American Purpose's Bookstack

Episode Archive

Episode Archive

144 episodes of American Purpose's Bookstack since the first episode, which aired on October 16th, 2020.

  • Episode 144: James Davison Hunter on Democracy, Solidarity, and the Future of America

    June 14th, 2024  |  29 mins 13 secs
    books, history, politics

    Is there hope to be found amidst the current political climate? How to generate solidarity in an atmosphere of growing difference? Renowned sociologist James Davison Hunter tackles these questions in his new book, Democracy and Solidarity: On the Cultural Roots of America's Political Crisis. Hunter joins Richard Aldous in this week's Bookstack, for a conversation about the cultural contradictions that underpin American history and the ongoing struggle to achieve unity in divisive times.

  • Episode 143: Sulmaan Wasif Khan on the Taiwan Standoff

    May 24th, 2024  |  28 mins 56 secs
    books, history, politics

    When President Joe Biden stated in 2022 that the United States would defend Taiwan military in the event of a Chinese invasion, he crossed a line of ambiguity that had been purposefully danced around for decades. And yet, even though such a scenario would pit two nuclear powers against each another, “The United States does not know why Taiwan is important to it,” argues Sulmaan Wasif Khan. He joins host Richard Aldous to discuss the history of the standoff and the dangers lurking ahead as relayed in his new book, The Struggle for Taiwan: A History of America, China, and the Island Caught Between.

  • Episode 142: Diana McLain Smith on Bringing Americans Together

    May 17th, 2024  |  29 mins 2 secs
    books, history, politics

    In divided times, many Americans are sealing themselves off from those who think differently. Diana McLain Smith tells a different story in her new book, Remaking the Space Between Us: How Citizens Can Work Together to Build a Better Future for All, focusing on the tens of thousands reaching out to fellow Americans across the divides to promote understanding. She joins host Richard Aldous to discuss why the path to a better polity must begin with We the People: “We’re waiting for someone to save us, and nobody is coming.”

  • Episode 141: Adriana Carranca on the New Wave of Latin American Missionaries

    May 9th, 2024  |  28 mins 58 secs
    books, history, politics

    Thanks to American missionaries’ successes around the globe, the face of evangelicalism is no longer White America. In Soul by Soul: The Evangelical Mission to Spread the Gospel to Muslims, Adriana Carranca reveals an extraordinary tale that has been under the radar: Missionaries from Latin America are leading the way in spreading the Gospel to Muslim countries, including in former U.S. war zones. She joins host Richard Aldous to discuss the dangerous work being undertaken by a new wave of evangelicals.

  • Episode 140: David L. Roll on President Harry Truman

    May 3rd, 2024  |  25 mins 6 secs
    books, history, politics

    Harry Truman was educated in Missouri public schools, never went to college, and spent a number of his adult years as a dirt farmer. Yet eleven years after first being elected to the Senate he became President of the most powerful nation on earth in the midst of momentous world events. In his new book Ascent to Power: How Truman Emerged from Roosevelt's Shadow and Remade the World, David Roll suggests that from these humble beginnings Truman undertook “the most consequential transition” in American history. He joins host Richard Aldous to discuss Truman’s unlikely rise and his long string of achievements, from the Marshall Plan to the Berlin Airlift to the enduring Truman Doctrine.

  • Episode 139: Nicholas Shakespeare on Ian Fleming

    April 26th, 2024  |  27 mins 40 secs
    books, history, politics

    Ian Fleming heroicized for all the world the British intelligence agent in James Bond. In his new book Ian Fleming: The Complete Man, renowned biographer Nicholas Shakespeare digs into the legend of Fleming himself. Like his most famous character, Fleming’s life was colorfully marked by high-stakes intelligence, alcohol, and dalliances with women. Yet Fleming was tormented rather than buoyed by his literary success. Shakespeare joins host Richard Aldous to discuss the turbulent life of the man who gave the world 007.

  • Episode 138: Seth D. Kaplan on America’s Fragile Neighborhoods

    April 19th, 2024  |  31 mins 35 secs
    books, history, politics

    In surveying dysfunction across America, the question arises: Is the source of the trouble at the local or the national level? Seth D. Kaplan has shifted his analytical gaze from fragile nations abroad to examine the fragility of his home country. He believes America’s problems from health to politics are downstream of individuals becoming increasingly disconnected, neighborhood by neighborhood. He joins host Richard Aldous to discuss his new book, Fragile Neighborhoods: Repairing American Society, One Zip Code at a Time.

  • Episode 137: Leah Hunt-Hendrix on the Power of Solidarity

    April 17th, 2024  |  27 mins 3 secs
    books, history, politics

    Solidarity has been at the root of social change throughout history, bringing people together across their differences to challenge injustice within societies. In their new book, Solidarity: The Past, Present, and Future of a World-Changing Idea, Leah Hunt-Hendrix and Astra Taylor examine the sociological concept that is at the heart of social transformation. Hunt-Hendrix joins host Richard Aldous to share her thoughts on both the concept and the social movements with which it is intimately linked.

