Nancy J. Altman of Social Security Works speaks about the imminent threat to Medicare — and how Americans can fight to save it. She wrote “Medicare Will Be Gone By Next Thanksgiving If Republicans Have Their Way” for the Huffington Post. Continue reading
Francesca Rheannon of Writer’s Voice speaks with journalist and fractivist Maura Stephens about:
- Fracking’s environmental and public health impact in Pennsylvania and New York
- Use of eminent domain to take private property for fracking operations
- How the TPP could override local, state and national sovereignty on the issue
- The fight against fracking
- The precarious status of New York’s moratorium on fracking and
- The Democratic candidates’ differing positions on the issue.
Rutgers University historian Donna Murch speaks with Francesca about the impact of the 1994 crime bill passed by President Clinton and its devastating impact on communities of color.
Murch’s essay, “The Clintons’ War on Drugs: When Black Lives Didn’t Matter” appeared in the New Republic and is re-printed in False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Rodham Clinton, a collection of essays by left feminists and edited by Liza Featherstone. Continue reading
Lauret Savoy reads the Prologue from Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape and talks about her work as a scientist. Continue reading
Wildlife investigator J.A. Mills tells Francesca how climate change adds to the dire threats facing wild tigers. Her book is Blood of the Tiger: A Story about Conspiracy, Greed, and the Battle to Save A Magnificent Species.
The more we know about climate change, the less we do about it. It’s the “climate paradox.” That’s why we need a new psychology of climate change, according to Norwegian author and economist, Per Espen Stoknes.
His new book, What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming, tackles the climate paradox head on in an eminently readable book that should be obligatory reading for all who care about our future and are frustrated at the slow pace of action. Continue reading
Investigative journalist Jenny Nordberg talks about her book, THE UNDERGROUND GIRLS OF KABUL: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan. It’s about how some young girls in Afghanistan are disguised as boys — an ancient practice in a gender-apartheid society.
And feminist writer Katha Pollitt discusses how access to safe, legal abortions is under threat in America and what that means for women’s rights. Her book is PRO: Reclaiming Abortion Rights. Continue reading
I love talking to authors about their awesome books, but that means I have to read — a lot! You’d be shocked at how many authors thank me for actually reading their books (I guess a lot of interviewers don’t.)
Of course, that’s one of the benefits of producing Writer’s Voice: I get to indulge my reading habit and ask questions of the authors.
But there’s so much great stuff coming out all the time that sometimes my desire to devour all of it gets ahead of the time available. That’s when I find myself with more books on my plate than I bargained for. This is one of those weeks. But what books! I just finished the first one: David Laskin’s THE FAMILY. Read on for my take on his book and more. Continue reading
On October 6, Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel and contributing editor Stephen F. Cohen sat down in Moscow for a wide-ranging discussion with Edward Snowden, where he shared his thoughts on the surveillance state, the American political system and the price hes paid for his understanding of patriotism.
The conversation lasted for nearly four hours and has been distilled into an in-depth article in this week’s edition of the Nation magazine. Francesca Rheannon of Writers Voice spoke with Katrina van den Heuvel about the interview with Snowden, as well as her thoughts on the impact the Snowden revelations have had on the US press.
Sarah Skinner Kilborne
Silk manufacturing was one of the most important industries to emerge out of the Connecticut River Valley in the 19th century. William Skinner was, perhaps, the most influential of the textile magnates. He lived the American Dream: a poor immigrant, he used grit and skill to build an industrial behemoth– and then lost everything in a catastrophic flood. But he rose like a phoenix, rebuilding his mill on the mighty Connecticut River and thereby putting Holyoke, Massachusetts on the world map.
Francesca Rheannon talks with his great granddaughter, Sarah S. Kilborne, about her book, American Phoenix, The Remarkable Story of William Skinner, a Man Who Turned Disaster Into Destiny, to learn more about the forces that shaped his life and the economy of the Connecticut River Valley.
