Open Source with Christopher Lydon

Open Source with Christopher Lydon An American conversation with global attitude. Click Sign-Up above to subscribe to our podcast.

Everybody should read THE MOST SECRET MEMORY OF MEN, the Prix Goncourt-winning novel by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr.  It's a no...
01/05/2024

Everybody should read THE MOST SECRET MEMORY OF MEN, the Prix Goncourt-winning novel by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr.

It's a novel overbrimming with literary conversations, which emanate in this week's show into our conversation with Sarr himself:

The only way into this podcast is a long leap headfirst into postcolonial French fiction, of all things, and a novel titled The Most Secret Memory of Men. Our guest is the toast of literary Paris, the first novelist from sub-Saharan Africa to win France’s highest book prize, the Goncourt: Mohamed ...

Wherever you go for podcasts, find our new show with Stacy Schiff about Samuel Adams.If you've ever wondered why a beer ...
01/05/2024

Wherever you go for podcasts, find our new show with Stacy Schiff about Samuel Adams.

If you've ever wondered why a beer is named after this particular historical figure, we've made the show for you:

On the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, we’re face to face, almost, with an American political type that’s gone missing in our third century. Check this resume: he’s principled, he’s prepared, a two-fisted aristocrat networked with farmers and workers; a thinker and writer at risk,...

This week's show is with Jeremy Eichler, whose new book is on WWII, the Holocaust, and four giants in twentieth-century ...
11/22/2023

This week's show is with Jeremy Eichler, whose new book is on WWII, the Holocaust, and four giants in twentieth-century music: Richard Strauss, Arnold Schoenberg, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Benjamin Britten.

The question that resurfaces in a time of horror may be what remains when memory is wiped out, when the unspeakable is left unspoken, in someone’s hope, perhaps, that it’ll be forgotten? Where does history live? Jeremy Eichler’s answer is that music becomes the code of our darkest secrets.

Our latest show is about a situation that can feel like "the end of the world." Listen to conversations with David Shulm...
10/24/2023

Our latest show is about a situation that can feel like "the end of the world." Listen to conversations with David Shulman and Hussein Ibish about the killing in Israel and Gaza:

We are listening in the dark, after a catastrophe yet to be contained: more than 1,000 Israeli civilians killed in a terrorist invasion from Gaza two weeks ago, thousands more Palestinians dead in a first round of punishment from Israel. “Only the beginning” says Prime Minister Netanyahu, while ...

Until the past few weeks, we'd been exploring literary marriages, starting with George Eliot's marriage plots (in her li...
10/24/2023

Until the past few weeks, we'd been exploring literary marriages, starting with George Eliot's marriage plots (in her life and her fiction). Listen to our show with Clare Carlisle—it's a conversation prompted by her brilliant new book about Eliot:

The question is marriage. The answer in this podcast is Clare Carlisle’s sparkling book, The Marriage Question: George Eliot’s Double Life. George Eliot, born Marian Evans, was the towering novelist of Middlemarch, Silas Marner, and more. She put a man’s name on her author’s page. She built ...

Zadie Smith has returned to Open Source, this time to talk about her new novel The Fraud, a story of nineteenth-century ...
10/24/2023

Zadie Smith has returned to Open Source, this time to talk about her new novel The Fraud, a story of nineteenth-century Britain that can feel very 2023:

Zadie Smith is a writer who matters, twenty years now after White Teeth, her breakthrough novel when she was just out of college. Her new one is titled The Fraud: fiction that pops in and out of two centuries. It can feel very Victorian and it can feel very 2023. Frauds, trials, disbelief abounding.

This week, we talk to David Kang, Kevin Rudd, and Paul Heer about China's challenge to the US. Find it at our site, or w...
06/10/2022

This week, we talk to David Kang, Kevin Rudd, and Paul Heer about China's challenge to the US. Find it at our site, or wherever you go for podcasts!

https://radioopensource.org/whos-number-one/

The United States and China are both working on something like a separation agreement. It’s the end of something like a marriage over the last 50 years—it produced vast wealth, but something less than democracy or happiness. Hostility, danger, even something like warfare are in the air. The hard...

