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Act Three: Newfies

Reporter Chris Brookes had always thought the story was a joke: During World War II, a black sailor from the U.S. washed up nearly dead onshore in Newfoundland, and the white nurses—never having seen a black man—thought he was covered in oil and tried to scrub him clean. But when Brookes finally tracked the sailor down, decades later, it turned the whole thing was true.

Act Two: Bombs Over Baghdad

We hear the story of the Persian Gulf war, as told by Issam Shukri, a family man from Bagdad who was drafted into Saddam's army against his will. He had to explain to his three-year-old son why those usually civilized Americans were bombing their city night after night.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass explains that if we're going to war—as the President keeps promising—it's hard to understand what's in store for us. Today's show is an attempt to figure that out.

Act One: The Situation In The Field

For a few days after the attacks on September 11th, it seemed like we were just on the verge of bombing and retaliation. But two weeks went by, and no military action had begun.

Act Two: Letters To Home

One way to understand what war will be like is to understand what past wars were like. Andrew Carroll recently started something called the Legacy Project, which collects letters Americans wrote home during wartime, from the Civil War up through the conflicts in the Persian Gulf and Bosnia.

Act Three: What Peacetime Forgets About Wartime

An excerpt from a story that writer Lee Sandlin wrote for the Chicago Reader about what it is that makes wartime different and about the particular psychology of being at war. It was a massive historical article, exhaustively researched.

Act Four: Are You Ready?

Scott Carrier drove 2,000 miles across the country from his home in Salt Lake City to Chicago, talking with people about the coming war. If it's part of the American character to be profoundly skeptical, and another part to be boldly patriotic...Scott found both tendencies...often in the same person.