Skip to main content

tv   Book TV Encore Booknotes  CSPAN  May 15, 2010 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT

6:00 pm
three-ring binder, and i would page through it, and i would come upon these outlandish notes, and codes of ethics of organizations, and mottos, and i always thought it would make a great book. >> where do you and your father live, or where did you live together? >> lexington, massachusetts. i was born there, in 1955. went through lexington public school systems, and, in fact, we lived -- still the same house we were in when i was in high school, lexington battle greens. when i say to people, i am from lexington, i always add, the birthplace of american liberty, to put it in context. well, now, you are referring well, now you're referring there to our rival. that's the concord minuteman.u i didn't put a picture of the co lexington minuteman in becauseut the inscription's not quite so
6:01 pm
dramatic.nsr ralph waldo emerson's "concord hymn" accompanies that particular monument, and that's much more famous. c-span: now how far is lexingto, and concord away from eachfamo. other?n >> guest: oh, just a couple ofm miles; an easy bicycle ride foro me when i was a kid.es i could easily go over to the old north bridge and -- to see that statue.d but i really grew up in thee shadow of the lexingtonrel minuteman and like to maintain that distinction. o there was always this rivalry di between the two towns. c-span: and the -- it begs the question: why didn't you have the lexington minuteman in thise -- picture in this book? >> guest: well, i have the concord minuteman in theren ti because in the last chapter ivet discuss architecturallaha inscriptions, and that happens i to be one of the seminal worksse in american public sculpture, and particularly because it's associated with these words: 'by the rude bridge that archedy the flood, there flagged april's breeze unfurled.
6:02 pm
here once the embattled farmer stood that fired the shot heard 'round the world.'e, that's emerson's poem.aou and while the inscription, if you look closely at it, it's'sp not that dramatically inscribedu it happens to be an image which, is associated with a set of it hs, and i also draw the comparison to the statue ofhich liberty, another image that is associated with words -- in that case, not inscribed on the pedestal. as much as i would have liked te have included the lexingtonul minuteman, there just i -- the h words, which, actually, i don'tm even know -- there's probablyn, just a descriptive inscription on there, but they're just notly that dramatic. c-span: what kind of work was your dad in when you were growing up?ic >> guest: when i was growing ups he worked for raytheon,g actually.wor he was a marketing manager, so he was in that whole route128 technology highway business, thr military industrial business. obviously, i really had no idea
6:03 pm
what he was doing.ha i just knew that he periodicalla had to take trips to new york,oa to washington, even down to florida.ca and i occonasionally had the n privilege of accompanying him on some of these trips. and i vaguely remember some of o tailsetails. he's filled me in on this. wa but i was aware of the fact thag we would go to historic siteshe and that he would be copying down inscriptions from thees various places we would go.ade but he made a point of taking us, whether myself or one of myu brothers or sisters, to important sites to make suree that we saw -- you know, if we s were in washington, that we saww all the monuments that -- in, new york, we would see not only monuments but places like rockefeller center, great sort of displays of civicgreat architecture, this sort of thing. c-span: are you married? >> so ot: no. a c-span: so you don't have kids to do the same thing with. >> guest: no, not yet. c-span: how many are there in your family? how many other brothers and hs y
6:04 pm
thersrs? >> guest: well, i have twoer brothers and two sisters. c-span: did they have the same interest? did they pick it up just like you did from your father? >> guest: well, no. >> d m upjt this seems to have fallen to me. i think their memories of it are much more vague.er me they were aware of them collection, but i don't think it fascinated them to the extent that it fascinated me.ware and yeah, -- so they just didn't quite pickup on it the't same way. c-span: where do you live now? >> guest: i live in northampton, massachusetts.the h c-span: home of smith college, among other things. >> guest: home of smith college. in fact, smith college is really where i wrote the book. where - the smith college library is somewhat of a haven to me.ary c-span: home of calvin coolidge? >> guest: home of calvin coolidge.someat in fact, i live next door to calvin coolidge's former paperboy.ve c calvin coolidge lived a blockor away from where i live now andm my next-door neighbor would tell me stories about -- about how -i how, let's say, parsimoniousn calvin coolidge was, but howx
6:05 pm
gracious his wife was. c-span: calvin coolidge's, paperboy is still alive ands. living in northampton? c> guest: mm-hmm. c-span: how old is he? >> guest: he is in -- i think he's about 86, 87, somethinger like that.is s c-span: what kinds of things would he tell you about calvin yolidge?tng >> guest: well, he just tells mo this one story about -- it was christmastime and he -- he was a owed something like 95 cents fod the -- the week's deliveries or however long, and it was perhaps christmas eve and he goes to th coolidge house and mr. coolidgu comes to the door. and he hands him a $10 bill and he says,'and that will be $9. 05 change, please.'e. so that's the type of story he tells.ta c-span: so when did you start this book? >> guest: i picked it up in 1980.cd at that time -- i'd finishedlleg college in '77, went to the,
6:06 pm
university of pennsylvania.u it had always -- not always; i should say since high school, ia had been in the back of my mindc that this notebook that myk father had amassed would really make a great book.wou and i picked it up in 1980 at a time when i had been laid off as a construction worker, which wai what i went into after college.o did that for a few years, was laid off, had a little bit of e time, about six months, and i thought, 'well, in six months, i can finish up this book or getci it into some sort of order ands send it off to a publisher and -- and see what they think.' and at that time the idea was just a collection, but i quicklq found that in that amount of time i was not going to be able to put together something that would satisfy me or that woulde answer the kinds of questionser that i had, such as: where do these things come from? su who first said them? who first wrote them?rst sid how did they get to be part ofdt the cultuhre, the -- and what i
