Kentucky Author Forum Presents

Great Conversations

The University of Louisville’s Kentucky Author Forum is a non-profit, nationally recognized literary event. Four times each year, renowned authors are paired with interviewers — who are interesting in their own right — and their conversation is taped before a live audience at Louisville’s Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. (Ticket information)

The program later airs on KET and on PBS stations nationwide as Great Conversations.

Recent guests include Congressman John Lewis (graphic novel “March”) interviewed by Rachel Maddow, MSNBC news and information show host; and Chris Matthews (“Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked”) interviewed by columnist and political commentator, E.J. Dionne.

Broadcast Schedule


Watch Video: Thomas Friedman and Congressman John Yarmuth

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas Friedman discusses his new book, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations. He is interviewed by Kentucky journalist and Congressman John Yarmuth.


Recent Episodes

Selected programs from Great Conversations are available for online viewing. Many are also available on DVD from KET; call 800-945-9167 or e-mail shop@ket.org for information.

2017

  • Joseph Stiglitz
    American economist Joseph Eugene Stiglitz, a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics and author of The Euro: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe, is interviewed by Rana Foroohar, a Financial Times columnist. They discuss economic policies and inequality.
  • P.J. O’Rourke
    P.J. O’Rourke, author of Parliament of Whores and Give War a Chance, discusses his latest book, How The Hell Did This Happen, about the 2016 presidential election. He is interviewed by Robert Siegel, senior host of NPR’s All Things Considered.
  • Colson Whitehead
    Colson Whitehead discusses the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Underground Railroad, a chronicle of a young slave’s desperate bid for freedom. He is interviewed by Buzzfeed’s Isaac Fitzgerald.

2016

  • Sebastian Junger
    Sebastian Junger, author of War and The Perfect Storm, talks about his book, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, an exploration of how people overcome trauma and seek something bigger than themselves. He is interviewed by Joe Klein, TIME’s political columnist.
  • Joe Nocera
    Joe Nocera of the New York Times discusses his book, Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA. He is interviewed by journalist Buzz Bissinger.
  • Diane Rehm
    NPR host Diane Rehm discusses her book, On My Own, about reconstructing her life after the death of her husband of 54 years. She is interviewed by author Ann Patchett.
  • E.J. Dionne
    Journalist and political commentator E.J. Dionne, a long-time op-ed columnist for The Washington Post, talks about his book, Why The Right Went Wrong: Conservatism—from Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond. He is interviewed by James Fallows, a National correspondent for The Atlantic.
  • John Irving
    John Irving is the author of 14 novels, including The World According to Garp and A Prayer for Owen Meany. His latest novel, Avenue of Mysteries, returns to the themes of fate and memory. The story of Juan Diego unfolds as he travels to the Philippines, where past events will collide with his future. Irving is interviewed by Sam Tanenhaus, a contributor to Bloomberg Politics and Bloomberg View, and a columnist and associate editor at the British monthly Prospect. Tanenhaus is also a former editor in chief of the Sunday Book Review and Week in Review at the New York Times.

2015

  • David Boies
    David Boies, attorney and co-author of Redeeming the Dream: The Case for Marriage Equality, and Jeffrey Toobin, senior legal analyst for CNN, discuss the historic case that overturned California’s ban on same-sex marriage. Boies and Theordore B. Olson argued the case against Proposition 8 before the U.S. Supreme Court. (2015)
  • Jessye Norman
    Legendary opera singer Jessye Norman discusses her memoir, Stand Up Straight and Sing!, which recalls the strong women who were her role models. She is interviewed by Gloria Steinem, feminist activist and co-founder of Ms. magazine. (2015)

2014

  • Timothy Geithner
    Timothy Geithner, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and author of Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises, is interviewed by James Surowiecki, staff writer of “The Financial Page” at The New Yorker. (2014)
  • Philippe de Montebello
    Philippe de Montebello, the longest-serving director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, discusses his book, Rendez-vous with Art. He is interviewed by chief art critic for the New York Times Michael Kimmelman.(2014)
  • Alain de Botton
    Alain de Botton, author of The News: A User’s Manual, is interviewed by Brian Stelter, senior media correspondent for CNN Worldwide and host of Reliable Sources.. (2014)
    Watch program and “After the Show” web exclusive videos
  • Rick Pitino
    Rick Pitino, head coach of the University of Louisville men’s basketball team and author of The One Day Contract, is interviewed by New York Times columnist Joe Nocera. (2014)
    Watch program and “After the Show” web exclusive videos