John Michael Greer’s book THE ECOTECHNIC FUTURE is a closely reasoned, completely secular treatment of what he calls the Long Descent as our industrial civilization limps to a close. But his faith as a Druid — he’s an Archdruid and blogs at The Archdruid Report — is what spurred him to examine The Long Decline and how human society can optimally deal with it to create a future technology based on ecological principles and respect for the Earth. In this Web Extra, he explains to Writers Voice host Francesca Rheannon the connections between his faith and his science.
Host Francesca Rheannon interviewed him for Writers Voice. You can hear the rest of the interview here.
In September 2010, Writers Voice host Francesca Rheannon interviewed Damion Searls, translator, and Marita Keilson-Lauritz about Hans Keilson’s novella COMEDY IN A MINOR KEY. Marita Keilson, Hans Keilson’s wife, recounted a story that connected Keilson’s work in the Dutch resistance to Francesca’s father’s own wartime history underground in Amsterdam during the war.
Her father, Guido Teunissen, hid Claus Bock, then a teenage German Jewish refugee, in his apartment from 1942 to 1945. He was a member of an underground group headed by his downstairs neighbor, Wolfgang Frommel. They lived in a house on the Herengracht Canal in Amsterdam’s old city.
During the war, Hans Keilson, a Jew who had fled the Nazis from his native Berlin and then had to go underground when the Germans invaded Holland, worked in the Dutch Resistance as a “troubleshooter.” One difficult situation arose when a mentally disturbed Jewish teenager in hiding, Torry Goldstern, began acting so bizarrely that he put his host family (and himself) at risk. The Dutch Resistance was considering having him killed, as too much of a security risk. As Marita Keilson tells the story in in her interview with WV, Hans Keilson arranged for Torry Goldstern go first into a mental institution, and then, when he was discovered to be a Jew, to stay with Frommel’s underground group, called Castrum Peregrini, in the house on the Herengracht.
In the following excerpt (translated from the German by Francesca Rheannon), Bock writes about Goldstern in his war memoir, Untergetaucht Unter Freunden: Ein Bericht. Amsterdam 1942-1945 [Hiding With Friends: A Report, Amsterdam 1942-1945], published by Castrum Peregrini Presse. Hans Keilson is referred to as “the psychiatric expert for the Resistance.”
MAY 1945. TORRY GOLDSTERN
At the end of February 1945, the Red Cross began distributing white bread. The flour came from neutral Sweden and was intended for the population in western Holland. But for fifteen thousand people it came too late: the death toll had been rising rapidly and there was not a coffin to be had.
The second stage of the liberation cut off Amsterdam’s vital links across the Ijsselmeer. Provisions such a potatoes and root vegetables from Holland’s eastern provinces–Gronigen, Drente, and Friesland–came to a halt. By April the municipal canteens had nothing to cook. And no fuel. The city’s water supply was threatened. Then, on April 30th, and with German acquiescence, Allied planes dropped the first food parcels.
We were poor. We were on the fringe. We were not involved in active resistance. The space in which our lives had been played out for years was small, but the people in it – and towards the end, of necessity, there were more and more – formed a unity in which selfishness, envy and expressions of jealousy had been conquered, along with the ever-to-be-feared mental breakdown. With the strain of the war lifted, appearances changed, though the substance remained the same. A younger generation took over what we had learned and proven. New circles formed around the center.
… As we began to reflect, everything was already behind us. On the evening of May 4th, we were dancing in the streets. The city was in a mood of ecstatic joy. However, still there were some tragic incidents: a few German soldiers barricaded themselves into the “Grote Club” building next to the Royal Palace and began to shoot.
Torry Goldstern wanted to go out and join the crowds, too. Torry was a German-Jewish boy. His father was dead, his mother in Auschwitz. Years of hiding with ever-changing families, at more than twenty different addresses, had reduced him to a psychological wreck. In one refuge, that of Hans Roduin, the owner of the second-hand bookshop, De Eendt, Torry had put up pictures of Hitler and alarmed his protector by giving vent to violent anti-Semitic outbursts. Representatives of the Dutch Resistance were already considering measures to deal with this dangerous fugitive. But was Torry really mad? Roduin asked Frommel’s advice. The psychiatric expert for the Resistance was also consulted.
