Ari Shapiro

Unlabeled stimulants in soft drinks. Formaldehyde in meat and milk. Borax — the stuff used to kill ants! — used as a common food preservative. The American food industry was once a wild and dangerous place for the consumer.

Deborah Blum's new book, The Poison Squad, is a true story about how Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley, named chief chemist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1883, conducted a rather grisly experiment on human volunteers to help make food safer for consumers — and his work still echoes on today.

Michael Scott Moore is a journalist who traveled to Somalia to write a book about the history of piracy in the Horn of Africa. It did not go as planned.

The title of his new book tells you what happened. It's called The Desert and the Sea: 977 Days Captive on the Somali Pirate Coast.

Moore's ordeal began just after he dropped off a colleague at a small airport in Somalia. As he was heading back into town, his car came upon a truck full of armed men.

Music and politics have always been intertwined, from "Yankee Doodle" to "A Change is Gonna Come." And that's true in Zimbabwe, too — a country that is now facing a historic political transition.

Savanna Madamombe's life is very different than it was a year ago.

Originally from just outside Zimbabwe's capital Harare, Madamombe moved to Manhattan in 2000, where she worked in hotels and restaurants — and watched from afar as her country slowly crumbled under the authoritarian rule of President Robert Mugabe. She felt helpless, like she didn't even recognize Zimbabwe anymore.

It's nightfall in Washington, D.C., at the end of the evening shift, when the throngs of students on school field trips have slowed to a trickle at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

With a flashlight in one hand and a clear plastic bag in the other, Bob Herendeen walks the length of the austere, black granite wall. The National Park Service ranger surveys the things visitors have left at the memorial: American flags, wreaths, flowers.

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