News & Politics

Esquire Classic Podcast

PRX and Esquire Magazine

5 FANS
Hosted by acclaimed journalist David Brancaccio (Marketplace and PBS' NOW), this podcast dissects classic Esquire stories and reveals the cultural currents that make them as urgent and timely today as when they were first published. Guests include Es...Show More
Best
Newest
Looking for recently uploaded episodes
Don’t Mess With Roy Cohn, by Ken Auletta

26:04 | Dec 22nd, 2016

If president-elect Donald Trump learned anything from his mentor Roy Cohn, it was this: punch first and never apologize. Cohn was notorious for going on the attack—as counsel for Senator Joseph McCarthy during the communist witch-hunts of the fifties...Show More
The Plane at the Bottom of the Ocean, by Bucky McMahon

26:26 | Dec 13th, 2016

The question is astonishingly simple: In the year 2015, with GPS and satellites and global surveillance everywhere all the time, how does a massive airplane simply go missing? To find the answer, writer Bucky McMahon boarded one of the vessels search...Show More
The Price of Being President, by Richard Ben Cramer

23:50 | Dec 6th, 2016

Published in 1992, Richard Ben Cramer’s What It Takes: The Way to the White House remains the richest and most unvarnished account of the personal price of running for president. The irony, as Cramer pointed out to C-SPAN shortly after the book came ...Show More
The Old Man and the River, by Pete Dexter

22:39 | Nov 28th, 2016

Norman Maclean published A River Runs Through It when he was seventy-three, and only after his children implored him to write down the stories about fly-fishing, brotherhood, and the wilds of Montana that he’d told them for years. The resulting novel...Show More
The Days of Wine and Pig Hocks, by Jim Harrison

24:08 | Nov 21st, 2016

Jim Harrison, the novelist and poet who died earlier this year at the age of 78, had a gargantuan, fearless appetite that would make both A.J. Liebling and Anthony Bourdain proud. He wrote about food—about eating, really— in a woolly, baroque style f...Show More
Martin Luther King Jr Is Still on the Case! by Garry Wills

30:16 | Nov 14th, 2016

In 1968, just hours after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, the future Pulitzer Prize–winning author Garry Wills—then a young writer for Esquire—rushed to Memphis, Tennessee, where he watched as King’s body was embalmed at the mortuary; later,...Show More
Love in the Time of Magic, by E. Jean Carroll

29:23 | Nov 7th, 2016

On November 7, 1991, Magic Johnson held a press conference announcing that he had contracted the HIV virus, effectively ending his Hall of Fame career with the Los Angeles Lakers. The news sent shockwaves through popular culture, as well as the more ...Show More
The Tinkerings of Robert Noyce, by Tom Wolfe

25:41 | Oct 31st, 2016

It was a meeting of two American masters: Robert Noyce, who, in inventing the integrated computer chip and founding Intel, willed Silicon Valley into being, and Tom Wolfe, who, in holding a magnifying glass over the social and class currents that sha...Show More
The House That Thurman Munson Built, by Michael Paterniti

26:41 | Oct 24th, 2016

Reggie Jackson once called himself “the straw that stirs the drink” but there was no question that Thurman Munson was the pride of the Yankees—like Lou Gehrig before him and Derek Jeter after. For Michael Paterniti, consistently one of the most inven...Show More
The Crack-Up, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

33:09 | Oct 17th, 2016

In 1936, F. Scott Fitzgerald, then a struggling writer battling depression and alcoholism, published “The Crack-Up,” a radical series of essays in Esquire about his mental breakdown. Celebrated poet and memoirist Nick Flynn discusses with host David ...Show More
The Brain That Changed Everything, by Luke Dittrich

34:41 | Oct 10th, 2016

In 1953, a twenty-seven-year old factory worker named Henry Molaison, cursed with severe epilepsy, underwent a radical new version of the lobotomy that targeted the most unexplored structures of the brain. The operation was performed by Dr. William S...Show More
“I, Stalkerazzi” and “Angelina Jolie and the Torture of Fame,” by John H. Richardson

27:39 | Oct 3rd, 2016

It’s hard to think of a profession more maligned than the paparazzi, but in 1998 Esquire writer at large John H. Richardson decided to find out for himself what it feels like to hunt celebrities for money in “I, Stalkerazzi.” Two years later, he lear...Show More
Nureyev Dancing In His Own Shadow, by Elizabeth Kaye

28:38 | Sep 26th, 2016

Rudolf Nureyev was one of the most dynamic performers of the twentieth century. “He was Mick Jagger before Mick Jagger,” remembers Elizabeth Kaye, who specialized in writing in-depth profiles of men in power for Esquire in the late ‘80s and early ‘90...Show More
Frank Sinatra Has a Cold, by Gay Talese

