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The Book Review

The world's top authors and critics join host Pamela Paul and editors at The New York Times Book Review to talk about the week's top books, what we're reading and what's going on in the literary world.

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  • 26.02.2021
    65 MB
    01:08:00
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    Lauren Oyler Talks About Deception Online

    Lauren Oyler’s debut novel, “Fake Accounts,” features a nameless narrator who discovers that her boyfriend has a secret life online, where he posts conspiracy theories. The novel is about that discovery, but also more broadly about how the time we spend online — especially on social media — transforms our personalities. “The book is about various modes of deceit or lying or misdirection, and the ways we deceive each other in various ways, both on the internet and off,” Oyler says on this week’s podcast. Stephen Kearse visits the podcast to discuss the work of Octavia Butler, who “committed her life,” as Kearse recently wrote , “to turning speculative fiction into a home for Black expression.” But despite Butler’s groundbreaking career, “I wouldn’t want to overstate how different she was,” Kearse says, “because she was very much interested in the things that golden age sci-fi authors were interested in — so, space travel and human extinction and aliens visiting. But I think her innovations were on the level of craft and even just concept. She saw alien stories as very connected to colonization. She saw time travel as escapist. She was able to think about how these tropes rely on certain ideas of privilege and access and really just dive in deeper.” Also on this week’s episode, Tina Jordan looks back at Book Review history during this year of its 125th anniversary; Elizabeth Harris has news from the publishing world ; and Dwight Garner asks questions of Pamela Paul, the editor of the Book review and the podcast’s host.

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  • 19.02.2021
    65 MB
    01:07:58
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    Writing About Illness Without Platitudes

    At 22 years old, Suleika Jaouad was a recent college graduate who had moved to Paris, looking forward to everything life might offer. Then she received a diagnosis of leukemia. In her new memoir, “Between Two Kingdoms,” Jaouad writes about the ensuing years. On this week’s podcast, she discusses her experience with the disease and her effort, in writing the book, to avoid the many platitudes that surround serious illness. “When you’re sick, you get bombarded with all kinds of bumper-sticker sayings,” she says. “You’re told to find the silver lining, that everything happens for a reason, or — the one that I hated the most — that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, because in my case it certainly felt like I had been given more than I could handle. So I was really focused on writing toward the silence and toward the shadows, and writing about the experiences that maybe aren’t as palatable but that, from my perspective, needed to be unveiled.” The Times’s comedy critic, Jason Zinoman, visits the podcast to discuss his favorite memoirs by comedians , including books by Harpo Marx, Joan Rivers and Tina Fey, and to discuss the genre as a whole. “The comedy memoir is the worst genre of book that I can’t get enough of,” Zinoman says. “I gobble up comedy memoirs, even though the vast, vast majority of them are terrible.” One reason for that, Zinoman says, is because “you don’t need to make a great book to become a best seller. It’s the same with political books; most books by politicians are bad because they don’t need to be good to be successful, and the same logic applies here.” Also on this week’s episode, Tina Jordan looks back at Book Review history during this year of its 125th anniversary; Alexandra Alter has news from the publishing world; and Gregory Cowles and John Williams talk about what people are reading. Pamela Paul is the host. Here are the books discussed in this week’s “What We’re Reading”: “Let Me Tell You What I Mean” by Joan Didion “Her First American” by Lore Segal “A Promised Land” by Barack Obama

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  • 12.02.2021
    59 MB
    01:01:42
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    This Land Is Whose Land?

    When Simon Winchester takes on a big subject, he takes on a big subject. His new book, “Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World,” travels through centuries and to places like Ukraine, New Zealand, Scotland, the United States and elsewhere. On this week’s podcast, he talks about the history of private land ownership and a few of the many aspects of this history that caught his attention. “The whole notion of trespass I find absolutely fascinating,” Winchester says. “There is this pervasive feeling — it’s not uniquely American, but it is powerfully American — that once you own it, you put up posted signs, you put up barbed wire, you put up fences, to keep people off. Because one of the five ‘bundle of rights,’ lawyers call it — when you buy land, you get these rights — is that you have an absolute right of law to exclude other people from your land. In Sweden, in Norway, in Denmark, you can’t do that.” The journalist Amelia Pang visits the podcast to talk about her new book, “Made in China,” in which she investigates the brutal system of forced labor that undergirds China’s booming export industry. She tells the story of one average American woman who bought a cheap Halloween decoration during a clearance sale after the holiday one year. “She didn’t really need it,” Pang says. “It actually sat in her storage for about two years before she remembered to open it. And so she was very shocked to find this SOS message written by the prisoner who had made this product when she finally opened it. It just goes to show the trivialness of a lot of the products that are made in these camps. In my book, I try to go into: Do we as Americans actually need so much of this stuff? And how much is our shopping habits and consumer culture contributing to factors that compel Chinese factories to outsource work to labor camps?” Also on this week’s episode, Tina Jordan looks back at Book Review history during this year of its 125th anniversary; Alexandra Alter has news from the publishing world; and Dwight Garner and Parul Sehgal talk about books they’ve recently reviewed and how they approach reading the classics. Pamela Paul is the host. Here are the books discussed by Times critics this week: “My Year Abroad” by Chang-rae Lee “Gay Bar” by Jeremy Atherton Lin

