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15.48 11 Sep 2014


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Carmen Bugan’s traumatic past has inspired her career to date, shaping the nature of her award winning writing and poetry. Delving into her troubled experiences was never more apparent than in her latest work, a memoir entitled ‘Burying the Typewriter: Childhood Under the Eye of the Secret Police.’

Carmen grew up in Romania during the autocratic rule of Nicolae Ceausescu. Her father was a political dissident during these years, canvassed for a more democratic society. He would regularly type up pamphlets to push for further support, as he campaigned against the oppressive regime, before burying the typewriter in their back garden to avoid censure from the state.

However, in 1983, Carmen’s father was arrested by the secret police in response to his protest. From this moment on, Carmen’s life would never be the same. Her parents were forced to divorce and their family home was bugged. It became clear that a life with incessant state intrusion would become the norm. Fellow villagers were pressured to inform the police of their activity, as they were ostracised from the place they once called home.

In 1987, her father was released from prison, but despite gaining recognition from Amnesty International, the state interference continued. Within two years, the family successfully gained asylum in the United States, where the Bugan’s managed to restore some sense of normalcy to their tumultuous lives.

Join Susan as she talks with Carmen about ‘Burying the Typewriter’ and her life experience that has shaped its content. How has Carmen's writing impacted her relationship with her family? Why does she prefer to write in English, as opposed to her native language? And was it difficult to relive the past? 

Nicolae Ceausescu, General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party 1965-1989

Ben Shephard is a highly esteemed historian, having graduated from the Oxford, where he is currently a Visiting Research Fellow. In the past he has held this position at Yale and New York University.

Additionally, he is an accomplished author and television producer. Previous to his latest offering, he has published ‘A War of Nerves: Soldiers and Psychiatrists, 1914-1994’ (2000), ‘After Daybreak: The Liberation of Belson, 1945’ (2005) and ‘The Long Road Home: The Aftermath of the Second World War’ (2010). He has also produced highly regarded content for the BBC and Channel 4, such as ‘The World at War’, ‘The Nuclear Age’ and ‘The Writing on the Wall.’

Ben’s latest book ‘Headhunters: The Search for a Science of the Mind’ explores the world of science and experimentation. In particular, it focuses on the contributions of four pioneers in this field- the remarkable William H. Rivers, a fellow of Cambridge University, and his three students Grafton Elliot Smith, Charles Myers and William McDougall.

This book encapsulates the extraordinary lives of these four men, while also offering an insight into the development of the various disciplines relating to science during this time, such as anthropology, physiology and psychology.

With the capacity for knowledge expanding at the turn of the twentieth century, the challenges and opportunity facing these fields were endless. Rivers and his cohorts set out to conquer these frontiers, with questionable techniques often employed. However, there verve and vigour could not be questioned, as they left an enduring mark in the study of science and the mind.

Listen in to ‘Talking Books’ as Susan will be discussing the life and achievements of these fascinating men with Ben. What inspired these compelling characters? Did they achieve their full potential? And what is their lasting legacy in the various scientific fields to which they contributed so much?


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