6:07 pm
was finding is these are notc easy questions to answer.ing if you want to find out, youion know, who wrote the inscriptionr on the boston public library or the story behind the inscriptior on the new york post office orti how the pledge of allegiance came to be in its present form, you have to do quite a bit of digging.ts c-span: now i've got a dollar a bill i just pulled out of myt of pocket.mbere i remembered this when i was reading it. now there's just so much we could talk about on this dollarl bill, this'd probably take you through the whole program. >> guest: mm-hmm. c-span: what is it about this dollar bill that you want people to know about slogans and mottoes and all that? >> guest: well, it -- on thewh dollar bill, it's primarily ondo the back.l d mo there are two things really. there's the great seal, which appears to the left and the wh right of the word 'one.'i t and then above the word 'one' you have the words 'in god we trust.'e so the things that i waswo in focusing on here in the design of the dollar bill are the mottoes, 'annuit coeptus,' 'novus ordo seclorum,' over in the right 'e pluribus unum,' and
6:08 pm
then in the middle, what is our official national motto, 'in goe we trust.'is so the fact is that someone had to choose these mottoes and put them on there, and this took ate bit of doing. an interesting story behind th -- the mottoes on the great sea -- we can really attribute this to charles thomson, who was the secretary of congress. he was more or less the factotum. he's the guy who got things done. and, in fact, he was the second signer of the declaration, although we don't give hima credit for that because he wasca merely attesting john hancock's altho ure. so he was the second of two signers on july 4th, when theign declaration went out.s but later in the day, on july, 4th, 1776, congress assembled am committee to design a great seal -- in other words, to design something that was going to represent the country. and thomas jefferson, ben franklin and john adams made itn
6:09 pm
onto that committee, and theydam had some ideas for what wouldd make a good seal and some good mottoes. but they were all shot down, basically.to they could not come to a n consensus and it -- this thenh went to another committee a fewn years later and they couldn't er wime up with the ideas.s now a few things came out ofth that process. 'e pluribus unum' is one of theh ideas that came out of thatpres process.s to this was chosen by one of the consultants to the committee. a man named pierre jean dun simitare chose 'e pluribus unum' and that... c-span: what's it mean? >> guest: it means 'one from many,' and it you can find it id virgil, you can find it in a few other classical writers, but they there is a consensus that it seems to have been inspired by virgil.ensus i sespan: you say in the book that it means -- that americans think it means one thing, but it am really means another.lly >> guest: well, simitare -- hiss
6:10 pm
idea was that this was a countr formed out of about six different europeanff nationalities, so out oft six nationalities, one countryia is formed.ie this idea has evolved overtime so that we now think of it in a more multicultural sense: many peoples brought together as one people, as americans. but originally it had a much more, say, eurocentric motivation behind it. and -- and,of course, others at that time thought it hadm at something to do with 13 colonies joined as one. that was the other noterpretation. c-span: wait a minute.w ch a what do you do now for a living? >> guest: i teach at the university of massachusetts at amherst and i teach mathematicsi i'm a lecturer, and i teach large lectures:introductory calculus, precalculus, that sort of thing. so i stand in front of about 200 students at a time and i try tom make some of the intricacies of mathematics interesting, somehow
6:11 pm
come to life for them. c-span: when was it that you was actually proposed this book toi the free press and when did they buy it? >> guest: i proposed that to to them -- it would have been in -n i'm trying to remember what year. yea it was about two years ago, i believe.beli it had been rejected all overevb the place.en in the process of writing proposals -- i was learning how to write a proposal, and ia r originally conceived of thisf a rely as a reference book, that there would be somelige introduction, a little bit ofant explanation, but it would be largely a collection.y and that would be more faithful to my father's original idea. ie so i pitched this to the free press, becoming aware of them, actually, only because there wa a profile of adam bellow, whoo was their editor, in the new h yorker and i thought, 'well, i t might be able to pitch it in their direction.' they were -- they're somewhatio. conservative in some of their publications.
6:12 pm
but i thought, 'well, i can pitch it in that -- in that pro direction.' s so i wrote off a proposal -- sent off a proposal and it was rejected.noffaposal, however, there was enough encouragement in the rejectionnd letter that i called and talked to an editor there who said,like 'well, you know, i really like the idea for the book. it -- but we -- it's more of a reference book and -- and that d would be another division. we would be more interested inre something that was moreth descriptive, that talked about the words, as opposed to just presented them.'ed so i said, 'ok, let me rewritel the proposal and i'll get backe to you.'the and we went back and forth for o months before he -- this editor actually prevailed upon their -- their editorial staff and theirl marketing people that this wouln be a good idea. e c-span: what was the first edition on this and how's it>> going?oig? i mean, how many copies did they print? >> guest: the -- as i understand it, about 11,000 copies.i i d
6:13 pm
i guess that's fairly standardfi for a first-time author, atme least first-time in this particular genre, and i -- ing l believe it's going well. i think it will go into another printing. g. it has been a little bit agonizing going around, looking to see if i can find it inoo bookstores, how prominently is it displayed? but it's early yet and i thinkal -- i think things will pick up. i get a very good response fromt people on the book. they like the design, which i had a lot to do with. i wanted to make sure that this was a book that would look the way i wanted it to look, so i tt had suggested an architectural motif for the cover. c-span: so how did -- what do wa see here on this cover?fot >> guest: well, what you're>> wa seeing is actually somethingt hs from an old architectural>> a pattern book.ct when architects trained in,say,c the beaux-arts style, you know, they study these pattern bookse of classical motifs, the different orders.
