Aired: August 2, 2014

Auto Biography

Image courtesy Wikipedia
Image courtesy Wikipedia

The lives of 13 people are featured in a new book, but the star is a 1957 Chevrolet Townsman wagon. Auto Biography: A Classic Car, An Outlaw Motorhead, and 57 years of the American Dream tells the true story of the car and its many owners. Author Earl Swift is a fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Also featured: “Bath salts” used to conjure up an image of a relaxing day at the spa. But lately the term carries a whole new connotation. Poison center director Rutherford Rose (Virginia Commonwealth University) says the new synthetic drug induces strange and violent behaviors. And: The blue dye in the modern “rape kit” doesn’t work on dark-skinned women. Kathryn Laughon (University of Virginia) is researching a new dye that will work on all skin colors.

Later in the show: The Camino de Santiago, a medieval pilgrimage trail in northern Spain, continues to attract tens of thousands of travelers each year. Among those are George Greenia (College of William and Mary, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities) who for years has walked the 500-mile route with his students. Greenia says today’s American pilgrimages, like Underground Railroad tours, share something in common with medieval pilgrimages: transformation of the traveler. Also featured: Between 1898 and 1901, China experienced a movement marked by violent opposition to Western Imperialism. In the summer of 1900, a Christian missionary and explorer from Sweden escaped what became known as the Boxer Rebellion. To save his family and other Christian missionaries, Frans Larson led a caravan through the Gobi Desert and into Siberia. That explorer’s great-grandson, Henry Hart (College of William and Mary) recently retraced his great-grandfather’s trip through the Gobi.

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