Book Beat: The Podcast/Wired for Books

Don Swaim's online audio interviews with the best-known writers
of three decades, author updates, and more


Ohio University's prestigious "Wired for Books" website went dark in 2016, thus eliminating access to the hundreds of author radio interviews over portions of three decades at CBS.

From Sara Harrington, Head of Arts and Archives, Ohio University Libraries:
The Ohio University Libraries look forward to making the contents of The Don Swaim Collection available online through the Libraries website. The Libraries intend to make the following fully available online to the public:
  • Book Beat broadcasts
  • Full length interviews from which Book Beat broadcasts were created
  • Full-length transcripts for both broadcasts and interviews
  • In order to best steward The Don Swaim Collection over the long term, the Libraries will make both preservation and use copies of audio in the Collection. Due to the ambitious nature of this project, The Libraries will take a staged approach to making Collection contents possible. We look forward to gradually making the fullest Collection contents available, and are certain that these rich resources which reflect and inform American literature, culture, history, and society will be of vital interest to students, scholars, and members of the public for years to come.

    Please contact Sara Harrington, Head of Arts and Archives, Ohio University Libraries, with questions and comments.

    Meanwhile, all of the actual CBS Book Beat feature broadcasts, not the unedited interviews, can still be heard via THIS site by using the search box to locate specific authors.

    Don Swaim
    An imagining by K.A. Silva
    click to enlarge

    Don Photo Gallery

    Don's Houses
    Where He's Lived


    Oldstyle Tales Press has published its first anthology of original weird tales: The Yellow Booke. Don Swaim's short story, "The Barrier," about a posse of nits crossing the no man's land between two human eyebrows to rescue a kidnapped female nit, is part of the collection. Trade paperback at:
    . It can be read for free online at the Oldstyle Tales Press website

    edited by
    C. G. Bauer
    Don Swaim's ghost story "Levin" is in this second volume of Bauer's ebook anthology series Crappy Shorts, which ain't crappy at all. HERE


    Don Swaim's exhaustive interview with S.T. Joshi, the world's leading authority on Lovecraft, Bierce, sci-fi, horror, and weird fiction in general. READ

    archy, mehitabel & james whitcomb riley
    meditation by don swaim


    Gabriel Fernandez Ledesma, artist

    Rare woodcut found at a flea market in New Jersey led to this illustrated essay by Don Swaim. READ


    Don Swaim's H.L. Mencken Murder Case, originally published by St. Martin's Press, returns to print as a trade paperback through the Authors Guild Backinprint program. Available at $12.95. "...there's a dusty-attic charm to Mr. Swaim's fond evocation of bookshops past, and he couldn't have enticed a livelier ghost than Mencken to haunt them." --The New York Times Sunday Book Review


    Inspired by Rudyard Kipling's poetry, Woodrow D'Urberville, his stunning companion Angelina Jekyl, and their mentor, the dirigible-residing Professor Emory, set out to save the world -- starting with the rescue of Oscar Wilde from Reading Gaol. Every Steampunk weapon, mode of transportation, piece of clothing, and cliché is utilized in Don Swaim's more than 11,000-word send-up of the genre. Illustrated by the author. SPECIAL: As an introductory offer, Steampunk Electroblaster Romance is on sale for 99-cents -- yes, 99¢! CLICK to buy.


    Satirical and literary, Don Swaim's ebook Bright Sun Extinguished: Ode to Norman Mailer is an original pastiche of dark fantasy and horror. A hit team from Kansas crosses a dystopian landscape to assassinate Norman Mailer in Brooklyn. From Now only $1.99 for a limited time only. A literary gem filled with subtleties re pop culture and events leading up to and beyond a literary apocalypse. -- claims C.G. Bauer