6:14 pm
you see an ionic column there. i actually thought it would have been more appropriate to have ai corinthian column, because when you look at many of our civic am buildings, federal buildings,ahg you probablycor see more corinthian capitals ex than ionic, except i had to concede that that's a much better design as a detail for the cover of the book. the designer, i think, did aer really good job. c-span: creeds, mottoes andmo pledges. go back to the dollar bill.pgo b you've got 'in god we trust.'gt what is that? what do you call that, motto? y >> guest: it's a motto. c-span: and how did that get to be our motto?b and is that our motto as a country? >> guest: that's our official motto as of 1955.t's that was declared our officialf motto. i think probably a lot of people, myself included, up lotf until i researched this, though that 'e pluribus unum' was the motttho because it has appearedw the great seal and on our currency practically since the inception.the
6:15 pm
'in god we trust' first appeared 1863s currency in 1863 or '4, on the two-cent piece. salmon p. chase put it there. a suggestion was made to him that during the time of civil war should...se put c-span: he was secretary of the treasury then? >> guest: he was secretary of the treasury, yeah.ere.on wama during the time of civil war, should the union not survive, that posterity might look backe and think of it as -- possiblyfu as a heathen nation.r the suggestion was made thenibl that some acknowledgment of godn be made on the currency.od there were several people making this type of suggestion andstio chase picked up on it, and he went to the -- the man in charge of the mint and he said, 'do o this,' with a couple of coins comingere coming up for redesign.ns and he came back with two coins one of which was this two-cent
6:16 pm
piece. and he had a couple of w suggestions for the mottoes,and i believe his suggestion was h 'god, our trust,' and chase rewrote it to say 'in god we trust.'rwtn and -- now where he got that, it's not perfectly clear. he rf you go back to the nationalg anthem, francis scott key, 1814l the very last verse, one we never sing -- 'cause there arenr four verses of the national ec anthem -- says, 'in this -- and this be our motto: in god is ouu trust.'r no one seems to have picked up on that for quite awhile, but one expression 'in god we trust' became th e motto of one of the, -- it's the pennsylvania o volunteers, i think, in then civil war. it was a company that distinguished itself in battle and which had this as their war cry, basically. and chase perhaps picked it upiy from that, but he said, '"in god we trust" will go on theece two-cent piece.' got
6:17 pm
it did.a o he got a little bit of flack for it, but on the whole it wason ta accepted. and it began to appear on the coinage more and more until1907, when theodore roosevelt thoughte ro shouldn't be there and on the new designs for some $10 gold, n pieces he wanted it removed.s so you get a very interestinged. discussion in the congressional record, if you look back to thag period, pros and cons of havinge god on our money, mingling -- comingling god and mammon, as id were, and basically the congresi came down on the side of the si motto, that it should be there, it should be restored top all coins on which it had previously appeared.'s but it had not appeared on paper money yet, and that really take' us to the 1950s, where the w suggestion was then made, 'if it's on the coins, why isn't ite on the dollar bills?'gai and again, a big discussion b ensues, but it goes -- it passe, a little more easily. t in the '50s, what with thehe
6:18 pm
pledge of allegiance beingi altered with the addition of thh ofrds 'under god' and this addition to the currency, as well as our official motto goin into effect, it seemed to be tha decade in which god made quite an appearance in public life inu this country.o and a lot of people have tried to undo that but have noteded succeeded to this point.toh c-span: by the way, one fact jumped out in this book in thatt you say that the generals b services administration is going to spend $8 billion to repair or to renovate 150 courthouses in this country? >> guest: and build new ones,or yeah. c-span: over what period of time are they going to do this?re >> guest: well, there you've got me.ng tdon i don't know the exact timewot period. i was writing the section onhes inscriptions and it, of course,c when you write on inscriptions,u
6:19 pm
onu have to focus on these types of federal buildings, courthouses among them. tt and i was reading one of the architectural magazines in the r tmith college art library and i came upon this articleheg about us courthouses and about this program, that a lot of thes were in disrepair. so a lot of them are either being added to, renovated or net ones are being built in ahe lot of the major cities.e exa i don't know the exact timet knw is,me, i don't know how -- how safe the money is and whether all this will go through.e but i pointed it out in there mainly because a lot ofty t architects are seizing upon thea opportunity to do a kind of a revival of the classical style -- not back to the purelyaic imitative neoclassicism of 100 years ago, but we do see this return to classicism in modern architecture in -- especially in civic buildings.
