For Conversations with History, it’s 500 and counting

The popular Conversations with History series is marking a milestone, as its 500th installment premieres on UCTV Monday. The interview features host Harry Kreisler in conversation with a Vietnam-era Pentagon official, now a leading healthcare-reform analyst, Alain Enthoven.

Harry Kreisler

Harry Kreisler

Kreisler’s recorded conversations with an international cast of movers and shakers, thinkers and artists stretches back nearly three decades. As executive director of UC Berkeley’s Institute of International Studies, he taped and distributed the first interview in 1982 following a campus seminar on the nuclear arms race featuring four Nobel Prize winners. “I felt frustrated that, as a public university we were not making this conversation available to the public,” Kreisler recalled in a recent interview on the UCTV blog.

Little did he know just how many eminent figures he would sit down to interview — each time after hours of preparation without the help of a research assistant — or how wide an audience he would reach, eventually, via something called the World Wide Web.

His Conversations with History are now distributed — in streamed, webcast and/or podcast form — on webcast.berkeley.edu, YouTube’s UC Berkeley channel, and iTunes U. The series is also broadcast on the University of California’s UCTV channel, and is one of the most popular offerings on UCTV’s website, with 6.8 million downloads to date.

Twenty interviews from the series are collected in Conversations with History: Political Awakenings, a New Press book published last year. Found there are Kreisler’s talks with Daniel Ellsberg, Oliver Stone, Kenzaburo Oe, Elizabeth Warren, and Howard Zinn, among others.

In conversation 500, Alain Enthoven analyzes the evolution of the American health care system, and what he says are the perverse incentives responsible for spiraling costs that are bankrupting the country. The interview premieres on UCTV’s primetime DISH-network satellite TV program at 4 p.m., Monday, Jan. 17. See “Where to Watch UCTV” for a complete list of viewing options.

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