Almost every day on our program, we end with a "Reporter's Notebook," on events or issues that aren't necessarily leading the news. Today, we present a collection of our favorite interviews from this year with the authors of remarkable books. We hear how Barack Obama's biographer learned more than the President knew about his own ancestry; why Exxon-Mobil's not really an American company — and how women came out of the secretarial pool into senior positions in the news industry. We also get a scathing account of America's fumbling efforts to transform Afghanistan — before and during our longest war. Plus, a conversation with Salman Rushdie about surviving a fatwa.
FROM THIS EPISODE
Rajiv Chandrasekaran is an editor and foreign correspondent for the Washington Post. His book, Imperial Life in the Emerald City, was a scathing account of US mishandling of the war in Iraq. His latest is Little America: the War Within the War for Afghanistan. We talked to him at KCRW's studio in Santa Monica in July.
On September 18 of this year, we interviewed the novelist Salman Rushdie, whose memoir about living under a fatwa had just been published. Rushdie says the fatwa was based on a misunderstanding of his earlier novel, The Satanic Verses, which Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini denounced as an insult to Islam. Coincidentally, Rushdie's memoir, Joseph Anton, was published in the midst of another international uproar. Seventy-five lives were lost in the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan in protests over the film, The Innocence of Muslims — which was very much intended to be an insult to Islam.
In 1975, Lynn Povich became the first female senior editor of Newsweek magazine, where she started out as a secretary. But her rise from an entry-level position to senior management was different from those of the men who preceded her. It took legal action. She's written a book about the process: The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace.
Apple has challenged Exxon Mobil as the biggest American company, but Exxon Mobil deals with fuel for the energy that powers the world's economy — including Apple computers. Now it's become a sort of state on its own, with a foreign policy that may not conform to the foreign policy of its home country. Exxon Mobil is not "a US company," according to its former president, Lee Raymond. "I don't make decisions based on what's good for the US." He's cited in the new book, Private Empire: Exxon Mobil and American Power, authored by Pulitzer Prize-winner Steve Coll, staff writer for the New Yorker magazine.
Steve Coll, New America Foundation
More From To the Point
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