6:20 pm
c-span: what does it mean when somebody says, 'that's notmd cricket'? bui where does that come from? mebouest: 'that's not cricket.' well, it means, for example, that if we go back a little way. to mike tyson biting the ear oft of an opponent, you could say, 'that's not cricket.' i don't know if many people hav used that -- that particular term, but 'that's not cricket' refers to rules and specificalle the rules of the game ofr cri cricket, the idea being that it is an expression that hasu actually risen above its context.the its immediate context is thatis there is a game. it's a game of gentlemen. it has rules. it has a certain decorum.ng and the idea of something being 'cricket' or 'not cricket' has actually gone up a level to where we can refer to thingswhe generally as being fair or
6:21 pm
unfair, or being ethical or unethical by using that term.at. and this is one of the themes i that i try to develop, that, there are ideas expressed in, say, rules or mottoes or codes of ethics, and sometimes we just -- we skim somewhere above the words themselves and we talkm about things like the goldenhm rule, referring to it by nameik without actually delving intoe the text. so i don't know the rules ofn'tk cricket, but i know what itw means when something is -- you-h know, that -- that's cricket or. not cricket.a i know what that means. c-span: you have a paragraph here -- i'm just going to read it all to get it on the table, amllou can...r >> guest: ok.ae c-span: ... talk about this.is. 'by a consensus of opinion,of horace greeley is the first to have said, "go west, young man"" jimmy durante said,"be nice to people on your way up becausea
6:22 pm
you're going to meet themty again on your way back down." o p.t. barnum has said, "there's m sucker born every minute." and vince lombardi hammered homr the creed,"winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." l none of these attributions is entirely accurate and barnum,eri for one, would not have wished to be remembered by thatu motto. but facts rarely get in the wayn of a useful myth.'tto >> guest: that's right. c-span: where'd you find all those and what did -- why'd you e diyhem in the book? >> guest: well, if you survey, h as i have, from the -- since s 1980, quotations dictionaries,ne you come upon a lot of these diings. you come upon the -- let's saycu the less meticulous dictionariey of quotations that simply give those and attribute them toatio those people. and then you will find some morm recent quotations diction -- dictionaries that have felt a little -- bit more responsible, and they delve into some of the origins.gins and so the barnum quote or the greeley quote -- well, they'll
6:23 pm
point out that actually it wasl someone else, and i can'te remember exactly who it was that said, 'go west,' and it somehowc attached itself to greeley, whor perhaps passed that along. the vince lombardi quote --ce again, there are some whouot contend he did say that, but there was a sentence in thee middle.ho y tt, he actually said, 'winning isn'c everything.tvery the desire to win is everything. in fact, it's the only thing.' and i point out, i think, in an endnote, that that middle sentence makes all the th difference in that particular -- we could call it a motto. what i was trying to point outeu there, though -- because the b book is not really about quotations as such andmisattr misquotations or misattributions. but it is about the idea of howo ideas -- very prevalent ideas become part of our culturalco
6:24 pm
consciousness.ns so i think there was a larger point there that i was trying ts make in that chapter -- andi those were just some particulart instances -- but that ideas not ulate and it helps if they become attached to particular people or particular events. tat and then they sort of get caught up and take off into the realm of folklore or legend. and there's not much you can do about that. the c-span: do all doctors take the hippocratic oath?>> wh >> guest: no. c-span: what is it? >> guest: the hippocratic oath is an oath that was written some 2,500 years ago. it -- it can't be attributed definitively to hippocrates, who -- it's not even certain that hippocrates existed. but this is an oath that is found in a body of greek texts -- medical texts called thece "corpus hip -- hippocraticum."ok and in this corpus, there are all sorts of texts and they are not by one author. but there is this oath, andh,
6:25 pm
because it comes from that bodyo of literature, it is attributed to hippocrates.ribu it is thought to have been an initiation oath for doctors trained in a very particularhy school -- not the majority -- i should say not the prevalent medical ethic of ancient greece; it was a very specialized school of medicine -- about handing down the tradition, about the ethics of practicing medicine and abouthe carrying on this profession.ion however, it -- because the oathh specifically forbids abortion and doctor-assisted suicide, it was picked up by the earlyl christian church, and the names of the gods were moved out andna the names of the suitable godede was moved in, and the -- thisrdt oath was perpetuated through the universities of europe and r eventually made it w -- its way
6:26 pm
to the united states.is and there is this idea that this is somehow legally binding, that all doctors take the hippocratic oath.or it certainly is the case that ie think most doctors of, say,r older generations did take the oath.er ge and, in fact, i have found outn that many took it in theake ani original, invoking all of thenat greek gods as part of this oathl nowadays a lot of things go byoh the name of the hippocratic oath, but they are watered down versions or let's just say they're made to be a little more politically correct. c-span: here's some of the language: 'as to diseases, makeo a habit of two things, to helpfd or at least to do no harm.' >> guest: yes, 'above all else, do no harm.'d that basically is the hippocratic ethos. that's the principal idea. idea.you say hippocratic oath, this is the idea that most people who are familiar with it can immediately call to mind. c-span: what's the lasagna oath?
