Andrew Tilin, a journalist and amateur cyclist, wanted to write a story about a regular guy taking performance enhancing drugs. He was unable to find a citizen doper willing to come clean, so decided to become his story's subject. In his new book, Tilin details, with startling honesty, his amped-up and guilt-ridden year taking testosterone, competing in races and breaking USA Cycling rules. Doug talks with Tilin on Tuesday about the highs and lows of taking roids in pursuit of youthful vigor.

Friday, a conversation about Roald Dahl with his biographer and friend Donald Sturrock. Dahl is of course the creator of the children's classics "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "James and the Giant Peach," and his own life was as funny, dark and fascinating as the fictional worlds he created. We'll talk about his story and about his evolution as a storyteller. (Rebroadcast)

Library of Congress

Almost a century ago, labor icon Joe Hill was executed by firing squad for the murder of a Salt Lake grocer. His controversial conviction rested largely on two pieces of rickety evidence: the gunshot wound he sustained the night of the murder and the IWW membership card in his wallet. The writer Bill Adler has uncovered new evidence debunking the evidence against Hill. He'll join Doug on Wednesday to talk about his new book, The Man Who Never Died, and make the case for Hill's innocence.

Robert Gottlieb begins his biography of the legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt with something that should be fairly straight forward - her birth date. She was born, as he says, "in July or September or October of 1844. Or was it 1843? Or even 1841?" Gottlieb says Bernhardt wasn't really concerned about accuracy; she was much more interested in a good story. Monday, we're talking with Gottlieb about the fascinating life of Sarah Bernhardt - on and off the stage. (Rebroadcast)

Thursday, Doug is joined by journalist Jeff Sharlet for a conversation about his most recent foray into the world of American religious life. Sharlet's book is a collection of 13 essays that profile people on the fringes of religion - from a devoted evangelist to a Holocaust survivor and from a congregation of urban anarchists to a banjo player. Doug talks to Sharlet about the people he encountered and about the spectrum of America's faith and doubt.

Judge Thomas Buergenthal has said that when we talk about the Holocaust in numbers, the six million Jewish victims become a "mass of nameless, soulless bodies." And that's why he decided it was time to tell his story. Buergenthal has had a distinguished career as a scholar of human rights law and an international judge, but he's also one of the youngest survivors of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Thomas Buergenthal joins Doug to talk about his memoir A Lucky Child. (Rebroadcast)

Radiolab co-host Jad Abumrad is a genius. People in the radio business have known that for years. But last month he was certified when the MacArthur Foundation awarded him a "genius grant" for "bringing a distinct new aesthetic" to broadcast journalism by melding music and storytelling into a singular audio experience. Jad thinks public radio should be more chaotic, more joyous and more lifelike. On Thursday, Doug's talking with Jad to find out what goes on inside the mind of a radio genius.

Thursday, We're talking about the life and career of Robert Redford. Biographer Michael Feeney Callan says he became interested in Redford because the actor is more than just a pop icon. As much as he's recognized for his legendary film roles, he is also known for his environmental activism and his impact on filmmaking through The Sundance Institute. But for all that, Redford has remained an enigmatic figure. Callan joins us to talk about the man he came to know in 15 years of writing "Robert Redford." (Rebroadcast)

Tuesday, Doug talks to the scholar Nadja Durbach about the age of the freak show. She's written a book that examines the era when so called "freaks of nature" were marketed and displayed for paying customers - figures like The Elephant Man and Laloo the "Double-Bodied Hindoo Boy." Durbach's interest goes beyond the questions of taste and exploitation. She found that these displays revealed something deeper about body differences and the idea of otherness. (Rebroadcast)


Sep 9, 2011

Friday on RadioWest we're talking about the eccentric chess genius Bobby Fischer. Frank Brady is our guest; he knew Fischer and has written a biography that explores his life. In 1972 at the height of the cold war, Bobby Fischer became the world chess champion by defeating the Soviet Boris Spassky. His success created a phenomenon. He became a superstar. but then he practically disappeared. His life came to be dominated by paranoia and fanatacism. The book is called "Endgame". (Rebroadcast)