Torry was taken to the so-called “Pavillion Three”, the plsychiatric ward of Amsterdam’s Wilhelmina Hospital. Wolfgang didn’t want to throw in the towel; he wanted somehow to keep in contact with the boy. He went to the hospital, and, as a German, was allowed in. A warden sat in the middle of a darkened room with a long stick that he used to keep control over the patients. There were about twenty of them in the room. Torry was sitting on a child’s cot, restrained in a straight-jacket, and banging his forehead bloody on the rail. The scars were visible for a long time. Wolfgang tried giving him food in a jam-jar, but in his greed, Torry smeared the pease-pudding over his face and messed up his bed. Would he be permitted to bring the boy any more food? The doctors believed Torry was a hopeless case. The diagnosis was schizophrenia.
Torry had been admitted to the hospital with forged papers. But one day his true background came to light. Would the Germans let him live? Wolfgang thought he should taken into the Herengracht, where he would be safe. Gisèle, magnificent as ever, agreed. When Torry insisted that the houses opposite had changed overnight, Wolfgang encouraged him to draw their fronts; the next morning these drawings were used to counteract his delusions. But what was Gisèle to do when Torry came at her with a knife? He approached, silent and threatening, stood very close to her, and then asked in a soft childish whisper, “May I have a slice of bread?” One day, people gathered in the street staring up at our house and pointing excitedly. Horrified, Buri noticed it from the window. Torry was standing in the gutter of the parapet. Was this another suicide attempt? Should we call out to him, or would he fall from there like a sleepwalker? Wolfgang raced up the stairs and succeeded in enticing Torry back through the attic window with a piece of bread.
Torry stayed at the Herengracht until mid-July of 1945. Then he went to live with some peasants in the country. Wolfgang had the idea that he should sleep in a cowshed for a while, between the warm, heavy bodies of the cows. This therapy, more or less, did indeed cure him for years. When his mother returned alive from Auschwitz, Torry was able to go and live with her. He went to school and later worked in a newsagent’s in the Kalverstraat. He survived the war by almost thirty years. In September 1974, at the age of 47, he committed suicide.
But on the day the war ended, Torry wanted to go down into the streets. It was not safe to let him out alone amidst the tumult of liberated Amsterdam, so Wolfgang went with him. Torry was determined to roam, unsupervised. Wolfgang ran after him, caught him, and rebuked him for being so unruly. Torry started to wail in German, “Please, for God’s sake, don’t take me back to my cell.” He meant the isolation cell in the psychiatric ward, but people were stopping and asking what was going on. Wolfgang tried to explain. His accent marked him as a German, and people began to get angry. “This Kraut here has had a Jewish child in a prison cell and is trying to drag him back there! Free the child! Knock the Nazi down!”
Without quickening his pace, Wolfgang entered a side street holding Torry by the hand. Angry threats pursued them, but no one actually dared to attack Wolfgang. His black beret, his dark high-collared coat, his black walking stick – it was all a bit uncanny. Torry trotted beside him, pale and expressionless. It was like a scene in a medieval town: a sorcerer leading a lost soul away. As they came from the Beulingstraat into the Herengracht, an agitated fellow leapt on Wolfgang and knocked him down with a blow from his fist. In the tumult, Torry got away. “Throw the damned Kraut into the canal!” Wolfgang, who had risked his life for this Jewish boy, was about to be lynched on his account – and by the ordinary people of Amsterdam on whose side he had been throughout the war!
But as the guys were about to throw him into the water, Wolfgang became aware of his body lying on the ground. He threw off his attacker as if he were a small dog and raced into our house, the door of which Buri had opened. A crowd now stood outside. Things began to look ominous. At that moment, Gisèle arrived back after having pushed Guido’s very pregnant wife Miep to the hospital in a handcart. She was alarmed by the crowd. Had Torry jumped from the roof? At the door Wolfgang briefly explained the incident. Gisèle rushed back out again. From the top of the steps, she made an impassioned speech in Wolfgang’s defense – a second Joan of Arc. By this time, some of our neighbors had joined the crowd. They called out how right Gisèle was, and how absurd it was to abuse the German poet. The crowd melted away.
Child psychiatrist Nancy Rappaport talks about how parents can lessen the impact of divorce and custody decisions on their children.