A New Oral History of HBO

A New Oral History of HBO

By The New York Times

The Book Review

Friday, 10 December

James Andrew Miller has written a series of oral histories about some our biggest cultural institutions: “Saturday Night Live,” Creative Artists Agency and ESPN. His new book, “Tinderbox,” follows HBO from its start in 1972 through its transformative “Sopranos” years and up to the present day.

“One of the things that struck me was just how emotional people were,” Miller says on this week’s podcast. “First of all, HBO was a place that people didn’t date, they married. There were people that were there for 20 years, 25 years, 30, 35 years. They stayed there for their careers, and they were very, very wedded to it. I’m not bragging about this, but there were at least — more than — a dozen people who cried during interviews, who called me back the next day and said, ‘Now I have PTSD revisiting some of what I went through.’” He says he learned that “this was not just a place that people checked in on a time clock and left; it was like a tsunami that washed over their lives.”

Mayukh Sen visits the podcast to talk about his new book, “Taste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized Food in America.”

“Five of the seven women whom I focus on in this book are no longer with us,” Sen says, “and in the absence of their presence I really wanted to understand how they spoke and how they wanted to present themselves to the world. And I really wanted to find them speaking in their own words. So the way I sought that out was to find their memoirs, or cookbooks with memoiristic passages or any interviews they gave throughout their lifetime that really presented them speaking without that kind of filter.”

Also on this week’s episode, Gregory Cowles and John Williams talk about what they’ve been reading. Pamela Paul is the host.

Here are the books discussed in this week’s “What We’re Reading”:

“Now Beacon, Now Sea” by Christopher Sorrentino

“A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles

“Ghost Light” by Frank Rich

“Fairyland” by Alysia Abbott

“Life Inside” by Mindy Lewis

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