Wed, 23 September 2015
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KGNU's Claudia Cragg talks here with Vicky Unwin on her latest book compiled from letters her mother, Sheila Mills. wrote during World War Two.
Vicky Unwin when writing it, had also faced the tragic and untimely loss of her daughter Louise, as well as a vicious diagnosis of a malignant sarcoma on her leg.
But with regard to Sheila Mills specifically, she came Unwin says "from a sheltered middle-class upbringing" before she joined the WRNS in 1940.
The working life of a women’s naval officer in World War II was a hard one. The discipline and trials of living and working as a "Wren" plunged her head first into a life of bed bugs, last minute travel, secrecy, and huge responsibility.
But while Sheila met with hard and exciting work during one of the world’s most dangerous conflicts, she also found love, friendship, fun, and the human spirit. Her fascinating encounters, assignments, events, and, of course, the many loves she found and lost, are all seen through her eyes in this lively collection of letters home.
The book itself, and this conversation with Vicky Unwin, both offer unique insight into the coming of age of a young girl in the 1940s, as well as into the intricacies of this mother-daughter relationship. Sheila’s letters have readers laughing—and crying—at the extraordinary life of a young girl who traveled all over the world and witnessed key events in the war.
Vicky Unwin's Vicky Goes Travelling blog.
Her Facebook page for Healthy Living with Cancer.
Mon, 10 August 2015
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In this interview Claudia Cragg, KGNU Radio Denver/Boulder, discusses Barbarian Days, that is, The New Yorker's William Finnegan’s memoir of an obsession, a complex enchantment. Surfing only looks like a sport. To initiates, it is something else entirely: a beautiful addiction, a demanding course of study, a morally dangerous pastime, a way of life.
Raised in California and Hawaii, Finnegan started surfing as a child. He has chased waves all over the world, wandering for years through the South Pacific, Australia, Asia, Africa.
A bookish boy, and then an excessively adventurous young man, he went on to become a distinguished writer and war reporter. Barbarian Days takes us deep into unfamiliar worlds, some of them right under our noses—off the coasts of New York and San Francisco. It immerses the reader in the edgy camaraderie of close male friendships annealed in challenging waves.
An exploration of the nexus that are his joint passions for surfing and writing, 'Barbarian Days. is an old-school adventure story, an intellectual autobiography, a social history, a literary road movie, and a tale of the gradual mastering of an exacting, little understood art. Today, Finnegan’s surfing life is undiminished. Frantically juggling work and family, he chases his enchantment through Long Island ice storms and obscure corners of Madagascar.
Finnegan has been a contributor to The New Yorker since 1984 and a staff writer since 1987. Reporting from Africa, Central America, South America, Europe, the Balkans, and Australia, as well as from the United States, he has twice received the John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Magazine Journalism and twice been a National Magazine Award finalist. His article “Deep East Texas” won the 1994 Edward M. Brecher Award for Achievement in the Field of Media; his article “The Unwanted” the Sidney Hillman Prize for Magazine Reporting. His report from Sudan, “The Invisible War,” won a Citation for Excellence from the Overseas Press Club, and he received the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism for “Leasing the Rain.” His article “The Countertraffickers” won the Overseas Press Club’s Madeline Dane Ross Award for International Reporting, and his report from Mexico, “Silver or Lead,” won the Overseas Press Club’s Robert Spiers Benjamin Award. Finnegan is the author of five books: “Crossing the Line,” which was selected by the New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best nonfiction books of the year; “Dateline Soweto”; “A Complicated War”; “Cold New World: Growing Up in a Harder Country,” which was a finalist for the Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism; “Barbarian Days,” his latest.
Thu, 9 July 2015
KGNU's Claudia Cragg (@KGNUClaudia) speaks here with Nicole Aschoff, an Editor at Jacobin (@jacobinmag), on how severe environmental degradation, breathtaking inequality, and increasing alienation are pushing capitalism against its own contradictions. Myth making, says Aschoff, has become as central to sustaining our economy as profit-making. But, going forward, that need not necessarily be the case.
As outlined in Aschoff's new book, there are 'The New Prophets of Capital': Sheryl Sandberg (c.f. Yahoo) touting the capitalist work ethic as the antidote to gender inequality; John Mackey (c.f. Whole Foods) promising that free markets will heal the planet; Oprah Winfrey urging us to find solutions to poverty and alienation within ourselves; and Bill and Melinda Gates offering the generosity of the 1 percent as the answer to a persistent, systemic inequality. The new prophets of capital buttress an exploitative system, even as the cracks grow more visible.