    Original song lyrics from Bright Sun Extinguished: Ode to Norman Mailer:

    zombie lullabye
    click HERE

    lyrics by Don Swaim

    click HERE

    lyrics by Don Swaim


    Photo-essay by Don Swaim


    Broadcasting was a different world in 1967 when CBS began an all-news radio operation on its 50,000-watt WCBS, New York, flagship of its seven owned-and-operated AM stations. Then, WCBS broadcast a daily book review with contributions from the staff voiced by Dick Reeves. Don Swaim, a former television news editor from Baltimore, contributed regularly to this feature, transcripts of which were distributed to the news media. An excerpt from Swaim's review of an oral biography of Harry S Truman appeared in the New York Post on March 2, 1974:

    click to enlarge

    By late 1982, Swaim, who had been reporting on books and authors for the station for several years (as well as a contributor to a CBS-FM broadcast, "Crosstalk"), proposed a daily feature, "Book Beat," to which staff members, one of whom was WCBS political reporter Steve Flanders, would contribute. Flanders' sudden death scotched that idea, and Swaim embarked on the five-day-a-week feature alone. The executives in charge were Mike Ludlum and Lou Adler. Its first broadcast was January 3, 1983, with a profile of William Styron. Later, the network's CBS Radio Stations News Service headed by Joe Durso, Jr., made "Book Beat" available nationwide. Over the years, more than 700 writers, famous and unknown, were interviewed. "Book Beat"'s final broadcast was September 9, 1993, with an interview with Ray Bradbury on the 40th anniversary of Farenheit 451.


    There was uncertainty as to how to preserve this remarkable archive. Finally, the raw interviews, all on tape, were acquired by Ohio University in Athens, which digitized the material and posted it on its Wired for Books website, founded by Dave Kurz. Wired for Books declined to include the actual two-minute radio features, as opposed to the raw interviews, so the features, as they appeared on the air, are posted on this site. Kurz' retirement left Wired for Books in limbo.

    Best of the Internet cites Don Swaim's Wired for Books interviews
    Nov. 20, 2007

    portrait of Don Swaim by
    James "Doc" Tuverson

    the AMBROSE BIERCE site

    WCBS Newsradio 88
    Appreciation Site

    The Swaim in History

    The Swaim in America

    The Swimsuit Issue

    A Few Other Amusing
    Don Swaim Sites

  • Radio Days  
  • Aspinwall High School  
  • Ambrose Bierce Site  
  • Bucks County Writers Workshop 
  • Errata  
  • Steinbeck in Bucks Co  
  • Pennsylvania Sunsets  
  • Growing Up in WW Two  
  • Don's Houses: Where I've Been  
  • Fighting the Hun in WW One  


    Singer and poet Art Garfunkel's memoir What Is It All But Luminous (Notes From An Underground Man) was issued by Penguin Random House in September 2017. I spoke to Garfunkel (sans Simon) shortly after Art began his walk across America, an odyssey that took him twelve years. Art had just published a book of poetry, Still Water. LISTEN

    Celebrated for The Ginger Man

    Apr 23, 1926-Sep 11, 2017
    The expatriate Donleavy, who died at the age of 91 in County Westmeath, Ireland, shook the literary world with his provocative novel The Ginger Man in 1955. I spoke to Donleavy in a five-part series of Book Beat reports: listen
    The election of an unstable American president led to a revised interest in dystopian fiction, propelling Orwell's 1949 novel 1984 and others to the top of best-seller lists. The online streaming service Hulu produced a ten-part series based on Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid Tale in which a right-wing totalitarian theocracy destroys gender equality in America.
    In a two-part feature series, I spoke to Atwood about her speculative fiction: listen

    Don Swaim Interviews
    Pulitzer-winning literary critic

    Mar 16, 1933-Mar 29, 2017
    McPherson, literary critic for The Washington Post -- who later described his descent into poverty -- went into early retirement in order to write full time, but after suffering congestive heart failure, and finding his pension negligible, he fell into a humiliating precarious financial position. He described it in a revealing 2014 essay, "Falling." Before McPherson's decline I interviewed him on the occasion of his acclaimed first novel Testing the Current: listen
    Legendary New York Journalist

