NPR logo October 19th Show

October 19th Show

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'Running the Books'
Avi Steinberg graduated from Harvard with no direction, and ended up working as a prison librarian. Instead of dealing with violence and fear, he met a prisoner dreaming up the cooking show he'll host someday, a fragile prostitute connecting with Sylvia Plath and a number of other unexpected characters. Neal Conan talks with Steinberg about his memoir, Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian, in which he explains how the prison library is much more than a place to pass the time reading. It's a community within the gates, where inmates and staff deal with similar ambitions, heartbreak — and even humor — as folks on the outside.

Mexico's Drug War
Four years after Mexican President Felipe Calderon promised to crack down on drug violence and corruption, the drug war continues to grow in some parts of the country. While the police and military have scored several key victories, more than 28,000 people have been killed in the violence since 2006, as drug cartels fight the government crackdown and each other. A number of public officials in border regions are relocating to the United States, and worries of spillover violence grow on the U.S. side of the border. NPR Mexico City correspondent Jason Beaubien has been covering Mexico's drug war, and explains what's behind the violence and its effects on both sides of the border.

Randi Weingarten
The intense debate over how to fix public schools has shifted toward teachers and their unions. Critics complain too many teacher's unions stand in the way of education reform and protect underperforming educators.  Randi Weingarten serves as president of the American Federation of Teachers and often stands on the front lines of these debates. She argues that teachers must play a key role in shaping education reform, that they deserve more support from principals and that administrators must share responsibility for student performance. She talks with host Neal Conan about the role of unions in education.

'Secretariat' Review
The movie Secretariat, a fictionalized retelling of the story of the horse who was the first U.S. Triple Crown winner in 25 years, is in theaters now. Host Neal Conan will get a review of the movie from NPR Heath Policy correspondent — and horse lover —  Julie Rovner. Secretariat follows the famous 1970's thoroughbred and his owner Penny Chenery all the way to his famous win at the Belmont Stakes. Julie will tell us what the movie gets wrong, and what it gets right about the most well-known horse ever to run a track.