  • Episode 136: Paul Starobin on the Russian Exiles

    March 22nd, 2024  |  29 mins 13 secs
    books, history, politics

    There are now over a million Russians living in exile, spurred on by the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Unable to safely oppose their own government at home, they often find themselves subject to harassment and disdain as immigrants. In his new book, Putin’s Exiles: Their Fight for a Better Russia, Paul Starobin joins host Richard Aldous for a look at the hopes and dreams of those Russians living abroad, and to explain why he thinks more and more of them will “take up the gun.”

  • Episode 135: Ian Buruma on the Relevance of Spinoza

    March 14th, 2024  |  26 mins 33 secs
    books, history, politics

    Rejected in official circles in his day and embraced in modern times by a motley array of admirers, Spinoza was in many ways ahead of his time. His commitment to truth, universal principles, and freedom lie at the heart of Western liberal thinking. As those ideas come under attack on both the left and the right, Spinoza’s philosophical thinking is as relevant as ever. Ian Buruma joins Richard Aldous to discuss his new book, Spinoza: Freedom’s Messiah.

  • Episode 134: Maria Popova on Ukraine and Russia’s Diverging Paths

    February 29th, 2024  |  27 mins 48 secs
    books, history, politics

    Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine and Russia not only embarked on very different political paths at home, but they viewed the future of their relationship in starkly divergent terms. In Russia and Ukraine: Entangled Histories, Diverging States, authors Maria Popova and Oxana Shevel show how Russia’s determination to control an independent Ukraine only pushed it further away. Popova joins host Richard Aldous to discuss how the varying cultural and political realities in the two countries ultimately led to today’s geopolitical clash.

  • Episode 133: Lorraine Daston on the History of Scientific Collaboration

    February 23rd, 2024  |  28 mins 40 secs
    books, history, politics

    Large threats to the well-being of humankind such as the pandemic and climate change have cemented the notion that scientists across the globe naturally work together to solve the world’s most pressing problems. In Rivals: How Scientists Learned to Cooperate, historian of science Lorraine Daston traces the trajectory of such cooperation, noting that along the way scientists have as often been competitors as collaborators. She joins host Richard Aldous to discuss the history of “the scientific community.”

  • Episode 132: David Reynolds on Winston Churchill

    February 15th, 2024  |  34 mins 55 secs
    books, history, politics

    Amidst all the positive and negative ink dedicated to Winston Churchill, Cambridge emeritus professor of international history David Reynolds offers a new dimension. He places the leader for whom history was determined by “great men” among the other greats who both inspired and enervated him. Reynolds joins host Richard Aldous to discuss his latest book, Mirrors of Greatness: Churchill and the Leaders Who Shaped Him.

  • Episode 131: Joshua Green on the Populism of the Democratic Party

    February 8th, 2024  |  34 mins 4 secs
    books, history, politics

    The remarkable shift in the economic ideas at the heart of the Democratic Party—from the embrace of neoliberalism in the ’90s to the left-wing populism that Joe Biden accommodates today—traces its origins to the 2008 financial crisis. Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders and AOC after her, put the economic frustrations of ordinary Americans at the heart of her policies, making fashionable a populism of the left that was not unlike Donald Trump’s brand of it on the right. Journalist Joshua Green joins host Richard Aldous to discuss the rise of those who helped reorient the Democratic Party as told in his new book, The Rebels: Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the Struggle for a New American Politics.

  • Episode 130: Azam Ahmed on Mexico’s Violent Cartels

    February 1st, 2024  |  28 mins 53 secs
    books, history, politics

    For tens of thousands of people, living in Mexico today means living in a country where criminal violence begets state-sponsored violence, and where law and justice have so failed ordinary citizens that they often take matters into their own hands. In his new book Fear Is Just a Word: A Missing Daughter, a Violent Cartel, and a Mother's Quest for Vengeance, Azam Ahmed chronicles the tale of a mother whose desperation led her to do just that. He joins host Richard Aldous to discuss those who live at the mercy of the drug cartels.

  • Episode 129: Raymond Arsenault on John Lewis

    January 24th, 2024  |  28 mins 32 secs
    books, history, politics

    Freedom Rider and Congressman John Lewis was widely viewed as a saint no less than a civil rights icon. How to capture the full humanity of such a legendary figure, whose life was intertwined with some of America’s lowest lows and highest highs? Civil rights historian Raymond Arsenault does just that in his new biography, John Lewis: In Search of the Beloved Community. He joins host Richard Aldous to discuss the man he believes to be “one of the most extraordinary people in American history.”