Without a family at age twelve, Joseph Kim was out on the streets for three years. Homeless. Begging. Stealing. Trying to stay alive. With incredible good fortune – and his own bravery – he managed to escape and get to the United States. He wrote a book called “Under the Same Sky: From Starvation in North Korea to Salvation in America.” He is now with the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. Amazing fellow.

There is almost no one Jay would rather talk with than Natan Sharansky: one of the great heroes of the 20th century (much as he may demur to this) and a force in the 21st. With Gil Troy, Sharansky has written a book called “Never Alone.” It is a memoir of his years in the Gulag; his years in Israeli politics; and his years at the helm of the Jewish Agency. With Jay, Sharansky discusses the past, the present, and the future – in Israel, America, and all over. A most stimulating conversation. Jay says that it is moving to talk with Sharansky, and you may find it moving to hear him.

Previously, Jay did a “Q&A” with Ondrej Kolar, a district mayor of Prague. Kolar has required police protection, after angering the Kremlin and its supporters in his own country. This “Q&A” is with the overall mayor — or the lord mayor — of Prague: Zdenek Hrib. He, too, has angered the Kremlin, requiring police protection. He has angered the Chinese government, too. Hrib is a man who cares about human rights and general liberal-democratic values. Get to know him a little.

Jamie Fly is a veteran foreign-policy hand. When he was coming of age, his views were shaped by the Reagan experience. He went on to work in the White House, the Pentagon, and elsewhere. Until recently, he was president of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty. He knows a great deal about Russian disinformation, and other disinformation, and how to combat it. With Jay, he talks about this and the world at large. An informative conversation.

Quin Hillyer is a veteran political writer who has stuck several toes in politics himself. He was a page at the 1980 Republican National Convention. He was around for a very big scoop. He later worked for Louisiana congressman Bob Livingston. He was part of the effort to block the ascension of David Duke. He went to Georgetown University, where one of his teachers was Jeane Kirkpatrick.

Quin and Jay talk of many things – starting with New Orleans, where Quin grew up (and which Jay loves, and knows a little). They talk about political ideas. They talk about Confederate monuments, a sore, delicate, and important subject. Finally, they talk about one of their favorite people in sports, and one of their favorite people on earth: Jack Nicklaus.

Susan Eisenhower has written a book about her grandfather: “How Ike Led: The Principles Behind Eisenhower’s Biggest Decisions.” With Jay, she talks about family, war, politics, and more. A wonderful discussion on all fronts.

Ondrej Kolar is a district mayor in Prague – the mayor of Prague 6. His father, Petr, was a dissident in Communist times; Petr was later a diplomat, serving as ambassador to the United States, for example. As district mayor, Ondrej presided over the removal of a monument to Marshal Ivan Konev, a hero of the Red Army – but not so heroic to many Czechs, and to others who value freedom. Once the statue was removed, all hell broke loose, and Kolar had to go into hiding. There were apparent threats against his life from the Russian government, and from fellow Czechs who sympathize with that government. With Jay, Ondrej Kolar talks about these events and the fate of freedom and democracy in his country.

David Normoyle is a golf historian and an altogether exceptional person. He is also an old friend of Jay’s. Recently, David went on an extraordinary journey: a 40-day car trip through COVID America. He chronicled his trip, daily. In conversation with Jay, David talks about what he saw, and a slew of other subjects as well. Enjoy a conversation between two old friends, on golf and life.

In a career of writing extraordinary books, David Pryce-Jones has written a new one: “Signatures: Literary Encounters of a Lifetime.” DP-J has a collection of about a hundred books inscribed to him by their authors: Aldous Huxley, W. H. Auden, Saul Bellow, Somerset Maugham, Rebecca West, Erich Segal, and so on. He talks about these authors in “Signatures.” The book is a series of brief lives, you might say, or brief encounters. (Sounds like the title of a movie.) It is also partly an autobiography, because the encounters provide windows on DP-J’s own life.

“Signatures” is, in effect, a companion to “Fault Lines,” Pryce-Jones’s superb and magisterial autobiography of 2015.

Mathis Bitton is a summer intern at National Review and a sophomore-to-be at Yale. He has a lot to say – about many subjects, but today’s subject is France, a rich, varied, and inexhaustible subject, to be sure. Jay puts the young monsieur through some paces: about the French language, and English, for that matter; about French poets, novelists, painters, scientists, cars, etc.; about Napoleon and de Gaulle (how to view them?); about assimilation and identity; about a lot of things. Jay clearly has a ball listening to this kid, and you will as well. Check him out.

