tv Book TV After Words CSPAN February 27, 2010 10:00pm-11:00pm EST
coming up next, book tv presents after word, an hour-long interview program where we invite a guest host to interview the author of a new book. this week, george packer and christopher hitchens talk about george orwell and his book. mr. packer collected the pieces that appeared in two recently published volumes of george orwell's writing. mr. hitchens, an essayist is the author of "why orwell matters." >> host: welcome to c-span book
tv's after words program. i'm here in the unaccustomed roll of interviewer and producer of my friend and colleague, george packer, who has produced two volumes of the essays of george orwell, picked and introduced and commented upon, and so today orwell its our subject. i wish we had more than an hour. i'm guessing, that you will have read the taylor book on george orwell. >> guest: i haven't. >> host: what a shame. doesn't matter. what i wanted to say from his book was something that i have a feeling you will agree with. taylor writes, when i read other people writing about george orwell, i keep thinking, this is my author you're talking about. do you get that feeling? >> guest: i do, and we all have a -- you and i and a few other people we know and some we don't know are part of a really
fanatical group of orwell lovers an it's very personal. i started reading orwell, maybe also late in my 20. but at a critical moment when i needed a kind of a model. i needed to know, how does one become a writeer? so i read through the four volumes collected essays, journalism and letters, and read straight through. like reading an autobiography. >> host: sort of being personally addressed. >> guest: i felt very close to the voice of those pieces. and i think those are where you get closest to orwell to his voice so what is essential to his -- really what in his character is strong and worth emulating. i became a slavish emrue late
for. it's a good way to write. find a write-underow feel affinity for, and master their styles and get the cadence into your nerve system, and then try to find your own way into it. but that's the closest orwell produces in people like me and you. so we feel a little propriety tear. but not when those people get him right. and i think your book, why orwell matters, said, he got the three basic questions of right. imperial jinx fascism, and communism, and that sums up his political and literary achievement as well. >> host: i always feel they derive from each other. in other words, from what he said about imperialism, this sexual repression and racism involved, and i think he found it quite easy to decode fascism and the danger.
it was an extension of imperialism. not purely but to a good deal. >> guest: yeah. >> host: in many ways that was the case. and then -- it's funny, he hardly writes anything about fascism. see seems to know that everybody knows it's evil and neats -- needs to be fought against. he takes it for granted it's completely unacceptable. but it's in the course of fighting against it that he discovers many people came in, and actually there's an enormous equally dangerous illusion taking place on the other side of the murals. >> guest: that's right. and he turned the same withering scrutiny on his own side, that he had -- on a much easier target, nazi germany, fascism, franco's spain. and that's when he made most of
his enemies on the left to the end of his life. >> host: doesn't say quite enough about you i should have said this in the beginning. mr. packer first came to my attention as a novelist, writing from africa, in fact. and like orwell, was capable of fiction. as well as the essay, long essay by which i now probably reaching a large audience, especially from iraq. in the new yorker, has brought him a great deal of attention, and you now have a collection of essays. >> guest: i do. a book called "interesting times, writing from a turbulent decade." back to fiction. you probably overpraise me there. i wrote two novels that were read by about 35 people, and although i learned a lot from writing them, i did not learn to be a novelist, i don't think.
orwell wrote a batch of novels in the 1930s that were in the tradition of anglo-american realism, and i loved them. for me, keep the aspidistra flying is a model book for me. the burmese days lasts the longest. you don't feelerwell is working in his most natural grain. you feel the essayist pushing through the illusion of fiction all the time. he has something to say. he has an argument to make. he has a proposition about the world all the time, and he doesn't have the restraint and patience of a natural fiction writer, and that's where we can be grateful -- he once wrote in why i write, if hey had been left to his own devices he would have been a 19th century novelist. but events and the turbulence of
the 30s and 40s pushed him into becoming -- >> host: i hate to interrupt. one of the few completely unconvincing things. >> guest: really, it was his own inclination that pushed him in that direction. >> host: also, very rare case of him being too con seated. if it wasn't for all these polemics i had to write. he said the burmese flattered by wright three -- writing three novels. >> guest: i heard that line in burma last year. orwell is still a huge presence in burma. although more, i think, now that -- a young generation who did not learn english well growing up. they came after the generation that was schooled by the british. they have had their futures
utterly blighted by the totalitarian regime there and orwell speaks to them not just because the wrote about burma, but he wrote total tearism, and -- totalitarianism, and you can find animal farm being sold on the streets of rangoon. >> host: while we're on contemporary tote tar tearannism, which we might as well stay with, i have been in north korea, and when one goes as a reporter, one hopes to avoid cliches. so i thought i would try not to mention 1984, because everybody says it's an orwellan state. but it is a cliche.
the north korean state was formed the same year as when 1984 came out. it's almost as if they gave him a novel and shade, -- said, do you think you can make it work? >> guest: life imitated art. >> host: when people come across orwell, they're amazed. the greatest compliment ever paid to one writer by another what when the situation was written about stalinist poland. and he wrote about 1984, and you can only get it privately. and he said, i was very surprised to found out he never visited the soviet union. huh could he get the texture without having had this experience. it's about the circulation of an
illegal book. so it's extraordinary. >> guest: that is a great question. how did orwell know? he lived almost his entire life in england? he traveled through europe and years in burp -- burma, he was confined to the island, but be he wrote in the essay on arthur koestler. he said they failed to understand totalitarianism because they hadn't lived it. he was criticizing what the called the bolsheviks for not feeling what it was like to live under that. orwell felt it. other than his years in burma and suffering and hard times in the 30s, he had the same education and lived in the same england they did, and yet he did
feel it. that's a bit of a mystery how he could have known so it well. >> host: i think i have a possible solution, and a slight correction to you. in reverse order, then. or correction first. he did spend a lot of time in the far east admittedly as a colonial policeman, and that gave him insight into the master servant, indeed, master-slave situation. then he was in spain, and he was in barcelona at a time when the communist party did briefly take over and there was police terror, and third, he noticed all the truth about spain had been written out of the record, and he wrote in looking back on the spanish war, he was afraid this was becoming a habit in europe, if the leaders did something that never happened, it never happened. >> guest: the father of your
colleague, claude coeburn. >> host: yes, and quite a lot of other people fell for the line that the communist party was the best defender of the spanish public and it's only recently that the archives of franco's system had been opened and we do know what happened in those may days in barcelona, and what was happening was in every detail true. he refused the lie. indeed, the second point i want to make is his first real book is written in french. an american in paris. he spoke very good french. he spoke -- >> guest: it wasn't written in french. he wrote a couple of little essays for a small french publication, back when he was in paris. >> host:ncluding a long essay
on colonialism in -- >> guest: that's right. and then wrote the man uscript of down and out, which rejected by t.s. elliott and the other major -- it was rejected by -- yeah, i think it was eliot. and then rejected animal farm many years later. >> host: yes, and did hardcord brace, and wrote one of the best rejection letters every written. every as aspiring write sore have such a letter in their hat. dear mr. orwell, thank you for letting us look at your manuscript. unfortunately it's impossible to sell stories about animals in the united states. in the country of disney they -- they thought it was a story
about farm animals. >> guest: and then animal farm became a very good cart fortunate film. just to get back to the experience of reading orwell and the essays in this book, when i started reading him -- i don't know if you had this experience. i didn't know much about fascism or communism or imperialism. i was looking more for an example of how a writer carried himself in the world and how to transform experience into sentences, and how to do it in a way that didn't call more attention to the self than to the experience. and again in why i write, orwell wrote windows pane, and his words are always pointing to the thing and not back to the self, and they reveal so much about a character. there's something almost -- you
feel you know him when you read his essays. you feel you know how he speaks. you can hear his voice. you know his irritations. you know how he is going to react if you say something. always alive with you. even though there's also a certain remoteness to orwell. he doesn't let you in on everything in his life. he doesn't talk about his marriage very much in his writing. he doesn't talk about his child, richard orwell. he doesn't talk about his parents. some of the basic things that the american memoirists make gold out of, are the subjects of book after book, for orwell were off limits help was constrained by late victorian chivalrous that way. nonetheless you have this very strong sense of the person behind the word, and that is what first drew me to him and makes thosees says worth reading
over and over again. >> host: for those of you watching us, this is george's first selection, called, "all art is propaganda" and then another wind called "present facts." and a comment on both the titles by the way. when orwell writes about himself, he says -- a power of facing unpleasant facts. i wanted to call my book that for a while, the power of facing. it's almost biblical. >> guest: it's an unusual phrase. a power of facing. like it's an active force which gives you some advantage, which was true. he was able to look at things, at times almost exaggerated the ugliness or the
bad smell, he seemed to seek them out with a kind of relish, but nonetheless things in himself, in england, in democracy, in the -- >> the working class. >> guest: the famous line from his great book about coal mining and coalminers, the works classes smell, which orwell said isn't necessarily true, but it's what middle and upper class people think, and it's the reason why the class divide is such a hard thing to overcome in britain, because it's almost physical. it's not just kind of mental snobbery. and am i right, that line bothered the publisher of the book. >> host: he said this is what the whole world thinks about the working class. they smeared him with it. but he didn't romanticize the
workers or the colonial subjects. he often finds them repulsive. >> guest: the opening lines of shooting an elephant, which to me is the perfect orwell essay where you just see his mastery of the form at its best, and i use it to teach the essay a lot because students see how he does so it clearly. at the beginning he says, with one part of my mind i hated british imperialism, and i thought the greatest pleasure would be to stab my bayonet into a buddhist priest's guts, and that's a confession about himself and the burmese that may be painful personally, but from a literary point of view is very powerful, bought it invites the reader in and says i have all sorts of conflicting feelings and i'm going to own up to them.