31:58 | Sep 19th, 2016

Fifty years after it was first published, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold” remains the most influential and talked-about magazine story of all time. Author Gay Talese joins host David Brancaccio to discuss how this groundbreaking work of New Journalism cam...Show More
Styron’s Choices, by Philip Caputo

25:01 | Sep 12th, 2016

When journalist Philip Caputo set out to profile William Styron in 1985, it was something of a dream assignment: Styron, then at work on the novel The Way of the Warrior, was one of the towering figures in American letters. The two men’s shared exper...Show More
The Falling Man, by Tom Junod

33:55 | Sep 6th, 2016

Do you remember this photograph? In the United States, people have taken pains to banish it from the record of September 11, 2001. The story behind it, though, and the search for the man pictured in it, are our most intimate connection to the horror ...Show More
The American Male at Age Ten, by Susan Orlean

26:32 | Aug 29th, 2016

In 1992, writer Susan Orlean was sick of celebrity profiles. Instead, she wanted to do something bigger and much harder: She wanted to profile the inner life of an average American boy. After convincing her editor, Orlean spent more than a week going...Show More
My Father, the Bachelor, by Martha Sherrill

28:43 | Aug 22nd, 2016

Martha Sherrill’s father, Peter, rakish and handsome, was an irrepressible charmer and natural raconteur; when he died, she was flooded with calls from his ex-girlfriends who wanted to pay their respects and share their stories about this man who ado...Show More
A Few Words About Breasts, by Nora Ephron

41:46 | Aug 15th, 2016

“A Few Words About Breasts,” from May 1972, is Nora Ephron’s comic lament about how her late onset of puberty and earliest sexual experiences gave her a lifelong obsession with her breasts. Jessi Klein, head writer for “Inside Amy Schumer,” joins Dav...Show More
Edwin Moses, by Mark Kram

25:37 | Aug 8th, 2016

Between 1977 and 1987, Edwin Moses won 122 consecutive races in the men’s 400-meter hurdles—including his second Olympic gold—in a streak as fantastic and improbable as Joe DiMaggio’s fifty-six-game hitting streak. In his 1987 interview with Moses, M...Show More
What It Takes, by Richard Ben Cramer

24:48 | Aug 1st, 2016

Published in 1991, Richard Ben Cramer’s book What It Takes remains the richest and most detailed account of the personal price of running for president. The irony, as Cramer pointed out to C-SPANN when the book was first published, is that to become ...Show More
My Father’s Life, by Raymond Carver

26:36 | Jul 25th, 2016

In Raymond Carver’s masterful short stories, what goes unspoken between characters—what can’t or won’t be articulated—carries more weight than what they say. In the 1984 essay “My Father’s Life,” Carver turns his unforgiving eye on his own life, and ...Show More
Superman Comes to the Supermarket, by Norman Mailer

25:13 | Jul 18th, 2016

Before anyone foresaw a time when a television celebrity could become president—hello, Cleveland—Norman Mailer wrote in Esquire that John F. Kennedy was a mythical hero who could finally unite the business of politics with the business of stardom. Hi...Show More
America’s Most Powerful Lunch, by Lee Eisenberg

22:11 | Jul 11th, 2016

For two decades, the Four Seasons was the epicenter of culture in America. Jackie Onassis, Henry Kissinger, and Nora Ephron were just some of the regulars at the New York City restaurant, but the real stars were the creative power brokers in publishi...Show More
Michael Bay, by Jeanne Marie Laskas

20:04 | Jun 27th, 2016

In 2001, director Michael Bay was one of Hollywood's most successful commercial filmmakers when he took on the daunting task of directing an epic about Pearl Harbor. How would his testosterone-laden, explosive-style adapt to a serious subject? (Hint:...Show More
The Old Man and the River, by Pete Dexter

22:50 | Jun 13th, 2016

Norman Maclean published A River Runs Through It when he was seventy-three, and only after his children implored him to write down the stories about fly-fishing, brotherhood, and the wilds of Montana that he’d told them for years. The resulting novel...Show More
“I, Stalkerazzi” and “Angelina Jolie and the Torture of Fame,” by John H. Richardson

27:24 | May 31st, 2016

It’s hard to find a profession more maligned than the paparazzi, but in 1998 Esquire writer at large John H. Richardson decided to find out for himself what it feels like to hunt celebrities for money in “I, Stalkerazi.” Two years later, Richardson f...Show More
The Shooter, by Phil Bronstein

