Dave Davies

Author Ryan Busse jokes that he was born with "a shotgun in one hand and a rifle in the other." It's a shorthand he uses to explain the significant role that guns played in his childhood in western Kansas.

"I grew up hunting and shooting with my father. Guns were things we used on the ranch and farm," he says. "The few times that we got to spend together doing something fun and enjoyable, oftentimes it was with a gun. ... [Guns] are things that became very culturally important to us."

Blair Braverman, an adventurer and sled dog racer who finished Alaska's nearly 1,000-mile long Iditarod race in 2019, has some advice for aspiring mushers. Rule no. 1, she says, is to never let go of the sled or the dogs.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in today for Terry Gross.

Some people got into baking bread during the pandemic. Gary Shteyngart wrote a novel instead. Our Country Friends is about eight friends riding out the COVID pandemic in the country home of a Russian-born American writer.

"This was sort of my pandemic project," Shteyngart says. "I wanted to write a book about friendship."

The novel mirrors Shteyngart's own pandemic experience, in which he hunkered down in upstate New York with his wife, his child and two close friends.

Fifty years ago, Attica maximum security prison in upstate New York was infamous for its harsh conditions. Prisoners were issued one roll of toilet paper each month. Asking for more meant risking a beatdown.

Arthur Harrison, who was sentenced to five years in Attica in 1971, says Black prisoners were treated especially severely. "It reminded me of the things I used to hear about on plantations in slavery," he says. "They treated us like we weren't human."

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in today for Terry Gross. Today we're going to hear from an accomplished musician with quite a story to tell.

(SOUNDBITE OF TUBA)

In June 2018, the world held its breath for 18 days as a group of elite cave divers risked everything to rescue 12 boys and their coach from an underwater cave in Northern Thailand.

For actor Stanley Tucci, food isn't just sustenance; it's also a way to connect to his roots — to the backyard gardens of his Southern Italian ancestors, to the basement kitchen where his grandmother plucked chickens, to the delicious Sunday meals of his childhood.

"[Growing up,] everything revolved around what you were going to eat that night, what you were eating for lunch," he says. "I'm not a religious person, but if there is one thing that's holy, it would be food."

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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Animals living among us often ignore the rules we try to impose on them. Science writer Mary Roach experienced this firsthand when a group of macaque monkeys accosted her in India.

"I was kind of asking for it," Roach admits. "I walked up this trail where I knew there were a lot of macaques, and I walked up holding a bag of bananas."

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

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Who is doing your dirty work? Many of us have no idea, and writer Eyal Press wants to change that.

"Dirty work is work that society in a sense depends on and tacitly condones but doesn't want to hear too much about and certainly doesn't want to see," he explains.

The book covers King's Grand Slam and Wimbledon championships, the "Battle of the Sexes," her activism for women's and LGBTQ rights, as well as some joyous and painful chapters in her personal life.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in today for Terry Gross.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies in for Terry Gross. Today marks the 76th anniversary of the first wartime use of a nuclear weapon - the atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. While the horrors of the explosion and radiation from the bomb are now widely acknowledged, they were far less well-known in the months after the attack. American GIs serving in the occupation force in Japan would regularly visit Hiroshima to pick up atomic souvenirs from the rubble to take home.

As the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks approaches, a new biography traces Osama bin Laden's path from a shy, religious teenager to the leader of a global jihadist group dedicated to mass murder.

Journalist Peter Bergen, who met the al-Qaida leader in 1997, says that a series of events kept pushing bin Laden "further and further down the path of radicalization."

When wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein was arrested in 2006 following an investigation into his sexual activities with teenage girls, the case ended in a lenient plea bargain in which Epstein served 13 months in a county jail.

Eleven years later, Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown decided to revisit the case, which she calls "a horrendous miscarriage of justice."

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in today for Terry Gross.

The new novel Falling takes place aboard a flight from Los Angeles to New York, during which the pilot learns a terrorist plans to kill his family unless he crashes the plane. Author T.J. Newman, who spent 10 years as a flight attendant, says inspiration for the story came to her while she was at work.

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The United Nations estimates that 4.2 billion people — more than half of the world's population — live without any access to safely managed sanitation. No septic systems. No waste treatment plants.

"Some people don't have any toilets at all. They practice what's known as open defecation," science writer Chelsea Wald says. "Other people — many, many people in the world — use pit latrines. And those pit latrines might be nice and functional or they might be in really bad shape."

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