Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man invented a new kind of crime fiction. It was hard-boiled, but also light-hearted; funny, with a hint of homicide. Nick and Nora Charles — and Asta, their wire-haired terrier — were rich, witty and in love, when America was in the middle of the Depression. They also drank a lot — Nick and Nora, not Asta, though he got an occasional leftover slurp.
The Smithsonian Institution is often called The Nation's Attic, because of all the treasures crammed into it ... which makes Wayne Clough, secretary of the Smithsonian, the crazy guy up in the attic collecting everything.
Since Clough is in charge of the nation's stuff that's worth keeping we've decided to quiz him on the stuff that isn't — turns out people are hoarding stuff so weird, even A&E wouldn't think to broadcast it.
NPR's Backseat Book Club is back! And we begin this round of reading adventures with a cherished classic: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Generations of children and adults have loved this book. With vivid detail and simple, yet lyrical prose, Black Beauty describes both the cruelty and kindness that an ebony-colored horse experiences through his lifetime — from the open pastures in the English countryside to the cobblestone grit of 19th-century England.
Although it was written in 1882, Henrik Ibsen's play An Enemy of the People still resonates today. Richard Thomas and Boyd Gaines, the stars of a new production of the play, join Ira Flatow to talk about the play's themes of power and truth, and the role of whistle-blowers.
This interview was originally broadcast on Fresh Air on July 18, 2008.
A new revival of the hit musical Annie is now in previews on Broadway, scheduled to open Thursday. In the new production, the canine co-star Sandy is played by "Sunny," who has an understudy named "Casey." Bill Berloni trained them both — and, like the original Sandy in the original Broadway show, those dogs, too, were rescue dogs, found in animal shelters.