This week: hear the prodigious imperial researcher Caroline Elkins on the violence of the British Empire. Find the conve...
05/20/2022

This week: hear the prodigious imperial researcher Caroline Elkins on the violence of the British Empire. Find the conversation at our site, or wherever you go for podcasts:

https://radioopensource.org/cruel-britannia/

George Orwell said, “It’s so easy to be witty about the British Empire.” As in the throwaway line that English people had conquered the world in a fit of absentmindedness. No big deal. But that empire was no joke. Boris Johnson, in the Prime Minister’s office today, says he can’t forget th...

This week, hear our conversation on nuclear forgetting with Daniel Immerwahr, Nina Tannenwald, and Alex Wellerstein. Fin...
05/13/2022

This week, hear our conversation on nuclear forgetting with Daniel Immerwahr, Nina Tannenwald, and Alex Wellerstein. Find it wherever podcasts are found, or at our site:

https://radioopensource.org/100-seconds-to-midnight/

On the famous clock-face of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the time now is 100 seconds before midnight. Meaning: humankind is closer to nuclear doomsday than it’s ever been. But it’s worse than that: those educated alarmists at the Bulletin advanced the second-hand on their clock before Russ...

Find this week's show at our site or wherever you go for podcasts: Trita Parsi, Huss Banai, and John Ghazvinian on nucle...
05/06/2022

Find this week's show at our site or wherever you go for podcasts: Trita Parsi, Huss Banai, and John Ghazvinian on nuclear talks and the long history of US-Iran relations. It's the latest in our collaboration with the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft!

https://radioopensource.org/a-dangerous-puzzle/

It’s Iran, again, at the center of a tricky, dangerous puzzle. Four years after Donald Trump broke out of the nuclear ban agreement, Iran is just days or weeks away from having enough enriched uranium to build a bomb—a bomb it doesn’t seem to want. At the same time the talks in Vienna to resto...

On our show this week, hear Shireen Al-Adeimi and Annelle Sheline on the war in Yemen—"the war we can stop."Find it wher...
04/08/2022

On our show this week, hear Shireen Al-Adeimi and Annelle Sheline on the war in Yemen—"the war we can stop."

Find it wherever you go for podcasts, or at our site:

https://radioopensource.org/war-in-yemen/

We’re engulfed by war, rumors of war, videos of war, crimes of war—are we looking at ‘end times’ approaching? Or just the dead end of the forever wars? Our conversation this hour is about the seven-year war in Yemen. Our Yemeni guest sets it in the Ukraine context this way: “Yemen,” she ...

Hear this week's show—available wherever you go for podcasts, or at our site—on moral realism and the search for politic...
04/01/2022

Hear this week's show—available wherever you go for podcasts, or at our site—on moral realism and the search for political maturity; it's a conversation with Brandon Terry and Andrew Bacevich on the legacy of Martin Luther King:

https://radioopensource.org/moral-realism/

The war questions are back, you notice—in everyday America: the talk of risk, the chance of ruin, the push and pull of righteousness, restraint; and all that history in our heads. Who gets it right about the moral stakes between war and peace, the plain people’s interest in the so-called strateg...

This week in our series with the Quincy Institute, we talk to Bill McKibben about breaking free of the curse of fossil f...
03/25/2022

This week in our series with the Quincy Institute, we talk to Bill McKibben about breaking free of the curse of fossil fuel, that crucial element in wars and climate change alike.

Find the show at our site, or wherever you go for podcasts:

https://radioopensource.org/how-to-stop-burning-things/

When Bill McKibben looks at the war in Ukraine, what he sees is a chapter, maybe the very last one, in the chronicle of a planet that we humans are burning unto our own extinction. To the environmentalist’s eye, oil power is the universal villain, hiding in every savage scene from Ukraine. “Oil ...

Now, wherever you go for podcasts, hear our show with David Kang, Stephen Wertheim, and Emma Ashford about lessons learn...
03/18/2022

Now, wherever you go for podcasts, hear our show with David Kang, Stephen Wertheim, and Emma Ashford about lessons learned during these weeks of war.

It's the latest installment of our collaboration with the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft:

https://radioopensource.org/lessons-learned/ #

Big lessons out of the war in Ukraine about “how the world really works” are showing up on the ground, not in theory class. They’re what you can learn just by watching. Example: it’s almost a rule now that invasions don’t work—not Putin’s in next-door Ukraine any more than Americans la...

