Steve Inskeep, NPR Host and Author of Imperfect Union

Published on17 JAN 2020

NPR host Steve Inskeep discusses the important roles the subjects of his new book—Jessie and John Frémont—played in American history as well as why he thinks audio remains such a powerful storytelling tool in today’s news environment.

On the power of audio: “If I tell a narrative… with a beginning, a middle and an end, and I tell it well, I can have some faith that maybe you'll stay to the end. For good radio stories and good podcasts, people do.”

On how John Frémont shaped American politics: “In 1856, [the Republican Party] ran a presidential candidate [, John Frémont,] for the first time, confidently expecting that they could win with Northern votes alone—which is something that the South found profoundly threatening. From the Southern point of view, they were going to be shut out of power forever. Southern leaders began saying that if the Republican Party ever won the presidency, they would succeed from the Union. It didn't happen in 1856. Frémont lost, but the electoral strategy that the Republicans pioneered then is what Abraham Lincoln did four years later.”

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