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Listening to America with Clay Jenkinson

Listening to America aims to “light out for the territories,” traveling less visited byways and taking time to see this immense, extraordinary country with fresh eyes while listening to the many voices of America’s past, present, and future. Led by noted historian and humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson, Listening to America travels the country’s less visited byways, from national parks and forests to historic sites to countless under-recognized rural and urban places. Through this exploration, Clay and team find and tell the overlooked historical and contemporary stories that shape America’s people and places.
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Listening to America with Clay Jenkinson
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Now displaying: March, 2024
Mar 25, 2024

Clay Jenkinson’s interview with the distinguished Dutch journalist Geert Mak, the author of In Europe, and also In America: Travels with John Steinbeck. In 2010 Geert Mak and his wife retraced the entire Steinbeck journey in a rented Jeep. After he returned to the Netherlands, Mak wrote a 550-page account of his travels. Though Steinbeck isn’t the main theme of In America, Mak fulfills the mission that Steinbeck set out to accomplish—that is, to wrestle with the character and narrative of what Steinbeck called “this monster country.” Clay and Mr. Mak discuss the sheer size of America, Steinbeck’s occasional fibs about the exact circumstances of the journey, race relations in America, violence in America, and the current state of the American Dream. It’s an amazing and quite moving interview.

Mar 18, 2024

Clay Jenkinson and regular guest Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky talk about the ways in which the Constitution of the United States is impeding and even preventing good government, with a particular focus on the coming election of 2024. Topics include the need for a uniform national election procedures act; the many problems of the Electoral College; and the possibility that in the next four years we may need to invoke the 25th Amendment, which was passed in 1967 to prepare for the possibility that a President might be incapacitated before the end of his term. We also look briefly at civilian control of the military and the future of the religious freedom principles of the First Amendment. 

Mar 11, 2024

Clay Jenkinson is joined by regular guest Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky to discuss the extraordinary correspondence between former Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Between 1812 and 1826, they exchanged 158 letters, thought by historians to be the finest correspondence in American history. They wrote about their political visions and disagreements, the French Revolution, the origin of Native Americans, their private and public religious views, the American West, their children and grandchildren, and so much more. Jefferson was more formal and serene, Adams more candid and at times aggressive. In his fourth or fifth letter Adams said, “we must not die until we have explained ourselves to each other.” They both worked hard at it, usually with remarkable harmony. They died on the same day, July 4, 1826, Jefferson first at Monticello and Adams five hours later in his bed in Quincy, Massachusetts.

Mar 4, 2024

Clay Jenkinson interviews Dr. Henry Brady of the University of California at Berkeley about loss of respect for sixteen American institutions, some public, and some private: the police, the church, the Supreme Court, Higher Education, the FBI, the presidency, and, of course Congress. How did we lose faith? Has there been moral and ethical slippage in the last fifty years or are we just more aware of the imperfections of these institutions thanks to 24/7 media, including social media? What role has demagoguery played in the plummeting of respect for our institutions? How do we restore respect and trust in our basic institutions and how likely are we to see those reforms?

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