>> host: you mentioned his reticence. he never tells us why he resigned from the burmese police. >> guest: that's right. >> host: my guess is he was afraid he would become a sadist. >> guest: he had a streak of that? him. he wrote that once to understand fascism you have to have a streak of fascism. his was talking about jack london, who wrote a book that was a prophecy of fascism. and how could orwell have understood what was happening behind the veil of terror of stalinist russia, nazi germany, without direct experience, and i think it's partly because he had the sterner stuff in him.
british -- >> host: in your introduction, most of his arguments were with himself. it was very wellens capsulated. a lot of people are naturally liberals or progressives. they think it's just a nice way to be. he didn't think that way at all. had scholarship -- scorn for those who did. he was educating himself out of an upbringing where he had been taught to look down and fear the -- to look on colored people in the empire as raw material to be very suspicious of jews, which took him a long time to get over. he reasoned his way out of that. >> guest: your book makes that clear. >> host: sorry, excuse me. getting carried away with me own verbosity. and children which he doesn't cure himself of is absolute disgust for homosexuality.
>> guest: he was not the nicest side of him. there were women who think he was a terrible misogynist, and his inability to create convincing female characters. and that was part of why he ended with such a dark vision of the world. this is the subject of a book by -- i think the -- i don't think it's right. i think that's giving totalitarianism not enough credit for being the darkness it was surrounding europe at the end of orwell's life, but it's true that he has a strange attitude, you might almost say toward individuals. unlike a journalist today, he doesn't spend a lot of time on characters in his nonfiction.
you never get know any coalminer by name. >> host: that's true. >> guest: you don't get to know anyone in his outfit in the militia in barcelona particularly well you learn their names. he recites them. >> host: he feels comradeship was the first handshake. >> guest: with the italian militiaman, and at the end of the poem that concludes that essay, looking back on the spanish war, and -- but he also says, i didn't want to meet him again because if i did, it would ruin my first impression, which is that this is sort of the flower of the european working class. and that -- i mean is the way his mind always goes, away from the individual and toward the social type, toward the
political and social significance of digging coal underground. >> host: preserve his own distance. at one point he replies to someone -- if he would like to come to dinner and meet steven spender, famous poet of the ear remarks and he says, no because i may want to write about him. and i think what i'm going to be is -- i found it much harder to do when i've met someone. so very human and very inhuman, saying, i don't absolutely trust myself. >> guest: because he knows that, as he wrote in the essay on gandhi, being human means attaching yourself to other human beings and being willing to be broken down and even destroyed by your love for this individual. he was that essay is quite harsh about gandhi's impersonal love for all of humanity and his
cruelty or neglect for his own family. for orwell, this was a perverse inversion of the proper order, which is you love the individual not mannedkind. he was not a lover of mankind in that gandhi dyan -- gandhian way. so it's true that that's where his feelings drive him. but there's also a counterforce that cuts him off from those attachments, and i think it's partly because they get in the way of writing and writing honestly. so individuals are missing. >> host: by the way, it's a good illustration of another point you make, which is orwell's ability to start with a very arresting opening sentence, and gandhi begins, awful saints should be considered -- all saints should be considered guilty instead of independent. >> guest: no auto piography should be trusted unless it reveals something disgraceful.
