11 episodes

Each week we choose a theme. Then anything can happen. This American Life is true stories that unfold like little movies for radio. Personal stories with funny moments, big feelings, and surprising plot twists. Newsy stories that try to capture what it’s like to be alive right now. It’s the most popular weekly podcast in the world, and winner of the first ever Pulitzer Prize for a radio show or podcast. Hosted by Ira Glass and produced in collaboration with WBEZ Chicago.

This American Life This American Life

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.6 • 83.1K Ratings

Each week we choose a theme. Then anything can happen. This American Life is true stories that unfold like little movies for radio. Personal stories with funny moments, big feelings, and surprising plot twists. Newsy stories that try to capture what it’s like to be alive right now. It’s the most popular weekly podcast in the world, and winner of the first ever Pulitzer Prize for a radio show or podcast. Hosted by Ira Glass and produced in collaboration with WBEZ Chicago.

    834: Yousef and the Fourth Move

    834: Yousef and the Fourth Move

    Yousef is forced into a move he is not sure he can make.


    Prologue: Since the beginning of the war in Gaza, Yousef Hammash has decided where to go next and when. In Rafah, he is out of options and faces his toughest move yet. (5 minutes)

    Act One: Yousef does not even want to think about leaving Gaza. (18 minutes)

    Act Two: The actual price — in cash — of getting out of Gaza. (31 minutes)

    • 58 min
    833: Come Retribution

    833: Come Retribution

    Donald Trump has talked about taking retribution on his enemies since the early days of his 2024 presidential campaign. After his conviction last week in New York, his talk intensified. We try to understand what his retribution might look like by speaking with people who have the most to lose in a second Trump administration: people who believe Trump will be coming for them.


    Prologue: Donald Trump has talked about taking revenge on his enemies since the early days of his 2024 presidential campaign. Ira Glass talks to reporter Jonathan Karl about how Trump has placed retribution at the center of his run and what we know about how he’s thinking about it. (16 minutes)

    Act One: Reporter Alix Spiegel talks to two people with good reason to fear a second Trump administration. Former White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham spent six years with the Trumps but resigned after January 6th and wrote a scathing tell-all book about her experience. Fred Wellman worked for The Lincoln Project - a group of high-profile Republicans who pledged to keep Trump out of office during the 2020 campaign. (22 minutes)

    Act Two: Alex Vindman became the face of the first Trump impeachment after he reported to his superiors that Trump had asked the President of Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of his political opponent. At the time, Vindman believed that his Congressional testimony would not jeopardize him; now, he and his wife Rachel are having second thoughts. (14 minutes)

    Act Three: After hearing from people who dread a possible second Trump term, we hear from those who are excited about it. Reporter Zoe Chace checks into whether his supporters are excited for retribution. (7 minutes)

    • 1 hr 4 min
    832: That Other Guy

    832: That Other Guy

    People tethered to one particular other person, whether they want to be or not.


    Prologue: Guest host Emmanuel Dzotsi talks to Leroy Smith about how one high school basketball tryout forever changed Leroy’s relationship to a childhood friend. (7 minutes)

    Act One: A man finds himself sucked into an intense head-to-head running competition against a perfect rival – all for free burritos from Chipotle. (18 minutes)

    Act Two: Writer Simon Rich grapples with an A.I. chatbot that threatens to make him obsolete. (21 minutes)

    Act Three: For writer Marie Phillips, moving in with her partner meant finding herself deeply connected to the woman who came before her. (12 minutes)

    • 1 hr 4 min
    831: Lists!!!

    831: Lists!!!

    How they organize the chaos of the world, for good and for bad.


    Prologue: Ira interviews David Wallechinsky, who wrote a wildly popular book in the 1970s called The Book of Lists, full of trivia and research, gathered into lists like "18 Brains" and "What They Weighed." The book sold millions of copies and had four sequels and a brief spin-off TV show. The list books were like the internet, before the internet. (12 minutes)

    Act One: John Fecile talks to his brother, Pat, about a list their other brother made before he died. They each have different ideas about what the list means and how they feel about it. (14 minutes)

    Act 2: A brief visit with Bobby, who keeps a list in his phone of all the dogs in his neighborhood and their names to save him from the awkwardness of not knowing the name of someone’s dog – because people get upset if you don’t remember their dog’s name. (3 minutes)

    Act Two: Reporter Masha Gessen talks to Russians living in America and elsewhere, about lists they’ve been put on by the Russian government in the last few years. Masha is also on one of these lists. Each list has its own complex rules and potential consequences, for the people on the lists and for their family members who live in Russia. (28 minutes)

    • 1 hr 2 min
    830: The Forever Trial

    830: The Forever Trial

    The trial for the men accused of orchestrating the September 11 terrorist attacks still hasn’t started yet. Family members of those who died that day are still hoping for some kind of accountability, more than 22 years later. This week, the story of how one victim’s sister is navigating this historic and twisted trial.


