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Live at Politics and Prose

Readings and discussions featuring today's best authors, recorded live at Washington DC's famous Politics & Prose bookstore.

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Ocean Vuong: Live at Politics and Prose

Like the stunning poems of his collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, Vuong’s kaleidoscopic first novel speaks from the heart of multi-generational PTSD, charting the fate of a Vietnamese-American family struggling to settle into life in Hartford, Connecticut. Vuong frames his novel as a letter from Little Dog, a young gay writer, to his mother. The only one of his family fluent in English, Little Dog sees language as the key to belonging in America, and his determination to record all he knows of his relatives’ lives infuses his every word with life-or-death urgency. Along with stories of his mother and grandmother, he recounts his own coming-of-age as a gay man, becoming a moving elegy to his first lover—dead of an overdose at 22. Vuong is in conversation with Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis, Curator of Asian Pacific American Studies at the Smithsonian.https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9780525562023Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices


14 Jun 2019

Rank #1

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Ronan Farrow: Live at Politics and Prose

In a dramatic account of violence and espionage, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Ronan Farrow exposes serial abusers and a cabal of powerful interests hell-bent on covering up the truth, at any cost, in Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators.In 2017, a routine network television investigation led Ronan Farrow to a story only whispered about: one of Hollywood's most powerful producers was a predator, protected by fear, wealth, and a conspiracy of silence. As Farrow drew closer to the truth, shadowy operatives, from high-priced lawyers to elite war-hardened spies, mounted a secret campaign of intimidation, threatening his career, following his every move, and weaponizing an account of abuse in his own family. This is the untold story of the exotic tactics of surveillance and intimidation deployed by wealthy and connected men to threaten journalists, evade accountability, and silence victims of abuse. And it's the story of the women who risked everything to expose the truth and spark a global movement.Farrow is in conversation with Sunny Hostin, the Emmy-nominated co-host of The View. Over her decade long career that has included working at CNN, Sunny has brought clarity and context to some of the biggest stories of our time. She also hosts and executive produces Truth About Murder with Sunny Hostin on Investigation Discovery.https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9780316486637Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

1hr 7mins

25 Oct 2019

Rank #2

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John Carreyrou: Live at Politics and Prose

Theranos, founded in 2003 by nineteen-year-old wunderkind Elizabeth Holmes, promised to revolutionize blood testing by developing technologies to miniaturize samples and so make testing fast, easy, and inexpensive. It seemed too good to be true—and was, as Carreyrou, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Wall Street Journal reporter, revealed in a series of detailed articles. Undaunted by pressure from the company’s CEO and lawyers, Carreyrou raised enough doubts about Theranos policies, procedures, and promises that by 2015 Holmes and her corporation were being investigated by a host of medical authorities, investors, state attorneys general, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and others. Here Carreyrou recounts his riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron.https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9781524731656Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

1hr 11mins

29 Jun 2018

Rank #3

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Ta-Nehisi Coates: Live at Politics and Prose

The Water Dancer is a bracingly original vision of the world of slavery, written with the narrative force of a great adventure. Driven by Coates’ bold imagination and striking ability to bring readers deep into the interior lives of his brilliantly rendered characters, this is the story of America's oldest struggle—the struggle to tell the truth—from one of our most exciting thinkers and beautiful writers.Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage—and lost his mother and all memory of her when he was a child—but he is also gifted with a mysterious power. Hiram almost drowns when he crashes a carriage into a river, but is saved from the depths by a force he doesn't understand, a blue light that lifts him up and lands him a mile away. This strange brush with death forces a new urgency on Hiram's private rebellion. Spurred on by his improvised plantation family, Thena, his chosen mother, a woman of few words and many secrets, and Sophia, a young woman fighting her own war even as she and Hiram fall in love, he becomes determined to escape the only home he's ever known.Coates is in conversation with Ibram X. Kendi, author, historian, and the Founding Director of The Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University. He is the recipient of the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction for his book Stamped from the Beginning.https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9780399590597Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

1hr 14mins

18 Oct 2019

Rank #4

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David W. Blight: Live at Politics