and the only time in my life i have been important enough for this to happen to me, shooting an elephant. >> host: something else is his general distaste for the spiritual. he ought thought there was something shady or creepy about that. his general contempt for religion. but he had respect for it, too. he knows the bible very well. quotes almost from memory, as good as from memory. >> guest: at key moments his marriage to eileen, he insisted on having it done in the church of england name. he was buried in the church of england graveyard. >> host: he liked the liturgy. >> guest: he loved the cadence of the church of england, which has nothing to do with heaven,
which he describes, seemed like a choir practice in a jeweler's shop. so he was not a religious man. no sign anywhere of a belief in the afterlife. >> host: i think he had a strong feeling for the protestant revolution, and it shows in his attachment to milton. his favorite line was a line of milton's, which was by the known rules of ancient liberty. in other words, there's a human instinct for freedom. and he writes about the protestant centuries, and i think in -- back to 1984 again -- the struggle against the alien language is being imposed on people, the news speak, and his struggle to find out what is in the secret book. so it's a struggle to have the
bible translated into english. the english revolution is important to him. >> guest: there's an essay called the prevention of literature, which is about the effect of not just totalitarian countries about the internal sensorship that came with the totalitarianism of british people. books like some wild animals can't breedn captivity. it kills the imagination. and that essay begins with a scene from the gathering of a writers organization, an unusual case in which he actually places himself at some sort of public meeting as a jumping off point for the essay. and at that at this meeting no s able to defend free expression. they're defending the right of
the soviet union to do this, and it reminds me of the worst identity politics when it invaded writers organizations in this country in the 80s and 90s, suddenly the last thing anyone wants to speak up for is free expression. a good example is when salomon rush dihad fatwa and there was nobody to say this is an atrocity, which you did. >> host: that's too kind to me. >> guest: i think you were month -- among the very first. back to orwell. what if milton were to come back today and attend this pen meeting? he would be astonished. and no one at the meeting in 1945 or 46 was able to defend free expression with the unqualified force of milton 300 years earlier. so you're absolutely right that
period was a kind of a touchstone for him in the struggle for -- >> host: talking about the other volume you say -- i have a question to ask you. you wrote in wartime, all writing is now propaganda. it's an attack on alex comfort and his -- pacifism. >> guest: he says it in his essay on dickens. what he means by it -- he says -- >> host: also begins dickens is one of those authors -- sunny knew we could have a little ping-pong game of opening liners. it's fun. i think he might say it in another essay called "the meaning of a poem." the reason i gave this book the title, not that all art could have been written by the
minister of propaganda or the ministry of information, but that all art immiss setly has a point of view, and it's trying to push a view, a persuasive function. if it's worth anything if has a world view that it is advocating, and i think it's not a res nation -- res rig nation to the war propaganda. he is saying, especially in a time like his, thes, it's impossible to be a serious artist and not have something to say about events, even if you're writing --
>> host: he makes that confession for himself, says every line i have ever written is worth in the searos topic niksch serious line, is written with the hope of forwarding the cause of democratic socialism. >> guest: and against totalitarianism. i think it's his technique as a literary critic, and a critic of a field he practically invented, popular cultural criticism to find the implied or hidden world view in what seems to be a kind of benign or not particularly pointed realm of art or culture like the post cards of -- the miguel postcards that are sort of semi pornographic or were at
least mildly risque. >> or mildly indecent. >> guest: or the detective novels in his essays. that's a good example. what are you going to do in an essay that basically compares two different eras in british detective fiction, raffles, and a novel called no or kid -- orchids, and he point he couples to is, there's a shift in moral point of view between these two. raffle has the code of the hypocritical english gentleman, and there's a coat, and there's certain things that can't be done, whereas no orchids, the only code is power and the pursuit of it, and that's what should be avid mired. -- admired. he says people appreciate power
at the level at which they can understand it. and he had a boy in a glasgow slum worships jack dempsey. a student in a business college worships lord somebody. a reader of the new statesman worships stalin. so that's how he finds sort of the -- i'd say the moral implications of something that seems as trivial as detective fiction. >> host: it brings me quicker than i wanted to but now to something i wanted to raise. one of his writing about ethical codes and reticence and discretions and ruthlessness and the hostility to the united states, and look at the comics the british boys read. now the american ones coming in full of gangsterism.
so we began by saying -- you began by saying my book got three great questions of the 20th century write. i add he got one of them not totally wrong but the importance of america was something that he didn't write enough about, and when he did, it was rather sketchy and con desending there's h. >> guest: he had a chapter about america, which he never visited. he loved some american writers, mark twain, jack london, henry miller, oddly enough. >> host: thomas payne. >> guest: absolutely. british born. for orwell, america was -- it didn't have the things he was attached to and that are the things winston smith in 1984 is clinging to for sanity, the odd traditions, the things passed on
from one generation to another, like the lyrics or a nursery rhyme or a song, old books and book stores that trade in old books. of course, some of these things are available here. >> host: little country churches war brass rubbings. >> guest: you got it. the tree in the country churchyard. those things were the bulwark against the month alightic paving over of everything by not just to tall tearannism but modern life. he hated concrete, central heating, mechanical entertainment, advertising, and all these things seemed to be coming not just from the east but from the west and the united states, and his -- in this sense there was something parochial about him. >> host: he disliked antiamericannism very much, which was beginning to become a disease on the left.
>> guest: he understood it to be a kind of antiliberalism, and a refuge of a particular kind of snobbery you fine on the left, which sees america as the vulgarization of all good things. its connected to the -- >> host: cowboyism. >> guest: yes the point you made in your book is absolutely right. he didn't see america as a guarantor of the things that he cared most about. culturally especially. it was an early and distasteful place to him. >> host: a pity he died when he did because his friends of partisan review, knowing he had tb, tried to get him to come to the u.s. for treatment. >> guest: i didn't know that. >> host: because the treatment was easy to get here. the died in poverty, almost a keynesian death. he would have been a great
addition to the review crowd. at one point he contemplated making a voyage down the mississippi. >> guest: which is what he would have done. after 1984 his next book would have been about the mississippi. >> host: i have something very american. you have had difficulty in telling me what he opening sentence of what 1984 was. >> guest: the clock was striking 13. >> host: john adam was writing about how to get the colonies together and how to coordinate a resolution, and he said it would be very difficult to get all 13 clocks to strike at the same time. and then at the end of 1984 he shows how the attempt to obliterate everything from thinking about freedom from the language and making it
impossible to formulate the thought, and the gave the sentence, we hold these truths s to be self-evident. and there is this possible one certainly -- possible two and certainly one implied compliments to america in that. >> guest: just imagine orwell traveling through early 50s america, the america of low lolita, the america of the eisenhower years, the highway system was being put in place. intellectuals were beginning to leave greenwich village and take some comfort and security in universities. it's almost unimaginable. it's like a whole different era had begun by that time. and orwell belonged so completely to a previous era that was harder, more exacting,
more austere, and all the abundance and comfort of post war america would have left him pretty cool. he would have found places to love. i think the mississippi is one. maybe the west. with its -- >> host: i would have thought new york, too. >> guest: i. >> host: probably not san francisco. >> guest: well, he lived in london, and he worked in london. he even made a point of staying in london during the blitz when other people were leaving. but once london was no longer at risk, its charms for him wayned, which tells you about him. so instead he moved to one of the hardest places in the british isles off the coast of scotland. probably hastened his death. i don't know if you saw his. his adopted son, richard orwell, maintained his silence for 60
years, and we only knew he existed, and he gave an interview a year ago. he is an agricultural engineering somewhere in england, and he describes being orwell's son in those years, and far from being this gloomy aproblem tick, orwell was fun. he took him boating, they went on adventures, nearly got killed a bunch of times. it wasn't physically easy, but orwell was completely attuned to the natural world and his son and shared his love of physical things and of nature with richard. and it's for me -- gives me pleasure to know -- >> host: first he had a very bleak childhood himself. didn't like his father. when he mentions the family for
society, every figure is accepted -- >> guest: a family with the wrong people in charge. >> host: he mentions aunts and cousins. it's very rare to find a joke in george orwell, but when they do occur they're quite funny. they're very dry. i'm trying to think of one. on animal farm when the animals take over, they go into the smokehouse and take out the hams and give them a decent burial. that was quite funny. and his essay on book reviews is funny. generally pretty bleak. how do you come out on the question of chilling chilling w, the great thing about him is he is not a genius. the extraordinary thing is how someone to relatively ordinary could, just by refusing to lie and working very hard, and not
caring whether he lost a job or got his become published, was able to change the 20th 20th century. >> guest: in other words, qualities of character alone are sufficient to become a great writer and become one of the most important writers of the century. yes and no. part of what drew me to orwell was this sense that this is available. this is not the bad -- mad brilliance of saul bellow, not falkners, this isn't hemingway. it felt like natural prose. i can admire and feel discouraged by it. with orwell you feel encouraged. you want to try to write an
essay like that. because the prose is simple, it has that -- the plain style, and it seems like the leading characteristic of it is honesty. and it might be a little too far in the sense of decency alone is not -- it's a key orwell word, common decency, and it's important one, but orwell was an eccentric. he was a difficult man. he had incredible -- full of contradictions. he was not so simple and good, i think, as chilling would have you think, and you eluded to some of his antipathies, and his -- he was a man of violent dislikes, and in some of his earlier work, before i think he
calmed down with a certain amount of self-assurance, denunsation was his characters mode. so he is not so -- certainly not a saint, and he is not simply a good man whose quality of characters allowed him to write great books. but those -- but there's enough truth to that that he is sort of a model available to everyone. >> host: very difficult to imagine him being afraid. >> guest: exactly. or if he was afraid, whether physically or morally he then would have noted it and forced him to overcome it. >> host: face it. >> guest: exactly. >> host: we only have ten more minute's, and we're going to take off the idea of dickens being a writer worth stealing and attempts to appropriate orwell. and the other meaning of orwellian is someone who stands for a certain sort of principle. >> guest: that's the use i like. the positive use of it.
