Eileen McNamara

Eunice Kennedy Shriver – Ep 37 with Eileen McNamara

In this “revelation” of a biography (USA TODAY), a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist examines the life and times of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, arguing she left behind the Kennedy family’s most profound political legacy.

While Joe Kennedy was grooming his sons for the White House and the Senate, his Stanford-educated daughter, Eunice, was hijacking her father’s fortune and her brothers’ political power to engineer one of the great civil rights movements of our time on behalf of millions of children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Her compassion was born of rage: at the medical establishment that had no answers for her sister Rosemary, at her revered but dismissive father, whose vision for his family did not extend beyond his sons, and at a government that failed to deliver on America’s promise of equality.

Now, in this “fascinating” (the Today show), “nuanced” (The Boston Globe) biography, “ace reporter and artful storyteller” (Pulitzer Prize–winning author Megan Marshall) Eileen McNamara finally brings Eunice Kennedy Shriver out from her brothers’ shadow. Granted access to never-before-seen private papers, including the scrapbooks Eunice kept as a schoolgirl in prewar London, McNamara paints an extraordinary portrait of a woman both ahead of her time and out of step with it: the visionary founder of Special Olympics, a devout Catholic in a secular age, and an officious, cigar-smoking, indefatigable woman whose impact on American society was longer lasting than that of any of the Kennedy men.

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Ken Miller

The Human Instinct – Ep 36 with Ken Miller

A radical, optimistic exploration of how humans evolved to develop reason, consciousness, and free will.

Lately, the most passionate advocates of the theory of evolution seem to present it as bad news. Scientists such as Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, and Sam Harris tell us that our most intimate actions, thoughts, and values are mere byproducts of thousands of generations of mindless adaptation. We are just one species among multitudes, and therefore no more significant than any other living creature.

Now comes Brown University biologist Kenneth R. Miller to make the case that this view betrays a gross misunderstanding of evolution. Natural selection surely explains how our bodies and brains were shaped, but Miller argues that it’s not a social or cultural theory of everything. In The Human Instinct, he rejects the idea that our biological heritage means that human thought, action, and imagination are pre-determined, describing instead the trajectory that ultimately gave us reason, consciousness and free will. A proper understanding of evolution, he says, reveals humankind in its glorious uniqueness—one foot planted firmly among all of the creatures we’ve evolved alongside, and the other in the special place of self-awareness and understanding that we alone occupy in the universe.

Equal parts natural science and philosophy, The Human Instinct is a moving and powerful celebration of what it means to be human.


Kenneth R. Miller is professor of biology at Brown University and the critically acclaimed bestselling author of Only a Theory, Finding Darwin’s God, and The Human Instinct.

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