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This American Life

This American Life

A weekly public radio program and podcast. Each week we choose a theme and put together different kinds of stories on that theme.

This quirky radio show, focused on unusual real-life stories about ordinary Americans, is one of the longest-running and most popular programs on National Public Radio (NPR) in the U.S. With full transcripts.


Where to Start

The first story in this episode, about how a Chinese-American woman reacts when she learns that her family is keeping her grandmother from knowing about her stage IV lung cancer, is a fascinating glimpse into issues of intercultural communication between members of an immigrant family, and served as the basis of the recent award-winning movie The Farewell 《别告诉她》.

Also in this episode: the scientific study of incompetence, and what it's like to be one of the small number of people on earth who, literally, remember everything that ever happened to them.

This episode explores an important part of many Americans’ childhoods: summer camp. Interviews with actual kids at summer camp give a glimpse of how American kids think and talk about this unique part of American culture.

In this episode, This American Life reporters follow the lesser-known Democratic Party candidates on the campaign trail in Iowa, the first stop of the American presidential race. A wonderful glimpse into the odd and intimate aspects of American direct democracy, during a part of the race at which candidates must, literally, win the allegiance of voters one by one.

This episode focuses on another important feature of the American cultural landscape: the diner, a kind of cheap, unpretentious local restaurant, many of which are open 24 hours. This American Life reporters interview all the guests at a Chicago diner over the course of a 24-hour period, and we get to hear about all the lives that intersect at this restaurant.