    Oct 17, 1930-Mar 2017

    A two-fisted drinker and two-fingered typist, Jimmy was the epitome of the tough-talking tabloid reporter, as much poetic as profane. His hero was famed reporter Damon Runyon. I talked with Breslin about his idiosyncratic biography of Runyon in this three-part series: listen
    Newbery and Caldecott prize winner

    Jun 16, 1936-Feb 19, 2017
    Willard was the graceful author of fiction and poetry for children and adults,I spoke to her on the occasion of her first adult novel: listen
    Village Voice columnist, jazz authority, First Amendment champion

    Jun 10, 1925-Jan 7, 2017
    I spoke to Nat on the occasion of his memoir, Boston Boy, about growing up in what Hentoff said was America's most anti-Semitic city: listen

    How I almost read the inaugral poem at the swearing-in of Donald J. Trump


    And Ambrose Bierce's excruciating, long-running LITTLE JOHNNY stories are no exception.

    Read Don's essay HERE

    The Amazon Prime movie Elvis and Nixon (with Kevin Spacey as Richard Nixon and Michael Shannon as Elvis Presley) centered around a famous meeting between the president and the performer. It brought to mind my own meeting with Nixon, after his humiliating resignation in the face of impeachment. My own encounter with Nixon, however, while not without its foibles, had nothing to do with Watergate or politics, but all to do with books, writing, and reading. Read and Listen HERE


    Murrow, Shirer
    As war clouds formed in the Europe of the 1930s, Edward R. Murrow's first hire for CBS News was the young one-eyed wire-service reporter William L. Shirer [1904-1993], whose book Berlin Diary, remains the definitive account of those awful days. In their formative broadcast years, Murrow and Shirer weren't allowed to go on the air themselves, but arranged for newspaper reporters to broadcast "talks." Don Swaim spoke with Shirer about his early days with Murrow: LISTEN


    Renown CBS News Correspondent David Schoenbrun launched his career with CBS in 1939 as a part-time translator of foreign broadcasts. He tells about his relationship with Edward R. Murrow [three shots of Scotch and no script] during WW II and how Shoenbrun became the CBS News Paris Bureau Chief in 1947. In this 40-minute interview with Don Swaim, Shoenbrun also talks about his battles with the right-wing witch-hunters of his day, and, almost as bad, the CBS bureaucracy.
    David Shoenbraun's America Inside Out

    Don Swaim Interviews
    Celebrated for Watership Down

    May 9, 1920-Dec 24, 2016
    The great fantasy author writer was ninety-six. Watership Down was about a band of rabbits facing extinction who set out on a grand odyssey to find a new home.
  • Don's three-part interview with Adams: here
    Eloquent Witness of the Holocaust

    Sep 30, 1928-Jul 2, 2016
    An Auschwitz survivor and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Wiesel once said, "To remain silent and indifferent is the great sin of all."
  • Don interviewed Wiesel for a five-part CBS Book Beat series in 1989: listen
  • Don's unedited CBS Wired for Books interview: listen
    Novelist and Journalist

    Apr 13, 1940-Jun 23, 2016
    Herr (pronounced Hair) was celebrated for his fearsome novel of the Vietnam War, Dispatches, perhaps the greatest depiction ever of that disastrous war.
  • Don interviewed Herr on the occasion of his book Winchell, about the life and times of the controversial columnist: listen
  • Don's unedited CBS Wired for Books interview: listen
    Celebrated for Geek Love

    Oct 24, 1945-May 11, 2016
    Her best-known novel is the story of carnival workers who breed sideshow freaks, and was a finalist for the National Book Award.
  • Dunn spoke about Geek Love in a three-part interview: listen
    Southern Novelist

    Oct 26, 1945-Mar 4, 2016
    Conroy plumbed his life and that of his family, including a sadistic father (The Great Santini), for his sprawling novels.
  • Don interviewed Conroy on the occasion of his book The Prince of Tides: listen
  • unedited CBS Wired for Books interview 1986: listen


