Thursday, October 29, 2015

Eric Bogosian tells of the plot that avenged the Armenian Genocide

Everything starts somewhere. Even very bad things.

Many of the tremors we face today had their roots in the Ottoman Empire, in the run up to the First World War.  In what’s come to be called the Armenian Genocide.

There we began to see the rise of Muslim extremism, the battle for post WWI borders in the Middle East, the plight of refugees, the competition between national and corporate interests, particularly big oil, the Israeli/Palestinian conundrum, and even acts of heroism in the face of seemingly improbable odds.  All of these things had their roots 100 years ago in the first genocide of the 20th century.

What we have forgotten is that for those that perpetrated it, there was a price to pay.  A small band of brothers set out to avenge the death of the million-plus people killed in that Armenian Genocide.

Now Eric Bogosian captures the essence of the story in Operation Nemesis: The Assassination Plot that Avenged the Armenian Genocide.

My conversation with Eric Bogosian:

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Can the under two hour marathon be accomplished?

This Sunday over 50,000 people will run in the NYC Marathon. For many participants, part of the appeal is to be part of something larger and more personal than a Facebook group. For others it’s about achieving a personal best. But for a much smaller group of elite marathon runners, it’s about what once seemed the impossible dream...breaking the two hour mark for the 26 miles through the streets of New York.

Why this goal is important, how long has it has hung over the sport and why is it now within reach?  All these questions and more are part of Ed Ceasar’s book Two Hours: The Quest to Run the Impossible Marathon.

My conversation with Ed Caesar:

Friday, October 23, 2015

Is Robin Cook afraid to go to the Hospital?

Most of us will go into the hospital at some point. When we do, we might be subject to anesthesia, even for a minor procedures. What goes on while we're asleep is, at least to the patient, a complete mystery.

At the same time, we look to the technology of medicine as the panacea to solve so many of our health problems. Yet when it goes wrong we get angry. Clearly, our emotional nexus with technology is out of balance with our intellectual understanding of it. In medicine, the price we pay, often with the simplest of procedures, is fear, alienation, confusion and a degree of appropriate paranoia.

Few understand this better than bestselling novelist Dr. Robin Cook. He has used this imbalance to scare the bejesus out of us in his book like Cell, Nano, Coma, Cure, and Fever. Now in his latest work, Host, he once again walks us through the cost benefit analysis of medical technology falling into the wrong hands.

My conversation with Robin Cook:

Thursday, October 22, 2015

How Frederick Forsyth's real life exceeded his expectations

In the movie Broadcast News, written my James L Brooks, William Hurt asks his colleague, “what do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?” Aaron Altman, played by Albert Brooks tells him, “keep it to yourself.”

Bestselling author Frederick Forsyth, has had a life that has far exceeded his own expectations. But instead of keeping it to himself, he has used it as the basis for fifteen books that have thrilled us, delighted us and taken us to places and situations that we may only dream about, but that Frederick Forsyth has touched. He tells all in his memoir The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue.

My conversation with Frederick Forsyth:

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Sanitized Death from Above

In the desire to go to war, there is always the effort to sanitize warfare. Shock and Awe, Death from Above, are all about disconnecting man from the faces on the ground. It’s also about how the decisions are made to go to war. It's always easier when it's less about committing blood and treasure and more about technological prowess.

Drones or Remote Piloted Aircraft are perhaps the ultimate manifestation of this attitude. A kid in Kansas or Nevada sits at controls and drones not only see the world, but have the potential to apply remote control and sanitized devastation.

These drones are here to stay. They are now a key part of the modern military and of counter-terrorism.   Lt. Col. Mark McCurley in Hunter Killer: Inside America's Unmanned Air War,
provides us a unique look at this key elements of military policies that didn't even exist 20 years ago.

My conversation with Mark McCurley:

Monday, October 12, 2015

Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government

Before Dick Cheney, before Homeland Security, even before the Cold War itself, there existed forces within the US Government bent on shaping their own agenda for personal political gain, financial gain and perhaps worst of all, out of a self serving righteous belief in privilege and its exercise of power.