Blight, the award-winning author of histories including American Oracle and Race and Reunion, is perhaps the foremost Frederick Douglass scholar at work today. He’s edited the annotated editions of Douglass’s first two autobiographies, and he draws on this close work and on newly discovered issues of Douglass’s newspapers and other documents for this definitive biography. An escaped slave, Douglass (1818-1895) became a leading abolitionist, an outstanding orator, and one of the most prominent literary figures of his time. Blight looks in detail at Douglass’s speeches and examines his complicated views of a country he both loved and severely criticized. He follows Douglass on his overseas lecture tours and illuminates the complicated thinking behind the three versions of Douglass’s autobiography. He also discusses Douglass’s two marriages, his relationships with members of his extended family, and parses his religious beliefs.https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9781416590316Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

1hr 11mins

2 Nov 2018

Rank #5

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Terrance Hayes: Live at Politics and Prose

Written during the first two hundred days of the Trump presidency, these charged sonnets mark “the umpteenth slump / In our humming democracy, a bumble bureaucracy.” Angry, sarcastic, and playful, Hayes explores, reinterprets, and riffs on the meanings of “American,” “assassin,” and “future.” Notable Americans he turns to include James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, and Toni Morrison, but he also has to reckon with “James Earl Ray Dylann Roof... /…George Zimmerman John Wilkes Booth.”  The author of acclaimed books including Hip Logic, How to Be Drawn, and the National Book Award-winning Lighthead, Hayes has consistently been one of the most innovative and technically accomplished poets, and here he brilliantly reinvents the Renaissance sonnet as a specifically “American sonnet that is part prison,/part panic closet …/that is part music box, part meat/grinder,” because, as he says, “when the wound/ is deep, the healing is heroic.”https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9780143133186Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices


27 Jul 2018

Rank #6

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Jia Tolentino: Live at Politics and Prose

Tolentino, a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2016, has quickly become one of the most exciting and authoritative critical voices of the millennial generation. Praised for her fierce intelligence, formidable mix of skepticism and optimism, and her lyrical, lucid prose, Tolentino has written on a wide range of social and cultural topics, from music and marriage to female empowerment and race in publishing. Her eagerly awaited book presents nine new essays that see through the hype and contradictions of contemporary life to show us a clearer picture of ourselves and our historical moment.Tolentino is in conversation with Kat Chow, reporter for NPR and founding member of Code Switch, currently working on a memoir about grief and identity forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing.https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9780525510543Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

1hr 4mins

23 Aug 2019

Rank #7

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Yanis Varoufakis: Live at Politics and Prose

In his eye-opening memoir, Adults in the Room, Varoufakis, Greece’s former Finance Minister, recounts his frustrating struggle to resolve Greece’s debt crisis without resorting to austerity measures. His book give us a valuable inside look at discussions with officials of the European Union and International Monetary Fund as well as with policy makers in Washington and other capitals. Founder of the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025, an international grassroots organization dedicated to restoring democracy to Europe, Varoufakis as a father is all too aware of the legacy today’s fraught economic policies will leave to the next generation. Couched as a series of fatherly letters, Talking to My Daughter about the Economy is an accessible primer on the history, elements, ideals, and problems of economics, including issues of inequality, climate change, and the chronic risk of global instability.https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9780374538057 https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9780374272364Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

1hr 7mins

1 Jun 2018

Rank #8

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Sarah Kendzior: Live at Politics and Prose

A scholar and journalist based in St. Louis, Kendzior was alert to the struggles of America’s disaffected heartland well before the 2016 election. Writing on income disparity, labor exploitation, racism, xenophobia, and other conditions of the post-employment economy, Kendzior so acutely identified the conditions that led to Trump’s victory that she’s been credited with being the first to predict it. Originally published in 2015 as an ebook, this collection of essays written for Al Jazeera English between 2012 and 2014 has been updated to reflect the transformation of the U.S. under the Trump administration, including considerations of authoritarian tactics, the media, voting rights, technology, and Russian interference. Throughout her penetrating critique, Kendzior reminds us that to solve our problems we must first discuss them openly and with compassion.https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9781250189998Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

1hr 2mins

25 May 2018

Rank #9

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Preet Bharara: Live at Politics and Prose