    Edited and with an introduction by S. T. Joshi
    Book design by David E. Schultz
    Cover art by Jared Boggess

    review by Publishers Weekly
    review by Oldstyle Tales Press
    Hippocampus Press

    Sandra Carey Cody Interviews Don Swaim about The Assassination on Ambrose Bierce: A Love Story on her blog: Birth of a Novel

    Don Swaim Interviews

    Quirky and Prolific Novelist

    Feb 23, 1930-Oct 18, 2015
    West, born in Britian, educated at Oxford and Columbia, was married to the poet Diane Ackerman.
  • Don interviewed West about his book The Women of White Chapel and Jack the Ripper: listen
  • unedited CBS Wired for Books interview 1990: listen
    Neurologist and Acclaimed Author

    Jul 9, 1932-Aug 15, 2015
  • Don interviewed Sacks about his book Seeing Voices: listen
  • unedited CBS Wired for Books interview 1990: listen
    American Literary Icon
    Jan. 6, 1931-Jul 21, 2015

    Winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, American Book Award, and finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

  • Don Swaim's five-part interview with Doctorow: listen
  • Doctorow vies with John Updike, International PEN Congress 3/10/86: listen
  • Doctorow receives 1986 American Book Award: listen
  • Doctorow publishes classic essay about a failed president, Easthampton Star, 9/9/04: here
  • Doctorow booed by George W. Bush supporters at Hoftra University, Newsday, 5/24/04: here
  • Doctorow at home, The New York Times, 9/2/09: here
  • Don's unedited Wired for Books interview with Doctorow: listen

  • 2015
    Don Swaim Interviews

    Writer of British Thrillers

    Feb 17, 1930-May 2, 2015
  • Don interviewed Rendell about her novel Going Wrong: listen
  • unedited CBS Wired for Books interview 1991: listen
    Nobel Prize-winning Author

    Oct 16, 1927-Apr 13, 2015

  • My first direct exposure to Grass was at the International PEN International Conference in New York in 1986 where he clashed with Peru's Mario Vargas Liosa: listen
  • Six years later I interviewed Grass on the occasion of his novel The Call of the Toad. listen
  • unedited CBS Wired for Books interview with Grass in 1992: listen
    Great Western Writer

    Jun 27, 1939-Apr 9, 2015
  • Don interviewed Doig about his novel Dancing at the Rascal Fair: listen
  • unedited CBS Wired for Books interview 1987: listen
    Humorist & Radio Satirist

    Aug 7, 1926-Apr 7, 2015
  • Don interviewed Freberg about his memoir It Only Hurts When I Laugh: listen
  • unedited CBS Wired for Books interview 1989: listen
    Jazz and Blues Historian

    Aug 1, 1929-Mar. 18, 2015
  • Don interviewed Charters on this occasion of his book Jelly Roll Morton's Last Night: listen
  • unedited CBS Wired for Books interview 1984: listen
    Great South African Author

    Apr. 29, 1933-Jan. 29, 2015
  • Don interviewed Brink on this occasion of his book Wall of the Plague: listen
  • unedited CBS Wired for Books interview 1985: listen
    Poet, Songwriter, Singer

    May 29, 1935-Feb. 6, 2015
  • Don interviewed McKuen on this occasion of his book Intervals: listen
  • unedited CBS Wired for Books interview 1986: listen
    Merry Prankster Turned Serious Writer

    Aug. 21, 1937- Jan 10, 2015

    I interviewed Stone twice during my CBS days. His novel Dog Soldiers, which won the National Book Award in 1975, was made into an only fair movie retitled Who'll Stop the Rain with Nick Nolte. Stone was a member of Ken Kesey's notorious Merry Pranksters. When I asked Stone about it -- it's in one of the interviews -- he replied, "Who doesn't like a party?"

