With pride and sadness, writer David Freed watched his son go off to the war in Afghanistan. In the Los Angeles Times, Freed suggests that politicians who vote or make orders to deploy service members don't understand what it means to have a loved one serve. Originally broadcast April 4, 2012.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. What makes some nations succeed while others fail? In his Pulitzer Prize-winner, "Guns, Germs and Steel," Jared Diamond looked back over thousands of years of human history and concluded that geography allowed Eurasia to get a big head start and develop agriculture, writing, bureaucracy and the military technologies that led to dominance over much of the globe.
New York Police have reported a possible break in the case of Etan Patz, the 6-year-old boy who vanished 33 years ago on his way to school. No one was ever charged in his case, and the episode was a deep personal tragedy for the Patz family.
A recent poll found only half of people who have spent time in a hospital in the past year were very satisfied with their care. The rest complained about mistakes, poor communication and unresponsive nurses. But to better serve patients, some hospitals are changing the way they do business.
The CIA has faced intense criticism for reporting, incorrectly, that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. NPR correspondent Tom Gjelten got direct access to CIA analysts to discuss the lessons learned from Iraq, and how they're applying them to a new intelligence target: Iran.
Nearly 4 million people are members of CouchSurfing.org and can find a host in every country — including North Korea — free of charge.
New Yorker staff writer Patricia Marx became a member recently and stayed with seven friendly strangers, from a graduate student in Iowa City to a couple in Bermuda in their 60s. She wrote about her experience for the magazine.
Don Waters was 3 when his father, Robert Stanley Waters, abandoned the boy and his mother. But before Robert Waters died, he sent Don a short autobiography, hoping it would help him understand his father.
It took years before Don could bring himself to read it. When he did, he discovered an unsuspected past — and a shared passion for surfing. What he read prompted him to take a trip along the California coast, where his father played a part in establishing the surfer culture's first beachhead on the American mainland.
Mike Nichols has won every major entertainment award over a decades-long career that includes theater, comedy, television and film. He performed as half of the comedy team Nichols and May, won his first Academy Award directing The Graduate, and returned to Broadway with a revival of Death of a Salesman, which picked up seven Tony nominations. Nichols warns that the production may be his last.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. Each year, too many people die waiting for a transplant. Just about everybody agrees that the current system to distribute organs is both ethical and fair, but it simply doesn't provide enough, and some argue it's time to change.