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  • 05.02.2021
    64 MB
    01:07:12
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    Chang-rae Lee on His New Novel: ‘It’s Kind of a Crazy Book.’

    Chang-rae Lee’s new novel, “My Year Abroad,” is his sixth. On this week’s podcast, Lee says that his readers might be surprised by it. “It’s kind of a crazy book, and particularly I think for people who know my work,” Lee says. “I’m sure my editor was surprised by what she got. I didn’t quite describe it the way it turned out.” The novel follows a New Jersey 20-year-old named Tiller, who is at loose ends, as he befriends a very successful Chinese entrepreneur. “They go traveling together,” Lee says. “They have what we might call business adventures, but those adventures get quite intense.” Maurice Chammah visits the podcast to talk about his densely reported first book, “Let the Lord Sort Them,” which is a history, as the subtitle has it, of “the rise and fall of the death penalty.” “One of the fascinating parts of researching this book was revisiting a time that I kind of dimly remembered when the death penalty had a role in the culture war pantheon, along with gun control and abortion,” Chammah says. “Starting around the year 2000, it feels like that was a high-water mark where something broke, and over the 20 years since, the death penalty has declined, both in the number of people who support it, but I think more importantly, in relevance. It’s less of a thing that people feel matters to their daily lives.” Also on this week’s episode, Tina Jordan looks back at Book Review history during this year of its 125th anniversary; Elizabeth A. Harris has news from the publishing world; and Tina Jordan and John Williams talk about what people are reading. Pamela Paul is the host. Here are the books discussed in this week’s “What We’re Reading”: The books of John le Carré “Read Me” by Leo Benedictus “Nine Perfect Strangers” by Liane Moriarty “Dear Child” by Romy Hausmann “Winterkeep” by Kristin Cashore

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  • 29.01.2021
    66 MB
    01:09:14
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    Navigating the Maze of Paying for College

    Ron Lieber’s new book, “The Price You Pay for College,” aims at helping families with, as the book’s subtitle puts it, the biggest financial decision they will ever make. Lieber, a personal financial columnist for The Times, visits the podcast this week to discuss it. Among other subjects, he addresses all the ways in which the price to attend a particular college can vary from student to student, similar to how the cost of seats on one airplane flight can vary. Michael J. Stephen visits the podcast to discuss his new book, “Breath Taking: The Power, Fragility, and Future of Our Extraordinary Lungs.” Stephen, a pulmonary expert at Thomas Jefferson University, talks about what we’ve learned about the lungs during the coronavirus crisis, and more generally about the wonders and perplexities of this organ. Also on this week’s episode, Alexandra Alter has news from the publishing world; and the Times’s critics talk about books they’ve recently reviewed. Pamela Paul is the host. Here are the books discussed by the critics this week: “The Lives of Lucian Freud: Fame, 1968-2011” by William Feaver “The Liar’s Dictionary” by Eley Williams “1984” by George Orwell

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  • 22.01.2021
    60 MB
    01:03:23
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    The Ethics of Adoption in America

    In “American Baby,” the veteran journalist Gabrielle Glaser tells the story of one mother and child, and also zooms out from there to consider the ethics of adoption in this country. Our reviewer, Lisa Belkin, calls the book “the most comprehensive and damning” account of the “growing realization that old-style adoption was not always what it seemed.” Glaser visits the podcast this week to talk about it. Kenneth R. Rosen visits the podcast to discuss his new book, “Troubled: The Failed Promise of America’s Behavioral Treatment Programs.” The book is an examination of the “tough-love industry” of wilderness camps and residential therapeutic programs for young people. Rosen himself, as a troubled teen, spent time at a few of these places, and his book strongly criticizes their methods. Also on this week’s episode, Alexandra Alter has news from the publishing world; and Gregory Cowles and Tina Jordan talk about what they’ve been reading. Pamela Paul is the host. Here are the books discussed in this week’s “What We’re Reading”: “Summer Cooking” by Elizabeth David “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro “The Soul of a New Machine” by Tracy Kidder “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson

