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Reader's Corner

Boise State Radio

A weekly radio show hosted by Boise State University President Bob Kustra that features lively conversations with some of the nation's leading authors about issues and ideas that matter today.

A weekly radio show hosted by Boise State University President Bob Kustra that features lively conversations with some of the nation's leading authors about issues and ideas that matter today.
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Boise, ID


A weekly radio show hosted by Boise State University President Bob Kustra that features lively conversations with some of the nation's leading authors about issues and ideas that matter today.




1910 University Dr. Boise, ID 83725-1916 (208) 426-3663


Samantha Silva Pens A Unique Take On "Mr. Dickens And His Carol"

Generations have grown up with the tales spun by Charles Dickens, and that’s particularly true around the holidays. Characters like Ebenezer Scrooge and young Tiny Tim have become cultural icons, and a reminder to take stock of our lives, celebrate each day, and care for those around us. Just in time for this holiday season, Samantha Silva offers up Mr. Dickens and His Carol , her whimsical novel that transports us to Dickens’ time. In the novel, Samantha re-imagines the twists and turns...

Duration: 00:29:59

Debut Novel "Spoils" From Brian Van Reet Explores The Many Facets Of Modern War

In his powerful debut novel, “Spoils,” Brian Van Reet transports his readers to the messy, murky front lines of the Iraq War, and a morally complex landscape, where the U.S. mission of winning hearts and minds is anything but clear. The fog of war is felt by American soldiers, Islamic jihadists, and the innocent Iraqi civilians caught in the cross hairs, and Mr. Van Reet tells their intertwining stories with an emotional intensity and precision that is utterly believable. His book is a...

Duration: 00:30:01

Noah Isenberg Shares His Book About 'Casablanca'

This year marks the 75 th anniversary of the release of Casablanca , perhaps the most beloved of all Hollywood films. Somehow, this love story set in war time seems as relevant today as when it first lit up the silver screen back in 1942. People who’ve never even seen the movie still recognize its famous lines, and references to Casablanca abound in novels, plays, musicals, and other productions. In a new book, titled We’ll Always Have Casablanca , Noah Isenberg delves into the film’s...

Duration: 00:30:05

With "To End All Wars," Adam Hochschild Provides A Chilling Exposé Of WWI

The war that became known as World War I began over 100 years ago and ushered in a new type of warfare – one built underground, in trenches, instead of above ground, on horses. In his book, To End All Wars , Adam Hochschild brings the war to life in a stark and dramatic new way. Focusing primarily on the role Britain played, Mr. Hochschild tells this story as a battle of dueling loyalties. On one side were the British citizens and officials who believed the war should be fought, and on the...

Duration: 00:29:57

Marc Levinson On Why The Mid-20th Century Was "An Extraordinary Time" For America's Economy

This interview was originally broadcast in May, 2017. The decades after World War II were a golden age when many people around the world enjoyed an increasingly good quality of life. But by the early 1970s, the good times had all but vanished as energy shortages, financial crises and rising unemployment shook economies in America and around the world. In his book, titled An Extraordinary Time , Marc Levinson describes how economists and governments struggled to find the pathway back to a...

Duration: 00:29:30

Emily Ruskovich Discusses Her Novel "Idaho"

Once in a great while, I interview an author on this program who has more insights and ideas than can possibly be contained in a 30-minute conversation. Such was the case last week when I spoke with Emily Ruskovich about her debut novel, "IDAHO," and so we are continuing that conversation on our show today. Last week, Emily discussed some of the inspirations for her novel, which is set in northern Idaho, where she grew up. At the heart of "IDAHO" is a mysterious, unthinkable tragedy, but...

Duration: 00:29:59

Emily Ruskovich On Crafting Her Breakout Novel "Idaho"

Emily Ruskovich’s novel, Idaho, begins with a family in northern Idaho who experiences an unthinkable, mysterious tragedy. Left behind is a mother of two in prison, and another woman — who barely knows her — trying to make sense of it all. It seems impossible that the two little girls who once played together in the open fields of beautiful Mt. Iris are gone. The wilderness at the heart of this novel is palpable, felt through Ms. Ruskovich’s [ or could say Emily’s ] gorgeous and sharp...

Duration: 00:29:59

Author Saladin Ambar Malcolm X And Racial Politics In A Global Era

Fifty years after he was assassinated at age 39, Malcolm X remains a controversial and somewhat mysterious figure. During his short but eventful life, he was a minister with the Nation of Islam who went on to found his own mosque, a fiery militant who advocated “any means necessary” to attain racial justice, and a brilliant, charismatic speaker whose legacy is still being determined. Saladin Ambar, offers insights into how Malcolm X continued to change and refine his philosophy and...

Duration: 00:29:36

Scott Anderson On How History Has Fractured The Arab World

Scott Anderson holds the unique distinction of having a full issue of The New York Times Magazine devoted to his story. That speaks both to the quality of his work, as well as to its immense relevance. Mr. Anderson’s story, titled Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart, is now out as a paperback book, and it provides valuable insights into what has happened in the Middle East since the invasion of Iraq, including the subsequent series of anti-government uprisings known as the Arab...

