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

  • October 31 & November 1:  A MOST BEAUTIFUL THING: THE TRUE STORY OF AMERICA'S FIRST ALL-BLACK HIGH SCHOOL ROWING TEAM, by Arshay Cooper
     
  • November 6 & 8:  A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE AMERICAN SPY WHO HELPED WIN WORLD WAR II, by Sonia Purnell (encore)
     
  • November 13 & 15:  ILL WINDS:  SAVING DEMOCRACY FROM RUSSIAN RAGE, CHINESE AMBITION, AND AMERICAN COMPLACENCY, by Larry Diamond
     
  • November 20 & 22:  THE STORM ON OUR SHORES: ONE ISLAND, TWO SOLDIERS, AND THE FORGOTTEN BATTLE OF WORLD WAR II, by Mark Obmascik (encore)

About Bob Kustra and Boise State Public Radio

You can also listen to our shows with our free Reader's Corner app from the App Store or Google Play and at Readers Corner with Bob Kustra on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.  

Subscribe to the weekly Reader's Corner podcast email.

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Ways to Connect

Ill Winds is a call to action against the rising authoritarianism that challenges our world order—and the very value of liberty.  Professor Diamond has watched with mounting unease as illiberal rulers rose in Hungary, Poland, Turkey, the Philippines, and beyond, while China and Russia grew increasingly bold and bullying. Then, with Trump’s election at home, the global retreat from freedom spread from democracy’s margins to its heart. 


Growing up on Chicago’s Westside in the 90’s, Arshay Cooper knows the harder side of life. Street corners full of gangs, hallways of his apartment complex haunted by drug addicts, his mother a recovering addict. Arshay spent his school days in the home-ec kitchen dreaming of becoming a chef. And then one day he notices a boat in the school lunchroom, and a poster that reads “Join the Crew Team.”


This is an encore presentation.

It’s not everyday that we interview an author who has stared into Vladimir Putin's eyes while being accused of "purposely seeking to ruin U.S.-Russia relations." As President Barack Obama’s adviser on Russian affairs, Michael McFaul helped craft the United States’ policy, known as “reset,” that fostered new and unprecedented collaboration between the two countries. And then, as U.S. ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, he had a front-row seat when this fleeting, hopeful moment crumbled with Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency.

  

In "Sunny Days," through rigorous research and extensive interviews of key Sesame Street figures, bestselling author David Kamp has produced a fun and fascinating work of cultural history.


Amaryllis Fox was in her last year as an undergraduate at Oxford studying theology and international law when her writing mentor Daniel Pearl was captured and beheaded. Galvanized by this brutality, Fox applied to a master’s program in conflict and terrorism at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.  Soon, at the age of 22, she was recruited into the CIA, one of the youngest female officers.


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.


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