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  • 15.01.2021
    61 MB
    01:03:55
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    James Comey and Truth in Government

    James Comey’s “Saving Justice,” arrives three years after his first book, “A Higher Loyalty.” Joe Klein reviews it for us , and visits the podcast this week to discuss, among other subjects, how the new book is different from the first. “It doesn’t differ very much at all, actually,” Klein says, “except for one thing: He rehearses all of the confrontations he had with Donald Trump in both books, but in the second book he places that in the context of the need for truth and transparency in government, which I think is a valuable thing. The book is a repetition of the first book, but it’s not an insignificant repetition because of the context that he’s now placed it in.” Elisabeth Egan, an editor at the Book Review, is on the podcast to discuss the latest selection for our monthly column Group Text: “A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself,” by Peter Ho Davies. “What I found especially compelling about this book in this moment, when we’re all still kind of confined to our houses,” Egan says, “is that it was very reassuring to read about parental worry in a moment when we’re all flying blind. But you have this worry with a lot of funny lines and funny observations about parenthood.” Also on this week’s episode, Alexandra Alter has news from the publishing world; and Parul Sehgal and Jennifer Szalai talk about books they’ve recently reviewed. Pamela Paul is the host. Here are the books discussed by the Times’s critics this week: “Kill Switch” by Adam Jentleson “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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  • 08.01.2021
    53 MB
    55:15
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    Charles Yu Talks About ‘Interior Chinatown’

    Charles Yu’s “Interior Chinatown,” which won the National Book Award for fiction in November, is a satire about Hollywood’s treatment of Asian-Americans. It features an actor named Willis Wu, who has a very small role in a TV show. On this week’s podcast, Yu, himself a writer for TV as well as a novelist, discusses the book and why he wrote it. David S. Brown visits the podcast to discuss his new biography of Henry Adams, “The Last American Aristocrat.” Adams was the great-grandson of John Adams, the grandson of John Quincy Adams and the author of “The Education of Henry Adams,” a posthumously published memoir that is widely considered one of the greatest nonfiction works of the 20th century. Also, Alexandra Alter answers questions from listeners about the publishing industry, and Gregory Cowles, John Williams and the show's host, Pamela Paul, discuss what they're reading. The books discussed on "What We're Reading" this week: “Just Like You” by Nick Hornby “The Watch Tower” by Elizabeth Harrower “The Last Million” by David Nasaw

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  • 01.01.2021
    55 MB
    58:16
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    Fareed Zakaria on Life After the Pandemic

    The author and CNN host Fareed Zakaria calls the coronavirus pandemic “the most transformative event of our lifetimes.” He says: “What has happened over the last 50 years is, we have gotten increasingly confident about the power of science and medicine, so we’ve kind of lost sight of the effect that something like a plague, a pandemic, has. And I think this was a mistake." The historian Margaret MacMillan visits the podcast to discuss her most recent book, “War: How Conflict Shaped Us,” one of the Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2020. MacMillan has written about specific wars in the past, but here she looks more broadly at the subject throughout human history, which led her to some new conclusions. “What I hadn’t really got involved in or really understood,” MacMillan says, “was the debate about whether war is something that’s biologically driven — are we condemned to war because of something that evolution has left us with, or is war the product of culture?” Also on this week’s episode, Gregory Cowles and John Williams talk about what they’re reading. Pamela Paul is the host.

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  • 25.12.2020
    70 MB
    01:13:38
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    The Listeners’ Episode: Editors and Critics Answer Your Questions

    We respond to questions about criticism, reading habits, favorite stories and more.

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  • 18.12.2020
    47 MB
    49:06
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    Agents of Change

    Kerri Greenidge discusses two books about African-Americans in the years before the Civil War, and Neal Gabler talks about “Catching the Wind,” his biography of Edward Kennedy.

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  • 11.12.2020
    57 MB
    01:00:12
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    Jo Nesbo Talks About 'The Kingdom'

    Nesbo discusses his latest novel, and David Michaelis talks about his new biography of Eleanor Roosevelt.