6:27 pm
>> guest: well, the lasagna oath -- i should have simply labeled that a modern hippocratic oath t because this is by dr. lewisb lasagna,who teaches at tufts. c-span: still? >> guest: still teaches at tufts. he was at johns hopkins when he. wrote an alternative oath in the early '60s, and i knew he had gone to tufts and i called himcu and ecause i wanted to find out how his oath was doing -- and o it's a rather ni -- nice oath; o reproduce it in the back of the book with his permission, of course -- and to ask him how thc oath was doing and how other v hippocratic oaths are faring,t' because there are other versions. and what he told me is it's common these days -- and when i say 'these days,' i think this is really the '90s -- for r udents to want to return to this tradition, which wasis tra rejected by and large in thedi '70s.the the original hippocratic oath was proving to be unpopular, onb
6:28 pm
of these received ideas, ratherd archaic, that students, i think, initially at harvard medicalti school just rejected.ar but now students are voting in many medical schools to go back to the idea of reciting an oath. and some of them go back to the original -- i think not many -- and some of them -- let's say no most of them -- try to writet their own oath or adapt,n the ancient oath. so the lasagna oath is one of these adapted oaths,and i thinkf it's probably the best example.n c-span: i just flipped to the back and i'd underlined some of the mottoes and the other things you have back there.e this one i wanted to mention,ve very short. ct's the motto of davy crockett, us congressman from tennessee:et 'be sure you're right, then go. ahead.'ad. >> guest: right. t c-span: where'd you find that? >> guest: well, that -- again, that is -- that actually was iny my father's collection.me some of these came from dictionaries of quotations, somn
6:29 pm
of those mottoes.ie, that particular section you'ret. looking at was difficult not to assemble but to decide what toiw include in the book because i had limited space.ude in and i thought, well,it wastac inportant to include the mottoe, of the states.udd and i wanted to include some personal mottoes, mottoes of historical figures, that sort of thing, or organizationsa that people are familiar with. and i also wanted to try to try communicate some of the eclecticism of my father's original collection. i used to go through there andaf see this wide range of things, some of them quite humorous, others serious, others just -- just interesting because of the juxtapositions they created. th so in that particular section, h tried to do that,these justi -- these juxtapositions of personat mottoes, corporate mottoes...c c-span: like evard -- edward everett hale, 'look up and not down, look forward and not back, look out and -- and not in, lend
6:30 pm
a hand.'back >> guest: lend-a-hand -- thea a lennd-a-hand society. s yeah.. c-span: 'do right,' motto of the sunbeams? what's that?theg >> guest: sunbeams -- it's likey the girl guards or the girlionsa scouts, one of these youth, organizations that -- i -- i'm not sure they still exist, butra certainly in the '60s, you knowr these were -- one of theegaiz organizations that i was. familiar with mainly through my father's collection. c-span: thomas jefferson, decalogue of cannons for observation and practice in h practical life, the number thren -- you had 10 of them on the list -- 'never spend youron. money before you have it.' number 10 i underlined for somey reason: 'when angry, count 1010. before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.', 1 y guest: well, you may have underlined it because there's another what we could call a mammandment. mark twain had, 'when angry,twi count to 10; when very angry, swear,' which i think -- and i'm
6:31 pm
trying to remember if i put itik in the book.remeer, i know i've had it in earlier versions. c-span: i don't remember that saying in here.h >> guest: anyway, i think that is from puddin' head wilson's e calendar. twain tried to tweak some of this sort of yankee wisdom of benjamin franklin, this frontier wisdom of the earlier writers, not that franklin was not -- het -- he had a pretty good sense ot humor himself and not all of hie maxims are entirely serious.s but there's this evolution of wisdom in this country and you see it in twain trying to turn these things around. t one of my favorites, which iswrn not in the back there, but it's in the -- in one of the noin chapters, is also twain's froms puddin' head wilson's calender. and i used to think of this a lot as i was writing this book because you have this idea -- o i had this idea that i was putting an awful lot of time and
6:32 pm
an awful lot into something that might not pan out.in and he had this saying that i -s that i used to refer back to a lot: 'put all your eggs in one basket and watch that basket.' c-span: how about ben franklin's, 'keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half-shuto afterwards'?eht >> guest: well, there's a goodeo example of his sense of humor and -- and also his way with the ladies, i guess we could say.ge c-span: another one from him: s 'tolerate no uncleanliness ina body, clothes or habitation.'nl >> guest: yeah. you -- i'm wondering if he camem up with that one after living in france for awhile.wi c-span: what about -- go back to the start of all this again with your father. of and as a matter of fact, i wantr the audience to see this -- thiw huge document here. this is it, huh? >> guest: that's it. that was on my father's shelf i his office when i was growing up, you know, and i used to gorw in there.in. and i mention in the preface to
6:33 pm
the book that, you know, his th office had various things.es it had some military memorabilia, he had some medals from serving in the marines andm in the second worldi war. but this is what alwaysbut attracted my attention.tct i was not so fascinated with thf military stuff, i was always fascinated with this collectionh fnd you can almost open to any page and find somethingto a interesting, something curious.n c-span: what happened rightso here? so it says on the outside, 'oathss. and creeds and words men liveheo by...u >> guest: 'and other -- other words.' c-span: ... people live by, and americans live by.' who changed that? >> guest: well, that's hisieive writing.o chan he was changing that as he went along.s his and as he has told me recently, he began with the words 'men hew live by,' but then he thoughtetm that was too limiting. began so then he changed it to theght words 'people live by.' and actually, that's the title i knew it by as -- when i was growing up, 'the words people live by.' that's how i always referred toi it and that's the title that was
6:34 pm
in my proposal to the free press.wast he eventually changed it to'words americans live by.'opwr but i stuck with this earlieru title, 'the -- the people,' as in 'we, the people,' for example. but it was decided the most inclusive thing we could do wast to change the title to "we lived by," which i grudgingly --e grudgingly acceded to. but he actually -- he would always tell me that he thought the title of the book should be "the words we propose to live by." and i -- in fact,i think -- he always would quote -- this is thomas a kemp is, "man proposes, but god disposes." and i think when he originallyp, tried to write an introduction to this book, he began with that quotation, but man does, indeed, propose and here it is. these are our, proposals,basically. c-span: what is your dad doing
6:35 pm
