Cover To Cover is the anchor program for GPB’s literary coverage. Cover To Cover features a collection of distinctive Southern voices interviewing Georgia writers, Southern writers, and writers dealing with the South. The GPB Southern Lit Cadre will provide you with a varied, weekly glimpse at fiction, non-fiction, history, poetry, and even the occasional ‘old school’ nod to Flannery O’Connor or William Faulkner.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Voice for the Voiceless

On assignment in China with her husband and family in 2003, Kay Bratt took up the cause of China’s forgotten children. Kay spent four years volunteering in a Chinese orphanage. Her memoir: Silent Tears – A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage is based on the diary she kept while there. It offers a painful and often bleak account of her daily struggle to care for the children she came to love and the fight to change their conditions.

Now back in America, Kay Bratt continues her work with China’s orphans, raising awareness wherever she goes. She was honored with the Chinese 2006 Pride of the City award for her humanitarian work. She is the founder of the Mifan Mommy Club – an online organization that supplies rice to children in Chinese orphanages, and she is an active volunteer with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates.)

Kay Bratt joins us for Cover to Cover this Sunday at 8pm on GPB.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The South's Own Gangster

George "Machine Gun" Kelly is a name from the heyday of the American gangster era as familiar as "Baby Face" Nelson, Bonnie & Clyde, "Ma" Barker and many other colorful outlaws, but the details of his life and crimes are far less well-known.

Mississippi author Ace Atkins, who has carved out a distinctive niche for himself with a number of historical crime novels, decided it was time to change that fact. Thus, Kelly's exploits are the subject of Atkins latest: Infamous.

As Atkins explains in his Cover to Cover interview, the story of "Machine Gun" Kelly can't be told without focusing equally on his wife, Katherine. Kelly, unique among the famous gangters, was a native of the South and raised in relative priviledge. He was a good looking, somewhat lazy character, content being a minor player in various criminal endeavors until the beautiful, ambitious Katherine came into his life.

Together they pulled off the kidnapping of one of the wealthiest oilmen in the country. The crime gave Katherine the kind of notoriety she sought but ultimately led to the couple's capture, all of which Atkins describes in Infamous with flourish and detail.

As unlikely a figure for a famed outlaw as Kelly was, Atkins has taken an equally distinctive path into the world of popular fiction. He starred on Auburn University's undefeated football team of 1993 before beginning a career as an award-winning newspaper reporter in Florida. Eventually, his fascination with crime led to the popular series of mystery novels featuring former football star/blues historian Nick Travers.

is Atkins' fourth historically based crime novel. Altogether his work has led no less an expert than bestselling novelist Michael Connelly to call Atkins “one of the best crime writers at work today."

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Professor Tells His Story

It’s quite possible we’ve never had a guest on Cover to Cover quite as comfortable in the talk studio as this week’s guest, longtime Atlanta Braves broadcaster Pete Van Wieren. In 2008, Pete retired from a distinguished career of 33 years with Atlanta’s Major League Baseball club. His new memoir, Of Mikes and Men, is chock full of anecdotes about the club and insights into the mind of the team’s scholarly voice.

Obviously, the natural appeal here is to Braves’ fans, of which there should be no shortage. The team’s radio network is reportedly the largest radio network of any sports franchise in the United States, and Van Wieren and his longtime broadcast partner, Skip Carey, hold a special place in the hearts of many of those fans.

Van Wieren talks about Caray’s declining health and how it affected his work in his final broadcasts before he passed away suddenly in 2008. He also talks about his early days knocking around with a rock band at Cornell University, the lean years broadcasting minor league games, the elation when he got the call to Atlanta, the sudden death of baseball’s first African-American general manager, hustling out of downtown Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots, Ted Turner’s one-game stint in the dugout as manager, and much more.

