Thursday, June 04, 2009

This American Life: Turncoat



Listen To Podcast

A well-known activist—an anarchic, revolutionary activist—is accused of spying on other activists for the FBI. The strangest thing about the rumor is, it's true. How Brandon Darby transformed from cop-hater to federal witness. Plus, a story by Etgar Keret, about a boy who betrays his people with a pair of shoes.


Ira talks with reporter My Thuan Tran of The Los Angeles Times about how San Jose City Councilwoman Madison Nguyen went from being the “golden child” of the Vietnamese community to someone who faced weekly protests and a hunger striker. Turns out red-baiting is alive and well in the Vietnamese-American community. We also hear from Nguyen and from reporter Thanh Tan of Idaho Public Television about a similar case that involved her dad, Duc Tan. (6 minutes)

Act One. Code Red.

The story from the prologue continues. (7 minutes)

Act Two. My Way or the FBI Way.

Brandon Darby was a radical activist and one of the founders of the incredibly effective relief organization Common Ground. Michael May reports on how Darby changed from a revolutionary who wanted the overthrow of the U.S. government into an informant working with the FBI against his former radical allies. (17 minutes)

Act Three. Part Two.

Michael May’s story about Brandon Darby continues.

Song: "I Spy (For the FBI)," Jamo Thomas

Act Four. If the Shoe Fits.

Actor Matt Malloy reads a short piece of fiction called “Shoes,” about a boy trying not to be a turncoat. It’s from Etgar Keret’s book of short fiction The Busdriver Who Wanted to Be God, and Other Stories. (6 minutes)

Song: "My Adidas," Run DMC

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