NPR Staff

Donnie Dunagan is a hard-nosed Marine, a highly decorated veteran of the Vietnam War who served for a quarter-century. First drafted in the '50s and subsequently promoted 13 times in 21 years — a Corps record at the time, he recalls — Dunagan found the Marines a perfect fit. That is, so long as he could keep a secret.

A dark reminder of the past Dunagan left behind still lurked unspoken: He was Bambi.

Jason Isbell is riding high this week: His new album Something More Than Free is number one on Billboard's country, rock and folk charts. The musician from rural Alabama got his start with the Southern rock band Drive-By Truckers, and then went solo. For the past few years, he's been sober, after drinking brought him "close to the point of no return."

The cover story of this week's New York magazine is getting a lot of attention.

It features 35 women seated in chairs and one empty chair. The women are all dressed in black, looking straight ahead with both hands resting on their knees. It is a stark image, and all the more compelling because each of them is openly and by name accusing Bill Cosby of horrendous acts. Some say they were drugged and raped; others recount stories of narrowly escaping sexual assault.

Joss Stone's voice first stunned listeners more than a decade ago. The British singer was only 14 years old then, but her booming, soulful voice got noticed, as did her knack for taking success in stride. At age 28, she hasn't stopped: Stone's newest album, Water for Your Soul, comes out this Friday.

It's the NPR Books Summer of Love, and we have 100 great romances for you, from historical to paranormal to LGBTQ to the subgenre that started it all, category romance (the slim-spined Harlequins of your childhood). Find the full list here — and below, a printable version.

Historical

Lord of Scoundrels, by Loretta Chase

Conservationists are lamenting the hunting and killing of a well-known lion from western Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park.

The black-maned lion, named Cecil, was 13 years old and had become popular among tourists from around the world.

There are about 140 million square miles of open ocean, and according to New York Times reporter Ian Urbina, much of it is essentially lawless. As Mark Young, a retired U.S. Coast Guard commander and former chief of enforcement for the Pacific Ocean, told Urbina, the maritime realm is "like the Wild West. Weak rules, few sheriffs, lots of outlaws."

The smartphone has given us a whole new genre of cultural expression: the selfie.

If you're into selfies, it's safe to say you've probably taken one, and maybe wished you didn't have those dark circles under your eyes.

Now there are plenty of apps out there to fix that.

But whether you think your selfies can be elevated to art may depend on how much effort you are willing to put into them.

A Personal Brand Boost

On this day 62 years ago, Fidel Castro launched the attack that marked the start of the Cuban revolution. In the years since, the day has taken on emotional significance for the Cuban people — and for the communist government that celebrates it annually.

Transgender people are not getting adequate health care, and widespread discrimination is largely to blame, according to a recent World Health Organization report. And the story is told most starkly in the high rates of HIV among transgender women worldwide.

JoAnne Keatley, one of the authors of that study, puts it plainly.

When Bomba Estereo began a decade ago in Bogotá, audiences didn't quite know what to make of it. The group was combining some of the most traditional Colombian sounds with some of the most modern electronic sounds, and not everyone appreciated the idea.

"I promise you I will show the same contempt for the historical record that it has shown for me."

So intone the opening pages of Austin Grossman's Crooked, in what are supposed to be the thoughts of our 37th president, Richard Nixon — or, at least, those thoughts as Grossman imagines them.

In the early 1960s, burgeoning folk music scenes were burbling up all over the country, and the Newport Folk Festival was their confluence.

National Lampoon's Vacation has been resurrected: more than 30 years later, the Griswolds are back on another reckless, wild road trip.

In the new movie Vacation, Rusty Griswold, the son from the original series, is all grown up and taking his family on a cross-country trip to the theme park Walley World. It goes about as smoothly as you'd expect.

Co-writers and co-directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein say the R-rated movie is not a reboot or a remake, but very much a sequel.

Should the president of the Navajo Nation be required to speak fluent Navajo?

The Navajo Nation held a referendum on that question this week, and the majority voted no.

The vote was victory for supporters of a Navajo presidential candidate who was disqualified last fall because he didn't speak the language fluently. The next Navajo Nation election is in 2018.

Sonya Lea and her husband Richard Bandy had a 23-year marriage filled with ups, downs and memories. In 2000 Bandy developed a rare form of appendix cancer and had an operation which was successful — sort of.

Bandy lived, but he was almost a different man. He had suffered a post-surgical complication called "anoxic insult" that cut oxygen to his brain and cleared much of his memory. He called his wife "Sweetness," but could not remember how they met, when they got married and the births of their two children. Twenty-three years more or less vanished from his mind.

In Angola, a civil war that raged for decades has left lingering, and dangerous, reminders of the violence across the countryside. Long since the worst of the fighting ended in 2002, land mines continue to claim lives — and not just those of humans.

Even as the elephant population there saw a replenishment in numbers following the war, many of the mammoth animals were being killed by leftover land mines, as well.

Alex Landau, who is black, was raised by his adoptive white parents to believe that skin color didn't matter. But when Alex was pulled over by Denver police officers one night in 2009, he lost his belief in a color-blind world — and nearly lost his life.

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