society

  Charlotte Brontë famously lived her entire life in an isolated parsonage on a remote English moor with a demanding father and siblings whose astonishing childhood creativity was a closely held secret.

Drawing on letters unavailable to previous biographers, Harman depicts Charlotte’s inner life with absorbing, almost novelistic intensity in her new book, Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart.

  Juan Williams is a top political analyst for Fox News Channel and will be with us this morning to discuss his new book, We the People: The Modern-Day Figures Who Have Reshaped and Affirmed the Founding Fathers' Vision of America.

In the book, Williams tells us who would be on his modern day Mount Rushmore.

  Taylor Mac is a playwright, actor, singer-songwriter, performance artist, director and producer who is currently creating a 24-hour durational concert called, “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music.”

6 hours of the project, representing the six decades between 1836 and 1896, will be performed at MASS MoCA in North Adams Massachusetts this Saturday, April 9th from 4 to 10pm. Audience members are encouraged to come and going during the performance.

Taylor Mac was recently name-checked in a New York Magazine article about why New York Theater is thriving and The New York Times said “Fabulousness can come in many forms, and Taylor Mac seems intent on assuming each and every one of them.”

  In Winner-Take-All Politics, Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson explained how political elites have enabled and propelled plutocracy.

Now in American Amnesia, they trace the economic and political history of the United States over the last century and show how a viable mixed economy has long been the dominant engine of America’s prosperity.

  Ira Chaleff is an author, speaker, workshop presenter and innovative thinker on the beneficial use of power between those who are leading and those who are following in any given situation. He is the founder of the International Leadership Association's Followership Learning Community and a member of the ILA board of directors. He is also the founder and president of Executive Coaching & Consulting Associates, which provides coaching, consulting, and facilitation to companies, associations, and agencies throughout the Washington, DC area.

His groundbreaking book, The Courageous Follower: Standing Up To and For Our Leaders, is in its third edition, has been published in multiple languages and is in use in institutions around the globe including educational, corporate, government and military organizations.

Ira's latest book, Intelligent Disobedience: Doing Right When What You're Told To Do Is Wrong, is once again breaking new ground by exploring the deep cultural roots of obedience and how to equip individuals of all ages to resist inappropriate orders and find better ways and ethical means of achieving legitimate goals.

  In recent decades, America has been waging a veritable war on fat in which not just public health authorities, but every sector of society is engaged in constant “fat talk” aimed at educating, badgering, and ridiculing heavy people into shedding pounds. We hear a great deal about the dangers of fatness to the nation, but little about the dangers of today’s epidemic of fat talk to individuals and society at large. The human trauma caused by the war on fat is disturbing - and it is virtually unknown.

Susan Greenhalgh is Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University. In her book, Fat-Talk Nation, Greenhalgh shows how the war on fat has produced a generation of young people who are obsessed with their bodies and whose most fundamental sense of self comes from their size.

  Every year, perhaps even every week, there is some new gadget, device, service, or other digital offering intended to make our lives easier, better, more fun, or more instantaneous–making it that much harder to question how anything digital can be bad for us. Digital has created some wonderful things and we can hardly imagine life without them.

But digital—the most relentless social and economic juggernaut humanity has unleashed in centuries—is also destroying much of what we’ve taken for granted.

In Digital is Destroying Everything, Andrew Edwards takes us on a tour of today’s “blasted heath”, where many things we’ve held dear have been uprooted or entirely changed by digital–and where many new and intriguing flora and fauna are sprouting.

  After a decade designing technologies meant to address education, health, and global poverty, award-winning computer scientist Kentaro Toyama came to a difficult conclusion: Even in an age of amazing technology, social progress depends on human changes that gadgets can’t deliver.

He writes about it in his book, Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology .

How has America become the most unequal advanced country in the world? And what can we do about it? In the new book The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them, Joseph Stiglitz expands on the diagnosis he offered in his book The Price of Inequality and suggests ways to counter America’s growing problem. 

The Nobel Prize Winning Economist and the best-selling author, Joseph Stiglitz, joins The Roundtable this morning.

  More than thirty years ago, Christopher Lasch hinted at this bleak world in his landmark book, The Culture of Narcissism. In The Impulse Society, Paul Roberts shows how that self-destructive pattern has grown so pervasive that anxiety and emptiness are becoming embedded in our national character.

Yet it is in this unease that Roberts finds clear signs of change—and broad revolt as millions of Americans try step off the self-defeating treadmill of gratification and restore a sense of balance.

Listener Essay - Mother's Day Retort

May 9, 2014

  Kate Cohen is a writer and editor in Albany, New York. You can find more of her work at katecohen.net.

  From the frigid trans-Siberian railroad to the antiquated Indian Railways to the futuristic MagLev trains, Tom Zoellner offers a stirring story of man’s relationship with trains. In Train: Riding the Rails That Created the Modern World—from the Trans-Siberian to the Southwest Chief, he examines both the mechanics of the rails and their engines and how they helped societies evolve. Not only do trains transport people and goods in an efficient manner, but they also reduce pollution and dependency upon oil.

Zoellner also considers America’s culture of ambivalence to mass transit, using the perpetually stalled line between Los Angeles and San Francisco as a case study in bureaucracy and public indifference.