Erik Larson has made a career of bringing half-remembered history to vivid, vibrant life. He has done so in his best-sellers: The Devil in the White City, Thunderstruck, In the Garden of Beasts, and Isaac’s Storm.

Widely acclaimed as the master of page-turning non-fiction sagas, he now brings another past event alive – this time, the last crossing of the Lusitania.

  Each day brings more terrible headlines from the Middle East.

In today’s Congressional Corner, New York representative Sean Patrick Maloney tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock that a new war is out of the question.

  The new opera The Long Walk is based on Brian Castner’s critically acclaimed book of the same name. The opera is a deeply personal exploration of a soldier’s return from Iraq where he served as an officer in an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit and his battle with what he calls “the Crazy” as he tries to reintegrate into his family life upon returning from the war.

Opera Saratoga at the Spa Little Theatre is presenting the world premiere of The Long Walk in partnership with American Lyric Theater. Internationally renowned theater and opera director David Schweizer makes his Opera Saratoga debut.

Grammy Award winning baritone Daniel Belcher returns to Opera Saratoga to create the role of Brian, alongside mezzo-soprano Heather Johnson, who makes her company debut as his wife Jessie. The two performers join us for this interview.

  There are no easy answers in the Middle East.

In today’s Congressional Corner, New York Representative Chris Gibson tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock that the Islamic State is not going away in Iraq. 

    In six weeks during April and May 1915, as World War I escalated, Germany forever altered the way war would be fought. On April 22, at Ypres, German canisters spewed poison gas at French and Canadian soldiers in their trenches; on May 7, the German submarine U-20, without warning, torpedoed the passenger liner Lusitania, killing 1,198 civilians; and on May 31, a German Zeppelin began the first aerial bombardment of London and its inhabitants. Each of these actions violated rules of war carefully agreed at the Hague Conventions of 1898 and 1907. Though Germany's attempts to quickly win the war failed, the psychological damage caused by these attacks far outweighed the casualties. The era of weapons of mass destruction had dawned.


  In The Great War of Our Time: The CIA's Fight Against Terrorism--From al Qa'ida to ISIS, recently retired Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Michael Morrell uses his talents to offer an unblinking and insightful assessment of CIA's counterterrorism successes and failures of the past twenty years.

  The year was 1922: World War I had just come to a close, the Ottoman Empire was in decline, and Asa Jennings, a YMCA worker from upstate New York, had just arrived in the quiet coastal city of Smyrna to teach sports to boys. Several hundred miles to the east in Turkey’s interior, tensions between Greeks and Turks had boiled over into deadly violence.

Turkish soldiers proceeded to burn the city and rape and kill countless Christian refugees. Unwilling to leave with the other American civilians and determined to get Armenians and Greeks out of the doomed city, Jennings worked tirelessly to feed and transport the thousands of people gathered at the city’s Quay. With the help of naval officer Halsey Powell, and a handful of others, Jennings commandeered a fleet of unoccupied Greek ships and was able to evacuate a quarter million innocent people.


  Today in our Ideas Matter segment, we check in with the Vermont Humanities Council to talk about their program Standing Together: Veterans Book Groups. We are joined by Michael Heaney, a retired American History Professor, lawyer, and a wounded combat veteran of the Vietnam War. In 1965 and 1966, he served in Vietnam with the 1st Cavalry Division as an infantry platoon leader. Much of his post-war life has been devoted to working with combat veterans, and to writing, teaching, and leading discussions about war- and veteran-related matters. For 15 years, he led wilderness expedition courses for combat veterans, in a program jointly sponsored by Outward Bound and the Veterans Administration.

  When Emma Sky volunteered to help rebuild Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, she had little idea what she was getting in to. Her assignment was only supposed to last three months. She went on to serve there longer than any other senior military or diplomatic figure, giving her an unrivaled perspective of the entire conflict.

  We are very happy to continue our regular feature – Ideas Matter: Checking in with the Public Humanities.

Today we check in with the Vermont Humanities Council and a speaker in their First Wednesdays lecture series. Dr. Edward Tick, director of the Soldier’s Heart Clinic, will be talking about "The Human face of War: Combat, Healing, and the Humanities" on Wednesday, April 1 at 7pm at the Goodrich Memorial Library in Newport, Vermont. Dr. Tick explores the inner world of combat, the universal dimensions of veterans’ wounding, and a philosophy of healing combat’s consequences—recognizing that while war most directly affects veterans, it wounds us all.

Dr. Edward Tick joins us now along with Sylvia Plumb, Director of Communications for Vermont Humanities.