Ishmael Beah was 12 when he was orphaned by Sierra Leone's civil war and recruited as a child soldier. He described the ordeal in his 2007 memoir, A Long Way Gone. Now, Beah's debut novel, Radiance of Tomorrow, tells the story of a shattered community struggling to rebuild itself after war.
Sue Monk Kidd, the author of the best-selling The Secret Life of Bees, takes on both slavery and feminism in her novel The Invention of Wings. It's a story told by two women: Hetty, a slave, seeks her freedom, while Sarah, her reluctant owner, rebels against her family to become an abolitionist.
In the second part of our interview with the CIA's former top lawyer, John Rizzo says he felt he had the power to stop the agency's waterboarding program before it began. Rizzo explains to Renee Montagne why he decided to let the program continue. Rizzo's new book is Company Man: 30 Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA.
Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson declared an "unconditional war on poverty in America." It was something he knew well, says historian Robert Caro. As a boy, Johnson and his family often had little food and were "literally afraid every month that the bank might take away" their house.
In Little Failure, the novelist recounts his emigration from the USSR to the U.S. when he was 7. For the first few years, he says, he would sit alone in the school cafeteria, talking to himself in Russian "in this gigantic fur hat and fur coat." It wasn't long before a teacher advised, "Children won't play with you if you have that much fur on."
John Rizzo, who guided the CIA through more than three decades of crisis and controversy, has written a new memoir called Company Man. He talks with NPR's Renee Montagne about the origins of the infamous "enhanced interrogation techniques" that emerged after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Qiu Xiaolong has written eight detective novels based in his hometown of Shanghai. Qiu, who lives in St. Louis, embraces the advantages and problems of writing detective fiction in the Internet era, when Chinese people know so much more dirt about their system and leaders.
Chang-Rae Lee is an award-winning author best known for his novels Native Speaker and The Surrendered. NPR's Rachel Martin speaks with Lee about his latest book On Such a Full Sea, a futuristic dystopian novel set in a declining America that's been repopulated by Chinese immigrant workers.
Ever dream of moving to a foreign country and becoming a journalist? Anjan Sundaram did just that. He left a life as a mathematician in America, bought a one-way ticket to the Congo, and started writing. NPR's Rachel Martin talks with Sundaram about his book, Stringer: A Reporter's Journey in the Congo, which chronicles what he saw there.
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