    Prologue: Host Ira Glass introduces the new series that Serial is doing about Guantánamo Bay. This is the second of two episodes of theirs that we’re airing. (2 minutes)

    Act One: We meet Colleen Kelly, a member of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, and learn just how upside down and messed up the trial for the 9/11 accused has been over the past decade. (28 minutes)

    Act Two: Sarah Koenig explains what’s probably the best possible outcome that everyone can hope for at this point. And why, when it hits the news someday — if it ever happens — it’s sure to be deeply misunderstood by lots of people. Plus a trip to Guantánamo with Colleen. (31 minutes)

    • 1 hr 2 min
    829: Two Ledgers

    829: Two Ledgers

    For years, Majid believed that if he could testify in court about what happened to him when he was held in a CIA black site, a judge and jury would give him a break. Finally, he got a chance to see if he was right.


    Prologue: Ira talks about the exciting new series that Serial is doing about Guantánamo Bay. We’re airing two of those episodes on the show – one this week and one next. (2 minutes)

    Act One: Majid Khan struggled with his identity when he was young. And then he realized exactly who he wanted to be – a member of Al Qaeda, carrying out orders for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He did bad things. But are the things that the U.S. Government did to him worse than his actual crimes?  (38 minutes)

    Act Two: Majid finally gets his day in court. At his sentencing hearing, he describes to the jury what his interrogators did to him. (20 minutes)

    • 1 hr 4 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
83.1K Ratings

83.1K Ratings

Murrrrrrry ,

Beware Of This Show!

Oh sure, This American Life almost always begins with some rollicking, humors piece directly related to its theme. You’ll hear Ira interview someone to a backdrop of fun, upbeat or whimsical music….You can’t help but get sucked in.

But know this, and know it well: Ira Glass is an insidious and manipulative genius. Sure you’ll start out the hour laughing (maybe harder than you’ve ever laughed at a public radio show) but inevitably and seamlessly, in a completely unconscious manner your emotions will be turned inside out and you’ll end the hour sobbing in your car, in the Target parking lot you’ve been parked in for the last 40 minutes. And sometimes you won’t even know why you’re crying, all you’ll know is that some sort of emotional release is needed before reintegrating yourself into the outside world.

Remember how the television show The Outer Limits began with the warning, “We have taken control of your TV….” well, Ira Glass and Co. take control of your emotional state with full reign to raise you to dizzying heights of euphoric happiness or plung you down, down into unsettling depths of despair.

So beware. The stories within have the ability cling to you for days, weeks, month, or even a lifetime. That’s why I never miss a show.

Callipygian ,

The Last Remaining Reason to Own a Radio is Gone

The podcast itself is evidence of the producers' dedication to their art. I've purchased this program for the last couple of years from Audible. I held on to an XM Radio subscription only because they added TAL to their lineup. I've streamed it online. I even offered to help my local public radio station raise money to carry the program JUST so they could carry TAL. The fact that it is now available as a free podcast is a great public service. Since Audible will be refunding this year's subscription price, I plan to send the money to my local public radio affiliate. Thanks, Ira and Gang!!

wurdNinja ,

Wish I could give it six stars, because it outshines SO MUCH of radio.

I don't know if it's true for you, but I am SO very tired of listening to ridiculous, air-headed, disingenuous disc jockeys handing me "life trivia" stories of "public interest." Most of the time their false giggles make me want to puke.
This American Life is so very different from any other radio experience I've probably ever had or will have. It captures, as well as it can, in audible form, the human condition, in all its delicious and uncanny glory. Glass may well be suited to manipulate his audience into convulsive laughter or tears, but I have never finished broadcast feeling as though I were duped into feeling anything. Each one of the participating storytellers edits his or her tale brilliantly and with individual flourish. I would be loathe not to admit that it sometimes can be geekily playful, but really, my friends, if you're telling yourself you've never been a geek about anything, you need to check your pulse. You're downloading podcasts for goodness' sake. Regardless, this is an excellent, moving and already blazingly popular radio program, so if you don't listen to it already, you should at least give it a try. I have NEVER heard an unsatisfying show yet from Glass and his crew.

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