Books - Non-Fiction

22 years ago a relatively unknown poet became a publishing sensation after she released her first memoir. Frances Mayes had written about her experiences renovating an ancient villa in the Tuscany region of Italy. That book, "Under the Tuscan Sun,  became a massive blockbuster best-seller. The paperback remained on the best-seller list for years.

It was around this time of year in 1996 that Thomas Cahill came through the area on a tour to publicize his book "How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe." It was right before St. Patrick's Day and since the man known as Patrick was the central figure in Cahill's history of early Ireland it seemed quite appropriate.

David Cay Johnston returned to the program to discuss his latest book about Donald Trump. The first time we had him on the show Donald Trump was still just a candidate for our highest office and Johnston had written a book called "The Making of Donald Trump."

"Psycho: Behind the Scenes of the Classic Thriller" by Janet Leigh (original recording made in 1995)

1995 was my Hollywood year on the program. Over a thirty day period I had interviews with two of the greatest movie stars of their era, Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh. Janet Leigh was coming to Dayton for the Janet Leigh Film Festival and she was publicizing a book about her experiences making a film in which she only made a brief but career defining appearance; Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho."

Brendan Gill began working for The New Yorker magazine straight out of college in 1936. In 1996 he celebrated his 60th year with the publication and he published his final book, "Late Bloomers." In that book Gill celebrated individuals who had blossomed after reaching middle age or even later.

One of the most impressive works of non-fiction that I read during 2017 was the book "Glass House - the 1% Economy and the Shattering of the All-American Town" by Brian Alexander. Alexander's hometown of Lancaster, Ohio has seen the once vital industrial core of the community withering. Like many towns in the region known as the Rust Belt Lancaster's manufacturing base has shriveled and this once vibrant little town has been dealing with the aftermath of this decline in local employment and all the incipient problems which have been the result of this slow decay.

Some interviews  can make a powerful impression. One interview that has stood the test of time is the one that I had in 1998 with Dr. Leonard Shlain about his book "The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image." Nearly twenty years later listeners will still mention it.

We live in an affluent consumer society. Many of us have too much stuff and we are obtaining more of it with every passing day. Is your stuff becoming an issue for you? Do you feel like perhaps your life could be better with much less?

Rose Lounsbury got to a point in which she realized that she had too much stuff and that it was having a negative impact on the quality of her life. She decided to do something about that.

Back in 1999 Mike Wallace appeared on the program to discuss the first volume of his massive history of New York City. That book ended with the year 1898. Wallace was the co-author of that work. It is a massive volume and was highly praised. The book went on to win the Pulitzer Prize.

Try to imagine that your two young sons were out working in the tobacco field one day and that they never came home. They had vanished and you had no idea what had happened to them. This happened to a mother in Virginia over a century ago. The two missing boys had been taken away to be paraded around the country as freaks in a circus side show. In those days before television and radio the circus was the the most popular entertainment to be found in little towns and hamlets across America.

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