"Eleanor is much more than an interviewer: sheenters into conversations, opens debates, sketches in background. Sheinterprets and suggests, but never imposes. She projects curiosity,spontaneity, humour and goodwill. Her sense of respect, her tact, her utterlack of obsequiousness… and her uncanny ability to ask difficult questions…have endeared her to readers and listeners."
— Carol Shields, from the foreword
Eleanor Wachtel’s award-winning CBC Radio programme "Writers & Company" has set the gold standard for intelligent, insightful, rivetinginterviews. To mark the dawn of the new millennium, Wachtel talked to some ofthe most inspiring and influential thinkers of our time--people who haveforever changed their area of specialty and influenced the world around them.As she writes in her introduction, "I wanted to interview people who hadshaped the last century and whose influence would continue into the next… Ihoped to have wide-ranging conversations with some of the most inspiring menand women of our time, people who’ve made a difference."
And what an outstanding list of people she met:
- Jonathan Miller — internationally acclaimed theatre and operadirector, writer, member of Beyond the Fringe comedy troupe
- Jane Goodall — primatologist and scientist best known for her workwith chimpanzees
- Bernardo Bertolucci — director whose films including the Oscar-winningThe Last Emperor and Last Tango in Paris
- George Steiner — teacher, literary critic and theorist
- Desmond Tutu — former Archbishop of South Africa and co-chair of theTruth and Reconciliation Commission
- Susan Sontag — writer of novels, essays, works of non-fiction, andplays. In America won the National Book Award in 2000.
- Amartya Sen — Nobel Prize winner in Economics (1998)
- Gloria Steinem — feminist and activist, author whose 1983 collectionof essays is titled Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions
- Jared Diamond — teacher, Pulitzer Prize winner for Guns, Germs andSteel
- Oliver Sacks — neurologist, best known for his books Awakeningsand The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
- Jane Jacobs — internationally respected commentator on city design andplanning
- Umberto Eco — "the Pavarotti of Semiotics" and writer of theinternational bestseller The Name of the Rose
- Mary Douglas — anthropologist, author of the classic Purity andDanger (1966)
- Noam Chomsky — world-famous linguist and dissident intellectual
- Arthur C. Clarke — writer, best known for his science fictionmasterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Harold Bloom — "one of the world’s most influentialcritic-scholar-theorists" according to the New York Times
Each interview enlightens not only the subject’s master area but how wesee the world and our role in it. Not content to sit back on theirintellectual laurels, Wachtel’s subjects seem driven to influence theirworld and encourage us to do likewise. As Jane Goodall says, "The nicestthing I’m told after lectures is that I make people realize that their liveshave more value. And thousands of children from all over the world have said,-You taught me that because you did it, I can do it too.’ That’samazing. That makes it all—all this effort—really worthwhile."
A book for Eleanor Wachtel’s many devotees and for anyone who has acuriosity about the fascinating intersection of people and ideas, OriginalMinds is a captivating read.