2013

2012

2011

  • Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee
    Author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. Interviewer: Dr. David Scadden, professor of medicine at Harvard University. (2011)
  • Rosanne Cash
    Author of Composed: A Memoir. Interviewer: Nick Spitzer, producer and host of public radio’s American Routes. (2011)
  • Billy Collins
    Author of Horoscopes of the Dead: Poems. Interviewer: Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion. (2011)
  • Dr. Eric Kandel
    Author of In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind. Interviewer: Jonah Lehrer, contributing editor, Wired. (2011)

In alphabetical order:

  • Madeleine Albright
    U.S. secretary of state during the Clinton administration and author of Madame Secretary. Interviewer: CNN correspondent Richard Roth (2003)
  • R.W. Apple Jr.
    Associate editor of the New York Times and author of Apple’s America. Interviewer: journalist Tom Brokaw (2005)
  • Karen Armstrong
    Author of a number of books on religion, including A History of God and Buddha. Interviewer: National Public Radio host Robert Siegel (2004)
  • Margaret Atwood
    Acclaimed novelist, poet, and critic. Interviewer: National Public Radio host Ira Flatow (2004)
  • James Baker III
    Former U.S. Secretary of State, co-chair of the Iraq Study Group appointed in March 2006, and author of Work Hard, Study … and Keep Out of Politics! Interviewer: CNN national correspondent John King (2007)
  • A. Scott Berg
    Author of Lindbergh, a critically acclaimed biography of aviator Charles Lindbergh. Interviewer: Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post (1998)
  • David Boren
    President of the University of Oklahoma, former governor and U.S. senator, and author of A Letter to America. Interviewer: National Public Radio correspondent Neal Conan (2008)
  • Stephen Breyer
    U.S. Supreme Court justice and author of Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution. Interviewer: NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams (2008)
  • Tom Brokaw
    Former NBC News anchor and author of Boom! Voices of the Sixties: Personal Reflections on the ’60s and Today. Interviewer: Washington Post senior editor Rick Atkinson (2007)
  • Rosanne Cash
    Author of Composed: A Memoir. Interviewer: Nick Spitzer, producer and host of public radio’s American Routes. (2011)
  • Gen. Wesley Clark
    Five-star general, former commander of NATO European Forces and NATO Air Campaign Kosovo, and author of Waging Modern War. Interviewer: Joe Klein, New Yorker correspondent and author (2001)
  • Billy Collins
    Author of Horoscopes of the Dead: Poems. Interviewer: Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion. (2011)
  • E.L. Doctorow
    Novelist who has mixed fictional characters with real-life events in such books as Ragtime, World’s Fair, and The March. Interviewer: Christopher Lydon (2001)
  • Richard Ellis
    Author of On Thin Ice: The Changing World of the Polar Bear and marine conservationist. Interviewer: Jeff Corwin of Animal Planet (2010)
  • Ari Fleischer
    Primary spokesman for President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003 and author of Taking Heat: The President, the Press, and My Years in the White House. Interviewer: CBS News White House correspondent Bill Plante (2005)
  • Henry Louis Gates Jr.
    Chair of the Afro-American Studies Department at Harvard University and author of America Behind the Color Line: Dialogues with African Americans. Interviewer: National Public Radio correspondent Karen Grigsby Bates (2004)
  • Elizabeth Gilbert
    ZZ Packer, author of “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere”, interviews author Elizabeth Gilbert about her #1 New York Times bestselling memoir “Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia” and her reissued novel, “Stern Men.” (2009)
  • Malcolm Gladwell
    Author of The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers: The Story of Success. Interviewer: Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind and The Adventures of Johnny Bunko (2009)
  • Jane Goodall
    Anthropologist and author of Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey. Interviewer: Richard Wrangham, chair of the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University (1999)
  • David Halberstam
    Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and author of The Children, which recounts the remarkable stories of young people involved in the early days of the civil rights movement. Interviewer: Roger Wilkins, professor, George Mason University. (1998)
  • Arianna Huffington
    Author of Third World America. Interviewer: Howard Fineman, Huffingtonpost.com (2010)
  • Vernon Jordan
    Managing director, Lazard Freres & Co., past president of the National Urban League, and author of the memoir Vernon Can Read. Interviewer: Ronald Brownstein, senior Washington correspondent, The Los Angeles Times (2002)