>> host: and he is often invoked, against his will somewhat, by people who thought that animal farm and 1984 was attacks on socialism, which didn't want. >> guest: he had to write a statement saying i'm a supporter of the labor party, and it's not an indictment of english sociality. it's a warning about the tendency of all modern political thought to move toward totalitarianism. >> host: he was very firm to show the english no better than anybody else. >> guest: that's right. >> host: the best way we could take this on the chin, you and i, since different time wes both viewed with favor the removal of saddam hussein from power, and in our minds it's different times, and certainly i know of other people. is it worth asking, do you think, what orwell would have
thought? >> guest: just to finish the little history you started. he was also claimed by norman pedorits in an essay called, if orwell lived, he would have been a neocon. >> host: orwell would have taken the american side in indo china, and i think i can be certain that's not so. >> guest: because of this antiimperialism. >> host: especially in that part of asia which he knew. and he mentions, when he was in paris, the revival of the antistalinnism, and restoreing french colonialism in indo china. >> guest: he would have seen it as a colonial war and he -- i think you're right.
iraq is different. it is not a colony -- colonial war. it's hard to say and a little dangerous to claim, but we can speculate because we have to. these two different arguments can be made about that. one is that orwell would have seen in saddam's rule, other than perhaps north korea, the nearest thing to the world he imagined in 1984. you say that totalitarianism is a cliche. iraq is a great example. saddam was big brother. he had brig brother's mustache. his face was on posters all over baghdad. it was on television all the time. you could not escape the eye of saddam's many secret police. >> host: iraqis used to say they thought he knew what they were dreaming. >> guest: exactly.
even after he was overthrown, they continued to suffer from the effects. >> host: we both saw it in action. the pornographic -- never been more horrible. >> guest: saddam's son was the human incarnation of the pornography of totalitarianism. orwell would have seen that regime as it was there would have been no defenses of sovereignty or state sovereignty or of -- that somehow this is an antiislammic war, an antiarab war. on the other hand,. >> host: saddam hussein had the iraqi flag -- >> guest: he used sunni islam for his purposes. the other side, is the language
used by the bush administration, before the war and after the administration, which was you've you've mystic, was misleading, was bad language, the kind of bad language that allows bad political thought, which is the subject of politics in the english language, and orwell would have been merciless in stripping away the rhetoric of george bush, dick cheney, don rumsfeld, and karl rove, for that matter. so which orwell would have had his -- the antitotalitarian orwell who would have seen iraqi exactly as it was to stand up against saddam was to stand up for the kurds, to stand up for mass of iraqis who did not want to continue this way?
he would have understand that something learned been going to iraq, that most iraqis were relieved to have that regime -- >> host: let's not forget. >> guest: exactly. that's been forgetten. on the other side, the orwell who hated political lying and -- >> host: propaganda. >> guest: exactly. so, hard to say. >> host: it's also hard because you -- didn't know much about the middle east. skeptical about the foundation of the state of israel. he wasn't driven by the promise zionism. >> guest: do you think the believed that democracy and the freedoms that milton stood for could take root in nonwestern countries?
is there evidence that -- >> host: ,ey. >> guest: the universallallity. >> host: i'm sure one thing -- we only have a couple minutes. i'm sorry. but by way of illustration, he writes to his friend -- his indian friend -- who only died a couple years ago, budding novelist and essayist, who gets attacked in india for writing in english. and gets mocked in england for being this light indian. and he says, don't worry about this. i think one day you will be -- there will be a department of english literature as a special subspecialty written by indians in english, and now you can't go into a decent book store without seeing five or six brilliant pakistani or indian writers. >> guest: with better english.
