Created with Sketch.
Esquire Classic Podcast
26 minutes | Dec 22, 2016
Don’t Mess With Roy Cohn, by Ken Auletta
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, and later as a pugnacious attorney for whom the only bad publicity was no publicity. With hooded eyes and a scar running along his nose, Cohn relished playing the intimidating outlaw in a black hat. He was fearless and bullying yet always considered himself as a victim. Despite this loathsome reputation, Cohn was resolutely loyal and counted among his friends Democrats and Republicans alike. More than partisanship, what mattered most to Cohn was power, as we learn in Ken Auletta’s searing 1978 profile, “Don’t Mess with Roy Cohn.” Auletta joins host David Brancaccio on the Esquire Podcast this week to discuss Cohn’s unrelenting cruelty and drive, and how it helped shape the man who will now lead the country.
26 minutes | Dec 13, 2016
The Plane at the Bottom of the Ocean, by Bucky McMahon
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 searching for Malaysia Air 370 in one of the most isolated and treacherous stretches of ocean on the planet. In telling the story of the search crew and the massive amounts of technology, money, and human capital being spent trying to find this airplane, McMahon tells a story of our time—of a world completely dependent on nets of redundant technology, yet completely lost and broken when those nets suddenly break. McMahon joins host David Brancaccio to discuss his October 2015 story, “The Plane at the Bottom of the Ocean.”
24 minutes | Dec 6, 2016
The Price of Being President, by Richard Ben Cramer
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 out, is that to become president a candidate must sacrifice the entire life that had prepared him or her for office in the first place. Earlier this year longtime Esquire political correspondent Charles P. Pierce joined host David Brancaccio to discuss how Cramer’s book—which was excerpted in three parts in Esquire—continues to shape how we understand presidential politics and the psyches of those with the hubris to seek the highest office.
23 minutes | Nov 28, 2016
The Old Man and the River, by Pete Dexter
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 novella is a classic of economy and clarity. A few years later, Pete Dexter visited Maclean in Montana and profiled him for Esquire in “The Old Man and the River.” Dexter, a National Book Award winner, joins host David Brancaccio to discuss the master class he got from Maclean in what truly matters most—in writing, nature, and life.
24 minutes | Nov 21, 2016
The Days of Wine and Pig Hocks, by Jim Harrison
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 for Esquire’s “The Raw and the Cooked” column. He began one piece with this Hors d’oeuvre: “Distraught, I fled north with little more than a frozen wild pig’s head in the cooler for nutrition.” Our food and drink editor Jeff Gordinier joins David Brancaccio on the podcast this holiday week to discuss “The Days of Wine and Pig Hocks,” Harrison’s discursive gonzo account of a dreary nine-city book tour salvaged only by his epicurean wanderings: eggplant pizza in New York, jalapeños stuffed with crabmeat in Jackson Mississippi, and a three-pound poached, then roasted, pig hock—the best he ever had—in Milwaukee. Never mind the Bromo, Bon appétit.
30 minutes | Nov 14, 2016
Martin Luther King Jr Is Still on the Case! by Garry Wills
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, Wills traveled twelve hours by bus with mourners to King’s funeral in Atlanta. Nearly fifty years after its publication, Wills’s “Martin Luther King Jr. Is Still on the Case!” remains one of the most revealing and lasting portraits of King and his turbulent era ever written. Writer and director John Ridley—who won an Oscar for his screenplay for 12 Years a Slave—joins host David Brancaccio to discuss why Wills’s wrenching profile of King continues to resonate today, what has changed in America since it was written, and, most important, what still needs to change.
29 minutes | Nov 7, 2016
Love in the Time of Magic, by E. Jean Carroll
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 narrow subculture of millionaire athletes and the woman who pursue them. Magic Johnson was not only one of the most famous men in America on the court and on TV, he was the Hugh Hefner of professional sports. If Magic could get AIDS did that mean the party was truly over? Not for the intrepid woman profiled in E. Jean Carroll’s rollicking 1992 feature, “Love in the Time of Magic.” Carroll, longtime sex columnist for Elle, joins host David Brancaccio to discuss the virtues and sorrows—and above all, the sisterhood—of the beautiful women who pursued star NBA players like hunters chasing their prey.
26 minutes | Oct 31, 2016
The Tinkerings of Robert Noyce, by Tom Wolfe
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 shape America, rewrote the laws of what it meant to be a journalist. Their resulting Esquire story from 1983, “The Tinkerings of Robert Noyce,” remains one of the most revealing and entertaining portraits of early Silicon Valley and the personalities, imagination, and freewheeling moxie that triggered and continue to power the computer revolution. Kara Swisher, who spent two decades covering digital issues for The Wall Street Journal before cofounding the influential technology site Re/code, joins host David Brancaccio to discuss what both Noyce and Wolfe wrought, and how the influence of each—in computers and nonfiction writing, respectively—remains as powerful and mesmerizing as ever.
