Jack Hitt says if you drill down into the American spirit to find out what makes Americans so American, you'll find it's the fact that we're all amateurs at heart. In his new book, Bunch of Amateurs: A Search for the American Character, he pinpoints the first American to use the amateur label to his advantage: Benjamin Franklin.
A woman holds a photo of Guldunya Toren, an unmarried mother allegedly killed by her brothers for having a child out of wedlock, outside parliament in Ankara, Turkey, in 2004. Her case prompted huge protests and forced Turks to realize that the justice system often fails to protect at-risk women.
Hayrettin Bulan, a women's rights activist, points to cases of abused Turkish women. His proposal to arm and train women in self-defense has reignited a debate in Turkey about how best to combat violence against women.
In Turkey, hundreds of women die each year at the hands of a husband or family member, in a society that critics say too often ignores violence against women. After years of frustration, one organization has shaken up the debate with a controversial proposal: arming women and training them to defend themselves.
Looking back, Yagmur Askin thinks perhaps she should have paid more attention on her wedding day, when her husband's family welcomed her by saying, "You enter this house in a bridal gown, and you'll leave it in a coffin."
Arn Chorn-Pond is a human rights activist working on Cambodian reconciliation efforts and the preservation of traditional Khmer music. He is the subject of Jocelyn Glatzer's 2003 documentary, The Flute Player; the opera Where Elephants Weep; and the children's book, A Song for Cambodia by Michelle Lord.
Prize-winning author Patricia McCormick is known for tackling challenging — even harrowing — themes in her young adult novels. Her book Sold, a National Book Award finalist, took on child trafficking. In her new book, Never Fall Down, she describes the atrocities of the Cambodian genocide, drawing upon the experiences of Arn Chorn-Pond, a real-life survivor, who joined her and NPR's Scott Simon to discuss the novel and the lingering impact of his ordeal.
Idina Menzel is touring the nation, performing "No Day But Today," her signature song from the musical Rent. That show made Menzel, playing the flirtatious performance artist Maureen Johnson, famous in the late-1990s. She followed with her Tony Award-winning role as the green-faced Wicked Witch of the West in the musical Wicked. More recently, she's had a recurring spot on the TV show Glee.
Camp David, in the Maryland hills outside Washington, D.C., is usually a place for the president and his family to get away from work, a wooded refuge with a swimming pool, tennis courts and a putting green.
This weekend, though, President Obama is bringing work with him to the camp — along with the leaders from most of the countries with the world's largest economies.
The Group of Eight is meeting in the rustic setting, but the agenda will be all business.
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:
And we briefly note the passing of one of the world's great opera singers: German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau died today. He was 86. From his first recital in Berlin in 1947 until his retirement in 1992, Fischer-Dieskau is in demand at opera houses and concert halls the world over. He was especially known for his interpretations of Schubert songs, like this one from the song cycle "Winterreise" or "Winter Journey."
Back in 1969, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon, there were no guarantees. There were no guarantees that they'd make it there and there were no guarantees that they could make it back home.
President Richard Nixon and his speech writer William Safire knew that. So, imagining a situation in which the American astronauts were doomed in an alien land, Safire drew up a plan to mark their inevitable demise in a dignified way.