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  • 04.12.2020
    63 MB
    01:04:28
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    David Sedaris on a Career-Spanning Collection

    Sedaris talks about “The Best of Me” and his life as an essayist.

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  • 27.11.2020
    66 MB
    01:09:30
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    Talking About the 10 Best Books of 2020

    On a special episode of the podcast, taped live, editors from The New York Times Book Review discuss this year's outstanding fiction and nonfiction.

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  • 25.11.2020
    60 MB
    01:01:51
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    Joy Williams and Unique Views of America

    A.O. Scott talks about Williams’s fiction, and Nicholas Christakis discusses his new book about the coronavirus, “Apollo’s Arrow.”

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  • 25.11.2020
    48 MB
    49:21
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    David Byrne on Turning 'American Utopia' Into a Book

    Byrne talks about his work with the artist Maira Kalman on his latest book, and Brittany K. Barnett discusses "A Knock at Midnight."

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  • 12.11.2020
    49 MB
    50:27
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    The Birth of the Animal Rights Movement

    Ernest Freeberg talks about “A Traitor to His Species,” and the illustrator Christian Robinson discusses his career in picture books.

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  • 12.11.2020
    58 MB
    59:19
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    A Writing Career Among Trailblazing Music Stars

    Peter Guralnick talks about “Looking to Get Lost,” and Alex Ross discusses “Wagnerism.”

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  • 12.11.2020
    52 MB
    53:59
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    Real-Life Political Violence Fuels Fiction in ‘The Abstainer’

    Ian McGuire talks about his new novel, and Elisabeth Egan discusses Romy Hausmann’s “Dear Child.”

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  • 12.11.2020
    61 MB
    01:03:08
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    The Ottoman Empire’s Influence on the Present Day

    Alan Mikhail talks about “God’s Shadow,” and Benjamin Lorr discusses “The Secret Life of Groceries.”

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  • 12.11.2020
    61 MB
    01:03:17
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    The Fate of Refugees After World War II

    David Nasaw talks about “The Last Million,” and Carlos Lozada discusses “What Were We Thinking.”

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  • 12.11.2020
    63 MB
    01:05:00
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    Hari Kunzru on Writing ‘Red Pill’

    Kunzru talks about his new novel, and Ben Macintyre discusses “Agent Sonya,” his latest real-life tale of espionage.

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  • 12.11.2020
    65 MB
    01:06:39
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    C.I.A. Operatives in the Early Years of the Cold War

    Scott Anderson discusses “The Quiet Americans,” and Peter Baker and Susan Glasser talk about “The Man Who Ran Washington.”

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  • 12.11.2020
    58 MB
    59:47
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    Ayad Akhtar on Truth and Fiction

    Akhtar discusses "Homeland Elegies," and Marc Lacey talks about "Cry Havoc," by Michael Signer, and "The Violence Inside Us," by Chris Murphy.

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  • 12.11.2020
    56 MB
    57:49
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    Brian Stelter on Fox News and Reed Hastings on Netflix

    Stelter talks about "Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth" and Reed Hastings discusses "No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention."

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  • 12.11.2020
    56 MB
    57:25
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    Jeffrey Toobin on Writing About Trump

    Toobin talks about “True Crimes and Misdemeanors,” and Dayna Tortorici discusses Elena Ferrante’s “The Lying Life of Adults.”

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  • 12.11.2020
    56 MB
    57:49
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    Kurt Andersen on ‘Evil Geniuses’

    Andersen talks about his new book, and Lesley M.M. Blume discusses “Fallout.”

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  • 12.11.2020
    46 MB
    47:43
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    The Life of a Brilliant, Suffering Scientist

    Samanth Subramanian discusses “A Dominant Character,” his biography of J. B. S. Haldane, and Patrik Svensson talks about “The Book of Eels.”

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  • 12.11.2020
    60 MB
    01:02:20
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    The Fictional World of Edward P. Jones

    A.O. Scott talks about Jones’s work and the American experience, and Eric Jay Dolin discusses “A Furious Sky.”

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  • 12.11.2020
    54 MB
    55:16
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    Isabel Wilkerson Talks About 'Caste'

    Wilkerson describes the ideas about race in America that fuel her new book, and David Hill discusses “The Vapors.”

