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Dialogue

Dialogue

Conversations from the Sun Valley Writers' Conference - 2009

Gretchen Morgenson: Sun Valley Writers' Conference

Discussion with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gretchen Morgenson.

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Host Marcia Franklin talks with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gretchen Morgenson. Morgenson, a financial editor and columnist at the New York Times, has been covering the country's financial crisis since its inception.

She and Franklin talk about what Morgenson sees as the underpinning of the collapse - the federal government's push to increase home ownership. The two also discuss various taxpayer-funded bailouts of companies such as AIG, and whether Morgenson sees any light at the end of the tunnel for the slumping economy.

Morgenson has been assistant business and financial editor at the New York Times since May 1998. Prior to that she was assistant managing editor at Forbes magazine. She was also the press secretary for the Forbes for President campaign. In 2002, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of Wall Street.

Related Links:
Gretchen Morgenson (New York Times)

Annette Gordon-Reed

Guest is Annette Gordon-Reed, author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family.

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Host Marcia Franklin explores the complex bonds between President Thomas Jefferson and one of his slave families, the Hemingses. Franklin talks with Annette Gordon-Reed, a professor at Rutgers University and the New York College of Law, about her book, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family. The book won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

Using primary source documents, as well as second-hand accounts, Gordon-Reed tries to piece together the relationship between Jefferson and Sally Hemings, with whom most historians now believe he had as many as seven children. Hemings, a slave at Monticello, was also the half-sister of Jefferson's wife, Martha, who died when Jefferson was 39.

Franklin and Gordon-Reed talk about how the controversy over Sally Hemings has been viewed over the centuries, and also about the relationship between Jefferson and the larger Hemings family.

Franklin also asks Gordon-Reed what Jefferson might have thought about the election of President Barack Obama, America's first African-American president.

The interview was conducted at the Sun Valley Writers' Conference. Since 1995, the conference has been bringing together authors to talk about literature and life. Franklin has conducted interviews at the event since 2005

Related Links:
Pulitzer Prize citation for Gordon-Reed

Abraham Verghese

Host Marcia Franklin talks with Dr. Abraham Verghese, an author and Stanford professor.

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Host Marcia Franklin talks with Dr. Abraham Verghese, a professor at the Stanford School of Medicine and an author of both fiction and non-fiction works.

Franklin and Verghese not only talk about the themes of his work, but also his thoughts on health care reform and ways for doctors to establish better working relationships with their patients.

Verghese's first book, My Own Country, was a poignant chronicle of how his life was changed by working with AIDS patients in rural Tennessee. It was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

He went on to pen another non-fiction work called The Tennis Partner, about a doctor's struggle with mental illness and drug addiction. He is also a frequent contributor to magazines and journals, writing articles about medical ethics.

Most recently, Verghese turned his focus to a work of fiction, Cutting for Stone. The expansive book follows the saga of two Indian brothers as they learn more about their past. With medicine as its backdrop, it also allows Verghese to explore some of what he views as the best and worst aspects of his profession. It is set in Ethopia, where he grew up.

The interview was taped at the Sun Valley Writers' Conference. Since 1995, the conference has been bringing together bestselling authors for discussions about literature and life. Franklin has been conducting interviews there since 2005.

Related Links:
Abraham Verghese's website
Dr. Verghese's Stanford profile

Philip Gourevitch

Host Marcia Franklin talks with author and New Yorker magazine writer Philip Gourevitch.

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Host Marcia Franklin talks with author and New Yorker magazine writer Philip Gourevitch about the stories he's covered, including the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison.

The two discuss what lessons Gourevitch thinks can be learned from the events, and why he is often drawn to subjects that make others look away.

Gourevitch authored We Wish to Inform You That Today We Will Be Killed With Our Families, an account of the 1994 mass killing of at least 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus by other Hutus. The book was the recipient of numerous awards. Gourevitch is now working on a book about what has happened in Rwanda since then, which he discusses with Franklin.

In The Ballad of Abu Ghraib, Gourevitch pieced together transcripts of interviews filmmaker Errol Morris conducted with soldiers who were accused of torturing inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Those interviews were also part of a documentary, "Standard Operating Procedure." Gourevitch talks with Franklin about why he thinks some of the soldiers engaged in abusive acts.

Franklin spoke with Gourevitch at the Sun Valley Writers' Conference. Since 1995, the conference has been bringing together authors to discuss literature and life. Franklin has interviewed speakers there since 2005.

Related Links:
FRONTLINE interview with Philip Gourevitch