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Poetry Reading in the Decatur Cemetary this Wednesday

The Dead Poets Society of America and Georgia plan to have a poetry reading in the Decatur Cemetery on Wednesday, May 12 at 2 p.m. The reading is part of a nationwide 2010 tour and will be the 1st historic Georgia Dead Poets event. The event will take place at the gravesite of Thomas Holley Chivers in the old historic section off Commerce Avenue. Thomas Holley Chivers, October 18, 1809 – December 18, 1858, was an American doctor-turned-poet from Georgia. He is best known for his friendship with Edgar Allan Poe and his controversial defense of the poet after his death. The event includes readings, poets, musicians and actors. On hand will be SC Poet Laureate Marjorie Wentworth, local actor Rob Constantine and others. Freeport, Maine amateur poet Walter Skold founded the Dead Poets Society of America, and he is on a 20-event 2010 Dead Poets Grand Tour with stops at graves of American bards. For more information go here.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Will Jesus Buy Me a Double Wide?

A title that was originally intended as a joke sold the book before it was even written. Karen Spears Zacharias recently published this book - her fourth - titled: Will Jesus Buy Me a Double Wide. She is a journalist and author of 3 other non-fiction books and has won dozens of writing awards.

Karen traveled the country collecting stories of ordinary and not so ordinary folk. Each chapter anonymously titled: The Preacher, The Evangelist, The Sister, The Marine. Karen investigates what role God and money play in people's lives. The book is filled with humor and also asks some incredibly tough questions like: What does it mean to be blessed by God? And Karen isn't afraid to give the answers.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hold Up the Sky

In Patricia Sprinkle’s latest novel, Hold Up the Sky, she takes a temporary hiatus from crime fiction to tell the story of four women, devastated but ultimately strengthened and united by the hardships that beset them.

Mamie is facing an overwhelming secret. Margaret has lost her home. Billie can no longer care for her disabled daughter alone. And Maria is living with an untenable choice. When these four women come together to live on a drought-stricken Georgia farm, they must open their hearts, and share their burdens, before they can find the bounty that lies hidden in tough times, and once again see the glorious pattern of meaning in their lives.

Lisa Wingate, author of The Summer Kitchen calls this "A heartfelt story of the women who catch us when we fall-the sisters and friends who hold up the sky and show us who we were meant to be," and Patti Callahan Henry, national bestselling author of Driftwood Summer says, "Patricia Sprinkle takes us deep into the thoughts and feelings of four women who realize the only way to true strength is to share their faith, their hearts and each other's lives.”

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Fireworks Over Toccoa

After a successful career writing for television ("Dawson's Creek", et al) in Hollywood, Atlanta native Jeffrey Stepakoff is back home and embarking on a second career as a novelist. His previous work prepared him well, for his debut, Fireworks Over Toccoa, has all the earmarks of a popular novel but also seems destined to be a big or small screen drama.

The novel is the story of a young bride, Lily, whose husband leaves almost immediately after they're wed, to fight in World War II. On the eve of his return, she meets an alluring young man, a manufacturer of of fireworks (indeed), and thus Lily is forced to choose between her prior commitment and unmistakable passions of the heart. Setting his novel in the North Georgia town of Toccoa, which Stepakoff knows well, the one-time screen writer proves to be a master not just of creating characters and a dramatic story but also at evoking a strong sense of place. 1940s Toccoa comes alive as fully as any character in the book, and the present-day town, not surprisingly, is fully embracing the novel, anticipating a response from readers to Toccoa like Savannah experienced with Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

In addition to his multi-faceted writing talents, Stepakoff is a professor at Kennesaw State University, and our interview reveals him to be fully immersed in and an enthusiastic instructor on the craft of story telling. Though he already has two decades of professional recognition and accomplishment under his belt, with the new direction his writing career is taking, Jeffrey Stepakoff seems primed, with Fireworks Over Toccoa, to emerge as a major author of popular Southern fiction.

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Atlanta Author's Second Novel

The relationship between biography and fiction, the pros and cons of writing programs, and the writing life in general are just a few of the topics touched on as Man Martin interviews Susan Rebecca White about her newest book, A Soft Place to Land.

This is the story about two sisters torn apart after their parents' death in an airplane crash. Resentment, anger and jealousy divide them, but in time even these cannot erase the love they feel for each other. In a world where nothing is certain and catastrophe can strike any time, we all need "a soft place to land."

Anne Rivers Siddons, author of Off White, says White "has perfect pitch and a wicked pen," and Todd Johnson, author of The Sweet By and By calls White a "true original" and predicts that A Soft Place to Land is "sure to win your heart."