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  • 12.11.2020
    53 MB
    54:28
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    The 'Seductive Lure' of Authoritarianism

    Anne Applebaum discusses "Twilight of Democracy," and Barbara Demick talks about "Eat the Buddha."

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  • 12.11.2020
    51 MB
    51:58
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    The Yearning for the Unexplained

    Colin Dickey talks about “The Unidentified,” and Miles Harvey discusses “The King of Confidence.”

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  • 12.11.2020
    63 MB
    01:05:20
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    Newt Gingrich and the Start of an Era

    Julian E. Zelizer talks about "Burning Down the House," and Lacy Crawford talks about "Notes on a Silencing."

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  • 12.11.2020
    60 MB
    01:02:09
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    David Mitchell's Vast and Tangled Universe

    Daniel Mendelsohn discusses Mitchell's career and new novel, "Utopia Avenue," and Maria Konnikova talks about "The Biggest Bluff."

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  • 12.11.2020
    54 MB
    55:39
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    Jules Feiffer on His Long, Varied Career

    Feiffer talks about his new picture book and more, and Steve Inskeep discusses "Imperfect Union."

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  • 12.11.2020
    64 MB
    01:06:24
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    A Short Guide to 'The World'

    Richard Haass talks about his new primer on global affairs, and Abhrajyoti Chakraborty on new novels in translation.

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  • 12.11.2020
    58 MB
    59:48
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    André Leon Talley on 'The Chiffon Trenches'

    Talley talks about his new memoir; Claudia Rankine and Jericho Brown read new poems; and Megha Majumdar discusses her debut novel, "A Burning."

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  • 12.11.2020
    60 MB
    01:01:50
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    Stephen Fry on Reimagining the Greek Myths

    Stephen Fry

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  • 12.11.2020
    57 MB
    58:58
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    A.O. Scott on the Work of Wallace Stegner

    Scott discusses his first in a series of essays about American writers, and David Kamp talks about "Sunny Days: The Children’s Television Revolution That Changed America."

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  • 12.11.2020
    65 MB
    01:07:26
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    A Manhunt on the 17th Century’s High Seas

    Steven Johnson talks about “Enemy of All Mankind,” and Gilbert Cruz offers a guide to Stephen King’s work.

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  • 12.11.2020
    58 MB
    59:29
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    Immigration Reform, Past and Present

    Jia Lynn Yang talks about “One Mighty and Irresistible Tide,” and Judith Newman talks about books that help simplify life.

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  • 12.11.2020
    73 MB
    01:15:20
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    One Young Mother and the Homelessness Crisis

    Lauren Sandler talks about “This Is All I Got,” and Sarah Weinman discusses classic mysteries.

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  • 12.11.2020
    56 MB
    57:33
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    The Angry Children Are Our Future

    Lydia Millet talks about “A Children’s Bible,” and Barry Gewen discusses “The Inevitability of Tragedy.”

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  • 12.11.2020
    59 MB
    01:01:06
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    Lawrence Wright on Researching a (Fictional) Pandemic

    Wright talks about “The End of October,” and Dalia Sofer discusses “Man of My Time.”

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  • 12.11.2020
    49 MB
    49:59
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    The Great Alaska Quake of 1964

    Jon Mooallem talks about “This Is Chance!” and Elisabeth Egan discusses Charlie Mackesy’s “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.”

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  • 12.11.2020
    55 MB
    56:23
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    Samantha Irby Talks About ‘Wow, No Thank You’

    Irby on her new essay collection, and Jon Meacham discusses three books about leadership during times of crisis.

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  • 12.11.2020
    53 MB
    54:11
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    Robert Kolker Discusses 'Hidden Valley Road'

    Kolker talks about a large family beset by schizophrenia, and Elisabeth Egan discusses Lily King's "Writers & Lovers."

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  • 12.11.2020
    70 MB
    01:12:02
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    Parenting When the Family Is Locked Inside

    The clinical psychologist Lisa Damour discusses the specific challenges of raising children during the pandemic, and Dwight Garner asks Pamela Paul about putting together the Book Review.

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  • 12.11.2020
    53 MB
    54:05
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    From the Archives: Colson Whitehead and Jeffrey Toobin

    Whitehead discusses “The Underground Railroad,” and Toobin talks about “American Heiress.”

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  • 12.11.2020
    61 MB
    01:03:12
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    From the Archives: Robert Caro on How He Does It

    The acclaimed biographer of Lyndon Johnson and Robert Moses talks about his book “Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing.”

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