American Purpose's Bookstack

Episode Archive

Episode Archive

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

  • Episode 106: Frank Costigliola on George Kennan

    May 24th, 2023  |  30 mins 25 secs
    books, history, politics

    George Kennan was a man of contradictions: an icon yet something of an enigma, a strategist who “used emotionally evocative language in the name of cool, calculated realism,” a bold thinker who warned of overreach. Frank Costigliola puts the architect of Cold War containment in a larger context in his new book, Kennan: A Life between Worlds. He joins host Richard Aldous to discuss our continuing fascination with this public intellectual par excellence.

  • Episode 105: Kim Sherwood on Her Double O Novel

    May 17th, 2023  |  29 mins 48 secs
    books, history, politics

    The legendary 007 series continues with author Kim Sherwood’s novel, authorized by Ian Fleming’s estate. Sherwood, who as a child imagined herself as Bond, lives out a lifelong dream by writing the next act for the iconic character. She joins host Richard Aldous to discuss her new book, Double or Nothing: James Bond is Missing and Time Is Running Out.

  • Episode 104: Blythe Roberson on Embracing the Open Road

    May 10th, 2023  |  27 mins 9 secs
    books, history, politics

    Ever fantasize about quitting your job and hitting the open road? Blythe Roberson did just that, embracing freedom and the natural beauty of America—with an agenda. She joins host Richard Aldous to speak about the fruits of her labor of love, America the Beautiful?: One Woman in a Borrowed Prius on the Road Most Traveled.

  • Episode 103: Charles Dunst on Defeating the Dictators

    May 3rd, 2023  |  30 mins 53 secs
    books, history, politics

    There has been plenty of ink spilled about democracies dying and populists rising. AP contributing editor Charles Dunst, deputy director of research and analytics at the Asia Group, takes the practical route. How can we shore up democracies to inoculate them against the tides of illiberalism, and remind those looking for a winning governance model that democracy can deliver? Dunst joins host Richard Aldous to discuss his new book, Defeating the Dictators: How Democracy Can Prevail in the Age of the Strong Man.

  • Episode 102: Dana Sachs on Our Saviors at Sea

    April 26th, 2023  |  26 mins 49 secs
    books, history, politics

    In 2015, as refugees poured into Greece from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, the assistance delivered to desperate migrants at sea and on land was largely provided at the hand of individual volunteers. Dana Sachs joins host Richard Aldous to discuss the failure of the international aid community and heroism of those who stepped in as detailed in her new book, All Else Failed: The Unlikely Volunteers at the Heart of the Migrant Aid Crisis.

  • Episode 101: Ian Buruma on Three Legendary Fakes

    April 20th, 2023  |  26 mins 48 secs
    books, history, politics

    In an era of fake news and invented personalities, it’s worth looking back to a time when deception could mean the difference between life and death. In his new book, The Collaborators: Three Stories of Deception and Survival in World War II, Ian Buruma delves into three World War II-era characters whose lives blur the lines between good and evil. The former editor of the New York Review of Books rejoins host Richard Aldous to discuss history, myth, and morality.

  • Episode 100: Robert D. Kaplan on Inescapable Tragedy

    April 12th, 2023  |  25 mins 53 secs
    books, history, politics

    The American tendency in foreign affairs to think in Manichaean terms is exemplified by the Biden Administration’s democracy-versus-autocracy lens. Yet such thinking can result in a failure of imagination, says Robert D. Kaplan, which he believes explains his own regretted support for the 2003 Iraq War. Kaplan joins host Richard Aldous to discuss his new book, The Tragic Mind: Fear, Fate, and the Burden of Power, an exploration of why the Greeks believed anarchy to be worse than tyranny.

  • Episode 99: Meredith Bagby on A New Kind of Astronaut

    April 6th, 2023  |  24 mins 37 secs
    books, history, politics

    When NASA accepted its first class of civilian astronauts in 1978, it welcomed a historic group marked by many firsts: the first American woman, the first African American, the first Jewish person, the first Asian American, the first gay person, and the first mother. This week, Meredith Bagby, author of The New Guys: The Historic Class of Astronauts That Broke Barriers and Changed the Face of Space Travel, spoke with Richard Aldous about this landmark class of astronauts who propelled the Space Shuttle era and defined a generation of space travel.

