Peter Hessler – “A Peace Corps Volunteer in China”

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River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze

Imagine arriving by boat in a rural town of 150,000 people where two rivers join in central China. Imagine being one of the first two Americans to live there in 50 years, and speaking very little Chinese. That is experience of Peter Hessler, the author of “River Town.”

Peter Hessler recommends “This Boy’s Life,” by Tobias Wolf.

Originally Broadcast: August 1, 2002

Eric Schlosser- “Do You Really Want to Eat That?”

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Fast food is what many people eat in America, and increasingly in other countries. It is advertised to be fun, tasty, and easily available. Americans spend more money annually on fast food than is spent on higher education.

Eric Schlosser is our guest in this archive edition.  He’s the author of Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Schlosser writes that it is not only what is served for human consumption that is the problem, but the art of mass-marketing to children through organized promotions and ads for the products—in school busses, hallways, and even bathroom stalls—has serious side effects on society.

Working conditions for employees at meat-packing plants and the resulting contamination of the product resulted in the July 19th, 2002 recall of 19 million pounds of beef. In addition to the acute health hazards of contamination, a fast food meal often contains more fat in one meal than the average person needs in a day.

I spoke with Eric Schlosser, the author of Fast Food Nation, in mid-summer 2002, we began with his description of the problem of excess fat in fast food.

Eric Schlosser is the author of Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. The book he recommends is “Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing,” by Ted Conover.

Joelle Fraser – Growing up Hippy

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The Territory of Men

“The Territory of Men” is an intimate self-expose written by Joelle Fraser, a former Mendocino Community College English teacher. Written as a series of short episodes and adventures, Joelle shares the life of a woman who was raised in the hippie life of the 70s, and now is an accomplished writer and teacher.

Joelle Fraser recommends “Last Stand,” by Richard Manning.

Originally Broadcast: July 30, 2002

Brad Newsham – “A Taxi Across America”

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Take me with you: Around the World Journey to Invite a Stranger Home

Have you ever made friends with someone from a place where you visited as a traveler? Have you ever wondered what it would be like for that person to visit you in your home and your surroundings? Well, that is what Brad Newsham did. He is the author of “Take Me With You: A Round The World Journey to Invite a Stranger Home.”

Brad Newsham recommends “Dangerous Beauty,” by Mark Ross.

Originally Broadcast: May 7, 2002

Tim Sanders – “A Silicon Valley ‘Secret’ of Success”

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Love is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends

Tim Sanders, the author of a “Love is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends,” is the Chief Solutions Officer at yahoo.com. Knowledge, network and compassion are the themes of his book and the basis for what he believes will bring most success in business.

Tim Sanders recommends “The Third Wave,” by Alvin Toffler.

Originally Broadcast: April 9, 2002

Randall Kennedy – “Can You Say This Word?”

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Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word

Few words in the English language have caused so much pain, hurt and emotion as the N-word. It is arguably the most consequential social insult in American history. The long history of the pejorative use of the N-word has given it an unusual power that extends to the judicial system, literature and social settings.

Randall Kennedy, a professor of Law at Harvard University Law School, is the author of “Nigger-the Strange Career of a Troublesome Word.”  His book chronicles the history of this word, in an effort to diffuse and neutralize it.

At the end of his book he writes, “There is much to be gained by allowing people all backgrounds to yank the N-word away from white supremacists to subvert its ugliest denotation, and to convert the N-work from a negative into a positive appellation.”

I spoke with Professor Randall Kennedy in the winter of 2002 while he was in California and asked him to begin our conversation by explaining this conclusion.

The book Randall Kennedy recommends in “The Negro in the American Revolution,” by Benjamin Quarles, written in 1961.

Originally Broadcast: March 19, 2002

Lynda Koolish, Ph.D. –”African American Writers”

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African American Writers: Portraits and Visions

The voice of a writer can be heard in words, and sometimes seen in the writer’s face. It is unusual to find both in a book in which the creator is both the author and the photographer. Lynda Koolish, our guest on this archive edition of Radio Curious, is a professor of African American literature at San Diego State University and an accomplished photographer. She is the author of a book entitled “African American Writers: Portraits and Visions” in which she reveals the visage of 59 African American writers along with a thumbnail biography and summation of each writer’s vision.

Lynda Koolish, Ph.D. recommends “Dien Cai Dau” and “Neon Vernacular” by Yusef Komunyakaa.

Originally Broadcast: February 19, 2002

“Ted Conover – A Prison Guard’s Story”

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Click here to begin listening to part 2. 

Have you ever wondered what it is like to work inside a prison? Well, Ted Conover, a non-fiction writer did, so he went to the New York Department of Corrections to ask if he could shadow a recruit at the New York State Corrections Academy. His request was quickly turned down. So, he decided to apply for a job as a prison officer, was accepted and attended the New York State Corrections Academy. As a result of his training, and working at Sing Sing prison in New York, he wrote “Newjack: Guarding at Sing Sing,” a book describing his experiences. This two-part program with Ted Conover was recorded in late June and early July 2001.

Ted Conover recommends “Crime and Punishment,” by by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and “Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond,” by Dennis Johnson.

Originally Broadcast: June 26, 2001 and July 3, 2001

“Dr. Jane M. Healy – Children Versus Television”

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Endangered Minds & Failure to Connect

It used to be that children would play with objects, be told or read stories, or perhaps listen to the radio during a significant portion of their early years. With the advent of television, videos and computers, that tactile and oral world is often left behind. Children who are frequently exposed to television, videos and computer games in the first seven years of life have been found to develop pathways in the brain that later are significantly deficient in reading, studying and socialization skills. Dr. Jane M Healy is an educational psychologist with expertise in developmental psychology, and specialist in the brain development of young children. Her recent books, “Endangered Minds,” and “Failure to Connect,” discuss how television, videos and computers affect the minds of children.

Dr. Jane M. Healy recommends “The Goddess in Older Women,” by Jean Bolden.

Originally Broadcast: May 9, 2001

“Kennedy, Randall — Can You Say This Word?”

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Few words in the English language have caused so much pain, hurt and emotion as the N-word. It is arguably the most consequential social insult in American history. The long history of the pejorative use of the N-word has given it an unusual power that extends to the judicial system, literature and social settings.

Randall Kennedy, a professor of Law at Harvard University Law School, is the author of “Nigger-the Strange Career of a Troublesome Word.”  His book chronicles the history of this word, in an effort to diffuse and neutralize it.

Originally Broadcast: March 19, 2002