Great Podversations Great Podversations features nationally-recognized writers in conversation. These candid discussions invite the listener to learn about literature, politics, history, economics, science, and culture through the voices of compelling authors and experts. NPR's Robert Siegel introduces each pair of fascinating guests. Great Podversations is produced by the University of Louisville Kentucky Author Forum, and distributed by Louisville Public Media. For more information and podcast show notes, please visit
Great Podversations

Great Podversations

From 89.3 WFPL News Louisville

Great Podversations features nationally-recognized writers in conversation. These candid discussions invite the listener to learn about literature, politics, history, economics, science, and culture through the voices of compelling authors and experts. NPR's Robert Siegel introduces each pair of fascinating guests. Great Podversations is produced by the University of Louisville Kentucky Author Forum, and distributed by Louisville Public Media. For more information and podcast show notes, please visit

Most Recent Episodes

Barton Gellman and Ellen Nakashima

Investigative journalist and author Barton Gellman speaks with The Washington Post national security reporter Ellen Nakashima about Mr. Gellman's bestseller, "Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State." Barton Gellman is a Pulitzer Prize and Emmy Award-winning journalist. Since 2013 he has been a senior fellow at The Century Foundation. During 21 years at The Washington Post he served tours as legal, military, diplomatic, and foreign correspondent. He has taught courses at Princeton on nonfiction writing, investigative reporting and national security secrecy. His bestselling "Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency" won The Los Angeles Times' Book Prize and was a New York Times Best Book of 2008. Ellen Nakashima is a national security reporter for The Washington Post who writes about cyber, intelligence and related issues. In 2018, she and her colleagues won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of Russia's efforts to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. In 2014, she was part of a team awarded a Pulitzer for reporting on the hidden scope of National Security Agency surveillance and its policy implications. Since joining The Washington Post in 1995, she also has served as a Southeast Asia correspondent and reported on the White House and Virginia politics.

Nicholas Christakis and Rob Stein

Physician, sociologist and author Nicholas Christakis speaks with NPR journalist Rob Stein about Dr. Christakis's bestseller, "Apollo's Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live." Nicholas Christakis directs the Human Nature Lab at Yale University, where he is also the Co-Director of the Yale Institute for Network Science. Dr. Christakis is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2009, Christakis was named to the Time 100, Time Magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world. In 2009 and again in 2010, he was named by Foreign Policy magazine to its list of top global thinkers. Rob Stein is a correspondent and senior editor on NPR's science desk. Stein covers health and medicine, focusing on stories that illustrate the intersection of science, health, politics, social trends, ethics, and federal science policy. Stein's work has been honored by many organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association for Cancer Research, and the Association of Health Care Journalists. He was twice part of NPR teams that won Peabody Awards.

Elizabeth Kolbert and Kate Aronoff

The twenty-first episode of GREAT PODVERSATIONS features best-selling writer Elizabeth Kolbert speaking with journalist Kate Aronoff about Ms. Kolbert's book, "Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future," and other timely topics. Elizabeth Kolbert is a staff writer for The New Yorker. Her most recent book, "Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future," was published in February. In it, Kolbert explores whether we can change nature to save it, in Earth's new geological epoch: the Anthropocene. She meets biologists who are trying to preserve the world's rarest fish, which lives in a single tiny pool in the middle of the Mojave; engineers who are turning carbon emissions to stone in Iceland; Australian researchers who are trying to develop a "super coral" that can survive on a hotter globe; and physicists who are contemplating shooting tiny diamonds into the stratosphere to cool the earth. The New York Times praises "Under a White Sky" as: "...important, necessary, urgent, and phenomenally interesting." Kolbert is also the author of "The Sixth Extinction," which received the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction in 2015, and "Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change." She is a two-time National Magazine Award winner, and has received a Heinz Award , a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a National Academies communications award. Kolbert is a visiting fellow at the Center for Environmental Studies at Williams College, and was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Kate Aronoff is a staff writer at The New Republic and the author of "Overheated: How Capitalism Broke The Planet—And How We Fight Back." Her work has appeared in The Intercept, The New York Times, The Nation, Rolling Stone, and The Guardian, among other outlets. Aronoff is the co-editor of "We Own the Future: Democratic Socialism, American Style and the co-author of A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal." She sits on the editorial board of Dissent and the advisory board of Jewish Currents.

Nicole Krauss and Elizabeth Blair

Best-selling writer Nicole Krauss speaks with NPR journalist Elizabeth Blair about Krauss' book of short stories, "To Be A Man." Nicole Krauss is best known for her novels "Forest Dark," and "Great House," and a finalist for the National Book Award and the Orange Prize. Her fiction has been published in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Harper's Magazine, Esquire, and The Best American Short Stories, and her books have been translated into thirty-seven languages. She is currently the first Writer-in-Residence at the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute at Columbia University. Elizabeth Blair is an Award-winning senior producer and reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR. Blair produces, edits, and reports arts and cultural segments for NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. She has reported on a range of topics from arts funding to the MeToo movement. Blair has overseen several large-scale series including The NPR 100, which explored landmark musical works of the 20th Century, and In Character, which probed the origins of iconic American fictional characters. Blair's work has received several honors, including two Peabody Awards and a Gracie.

