vespucci group

THE Library

A COLLECTION OF STORIES AVAILABLE TO ADAPT.

Jim Learning and Eldred Davis had lived through years of being treated like obsolete furniture. First as indigenous people, second as old people. When a giant corporate energy company comes into town, threatening the food and water supply that has supported local communities for centuries, they decide it’s time to make their voices heard. The river must be protected. Jim and Eldred never imagined that their friendship’s next chapter would take place in a jail cell — but if protecting the river means changing their lives, so be it.

Story by: Matt Hongoltz-Hetling / Audio: Saksia Edwards / Blue Dot Sessions artists: Lobo Lobo, Coulis Coulis, Sylvestor / Voice: Wayne Mathews

Vespucci x The Economist

Known as “El Brujo”—the warlock—for his ability to smuggle money from place to place as if by magic, José Manuel Ramos was arrested and charged with two life sentences in 1991. Instead of digging his way out of his cell, he managed to escape in a more unusual way: by playing the U.S. justice system and by preying on the grandiose political ambitions of prosecutors. As part of “Task Force Guest”, Swiss Attorney General Valentin Roschacher even flew the warlock to Switzerland, opened the golden doors of the Swiss banks, and paid him handsomely to point the finger at supposed criminals.

This is the true story of the Colombian narco—Pablo Escobar's right-hand man in the USA—who managed to fool the American, the Mexican, and the Swiss Governments, and ruin the lives of an ambitious Attorney General, the brother of a Mexican President, and a well known private banker.

Link to Economist's 1843 article, or a direct download link to a pdf.
Journalists: Jacob Kushner & Daniel Ammann

In August 2013, a team of federal investigators had eyes all over JFK. They were waiting for a man who was selling uranium or “yellowcake” to the Middle East in quantities that could explode into a giant mushroom cloud. The feds watched as a bleary-eyed Patrick Campbell picked up his small suitcase and made it through customs before apprehending him. Dubbed “the Uranium shoe man” by the BBC for bringing samples in his sneakers, Campbell would soon find out that he had gotten caught up in a huge 15-month Homeland Security Investigations sting. This is his story.

Journalist: Stuart Reid / Audio: Evan Phillips / Voice: William Christopher Stephens

Crime writer Diane Fanning was working on her first non-fiction book, spending time visiting and writing to a serial killer on death row. When Diane saw a case on the TV show 20/20 about a mother who was convicted of brutally murdering her 10-year-old son, she wrote about it in a letter to the convict. His letter back chilled her to the bone, He knew details about the case that only one person could have known...

Journalist: Nile Cappello / Audio: Diane Hope / Narration: Maggie Robinson Katz

Camels, sand storms, scorpions, and sand dunes towering like buildings—these are amongst Sidi’s first ever memories. Raised in a nomadic tribe on the far edge of the Sahara desert, Sidi doesn’t have a father like the other kids. He dreams of meeting him, even after his mom explains he’s gone away to heaven, a journey from which he won’t return. When Sidi discovers that many years ago a foreign documentary crew had visited the tribe, he sets out on a quest to recover this lost footage and see his father’s face—a journey that takes him far from the only home he has ever known. Along the way, he begins to feel a lifeline connecting him to his father, Chighali, across distance, time, and memory.

Journalist: Sahar Zand / Audio: Evan Phillips

Lawyer, fraudster, and king of the party, Scott Rothstein had a gift––he could tell anyone’s price. He used this gift to transform those around him into “players” in an incredibly lucrative game… transforming his law firm into a giant Ponzi scheme. With a cast of dirty cops, acquiescing employees, and thieving businessmen, Rothstein set the stage for the largest Ponzi scheme in Florida history and fourth-largest worldwide.

Reported by: Bob Norman & Richard Stout | Audio: Daniel Tureck | Voice: Ted Barton

When brutal murders in the community push the Reverend to his limits, he knows he needs to reach the people at the heart of the violence. But as he walks the streets by night, his own son is out on those same streets, immersed in gang life and drug dealing. While the Reverend advocates for peace among drug addicts and gang members, ready to face his own death rather than leave anyone out in the cold, the person he wants to save the most is the one who feels furthest out of reach: his son.

Journalist: Danny Gold / Audio: Oluwakemi Aladesuyi / Narration: Marc Samuel

When journalist Ada Petriczko pitched us this story, we were haunted. It sounded to us like a fairytale twisted out of shape, and reminded us of Benh Zeitlin’s mesmerizing Beasts of the Southern Wild, a coming-of-age tale removed from time and place. We sent Ada to Kathmandu to report the story.

The Girl in the Red follows Rashmila, who at four years old was taken from her family to become a goddess. She grew up in a palace, dressed always in red, believing she could heal the people who came to worship her. At twelve years old, her world turned upside down: she was cast out from the palace. It was time to become a mortal again.

Journalist: Ada Petriczko  |  Audio: Lauren Arora Hutchinson  |  Voice: Sohm Kapila

An audio genius and media visionary, Tony Schwartz was an agoraphobe who rarely left his New York zip code. Through his invention of the first portable audio recorder, he went from capturing taxi drivers’ chatter to recording America’s political elite — all without leaving his neighborhood. When his “Daisy Girl” ad exploded on the nation’s screens in 1964, US politics changed forever.

We were fortunate to receive a tour of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, which released many Tony Schwartz albums. Its curator, Jeff Place, first introduced us to Tony’s story. Journalist and radio producer Michelle Harven, in classic Tony fashion, pored through hours of tape to produce this fascinating Audio Story.

Published in The Daily Beast by journalist Jessica Wapner, "The Deadly Internet Diet Drug That Cooks People Alive" is about DNP — a diet pill that has had an illegal and lethal resurgence in recent years. The article chronicles the journey of DNP, a drug that originated in a WW1 munitions factory, where it was discovered after workers began to lose weight, overheat and die. Not missing a chance to capitalize on a powerful new discovery, Stanford researchers developed it into a diet pill, which worked by burning its users/victims from the inside out. Although it is now illegal, the drug has had a resurgence in recent years, bought on the internet by teenage girls and bodybuilders, often with lethal consequences.

We have partnered with Elle Fanning, Cadance13 and Brittany Kahan Ward to develop this artlice as a podcast seires. Coming soon...

Journalist: Jessica Wapner Publisher: Daily Beast (Jan. 23, 2020)
Available to read here.

If we are judged by the nature of our enemies, then Daphne Caruana Galizia should be remembered as a hero of our time. She was Malta’s most fearless journalist until someone with money and power decided that she should be silenced forever. Her assassination on 16th October 2017 was a brutal blow to anyone who cares about the truth. MURDER ON THE MALTESE EXPRESS sets out the evidence on the dirty money merchants she exposed. It is written in her honour.

We have partnered with Topic Studios ("Spotlight"), Indiana Production, and Noah Stollman ("Fauda", "Our Boys") to delveop the book into a scrited TV sereis.

Journalists: Carlo Bonini, Manuel Delia and John Sweeney. Publisher: Silvertail Books (November 8, 2019)
Available for purchase
here.

October 1971, Darine Stern makes history as the first black covergirl to grace a national publication run by white people and meant, largely, for white people. The magazine? Playboy. Hefner's gamble pays off, and the October Issue sells over 6 million copies. But for Darine, where do you go if you start at the top? From a new frontier of black middle-class life in Chicago to the cutthroat fashion world of 1970s New York, Darine's story is not just the story of one woman, but of black culture and its connection to American history.

Journalist: Morgan Jerkins. Publisher: Zora (Feburary 10, 2020)
Available to read here.

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