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Act Two: Last Meal

When Francois Mitterand knew he was about to die, he decided that the last food to cross his lips would be poultry...a tiny bird that is actually illegal to eat in France. It's a bird that, by tradition, is eaten with a napkin covering your head.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks to an expert stone cutter who makes headstones. One day he got a call from a guy who wanted him to make his headstone in advance, which is not all that uncommon.

Act One: Truth, Damn Truth And Statistics

Two years ago, a Johns Hopkins University study published in The Lancet estimated the number of civilian casualties in Iraq. It came up with a number—100,000 dead—that was higher than any other estimate at the time and was mostly ignored.

Act Two: Not Just A Number

Captain Ryan Gist was given a particularly tough assignment in Iraq: To build relationships with a town where U.S. bombs had killed twelve innocent people. But first he has to apologize to the families of those who were killed.

Act Three: The War This Time

The Lancet's new study of deaths in Iraq, by the same research team that did the earlier study, yielded an astounding number—650,000 civilian deaths. Producer Alex Blumberg talks to Ira about the debate over this new study.

Act Four: Life Sentence

The President of the Maryland State Senate, Mike Miller, a veteran political operator, talks about the off-the-cuff remark in 1989 that many people say changed his life forever.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass plays parts of a speech by George Ryan, former Governor of Illinois. When he was a state senator in 1977, Ryan was part of a successful coalition that voted to reinstate the death penalty in Illinois.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass surveys various productions of Hamlet being staged around the country: At community colleges in Brooklyn and Honolulu, on a professional stage in Boston, and at a Shakespeare camp for kids in San Francisco—where all the scenes are death scenes.

Act Two: Watching From The River's Edge

David Rakoff tells the story of the day that used to hold the record as the worst disaster in New York history: June 15th, 1904, when the steamship The General Slocum, caught fire and sank in the Hudson river, killing 1,031 passengers. Almost everyone aboard was from one neighborhood in New York, and by all accounts, that neighborhood was never the same again.

Act Three: Notes From The Underground

In our search for events that might illuminate what we've seen in New York this week, we hear interviews with survivors of a terrorist attack that happened in a crowded city, during rush hour, just six years ago. On March 20, 1995, the Aum cult dropped plastic bags of poison gas on the Tokyo subway.

Prologue

Reporter Mark Arax spent three years investigating the murder of his father and yet he's still not at peace when he thinks of his dad's death. (His book is called In My Father's Name.) This is how it goes sometimes: We create a story that tries to explain our lives, and it still leaves so much unanswered.

Act One: The Disappearance

Genevieve Jurgensen and her husband Laurent lost their two daughters—Elise and Mathilde—at the ages of 4 and 7. Actress Felicity Jones reads from her book The Disappearance: A Memoir of Loss, in which Jurgensen tries to explain their lives and their deaths to a friend, in a series of letters.