NPR Staff

Editor's Note: A version of this story originally ran in March 2010.

In the mid-19th century, Britain was an almost unchallenged empire. It controlled about a fifth of the world's surface, and yet its weakness had everything to do with tiny leaves soaked in hot water: tea. By 1800, it was easily the most popular drink among Britons.

The problem? All the tea in the world came from China, and Britain couldn't control the quality or the price. So around 1850, a group of British businessmen set out to create a tea industry in a place they did control: India.

For almost a century, explorers have searched the jungles of Honduras for a legendary lost city known as the White City, or the City of the Monkey God.

A team of explorers — including archaeologists and a documentary filmmaker — have just returned from an expedition in person, after using a new technology to search for evidence of ruins by plane.

"I think there's only one interesting story ... and that's struggle," says writer Thomas McGuane. Loners, outcasts and malcontents fill the pages of McGuane's latest book — a collection of short stories titled Crow Fair. There's a divorced dad who takes his young son out for an ill-fated day of ice fishing; A restless cattle breeder who takes a gamble on a more lucrative and dangerous line of works; A guy who abandons his blind grandmother by the side of a river to go get drunk, and chase after a corpse he's spotted floating by.

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho's new book Barefoot Dogs is billed as a collection of short stories, but it could easily be called a novel. Each piece provides a perspective on one horrific event: the abduction of the patriarch of a wealthy Mexican family by a drug gang.

Throughout the book, readers see how this affects children, grandchildren, mistresses and others, as the tragedy follows the family through exile in the United States and Europe

Los Angeles has been good to Scott Budnick. He arrived more than 15 years ago as an aspiring film producer. He found a home in comedy, and eventually became the executive producer of the Hangover trilogy — the wildly popular, profane buddy movies that are still the highest grossing comedy franchise ever made.

Now, he lives in the Hollywood Hills. He drives a fancy car, lives in a beautiful house and has lots of famous friends.

But in 2013, Budnick decided to leave Hollywood for a very different field: prison reform.

Paying for college gets more expensive every year.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Americans owe more than a trillion dollars in outstanding student loan payments.

The result can be a lot of pressure for college grads. The four seniors participating in our Howard Project — Ariel Alford, Taylor Davis, Leighton Watson and Kevin Peterman — talk to us about finances.

Boris Nemtsov was just 37 when Russian President Boris Yeltsin named him deputy prime minister in 1997. Trained as a physicist, Nemtsov symbolized a new generation of young leaders who rose to power in the chaotic aftermath of the Soviet breakup.

But after Vladimir Putin became president, Nemtsov joined the liberal opposition and became an outspoken critic. He was arrested on several occasions, but continued his attacks on the Russian leader.

Health is more than the sum of its parts. Sometimes in surprising ways, factors such as childhood experiences, housing conditions, poor diets and health care access drive who ends up sick — and who does not.

There's a lot to celebrate in Liberia: The number of new Ebola cases have been declining, kids are going back to school and life is returning to some semblance of normalcy.

Last year, Ebola struck the country and since then, it has killed more than 4,000 Liberians. But among the three hardest-hit countries in West Africa, Liberia has been the fastest at containing the outbreak. Just last week, the region reported 99 new cases of Ebola. Only one of those came out of Liberia.

Just two months into 2015, cinematographer Bradford Young is already having a big year.

Two acclaimed movies, Selma and A Most Violent Year, bear his name as Director of Photography.

"It's an interesting time," he laughs.

He sat down for a chat with NPR's Arun Rath, who started by asking about the striking depictions of violence in Selma.

"You have to be very delicate," Young says, "because as much as film has the ability to raise humanity, it also has the ability to put us down."

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