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'America's Great Debate' Saved Union From War

The Civil War remains the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history, and the defining crisis of the nation. But it might easily have started twelve years earlier. Fergus Bordewich tells the story of the compromise that staved off civil war, and also made it inevitable, in his book, America's Great Debate.
NPR

Anna Quindlen: Over 50, And Having 'Plenty Of Cake'

The Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times columnist's new memoir explores her past, present and future — her relationships with her parents and children, her faith, her career and her feelings about herself over the past five decades.
NPR

'Death And The Penguin' Captures Post-Soviet Reality

Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov writes short, surrealistic stories full of dark comedic surprises. His latest is The Case of the General's Thumb, but critic John Powers suggests starting with his 1996 novel, Death and the Penguin. It's a fast-paced, witty read and what Powers calls "an almost perfect novel."
NPR

A Rival For Pigeon In Willems' New 'Duckling'

Life is an endless series of frustrations and disappointments for Pigeon, the star of a popular series of children's books by author Mo Willems. In the latest, Pigeon must contend with the delightfully sweet and polite Duckling, who gets a cookie just by asking.
NPR

The California Taco Trail: 'How Mexican Food Conquered America'

Once upon a time, tacos were a Mexican snack. Now they're an all-American institution. Gustavo Arellano leads us across Southern California in search of the roots of the American taco.
NPR

Rodney King Comes To Grips With 'The Riot Within'

In his new memoir, Rodney King explains why he gave his famous "Can we get along?" speech when riots erupted after police officers were acquitted in his beating. His lawyers had drafted a far angrier script for him. He also reflects on his life since the trial: "Things have changed for me," he says.
NPR

The Artistry Of 'Children's Picturebooks' Revealed

Children's books seem simple, but good ones are deceptively complicated to write and illustrate. The images and the text depend on each other, and author Martin Salisbury says it's quite a challenge to condense a story into just 32 pages while maintaining simplicity and elegance.
NPR

Three-Minute Fiction

More than 6,000 original stories were submitted to this round of Three-Minute Fiction. Host Guy Raz presents this week's stand-out stories: Rid Yourself of this Pest Today! by Elizabeth "Bitsy" Hawes Unangst and Just In Case by Robin McCarthy.

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