In Doing Justice, one-time federal prosecutor Preet Bharara uses case histories, personal experiences, and his own inviting writing and teaching style to show the thought process we need to best achieve truth and justice in our daily lives and within our society. Bharara has spent much of his life examining our legal system, pushing to make it better, and prosecuting those looking to subvert it; he believes in our system and knows it must be protected, but to do so, we must also acknowledge and allow for flaws in the system and in human nature. Ultimately, Doing Justice is an inspiring, thought-provoking, and entertaining book about the need to find the humanity in our legal system–and in our society.Bharara is in conversation with Bianna Golodryga, journalist and CNN contributor.https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9780525521129PREET BHARARA served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2009 to 2017. Bharara oversaw the investigation and litigation of all criminal and civil cases and supervised an office of more than two hundred Assistant U.S. Attorneys, who handled cases involving terrorism, narcotics and arms trafficking, financial and healthcare fraud, cybercrime, public corruption, gang violence, organized crime, and civil rights violations. In 2017, Bharara joined the NYU School of Law faculty as a Distinguished Scholar in Residence. He is the Executive Vice President of Some Spider Studios and the host of CAFE's Stay Tuned with Preet, a podcast focused on issues of justice and fairness. Bharara graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College and from Columbia Law School, where he was a member of the law review.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

1hr 20mins

26 Apr 2019

Rank #10

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Andrew McCabe: Live at Politics and Prose

McCabe started working at the FBI in 1996 and served in many capacities, from street agent on the Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force to leading the Counterterrorism Division, the National Security Branch, and the Washington Field Office as well as serving as the first director of the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group. Yet that estimable career came to a sudden end when Trump fired McCabe on March 16, 2018. In this book McCabe refutes Trump’s assertion that the firing was “A great day for Democracy.” In fact, as McCabe shows, Trump’s action was just the opposite. Giving a detailed insider’s view of the FBI, McCabe charts the Bureau’s last twenty years, during which time its most important task became protecting the country from terrorists—though now perhaps the major threat to Constitutional rights is the Trump administration itself.https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9781250207579Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

1hr 8mins

1 Mar 2019

Rank #11

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April Ryan: Live at Politics and Prose

Ryan has been a White House correspondent for the American Urban Radio Networks since the Clinton administration, but with Trump’s arrival she has become part of the story she’s covering. Her new book is both a reporter’s inside view of the unconventional protocol in the Trump White House, with all the Tweets, policy reversals, and sudden personnel changes, and an intimate look at what it’s like to be targeted by Trump, who has repeatedly responded to Ryan’s serious questions about urgent issues with shaming and insults. Ryan is also the author of The Presidency in Black and White and At Mama’s Knee, and in 2017 she was named the National Association of Black Journalists Journalist of the Year.https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9781538113363Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices


7 Sep 2018

Rank #12

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Amy Webb: Live at Politics and Prose

One of our most respected and experienced futurists, Webb argues in her new book that the main danger posed by artificial intelligence is the power it gives the big corporations that control it. Each time we speak to Alexa or click on a link, the data is collected and used by one or more of the big nine: Amazon, Google, Facebook, Tencent, Baidu, Alibaba, Microsoft, IBM, and Apple. The ordinary people who supply the data have no say over how it’s used and little information about the system if fuels. And that system is largely unregulated. Webb, professor of strategic foresight at the NYU Stern School of Business, and the founder of the Future Today Institute, gives an eye-opening look at how AI is being misused for the sake of short-term financial gain, and proposes a strategy to change that.https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9781541773752Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices


29 Mar 2019

Rank #13

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Casey Gerald: Live at Politics and Prose

Gerald’s extraordinary memoir cuts a swath through a dizzying number of socio-cultural sectors, enacting an American dream that questions the very assumptions behind it. Growing up in Dallas, Gerald was immersed in his grandfather’s evangelical church, a source of stability when his mother’s disability checks could barely support the family. When he was recruited to play football for Yale, Gerald’s life changed. But as he moved up, earning a Harvard MBA, he was shocked by the disparity between his old life and his new one. Writing with force and eloquence, humor and outrage, he questions the meanings of power and success, illuminating the ideals that caused his Harvard Business School commencement speech to go viral and made him, at barely thirty, one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business.”Gerald is in conversation with Dr. Matthew D. Morrison, Assistant Professor in the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and former Editor-in-Chief of the music journal Current Musicology.https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9780735214200Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

1hr 14mins

19 Oct 2018

Rank #14

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Beck Dorey-Stein: Live at Politics and Prose