During the dark days of WWII, Allen Dulles would would begin building, a national security apparatus, which would become centered at the the CIA, and which would grow exponentially during the Cold War and would ultimately expand its tentacle into to almost every aspect of American government. Even if it meant short circuiting the the key instruments of America’s democratic institutions.

Now, with the help of recently released government documents, and personal diaries, investigative journalist David Talbot exposes Dulles and some of the CIA darkest secrets in The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government

My conversation with David Talbot:

Syria Burning

The US seems to be giving up on training Syrian rebels. The Russians continue the bombing of ISIS targets, even while some of their missiles land in Iran. Refugees continue to flee from Syria. All while ISIS continues on the march, Palestinian protests turn more violent. The cauldron that is the Middle East continues to bubble.

For a real and contemporaneous perspective we turn to author, journalist, esteemed Middle East foreign correspondent Charles Glass.

My conversation with Charles Glass:

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Is the country even worse off than it seems?

As a nation we have often faced existential crisis. The Civil War, the onset of the industrial revolution, the robber barons, the great depression, McCarthyism, the struggle for racial equality, assassination and the changes of the 60’s

Each time, polarization and the depth of the crisis has led many to believe that the country would not survive in it’s current form. And yet it has.

Today we face a similar time. Extremism is rampant, nativism has shown its ugly head, the economic divided threatens a new kind of civil war, racial tensions have flared, law enforcement is often unchecked, faith in the nation's operating system is at an all time low.

Is this time different? Or just another of those crisis which we will come through even stronger. Or, as NY Times columnist David Brooks has said, will the laws of gravity simply return?

My guest Andrew Schmookler believe that many of us do not fully understand nor appreciate or see what we are up against today. He makes his care in his new book What We're Up Against: The Destructive Force at Work in Our World - and How We Can Defeat It.

My conversation with Andrew Schmookler:

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Detroit once symbolized America

Every great city has it’s defining era. Not always good, but certainly one that shapes its fortunes and reinforces its place in the urban pantheon. For New York it was perhaps the 50s, for Paris the mid 1920s, for San Francisco the ‘60s and for Hollywood, certainly the 1930s.

For Detroit, the eighteen months from the fall of 1962, through the spring 1964 marked perhaps the apogee and the beginning of the downward arc of that once great city.

A city that came to personify the American experience in the second half of the 20th century. Detroit at the time was the epicenter of music, racial strife, labor and of a middle class that now seems a bygone dream.

Capturing that moment is Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist, and Washington Post Associate Editor David Maraniss. He captures the essence of this period in Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story.

My conversation with David Maraniss:

Monday, October 5, 2015

A Not So Random Walk Through L.A.

The lyrics say that “nobody walks in L.A.” That certainly has been true, in a city whose inhabitants were long hermetically sealed inside their if in a pneumatic tube shuttling from place to pace. L.A. was for a long time, a place where as John Didion said, “the entire quality of life accentuates it impermanence and unreliability.”

Today’s Los Angeles is a vastly different place. A city of neighborhoods and of Freeways; a city both urban and suburban, a kind of hybrid that sits at the cutting edge America’s movement toward cities, while still trying to hang on to its suburban trappings.

In short, L.A. just might be some kind of cultural or urban capital o
f the 21st century

Few appreciate and understand the city more than former L.A. Times book editor David Ulin. His new book is Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles.

My conversation with David Ulin:

Friday, October 2, 2015

War of the Whales: An environmental adventure story

We all know the old bromide that you can’t fight City Hall. Well imagine how tough it must be to take on the US Navy.  Especially if the cause is about the condition of whales, and those who are fighting are an environmental lawyer and a Navy whistleblower.

Many of you have probably heard parts of this story, in news reports and on 60 Minutes. But now Joshua Horwitz, in his book War of the Whales: A True Story tells the full story of this David vs. Goliath battle, of the military industrial complex vs. environment.

My conversation with Joshua Horwitz: