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'Zealot' Tells The Story Of Jesus The Man, Not The Messiah

Religious scholar Reza Aslan found that he was much more interested in studying Jesus as a human being than as the figure he learned about in church. His new book, Zealot, chronicles Jesus' life and times and explains how the historical context shaped Jesus and the perception of him.

An Ancient Parchment Refuses To Give Up Its Secrets

The Voynich Manuscript, a mysterious late-medieval document filled with illustrations and strange text, has befuddled countless would-be translators. Is it a book of natural science? Alchemy? Herbology? Astronomy? No one knows, because no one's been able to decipher it.

Searching For Clues In A Dangerous Nairobi

A dead body and a hotel bombing trigger the plot of Black Star Nairobi, the latest crime novel from Kenyan-American author Mukoma Wa Ngugi. Detectives Ishmael Fofona and David Odhiambo search for the perps during the upheaval around the Kenyan elections in December 2007.

Not My Job: A 'Gilligan's Island' Quiz For Novelist Gillian Flynn

We ask the author of the mystery novel Gone Girl three questions about the classic TV series.

Lessons In Bigotry And Bravery: A Girl Grows Up In 'Glory Be'

It's the summer of 1964, and everything's changing for 11-year-old Glory. She was looking forward to celebrating her 12th birthday at the local pool, but the town has shut it down to avoid integration. Members of NPR's Backseat Book Club share their questions with author Augusta Scattergood.
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Sheri Booker: "Nine Years Under: Coming Of Age In An Inner-City Funeral Home"

A Baltimore author joins us to talk about her experience growing up behind the scenes of the death care industry and explore how funeral homes fit into the fabric of urban communities.


Book News: Evidence 'Overwhelming' In Apple Price-Fixing Case

Also: a literary history of silly walks; Judy Blume on why Margaret will always be an A cup; Oliver Sacks on hallucinations.

Tech-Savvy Cities May Be 'Smart,' But Are They Wise?

Around the world, cities like Rio de Janeiro are using new technologies to solve their problems. And while there's great promise in many of these "smart" city programs, urban planner Anthony Townsend is wary of putting so much power in the hands of tech companies.

The Science Of Twinkies: How Do They Last So Darned Long?

When Twinkies hit the stores again on July 15, their shelf life will be nearly twice as long as it used to be: 45 days. (We were surprised it wasn't longer.) There's a whole lot of food science employed to help the creme-filled cake defy the laws of baked-good longevity.

Book News: 'Ender's Game' Author Responds To Boycott Threats

Also: Amazon launches a comics imprint; Reed Johnson on an uncrackable medieval code; a Colorado state Senate candidate writes erotica.