Podcasts of the Week Ending January 25

Back Story :: The Real Martin Luther King: Reflecting on MLK 50 Years After His Death

Breaking through the softened, public persona of Martin Luther King to reveal the radicalism of his life work.

Best of the Left :: Our Longest War Has Been a Lie All Along (The Afghanistan Papers)

Back in 2001, I stated that a full-scale military invasion of Afghanistan, was not only immoral but a strategically unsound response to the criminal acts of the September 11th attacks. I have sadly been proven correct as the United States remains mired in this deadly quagmire going on 19 years.

Twenty Thousand Hertz :: 4′ 33″

The story behind John Cage’s famous composition and why it’s more than a joke or a gimmick.

Have You Heard? :: History Wars: How Politics Shape Textbooks

How history is taught in schools is guided by textbooks, and the content of those textbooks is heavily shaped by politics, especially the government educational policy of two large states, California and Texas.

Running Tally of Podcast of the Week Appearances in 2020

Book Review: The Places In Between by Rory Stewart

Author: Rory Stewart
Title: The Places In Between
Publication Info: Recorded Books (2006)
ISBN: 1428116702


A Scotsman sets out on a long walk across Afghanistan having already walked through several other Central Asian nations.  Complicating an already difficult challenge is that Stewart takes his walk in the winter of 2002 when Afghanistan is being invaded by the United States and his own Great Britain.  Many people think he’s crazy for doing so, and Stewart seems proud of that, I question his ultimate purpose in doing this walk, something he never satisfactorily explains.  Despite his criticism of Western attitudes toward the Middle East, Stewart carries an air of imperialism himself and his often dismissive and judgmental of the people he encounters on his travels.   Still there are positive factors of Stewart’s journey and his memoir of it.  First, he is offered a great deal of hospitality on his walk, never having to sleep out of doors, something unimaginable for someone walking in a Western nation who isn’t going to stay in a hotel.  Second, there is a great sense of human endurance as Stewart encounters mountain passages, severe winter weather, and armed assailants along his path.  Third, Stewart weaves in a lot of history, anthropology, and archaeology about the places he walks through.  Finally, there is Babur, an old dog Stewart adopts as his walking companion, and their relationship is the emotional heart of this narrative.  This is an interesting and challenging work of travel memoir with a lot of current events spun in.

Recommended books: Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson, A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby, Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle by Dervla Murphy, and The Roads to Sata by Alan Booth.
Rating: ** 1/2

Book Review: Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson

Author: Greg Mortenson
Title: Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Journey to Change the World… One Child at a Time
Publication Info: Tantor Media (2006), Edition: Unabridged, Audio CD
ISBN: 1400102510


I’m probably the last person in the United States to read this book but here is my review anyway.  This memoir/biography tells the story of Greg Mortenson, a mountaineer who after a failed attempt at summiting K-2 is received warmly in a remote village in Pakistan.  As a means of paying back the people of Korphe for their hospitality he promises to build them a school.  Fulfilling this promise is wrought with many challenges but leads Mortenson to a new mission in life, eventually founding the Central Asia Institute to support education in the remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, especially for girls as a means of promoting social change and peace.  This is a nice, inspirational work and if you haven’t read it, check it out.

Favorite Passages:

“In times of war, you often hear leaders—Christian, Jewish, and Muslim—saying ‘God is on our side.’ But that isn’t true. In war, God is on the side of refugees, widows, and orphans.” — Greg Mortenson

Recommended books: Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle by Dervla Murphy, and A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby.
Rating: ***