Simon Winchester has never shied away from big, even enormous, topics—as evidenced by his bestselling biography of the Atlantic Ocean, his account of the Krakatoa volcanic eruption, and his wildly popular The Professor and the Madman, about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary.

In his new memoir, The Man with the Electrified Brain, he takes on arguably his most daunting subject yet: his own flirtation with madness, and one of nature’s greatest and most enduring mysteries, the human brain.


  From his early 70s dispatches as a critic for the Village Voice on rock and roll, comedy, movies, and television to the literary criticism of the 80s and 90s that made him famous, to his must-read cultural reporting for Vanity Fair- James Walcott has had a career as a free lance critic and a literary intellectual like none other.

With his new career-spanning collection Critical Mass: Four Decades of Essays, Reviews, Hand Grenades and Hurrahs- he gives us his best critical essays and cultural journalism.

    Legendary newsman, Dan Rather, remains one of the few living news reporters who were on the ground in Dallas covering the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In a new special airing tonight on AXS TV, Rather provides a personal, behind-the-scenes account of the details surrounding JFK’s Dallas visit.

Dan Rather walks us through a sequence of events involving the reporting of Kennedy’s death and how he became the first press member to confirm it to CBS News, approximately 20 minutes before the official announcement from The White House.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, the bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of No Ordinary Time and Team of Rivals, has returned to the presidency in her latest book, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and the Golden Age of Journalism.

The former LBJ staffer's latest work demonstrates her blend of scholarship, intellectual rigor, and riveting storytelling with a focus on the turbulent and faithful relationship between two presidents, the rise of muckraking journalism, and the far-reaching ferment of the progressive era: a time in many respects uncannily like our own.

    In his new book, The Frackers, journalist Gregory Zuckerman tells us the back-story. Far from the limelight, Aubrey McClendon, Harold Hamm, Mark Papa, and other wildcatters were determined to tap massive deposits of oil and gas that Exxon, Chevron, and other giants had dismissed as a waste of time.

By experimenting with hydraulic fracturing through extremely dense shale—a process now known as fracking—the wildcatters started a revolution. In just a few years, they looked to relieve America’s dependence on imported energy, triggered a global environmental controversy—and made and lost astonishing fortunes.

Jim Levulis / WAMC

The recent firing of a reporter in North Adams, Massachusetts has garnered national attention.

  Thomas Patterson, a professor of government and the press at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, whose new book is Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism. The book began as a look at what journalism schools need to do to train the new generation of reporters.

Patterson proposes “knowledge-based journalism” as a corrective, believing that unless journalists are more deeply informed about the subjects they cover, they will continue to misinterpret them and to be vulnerable to manipulation by their sources.

In this book, derived from a multi-year initiative of the Carnegie Corporation and the Knight Foundation, Patterson calls for nothing less than a major overhaul of journalism practice and education.

    Award-winning journalist, current NPR host and special correspondent, and former co-host of NPR's newsmagazine All Things Considered, as well as Best Selling Author and creator of The Race Card Project, Michele Norris comes to Bard College at Simon's Rock to discuss her work and offer her perspective on tackling complex conversations and having meaningful dialogue about race and diversity.

Michele Norris is an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience. She is currently a host and special correspondent for NPR. Previously, Norris served as co-host of NPR's newsmagazine All Things Considered, public radio's longest-running national program, with Robert Siegel and Melissa Block.

In September, 2010, Norris released her first book, The Grace of Silence: A Memoir, which focuses on how America talks about race in the wake of Barack Obama's presidential election, and explores her own family's racial legacy.

    For the six million people who watch the Emmy Award–winning “American Story with Bob Dotson” on NBC’s Today Show, Bob Dotson’s reports celebrate the inspirational stories of everyday Americans. Dotson has been crisscrossing the country for more than forty years—logging more than four million miles—in search of people who have quietly but profoundly changed our lives and our country for the better.

Here we speak with Dotson about his new book, American Story: A Lifetime Search for Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things.

  When journalist Tracie McMillan saw foodies swooning over $9 organic tomatoes, she couldn’t help but wonder: What about the rest of us? Why do working Americans eat the way we do? And what can we do to change it? To find out, McMillan went undercover in three jobs that feed America, living and eating off her wages in each.

Her book is The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table.