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Speaking Volumes was a weekly conversation hosted by Josh Raulerson on books and reading with interesting people from all walks of life here in Pittsburgh.Speaking Volumes as a regular feature ended in December, 2013 but occasional specials may pop up.

Learning from the Things We Don't Talk About with John Fetterman

Josh Raulerson
90.5 WESA


Braddock Mayor John Fetterman speaks on the lessons he has learned from literary accounts of history. 

Joshua Wolf Shenk, “Lincoln’s Melancholy

"Lincoln’s Melancholy" tells — for the first time — the full story of Lincoln’s lifelong depression, how he managed it, and how it came to fuel his epic work. Drawing on seven years of research, Joshua Wolf Shenk shows how the science and literature on depression offer insight into Lincoln’s remarkable journey, and how Lincoln’s story challenges and enriches our understanding of depression.

Published by Houghton Mifflin, the book has been called among the best of 2005 by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the Abraham Lincoln Institute. Shenk has also been honored for his work by the National Mental Health Association and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in New York City.

Thomas Bell, “Out of this Furnace

"Out of This Furnace" is Thomas Bell’s most compelling achievement.  Its story of three generations of an immigrant Slovak family -- the Dobrejcaks -- still stands as a fresh and extraordinary accomplishment.

The novel begins in the mid-1880s with the naive blundering career of Djuro Kracha. It tracks his arrival from the old country as he walked from New York to White Haven, his later migration to the steel mills of Braddock, Pennsylvania, and his eventual downfall through foolish financial speculations and an extramarital affair. The second generation is represented by Kracha’s daughter, Mary, who married Mike Dobrejcak, a steel worker. Their decent lives, made desperate by the inhuman working conditions of the mills, were held together by the warm bonds of their family life, and Mike’s political idealism set an example for the children. Dobie Dobrejcak, the third generation, came of age in the 1920s determined not to be sacrificed to the mills. His involvement in the successful unionization of the steel industry climaxed a half-century struggle to establish economic justice for the workers.

"Out of This Furnace" is a document of ethnic heritage and of a violent and cruel period in our history, but it is also a superb story. The writing is strong and forthright, and the novel builds constantly to its triumphantly human conclusion.


Josh Raulerson is the local host for Morning Edition weekdays from 5-9 a.m. on 90.5 WESA.
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