  • three-part Book Beat broadcast 5-5-86: listen
  • five-part Book Beat broadcast 5-18-92: listen
  • unedited CBS Wired for Books interview 1986: listen
  • unedited CBS Wired for Books interview 1992: listen

  • Mario Cuomo 1932-2015

    One day in August, 1992, I dashed past a burly man in a suit, a surprised security guy it turned out, and into the 16th floor men's room of the CBS Building. There, at the urinal, was the Governor of New York, Mario Cuomo. As he and I stood next to each other performing our tasks, the governor turned to me, whom he recognized, saying, "We've got to stop meeting like this." From anyone else it would have been a rather lame, modestly funny, joke, but from the Governor of New York...
    Cuomo had a bad back and whenever he went to CBS for an interview he sat on a board. One day he left, forgetting his board, abandoned on the seat of his chair. I phoned his flack to say the governor had forgotten his sitting-board, but the flack told me to keep it because he had several of them. On it are his signature and the great seal of New York. So I kept it. I still have the very board on which Governor Cuomo parked his ass, and upon which I now park mine. —DS

    click images to enlarge



    The Joshi Q&A
    Exclusive interview with S.T. Joshi,
    leading authority on Bierce & the weird tale

    Ambrose Bierce & the Little Blue Books

    Stephen Vincent Benét, Ambrose Bierce, and Me
    Two Fabulists

    The Blasphemer Robert G. Ingersoll
    Why He Mattered to Bierce


    Don Swaim's photo-essay on the kaleidoscope HERE

    Ambrose & Henry
    H.L Mencken's debt to Bierce

    Edwin Markham: The Man Who Irked Bierce
    (and wrote about zombies)

    Bierce's Typewriter

    Ambrose Bierce Alley

    IN WWI

    On October 20, 1918, my grandfather, Captain John E. (Jack) Swaim, of the U.S. Army's 89th Division, was gassed by the Germans in the Argonne. He survived to tell of his combat in The Great War in both words and pictures. June 28, 2014, marked the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One.

    I prepared a pictorial history of my grandfather's combat, told mostly in his own words and using photographs and postcards he sent home from Europe. He proved to be a damned good writer. Read it HERE.


    To find out what this is about click HERE

    A Book Collector's Journey
    The search for the elusive "Kipe Offset" variant of the 1945 illustrated edition of Steinbeck's classic novella took years, but most bibliphiles have to be a little mad. My illustrated essay describes the quest for The Red Pony and a little about the mind of a book collector. Read HERE --Don Swaim


    Previous postings on Don Swaim's
    Book Beat Site can be accessed below:





    click Stylebook to read

    Find the hundreds of authors (or books) on this site using the above search box.


    BOOK BEAT, a daily feature about books and writers, was broadcast on WCBS-AM in New York from 1982 through 1993 and distributed nationally by the CBS Radio Stations News Service (CBS RSNS). Not mere commentary, the broadcasts featured the actual voices of hundreds of prominent writers interviewed by Don Swaim at CBS in New York. Organized chronologically, they're posted in the ARCHIVE section below as mp3 files. Use Search Site at the top of the page to locate a specific author. The unedited, never aired interviews, used as the basis for each Book Beat feature, are posted separately at Ohio University's WIRED FOR BOOKS.

    Don Swaim

    Don at CBS

    Don Photo Gallery

    Some 3000 daily Book Beat broadcasts are archived below in chronological order:

    To find a specific author -- out of several hundred on the site -- type name in search box above.


    Among the outstanding authors interviewed by Don Swaim on CBS Radio's Book Beat & posted on Ohio University's Wired for Books:

    American Book Award winners:
    Russell Banks | Sandra Cisneros | Henry Louis Gates, Jr. | William Kennedy | Paule Marshall | Toni Morrison | Gary Snyder | Art Spiegelman | John Edgar Wideman

    Booker Prize winners:
    Margaret Atwood | John Banville | Ian McEwan | Kazuo Ishiguro | Ruth Prawer Jhabvala |
    Thomas Keneally | Bernice Rubens | Graham Swift | Barry Unsworth

