Jennifer Senior writes about how about children change the lives of their parents—for better, and sometimes for worse. She’s the author of All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood. Senior considers the impact of children on marriage, sex, work, friendships, and one’s sense of self. Her book draws on a wide variety of studies, surveys, social histories and interviews with parents. Then David Edelstein reviews Timbuktu, one of the five nominees in this year's Academy Award race for Best Foreign Language Film. It centers on the radical Islamist occupation of Mali.
Religion scholar Jack Miles edited the first ever Norton Anthology of World Religions. The anthology includes ancient and contemporary interpretations of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Daoism. Miles discusses primary texts, extremism and death. Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews Outline by Rachel Cusk, a novel about divorce that pushes back against convention -- not so much in its sentiment but in its form.
Why do teenagers behave like -- teenagers? We get an explanation from neuroscientist Dr. Frances Jensen, who says our brains are still maturing through our 20s and that the front part of the brain is the last to develop. "And what's in the front? Your frontal cortex and prefrontal cortex; these are the areas where we have insight, empathy, impulse control," she says. "Risk-taking behavior is suppressed by activity in your frontal lobes." Her new book is called The Teenage Brain. Also critic at large John Powers comments on the controversy surrounding American Sniper. He says the film isn't as simple as some people seem to think.
We talk to Kevin Howlett, the executive producer of The Beatles: On Air Live at the BBC Volume 2. The album is a collection of recordings of the Beatles performing originals, covers, and chatting with BBC hosts in the early '60s.
Veteran crime reporter Jill Leovy talks about the epidemic of unsolved murder cases in African American communities. Leovy, with a unit of LAPD homicide detectives, got to know the families of victims and saw the impact on a community besieged by crime, violence and witness intimidation. Her new book is called Ghettoside.
Also book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews Almost Famous Women, a collection of short stories about historical women with unruly lives.
Scientists believe the asteroid that caused the fifth extinction killed off the dinosaurs. This time we're the asteroid; the sixth is being caused by human behavior. Elizabeth Kolbert talks about her book, The Sixth Extinction – which is a finalist for the Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction and is out in paperback. Kolbert says amphibians are the world’s most endangered class of animals. Also heading toward extinction are “a quarter of all mammals, a fifth of all reptiles and a sixth of all birds.”
Also rock historian Ed Ward tells us about Cosimo Recording Studios – New Orleans’ only studio in the ‘60s. It made great records by Aaron Neville, Johnny Adams, Robert Parker and others.
Sportscaster Al Michaels says, "I've always felt that the game itself is pretty much a melody -- and I am there to provide the lyrics." He talks about how he became interested in sports, the hardest sport to announce, and the upcoming Super Bowl next weekend. Then, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews composer and French horn player Tom Varner's new album, Nine Surprises.