Renee Montagne

When Bruce Holsinger heard about the "Operation Varsity Blues" college admissions bribery scandal he admits he felt "a shiver of self-recognition."

"I don't think there's a parent in America who hasn't had anxiety about where their kid goes to school," he says.

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During World War II, the British were worried about their own countrymen with Nazi sympathies.

That's the historical basis for Kate Atkinson's new novel, Transcription. It follows a character named Juliet Armstrong, who was recruited to the British Secret Service as a teenager to help monitor fascist sympathizers in 1940.

Boz Scaggs is likely best known for his affiliation with the Steve Miller Band or 1976 songs like "Lido Shuffle" and "Lowdown." But through the years, he's also been crafting jazz and blues albums in homage to his earliest influences.

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Here is a challenge for you. Name one great painting that makes you laugh. If none comes to mind now or ever, that's probably because...

JUDITH BRODIE: There's a high seriousness, I would say, to paintings...

It's the summer of 2008, and Andrei Kaplan doesn't have a whole lot going for him in New York. Money's tight, his girlfriend dumped him, and, at 33, his academic career has stalled. So, at the urging of his brother, he returns to Russia, where he was born, to take care of his aging grandmother, Baba Seva.

All Nerve is an apt title from a band that's survived as much as the members of The Breeders have. Addiction and infighting broke up the four musicians responsible for the 1993's alternative staple Last Splash. Though the group has returned in various incarnations since then, it would be 25 years before the classic lineup — twin sisters Kim and Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs and Jim Macpherson — would record together again.

Journalist Rania Abouzeid has had a front-row view of the conflict in Syria from the very beginning.

"I witnessed what was one of the first demonstrations in Damascus in late February 2011, and I was trying to figure out what it all meant and what was happening," she says.

Abouzeid's new book No Turning Back: Life, Loss, And Hope In Wartime Syria traces the stories of four Syrians from those small protests through a bloody war that still has no end in sight.

The Night Diary is novel set at a pivotal — and bloody — moment in history, and told in the voice of a 12-year-old girl. Nisha takes us on her personal journey as part of the mass exodus of millions of Hindus and Muslims across the border between India and newly established Pakistan, a turbulent time known as Partition.

Arguably the most successful musical theater composer ever, Andrew Lloyd Webber looks back on his early days in the business in the new memoir, Unmasked.

The opioid epidemic has hit Huntington, W.Va., very hard, with an overdose rate 10 times the national average.

Documentary filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon chose Huntington as the setting for her short doc about America's opioid crisis, Heroin(e). It's now nominated for an Oscar.

Seun Kuti was just 14 when he became the lead singer of Egypt 80 — the Nigerian band that had carried the infectious groove of Afrobeat worldwide under the direction of Seun's father, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. The musician says keeping the band together after Fela's death in 1997 was a way of sustaining his message — which often included railing against government corruption and social injustice.

On a melancholy Saturday this past February, Shalon Irving's "village" — the friends and family she had assembled to support her as a single mother — gathered at a funeral home in a prosperous black neighborhood in southwest Atlanta to say goodbye.

When Sandra Daugherty's father died unexpectedly at 73, there was no plan. The only thing the family knew was what Grady Ross Daugherty didn't want.

"He was really freaked out about cement liners," said Sandra. "Like this Tupperware container that you get placed in, in the ground. He hated the idea of that. But other than that no wishes. He would say just surprise me. With a twinkle in his eye."

She decided not to choose a standard funeral.

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Howard Hughes was one of the towering figures of the 20th century.

He kept gossip columnists busy for decades, first, as a fabulously wealthy movie mogul and aviator who pursued many of Hollywood's great beauties. And then, as an eccentric who ended his days a strange obsessive recluse.

Now, Hughes is at the center of a new movie written, produced, directed by — and starring — Warren Beatty. It's called Rules Don't Apply.

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If you want a peek into the history of drugstores, there's the History of Pharmacy Museum at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, in Tucson, Ariz.

A hand-carved wood prescription counter helps recreate the look of a small-town pharmacy in the 1800s. And some of the old-timey medicines give you a sense of what the place must have smelled like.

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You wouldn't expect a Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic to take you to the sort of place that's wedged between a 99-cent store and a boarded-up meat market.

But that's exactly where I sat down for lunch with Jonathan Gold — at a downtown Los Angeles eatery called El Parian.

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At the keyboard is 18-year-old Elham Fanoos, playing in a practice room at Hunter College in Manhattan. He has the long delicate fingers of a natural (as it turns out, a gifted) pianist. He sits perfectly erect, his dark eyes lowered. He seems at one with the music and an instrument that are a long way from his home in Afghanistan.

Fanoos was born in 1997, to a father who was a singer.

"At that time, under the Taliban, music was banned," Fanoos says. "My father was singing quite privately and he was practicing quite privately."

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Here on the West Coast, along with turkey and trimmings, there's a highly-prized delicacy on some holiday tables - fresh Dungeness crab pulled right out of the Pacific.

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Say the name Malala and instantly one thinks of a heroine known to millions, the schoolgirl from Pakistan's lush, once idyllic Swat Valley who dared speak out when the Taliban invaded her home and tried to prevent girls from going to school.

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