White's first novel, Bound South, won a devoted readership and widespread praise. White lives, writes and teaches in Atlanta where she shares a home with her husband Alan Deutschman, dog Raney and cats Moses and Zippy.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta by Marc Wortman

2009 marked the 145th anniversary of the fall of Atlanta during the Civil War, so Mark Wortman's book published last year was a timely look at this fascinating chapter (some would say dark chapter) in Georgia's history. Wortman has a journalist's flair for keen insight and detail, and above all he tells a good story.

Like most of my interviews, 30 minutes proved all too short to ask the author everything I was interested in. Some of the ones I posed to Marc Wortman: How does a guy with a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Princeton get interested in Atlanta and the Civil War?

One of the things in his book that most intrigued me was the fact that we now take it for granted that Atlanta is an important city, that it's the Gateway to the New South, the home of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, the Atlanta Braves, Home Depot, CNN, Coca-Cola, etc., but the Atlanta he describes wasn't all that big or seemingly all that important as a city. Wortman writes, "Few people in the North or among Union military officials had heard of Atlanta before the outbreak of the rebellion." How then did two great armies find themselves in and around Atlanta in the summer of 1864? And why is Atlanta's fall directly credited with paving the way for Lincoln's re-election the following November?

A book like this is full of fascinating characters, among them of course William Tecumseh Sherman. He obviously plays a very prominent role in this book, and in fact Wortman gives him the very last word. Even today, his name evokes fierce passions and emotions in Georgia. And yet, when he returned to Atlanta in 1879, Wortman writes that "few people in Atlanta remained ill disposed toward Sherman." How is that possible? I'm quite certain that wouldn't be the case now, 145 years later. Last year the Georgia Historical Society had a public program about Sherman, and we received numerous letters and emails from people across Georgia (and the rest of the country) vehemently denouncing him. How was it possible that "few" of the Atlantans who actually lived through Sherman's siege were so forgiving in 1879?

Finally, with the Civil War's 150th anniversary fast approaching, there will be commemorative events across the country. One of the questions I like to pose to writers of Civil War history: What do the events in your book still have to teach us in the 21st century?

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Interrogative Mood

Padgett Powell's first novel, Edisto, immediately established him in the 1980s as one of the most original fiction writers of his generation. His subsequent books have done nothing to diminish his reputation among critics, but as they have become more and more experimental--in the vein of his mentor, Donald Barthleme, he hasn't exactly broadened his readership. With the publication last year of The Interrogative Mood--an entire book composed of nothing but questions--that pattern didn't seem likely to change. But, to his surprise as much as anyone's, the book brought more attention to Powell than anything had since his illustrious debut.

Powell toured the country in support of the book in the Fall of 2009, and came through Atlanta just a week after being profiled in The New York Times Sunday Magazine. Interviewing an author about a book like The Interrogative Mood, in which there is no plot, no true characters, not necessarily, as Powell admitted, even a book, was a bit of a daunting task. But simply being in earshot of Powell using the English language is a rewarding experience. In addition to sharing an illustrative passage, Powell talked about how he came to write such an unusual book and the surprising ways readers have responded to it. And, strange at it is, he discussed how this 150-page string of questions actually wound up revealing quite a bit about its author and, as all great fiction does, actually addresses some of life's eternal, well, questions.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Majic of Bloodroot

Amy Greene grew up in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. She was born to a family of natural story tellers and a rich tradition of folklore. Bloodroot is her debut novel about a family spanning three generations. It weaves through time and space with a mystical dream like quality starting with the Great Depression and ending in present day.

The novel is told in a myriad of voices, each character more vivid and compelling than the last. Bloodroot is filled with mystery, grace and rich Appalachian folklore. The book is named for the flower whose sap has the power to heal and also to poison.

At the center of the story is the character Myra Lamb whose "haint blue" eyes are said to liberate her family from an old curse. Haint blue is a very special shade of blue that wards of evil spirits. This kind of blue can be found on the doors and windows of many houses in Appalachia.