  • Robert Kagan
    Senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, contributing editor of The New Republic, and author of Paradise and Power. Interviewer: National Public Radio host Neal Conan (2004)
  • Dr. Eric Kandel
    Author of In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind. Interviewer: Jonah Lehrer, contributing editor, Wired. (2011)
  • Sue Monk Kidd
    Best-selling novelist and author of The Mermaid Chair. Interviewer: Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen, professor of clinical psychiatry (2006)
  • Arthur Levitt
    Former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and author of Take on the Street: What Wall Street and Corporate America Don’t Want You to Know; What You Can Do to Fight Back. Interviewer: Jane Bryant Quinn (2002)
  • John McCain
    Four-term U.S. Senator (R-AZ), decorated Vietnam veteran, and author of Character Is Destiny. Interviewer: National Public Radio host Robert Siegel (2006)
  • Bill McKibben
    Environmental journalist and author of Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. Interviewer: Wendell Berry, Kentucky farmer, essayist, novelist, and poet (2007)
  • Greg Mortenson
    Literacy advocate, Central Asia Institute and Pennies for Peace founder, and author of Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission To Promote Peace … One School at a Time. Interviewer: Jacki Lyden, National Public Radio (2008)
  • Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee
    Author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. Interviewer: Dr. David Scadden, professor of medicine at Harvard University. (2011)
  • Azar Nafisi
    A former teacher of English literature at the University of Tehran, witness to the Iranian revolution that brought the Ayatollah Khomeini to power, and author of Reading Lolita in Tehran. Interviewer: civil rights reporter Karl Fleming (2005)
  • Sandra Day O’Connor
    First woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court and author of The Majesty of the Law. Interviewer: Pete Williams (2003)
  • Daniel Okrent
    Author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. Interviewer: John Huey, editor-in-chief of Time (2010)
  • David Plouffe
    Author of The Audacity to Win. Interviewer: Richard Wolffe, MSNBC (2010)
  • Michael Pollan
    New York Times Magazine contributor, journalism teacher, and author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. Interviewer: Michael Shnayerson, author of Coal River (2008)
  • Sister Helen Prejean
    Counselor to death row inmates and author of Dead Man Walking. Interviewer: Stephen Bright, director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, native of Danville, Ky., University of Kentucky graduate, and Yale professor (1996)
  • Ruth Reichl
    New York Times restaurant critic, editor of Gourmet magazine, and author of the memoir Tender at the Bone. Interviewer: Susan Stamberg, National Public Radio (1999)
  • Dennis Ross
    Ambassador, chief Middle East peace negotiator under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and author of The Missing Peace. Interviewer: National Public Radio foreign correspondent Jacki Lyden (2004)
  • Michael Sandel
    Author of Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? and Harvard professor. Interviewer: journalist John S. Carroll (2009)
  • Andrew Ross Sorkin
    Author of Too Big to Fail. Interviewer: journalist Bethany McLean, Vanity Fair (2010)
  • George Soros
    Holocaust survivor, international financier and philanthropist, and author of The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of the War on Terror. Interviewer: John D. Podesta, Center for American Progress (2006)
  • Gene Sperling
    President Clinton’s national economic adviser, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a frequent columnist and commentator on economic issues, and author of The Pro-Growth Progressive: An Economic Strategy for Shared Prosperity. Interviewer: John Ydstie, National Public Radio (2006)
  • Strobe Talbott
    Former deputy secretary of state and ambassador-at-large and author of The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy. Interviewer: journalist David Halberstam (2002)
  • John Updike
    The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and author of Golf Dreams. Interviewer: Robert Siegel of National Public Radio (1996)
  • Lawrence Wright
    Screenwriter, New Yorker staff writer, and author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. Interviewer: Peter Bergen, journalist and terrorism analyst (2006)

The Kentucky Author Forum is sponsored by the University of Louisville as part of its Challenge for Excellence, with support from Brown-Forman and the Humana Foundation. The series founder and producer is Mary Moss Greenebaum. The programs are produced for television by KET.