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Web of Stories offers you the chance to listen to some of the greatest people of our time telling their life stories.

The implosion design of the plutonium atomic bomb

Hans Bethe

Scientist

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"Defender of the Faith"

Philip Roth - Writer

Defender of the Faith was rowdily condemned by various Jewish establishment figures and by readers of The New Yorker who cancelled their subscriptions. It was condemned as anti-Semitic and I was denounced as a self-hating Jew, and I was stunned by this response. I didn't have any idea whatsoever that this story was going to be offensive or so offensive, and when I re-read it at the time I could see how you can misread it that way, but none the less, this was my introduction to being a writer in the real world. The New Yorker answered – in a formal letter of some kind – answered all the people who wrote to them. I got a telephone call from the B´nai B´rith Anti-Defamation League asking if they could see me. Now, I had great respect for the B´nai B´rith Anti-Defamation League, it was one of the few organisations in America at that time that was fighting bigotry and discrimination. And I had been a kid… as a kid in high school I'd been highly alert to bigotry and discrimination in the great world and aligned up against it of course. So now here I was described as a bigot.

The B´nai B´rith people called me up, and could I see them? I said sure, so I went to lunch with two guys and I was... I was still in my middle 20s, and they were wonderful actually, because they said, look, we have a constituency and we have to represent them, but we don't agree with them about you and this story. So I had my supporters and that was good, I didn't want to feel aggrieved at the time, I mean it would have been a terrible to feel aggrieved going into a career.

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Philip Roth - Writer