27 minutes | Oct 24, 2016
The House That Thurman Munson Built, by Michael Paterniti
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 inventive and entertaining magazine writers going—Munson, the gruff All-Star catcher, was the perfect childhood hero. In his 1999 profile, “The House That Thurman Munson Built,” Paterniti recalls the devastation he felt when Munson was killed in a plane crash in August of 1979—echoes of which were felt around the game when Jose Fernandez died in a boating accident last month. Paterniti joins host David Brancaccio to discuss Munson’s relationship with an unforgiving, brutal father, a tender reversal with his own children, his combative grit on the field, and why he was adored by teammates and fans alike.
33 minutes | Oct 17, 2016
The Crack-Up, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
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 Brancaccio Fitzgerald’s mindset at the time, the ridicule he faced from friends like Ernest Hemingway, and how his essays set off a genre of confessional writing that persists and thrives today.
35 minutes | Oct 10, 2016
The Brain That Changed Everything, by Luke Dittrich
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 Scoville whose brilliance as a surgeon was only tempered by an adventurousness that bordered on recklessness. It did not cure Molaison’s seizures but left him profoundly amnesiac. This tragic, if revelatory, accident opened the door to our understanding of how memory works and Molaison—better known as Patient H.M—was studied for over sixty years, becoming the most important research subject the field of neurology has ever seen. In 2003, Esquire contributor Luke Dittrich—Scoville’s grandson—set out to learn more about this seminal case in his feature, “The Brain that Changed Everything.” He joins host David Brancaccio to discuss the story and how it led to his seven-year journey to write a full-length book, Patient H.M.—published this summer—a fascinating journey about the history of neuroscience, his grandfather’s methods, and buried family secrets.
28 minutes | Oct 3, 2016
“I, Stalkerazzi” and “Angelina Jolie and the Torture of Fame,” by John H. Richardson
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 learned what it was like to be the hunted when he profiled a still-rising and very vulnerable Angelina Jolie for “Angelina Jolie and the Torture of Fame.” Richardson joins the Esquire Classic Podcast to discuss our cultural infatuation with celebrity and the humanity that can be found on both sides of the camera lens.
29 minutes | Sep 26, 2016
Nureyev Dancing In His Own Shadow, by Elizabeth Kaye
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 ‘90s. Kaye spent a full year with the famously volatile dancer, who unbeknownst to the public was dying of AIDS. She joins host David Brancacchio to discuss the defiance he still showed, even at the end of a glorious career, and the sadness she found behind unceasing charm and bravado.
32 minutes | Sep 19, 2016
Frank Sinatra Has a Cold, by Gay Talese
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 came about, the evolution of celebrity, and why his story remains as resonant as the day it was first published.
25 minutes | Sep 12, 2016
Styron’s Choices, by Philip Caputo
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 experience as Marines—Styron himself praised Caputo’s 1977 Vietnam memoir, A Rumor of War—formed a connection far stronger than their common bond as writers. But when Styron fell into a clinical depression during the reporting of the story, the nature of Caputo’s profile changed radically. Styron never completed the novel, although his 1990 meditation on depression, Darkness Visible, remains one of the most lucid and illuminating accounts of the illness. Caputo joins host David Brancaccio to discuss Styron’s greatness as a writer and how his struggle against depression—and his ability to articulate it in print—stands, in some regards, as his ultimate literary achievement.
34 minutes | Sep 6, 2016
The Falling Man, by Tom Junod
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 of that day. Thus begins Tom Junod’s “The Falling Man,” which over the past fourteen years has become one of the magazine’s most-read stories of all time. It’s a story that is as enthralling and complicated today as when it was first published in 2003. Inspired by the infamous photograph of one of the people forced to jump from the World Trade Center, captured by Richard Drew on 9/11, Junod reveals why he felt it was his responsibility to bring the photo—and the anonymous falling man pictured—to light.
27 minutes | Aug 29, 2016
The American Male at Age Ten, by Susan Orlean
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 to fifth grade and hanging out with Colin Duffy, a ten-year-old from Glen Ridge, New Jersey. The resulting article—“The American Man at Age Ten”—stands as one of the most surprising and engaging portraits of what it’s like to be a boy in America. Orlean joins host David Brancaccio to discuss how the story came about, what it was like to shadow Colin, and how the piece continues to reverberate almost twenty-five years after it was first published.
29 minutes | Aug 22, 2016
My Father, the Bachelor, by Martha Sherrill
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 adored women. This week Sherrill joins host David Brancaccio to discuss her intimate 1999 Esquire essay, “My Father the Bachelor,” one of the most unusual and endearing tributes to fatherhood ever published.
42 minutes | Aug 15, 2016
A Few Words About Breasts, by Nora Ephron
“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 David Brancaccio to discuss Ephron’s famous Esquire story and its lasting influence on the way women perceive and voice themselves in writing and comedy.
26 minutes | Aug 8, 2016
Edwin Moses, by Mark Kram
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, Mark Kram, known for writing penetrating and lyrical boxing profiles, probes the champ’s cool, implacable exterior to discover what kind of person can sustain such excellence—and to measure the toll it took. With the Summer Olympics now under way in Rio, Sports Illustrated veteran Tim Layden joins host David Brancaccio to shed further insight on Moses, an enigmatic star who helped usher in the professionalization of what was previously an amateur sport, and who left a record that remains peerless.
Terms of Service
Do Not Sell My Personal Information
© Stitcher 2021