This week, hear our conversation with Andrew Bacevich on the sorrows of empire and lessons learned from a military caree...
02/18/2022

This week, hear our conversation with Andrew Bacevich on the sorrows of empire and lessons learned from a military career. It's part of our new limited-series collaboration with the Quincy Institute!

Find it at our site or wherever you go for podcasts:

https://radioopensource.org/a-soldiers-tale/

This hour: the back-story of In Search of Monsters, our collaboration with the counter-punching think tank, the Quincy Institute. It’s the back-story of two men – two centuries apart – inside that Quincy idea. First came John Quincy Adams, the sixth US president, son of the second one, who k....

It's the 50th anniversary of a "hinge of history": Nixon's breakthrough visit to China. At our site and wherever you go ...
02/11/2022

It's the 50th anniversary of a "hinge of history": Nixon's breakthrough visit to China. At our site and wherever you go for podcasts, hear our conversation with Nixon's translator, Chas Freeman:

https://radioopensource.org/nixon-in-china/

It was the meeting, just 50 years ago this month, that changed more lives at more levels than any other political handshake in our lifetimes. The Trickster and the Monster, as the principals had been nicknamed, with some justice: Richard Nixon, the American president who would leave office two years...

Now hear this week’s show with Anatol Lieven on Ukraine, Russia, and sensible negotiation. Find it at our site or wherev...
01/14/2022

Now hear this week’s show with Anatol Lieven on Ukraine, Russia, and sensible negotiation. Find it at our site or wherever you go for podcasts:

https://radioopensource.org/sensible-negotiation/

Vladimir Putin’s threat to invade Ukraine is the first headline crisis of the new year. The headlines and the ‘crisis’ word come almost automatically when the story is Russia and its wily autocrat. We see the Russian bear on the prowl, the American eagle circling on high. We make it man-to-man...

Hear this week’s show with Randall Kennedy about progress and setbacks in the US, and about how Kennedy is still an opti...
12/18/2021

Hear this week’s show with Randall Kennedy about progress and setbacks in the US, and about how Kennedy is still an optimist, but now “a chastened optimist.”

At our site, or wherever you go for podcasts:

https://radioopensource.org/say-it-loud/

There’s a friendly hour’s conversation here about racial matters and moods. It’s been going on in a bookstore for about 35 years. What’s new this time, late in the portentous year of 2021, is first, the fine line between hope and despair, and second, that law professor Randall Kennedy joins ...

"We never trade future benefits for present costs," economist Mark Blyth says on our show this week.Now, wherever you fi...
12/10/2021

"We never trade future benefits for present costs," economist Mark Blyth says on our show this week.

Now, wherever you find podcasts, hear the conversation—topics range from inflation to cryptocurrency to electoral politics:

https://radioopensource.org/blyth-unleashed/

Mark Blyth is the butcher’s son from Dundee, now the American professor of political economics, still with the Sean Connery burr in his voice. Sounds like a working stiff; seems to think like one. Not for Professor Blyth the dismal science of markets and money, supply and demand. He stands for the...

This week, hear David Wengrow on his new history of humanity, co-authored with David Graeber and titled THE DAWN OF EVER...
12/03/2021

This week, hear David Wengrow on his new history of humanity, co-authored with David Graeber and titled THE DAWN OF EVERYTHING.

And hear Philip Deloria, Peter Linebaugh, Robin D.G. Kelley, and Joyce Chaplin on this story of political creativity—at our site/wherever you go for podcasts:

https://radioopensource.org/a-new-history-of-humanity/

Giant questions this hour, and a slew of fresh answers: Where do we humans come from? Who are we, after all? Where are we going? Was our pre-history a Garden of Eden, or a nasty war of survival, or some of both? Are we human beings good or evil, by the way? Pretty much the same, the world around, or...

