Reader's Corner

BSPR News: Fri at 6 p.m. & Sun at 11 a.m. | BSPR News/Music: Fri at 6 p.m.

Welcome to Reader’s Corner, a weekly radio show and podcast hosted by Boise State University president emeritus and former Illinois Lieutenant Governor Bob Kustra.  Reader's Corner features lively conversations with leading writers, including Pulitzer, National Book Award, and Nobel Prize winners and many best-selling authors. Listen each week for thoughtful interviews about issues and ideas that matter.

Coming up on Reader’s Corner

  • September 25 & 27:  THE THIRD REVOLUTION: XI JINPING AND THE NEW CHINESE STATE, by Elizabeth C. Economy, senior fellow & director for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (encore)
     
  • October 2 & 4:  LIFE UNDERCOVER: COMING OF AGE IN THE CIA, a riveting memoir by Amaryllis Fox
     
  • October 9 & 11:  SUNNY DAYS: THE CHILDREN'S TELEVISION REVOLUTION THAT CHANGED AMERICA, by David Kamp
     
  • October 16 & 18:  FROM COLD WAR TO HOT PEACE: AN AMERICN AMBASSADOR IN PUTIN'S RUSSIA, by Ambassador Michael McFaul (encore)

About Bob Kustra and Boise State Public Radio

Listen to our shows at your convenience with our free Reader's Corner app from the App Store or Google Play and at Readers Corner with Bob Kustra on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.  

Subscribe to the weekly Reader's Corner podcast email.

We welcome feedback!  Contact us here.

Ways to Connect

This is an encore presentation.

China is a nation in pursuit of a new role on the global stage. But what implications will those reversing trends have on the US and the rest of the world?  In her new book, The Third Revolution, Economy provides an incisive look at the transformative changes underway in China today.

Supreme Inequality is a revelatory examination of the conservative direction of the Supreme Court over the last fifty years.  Contrary to what Americans would like to believe, the Court does surprisingly little to protect the rights of the poor and disadvantaged. 


"In Deep" By David Rohde

Sep 11, 2020

Three-quarters of Americans believe that a group of unelected government and military officials secretly direct national policy in the United States. Conservatives fear the ever-growing bureaucracy is encroaching on individual rights. Liberals fear the military-industrial complex is pushing us into endless wars.

The debate over the “deep state” raises core questions about the future of American democracy.  Is it possible for career government officials to be politically neutral? How vast should the power of a president be?


 This is an encore presentation. 

In Up All Night, author and journalist Lisa Napoli tells how we went from an age of nightly news broadcasts on three national networks to the age of 24-hour channels and constantly breaking news. The answer—thanks to Ted Turner and an oddball cast of cable television visionaries, big league rejects, and nonunion newbies—can be found in the basement of an abandoned country club in Atlanta. Because it was there, in the summer of 1980, that this motley crew somehow, against all odds, launched CNN. 


Interference in American elections.  The sponsorship of extremist politics in Europe.  War in the Ukraine.  In recent years, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has waged a concerted campaign to expand its influence and undermine Western institutions.  But how and why did all this come about, and who has orchestrated it?


Esi Edugyan is the author of the book, Washington Black.  The novel won the prestigious Giller Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.  The paperback edition of the book is out now.


Overground Railroad, by Candacy Taylor, explores the historical role and residual impact of the Green Book, a travel guide for black motorists. Deeply researched through extensive travel and photography – shown in 150 color and black and white illustrations -- Overground Railroad is an account of the Green Book’s important role during the years that Jim Crow laws were in place across much of America.  Published from 1936 to 1966, the Green Book was a resourceful and innovative solution to a horrific problem.  It took courage to be listed in the Green Book, and Overground Railroad celebrates the stories of those who put their names in the book and stood up against segregation, as it shows how we arrived at our present historical moment, and how far we still have to go when it comes to race relations in America.


Author and journalist David Daley, is considered one of the nation’s leading experts on gerrymandering.  His first book charted the troubling evolution of gerrymandering and voter manipulation in the United States. 


Daniel Okrent’s The Guarded Gate tells the chilling story of how anti-immigration activists of the early twentieth century — most of them well-born, many of them progressives — used the bogus science of eugenics to justify closing the immigration door in 1924.


Juan Gabriel Vásquez's most recent novel is The Shape of the Ruins.

When a man is arrested at a museum for attempting to steal the bullet-ridden suit of a murdered Colombian politician, few notice. But soon this thwarted theft takes on greater meaning as it becomes a thread in a widening web of popular fixations with conspiracy theories, assassinations, and historical secrets.


This is an encore presentation.

Bestselling novelist Pam Jenoff's work frequently appears on the New York Times bestseller list.