Amy Greene lives with her husband and her two children in East Tennessee where she grew up. Her novel Bloodroot is published by Knopf and her second novel is in the works. Listen to this episode

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Kingpin and his Cohorts

In 2006 journalist Mara Shalhoup wrote an award-winning series of articles on a shadowy organization calling itself The Black Mafia Family for Creative Loafing, Atlanta’s leading alt-weekly. Publicly, the members of BMF claimed to be operators and employees of a hip-hop record label, but the street cred they boasted of seemed more authentic than the boasts of the myriad studio gangsters filling CD bins with rote claims of murder and debauchery. Indeed, the initiated knew all along that BMF was no imposter; it was an organization that authorities think may have been responsible for the majority of cocaine movement into Atlanta for the first few years of the past decade.

Since then, Shalhoup has been named Editor-in-Chief at Creative Loafing, and has finished a book on the notorious crime family. It’s called BMF: The Rise and Fall of Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family, and it’s available now from St. Martin’s Press. Demetrius ‘Big Meech’ Flenory was the unquestioned head of the family, and is the mysterious and charismatic center of the book. It opens with Shalhoup’s first-person account of her interview with Meech and concludes with his inevitable sentencing. The takeaway: crime doesn’t pay, but it certainly yields interesting stories.

The character list of this particular interesting story goes far beyond the boss. Also appearing in roles of various import are bodyguards and relatives of Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Charles Barkley, Bobby Brown, rappers Young Jeezy and Gucci Mane, Jacob “The Jeweler” Arapo, former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, and Franklin’s wayward son-in-law, Tremayne “Kiki” Graham, in addition to the various lieutenants, henchmen and adversaries of BMF.

Shalhoup is a thorough journalist with roots firmly in crime reporting. That’s how this book reads, mostly, as a journalistic account, with the occasional scene-setting flourish. The reader is left to his her own to decide who the real bad guys are, and who may have been just a product of the streets without a real chance to break from the cycle of poverty and crime endemic to inner-city life.

BMF is an important book for our region, because it tells a story about who we are in the South, even if it’s a story we may not all want to acknowledge. Shalhoup’s the perfect person for the job – young, savvy, skeptical, and very much a fan of Atlanta’s particular breed of hip-hop music.

By the way...if you're in the Athens area, Shalhuop will be reading from BMF and signing copies at Cine downtown at 7 PM on Wednesday, March 17. For those of you closer to Atlanta, she'll be doing the same at Borders in Buckhead on Friday, March 19 at 7:30. Get wise and get your copy.

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Monday, March 1, 2010

"A Uniquely American Novel"

"Cover to Cover" generally features books and authors whose lives and/or work is linked in some way to the South. This week's author is a native New Englander, educated in the Midwest, which, after a debut novel set in the Pacific Northwest, is the setting for his second book, a rip-roaring gangster novel with a metaphysical twist, The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers. We in the South would be wise to claim Thomas Mullen as one of our own, however, if only for the flimsy reason that he currently calls Decatur home. In due time, Mullen seems destined to be a writer of much more than regional acclaim and as such will be a credit to our literary landscape. His smart, stylishly rendered work suggests that Mullen is an authorial alchemist of the first rank.

The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers is on one level an exciting tale of a band of Depression-era bank robbers, led by a pair of brothers, Jason and Whit Fireson, plotting their crimes and trying to keep away from the law. The fact that the brothers repeatedly arise from being shot to death, however, gives the novel the ethereal resonance of a work of mythology. And since Mullen (whose first novel, The Last Town on Earth, was set during the flu epidemic of 1918) so completely captures the era about which he writes, it is also an insightful exploration of life as it was experienced during the Great Depression and in many ways an exploration of the American Dream.

Mullen's energetic work is fueled most of all by a sense of fun, but fun of the highest order, fun like Michael Chabon and The Coen Brothers. And while it's fun to claim him now as a home-state hero, with the kind of reviews Mullen is getting from the Los Angeles Times ("uniquely American") to The Star of Toronto..., he is a writer we're going to have to share with everybody.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Through the Eyes of a New Generation

Noni Carter is only 18 years old. Despite her young age, she has recently published her first novel - Good Fortune. Good Fortune was inspired by her great-great-great-great grandmother - Rose Caldwell. Noni and her siblings listened to the stories of Rose and other accounts of her ancestors' histories around the family's kitchen table. Rose's story in particular inspired Noni to embark on a three-year journey researching her family's history and the history of black America.