Duration: 00:29:49

"Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are?" With Frans de Waal

This episode originally was broadcast in March, 2017. Humans think, feel and plan for the future. We say hello, and goodbye. We design and use tools to our advantage. But what if animals can do these things, too? What if we’ve just never really understood how to discern animal intelligence? Biologist and primatologist Frans de Waal challenges us to think more like an animal in his new book, “Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?” Mr de Waal is best known for his work on the...

Duration: 00:29:59

Examining The Hollywood Blacklist Era With "High Noon" Author Glenn Frankel

Hollywood usually is viewed as a symbol of the American Dream. But in the 1930s and ’40s, it became a symbol of something much darker: the Communist threat to American values that must be publicly rooted out at all costs. In his book, High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic, Glenn Frankel expertly weaves the history of Hollywood’s Blacklist era with the making of this iconic Western film. High Noon starred screen legend Gary Cooper and was written by an...

Duration: 00:29:42

An interview from our archives with Cecil Andrus

Today we’re featuring a special edition of our show as we remember and honor the remarkable life and legacy of Cecil D. Andrus, who died last week, just one day before his 86 th birthday. Governor Andrus was the only Idahoan elected four times as the state’s governor, and he also served as Secretary of the Interior under President Jimmy Carter. He was a lifelong Democrat, but he knew how to work with colleagues of various persuasions to address issues that truly mattered to Idahoans, and...

Duration: 00:29:48

Lyanda Lynn Haupt, author of "Mozart's Starling"

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is revered as an 18 th century genius who composed some of the most sublime music ever written. The fact that a starling became his beloved pet during one of the most creative and productive periods of his short life has perplexed historians and music lovers for years. Yet the unlikely story of the great composer and his common bird is a true one, and today’s guest, Lyanda Lynn Haupt, explores it in detail in her new book, titled “Mozart’s Starling.” Starlings are...

Duration: 00:29:57

Beth Macy Tells Of Two Brothers, A Kidnapping, And A Mother's Quest In "Truevine"

At the turn of the 20 th century, the most popular entertainment acts in the country were found under the Big Top. The circus offered daring acts of bravery, wild animals, comic antics and the collection of human oddities known as the Freak Show. Two of the most popular sideshow attractions were young George and Willie Muse, African American albino brothers taken from their family and displayed through a number of circus companies. Their exotic white skin and wild dreadlocks made them a...

Duration: 00:29:52

John Dvorak, author of "Mask of the Sun"

With the 2017 total solar eclipse less than two weeks away, excitement is reaching a fever pitch in Idaho and other places across the country where this stunning celestial event will be visible. Today, we view eclipses with wonder and anticipation, but that hasn’t always been the case. In ancient times, eclipses were greeted with dread and fear and blamed for deaths, disease outbreaks and disasters. As scientific understanding of eclipses grew, so did interest in experiencing them, with...

Duration: 00:29:58

Does Established Knowledge Matter? Author Tom Nichols On "The Death of Expertise"

Thanks to technological advances like the Internet, we have access to more information than ever before. Gone are the days when we argued at length with friends over a piece of trivia – instead we pull out our smart phones and instantly get the answer. But as Tom Nichols explains in his book, The Death of Expertise, this information isn’t making us any smarter. In fact, it’s turning us into an army of ill-informed and angry citizens who denounce intellectual achievement and distrust...

Duration: 00:29:51

Award-winning Writer Shawn Vestal On His Debut Novel "Daredevils"

This interview was originally broadcast in March, 2017 As every reader knows, novels can transport us to unexpected places. They also can shine new light on places we thought we already knew. Today’s guest, Shawn Vestal, manages to do both in his debut novel, Daredevils. Daredevils is a coming-of-age story about taking big risks. It features colorful characters, a southern Idaho setting, an epic road trip and a fast-paced narrative that offers surprises till the very end. While fiction, it...

Duration: 00:29:21

In "The Perfect Horse" Elizabeth Letts Tells A Surprising WWII Story

During the final days of World War II, a group of American soldiers encountered a German spy carrying nothing but photos of beautiful white horses. The story behind those photos was even more surprising. Nearby, on a farm behind enemy lines, the Nazis had stockpiled some of the world’s most valuable horses as part of an ambitious breeding program to develop the perfect war horse. But with the Russian army fast approaching from the east and the Third Reich on the verge of defeat, these...

Duration: 00:30:07

Why General MacArthur And President Truman Clashed In The Early 1950's

This program was originally broadcast in March, 2017. Six decades ago, President Harry Truman made a decision to fire an incredibly popular general with near celebrity status: General Douglas MacArthur. Was it a good decision? Only the future would tell. It was a difficult decision at a critical time. The Cold War had reached a crisis point. People around the world lived in fear of the atomic bomb and the Chinese had joined the Korean War against the United States and its allies. The...

Duration: 00:29:52

Jane Mayer On How Conservative Politics Are Driven By "Dark Money"

The re-election of Barack Obama in November of 2012 dealt a stunning defeat to the Republican Party. As the GOP reeled from the loss and began laying plans to win in 2016, a small group of shadowy and wealthy figures gathered at the request of Charles and David Koch, otherwise known as the Koch brothers. Their secret agenda: To map out plans to systematically and inequitably influence our political system. In her bestseller, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the...

Duration: 00:30:04

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