23:47 | May 16th, 2016

In March 2013, the man who shot and killed Osama bin Laden came forward to tell his story for the first time in “The Shooter,” by Phil Bronstein. It is a report of the celebrated mission by turns captivating, astonishing, and visceral, but also heart...Show More
The Plane at the Bottom of the Ocean, by Bucky McMahon

26:27 | May 2nd, 2016

The question is astonishingly simple: In the year 2015, with GPS and satellites and global surveillance everywhere all the time, how does a massive airplane simply go missing? To find the answer, writer Bucky McMahon boarded one of the vessels search...Show More
What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now? by Richard Ben Cramer

27:32 | Apr 18th, 2016

Richard Ben Cramer’s masterful profile of Ted Williams from 1986 is often cited as one of the greatest magazine stories of all time. It’s about a sports idol who wanted fame but hated celebrity, who shouted louder than anyone but demanded privacy, wh...Show More
Old, by Mike Sager

29:12 | Apr 4th, 2016

We will all get old one day. Mike Sager’s astonishingly intimate portrait of Glenn Sandberg, age ninety-two, is about what it actually feels like to be close to the end. It’s a story about mortality and love and companionship and the things in life t...Show More
The String Theory, by David Foster Wallace

29:09 | Mar 21st, 2016

David Foster Wallace’s unforgettable portrait of tennis player Michael Joyce is as much about the intricate physics of hitting a fuzzy yellow ball, as it is about the physical and emotional sacrifices it takes to be the best in the world at something...Show More
The American Male at Age Ten, by Susan Orlean

27:00 | Mar 7th, 2016

In 1992, writer Susan Orlean was tired of celebrity profiles. Instead, she wanted to do something bigger, deeper, and much harder: She wanted to profile the inner life of an average American boy. After convincing her editor, Orlean spent a week going...Show More
The Price of Being President, by Richard Ben Cramer

25:08 | Feb 22nd, 2016

What It Takes is the most unvarnished account ever written about the personal price of running for president.
The Death of Patient Zero, by Tom Junod

30:12 | Feb 8th, 2016

How ”The Death of Patient Zero” helped push the boundaries of modern medicine.
The Tinkerings of Robert Noyce, by Tom Wolfe

25:18 | Jan 25th, 2016

It was a meeting of two American masters: Robert Noyce, who, in inventing the integrated computer chip and founding Intel, willed Silicon Valley into being, and Tom Wolfe, who in holding a magnifying glass over the social and class currents that shap...Show More
Martin Luther King Jr Is Still on the Case! by Garry Wills

29:57 | Jan 11th, 2016

In 1968, just hours after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, the legendary historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Garry Wills—then a young writer for Esquire—rushed to Memphis, Tennessee, where he watched as King’s body was embalmed at the...Show More
M, by John Sack

33:27 | Dec 28th, 2015

“Oh my God—we hit a little girl.” This was the single, shocking cover line of the October 1966 issue of Esquire. Inside was John Sack’s 33,000-word New Journalism masterpiece, M, in which he followed a single company of American infantrymen from Fort...Show More
The Second Coming of Steve Jobs, by Joe Nocera

26:12 | Dec 14th, 2015

Back in 1986, Joe Nocera spent a week shadowing Steve Jobs, who was then leading his start-up, NeXT, and attempting to build a new kind of computer. What resulted is one of the most intimate and honest appraisals of the computer visionary ever writte...Show More
Superman Comes to the Supermarket, by Norman Mailer

24:38 | Nov 30th, 2015

Before anyone foresaw a time when a television celebrity could become president, Norman Mailer wrote in Esquire that John F. Kennedy was a mythical hero who could finally unite the business of politics with the business of stardom. His legendary 1960...Show More
Frank Sinatra Has a Cold, by Gay Talese

32:58 | Nov 15th, 2015

Gay Talese joins host David Brancaccio to discuss how "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold" came about, the evolution of celebrity, and why his story remains as resonant today as the day it was first published.
The Crack-Up, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

34:17 | Nov 2nd, 2015

F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Crack-Up," a series of essays from 1936 about his alcoholism and mental breakdown, set off a genre of confessional writing that persists and thrives today.
A Few Words About Breasts, by Nora Ephron

44:11 | Oct 19th, 2015

"A Few Words About Breasts" is Nora Ephron’s famous comic lament from 1972 about how her late onset of puberty gave her a lifelong obsession with breasts. Jessi Klein, head writer for “Inside Amy Schumer,” joins David Brancaccio to discuss Ephron’s s...Show More
Falling Man, by Tom Junod

35:49 | Oct 1st, 2015

“The Falling Man”, Esquire’s most-read story of all time, is discussed by host David Brancaccio and Esquire Writer at Large Tom Junod. The story is about an infamous photograph from 9/11 that was published briefly in the days after the terrorist atta...Show More