Profiles

Custer's Trials

Jan 11, 2016

Even in his lifetime, George Armstrong Custer was controversial. He was ambitious and flamboyant as well as courageous and talented. Though largely remembered for his death at the Little Bighorn, T.J. Stiles' paints a fuller picture of Custer's colorful and complicated life. Stiles says Custer lived at a “frontier in time.” He helped usher in the modern American era, but couldn't quite adapt to the modernity he helped create.  Stiles joins us Monday to talk about his new book "Custer's Trials."

Journalist Lesley Hazleton says that if you want to understand headlines from the Middle East today, you have to understand the story of Islam’s first civil war. When the prophet Muhammad died, factions in the young faith became embroiled in a succession crisis. The power grabs, violence, and political machinations resulted in the schism between Sunni and Shia. Tuesday, Hazleton joins Doug to tell the story of Islam’s sectarian divide and to explain how that history influences current events.

 

  Mary Norris has spent more than three decades in The New Yorker's copy editing department, maintaining the magazine’s high standards for grammar, punctuation, and style. In a new book, she shares her vast knowledge, good cheer, and sharp pencil with the rest of us. It’s partly a book of practical advice on language usage, and it also offers a peek inside the hallowed halls of one of the world’s most important publications. Norris joins us Wednesday to share what she's learned as a self-proclaimed "comma queen." [Rebroadcast]

Janis: Little Girl Blue

Janis Joplin is one of the most revered and iconic rock & roll singers of all time. She’s also a tragic and misunderstood performer who blazed new creative trails before she died in 1971 at age 27. Virtually every female rocker since claims Joplin as an influence. In a new documentary, filmmaker Amy Berg explores Joplin’s singular, complicated, but often beleaguered life. Berg joins us Monday to offer new understanding of a complex woman whose meteoric rise and sudden demise changed music forever.

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Olive Oatman was a 13-year-old Mormon pioneer when Yavapai Indians killed her family and enslaved her. She was traded to the Mohave, who tattooed her face and raised her as their own. After being ransomed and returned to white society, Oatman found herself caught between conflicting cultures. Her tattoo clashed with her pale complexion, marking her as both Mohave and European. Margot Mifflin has written a book about Oatman, and she joins us Wednesday to discuss Oatman's life as a cultural hybrid.

 


Monday, we’re telling the story of the incredible life and work of naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. At the turn of the 19th century, Humboldt trekked across Latin America, exploring rain forests, mapping rivers, and climbing volcanoes. The journey led him to a groundbreaking vision of nature and a prediction of human-induced climate change. Doug’s guest is historian Andrea Wulf, whose new book combines biography and science to remember the man she calls the father of the environmental movement.

 

Saturday, Doug sat down with Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked highly classified documents, setting off an intense debate about privacy and surveillance. Snowden, who joined us by way of video feed from Russia, has been hailed as a hero by some and labeled a traitor by others for his actions. Monday, we’re broadcasting our conversation about his early influences, his response to critics, his views on technology, and why he says surveillance does nothing to make us safer.

Poet Jacqueline Osherow was raised in Philadelphia, where she says Hebrew school instilled in her the idea that words really, really matter. She remembers listening to the Psalms, but it wasn’t until she came to Utah that she finally understood the passage, “I will lift my eyes to the mountains, where help will come.” Tuesday, the University of Utah professor of English and Creative Writing joins Doug to talk about poetry, Judaism, Italian art, and much more.

David McLain, 2006 http://www.davidmclain.com/

The writer Gretel Ehrlich first visited Greenland in 1993. She’s made many trips to the Arctic since then and she’s noticed the slow death of its ice. While the Arctic is remote, and perhaps distant from our everyday thoughts, Ehrlich says “what happens at the top of the world affects all of us.” It is Earth’s “natural air conditioner,” after all. Ehrlich is in Utah this week, and she joins us Wednesday to talk about the changing Arctic and her life spent writing about the natural world she loves.

At the center of author Richard Rubin’s latest book, The Last of the Doughboys, are several dozen extraordinary individuals, all more than a century old, all now passed away. They were the final survivors of the millions who made up the American forces that fought in World War I, 19th-century men and women living in the 21st century. Rubin’s book chronicles their remarkable stories and he joins us to to relate how the forgotten war and its forgotten veterans created the modern world. (Rebroadcast)

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