December 7th: What's On Today's Show : Blog Of The Nation In the first hour of Talk of the Nation, the political junkie, and the life of naval codebreaker Joe Rochefort and how he helped the U.S. win the Battle of Midway. In the second hour, winning the war on violence, and Egypt's political future after the first round of parliamentary elections.
NPR logo December 7th: What's On Today's Show

December 7th: What's On Today's Show

US Marines carry a wounded comrade who has been hit by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) to a Medevac helicopter of U.S. Army's Task Force Lift "Dust Off", Charlie Company 1-171 Aviation Regiment in Helmand province on November 10, 2011. Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images

The Political Junkie
After Hermain Cain's rapid fall, Newt Gingrich rises to the top of the polls at a pivotal moment. Less than one month until the Iowa Caucuses, the former Speaker of the House has a double-digit lead in the Hawkeye state. While Gingrich enjoys the lead in Iowa and South Carolina, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney holds on to his advantage in New Hampshire. Host Neal Conan and political junkie Ken Rudin talk with Michael Gerson about how the field of GOP candidates is shaping up in the final stretch. Gerson, now a columnist with The Washington Post, was a speech writer for President George W. Bush. Ken and Neal will also recap the week in politics, from a new Congressional map in Colorado, to the political fight over taxes, and the punishment for convicted former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.

The Codebreaker Who Changed The Course of WWII
The attack on Pearl Harbor seventy years ago today set in motion a series of battles in the Pacific between the Japanese and the United States. The turning point in the Pacific came in June of 1942, when the U.S. surprised and defeated the Japanese fleet in the Battle of Midway. That decisive victory was possible, in large part, because of the work of a little-known naval codebreaker named Joe Rochefort. His work deciphering codes revealed the details of when and how the Japanese planned to attack and handed a tremendous advantage to the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Host Neal Conan speaks with journalist and historian Elliot Carlson, whose new book, Joe Rochefort's War, gives an in-depth account of Rochefort's life and career in the Navy, his unsuccessful efforts to find the Japanese fleet before Pearl Harbor and, ultimately, his redemption at Midway.

Less War, Less Violence
Despite news headlines of terrorist bombings around the world, U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and violent crackdowns in Syria, two recent books argue that the world has never seen so little war and violence. Steven Pinker, a Harvard psychologist, argues that violence has been in decline for thousands of years. Scholar Joshua Goldstein adds that, in spite of popular misperceptions, "The last decade has seen fewer war deaths than any decade in the past 100 years." Neal Conan talks with Stephen Pinker, author of The Better Angels Of Our Nature, and Joshua Goldstein, who wrote Winning The War On War, about what's driving the decline of war and violence and whether the trend can last.

What's At Stake In Egypt's Elections
Roughly one-third of Egyptians voted in the country's first round of parliamentary elections, and Islamist parties scored big victories. The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, considered the country's largest and best-organized political party, says it won a majority of available seats, while the ultraconservative Salafist al-Nour party won almost one-quarter of the vote. Those victories — particularly the rise of the Salafists, who practice a very strict interpretation of Islamic law — have left some liberal Egyptians and outside observers uneasy. Ed Husain, senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, has just returned from Egypt. He talks with host Neal Conan about Egypt's Islamist parties and what the election results might mean for Egypt's political future.