P.S. Jay may well do a Round 2 with Mathis, about things French. If you have a question you’d like put to the young man, tell Jay at jnordlinger@nationalreview.com.

Radek Sikorski is a man of considerable experience: as a journalist, for National Review, The Spectator, and many other publications; and as a politician. Sikorski was foreign minister and defense minister of his country, Poland. Today, he is a member of the European Parliament. He talks with Jay about a slew of issues: the recent Polish election; the EU; NATO; the United States; Boris Johnson (his contemporary at Oxford); Viktor Orbán (ditto); Afghanistan (where Sikorski was a war correspondent); etc. A lot of ground is covered in this Q&A, with a very thoughtful, and experienced, and candid man.

 

John R. Bolton – who has served in every Republican administration from Reagan on – has kicked up a fuss with his memoir of the Trump White House: “The Room Where It Happened.” With Jay, he talks about the president, the world, and himself.

Greg Mankiw – N. Gregory Mankiw – is a famous economist. His name is pronounced “Mankyoo,” rhyming with “Thank you.” He is a professor at Harvard (granted tenure on his 29th birthday). Under George W. Bush, he was chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. He is a great admirer of Milton Friedman. As a blogger, he can be found here. With Jay, he discusses life and economics: capitalism, socialism, Marx, trade, inequality, deficits, pandemics, etc. A splendid little summer session with a top teacher.

Orin Kerr is a law professor and legal writer extraordinaire. He teaches at Berkeley. He writes widely, including on Twitter (@OrinKerr). With Jay, he talks about life and the law: judges, presidents, senators, pardons, and more. Also: How’s life on campus? Free and easy or illiberal and hard? Orin Kerr is a natural teacher and interviewee.

Jay is joined by an old colleague and one of the best political reporters in America: Tim Alberta, of Politico. He is the author of the bestselling book “American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump.” He and Jay talk lockdown politics, the John Bolton book, Campaign 2020, and so on. Whom will Biden pick as his running mate? Will Trump dump Pence? Are “law-and-order Republicans” cooked? Etc. The discussion ends with a little sports.

The absence of a baseball season has hit many people hard, and it’s hit George Will very hard: The game is a big part of his life, and he is an authority on it. (See “Men at Work.”) Will has two teams, the Cubs and the Nationals. He and Jay talk about baseball this year, or the absence of it. They also talk about the Astros cheating scandal: the meaning of it.

Further subjects are police brutality; racism; the New York Times; Donald Trump; the GOP; and conservatism. (Will’s most recent book is “The Conservative Sensibility,” and he and Jay discussed it here.)

Elaina Plott is a national political reporter for the New York Times. Before that, she worked for National Review, Washingtonian magazine, and The Atlantic. She and Jay are old friends. Elaina grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and is currently working on a story about Jeff Sessions, the ex-senator from Alabama (who wants to be a senator again). Elaina went to Yale. With Jay, she talks about reading, writing, college, race, politics, the pandemic, and more. She is a journalist and writer of particular sensitivity and grace.

In the podcast, Jay singles out two pieces by Elaina Plott, which are favorites of his: this one, “The Bullet in My Arm,” which is autobiographical; and this one, which is about a Facebook group in Louisiana at the beginning of the pandemic.

Jim Harbaugh is the coach of the University of Michigan football team. For 14 seasons, he was a quarterback in the NFL. He has coached both at the college level and in the pros. Last month, he and Jay had a leisurely conversation about many things. (They are old friends.) Now they have done Round 2. Today’s subjects include: a recent RV trip; dreaming about playing; the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s; William “The Refrigerator” Perry; Tiger Woods; getting sacked; sneaking it in; rules of eligibility; soccer (a game of interest?); and baseball (too slow?). Some fun stuff.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education, for her department’s new Title IX regulations on campus. These have to do with the rights of accusers and accused. Nadine Strossen was president of the ACLU from 1991 to 2008. On this issue, she disagrees with the ACLU and agrees with DeVos. With Jay, she talks about this and much else: including her warm friendship with William F. Buckley Jr. 

Jeb Bush knows a thing or two about being a governor – including in bad situations. That’s when you really have to “suit up,” as he says. With Jay, he talks about governors in a time of pandemic. The politics of lockdown. And so on.

Other subjects include China; Bush 43; the coming campaign (will there be conventions?); balloting (is mailing in okay?); and the beauty of George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara.