Books and Authors

Iowa's Opera Houses

Jul 16, 2012

Though opera houses once meant a town held status, many have since fallen into disrepair. Today efforts are underway to renovate and shed light on Iowa’s opera houses, including Sam Knutson's project, the Iowa Opera House Project, which brings Iowa performers into these antique spaces for locals to experience.

Later, Richard Poole and George Glenn, co-authors of The Opera Houses of Iowa, share the history of the state’s opera houses.

When Jake Bouma of Des Moines was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma earlier this year, he and his wife decided to document his cancer journey on video. Host Charity Nebbe speaks with Jake and his wife, Libby, about their documentary.

Willpower

Jul 6, 2012

The average person spends four hours of their day battling… temptation. We listen back to Ben Kieffer's conversation with New York Times science writer John Tierney. His book Willpower looks at the latest research on self-control and how you can strengthen it. Then, Jennifer Margrett of Iowa State University talks about her study on how social partners can help extend memory.

When Joe Murphy’s wife, Linda, spies an ad for a “beautiful 3-story Victorian house in need of some TLC,” the couple jumps at the chance for their dream home. Renovating it will allow them to indulge their passion for antiques and to get closer to an era they believe was a better time. Privately, Joe hopes that the project will also fill the void that has opened within their family life.

Today's "River to River" features noted space historian, Andrew Chaikin. Chaikin is author of the acclaimed A Man on the Moon and several other books about space. He’ll be visiting Iowa to talk about the search for life in the solar system. Then, Grinnell College President Raynard Kington as part of our summer series talking with Iowa university and college presidents.

Political Road Trip

Jun 27, 2012

If you avoid discussing politics in mixed company, imagine road-tripping across the country with someone from the opposing party.  Republican Meghan McCain and Democrat Michael Ian Black join Ben Kieffer to discuss their travels across the country in their new book, "America You Sexy Bitch".  They traveled through red and blue parts of the country talking with voters and each other.  

 

 

Simple French Food

Jun 27, 2012

When you think of French food, the word simple probably does not come to mind. Wini Moranville, restaurant reviewer for the Des Moines Register, will introduce us to simple French home cooking. Her new cookbook is the Bonne Femme cookbook…simple splendid food that French women cook every day. Later, we’ll hear from the authors of Farmstead Chef, a book full recipes that rely on locally grown ingredients.

 

Sometimes we tend to think of the FBI as America’s police force, but the bureau’s primary mission is actually secret intelligence. Host Ben Kieffer talks about the history of the FBI with award-winning author Tim Weiner and his new book Enemies: A History of the FBI. Later, Ben talks with Jim McMillan, a special agent stationed in the Quad Cities, about the facts and fiction behind being an agent.

Practical Wisdom

Jun 11, 2012

Greek philosopher Aristotle called it practical wisdom; we know it as common sense. Is there a lack of it in our society? In an encore show, listen back to when host Ben Kieffer spoke with Political Science Professor Kenneth Sharpe who, along with Barry Schwartz, wrote a book that argues much dissatisfaction with institutions comes from people within the system being unable to use their practical wisdom – or common sense. Also listen to callers who share personal stories of instances where practical wisdom was abundant, or abundantly lacking.

Jerry Twedt’s great grandparents, Ole and Helena Branjord, settled on the Iowa frontier in the late 1860s. He has researched his family’s history and turned it into a novel. Host Charity Nebbe talks with Jerry about his novel “Land of Promise, Land of Tears”, and the fictional world he built around his family’s true story. Later, Charity talks with Teresa White from Usher’s Ferry History Village in Cedar Rapids and Dan Jones from Living History Farms in Des Moines about camp opportunities for young people to live history this summer.

Steve Berry

May 29, 2012

Steve Berry has captivated millions of readers with his best-selling novels, he is also the co-founder of History Matters, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving our heritage. Charity talks with Berry about his latest novel, The Columbus Affair and his work in historic preservation.  

Animal Tool Behavior

May 29, 2012

Tools are not only used by humans- ground squirrels kick sand in the faces of venomous snakes, mice set out markers to find their way home and apes do all kinds of things with tools - crack open nuts, apply herbal medications, open locks and doors, stir liquids, saw wood and even dig with a shovel. In a program that originally aired last June, Ben talks with the authors of the revision of the seminal book Animal Tool Behavior.   We ask if tool use is evolutionary important and what it indica

Polk County Sheriff Bill McCarthy has just returned from Israel, chosen by the National Sheriff's Association to learn about homeland security measures. McCarthy talks about the experience, including learning about the mindset of suicide bombers and new security technologies. Later, members of the U.S. Secret Service are in the state, providing security for President Obama's central Iowa campaign stop. Ben talks with former secret service agent Dan Emmett about what it takes to protect the nation's top executive.

 In the 1850s more than 3,000 people attempted to walk 1,300 miles from Iowa City to Salt Lake City pushing all of their worldly belongings in a handcart. Host Charity Nebbe talks with Sandra Dallas, author of the new novel “True Sisters.” The book follows The Martin Company, a group of Mormon pioneers who traveled west to what they called Zion in 1856. Then, Charity talks with Jane Cox, a professor and director for Iowa State University Theatre, about her play “The Yellow Rose of Suffrage.” The play highlights the life of Carrie Chapman Catt, a women’s rights activist.

What does it mean to be creative? If someone asked you if you were a creative person, what would you say? Host Charity Nebbe talks with Jonah Lehrer, the author of the new book "Imagine: How Creativity Works." He describes the processes of creative greats like Bob Dylan and delves into what really sparks a stroke of creative genius. Then, Charity talks with educators trying to foster creativity in Iowa through Students for a Creative Iowa and Destination Imagination. 

Photo by Jane Roper

Humorist Josh Billings wrote in the 19th century, “There are two things in life for which we are never truly prepared: twins.” When Jane Roper found out she was pregnant with twins, she tried hard to find a memoir from another mother who could give her some advice. She didn’t find it, so she has written her own, “Double Time.” (St. Martin’s Press) It’s an up-close look at her first three years raising twin daughters. This hour, Charity speaks with Roper, who has an M.F.A.

Geraldine Brooks

May 15, 2012

Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk was the first native American to graduate from Harvard College, completing his degree in the 17th century. Very little is known about his life, but he has been reborn in the novel "Caleb’s Crossing" (Penguin Books) by Pulitzer prize-winning novelist Geraldine Brooks. Charity speaks with Brooks live this hour.

Summer Books

May 14, 2012
Mary Ann Peters' Fiction Pick (New Bo, Cedar Rapids)

Whether you’re looking for scientific exploration, a captivating memoir, or an opportunity to get lost in a novel, we’ve got something that will make your summer reading list. On today's Talk of Iowa it’s our summer books show.

Mother’s day is this weekend.  StoryCorps founder David Isay’s book, “Mom” is based on interviews from around the country -- people talking to, and about, their mothers.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with Isay.  And, he takes a look at the marketing of mom.  Many companies run ads around mother's day aimed at moms, and seeking to attach positive memories to their products.  How successful are their efforts?

Graduation Stories

May 8, 2012

It’s graduation time for students at Iowa’s colleges and universities.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with three graduating students including Sarah Myers, who earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree this past weekend from Iowa State University.  In the last few years she got married, was diagnosed with two different forms of cancer, and gave birth – all before passing her veterinary medicine boards last year.

Pakistan went on high alert this week over fears militants would launch revenge attacks on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s killing. The anniversary caps a devastating year for the country as it’s alliances with the west remain strained. We'll get an update on the U.S.-Pakistan relationship with Aakif Ahmad of the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Initiative who visits Iowa next week to talk about relations with Pakistan.

It was 37 years ago this month the final American soldiers completely withdrew from Vietnam.  Bob Drury's new book Last Men Out: The True Story of America's Heroic Final Hours in Vietnam focuses on the final hours of eleven Marine Corps Security Guards who were the last to be flown off the roof of the U.S. embassy, just minutes before being captured or killed.

Sara Levine

Jan 22, 2012

Boldness, resolution, independence and horn blowing. On today's program, we talk to author Sara Levine. Her new book is “Treasure Island!!!” (Europa Editions). In the novel, the main character becomes obsessed with Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale. She decides to turn her life around with the book as her guide. Levine chairs the graduate writing program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Karen Weir-Jimerson

Jan 17, 2012

In her new collection of essay's, So Much Sky, author Karen Weir-Jimerson offers up bite-sized gems that view modern life through a rural lens. Many of the pieces were originally published in her popular "Slow Lane" column for Country Home magazine. Charity talks with Weir-Jimerson about her stories featuring a sometimes-forgotten world of chirping crickets, rogue tornados and country characters.

Mike and his dad are on their own, but when dad leaves to teach a seminar overseas, 13-year old Mike is shipped off to live with relatives he's never met before in rural Pennsylvania. That's the premise of the new young adult novel "The Absolute Value of Mike," by National Book Award Winner Kathryn Erskine. Charity speaks with Erskine, who is attending Iowa City's "One Book, Two Book" children's book festival. Also, we hear about Iowa's involvement in the Reach Out and Read program with Molly Olinger Topf, Program Director of "Reach Out and Read Iowa."

Oh My Gods

Jan 1, 2012

The Greek and Roman myths have never died out; in fact they are as relevant today as ever. In his new book Oh My Gods, Phillip Freeman retells some of the most popular myths that have inspired plays, operas, paintings, movies and television programs. From the astonishing tales of the Argonauts to the immortal narrative of the Battle of Troy, these ancient myths have inspired many across the globe. Freeman is Qualley Professor of Classics at Luther College.

Marshall County Historical Society

Railroad historians and several communities are remembering a grim anniversary; the worst train crash in Iowa history occurred 100 years ago on March 21st, 1910. More than 100 passengers were killed or injured. The story includes an original telegraph recording from the 1930s.

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