today?es >> guest: he still works. he's 75, he works full time. d still -- and he hasn't worked continuously in thishe is high-technology area, but he likes to work and he was recently hired a few years ago by a high-tech company that makes something having to do with the internet, switching devices.thi and -- and i feel embarrassedar sometimes that when he comes tot technical things, computer-related things, that he's more up on this than i am.i you know, i teach mathematics, and yet, he's telling me about a the internet and about switching devices and about oulecommunications. c-span: what's he like?e? >> guest: he's a very gregarious guy.ry i thought -- he reminds me, inis some ways, personalitywise, of these guys who do "car talk" one national public radio.th he's very opinionated.s he loves to get going on api
6:36 pm
subject and just argue about itn he'll immediately tell you what he thinks and he will welcomel m discussions.wi but what he's in on are words, are the kinds of things people say, the habits they have, thev things that they pick up on,, he perhaps without thinking about them.ou he's constantly thinking, whether it's words, mottoes, j just expressions people use every day.expr v so i of course, i find him a fascinating guy to talk to.se, i think he exasperates some ofi the people he works with. c-span: you dedicate the book for your mother and father. >> guest: mm-hmm. c-span: where's you mom?a >> guest: well, living in lexington, right across from the battle green.o they both live at this houset that i recall from my days in high school where this binderg sat right up on his officell fmm shelf.he so they've really maintained sort of a very steady life and
6:37 pm
try to visit them when i can.the -span: what's her profession? >> guest: well, she's--er housewife.he s some.... c-span: what's she think of youe two working together on this book? sh >> guest: well, i think she'si amused by the whole thing. i think initially he wase somewhat reluctant.as he used to say to me, 'now look. this is -- this is your projecto you've really done all the worko here.'k and this really -- the book is - not really the transcription of this notebook of his. and he said, you know, 'i don't want to be mentioned in thishi thing. don't talk about me.'hin but i had to put in the storyt a about how he initiated this.d and as for my mother -- well, id know, of course, she's verye proud of me and, i think,ls excited that -- that this thing has -- well, it's beginning towl take of a little bit.off people are beginning to notice it and -- and people are o responding to the both of them r
6:38 pm
in ways that i think they find very gratifying.th my father's become somewhat of . a cebrity at work and my mother has become, well, somewhat of a celebrity in town. so it's nice to be a success in your hometown and to get that kind of notice in the place thao you grew up. c-span: you open the book by talking about a stop right overo here at the taft memorial...oalk >> guest: yeah. c-span: ...abi which is an unusual memorial in itself that it's even there.gere >> guest: right.thits yeah. ther the taft memorial -- it'st probably not one of the more on visited sites in washington, dc. it's over, more or less,between union station and if you'ref walking over towards they capitol.kinover tow the reason that story is there is because i was talking with my father about the origin of all this.ist bec ign and i -- 'course, i was veryn young at the time, but i know veat when i was in the first grade and in second grade, it wi went on trips to washington with him, business trips, and he mentioned the story about us pulling up in a rented car andui he dashes over -- i have a vague
6:39 pm
recollection of it because it occurred several times inrc different places.dif so i had to rely on his memory there, actually, about the taft memorial, but -- and he's toldt somewhat similar stories about some other inscriptions that het copied down.h o you know, at the age of -- t whenever that was, in first grade -- i can't say that i have this very specific memory of ths taft memorial and i have to taka his word for it. but i was aware that that's whai he was doing at the time.as aar c-span: do you remember other stops over the years?'s and when did you two stopdo your ovaveling together and you -- you had do it on your own? >> guest: well, the trips that a would take with him individually probably stopped by the time i i was out of elementaryte school, then we would be on then we acations where he'd be dragging the whole family in aoh car for hours on end to -- wellr whatever was reasonable to reacn from the boston area. was reasoo
6:40 pm
reach from the boston area, but it could go as far as washingt washington. but you know, the same thing would happen. >> can you remember when he had all five of you in the car and stopped somewhere, and said, you are all going up to see this inscription? >> all five of us, that would have had to have been fairly early on, but, yeah, i am sure that happened, probably visiting say, some revolution war battlefields, that sort of thing. >> did he stop all the time? >> well, he didn't stop at everything, but he is the kind of guy that if you are driving down a country road, say a country highway, not an interstate, but if you are driving down and you see one of thesst iro of these cast-iron historical markers, well, you know, he'derd pull over in the breakdown lane and back up the car and -- andct he would get out and we wouldouh have to read this historical marker.an and i can't say that i havei picked up on that habit. i do, when it -- it's safe to stop, try to look at as many
6:41 pm
historical markers as i can. c-span: let me ask you about some other people in here that you write about. dale carnegie -- who was he?t me >> guest: dale carnegie. well, initially, he was a salesman, but he became a -- sort of the master of public speaking. he started a school of publicic speaking after being a salesman, and he rented some space inhe r carnegie hall and actually changed the spelling of his nama to -- to match that of andrewe carnegie, who's no relation.e he was carnegay, with an a-y on the end. but he wanted to be not only aan great orator himself, but heon wanted to teach people how toy come across in public.o and so he started a school andhw and as a modest success -- successful enough.u he actually...ce c-span: where? >> guest: he started it in new york city at a ymca. he talked the director of the new york ymca into giving him a slot, giving him a space so edh that he could start a class.
6:42 pm
eventually, he built this into quite an empire of schools ofti public speaking and he liought out a book about -- sort of the definitive book at thea b time about public speaking.o c-span: name -- what was the he bo of it? >> guest: well, he -- that was -- that -- his -- this i -- now this isn't the one he's famous, for.n't this is something like "public speaking and influencing men in business" or something like that.cing m but is -- -his breakthroughe book, which he wrote about when he was about 50 years of age, was "how to win friends and influence people," which is somewhat different. now this is not a bible of public speaking,but it's a -- i. suppose you could call it a bible of how to ingratiatets yourself with others. it really is about selling yourself, selling your personality.selfse and what he did was to codify things, to break things down into numbered rules.dow so his six rules of how to be a effective speaker, this sort of
6:43 pm
thing. e of course, the book was a smash success and made him a household -- his name a household word. some people were not too happy with the results of this because basically it meant it seemed tol be a transition from a cult of the work ethic, hard work being the key to success, to personality being the key to success, where, you know, you can smile and shake someone's a hand, and more or less screwor them out of something at the same time.me c-span: parkinson's law: work expands so as to fill the timea, available for its completion. general recognition of this fac is shown in the proverbialc phrase, "it is the busiest manf who has time to spare."ctphse ' who was parkinson?, >> guest: parkinson,pare c. northcote parkinson, a british historian and a novelist, actually.