A self-described political outsider, Dorey-Stein came to the Obama White House via Wesleyan, teaching high school English in Hightstown, New Jersey, and Craigslist. She worked as a White House stenographer from 2012 to 2017, and her memoir engagingly captures her many trips with the presidential entourage, recorder mics in hand. Dorey-Stein also introduces her colleagues, among them the dedicated political insider she fell in love with. Conversational and witty, this compulsively readable memoir evokes the glamour, intrigue, and drama of a Washington gone all too soon.Dorey-Stein is in conversation with Julie Pace, Washington Bureau Chief of the Associated Press.https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9780525509127Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices


20 Jul 2018

Rank #15

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Casey Cep: Live at Politics and Prose

After writing To Kill a Mockingbird and helping her lifelong friend Truman Capote research In Cold Blood, the late Harper Lee set to work on a true-crime book of her own. Never completed, the work was based on the case of Willie Maxwell, a rural Alabama preacher accused of killing five members of his family in the 1970s. Lee spent a year in Maxwell’s town reporting on the story, which took a further turn when Maxwell was shot at the funeral of his last victim, and his killer, despite many witnesses, was acquitted. Drawing on Lee’s research papers and some fifty of her unpublished letters, Cep offers a detailed portrait of the reclusive writer’s working methods, including her struggles with drinking; recounts a fascinating real-life Southern Gothic; and gives us a tantalizing glimpse of the book that might have been.https://www.politics-prose.com/event/book/casey-cep-furious-hours-murder-fraud-and-last-trial-of-harper-leeLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices


24 May 2019

Rank #16

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Joanne B. Freeman: Live at Politics and Prose

As the national debate over slavery grew more impassioned in the 1840s and 1850s, local brush-fires throughout the nation anticipated the Civil War to come. The halls of Congress, too, saw their share of physical violence, and Freeman, a Yale history professor and cohost of the podcast BackStory, draws on a wide range of sources to document scores of incidents ranging from shouting to shoving matches, fistfights, drawn knives, and even death threats among elected representatives. Her revelatory book tracks a seldom-acknowledged history of incivility in American politics, revises views of familiar figures such as John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay, and shows how the era’s reporting of these sensational events led to a new, splashier journalism.https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9780374154776Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices


5 Oct 2018

Rank #17

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John Kerry: Live at Politics and Prose

John Kerry has devoted his life to public service. Since he testified in front of Congress as a decorated young Vietnam veteran disillusioned with the war, he’s placed himself at the heart of American political life, serving as a five-term Senator and as Barack Obama’s second Secretary of State. Every Day Is Extra is a moving, candid account of his time in politics, and a forceful testimony about the importance of diplomacy, leadership, and collaboration in the face of the myriad challenges the United States faces today.Kerry is in conversation with David Ignatius, associate editor and columnist for The Washington Post.https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9781501178955Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

1hr 5mins

14 Sep 2018

Rank #18

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Elaine Shannon: Live at Politics and Prose

A veteran investigative reporter and author of Desperados, the basis for Michael Mann's NBC miniseries Drug Wars, Shannon has written a riveting account of the career and eventual downfall of Paul Calder LeRoux. A new kind of outlaw, LeRoux used encrypted mobile devices, cloud sharing, and other digital tools to build a global criminal network. This Cartel 4.0 raked in hundreds of millions of dollars by selling arms, drugs, chemicals, and more. But LeRoux met his match with a team of DEA operatives as willing as he to use unorthodox methods. With the suspense of a thriller, Shannon chronicles the five years it took the 960 Group to bring down their quarry. Shannon is in conversation with Karen Tumulty, columnist for The Washington Post.https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9780062859136Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices


22 Mar 2019

Rank #19

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Emily Nussbaum: Live at Politics and Prose

Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer for criticism,  Nussbaum writes about TV like the art that it is. Gathered from some fifteen years of work for The New Yorker, New York, and other publications—along with several new pieces—the essays in this collection wholeheartedly celebrate television and guide us to new ways of looking at it. Arguing that TV demands more than just watching, Nussbaum outlines her struggle with “prestige television”—an awakening she traces to Buffy the Vampire Slayer—and questions the breakdown of shows into high- and low-brow. She also examines programming in the light of #MeToo, explores how fans distort their favorite shows, profiles influential figures such as Kenya Barris, Jenji Kohan, and Ryan Murphy, assesses the legacies of Norman Lear and Joan Rivers, and more.https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9780525508960Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

1hr 6mins

2 Aug 2019

Rank #20