Ep 17: Hanya Yanagihara

Hanya Yanagihara returned to the John Adams for a conversation about To Paradise, her three-part epic tale told across multiple timelines and characters, centered around New York City. It shows an America not identical as we know it, but a ‘what if’ narrative: what it has been, what it might have been and what it could be.
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Ep 16: Christopher Hitchens

The late, great Christopher Hitchens came to Amsterdam in 2008 touring his book God is Not Great. Hitchens excelled at polemics which he shows in this new ‘Bright Minds’ episode by arguing that religion is a worse than any totalitarian regime, that science and religion are fundamentally incompatible, and why it’s a bad time for secularism in politics.
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Ep 15: Donna Tartt

Way back on March 14, 1993, the then fresh new Southern author, Donna Tartt, visited the John Adams hot on the heels of her massive bestseller ‘The Secret History’. Coming up: Christopher Hitchens (7 Sept).
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Ep 14: Daniel Ziblatt

How do democracies die? Not at the hands of generals, but of elected leaders – presidents or prime ministers who subvert the very process that brought them to power. That is the unsettling conclusion of Harvard professor Daniel Ziblatt’s highly praised book How Democracies Die.
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Ep 13: Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison, as renowned for her magical realism as for her portrayal of the African American struggle, is that rare writer who is acclaimed by critics and adored by the reading public. In 2009 she joined us to talk about her novel A Mercy.
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Ep 12: Jonathan Franzen

In 2002, we proudly presented an evening with Jonathan Franzen, winner of the National Book Award 2001. He discussed The Corrections, his novel about the American family, giving a view on modern Western society that is both humorous and poignant.
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Ep 11: Patrick Radden Keefe

The great American author and investigative journalist, Patrick Radden Keefe, discusses the Sackler Family, one of the richest families in the world. Just where all their money came from was vague, until it emerged that the Sacklers were the owners of Purdue Pharma, responsible for making and aggressively marketing OxyContin, a blockbuster painkiller that was the catalyst for today’s opioid crisis.
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Ep 10: Christiane Amanpour

In 2019, CNN’s chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour joined us for what turned out to be a witty and revealing conversation about her career and the state of modern journalism.
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Ep 9: Francis Fukuyama

This week’s guest is Francis Fukuyama. He argues that populist nationalism is not motivated by economics, as it was through the second half of the 20th century, but by an innate need for dignity. That sounds like a given, but Francis Fukuyama says this is being exploited. Democracy is being undermined as the old world order is swept away and demagogues rise country by country as they preach identity politics based on religion, ethnicity and gender.
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Ep 8: Megan Twohey & #MeToo

This week’s guest is New York Times journalist Megan Twohey, whose reporting about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse of women in Hollywood was, as she put it, “an X-ray into the abuse of power”. The #Metoo movement really got going after Megan Twohey and her colleague Jodi Kantor published their investigative articles about Harvey Weinstein in ‘She Said’, a book sometimes called the feminist “All the President’s Men”.
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Ep 7: Garry Kasparov

Seven years ago, Garry Kasparov came to Amsterdam and predicted the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He also described Vladimir Putin’s psychology and motivations in a way that you hear in every current affairs program nowadays.
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Ep 6: Joseph Stiglitz

In this episode, Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz talks about his book, People, Power, and Profits. The renowned economist states that the U.S. is in need of some serious reform and that government and democracy must be freed from the grasp of wealthy corporate forces in finance and other sectors.
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Ep 5: Russell Shorto

In this episode of the show, Russell Shorto talks about his eye-opening book The Island at the Center of the World, a marvelous historical retelling of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam before it became New York.
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Ep 4: Dr. Anthony Fauci

As John Adams was one of the great men of his era, we thought our next episode should be with one of the great people of our time: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Brooklyn born and raised, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to president Biden. This was an online interview conducted by Damiaan Denys, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Amsterdam.
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Ep 3: Timothy Snyder

Democracy and the rule of law in Western societies are under threat, according to Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale University. In his book The Road to Unfreedom, Snyder examines how Western societies left themselves open to anti-democratic forces after the Cold War, and how Russia fell into Putinism, and the rise of Donald Trump, which has become a major threat to democracy around the globe.
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Ep 2: Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan’s book, How To Change Your Mind, delves into the world of psychedelics and their medical use. In the past decade, there has been renewed interest in psychedelic research as a form of psychiatric therapy, and to Pollan’s mind this renaissance is long overdue. In this episode, Pollan makes a strong case for researching these drugs further.
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Ep 1: Madeleine Albright

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright talks with former Dutch foreign minister, current EU Vice President, Frans Timmermans, about how the current state of world leadership inspired her book, the ominously titled: Fascism: a Warning.
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Trailer 'Bright Minds'

From now on, we will also present our talks and interviews to you in the form of the podcast Bright Minds. Every two weeks you can listen to a new 30 minute talk and/or interview from our rich archive of American speakers. Sign up for our newsletter to keep updated about upcoming episodes. And while you’re there, why not become a member of the John Adams. Not only will you support what we do, you get a discount to future live events.

John Adams, the first American ambassador to the Netherlands, once said: “Let us tenderly and kindly cherish…the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.” The John Adams Institute brings the best and the brightest of American thinking to Amsterdam.

Now we’re sharing our treasure trove of great thinkers, speakers and writers with you. From Amsterdam, this is Bright Minds: the podcast from the John Adams Institute.

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