An acclaimed biographer, Hannah Pakula's just-released book, The Last Empress, recounts the saga of Madame Chiang Kai-shek, wife of the leader of China and often described at the time as the most powerful woman in the world. Already acclaimed as a triumph, The Last Empress is praised by Henry Kissinger as "a rare combination of brilliant writing and insightful scholarship."
In this wide-ranging interview with host Gilbert Kaplan, Pakula confesses that the only reason she’s a writer is because her piano technique – after 20 years of studies – just wasn’t good enough. But music still dominates her life (she can’t sleep without music on). Her favorite pianists today include Murray Perahia and Leif Ove Andsnes and composers selected for the show include Arensky, Bizet, Dvorak, Gilbert & Sullivan, Mendelssohn, Schubert, von Weber.