Mon, 1 June 2015
KGNU's Claudia Cragg speaks here with professor and author, Rosemary Sullivan about her latest book, Svetlana Alliluyeva. As 'Stalin's Daughter', she spent her youth inside the Kremlin as her father's power soared along with that of the Soviet Union. Eighty-five years later, she died alone and penniless in rural Wisconsin as Lana Peters. Revealed here for the first time, the many lives of Joseph Stalin's daughter form a riveting portrait of a woman who fled halfway around the world to escape her birthright.
Svetlana was protected from the mass starvation and murder that her father inflicted upon Soviet citizens, but she was not immune to tragedy. She lost almost everyone she loved, including her mother, who committed suicide, and her father's merciless purges claimed the lives of aunts and uncles, and her lover, who was exiled to Siberia.
After her father's death, Svetlana discovered the extent of his cruelty. Balking at the control the Kremlin still exerted over her life, she shocked the world by defecting to the United States at the height of the Cold War—leaving behind two children. However, in America Svetlana found only more heartbreak. For a time, Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin community, overseen by his controversial third wife, Olgivanna, formed a second family for her; Svetlana married Wesley Peters, a member of the inner circle, and they had a child. But Olgivanna manipulated their friendship for financial gain, and the marriage disintegrated. No matter how much distance she put between her past and her present, she could not undo the emotional and psychological damage her father had wrought.
With access to FBI, CIA, and Russian State Archives and with the close cooperation of Svetlana's daughter, Rosemary Sullivan has created a masterly biography that is epic in scope yet narrated with remarkable intimacy. 'Stalin's Daughter' deftly places Svetlana in a broader context of time and place, without losing sight of her powerfully human story. In the process, this multifaceted narrative reveals the heart of a brutal world and offers an unprecedented look at its mastermind.
Thu, 7 May 2015
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In this interview, KGNU's Claudia Cragg talks with Benjamin Hedin who set out to look for the Civil Rights movement. Hedin wanted to find the movement in its contemporary guise which, he says, which also meant answering the critical question of what happened to it after the 1960s. In his new book (In Search of the Movement: City Lights) he profiles legendary figures like John Lewis, Robert Moses, and Julian Bond, and also visits with contemporary leaders such as William Barber II and the staff of the Dream Defenders. But just as powerful—and instructional—are the stories of those whose work goes unrecorded, the organizers and teachers who make all the rest possible.
In March of 1965, Martin Luther King led thousands in an epic march from Selma, Alabama to the state capital in Montgomery, in what is often seen as the culminating moment of the Civil Rights movement. The Voting Rights Act was signed into law that year, and with Jim Crow eradicated, and schools being desegregated, the movement had supposedly come to an end. America would go on to record its story as an historic success.
Recently, however, the New York Times featured an article that described the reversion of Little Rock's schools to all-black or all-white. The next day, the paper printed a story about a small town in Alabama where African Americans were being denied access to the polls. Massive demonstrations in cities across the country protest the killing of black men by police, while we celebrate a series of 50th-anniversary commemorations of the signature events of the Civil Rights movement. In such a time it is important to ask: In the last fifty years, has America progressed on matters of race, or are we stalled—or even moving backward?
In the pages of Hedin's book, the movement is portrayed as never before, as a vibrant tradition of activism that remains in our midst. In Search of the Movement is a fascinating meditation on the patterns of history, as well as an indelible look at the meaning and limits of American freedom.
(Benjamin Hedin has written for The New Yorker, Slate, The Nation, and The Chicago Tribune. He's the editor of Studio A: The Bob Dylan Reader, and the producer and author of a forthcoming documentary film, The Blues House.)
Thu, 23 April 2015
KGNU's Claudia Cragg speaks here with Judy Foreman on her book 'A Nation in Pain. The workis the product of extensive research. As Foreman writes in the book, “Over the last five years, I have interviewed nearly 200 scientists and physicians, as well as countless patients, a few lawyers, and a handful of government officials. I have amassed a roomful of books on pain and hundreds upon hundreds of scientific papers.” And with over 100 pages of references, Foreman’s research shows up on nearly every page.
But the book is also a product of personal struggle and perseverance. Foreman herself suffered from chronic pain, a fact which places her among 100 million other Americans, by our best estimates. The difference between Foreman and most others living with chronic pain: she has the standing, the access, and the talent to write a definitive monograph on the subject.
The book is organized by topic, with chapters dedicated in nearly-equal measure to both the phenomenon of pain and to pain’s treatment. Foreman also addresses ‘The Opioid Wars,’ an issue which casts a forlorn shadow over chronic pain discussions in this country. Some chapters, ‘The Genetics of Pain’ among them, lack general appeal. But this is just as well – the book is intended for a wide audience and its organization allows the reader to set his or her own agenda.
