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.

Upcoming Programs:

  • January 8 & 10: COUNTRY MUSIC: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY, by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns (Part II encore)
     
  • January 15 & 17: EAT THE BUDDA: LIFE AND DEATH IN A TIBETAN TOWN, the award-winning book by Barbara Demick
     
  • January 22 & 24: HOW IKE LED: THE PRINCIPLES BEHIND EISENHOWER'S BIGGEST DECISIONS, by Susan Eisenhower
     
  • January 29 & 31: A COVERT ACTION: REAGAN, THE CIA, AND THE COLD WAR STRUGGLE IN POLAND, by Seth Jones (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.

We welcome feedback!  Contact us here.

Ways to Connect

Eat The Buddha is a gripping portrait of Tibet, spanning decades of Tibetan and Chinese modern history and told through the lives of its people. Award-winning journalist Barbara Demick explores one of the most hidden corners of the world, telling the story of a Tibetan town eleven thousand feet above sea level.


  This is an encore presentation.

In his newest collaboration with documentarian Ken Burns, Dayton Duncan’s Country Music is the story of the musicians: Hank Williams’s tragic honky tonk life, Dolly Parton rising to fame from a dirt-poor childhood, and Loretta Lynn turning her experiences into songs that spoke to women everywhere. Featuring interviews with the genre’s biggest stars, including the likes of Merle Haggard to Garth Brooks to Rosanne Cash, the book offers a fascinating insight into the music that lies at the very center of the American experience.


This is an encore presentation.

The history of country music begins where country music itself emerged: the American South, where people sang to themselves and to their families at home and in church, and where they danced to fiddle tunes on Saturday nights.


Tim Egan’s latest book, A Pilgrimage to Eternity, is a thrilling journey, a family story, and a revealing history of Christianity and the world it created.  Moved by his mother’s death and his Irish Catholic family’s complicated history with the church, Timothy Egan decided to follow in the footsteps of centuries of seekers to force a reckoning with his own beliefs, embarking on a thousand-mile pilgrimage through the theological cradle of Christianity.

In Never Trump authors Robert Saldin and Steven Teles, took a deep-dive into the Never Trump movement, explaining the reasons for the widespread and unprecedented intra-party opposition to Trump, why it took the form it did, and its long-term consequences. Importantly, Never Trump anticipates the impact of the Never Trump network on the future of the Republican and Democratic parties, conservatism, and American politics.


This is an encore presentation.

The Troubles in Northern Ireland had deep roots.  Northern Ireland was created in 1921, when Ireland was partitioned between the North and South.  While Southern Ireland became the Irish Free State, Northern Ireland's population was split: the majority were unionists and wanted to remain within the United Kingdom.  A significant minority, however, mostly Catholics, were nationalists who wanted a united Ireland independent of British rule.


This is an encore presentation.

There is much to fear in the dark corners of cyberspace. From well-covered stories like the Stuxnet attack which helped slow Iran’s nuclear program, to lesser-known tales like EternalBlue, the 2017 cyber battle that closed hospitals in Britain and froze shipping crates in Germany in midair, we have entered an age in which online threats carry real-world consequences.


This is an encore presentation.

It’s May 1943. The Battle of Attu between American and Japanese forces was raging on the Aleutian island, with an Arctic cold, impenetrable fog, and rocketing winds that combined to create some of the worst weather on Earth. In this unlikely place, a Silver Star-winning American sergeant discovers a Japanese surgeon’s war diary, and finds solace for his own tortured soul.


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.


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