Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt are experts in what makes democracies healthy — and what leads to their collapse. They warn that American democracy is in trouble. Ken Tucker reviews Charli XCX’s album ‘Pop 2,’ and book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews ‘The Perfect Nanny,’ by award-winning Moroccan-French author Leïla Slimani.
The Netflix series ‘The Crown,’ now in its second season, centers on a young Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family. Creator Peter Morgan talks about how he works with a team of researchers to reconstruct history, and how he takes creative liberties. Also, TV critic David Bianculli discusses the comeback of the anthology series. Finally, we speak with Melba Pattillo Beals. In 1957 she was part of the “Little Rock Nine,” a group students chosen by the NAACP to integrate a high school after the Supreme Court declared school segregation unconstitutional. She shares her experience being tormented and bullied by white students. Her new book is ‘I Will Not Fear.’
Frank, who died this week, created the radio drama series ‘Work in Progress’ and was known for his intimate on-air monologues, sketches, and interviews. He spoke with Terry Gross in 1989. Also, we talk with Daniel Ellsberg. He leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press in 1971, in hopes they would help end the Vietnam War. He is portrayed in the new film ‘The Post.’ Film critic David Edelstein reviews the documentary ‘The Final Year,’ which follows President Obama’s foreign policy team as the presidency comes to an end.
Christian Picciolini spent eight years as a member of a violent, white power skinhead group. He eventually withdrew and co-founded a nonprofit to help extremists disengage. His new book is ‘White American Youth.’
Medical journalist Jeanne Lenzer warns that implanted medical devices are approved with far less scrutiny and testing than pharmaceutical drugs. As a result, she says, some have caused harm and even death. “Walmart tracks heads of lettuce they have on a shelf at any given time. They know how many they have to replace. They can track those a lot better than we’re tracking medical devices implanted in people,” Lenzer says. Her new book is ‘The Danger Within Us.’ Also, TV critic David Bianculli discusses the comeback of the anthology series.
The Netflix series, now in its second season, centers on a young Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family. One of the figures in the series is Elizabeth’s uncle, the former King Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne in 1936 and was ostracized by the family. “What we have here is a fantastic family saga,” Morgan says. “And no family is complete without an embarrassing uncle, and [Edward] is the ultimate embarrassing uncle.” Morgan also wrote the screenplays for the films ‘Frost/Nixon’ and ‘The Queen.’ Also, John Powers reviews the second installment of ‘American Crime Story’ with ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace.’
In 1957, three years after the Supreme Court declared segregated schools unconstitutional, nine black students were chosen by the NAACP to try to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. The students were met by an angry white mob, and it took the presence of federal troops to get them into class. One of the students was Melba Pattillo Beals. She’s written a new book called ‘I Will Not Fear,’ about her childhood. Also, film critic David Edelstein reviews ‘In The Fade.’
Actress and writer Lena Waithe made history as the first black woman to win an Emmy for outstanding comedy writing, for her work on Aziz Ansari's Netflix series 'Master of None.' Now she's lending her voice to a new Showtime series, 'The Chi,' set in the South Side Chicago. Also, John Powers reviews ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,’ a Golden Globe award-winning series on Amazon. Co-directors and co-writers Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina spent six years creating their Pixar film ‘Coco,’ about the Day of the Dead, the Mexican holiday on which the living remember their deceased loved ones.
Holmes' HBO show 'Crashing' is based on his real life, after his wife left him and he struggled to find his voice onstage. He grew up a devout Christian and says he saw himself as a "Good Boy" comic, not cursing or talking about sex in the early years of his career. "I was basically picturing [Jesus] in the back of the club." Holmes spoke with Terry Gross in 2017. ‘Crashing’ is back for a second season. Also, TV critic David Bianculli reviews the new David Letterman Netflix series ‘My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.’
Waithe made history as the first black woman to win an Emmy for outstanding comedy writing, for her work on Aziz Ansari’s Netflix series ‘Master of None.’ Now she’s lending her voice to a new Showtime series, ‘The Chi,’ set in the South Side Chicago.
Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina spent six years creating their animated film about the Day of the Dead, the Mexican holiday on which the living remember their deceased loved ones. The movie is about how the dead remain alive in our hearts as long as we keep them in our memories and tell their stories. ‘Coco’ just won the Golden Globe for Best Animated Film. Also, classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz reviews a collection of live recordings from soprano Maria Callas.
Banks left a six-figure salary as an engineer to pursue her dream of owning an auto shop. She went to technical school, worked for free, and in 2016 she opened Girls Auto Clinic. Her auto shop is staffed with women mechanics, and caters to female customers. Her new book is ‘Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide.’ Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews ‘The Largesse of the Sea,’ a book of short stories by the late writer Denis Johnson.
