Literary interviews and discussions on the latest releases in the world of publishing, from poetry through to physics. Presented by Sam Leith.
Mary Ann Sieghart: The Authority Gap
My guest in this week’s books podcast is Mary Ann Sieghart, whose new book The Authority Gap accumulates data to show that so-called 'mansplaining' isn’t a minor irritation but the manifestation of something that goes all the way through society: women are taken less seriously than men, even by other women. She says it’s not just 'wokery' to point it out, and she makes the case for how she thinks it came to be, what we can do to change it, and why we should take the trouble.
Marie Le Conte: Honourable Misfits
My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is the political journalist Marie Le Conte, whose new book is Honourable Misfits: A Brief History of Britain's Weirdest, Unluckiest and Most Outrageous MPs. She introduces us to some of the dishonourable members of the past, and explains why - despite what we may think - in terms of our present day crop of MPs we may, actually, never have had it so good…
Frederick Forsyth: The Day of the Jackal at 50
My guest in this week’s book club podcast is Frederick Forsyth, whose classic thriller The Day of the Jackal has been in print for 50 years this summer. He tells me about banging it out in a few weeks on a typewriter with a bullet hole in it, the shady characters who informed his research - and how he never realised that, for much of its readers, The Jackal would be the hero…
Adam Roberts & Lisa Duggan on Ayn Rand
Who is John Galt? This week's Book Club podcast looks at the life, work and personality of Ayn Rand, probably the most influential writer you've never read. A favourite of our new Health Secretary, the author of Atlas Shrugged -- and the most strident advocate of the idea that "greed is good" -- continues to be revered and reviled four decades after her death. What was it that made her work speak so powerfully to so many? Does her philosophical system add up? How was she shaped -- first by the Russian Revolution and then by Hollywood? And where does prog rock come into it? I'm joined by Professor Lisa Duggan -- author of Mean Girl: Ayn Rand and the Culture of Greed, and Adam Roberts, the science fiction writer and professor of English at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Anne Sebba: A Cold War Tragedy
In this week’s Book Club podcast my guest is Anne Sebba - whose Ethel Rosenberg: A Cold War Tragedy tells the story of the first woman in US history to be executed for a crime other than murder. She tells me how attitudes to this notorious espionage case changed over the years; and why, while not wanting to relitigate the case, she thinks it’s important to get to a sense of who Ethel really was.
Richard Ovenden: Burning The Books
My guest on this week's Book Club podcast is the chief librarian of Oxford's Bodleian Library, Richard Ovenden. In Burning The Books: A History of Knowledge Under Attack, he explores the long history and vital importance of libraries and archives -- and the equally long history of their destruction in acts of war, vandalism or censorship and their loss through attrition and neglect. He tells me about the librarian heroes of Poland and Lithuania, the accidental survival of Magna Carta and what really happened to the Great Library of Alexandria.