  • Episode 98: Derek Leebaert on FDR’s Circle of Four

    March 28th, 2023  |  27 mins 24 secs
    books, history, politics

    Such was the prestige of cabinet members during the Roosevelt Administration that a 19-gun salute accompanied their arrival to a city. Joining Richard Aldous this week is author of Unlikely Heroes: Franklin Roosevelt, His Four Lieutenants, and the World They Made, Derek Leebaert, who shines a new light on FDR’s inner circle of four—Harry Hopkins, Harold Ickes, Frances Perkins, and Henry Wallace—and FDR himself, who together helped usher the nation through the Great Depression and the Second World War.

  • Episode 97: Adam Kirsch on Imagining Earth without Humans

    March 20th, 2023  |  28 mins 51 secs
    books, history, politics

    From climate change to the potential of artificial intelligence, there are plenty of reasons to doubt the viability of human life on Earth. Adam Kirsch, author of The Revolt Against Humanity: Imagining a Future Without Us, spoke with a diverse array of people who all agree on one thing: The future of the planet may not lie in the hands of humans. Kirsch joins host Richard Aldous to share the perspectives of those who believe in—and even embrace—just such a future.

  • Episode 96: Van Jackson on America’s Paradoxical Role in Asia

    March 15th, 2023  |  29 mins 59 secs
    books, history, politics

    American statesmen often argue that the U.S. role in Asia is indispensable to maintaining peace on the continent. Van Jackson, author of Pacific Power Paradox: American Statecraft and the Fate of the Asian Peace, counters that America has just as often been Asia’s arsonist as its savior. He joins host Richard Aldous to discuss the complex role America plays on both sides of Asian stability.

  • Episode 95: James E. Cronin on the Reinvention of the Liberal Democratic Order

    March 1st, 2023  |  31 mins 50 secs
    books, history, politics

    From the Cold War and collapse of communism to the rise of globalization and recent financial crises, James E. Cronin, author of Fragile Victory: The Making and Unmaking of Liberal Order, posits that these events have caused a constant reinvention of a liberal order that once seemed unshakeable. Cronin joins Richard Aldous for a discussion on the emergence of a new international order in the face of the election of Trump, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Brexit, and more.

  • Episode 94: Shana Kushner Gadarian on Politics and the Pandemic

    February 21st, 2023  |  28 mins 34 secs
    books, history, politics

    To mask or not to mask? U.S. citizens received different messaging about the degree of the Covid-19 threat and how to respond to it depending on who they were listening to. In the end, the different choices people made largely cleaved to partisan positions. In Pandemic Politics: The Deadly Toll of Partisanship in the Age of Covid, lead author Shana Kushner Gadarian (with Sara Wallace Goodman and Thomas B. Pepinsky) joins Richard Aldous to discuss how U.S. politics intertwined with pandemic approaches from the very beginning.

  • Episode 93: Frank Dikötter on China’s Uneven Rise

    February 13th, 2023  |  29 mins 29 secs
    books, history, politics

    The transformation of the Chinese economy over the last four decades is typically thought of as near-miraculous. Yet the facts and figures that make up that picture are those that have filtered down from the Chinese Communist Party. In China After Mao: The Rise of a Superpower, Frank Dikötter’s wide-ranging research pulls back the curtain to reveal a much less tidy—and much more mixed—picture.

  • Episode 92: Tom Dunkel on the Germans Sabotaging the Third Reich

    February 6th, 2023  |  27 mins 13 secs
    books, history, politics

    A number of stories of individual acts of German resistance to the Nazis have come to light over the years. What is little known is that a network of individuals — from average civilians to those within the highest reaches of government and the military — coordinated efforts in a sustained attempt to undermine the Third Reich. Tom Dunkel, author of White Knights in the Black Orchestra: The Extraordinary Story of the Germans Who Resisted Hitler, joins host Richard Aldous to share the stories of those risking it all in an attempt to destroy a regime of terror from the inside.

  • Episode 91: Dan Akst on the WWII Pacifists Who Revolutionized Resistance

    January 30th, 2023  |  32 mins 50 secs
    books, history, politics

    In War by Other Means: The Pacifists of the Greatest Generation Who Revolutionized Resistance, author Daniel Akst traces the founding of the American progressive movement back to when the United States was on the brink of war. Akst joins Richard Aldous to discuss how four unlikely real-life characters in the time of World War II—David Dellinger, Dorothy Day, Dwight MacDonald, and Bayard Rustin—created the spark that ignited the modern progressive movement