Profiles

Memory's Last Breath

Jun 12, 2017

In 2010, Gerda Saunders learned that she has dementia. She was 61 years old at the time, and soon had to leave her post teaching at the University of Utah. So Gerda started writing what she calls her field notes on dementia. The result is a new memoir due out this week. We’ve been following Gerda over the last year with a series of short films documenting her journey, and Monday, Doug sits down to talk to her about her book. It’s called Memory’s Last Breath.

Matthew D. LaPlante, For the Deseret News

The homicide rate in El Salvador is 20 times higher than it is in the U.S., and nearly 5% of Salvadorans fled their county because of violence in 2016. Utah journalist Matthew LaPlante recently went to El Salvador to try and understand the impact of this on the nation’s children, and the desperation of many families to get their kids out. Wednesday, he joins us to talk about what he learned about life and survival in one of the world’s most dangerous places, and the risks of sending kids north.

Thomas Wirthlin McConkie is a descendent of two highly influential Mormon leaders.  And yet, his close ties to the LDS Church didn’t insulate him from questioning his faith. He left the church as a teenager and found spiritual fulfillment in Zen Buddhism. After almost 20 years, he returned to Mormonism, and he wants to help others navigate their own faith crises. McConkie joins us Monday to discuss how the tools of developmental psychology can help guide us through faith transitions.

Major James B Pond, University of Virginia Library, http://bit.ly/2a0uRqV

 

Friday, we’re telling the story of what author Richard Zacks calls Mark Twain’s “raucous and redemptive round-the-world comedy tour.” Twain was once America’s highest paid writer, but he was also a remarkably bad businessman. In 1895, with his career on the rocks and with what today would be millions in debt, Twain embarked on a 5-continent speaking tour he hoped would save him. Zacks joins Doug to talk about Twain’s wildly popular humor, his missteps, and what drove his quest for redemption. (Rebroadcast)

Casanova

May 12, 2017
Courtesy of personal collection / Bridgeman Images

The name Casanova is synonymous with seduction and sexuality. And while biographer Laurence Bergreen says that Giacomo Casanova’s favorite place was a brothel, it might surprise you that his second favorite was a library. The 18th century Venetian was born in poverty. He was intent on working up the social ladder though and saw sex as both pleasure and a “weapon of class destruction.” Bergreen joins Doug to talk about Casanova’s writing and philosophy … as well as his 120+ lovers. (Rebroadcast)

Phenomena

May 11, 2017

If you’re a skeptic, you’re going to be outraged by the “scientific projects” conducted by the U.S. government into mind reading and other paranormal phenomena. For more than 40 years the government hired magicians and hypnotists to try to figure out what the enemy was up to. Investigative journalist Annie Jacobsen’s latest book tells the story of this top secret program, and Thursday, she joins us to explain what would make people spend so much time, energy, and money on such strange ideas.

Public domain

“Few came so far, so fast, and so alone,” writes John Farrell in a new biography of President Richard Nixon. Nixon was an idealistic dreamer when he returned from World War II, and he quickly scaled the political ladder. After winning the presidency in 1969, he and his staff pursued progressive reforms and opened relations with China. But Nixon, says Farrell, had another, darker legacy: a divided and polarized America. Farrell joins us Monday to discuss Richard Nixon and the world he made.

Tuesday, we’re continuing our Through the Lens series with documentary director and editor Pedro Kos. His film Bending the Arc premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and it tells the story of doctors and activists on the front lines of a global health crisis. It profiles people like Paul Farmer who have to figure out how to heal patients with impossible afflictions in impossible conditions. We’re screening the film Wednesday night in partnership with the Utah Film Center.

American Heiress

May 1, 2017

Monday, our guest is author Jeffrey Toobin, who’s written a book about the 1974 kidnapping of Patty Hearst. Hearst was 19 and heir to her family’s fortune when the “Symbionese Liberation Army” took her, and it soon seemed that she had adopted their incoherent, revolutionary cause. We’ll explore the controversy over Hearst’s involvement in their crimes, the atmosphere that gave birth to the SLA, and why Toobin says the story sheds light on a time when America was on the brink of a nervous breakdown. (Rebroadcast)

Thursday, we’re broadcasting our conversation with Latina writer and activist Sandra Cisneros, who was in Utah as a guest of the Tanner Humanities Center. Her 1984 novel The House on Mango Street has become a staple of American literature, but Cisneros says that only the “right kind” of immigrant is welcome in this country. She was born in Chicago, but it’s taken her decades to find home. Cisneros joins us to talk about heritage, identity, and how stories can be a bridge between people.

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