Past Shows

Reparations and the Wealth Gap

Forty acres and a mule was the promise made to black slaves, even before the Civil War was over. General Sherman of the Union Army drew up the plan, and Congress took a good look. ...

Return of the Prophet: Baldwin in the 21st Century

This week, we revisit our 2017 show on James Baldwin. James Baldwin was the prophetic voice of an era that isn’t over. Fifty years ago, he was a young, bug-eyed man from Harlem who wrote, in essays ...

Warrior Cops

Once upon a time in the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s, “community policing” came forth as the solution to a law-and-order problem. In 2020 hindsight, the road to our hellish crisis today of police ...

Deaths of Despair

The warning bell sounded in 2014: a down dip in the ever-rising American lifespan, which was 50 years, on average, in 1900, and up close to 80 years into the 21st century. Then something happened ...

Inequality and Injustice

“A Change is Gonna Come,” the songwriter put it: it was Sam Cooke, at a peak of the civil rights movement in 1964. And it is surely coming again, around the police murder of George ...

Reviving Reconstruction

We’re transfixed, all of us, looking at a collision of deadly viruses, racial hatred and a pandemic disease. Suddenly what commands attention is the black push-back, with a lot of white support, against an injustice ...

Moral Economics

John Maynard Keynes was a philosophical giant in twentieth-century England. In his day job, he was a public economist; in America he was a political football for the very idea of “deficit spending” to charge ...

Yo-Yo Ma’s Bach

The force of art to rescue a world breaking down; the power of music in particular to heal people one by one, perhaps all together: this was Yo-Yo Ma’s breathtaking mission for himself in his ...

Etcetera

May 21, 2018

Remembering Philip Roth

Our long, gabby afternoon with Philip Roth in 2006, at his farmhouse in Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut, was a sort of pay-off. I’d helped him find just the right Boston location for a scene in his ...
September 12, 2019

Tech-Master Disaster: Part One

The late Jeffrey Epstein stands for at least three levels of mystery: the man himself, a boastful sex offender, convicted of preying on under-age women; second, there’s his money machine and its unsavory connections with ...
May 11, 2017

JFK Turns 100

In John F. Kennedy’s hundredth birthday spring, we’re looking again at the family portrait we all know, by the painter Jamie Wyeth. His canvas summoned the late president as a ruddy sort of ghost, face aglow against deep ...
March 29, 2018

Van Morrison’s Cosmic Accident

In the annals of rock music albums, Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks is one of a kind. In an earthy medium, it’s a masterpiece of abstraction.  Indecipherable. Irresistible. Influential. Accidental, it seemed, from the first licks ...
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