Thu, 23 April 2015
Drawing on the wisdom and experience of chefs, farmers and seed breeders around the world, Barber proposes a new definition for ethical and delicious eating.
Barber charts a bright path forward for eaters and chefs alike, daring everyone to imagine a future for our national cuisine that is as sustainable as it is delicious. He is the Chef of Blue Hill, a restaurant in Manhattan’s West Village, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, located within the nonprofit farm and education center, Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture. His opinions on food and agricultural policy have appeared in the New York Times, along with many other publications. Barber has received multiple James Beard awards including Best Chef: New York City (2006) and the country's Outstanding Chef (2009). In 2009 he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.
Thu, 2 April 2015
KGNU's Claudia Cragg speaks here with Wayne Koestenbaum to celebrate the new edition of his work on Andy Warhol. Unique, bizarre, and often controversial, Warhol in life and in death bridged the gap between high art and the ordinary, creating works that explored almost every artistic genre. From screenprinting and 'supermarket' art to oil paintings and photography, Warhol rocked the established art world, perhaps more so than any of his contemporaries. During the 1960s inside a studio in New York known as The Factory the birth of Pop Art took place at the hands of Andy Warhol, 'the Pied Piper' of New York's underground. His representations of Campbell's Soup cans, dollar bills, Brillo boxes, Marilyn Monroe and car crashes, epitomized the American popular culture of his age and constituted one of the most significant revolutions in the art world.
Koestenbaum is also widely known as a cultural critic for his books on Jackie Kennedy and opera: Jackie Under My Skin: Interpreting an Icon (FSG, 1995) and The Queen’s Throat: Opera, Homosexuality and the Mystery of Desire (Poseidon Books, 1993), which was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. His other books of criticism include My 1980s and Other Essays (FSG, 2013); The Anatomy of Harpo Marx (University of California Press, 2012); Cleavage: Essays on Sex, Stars, and Aesthetics (Ballantine Books, 2000); and Double Talk: The Erotics of Male Literary Collaboration (Routledge, 1989). He has also published several novels, including Humiliation(Picador, 2011) and Hotel Theory (Soft Skull Press, 2007).
Born in 1958, Wayne Koestenbaum attended Harvard University and received an MA in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD from Princeton University. After being named co-winner of the 1989 Discovery/The Nation poetry contest, he published his first collection of poetry, Ode to Anna Moffo and Other Poems (Persea, 1990), which was chosen as one of The Village Voice Literary Supplement’s “Favorite Books of 1990.”
His other books of poetry include Blue Stranger With Mosaic Background (Turtle Point Press, 2012); Best Selling Jewish Porn Films (Turtle Point Press, 2006); Model Homes (BOA Editions, 2004); The Milk of Inquiry (Persea, 1999); and Rhapsodies of A Repeat Offender (Persea, 1994).
Koestenbaum received a Whiting Writer’s Award in 1994 and taught in Yale’s English department from 1988 to 1996. He has taught painting at the Yale School of Art since 2003 and lives in New York City where he is a Distinguished Professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center
Thu, 2 April 2015
Poverty and inequality, says Scott Myers-Lipton, are at record levels. As he shows in his book, "Ending Extreme Inequality: an Economic Bill of Rights to Eliminate Poverty", there are today well over forty-seven million Americans live in poverty, while middle class incomes are in decline.
The top 20 percent now controls 89 percent of all wealth. These conditions have renewed demands for a new Economic Bill of Rights, an American idea proposed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Martin Luther King Jr. The new Economic Bill of Rights has a coherent plan and proclaims that all Americans have the right to a job, a living wage, a decent home, adequate medical care, a good education, and adequate protection from economic fears of unemployment, sickness, and old age.
Integrating the latest economic and social data, this new book explores each of these rights. Each chapter includes an analysis of the social problems surrounding each right, a historical overview of the attempts to implement these rights, and assessments of current solutions offered by citizens, community groups, and politicians. These contemporary, real-life solutions to inequality can inspire students and citizens to become involved and open pathways toward a more just society.
Thu, 19 March 2015
In this interview for KGNU Denver-Boulder's 'It's The Economy', former Congressman @BarneyFrank talks about his most recent book. "How did a disheveled, intellectually combative gay Jew with a thick accent become one of the most effective (and funniest) politicians of our time?"
Growing up in Bayonne, New Jersey, the 14-year-old Barney Frank made two vital discoveries about himself: he was attracted to government, and to men. He resolved to make a career out of the first attraction and to keep the second a secret. Now, sixty years later, his sexual orientation is widely accepted, while his belief in government is embattled.