The individuals who participated in the first Inquisition 800 years ago kept detailed records of their activities. Vast archival collections at the Vatican, in France and in Spain contain accounts of torture victims' cries, descriptions of funeral pyres and even meticulous financial records about the price of torture equipment.
As the nation gears up for the second inauguration of President Obama, NPR Books dove into the archives to find some of our favorite interviews with biographers of the first family. Here, you'll find profiles of the president's mother and father, an exploration of Michelle Obama's ancestral roots, and a portrait of the president and first lady's relationship. You'll also find books written by the Obamas themselves.
Few films trying to capture a child's experience of an adult world manage to nail the details. In real life, kids aren't typically the precocious sorts espousing wisdom beyond their years â€” kids fidget, they ask questions, they get scared. They act like kids.
Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 4:06 pm
He has repeated the catchphrase over and over again, though he really had to say it only once: No one ever doubted for a minute that Arnold Schwarzenegger wouldn't be back.
How you feel about the hit-or-miss neo-spaghetti-Western The Last Stand may depend on how much you really missed Schwarzenegger while he was taking time off from acting to serve two terms as governor of California.
As an investigation into American municipal corruption, Broken City is, well, damaged. But as an opportunity for hard-boiled types to trade threats, blows and caustic banter, this modern-day noir works reasonably well.
The story begins in a New York housing project, where scruffy undercover cop Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) has just dispatched a felon. The victim had it coming, it seems, but that doesn't mean the shooting is strictly legit.
Bruno Dumont just wasn't made for these cinematic times. Rather than cajole and flatter his viewers, the French filmmaker intentionally alienates and mystifies them. Like his five previous movies, the new Hors Satan is stark, strange and uncompromisingly personal. It's also vivid and unforgettable.
Writer Kevin Smokler spent a good majority of 2012 rereading the books he was assigned back in his high school English classes. He called up some of his former teachers and put together a list of books to revisit.
He looks back at his 15-year-old self and sees a "pretentious," somewhat "idiotic" teenager who was able to pass his classes, but who really missed the themes at the heart of most of the books.
Let's bring up our next two fearless contestants. We have Andy Kravis and Sara Manaugh.
EISENBERG: Andy, you're a bit of a geek. You parody pop songs with law school related lingo. What's up with that?
ANDY KRAVIS: That's right. I'm in the Columbia Law Review, which sounds just like the Columbia Law Review, the journal, except way better and a lot more fun. We write parody words to popular songs, and they have a law theme. And nobody finds them funny except for law students.
Now, let's head back to events in this country. Thousands of Americans will be in Washington to watch history being made at the presidential inauguration, to hear President Obama's vision for the next four years.
Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 9:44 am
There's no shortage of food shows on television, from serene instructional content to tourist eye candy to kooky competitions where chefs cook in the desert. There's also The Great Food Truck Race, which is mostly about the finer points of where you should park a food truck.
But while my favorite was once Bravo's Top Chef, with its clearly skilled chefs and terrific judging panels, my new favorite is the Food Network competition Chopped.
Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 7:35 pm
Tracy Chevalier's 1999 masterpiece, Girl with a Pearl Earring, was a tour de force, revealing the painter Vermeer through the eyes of his 16-year-old maid. A publishing sensation, the novel set the pattern for Chevalier's subsequent work: meticulously researched historical fiction, filled with gritty detail yet rendered in luminous prose.
There are certain classic American plays that are revived on Broadway every decade or so, to let a new generation of actors and audiences discover them. Tennessee Williams' 1955 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, running through March 30, is one of those iconic plays.
After a career of alternately charming, manipulating and strong-arming the media, former cycling champion Lance Armstrong is turning for redemption to a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Winfrey has said viewers of her talk show on her cable channel OWN on Thursday and Friday nights will witness Armstrong confess that he cheated. But, she warned that people will be surprised in the way in which he confesses.
On today's Morning Edition, Shereen Marisol Meraji had a great piece about the memorial of Southern California public-television staple Huell Howser, who died of cancer earlier this month.
On Tuesday, hundreds of people turned out to remember him. As Meraji says, for these fans, Howser was "a man who took them to places they never knew they wanted to go and introduced them to people they never knew they wanted to meet."
Have you ever wanted to run away with the circus? This week's Ask Me Another V.I.P.s literally did. The Acrobuffos, a.k.a. Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone, met while performing in Afghanistan, formed bonds both in comedy and in love, and now co-headline the premiere clown gig in America: The Big Apple Circus.
In December, the actor Dustin Hoffman sat in a box seat at the Kennedy Center as his old friend, Robert De Niro, saluted him at a celebration marking one of the highest accolades for an artist in the United States: a Kennedy Center Honor.
Tropic Death, the blunt, specific title for Eric Walrond's story collection, first published more than 85 years ago, couldn't be more apt. These 10 stories indeed have tropical settings â€” namely, British Guiana, Barbados and the Panama Canal Zone â€” and death is ever present, as palpable as the bludgeoning heat and suffocating racism that characterize many of these tales.