11/13/2021

Readers know what George Orwell loathed—totalitarianism—but how about what he loved? Find this week’s show with Rebecca Solnit at our site or wherever you go for podcasts to hear about Orwell’s ideal of the good life.

https://radioopensource.org/orwells-roses/

Listen to this week's hour with Amitav Ghosh: it's a conversation ranging from the seventeenth-century Dutch spice trade...
11/05/2021

Listen to this week's hour with Amitav Ghosh: it's a conversation ranging from the seventeenth-century Dutch spice trade to contemporary climate crisis. Find it at our site or wherever you go for podcasts!

https://radioopensource.org/the-nutmegs-curse/

Glasgow on the Clyde is not the end of the story, but you can see the end from Glasgow: it’ll be more “blah, blah, blah,” says Greta Thunberg, the merciless teenage critic the world has come to love, and trust. Glasgow this week, Greta said, is about “people in power pretending to take our f...

Hear this week’s show at our site or wherever you find podcasts! It’s about Boston on the verge of change, with Andrea C...
10/29/2021

Hear this week’s show at our site or wherever you find podcasts! It’s about Boston on the verge of change, with Andrea Campbell, Carlton Williams, Armani White, Sheena Collier, Sidney Baptista, and Kendra Hicks.

https://radioopensource.org/a-new-day-for-boston/

Boston politics has taken a turn. The Last Hurrah was 65 years ago – the classic obituary novel about those noisy Irish rascals who ran City Hall for much of the twentieth century. That era isn’t just over, it’s almost forgotten. For the first time in a century this year, there wasn’t one Ir...

Hear  with Boris Franklin and Lawrence Bell on this week’s show about writing and teaching in prison:https://radioopenso...
10/15/2021

Hear with Boris Franklin and Lawrence Bell on this week’s show about writing and teaching in prison:

https://radioopensource.org/prison-playwrights/

Prison time can be the strangest interval in a long life: it is experienced, year by year, as a slow-burning hell on earth, often revalued later as productive, enlightening, redemptive turn-around time. Chris Hedges has documented an old story of transformation in a true story of today. It’s title...

This week’s show with Jonathan Franzen takes you from the 1970s to 2021, as Franzen reflects on America: “some hits, som...
10/09/2021

This week’s show with Jonathan Franzen takes you from the 1970s to 2021, as Franzen reflects on America: “some hits, some misses.”

Find it at our site, or wherever you go for podcasts:

https://radioopensource.org/franzen-comes-alive/

Jonathan Franzen might just be the last of the fine-grained, big-book portraitists of “the way Middle America lives”—specially the intimate deceptions that family relations are made of. Franzen is a realist with an edgy American sense of humor, and twenty-first-century dread as well. You feel ...

Hear this week's show on Mozart and music that can "flow like oil"—Robert Levin is at the piano, and the biographer Jan ...
10/01/2021

Hear this week's show on Mozart and music that can "flow like oil"—Robert Levin is at the piano, and the biographer Jan Swafford introduces us to the Mozart beyond the myth.

Find it at our site, or wherever you go for podcasts:

https://radioopensource.org/thoroughly-modern-mozart/

Who else could be said to make you smarter, just listening to the sound of his music? Only Mozart, that we know. For 300-and-some years now, he has set the standard for whatever lies beyond perfection. “Too beautiful for our ears,” said the Emperor of the Enlightenment, Joseph the Second, “and...

This week, Colm Tóibín takes us into the world of Thomas Mann, the German novelist and Nobel-winner fascinated with illn...
09/24/2021

This week, Colm Tóibín takes us into the world of Thomas Mann, the German novelist and Nobel-winner fascinated with illness and yearning.

Find it at our site, or wherever you go for podcasts!

https://radioopensource.org/mann-the-magician/

Thomas Mann was one of those cultural giants the world doesn’t seem to make anymore—artists with authority, almost as big as their countries, at the level of Mark Twain, say, Voltaire, or Emerson! In his heyday a century ago Thomas Mann was called “the life of the mind in Germany”: the darkl...

On this week's show, we talk to economist Mariana Mazzucato. Without "ambitious public investment," she says, "you can g...
09/17/2021

On this week's show, we talk to economist Mariana Mazzucato. Without "ambitious public investment," she says, "you can get all the venture capital in there that you want—nothing happens." Find the conversation at our site, or wherever you go for podcasts!

https://radioopensource.org/moonshot-economics/

It’s hard not to notice that we’re flunking tests, right and left, and running out of strategies against global-size troubles. COVID, we said, was our test for the age of viruses. At summer’s end the variants are gaining and most of the world is unvaccinated. Afghanistan became a 20-year test ...

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