Steve Inskeep continues his conversation with former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates about his new memoir, Duty. Gates discusses his personal relationship with the armed forces and the intense emotional toll of being secretary of defense at a time when the nation is conducting two wars.
Braille Without Borders was the first school for the blind in Tibet, founded by a German woman who is blind herself, Sabriya Tenberken. On assignment profiling Tenberken, writer Rosemary Mahoney had to face her own fear of losing her sight and challenge long-standing misconceptions about blindness.
The organization has unveiled its nominees for the 45th annual Image Awards, established to honor African-American performers who are often ignored by mainstream Hollywood. Some nominees are white, others of South-Asian or Latino heritage. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans wonders if that changes the meaning of the ceremony.
Former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell was the only survivor of a mission in Afghanistan in 2005, where along with three other SEALS he was tasked with killing a top Taliban commander. His story became the basis of his book Lone Survivor, which has now been turned into a movie. Luttrell talks with NPR's Rachel Martin about his story.
Author Kim Fu has always loved Batman — at least, one form of him. Her Batman was moral, principled, triumphant: never cheesy or brutish. But Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns cast a guilty shadow over her love for the character, because Miller's bloodthirsty madman shares an awful lot with Fu's favorite version of her hero.
Laurie Halse Anderson's latest young adult novel, The Impossible Knife of Memory, follows 15-year-old Hayley and her dad, who suffers from PTSD after serving in Iraq. Anderson says the book draws on her own experience of growing up with a World War II veteran father who still struggles with his war memories.
Sue Monk Kidd's new novel, The Invention of Wings, is a fictionalized account of the abolitionist sisters Sarah and Angelina Grimké, and the slave Hetty, given to Sarah on her 11th birthday. Reviewer Bobbi Dumas says Wings is a "textured masterpiece, quietly yet powerfully poking our consciences and our consciousness."
E.L. Doctorow's new novel goes inside the brain of a neuroscientist trying to outrun his memories of disaster and the daughter he gave up. He tells NPR's Scott Simon that Andrew's Brain was inspired by his own memories, and by a recurring idea of a little girl hiding her colored pencil drawings from adult eyes.
Saturday Night Live recently announced that they were hiring Sasheer Zamata, the first black woman to join the cast in six years. For our series This Week's Must Read, author Danielle Evans recommends a book that can give readers an idea of how Zamata might feel: Get Down, a short story collection by Asali Solomon.
After devoting the past several years to theater acting, Cate Blanchett starred this past summer in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, for which she's been nominated for a Golden Globe. She spoke with NPR's Robert Siegel about the similarities between theater and film — and the need for lightness in even the darkest drama.