Profiles

Tuesday on RadioWest, we're telling the strange story of an 18th century experiment in education. Thomas Day was a wealthy poet and philosopher who ran in all the right circles, but he also dressed terribly, could hijack a conversation and had extreme ideas about women, even for the time. Not surprisingly, he didn't have a lot of luck with the ladies … so he decided the only way to find a mate was to train her himself. Journalist and author Wendy Moore joins guest host Elaine Clark to talk about her book How to Create the Perfect Wife.

Few figures of America's westward expansion loom larger than Davy Crockett. True, that's due in part to Disney's larger-than-life portrayal of the “King of the Wild Frontier,” but he was actually a legend in his own time, too. In a new book about Crockett, the writer Bob Thompson chronicles the frontier legend's life and legacy, from his humble beginnings in eastern Tennessee, to his days as a celebrity politician, and of course his heroic death at the Alamo. Thompson joins us on Monday recount both the reality and the myth of Crockett's life.

Reykjavik

Jun 21, 2013

Monday, Doug sits down with author Richard Rhodes, one of the foremost historians on the nuclear age. Rhodes is in town for a reading of his play "Reykjavik." It's about the 1986 summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, when Russia and the US began the process of reducing their nuclear arsenals. Rhodes says he was dazzled at the richness of the debate that went on between the two men and writing a play was a chance to reveal what happened behind closed doors. We'll talk about that meeting and its legacy today.

We Steal Secrets

Jun 10, 2013

Army Private Bradley Manning recently went on trial in military court for turning over thousands of classified documents to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. It was the largest security breach in US history. The filmmaker Alex Gibney profiles Manning and Wikileaks’ enigmatic founder Julian Assange in a new documentary, We Steal Secrets. It explores the peculiar nature of whistleblowers and also that of the Internet: a free-information machine for the public, but a spying machine for governments. Gibney joins us Tuesday.

Bunker Hill

Jun 7, 2013

Monday, Doug is joined by author and historian Nathaniel Philbrick for a grassroots look at the American Revolution. His new book takes to the streets of Boston during the British occupation of 1775 and follows the merchants, farmers, artisans and sailors – the vigilantes and the sober citizens on their march towards rebellion. The tension climaxed in June with the Battle of Bunker Hill. It was the bloodiest engagement of the war and the moment, Philbrick says, that set the course for Revolution.

Wednesday, Doug is joined by biographer Neal Thompson for a look at the strange and brilliant life of Robert "Believe It Or Not!" Ripley. Thompson says the message from Ripley's body of work – cartoons, books, radio programs, lectures and museums – is that he loved the underdog.  Ripley himself had been an awkward and outcast kid, but he was also curious and adventurous. We'll talk to Thompson about how Ripley built a media empire while feeding the public's hunger for the bizarre.

Constitution USA

May 27, 2013

Tuesday, PBS wraps up its series "Constitution USA," with NPR's own Peter Sagal. Of course, you wouldn't expect a stodgy documentary from the host of the irreverent news quiz "Wait, Wait … Don't Tell Me." Sagal traveled around the country on a very red, white and blue Harley to learn stories of how our founding document affects peoples' lives. He joins Doug to talk about how the Constitution doesn't answer all our political questions, but it is the framework for having disputes without killing each other.

We Refused to Die

May 24, 2013

In 1942 the Japanese army forced about 70,000 US and Philippino prisoners of war to march some 80 miles across the Bataan Peninsula on the way to a prison camp. More than 10,000 died or were summarily executed along the way. Among the survivors was Gene Jacobsen - who published a book about the ordeal. Jacobsen died in 2007 at the age of 85. Today, we're rebroadcasting his story of three and a half years as a prisoner of war. (Rebroadcast)

The First Muslim

May 16, 2013

The journalist Lesley Hazleton says that early sources on the prophet Muhammad are infuriatingly vague. He’s described as “neither tall nor short,” “neither dark nor fair,” and “neither thin nor stout.” Hazleton, a longtime Middle East reporter and an agnostic Jew, wanted to understand the man whose legacy continues to shape our world. Her biography is called “The First Muslim,” and she joins Doug to explain how a man from humble beginnings rose to be the voice and leader of his people. (Rebroadcast)

Josh Hanagarne stands 6 feet 7 inches tall and can bend horseshoes with his bare hands. He has Tourette’s syndrome and is given to noisy verbal tics. It may seem unlikely, but Hanagarne is also a librarian at Salt Lake City’s Main Library. The job fuels his inner bookworm. It also compels him to consistently maintain silence and self-control. Hanagarne has written a memoir about his struggles with the physical and mental challenges of Tourette’s, and he joins us on Thursday to talk about it.

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