‘Vox’ drug policy reporter German Lopez details the scope of the opioid epidemic. There were nearly 64,000 lethal drug overdoses in 2016. “To put that in context, that’s more than gun deaths. That’s more than car crashes. It’s more than HIV/AIDS during the peak of that epidemic,” Lopez says. Also, WHYY criminal justice reporter Bobby Allyn talks about the safe injection site being considered in Philadelphia.
Neuroscientist Joseph Jebelli says, "Just the last few years alone have seen some serious breakthroughs in Alzheimer's research.” His new book is 'The Pursuit of Memory.' Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews ‘Face Your Fear,’ an album by singer-songwriter Curtis Harding. Also, ’Vanity Fair' editor-at-large Cullen Murphy talks about growing up the son of a cartoonist. His father, John Cullen Murphy, drew the popular Prince Valiant strip, which Murphy eventually wrote for 14 years. His new memoir is 'Cartoon County.'
‘Get Out’ tells the story of a young black man whose white girlfriend takes him to meet her parents for the first time. Writer-director Jordan Peele, who calls the movie a “social thriller,” says, “It was very important to me to just get the entire audience in touch in some way with the fears inherent [in] being black in this country,” Peele says. The film is nominated for two Golden Globes. Also, we remember jazz trombonist Roswell Rudd, who died last month. He spoke with Terry Gross in 2002.
Neal Katyal wrote the special counsel regulations when he worked for the Clinton administration. He lays out the legal issues that could arise if Trump tries to interfere with the Mueller investigation. Also rock critic Ken Tucker reviews a new box set of Louisiana Hayride performances from the ‘50s.
‘New Yorker’ staff writer Evan Osnos talks about how China learned to use President Trump to its advantage. He says that as the president withdraws the U.S. from commitments around the globe, strategists in Beijing see an opening. Osnos also explains why China's president thinks flattery is the way to win over Trump.
"Just the last few years alone have seen some serious breakthroughs in Alzheimer's research," neuroscientist Joseph Jebelli says. His new book is ‘The Pursuit of Memory.’ Book critic Maureen Corrigan shares an appreciation of "alphabet" mystery writer Sue Grafton, who died last week. We’ll also hear an excerpt of her 1989 interview with Terry Gross.
Our Best of 2017 series comes to an end with actor Jonathan Groff. He stars in the Netflix series 'Mindhunter' as an FBI agent trying to understand the minds of serial killers. He played King George III in Broadway's 'Hamilton,' had a recurring role on 'Glee,' and did the voice of iceman Kristoff in 'Frozen.'
Nashville singer-songwriter Margo Price pawned her wedding ring — and her husband sold their car — to pay for the recording studio to make her 2016 debut album, 'Midwest Farmer's Daughter.' Now she's released her second album, 'All American Made,' an overtly political and feminist record that grapples with the current political climate. Book critic Maureen Corrigan shares her list of the best books of 2017. Also, therapist Esther Perel has spent the past six years focusing on couples who are dealing with infidelity. "It's never been easier to cheat — and it's never been more difficult to keep a secret," she says. Her new book is 'The State of Affairs.'
Our Best of 2017 series continues with ’Daily Show' correspondent Hasan Minhaj. He describes himself as a "third-culture kid" who doesn't fully belong in either the world of his parents or that of his hometown of Davis, Calif. Also we’ll hear from ‘Late Night’ host Seth Meyers. He spent spent 13 years at 'Saturday Night Live,' first as a performer, then as head writer and the co-host of 'Weekend Update.' He talks about political satire in the Trump era and being a comedian without demons.
Our Best of 2017 series continues with best-selling novelist John Le Carré. The 85-year-old writer is familiar with the moral tension inherent to working in the espionage community: "I felt I had to suppress my humanity," Le Carre says of his time as a spy. His latest book is 'A Legacy of Spies.' Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews an album from Marta Sánchez’s quintet.
As 2017 comes to a close, we're listening back to some of our favorite interviews from this year. After the sudden death of his wife in April 2016, comic Patton Oswalt felt his life slipping away. He talks about grief, returning to comedy, and falling in love again. His new Netflix special is 'Patton Oswalt: Annihilation.'
Smith, who died Saturday, was discovered by bandleader Louis Prima as a teenager. She later married Prima, and the two became a popular Las Vegas lounge act. She spoke with Terry Gross in 2000. Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a new album from trombonist Roswell Rudd, and film critic David Edelstein reviews Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film ‘Phantom Thread,’ starring Daniel Day-Lewis.