Yo-Yo Ma and Teddy Abrams

Grammy award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma speaks with conductor, composer, and musician Teddy Abrams about the power of music, healing cultural differences, and other timely topics. Yo-Yo Ma has recorded more than 100 albums, is the winner of 18 Grammy Awards, and has performed for nine American presidents, most recently on the occasion of President Biden's inauguration. He has received numerous awards, including the National Medal of the Arts, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Kennedy Center Honors. He has been a UN Messenger of Peace since 2006, and was recognized as one of TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2020. Teddy Abrams is the acclaimed Music Director of both the Louisville Orchestra and the Britt Festival Orchestra. Abrams has fostered interdisciplinary collaborations with organizations including the Louisville Ballet, the Center for Interfaith Relations, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Speed Art Museum, and the Folger Shakespeare Library. His rap-opera, 'The Greatest: Muhammad Ali," premiered in 2017, celebrating Louisville's hometown hero. Abrams' work with the Louisville Orchestra has been profiled on CBS News Sunday Morning, NPR, and in The Wall Street Journal.

Philip Rucker and Mara Liasson

Pulitzer-winning writer Philip Rucker speaks with NPR journalist Mara Liasson about Mr. Rucker's number one New York Times bestseller, "A Very Stable Genius: Donald J Trump's Testing of America." The book is an unvarnished exploration of Trump's presidency and administration. Philip Rucker is the Washington Bureau chief at the Washington Post and has covered Congress, the Obama White House and the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns. He serves as an on-air political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. Mara Liasson is a national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazine programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Liasson provides extensive coverage of politics and policy from Washington, DC — focusing on the White House and Congress — and on political trends beyond the Beltway.

Jane Smiley and Eleanor Beardsley

Today, Pulitzer-winning author Jane Smiley speaks with NPR journalist Eleanor Beardsley about Ms. Smiley's latest book, "Perestroika in Paris." Jane Smiley is the author of many novels, short stories, nonfiction books and young adult novels. In addition to the Pulitzer prize for fiction, Smiley has been awarded the Fitzgerald Award for Achievement in American Literature. She teaches creative writing at the University of California, Riverside. Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French politics, economics, and culture. She has become an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team, covering the first Arab Spring revolution in Tunisia, where she witnessed the overthrow of that government. Beardsley covers all of France for NPR, including three French presidential elections, numerous Tour de France races, and the Soccer world cup.

Terry Tempest Williams and Nathaniel Rich

Award-winning writer, conservationist and activist Terry Tempest Williams speaks with novelist and journalist Nathaniel Rich. Both Williams and Rich are avid supporters of the environment and proponents of ecological issues. Nathaniel Rich is the author of several books and a journalist at The New York Times Magazine. Mr. Rich's 2019 book "Losing Earth: A Recent History" received awards from the Society of Environmental Journalists and the American Institute of Physicists and was a finalist for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. He is a regular contributor to The Atlantic, Harper's, and The New York Review of Books. Rich's next book, titled "Second Nature," will be published in March 2021. Terry Tempest Williams writes about social and environmental justice, including ecology and the protection of public lands. She has received a John Muir Award for American Conservation and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Ms. Williams 2019 book "Erosion: Essays of Undoing" examines the cultural and environmental issues of public land, and climate crisis. She is the current writer-in-residence at Harvard Divinity School.

Heather Clark and Daphne Merkin

Award-winning author Heather Clark speaks with literary critic and novelist Daphne Merkin about Clark's latest book, "Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath." Heather Clark is the author of several books and a professor of contemporary poetry. She has been awarded several scholarly fellowships, including a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship. Daphne Merkin has written as a book critic for The New Republic, The New Yorker, and The New York Times Magazine. She is also an author of essay collections and a novel titled "Enchantment." She is a contributing editor to Tablet Magazine.

Thomas Ricks and Danielle Allen

Best -selling author and journalist Thomas Ricks speaks with author, political scientist and Professor Danielle Allen about Mr. Ricks latest book, "First Principles." Thomas Ricks has written for the Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal about American military operations around the world. He is the author of several books, including the number-one New York Times bestseller "Fiasco," which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Danielle Allen is a classicist, political scientist, and professor at Harvard University where she is also the Director of the Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics. She has written for The Washington Post and published several books and scholarly articles. Professor Allen chaired the bipartisan Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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