The book that started as a short story has evolved into a historical slave narrative, tracing the story of Ayanna Bahati from Africa to a plantation in Tennessee, and finally to freedom.

Noni's desire is not only to teach history to young African Americans, but also to inpsire them to value and embrace their legacy.

Noni Carter is a student at Harvard University. She is not only a novelist, but also a classical pianist and poet.
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Pearl Cleage: Activism and Writing

Atlanta-based essayist, poet, journalist and novelist Pearl Cleage joins us for Cover to Cover this week. Cleage ventures into new territory as an artist and American in her latest novel Seen It All and Done the Rest. Cleage talks about how she’s been as much an activist in her life as an author. And the activist in her, fighting for civil rights as an African American in the 1960’s and 70’s and women’s rights after, dissociated herself from being American.

Cleage explores this idea with a new heroine, Josephine Evans, an actress of the international stage who returns stateside. Through Evans and the characters she encounters (some familiar— Abbie Browning’s back and Zora too), Cleage breathes life into current events and the issues of our age that read black and white in newspaper headlines. Josephine asks questions like "What is the free woman’s role in wartime," and with the full palette of human feelings, Cleage masterfully answers.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lift Every Voice and Sing

The writer Charles Johnson once wrote that his forbear James Weldon Johnson (no relation) had a life story that read like “the biography of two or three men.” Indeed, the earlier Johnson was an activist, attorney, administrator, educator, songwriter, poet, politician, ambassador and novelist. Perhaps Johnson is best known for penning the lyrics to “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which the NAACP has adopted as its anthem. Every so often we dedicate an episode of Cover to Cover to an important Southern writer outside of the contemporary realm. James Weldon Johnson is just such a writer, and we are delighted to turn our focus toward his work this Sunday evening.

For that purpose we welcome to the show Dr. Rudolph P. Byrd. In addition to serving as the Goodrich C. White Professor of American Studies at Emory University, Dr. Byrd is also the driving force behind the James Weldon Johnson Institute for Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies at Emory. Essentially, the JWJI is an administrative outlet promoting scholarship and research. Dr. Byrd has written and edited many books, including The Essential Writings of James Weldon Johnson, which was published by Random House in late 2008.

Dr. Byrd is the perfect man to lead the JWJI and to write about Johnson. His own scholarship pushes and promotes literature into the realms of social and economic justice, breathing new life into both celebrated and forgotten texts.

For more on the James Weldon Johnson Institute at Emory University, please visit its website at:

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cornel West Out Loud

It's often said that the age of the public intellectual in America has passed, and with the fractured nature of our modern culture, perhaps it has. Princeton professor and prolific author Cornel West qualifies, then, as the last of a breed.

In fact, in the course of our Cover to Cover interview, West attributes at least some of his incredible productivity to the fact that he might as well come from another time period: he doesn't own a computer and has never written or received an email. He's too busy reading, learning and transforming that knowledge into his distinctive style of literary agitating.

West was in Atlanta promoting his memoir: Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, which he co-wrote with David Ritz. Why would such a learned man of letters use a co-author for his own memoir? West explains that he wanted the book to flow in the "call and response" blues tradition, thus the pairing with Ritz, who has written biographies of Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye and others, makes sense. The renowned social philosopher prefers to view himself as a blues man.

A conversation with West is like being caught in a whirlwind of erudition and metaphor. His life's pursuits of scholarship, writing, political action, speaking, performing, and admonishing have a unique energy that jump off the page of his book and can be heard as he discusses his story.

Cover to Cover generally focuses on books and authors rooted in the South, and while West grew up in Sacramento, California and has spent most of his career rooted in New England, the constant theme in his work is the one that won't let go of our region and in fact is the title of his most well-known book: Race Matters.

As Black History Month continues on GPB's Cover to Cover, we are grateful to be able to share the singular presence of Cornel West.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

America's Lost Musical Genius

In The Ballad of Blind Tom, Australian author Deirdre O’ Connell describes her subject as “The most famous black performer of the Civil War generation.” Was he a naive genius or a freak? Was he a gifted, original American composer or a mere mimic of the reigning piano styles of the day? O’Connell wades through 50 years of press clips and testimony searching for the answer to the question, “Who was Blind Tom?”

