Ari Shapiro

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Unlabeled stimulants in soft drinks. Formaldehyde in meat and milk. Borax — the stuff used to kill ants! — used as a common food preservative. The American food industry was once a wild and dangerous place for the consumer.

Deborah Blum's new book, The Poison Squad, is a true story about how Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley, named chief chemist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1883, conducted a rather grisly experiment on human volunteers to help make food safer for consumers — and his work still echoes on today.

There have been a lot of books written about chaos and dysfunction in the Trump White House. The latest book by Michael Lewis looks at parts of the federal government that don't get as much attention, like the Department of Commerce and the Department of Energy.

The stories begin during the transition between administrations — and read nearly the same across each government agency.

About 20 years ago, to mark her 60th birthday, Jane Fonda asked for her daughter's help in creating a very short video about her life. Her daughter suggested, "Why don't you just get a chameleon to crawl across the screen?"

"Ouch," Fonda says, recalling the conversation. "She knew what buttons to push and she wasn't wrong."

Fonda has lived many lives. From starlet, to fitness guru, to Vietnam protester — now 80, she's a comedic actress, securing roles at an age when many in Hollywood would have left the screen.

Despite being one of the first and oldest forms of popular music, opera sometimes struggles to connect with 21st century audiences. However, Anthony Roth Costanzo is breaking down the genre's stodgy stereotype and making opera more accessible — taking his distinctive sound to the masses, from a sixth-grade classroom in the Bronx to NPR's own Tiny Desk.

For nearly two decades Enric Marco was a highly respected figure in Spain, widely known as a Holocaust survivor, Civil War hero and resistance fighter against the Francisco Franco regime. He even held public speaking engagements detailing his experiences in a concentration camp.

But every bit of it was a lie.

In 2005 Marco's masquerade was exposed to the world by historian Benito Bermejo — piquing the interest of novelist Javier Cercas. As Cercas soon discovered, "he had made up everything. Not only about that, I mean — he invented his whole life."

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Parker Posey is not the kind of movie star who seems distant and unapproachable. Instead, people shout her most famous lines at her when they pass her on the street. "I've gotten 'Air raid!' for, you know, 25 years," she says, referencing 1993's Dazed and Confused. "And Busy Bee, you know — 'Where's my Busy Bee?' From Best in Show," one of five semi-improvised documentary spoof films she's made with the director Christopher Guest.

Michael Scott Moore is a journalist who traveled to Somalia to write a book about the history of piracy in the Horn of Africa. It did not go as planned.

The title of his new book tells you what happened. It's called The Desert and the Sea: 977 Days Captive on the Somali Pirate Coast.

Moore's ordeal began just after he dropped off a colleague at a small airport in Somalia. As he was heading back into town, his car came upon a truck full of armed men.

Music and politics have always been intertwined, from "Yankee Doodle" to "A Change is Gonna Come." And that's true in Zimbabwe, too — a country that is now facing a historic political transition.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

I'm Ari Shapiro on Capitol Hill, where Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, started the day trying to make a strong statement about the Senate's position on Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Most media outlets in Zimbabwe are state-run, and working as an independent journalist under Robert Mugabe came with serious risks. NPR's Ari Shapiro talks with Dumisani Muleya, editor-in-chief of The Zimbabwe Independent, about his hopes as a journalist now that Mugabe is out of power.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Hi, Ailsa.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Hey, Ari.

SHAPIRO: You know I was just on this big reporting trip in Zimbabwe.

CHANG: Yes. You came back very tan.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter) Nobody can hear my tan on the radio.

CHANG: (Laughter).

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