Do Conservatives Have Heroes?

With Garland Tucker III

Yes, of course. and the list is a long one that does not begin and end with Edmund Burke. Here is a discussion from a few weeks ago with a thoughtful and well-informed historian (part-time) who has done a fine book about fourteen particular American conservatives who, for him, help to define that political species.


The Craft of Lexicography

With John Morse and Erin McKean

Two makers of modern dictionaries discussed their always challenging task (decisions, decisions, decisions!) and the questions of why and how all languages are always  in the process of changing. The discussion dates back to 2003 and, to say the least,  our language has not stopped doing so.


The Dinosaurs of the American West

With Paul Sereno

Some of the earliest dinosaurs from which the later and larger ones evolved,  were found in the U.S. by Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago. Here he is in a discussion from 2004 telling us how he and his student assistants went about finding them and extracting them from the ground and (very important!) dating them.


The “Infamous Scribblers” of Early America

With Eric Burns
The term was used at the time to describe the leading journalists who  defamed Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams and Washington himself.  In 2006 Eric Burns did a detailed and fascinating book about them and about their temptation toward blackmail. Here he is in a memorable discussion  on the eve of the publication of his book and its startling revelations about just how low was the point from which American political journalism began.

Nikita Khrushchev as Seen by his Son

With Sergei Khrushchev

In 2000 we were joined by Sergei Khrushchev, Nikita’s son, who had by then become a professor at Brown University and had just  published a definitive volume on his father’s personal history and political career, his role in the Cold War and his ultimate fall from power. We were joined, in discussion with this fascinating guest, by John Bushnell, professor of Russian history at Northwestern University.


John Erlichman critiques Nixon

With John Erlichman

Shortly after he got out of prison (1977?)  Erlichman, central White House-and Watergate figure. came to chat and told us how, in his opinion, his boss Richard Nixon should have handled the whole affair once it was disclosed to the public. Here he is in a memorable excerpt.


The destruction of the whaleship Essex

With Nathanial Philbrick

In this program from fifteen years ago, Nathanial Philbrick, author of “In the Heart of the Sea,” recounts the true-life story that probably inspired Melville’s Moby Dick. The Essex, a whaleship out of Nantucket, was completely destroyed by the great sperm whale that it was pursuing  in the South Pacific about a thousand miles east of the Marquesas Islands.


Who was the “real” Adolph Eichmann?

With Neal Bascom

Despite his trial in Jerusalem and his subsequent execution, Eichmann, who was in charge of the Holocaust of European Jewry, remains an enigmatic figure. Was he merely a bureaucrat “following orders” or was he an enthusiastic mass-murderer? One of the best book-length studies of Eichmann was by Neal Bascom and here he is in a full discussion from 2009.