He was born a slave in Columbus, Georgia. Despite his autistic condition, he made his guardians piles of money, perhaps, by today’s standard, millions of dollars, of which he and his family saw almost none. It would be story of overpowering sadness had Blind Tom not been so full of life. He took great delight in playing piano up to 12 hours a day, never regarding it as work even in the midst of a staggering itinerary. (In 1999, the pianist John Davis recorded a selection of his songs, John Davis Plays Blind Tom.)

Full of wit and wild anecdote, The Ballad of Blind Tom has an astonishing cast of characters. It is Deirdre O’Connell’s first book, and she spent a good deal of time in Georgia conducting research. She has also made documentaries for the Jimi Hendrix Estate and the United Nations Environment Program and has worked in news at SBS Australia.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Step Out On Nothing

Byron Pitts has welcomed the challenge of covering a multitude of stories in his television journalism career – everything from the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq War, and just this month the tragedy of the Haiti earthquake.

But overcoming challenges in his personal life may be his greatest achievement. Pitts grew-up with a debilitating stutter and kept an embarrassing secret for years –he was functionally illiterate. A recipe for failure was heightened by his parents’ separation when he was 12.

But in his book Step Out On Nothing, Pitts details how a few key people took the chance and the time to make a positive difference in his life.

His push through the obstacles has earned him a successful journalism career. After a 15-year run in local television which included a stop in Atlanta, he joined CBS News in 1998. Pitts serves as a chief national correspondent for the network, and is a contributing correspondent for 60 Minutes. He’s won a national Emmy Award, and six regional Emmys.

The Baltimore-native was in Atlanta recently to chat with GPB’s Edgar Treiguts.
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Monday, January 11, 2010

Fear Came to Town

Doug Crandell is an award-winning author of fiction and memoir, who ventures into the genre of True Crime with his latest book, Fear Came to Town, the disturbing true story of the Santa Claus, Georgia, Murders.
Years ago, Danny and Kim Daniels had taken in Jerry Scott Heidler through foster care. Kim had grown up within the foster care system herself, and she sympathized with the troubled boy. But it soon became clear that Heidler’s problems were far more disturbing than they had thought – and they cut him from their lives.
One terrible night in December 1997, Heidler broke into the home of his former foster family and with methodical madness short Danny and Kim, teenage Jessica, and eight-year-old Bryant. He then kidnapped and brutalized three surviving children, abandoning hem on a remote dirt road in the dead of winter.
Man Martin interviews Doug Crandell about his process of researching and writing this chilling true story and the remorseless sociopath who destroyed the family that tried to rescue him.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History With The President

Taylor Branch is the award-winning author of the great historical trilogy, America in the King Years, but his latest book is an unusual combination of history, biography, and political memoir about the nation's 42nd president.

The Clinton Tapes rests upon a secret project, initiated by Clinton, to preserve for future historians an unfiltered record of presidential experience. During his eight years in office, between 1993 and 2001, Clinton answered questions and told stories in the White House, usually late at night. His friend Taylor Branch recorded seventy-nine of these dialogues to compile a trove of raw information about a presidency as it happened. Clinton drew upon the diary transcripts for his memoir in 2004 and remains in possession of the tapes.

Branch recorded his own detailed recollections immediately after each session, covering not only the subjects discussed but also the look and feel of each evening with the president. Branch's firsthand narrative is confessional, unsparing, and personal. The author admits straying at times from his primary role -- to collect raw material for future historians -- because his discussions with Clinton were unpredictable and intense.

The Clinton Tapes highlights major events of Clinton's two terms, including wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, the failure of health care reform, peace initiatives on three continents, the anti-deficit crusade, and titanic political struggles from Whitewater to American history's second presidential impeachment trial. Along the way, Clinton delivers colorful portraits of countless political figures and world leaders from Newt Gingrinch to Nelson Mandela to Pope John Paul II.

At the end of the interview, I asked Branch if having been given this extraordinary and unprecendented access to a sitting president, he found himself with more or less respect for President Clinton. Did he say to himself, "how did this guy get this job?" Did familiarity breed contempt? Or just the opposite? Tune in to hear his answer.

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