    Edgar Award winners:
    Lawrence Block | Mary Higgins Clark | Dick Francis | Frederick Forsyth | Tony Hillerman | P. D. James | Stuart Kaminsky | Elmore Leonard | Ed McBain (Evan Hunter) | Robert B. Parker | T. Jefferson Parker | Ruth Rendell | Joseph Wambaugh | Donald Westlake

    Hugo Award winners:
    Isaac Asimov |
    Ray Bradbury
    Anne McCaffrey

    Lewis Thomas Prize for Science Writing :
    Oliver Sacks

    Literarian Award winner:
    Lawrence Ferlinghetti

    Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters winners:
    Judy Blume | Ray Bradbury | Joan Didion | James Laughlin | Norman Mailer | Toni Morrison | Adrienne Rich | Studs Terkel | John Updike

    National Book Award winners:
    John Barth | Kevin Boyle | James Carroll | James Dickey | Joan Didion | E. L. Doctorow | Richard Eberhart | Allen Ginsberg | John Irving | James Jones | Tracy Kidder | Maxine Hong Kingston | Jerzy Kosinski | Jonothan Kozol | Louis L'Amour | Barry Lopez | Paul Monette | Toni Morrison | Joyce Carol Oates | William L. Shirer | Susan Sontag | Robert Stone | William Styron | John Updike | Gore Vidal

    National Book Critics Circle Award winners:
    E. L. Doctorow | Stanley Elkin | John C. Gardner | William Kennedy | Toni Morrison | Reynolds Price | Jane Smiley | John Updike

    Nobel Prize winners:
    Gunter Grass | Doris Lessing Elie Weisel| Toni Morrison

    PEN-Faulkner Award for Fiction winners:
    T. Coraghessan Boyle | Michael Cunningham | E. L. Doctorow | John Updike | John Edgar Wideman | Richard Wiley | Tobias Wolff

    Pulitzer Prize winners:
    Carl Bernstein | Robert Olen Butler | Michael Cunningham | Richard Eberhart | Oscar Hijuelos | Stanley Karnow William Kennedy | Tracy Kidder | Alison Lurie | Norman Mailer | Toni Morrison |
    Jane Smiley | Gary Snyder | Studs Terkel | John Updike

    New York Public Library Literary Lion:
    Kurt Vonnegut
    Copyright Note:
    Permissions to use Don Swaim's interviews in any form must obtained from Kelly Broughton at the Ohio University libraries. 740-593-2709 -- email.

    click photos to enlarge

    Stanley Elkin 4/16/85
    "Stan, lemme try to explain something to you about the craft of fiction."

    John Irving 5/24/85
    "John, now if I'd written 'Garp' I would have ended it this way..."

    Jane Ann Phillips 5/21/85
    "This gal needs a personal writing tutor, and I'm just the guy."

    Paul Theroux 5/27/85
    "Paul, you may have gone to Timbuktu, but never to Asbury Park in January."


    Two six-minute TV pilots with Don Swaim interviewing humorist Roy Blount, Jr., and novelist Hugh Nissenson for a show taped in 1987 for Walden Books. The project went nowhere, but the demos survive. Click on images below to start the Quicktime movies.

    Roy Blount

    Hugh Nissenson

    Radio Dreams
    A broadcast-journalist's early career through and including Book Beat—
    [runs 17 minutes]


  • WCBS Appreciation Site 
  • Book Beat: The Podcast 
  • Wired for Books  
  • Radio Days  
  • Aspinwall High School  
  • Ambrose Bierce Site  
  • Bucks County Writers Workshop 
  • Errata  
  • Steinbeck in Bucks Co  
  • Pennsylvania Sunsets  
  • Growing Up in WW Two  
  • Don's Houses: Where I've Been  
  • Fighting the Hun in WW One  
  • Stuart Cummings Ripley Site
  • Swaim Name in History
  • The Swaim in America
  • The Swimsuit Issue

    Don's Photo Gallery HERE


    Archive #1 2008-2009
    Archive #2 2010-2012
    Archive #3 2013
    Archive #3 2014

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