The violent protests that erupted in North Africa and the Middle East over a video insulting the Prophet Muhammad were in part a reflection of conflicting values — Islamic strictures on images of the prophet versus the Western principle of respect for free speech.
But journalist Doug Saunders says that the video itself reflects a troubling current in Western political discourse — an irrational fear of Muslim communities in Europe and the United States.
Susanna Moore's latest novel, The Life of Objects, is a slim World War II saga that reads like a cautionary fairy tale: It's packed with descriptions of ornate furniture and paintings, lavish banquets, demons and diamonds. At the center of the story is a young girl bewitched by her own desire to live a larger life, a wish that's granted with grim exactitude.
The battle in Syria is being fought by rebel fighters who lack many of the basics typically associated with warfare: helmets, a large supply of ammo, and military planning.
"I was with one fighter who had 11 bullets, and he was, like, roaming as a freelance fighter along the front line trying to pick up a fight somewhere," journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad tells Fresh Air contributor Dave Davies.
At this point, there's nothing special about jazz musicians playing post-Beatles pop: It's just the new normal. But one of the trendsetters on that score was pianist Brad Mehldau and his versions of Radiohead and Nick Drake tunes. Now, Mehldau's trio has a new covers album out.
During his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama ran on the platform of "change we can believe in" — but he has a different approach to the Supreme Court's interpretation of constitutional law.
"Obama is a great believer in stability — in the absence of change — when it comes to the work of the Supreme Court," Jeffrey Toobin, author and senior legal analyst for CNN, tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "He is the one trying to hold onto the older decisions, and [Chief Justice John] Roberts is the one who wants to move the court in a dramatically new direction."
Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
Michael Shannon plays federal agent Nelson Van Alden on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire. "I think inside of Van Alden is a child â that arrested child â that never really got to develop its own identity," he says.
Credit Sony Pictures Classics
Jeff Nichols' haunting Take Shelter centers on an Ohio man (Michael Shannon, with Tova Stewart) plagued with nightmares about a coming apocalypse.
This interview was originally broadcast on Oct. 24, 2011. The third season of Boardwalk Empire starts Sunday.
HBO's Boardwalk Empire, set in Atlantic City in the 1920s, is about organized crime in the era of Prohibition. The show stars Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson, an Atlantic City politician who sees the coming of Prohibition as an opportunity to make even more money from illegal activities and kickbacks.
Chico's story mimics the stories of many Cuban musicians who left Havana and arrived in New York City in the 1940s — a time when musicians like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie were starting to emerge.
Credit Luma Films
Javier Mariscal (left) and Fernando Trueba directed Chico & Rita along with Tono Errando.
This interview was originally broadcast on April 12, 2012. Fernando Trueba's Chico & Rita is now out on DVD.
The animated film Chico and Rita is set in 1940s Havana, at a time when Cuban musicians were starting to leave the country and join the jazz scene in New York. It was also a time when musical styles were fusing — and changing the Afro-Cuban jazz scene entirely.