Book Beat: The Podcast

Don's unedited CBS interviews at Ohio U's Wired for Books

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ARCHIVES #4 — 2014

Don Swaim Interviews
Crime Writer Extraordinaire

Aug. 3, 1920-Nov. 27, 2014
P.D. James was so delightful that I interviewed her three times over the years when she visited the U.S. from her home in Oxford, England.
  • three-part Book Beat broadcast 1986: listen
  • three-part Book Beat broadcast 1990: listen

    The Book Beat broadcasts with James in 1993 are unavailable, but the unedited interview is (below).

  • unedited CBS Wired for Books interview 1986: listen
  • unedited CBS Wired for Books interview 1990: listen
  • unedited CBS Wired for Books interview 1993: listen

    Who Killed the Robins Family?

    Bill Adler was one of the most quirky figures in publishing. Adler, who was 84 when he died in New York on February 28, 2014, was more of a book packager than a agent. He would come up with a gimmick, engage an author to create it, then peddle the book to publishers. Adler produced and sold hundreds. His clients included Ronald Reagan, Howard Cosell, Mike Wallace, and Ralph Nader.

    For his most famous book, in 1983 Adler hired Thomas Chastain (for which they received duel credit) to write a mystery that omitted the solution: Who Killed the Robins Family? Adler offered a $10,000 reward to any reader who could figure out the mystery.

    I came in later in a radio report produced for CBS with, not the solution, but with winners of the contest: LISTEN

    Penelope Niven
    Biographer of Carl Sandburg

    Apr. 11, 1939 -- Aug. 28, 2014.
    In addition to the Sandburg history, Niven published five other books, including biographies of Thornton Wilder, Edward Steichen, and James Earl Jones. Penelope Niven became obsessed with the poet after she worked as a volunteer at the Carl Sandburg house, and helped to reorganize his effects and papers for an exhibit.
  • Don spoke to her on the publication of Carl Sandburg: A Biography: listen

    Don Swaim outside of the Carl Sandburg house near Asheville, NC

    Dorothy Salisbury Davis
    Veteran Suspense Novelist

    Apr. 25, 1916 -- Aug. 10, 2014.
    Davis, author of some 20 books, was 98 at the time of her death in Palisades, NY.
  • Don spoke to her on the publication of one of the four mysteries featuring her heroine Julie Hayes: listen

    Louise Shivers
    Writer of Rural South

    Aug. 15, 1929 -- Jul. 26, 2014
    Shivers's surprise critical hit was Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail, published in 1983.
  • Don spoke to the charming Southerner on April 21, 1983: listen
  • unedited CBS Wired for Books interview: listen

    Gene Maeroff
    Education Writer

    Aug. 15, 1929 -- Jul. 25, 2014
    Maeroff was the education reporter for The New York Times before becoming a researcher and adviser on educational issues for foundations at Columbia and Princeton. He was the author of more one dozen books, including Don't Blame the Kids in which he asserted that the failure of education was not in the students but the educators.
  • Don spoke to Maeroff in 1982: listen

    New Biography May Spark Renewed Interest in John Updike

    Adam Begley's 558-page biography, Updike, is not only sympathic but candid. It reveals that, while Updike often denied it, his personal life was a virtual blueprint for much of his most controversial fiction. I inteviewed Updike twice, the first after he came to New York for an interview with Diane Sawyer of CBS's Morning Show in 1984, the second during Updike's debate with E.L. Doctorow at the International PEN Congress in 1986.

  • The Witches of Eastwick 1984: listen
  • unedited CBS Wired for Books interview 1984: listen
  • Updike vs. Doctorow 1986: listen

    ADDENDUM by Don S. I made a glaring error during the unedited CBS Updike interview of 1984 [above] when I insisted that E.M. Forster wrote the celebrated New Yorker story "The Hour After Westerly." I'm not sure Forster, an English author, ever even wrote for The New Yorker. Updike gently tried to correct me by saying he thought the author was Robert M. Coates. Updike was right, of course, and I was wrong -- but it's a testament to Updike that he was too polite to come down on me.

  • Lawrence Ferlinghetti
    Publishing a New Memoir at 94

    Ferlinghetti, famed for A Coney Island of the Mind, is ninety-four years old. He's the last living link to the Beat Generation, a brilliant literary figure who beat the censors by publishing Allen Ginsberg's classic Howl. Ferlinghetti's travel journals are to be published by Liveright in 2015. I interviewed Ferlinghetti for CBS on the occasion of his only published novel:

  • Love in the Days of Rage: listen
  • unedited CBS Wired for Books interview: listen

    Poet and Memoirist

    Apr 4, 1928 -- May 28, 2014
    I interviewed the great author Maya Angelou in 1987. She was petrified of heights and would not go above the second floor, so while she did visit me at the CBS building, I had to take a portable recorder down to the second floor for the interview.
  • three-part Book Beat broadcast: listen
  • unedited CBS Wired for Books interview: listen

    Joe McGinniss

    Dec. 9, 1942 -- Mar. 10, 2014
    McGinniss' first major book, The Selling of the Presidency, was an unflattering look at the Nixon presidential campaign. But McGinniss was best known for Fatal Vision in 1983, about the sensational murder trial of former Green Beret Jeffrey MacDonald, who claimed crazed hippies murdered his wife and family.
  • Don spoke to McGinniss about Fatal Vision: listen

    Justin Kaplan
    Pulitzer Prize-winning Literary Biographer

    Sep. 5, 1925 -- Mar. 2, 2014
    Celebrated for his biographies of Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, and Lincoln Steffins, Kaplan was also the editor of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations.
  • Don interviewed Kaplan on the occasion of Bartlett's sixteenth edition: listen

    Amiri Baraka
    Firebrand poet and activist

    Oct. 7, 1934 -- Jan. 9, 2014
    Both a poet and a revolutionary, Amiri Baraka -- born as Leroi Jones -- infuriated his peers by his provocative rhetoric, considered by some as anti-Semitic. Becase he could not be fired as New Jersey's Poet Laureate, the general assemnly abolished the position.
  • Don interviewed Baraka on this occasion of his memoir The Autobiography of LeRoi Jones: listen
  • unedited CBS Wired for Books interview 1984: listen


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