6:44 pm
he wrote a lot of seafaring novels. but he also wrote an article for the magazine the economist ins, 1955, where he -- and this wasue all tongue in cheek -- he s proposed what was called i parkinson's law, which, actually, as we now understand it, is what you just read, thatn work expands so as to fit thew time allotted to it.you and -- and this is one of thesea nice things that i came upon doing in the research.up i wanted to put it in there.n pu it was in my father's originaliw collection, par -- not only parkinson's law, but allr these offshoots of it, such as,t 'appetite rises to meet foodh supply,' or that, 'spending rises to meet income.'ng these have to do with naturali human tendencies to basicallycol avail yourself of everything that's there. however, what i discovered is that that is actually not parkinson's law as he originallt stated it. in fact, it -- i -- refer to it as'parkinson's premise' because he opens his article with that statement and merely establishes
6:45 pm
the framework of his latert discussion.tabsh his later discussion leads to this was the original parkinson's law -- that in any inministration or any, let's say, government administration,o not during wartime, that the size of the administrative stafe will increase at a rate ofstff somewhere between 5 percent ande 6 percent per year regardless of the amount of work to be done.t he labeled that parkinson's law. and i was rather gratified tow find that when i looked in my we -- merriam webster's 10th collegiate dictionary, that'sn what they list as their first definition of parkinson's law, the original parkinson's law. pa however, parkinson's seems tos s have discovered, or maybe hisyb editor did, that there was a loa of money to be made in running with that other law, 'work expands to fit the timehe allotted for its completion,'ri and he expanded his article into
6:46 pm
ohbook. that led to many other books, a whole series of parkinson's anws, and that is what he became eamous for.d but again, he was wise enough to see that his originalt h parkinson's law was not the one that was going to establish his fame. c-span: horatio alger -- who was he? ha >> guest: horatio alger, anothe novelist.tlist in this instance,he was writinga novels for youth -- the youth of america and he was, i think, a self-appointedn, crusader.lf-ant edhis idea was to try to help a young men make their way in the city.r so he's writing in the p post-civil war era. did >>span: where'd he live?h >> guest: he actually -- he ly originally, i believe, was from massachusetts, but he settled in new york city.sew york c and he wrote his -- most of hisi novels there.but, you but, you know, he had titles like, you know, "winning out byn
6:47 pm
pluck," this sort of thing.n c-span: but you say in the book that people think that there was a -- and when they say it's a horatio alger story... >> guest: they think there's a character named horatio alger,sy that the books are about some young boy named horatio alger that's -- that brings himself up by his bootstraps and by -- through hard work andug perseverance, comes to be successful.boot a great man, a rich man. and, of course, horatio alger -- actually, horatio alger jr.oc -- is the author of theseatio books.d someon and someone said of him that he wrote one novel and he rewrote it 118 times because he wrote something like 120 novels andt they all follow the same pattern. but the pattern is not -- it'si not, i think, understood quite correctly. the stereotype of the horatio orger character is someone who
6:48 pm
basically is, say, a young boy, poor, living in the gutter, but who decides to persevere and adheres to a code of behavior that emphasizes hard work, fair play and that through that and that alone comes to become successful, becomes, say, a businessman and eventually a rich man.ecossfubecomes, bs so we have this idea of a horatio alger story being, say, the actual life story of someony like charles schwab, who starte at a $1 a day working in the carnegie steelworks andat eventually was the head of int those steelworks and the head of bethlehem steel. but that's not quite the horatio alger story. if you read these books, whateed you find out is that luck has as much, if not more, to do withas success than pluck andih determination, that all of thess involve some incredibly lucky break and the hero being taken under the wing of some veryer t
6:49 pm
strong or rich paternal figure r who sets that young boy up inure business, but in -- on a modestb level.ue they get to work as a clerk in a shop. a c-span: you said something righa around that discussion about e horatio alger and charles schwab and all that, that colin powells -- you named these three people -- rosa parks and cal ripken jre -- that those three people are the type of people that americans admire because theyty continue to represent bedrock principles.pe ans dm >> guest: yeah. the -- what i refer to is the character ethic.the what i try to trace in thatc evolter is the idea that there's an evolution that various writers have traced -- sociologists, mainly, have traced in american culture; that you begin with the ethicctu ge of, say, george washington.ey c and they call this the characted ethic,the idea that there are principles that you train t yourself to follow throughouta
6:50 pm
life and that you are nott subject to the -- let's say thea whims or the disapproval ofsubct others, that you adhere to a se principciples and you live your thfe that way. they are ingrained in you in youth and you continue too reflect upon them.reflt as you begin to get into the 20th century, there is the perception that success is nowon suddenly turning more uponcc personality than onha character, that you can getr ahead by affecting a certain pose, as opposed to havingaffecn certain bedrock principles, so that by the time you get to theb 1950s, you have this book, the "lonely crowd," by david riesman, that i talk about,by which refers to these in other r terms.th inner directedness is the ideae personified by georgeby washington. he is driven by a set of
6:51 pm
principles that he has internalized vs. otherind directedness in which yourn entire mind-set is driven byby others, the reactions of otherse how people are responding.re and so what i try to point out is that there are still people who personify inner directedness or the character ethic, and i named those as examples. c-span: you have a code in here written by dennis lee curtis, h and this is not that old, inawrt 1992, the stick-up man's code.k and there are a bunch of points here -- let's see -- eight of them: 'i will not kill anyone unless i have to,' 'i will take cash and food stamps, noks. checks,' 'i will rob only aty a night,' 'i will not wear a mask,' 'i will not rob minimarto or 7-elven stores,' 'if chasedtr by cops on foot, i will get11 st away,' 'if chased by a vehicle, i will not put the lives of innocent civilians on the line,c seven, 'i will rob only sevent months out of the year,' andh
