Ronald Reagan, Tom Clancy, and Storytelling with Benjamin Griffin

Season 1, Ep. 56

Modern presidents both influence and are influenced by books, movies, and television; with no commander in chief is that more clear than with Ronald Reagan. Dr. Benjamin Griffin, chief of the Military History Division at the United States Military Academy, has researched and written the definitive book about the 40th president's interactions with Tom Clancy and other authors, Hollywood films, and other pop culture: Reagan's War Stories: A Cold War Presidency.

In this chat, David Priess and Griffin discuss Tom Clancy's influence on an entire generation, how books with clear moral narratives informed Reagan's childhood, the influence of Whittaker Chambers on Reagan's iconic "A Time for Choosing" speech in 1964, the rich relationship between Reagan and Clancy, the outsized impact of Clancy's first two books, and the complicated notion of presidential "vision."

Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.

Among the works mentioned in this episode:

  • The book The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
  • The book The Third Word War by Sir John Hackett
  • The book Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy
  • The book Subregional Security Cooperation in the Third World by William Tow
  • The book That Printer of Udell's by Harold Bell Wright
  • The film High Noon
  • The John Carter of Mars books by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • The book Witness by Whittaker Chambers
  • The book Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler
  • The book The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
  • The film All the President's Men
  • The film Apocalypse Now
  • The film The Deer Hunter
  • The film Patton
  • The film Back to the Future
  • The TV movie The Day After
  • The movie The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
  • The book Euromissiles by Susan Colbourn
  • The book The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin

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A Post-Presidency Done Right with Jean Becker

Season 1, Ep. 66
For almost 25 years, until his death in November 2018, former president George H. W. Bush's chief of staff was Jean Becker. For event after event through both the best of those times and the worst--from dozens of affirming trips overseas to several parachute jumps in his latter years to many funerals--Becker was there to schedule it, plan it, manage it, and often attend it. All of this has given her a uniquely wide and deep understanding of the challenges and rewards of a long post-presidency.For the 30th anniversary of Bush 41's departure from the White House, David Priess chatted with Becker about how she first came to work with First Lady Barbara Bush, how that led to her work as chief of staff for Bush after he'd left office, the diverse activities of a lengthy post-presidency, former presidents' interactions with intelligence and classified material, Bush 41's choice to refrain from frequent political statements, his relationships with other presidents ranging from his son to Bill Clinton to Barack Obama to Joe Biden, and what a chief of staff for a former president actually does.Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Noam Osband and Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.Works mentioned during this episode:The book The Man I Knew: The Amazing Story of George H. W. Bush's Post-Presidency by Jean BeckerThe book The President's Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael DuffyThe book 41 by George W. BushThe book Pearls of Wisdom by Barbara BushThe book The Nazi Conspiracy by Brad Meltzer and Josh MenschThe TV series Ted Lasso

Ana Montes, the American who Spied for Cuba, with Jim Popkin

Season 1, Ep. 65
In 2001, the FBI arrested a top U.S. intelligence officer who had spied for Cuba for nearly two decades. The story of Ana Montes, whose colleagues called her “The Queen of Cuba,” has all the hallmarks of an espionage thriller. She was among the most damaging spies of her generation, and yet her story remains lesser known than more notorious Cold War-era turncoats. In his new book, journalist Jim Popkin tells the story of Montes’ radicalization, her recruitment by Cuban intelligence, and how she managed to spy so long undetected. Montes was released from prison earlier this month, after serving a lengthy prison sentence. New details of her story have come to light in Poplin’s book, Code Name Blue Wren: The True Story of America's Most Dangerous Female Spy—and the Sister She Betrayed. Popkin sat down with Shane Harris to talk about Montes’ story, what drove her to become a spy, and the investigation that brought her to justice.  Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was engineered by Ian Enright and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.Among the works cited in this episode are:Popkin’s book: Popkin’s feature on Montes in The Washington Post magazine: Popkin on Twitter: