When Scott Johnson was a kid, he wasn't really sure what his dad did; he was either a teacher, a diplomat or a foreign service officer.
But one morning, when Johnson was 14, his father decided to tell him his real job: He was a spy for the CIA.
At first it was exciting, but as Johnson grew older, he began to wonder just how much his father was keeping from him. He tells the story of their complicated relationship in a new memoir called The Wolf and the Watchman.
Whether a shepherd, an explorer, a hunter or a fairgoer, people have been eating outside since the beginning of time.
"The dictionaries confirm the word 'picnic' first surfaced in the 18th century, so we were picnicking before we had the term," says research librarian and food historian Lynne Olver, who runs the Food Timeline website.
Memorial Day commemorates those who died serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. For some Americans, the day revives their few and fading memories of their fallen fathers. Those who lost a father in World War II are considered "war orphans." These are the stories of three of those children who have lived nearly all their lives without their dads.
A Voice From Heaven
Geraldine Conway Morenski holds onto a few distant memories of her dad: picking her up out of her crib, laughing, playing with her in the backyard.
Sunday is the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500, which draws hundreds of thousands of fans to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. While it's an economic boon for the area, the 104-year-old track needs renovations — and just how it's getting the money is rubbing some Hoosiers the wrong way.
In the classic American story, opportunity is always in front of you. You finish school, find a job, buy a home and start a family; it's a rosy dreamscape.
But that world is one-dimensional. Income inequality is just about as American as baseball and apple pie. And though the economy has improved in the past few years, the unemployment rate for black Americans, now 13.2 percent, is about double that for white Americans.
Pearl S. Buck emerged into literary stardom in 1931 when she published a book called The Good Earth. That story of family life in a Chinese village won the novelist international acclaim, the Pulitzer and, eventually, a Nobel Prize. Her upbringing in China as the American daughter of missionaries served as inspiration for that novel and many others; by her death in 1973, Buck had written more than 100 books, including 43 novels.
In his debut novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Anthony Marra transports readers to Chechnya, a war-torn Russian republic that has long sought independence.
The lyrical and heart-breaking novel begins in 2004 when a doctor watches as Russian soldiers abduct his neighbor, who has been accused of aiding Chechen rebels. He later rescues the neighbor's 8-year-old daughter, then colludes with another doctor to form an unlikely family amid the daily violence.
A massive storm system has dumped more than 10 inches of rain over San Antonio, leaving the Texas city flooded and at a standstill.
Texas Public Radio's Ryan Loyd reports the area is still under a flash flood emergency. Ryan filed this report for our Newscast unit:
"Some people didn't have time to make it to safety in rain-drenched San Antonio. A woman died when raging flood waters swept her away in her car. So much rain fell that it floated a city bus. Major highways are completely submerged.
Weekends on All Things Considered host Jacki Lyden speaks with Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institution about the Espionage Act. This Word War I-era legislation has been used more frequently in recent times to prosecute government employees who leak information to the press, but the limits set by the act are poorly defined for our modern age.
It was cold and rainy today in Boston. Still, thousands of runners laced up their shoes and headed to Kenmore Square.
That's the site of the final mile marker for the Boston Marathon. On April 15, when two bombs exploded near the finish line, thousands of runners could not finish the most illustrious road race in the world.
These may sound like the makings of a Roald Dahl children's book (he of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame). But at London's Kew Gardens, visitors can now immerse themselves in such fantastic-sounding experiences like rowing down a blue-dyed boating lake to the aforementioned island, which features a 15-foot replica pineapple towering over a banana grotto.
Lance Cpl. Travis Williams, 29, is an Iraq War veteran — and the only post-9/11 Marine to lose every other member of his 12-man squad. It happened in August 2005, when Williams and his teammates were sent on a rescue mission in Barwanah, Iraq.
"That morning, we loaded into the vehicle," Williams recalls. "And I get tapped on the shoulder, and I got told that I need to bounce up to the next vehicle. I said, 'Catch you guys on the flipside.' And that was the last thing I ever said to them."
Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
NPR's Bob Mondello and Susan Stamberg read excerpts of two of the best submissions for Round 11 of our short story contest. They read Snowflake by Winona Wendth of Lancaster, Mass., and Geometry by Eugenie Montague of Los Angeles. You can read their full stories below and find other stories on our Three-Minute Fiction page or on Facebook.
I found your journal in my car. A slim, Moleskin, six by ten centimeters, soft cover, blue, curving upwards at the edges like an incredibly shallow bowl, or a key dish. By the concavity in its form, the book seemed to be suggesting it was capable of carrying something. Something real. Not much. A few pennies. A handful of nails. One heavy pen cradled at that depression in the center, which had dropped out of the flatness of the book from riding around in the back pocket of your jeans.
She found the photograph early in the day, while she was cleaning for spring, pulling a winter's collection of domestic detritus out from under the bed. Ticket stubs, grimy grocery notes, coffee-stained lined paper, and dead pens. Their life: movies, food, and books. She didn't like housecleaning, but the weather had changed, and something moved her to sweep around, put things in order, clean them up.
Secretary of State John Kerry met with political leaders in Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank this week in his effort to try to restart direct peace talks between the two parties. NPR's Emily Harris is in Jerusalem. Emily, thanks for being with us.
EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: My pleasure, Scott.
SIMON: So if not a concrete plan, is somebody pouring the concrete?