Senator Mazie Hirono and Author / Professor Colin Jerolmack- Episode 338


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I was really excited to get the opportunity to Interview Senator Mazie Hirono who I have watched kick the crap out of everyone from her seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee from Brett Kavanaugh to Bill Barr. She has written an important, powerful and enlightening memoir about her life and service and it's a great read. It's called Heart of Fire AN IMMIGRANT DAUGHTER'S STORY

Senator Mazie K. Hirono is a graduate of the University of Hawaii, Manoa and the Georgetown University Law Center. She has served in the Hawaii House of Representatives (1981-1994), as Hawaii’s lieutenant governor (1994-2002), and in the U.S. House of Representatives (2006-2013). She became Hawaii’s first female senator in 2013, winning reelection in 2018. Hirono serves on the Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on Armed Services, and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, among others.

Mazie Hirono is one of the most fiercely outspoken Democrats in Congress, but her journey to the U.S. Senate was far from likely. Raised on a rice farm in rural Japan, she was seven years old when her mother, Laura, left her abusive husband and sailed with her two elder children to Hawaii, crossing the Pacific in steerage in search of a better life. Though the girl then known as “Keiko” did not speak or read English when she entered first grade, she would go on to serve as a state representative and as Hawaii’s lieutenant governor before winning election to Congress in 2006. In this deeply personal memoir, Hirono traces her remarkable life from her earliest days in Hawaii, when the family lived in a single room in a Honolulu boarding house while her mother worked two jobs to keep them afloat, to her emergence as a highly effective legislator whose determination to help the most vulnerable was grounded in her own experiences of economic insecurity, lack of healthcare access, and family separation. Finally, it chronicles Hirono’s recent transformation from dogged yet soft-spoken public servant into the frank and fiery advocate we know her as today. For the vast majority of Mazie Hirono’s five decades in public service, even as she fought for the causes she believed in, she strove to remain polite and reserved. Steeped in the nonconfrontational cultures of Japan and Hawaii, and aware of the expectations of women in politics–chiefly, that they should never show an excess of emotion–she had schooled herself to bite her tongue, even as her male colleagues continually underestimated her. After the 2016 election, however, she could moderate herself no longer. In the face of a dangerous administration–and amid crucial battles with lasting implications for our democracy, from the Kavanaugh hearings to the impeachment trial–Senator Hirono was called to give voice to the fire that had always been inside her. The compelling and moving account of a woman coming into her own power over the course of a lifetime in public service, and of the mother whose courageous choices made her life possible, Heart of Fire is the story of a uniquely American journey, told by one of those fighting hardest to ensure that a story like hers is still possible in this country.

My second guest today is Professor Colin Jerolmack. We talked about his excellent new book Up to Heaven and Down to Hell: Fracking, Freedom, and Community in an American Town Here is all of his info from his website....

I am a professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies at New York University. I am also chair of the Dept. of Environmental Studies.

My new book, Up to Heaven and Down to Hell: Fracking, Freedom, and Community in an American Town (Princeton University Press, April 2021), is an intimate, ethnographic account of what happens when one of the most momentous decisions about the well-being of our communities and our planet—whether or not to extract shale gas and oil from the very land beneath our feet—is largely a private choice that millions of ordinary people make without the public’s consent. Based on time I spent living in a rural Pennsylvania community, the book documents the dramatic confrontation between personal sovereignty and the public good that unfolds from the fact that landowners have the right to lease the subsurface of their property for oil and gas development. This "deeply reported" (Publisher's Weekly) community study reveals "the tradeoffs that follow from America's liberty-loving ways" (Sarah Smarsh [author of Heartland], the Atlantic). What's more, it serves as a lens through which to understand the cultural polarization that drives so much of contemporary American politics and stymies efforts to combat climate change.

Click here for a complete list of reviews, events, and media related to the book.

Click here to purchase the book.

CLick here to download and read the introduction for free.

Click here to read an essay from this project published in Slate.

My first book, The Global Pigeon (2013, University of Chicago Press), examines how relationships with animals and nature shape social life in the city. Click here to read an essay I adapted from The Global Pigeon for the New York Times Sunday Review.

Click here to visit my twin brother's website. He's a real scientist.

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377 episodes