkowitz explains how English food words tell a remarkable story about the evolution of our language and culinary history. Words to Eat By: Five Foods and the Culinary History of the English Language explores the stories behind five of our most basic food words, and shows the role of French and Italian names in the English culinary vocabulary as well as the Old English origins of many common food words like meat, bread, apple, and milk.
Friday, August 05, 2011
Jane Borden talks about becoming an unusual hybrid: hipster-debutante. Raised in a proper Southern home in Greensboro, North Carolina, she hid her gentile upbringing when she moved to New York City. In her memoir I Totally Meant to Do That, she muses on the intersections of and altercations between Southern hospitality and New York cool.
Friday, August 05, 2011
David Wallace talks about how New York City became the cultural and financial capital of the world during the 1920s, an era of social, economic, and cultural prosperity that forever changed the way people lived. Capital of the World: A Portrait of New York City in the Roaring Twenties paints a portrait of the city in this dizzying time—a period that saw Prohibition, the rise of the Mafia, the birth of radio, the beginnings of gossip as a business, and the flourishing jazz age.
Monday, August 01, 2011
Gully Wells discusses her memoir of her mother and stepfather—Dee Wells, the glamorous and rebellious American journalist, and A. J. Ayer, the celebrated and worldly Oxford philosopher. In The House in France, she tells of their lively lives, at the center of the intellectual circle of the 1960s, and the family’s old farmhouse in France, where her parents and their friends came together every year, and where Gully herself learned some of the enduring lessons of a life well lived.