William Safire, author and columnist (#345)
Columnist and author William Safire discusses his passion for the English language and his devotion to life-long learning.
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Safire, who became well known through his New York Times column, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1978 for distinguished commentary and continues writing today. He discusses the newly released fifth edition of Safire’s Political Dictionary, written to help readers decipher the jargon used by today’s politicians and the press. Safire comments on the importance of knowing the history of these words or phrases because he says it “leads you into the history of our time.̵
Safire also discusses his novel Freedom, a 1987 work of historical fiction that traces the presidency of Abraham Lincoln from the perspective of Kentucky native John C. Breckenridge. Safire refers to this former vice president as the hero of his novel and talks about how the character contributes to the importance of the story.
Finally, Safire discusses his new position as chairman and executive director of the Dana Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes research of the science of the human brain. The author reveals why he did not retire completely after giving up writing his New York Times opinion column, instead choosing to work with the Dana Foundation.