Her latest novel, The Lost Girls of Paris, is based upon the real-life women of the British Special Operations Executive service, who served as secret agents in occupied France during WWII. Told from the perspectives of the woman who ran the spy ring, an agent who risked everything in service of her country, and a widower working to uncover the fate of them all, Jenoff’s story is a remarkable story of heroism, betrayal, and friendship.

  

A Long Petal of the Sea, is an epic novel spanning decades and crossing continents that follows two young people as they flee the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in search of a place to call home

In the late 1930s, when General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee.  Starting over on a new continent, their trials are just beginning, and over the course of their lives they will face trial after trial, destined to witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world.

The New York Times Book Review said of the book:  “… one of the strongest and most affecting works in Isabel Allende’s long career.” 

Beijing Payback, a debut thriller, was named one of 5 books not to miss by USA Today and garnered favorable reviews by NPR, the New York Times, the LA Review of Books, and others.   The story takes place in Southern California and China.  A Chinese American college basketball player named Victor Li learns that his father was murdered — and that perhaps his father was not quite the person he was thought to be. 


This is an encore presentation.

On February 18, 1965, an overflowing crowd packed the Union at England’s Cambridge University to witness a historic televised debate between James Baldwin, the leading literary voice of the civil rights movement, and William F. Buckley Jr., America's most influential conservative intellectual.


Emily Nemen’s The Cactus League, as the title tells us, is set in the Arizona desert, around Scottsdale, during spring training for major league baseball.  The novel is narrated by a sportscaster and while nominally the story of Jason Goodyear, the star outfielder for the fictional Los Angeles Lions, Goodyear’s story is interspersed with the stories of other richly drawn characters -- the batting coach, aging sports agent, the players, owners, ballpark staff and the hangers on.


Imperiled Ocean is an exploration of the earth's last wild frontier, filled with high-stakes stories that explore a vast territory undergoing tremendous change.  Journalist Laura Trethewey set out in 2015 on 'an extended listening tour' to hear some of these stories.  She learned that for reasons of money… migrants die, cruise ships steer around the law, and plastic is made, sold and discarded faster than it can be collected and disposed of. 


This is an encore presentation.

While not a household name, Burton K. Wheeler may have been the most powerful politician Montana ever produced, and he was one of the most influential and controversial members of the United States senate.   A New Deal Democrat and lifelong opponent of concentrated power, he consistently acted with a righteous personal and political independence that has all but disappeared from the public sphere. 


On November 8, 1519, the Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortés first met Montezuma, the Aztec emperor. This introduction – the prelude to the Spanish seizure of Mexico City and to European colonization of the mainland of the Americas – has long been the symbol of Cortés’s bold and brilliant military genius. Montezuma, on the other hand, is remembered as a coward who gave away a vast empire and touched off a wave of colonial invasions across the hemisphere.

But is that actually what happened?


This is an encore presentation

Oleg Gordievsky is hardly a household name in the United States, but his story is one of unparalleled intrigue, danger, and spy craft.  In his book, The Spy and the Traitor, author Ben Macintyre tells the thrilling tale of the Cold War’s greatest double agent. The son of two KGB agents, Gordievsky became the Soviet Union’s top spy in the UK, only to become disillusioned with the regime and begin working with British intelligence to foil countless Soviet plots, risking his life again and again.

  

In “Tightrope,” authors Kristof and WuDunn issue a plea – deeply personal and told through the lives of real Americans – to address the crisis in working-class America, while focusing on solutions to mend a half century of governmental failure.

The authors tell this story, in part, through the lives of some of the children with whom Kristof grew up, in rural Yamhill, Oregon, an area that prospered for much of the twentieth century but has been devastated in the last few decades as blue-collar jobs disappeared. 


In The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson shows, in cinematic detail, how Winston Churchill taught the British people “the art of being fearless.” On Churchill’s first day as prime minister, Adolf Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen, and the Dunkirk evacuation was just two weeks away. For the next twelve months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons. It was up to Churchill to hold his country together and persuade President Franklin Roosevelt that Britain was a worthy ally—and willing to fight to the end.  


This is an encore presentation.

During the last presidential election, many lower- and middle-class white Americans were drawn to politicians who pledge to make their lives great again. But have the resulting policies actually placed those very Americans at a greater risk of sickness and death?

  

Over the past few decades there has been a revolution in terms of who controls consumer knowledge and information. This rapid change has imperiled the way we think. We shop with Amazon, socialize on Facebook, turn to Apple for entertainment, and rely on Google for information. 

But is there a hidden price we’re paying beyond that cheap shipping and low monthly subscription?


In Erica Ferencik’s hypnotic, violent, and unsparing thriller -- named by the New York Times Book Review as one of the Summer 2019’s Best Thrillers -- a young woman leaves behind everything she knows to take on the Bolivian jungle, but her excursion abroad quickly turns into a fight for her life.


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