>> guest: so certainly there's -- he was not a little englander in his view of culture, and his view of expression, but one pernicious idea that resulted -- >> host: , -- if that's was a real conversation i wouldn't tell you have to condense is. >> guest: people that don't look like us can't do this, and that's a terrible mistake, and i don't think orwell would have fallen into that trap of imagining that freedom is only for white people. >> host: he wrote an essay to that effect, the title of which i'm not going to say on the air. i can say it's been real? >> guest: it's been fun. >> host: good luck with the
book. >> guest: all the best to you, christopher. >> host: thanks for coming in. >> we're at the public library, speaking with paul cuadros, author of a home on the field. about the revival of small-town america. what made you decide to write this book? >> i decided to write this back because i noticed that what was happening in rural communities in the south and in the midwest was a demographic change, a migration of latino immigrants to the small towns that i knew was going to transform both the culture in those communities. i thought that was a very, very interesting story, and one that would influence and change our country in many different ways, and that's kind of the -- i was interested in doing and
capturing. >> why did you choose siler city. >> they had two processing plants, a feed mill, 300 chicken farmers, and so for me it was an easy choice because the food processing industry is a big generator for why people are migrating from mexico or central america into this smalltown communities. >> you wrote about people you met, immigrants living in their town and they wanted to benefit from having immigrants living there in the sense of free labor, food is cheaper. how did you talk to them about this dichotomy? >> the town is a chicken town, so it runs on the poultry processing industry. and the people in siler city saw their town again to change during thref 90s, and they responded to it in various ways. much like how the country is
responding to immigration today generally. sometimes there's a lot of anger, confusion, and that was a really interesting and difficult part to capture for the town, the long-time resident office siler city. since then they have come to an accommodation with the migration siler city is perhaps more than 50% hispanic today, and the town has been transformed and changed, and actually economically it's done a lot better. times are tough now for everybody, but there's no doubt that the growth of siler city during the 90s and the early part of the 21st century is due to the foreign works that have come and settled there. >> you used a stocker as a way to assimilate the new. >> i moved to siler city, i was bored and i got involved with a group of boys, coaching them, and quickly became apparent to
me there was no varsity team at the high school, and the latino boys wanted to play at the high school, and they head been advocating for several years to create a team at the high school the administration didn't think it was good idea, and so i led an effort to try and get a team together at j.m.; we were successful, and we went on and we had tremendous success on the field with these kids. but really the boys serve as a means to kind of let you know who this community is, why they have come, what their dreams are, what their hopes are, and how they are assimilating into our society. >> what do you think we as country or government needs to do regarding immigration? what policies? >> it's a very complex question to answer. the president has called on beginning of debate about immigration or migration, and hopefully that will happen this fall. there have been proponents to
provide access or pathway to citizenship for the might grands who have come and perhaps that's a good idea. there are people who are opposed to that. when you look at the kids on the team and where they have been, they have groen up here, gone to schools here, they have assimilated to our society here. they're having children of their own, getting married and having children of their own, and yet their immigration status may be in question. i think that for that population, something needs to be done to assist them to fully integrate into our society. >> are you still in contact with any of the students you met researching the book? >> yes, i am. one of the kids, his son was one year old and i went to the birthday party. >> what roll does your book play in the summer reading program. >> it's a program that is designed to basicallyget all
incoming freshman to read one book and talk about the issues in that book, and this year they chose "home on the field" which i'm grateful for so we be talking about the themes and issues, immigration, migration, globalization, assimilation, those type of issues we can discuss. and what makes it kind of good for the university is that the students will be basically reading about people their own age, and people that have had a very different experience than they have, and i'm hoping there will be that connectivity between the characters and the readers. >> what is next for you? >> have lot of different projects that i'm interested in doing. i think this is a fascinating issue. i think it's one of the biggest issues in our country today. and so i will be continuing to write about it. >> great. av