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Two Brothers' Paths Diverge

Writer and scholar John Edgar Wideman's new book focuses on his younger brother Robby, who is serving a life sentence for murder. Wideman explores their differences and tries to understand what led Robby to a life of crime.


"Wiseguy" is the Best Show Since "St. Elsewhere"

TV critic David Bianculli reviews the police procedural, now in its second season. He admires how the show takes its time with each storyline, exploring one over the course of several episodes -- and often featuring long-term guest stars.


"Billy Bathgate" is Brilliant

E.L. Doctorow's newest novel, like his past work, incorporates real history into fictional narratives. This time, he focuses on the criminal underworld of New York in the early twentieth century. Book critic John Leonard says the book is superb.


Novelist E.L. Doctorow Reimagines the Past

The author's books follow the lives of fictional characters in real historical situations. Several of them have been made into films. Doctorow's newest novel, Billy Bathgate, takes place in the criminal underworld of early-twentieth-century New York City.


A Middle-Aged Writer's Homecoming

Peter Conrad studied in Englad on a Rhodes scholarship, but grew up in Tasmania -- an island once used as an Australian penal colony. His new memoir, about his return to his home country, is called Behind the Mountain.


Novelist E.L. Doctorow Reimagines the Past.

Writer E.L Doctorow His writing has been praised for bringing to life the traumatic events of American 20th Century history, like the Depression, World War II and Vietnam for the generations too young or too old to feel them. It was Doctorow's 1971 book, "The Book of Daniel," that established his reputation as a major American writer. The book was inspired by the Atom Spy Trials at the height of the McCarthy era. At the time, Doctorow was still working full-time as an editor, working with authors like James Baldwin and Norman Mailer.


The Fate of Underworld Slang.

Linguist Geoffrey Nunberg examines what has happened to underworld slang. He says it no longer thrives the way it did in centuries gone by.


A Prisoner Remembers His Criminal Past

James Fogle was a drug addict who, along with others, robbed drugstores to feed his habit. The film Drugstore Cowboy is based on his autobiographical novel of the same name; the book wasn't yet published at the time of production. It's now in stores. Fogle is currently serving a prison sentence, and joins Fresh Air by telephone.


The Fate of Underworld Slang

Linguist Geoffrey Nunberg examines what has happened to underworld slang. He says it no longer thrives the way it did in centuries gone by.


Growing Up in Anchorage's Underworld

Kim Rich has written a new memoir, "Johnny's Girl," about growing up in Anchorage, Alaska during the oil boom years. Her father was a notorious underworld figure in the city who operated illegal gambling houses and massage parlors all over the city. He was eventually murdered.


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