Interviews By Topic

"From War is Beautiful" by David Shields, published by powerHouse Books.

David Shields says the New York Times is complicit in romanticizing war through imagery.More

Mural of ancient soldiers returning from battle

Historian Margaret MacMillan tells Steve what war reveals about human nature.More

Mark Art, Not War

Is war inevitable? Leymah Gbowee loudly and strongly says no. And she’s got proof.More

James Nachtwey, Collapse of the South Tower, Church of St. Peter, September 22, 2001.

James Nachtwey is one of the world's great war photographers. For more than three decades, he's covered just about every major armed conflict around the world, and he's been wounded several times on the job. He talks about his harrowing work in Afghanistan, Iraq and where those wars began — Ground Zero in 2001.More

ruth ozeki

For her own book, author Ruth Ozeki drew from “Kamikaze Diaries,” a collection of writings left behind by the young soldiers who died on suicide missions. They represent a generation of brilliant, highly educated young students who were conscripted into the army and ordered not just to kill but to die.More

man moving steel

Alissa Quart spent the last few years traveling around the country, talking with all kinds of people about work. What she found is a lot of people with jobs that look good on paper but who feel — in a word — squeezed.More

punch the clock

When we talk about reforming work, fixing work, creating new kinds of work — author and historian James Livingston thinks perhaps we’re not going far enough. More

Dæmon Pan and the alethiometer in HBO's adaptation of "His Dark Materials"

Philip Pullman, the celebrated English writer has just written a 630-page sequel brimming with contentious ideas about religious tyranny, the loss of imagination and the nature of consciousness — all in a book that’s marketed to children.More

Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman — author of the fantasy classic "His Dark Materials" — is clearly attuned to the imaginative world of children. So maybe it’s not surprising that the book that exerted such a pull on his own imagination was "The Pocket Atlas of the World," which he first encountered at the age of nine.More

Henry Morton Stanley (center) meets David Livingstone (right)

Nineteenth century European explorer David Livingstone died of malaria nearly 150 years ago, but as author Petina Gappah explains, Africans are still debating his legacy today as they assess the impact of European colonialism.More

Petina Gappah on "Persuasion"

Author Petina Gappah recommends a book she explains is “The most African of Jane Austen’s novels.” Her reason why is a look at women in Africa today told through the eyes of two novelists: a Zimbabwean in 2020 and English woman in 1818.More

Nature writer and adventurer Robert Macfarlane has given away one book more than any other volume. It's "The Living Mountain," by Scottish writer and poet Nan Shepherd.More

Blues People

Alex Abramovich recommends "Blues People: Negro Music in White America" by Leroi Jones, who later changed his name to Amiri Baraka.More

lonely plant

Once you acknowledge that plants are intelligent and sentient beings, moral questions quickly follow. Should they have rights? How can we think of plants as "persons"? Plant scientist Matt Hall sorts out these ideas with Steve.More

Vijay Iyer

Celebrated jazz pianist Vijay Iyer talks improv and basketball with Steve backstage before a show.More

 Early fall on the pond in "Walden, a game."USC Game Innovation Lab

Game developer Tracy Fullerton tells us why Henry David Thoreau would play her new game. It’s called “Walden.”More

The many realities

How do you know what’s real? Start with your senses — if you can see, touch, hear or taste something, it’s real — right? Not necessarily, according to cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman and neurologist Suzanne O’Sullivan.More

Band A Part

Norway's acclaimed pianist Tord Gustavsen recommends another Norwegian classic, Masqualero's album "Bande a Part."More

Pages