Reader's Corner Subscribe to Readers Corner, a weekly radio show hosted by Boise State University President Bob Kustra that features lively conversations with some of the nations leading authors about issues and ideas that matter today.
Reader's Corner

Reader's Corner

From Boise State Public Radio

Subscribe to Readers Corner, a weekly radio show hosted by Boise State University President Bob Kustra that features lively conversations with some of the nations leading authors about issues and ideas that matter today.More from Reader's Corner »

Most Recent Episodes

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 so-called "eclipse chasers" traveling the globe to witness the next spectacular event. Eclipses have spawned myths that are still with us, even as their mystery continues to recede in the bright light of research and discovery. Today's guest, John Dvorak, offers a timely and fascinating look at eclipses in his new book, Mask of the Sun: The Science, History and Forgotten Lore of Eclipses. Dr. Dvorak originally trained as a lunar scientist and spent 20 years operating a large telescope at Mauna Kea for

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 experts. Dr. Nichols is a professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, an adjunct professor at the Harvard Extension School and a former aide in the U.S. Senate. He's written five books on international relations, Russian affairs, and nuclear weapons, and is a senior contributor for The Federalist . In addition, Dr. Nichols is an undefeated five-time Jeopardy! champion.

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

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 alludes to several historic events, including Evel Knievel's famous attempt to rocket across the Snake River Canyon near Twin Falls, Idaho, in 1974, and the federal raids on a polygamist colony in northern Arizona in 1953. Shawn Vestal is a longtime journalist who writes a column for the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington. He won the 2014 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for his short story collection, Godforsaken Idaho , and his work has been published in a number of literary magazines.

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 precious animals were now in great danger. The German spy had an audacious request: Would the Americans step forward to save them? Elizabeth Letts tells this amazing story in The Perfect Horse: The Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis. The book is nonfiction, but it has as many plot twists and turns as any spy thriller. Ms. Letts is a lifelong equestrian. Her previous books include the bestseller, The Eighty Dollar Champion , and two novels.

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 president wanted to contain the war and the general wanted to expand it. The world needed to get serious about arms control. Or, was it too late? And who had the authority to make decisions on the brink of a nuclear World War III? H.W. Brands explores this fascinating period in American history in his latest book, The General vs. The President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War. Dr. Brands is the Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History at the University of Texas at Austin, the author of 25

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 Rise of the Radical Right, investigative journalist Jane Mayer shows us how the Koch brothers and their like-minded, super-rich colleagues are carrying out these plans. The book is now out in paperback. Jane Mayer is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the recipient of several top journalism prizes. Her previous books include the bestseller, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals , which won numerous awards and was a finalist for the National Book

A Fascinating Look Into "Stalin's Last American Spy" With Author Kati Marton

What does it take for someone with seemingly every advantage in life to turn on their friends, their family and their country, all in the name of a cause? Today's guest, Kati Marton, explores that question in her new book, True Believer: Stalin's Last American Spy. True Believer is the amazing true story of an American named Noel Field who spied for the Soviet Union during the 1930s and '40s . Ultimately, Field was kidnapped and tortured by the KGB and forced to testify against his own Communist comrades. His family, including his wife, his brother and an adopted daughter, also were imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain when they went to search for him. The story Ms. Marton tells is filled with danger, misplaced loyalties, and betrayal. Kati Marton is the author of several books including Enemies of the People: My Family's Journey to America , which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and she is a former correspondent for NPR and ABC News. Ms. Marton will be coming

A Fascinating Look Into "Stalin's Last American Spy" With Author Kati Marton

Navigating "The Road To Character" With NY Times Columnist David Brooks

Every once in a while, you come across individuals who make you feel better just for having encountered them. As today's guest, David Brooks, puts it, "They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel funny and valued. They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all." Mr. Brooks drew inspiration from these encounters to write a bestselling book, The Road to Character . It's now out in paperback. In the book, Mr. Brooks challenges us to pay more attention to virtues that exist at the core of our being, like kindness, bravery, honesty or faithfulness. And he delves into the lives of 10 historical figures to explore character in some depth and how it can serve as a compass for life. Today we're featuring an encore edition of our interview with David Brooks. He visited Boise last fall as the featured speaker at Boise State's Distinguished Lecture Series, and The Road to Character was our Campus Read this past academic

Charles Fountain On Why The 1919 World Series Scandal Was The Birth Of Modern Baseball

This program was originally broadcast in May of 2016 Nearly a century ago, the Chicago White Sox faced the Cincinnati Reds in the 1919 World Series. The games attracted big crowds, widespread enthusiasm and plenty of action from the so-called "sporting men" who placed bets on who would win each contest. Gambling was an integral and accepted part of baseball at the time, but for this Series, something seemed off. The White Sox were heavily favored to win, but they lost to the Reds five games to three. Speculation quickly surfaced that the Series had been rigged. When the dust settled, eight White Sox players, known from then on as the Black Sox, were accused of throwing the games. They included "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, already a legend. While the famous line, "Say it ain't so Joe," may well be apocryphal, it perfectly sums up the 1919 World Series, when innocence was lost and trust betrayed. Charles Fountain tells the riveting story of one of baseball's most notorious scandals in a new

Charles Fountain On Why The 1919 World Series Scandal Was The Birth Of Modern Baseball

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 fascinating history and considers why it has remained a revered part of our cultural landscape. No one anticipated Casablanca would have such lasting impact. But a cast of immigrants and iconic actors—including Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman —worked magic with a screenplay adapted from an un-produced play written by two unknowns. Casablanca went on to win Oscars for best picture, best director and best screenplay, and has enjoyed more revival screenings than any film in history. Noah Isenberg is

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