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.
"The best thing that ever happened to horses was that they ceased to be the automobiles and trucks of their day," says author Jane Smiley. "The automobile was invented and horses became pets, companion animals, leisure animals and so in general they became better treated.
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.
Susan Orlean is a staff writer for the <em>New Yorker</em> and has contributed articles to <em>Vogue, Rolling Stone</em> and<em> Esquire.</em> She is the author of several books, including <em>The Orchid Thief</em>.