6:52 pm
eight, 'i will enjoy robbingel r from the poor to give to theben poor.'m why'd you put that in here? >> guest: well, this is the kin of thing -- i found it, not myt father, but this is the kind oft thing i know that if he had come upon it, he would have clipped this out of this magazine, hee, would have mailed it to me andsi it would have said at the top 'for the book.'tpook. i put it in there not only because it's -- in its way, it's kind of charming, if you can set aside the actual context of it.f but the idea -- here is this as stick-up man who is apprehendedi and the police find on hisah is person a code of ethics.ind he has his own code of ethics.n and i think it's perhaps an extreme example, but it -- but this idea of the pervasiveness t of codes in our culture -- thatr -- i was trying to show that arc code of ethics is a rather american idea, that -- it's not ve american invention. you can go back to the or -- thh first medical code of ethicseics which was english in origin, but we seem to have taken to codesse
6:53 pm
of ethics, written statements of principle. so on the high end, you can point to the declaration of independence or the bill of rights, but you can also goi through this whole spectrume k in which you wind up with dennis lee curtis and his stick-up man's code or the code... c-span: and elvis presley imperson... >> guest: yeah. the creed of the elvis presley imitators associationan st cod international.e id the idea that they think it'seaa important enough to have at o statement of basic principles that defines their organization, and defines their mission -- i isve that idea. c-span: now the book came out what was the pub date? n wh >> guest: july 1st.at c-span: what's the mostish interesting thing that'sduly happened to you since1ng nc came out or something that you didn't expect to happen? >> guest: something i didn't expect to happen. to hdn c-span: or maybe i ought to askn it better. have you gotten publicity youosk didn't expect?u have you been on a book tour? do people care when you goen on around?go i mean, what's -- what sense do you get that after all this wor it matters?t
6:54 pm
>> guest: well, there are actually two things that -- that hereaoome out it. first, setting aside theve publicity part of it,the first thing that came out of it, i think, is -- and probably the most important is that it ha -- it has had the effect of drawinn me and my father closer togethee because, you know, even though o he did take us on -- on trips,u sometimes individually,indi sometimes together, it's not -- it wasn't really like an "andy of mayberry" childhoodget, that we would go fishing was t together -- i mean, we did nowh and then, but, you know, he -- he worked, he was on the road a lot and i did not discuss this with him very much, but now i've had occasion to. tim and the first it happened whendg we were doing an interview withm the boston globe, where in the course of the interview i'm finding out things about him that i hadn't known. and...wel c-span: like?k >> guest: well, like, foresm example, some of his militaryis experience. miis is so this is something that was never really discussed when i was growing up, that he was in the south pacific in world war
6:55 pm
ii, he was a marine pilot and he was in korea.s nin redidn't know that he had anything to do with liberatingno the philippines.li but he went into some of theseek stories and, of course, i was fascinated. i wanted him to keep going. f so that's been a very good byproduct of all this. l on the publicity front, well, really not too long ago, when ii was rthlly finishing up some of the post-production aspects ofeo the book, i was talking to mye , editor and just saying, 'so am g erer going to see any money from this or, you know, do i have to get another job?' but then a piece came out in ust today, a great piece that seemed to draw a lot of attention, andt i've actually been quite surprised.ys i didn't allow myself to hopete for this or anticipate, but thai i would be appearing on the "today" show, that i would be appearing on booknotes, but these things have come to pass and i have to admit i'm enjoyino
6:56 pm
them very much.ve c c-span: and we're out of time,om and i should say that that usa today piece got our attention.ig so here's the book, briant burrell, "the words we live by: the creeds, mottoes and pledgess that have shaped america." and we thank you very much forwo joining us.eds >> guest: well, thank you. >> for more go to simon says.com. to find out more about it took notes series go to booknotes.org
6:57 pm
>> we are at the annual cebit conference in washington d.c.. we are talking to kristen of isi books. can you tell us what we are biggest sellers in 2009? we had the book iconoclasts, a history of the supply-side economics. we also had a history of the 1980 ronald reagan campaign for president. we also, we still hold these truths about the principles of the constitution. >> what do you have coming up in 2010? >> we have a biography of william f. buckley called the founder of the movement by lee edwards from the howard edge foundation. we also have a book called whittaker chambers is part of our library of modern interest series by richard ranch and we have a book called freedom by representative mccotter, that
6:58 pm
is mccotter. it is basically about restoring principles in the coming years and finally we have a book called the closing of minds by robert riley, which is about kind of the intellectual differences between muslims and western christians and how that needs to be resolved before we go further. >> do you have any authors who are signing books here today? >> we do. matthew spalding of we still hold these truths will be signing books and also craig shirley who wrote rendezvous with destiny. >> can you tell us a bit about isi books in general? how long has the company been around? are they a part of another publisher? >> isi books has been around since 1993. we are part of the intercollegiate studies institute, which does work with college students and college professors, newspapers and isi
6:59 pm
books to an extent facilitates that by writing books about intellectual and cultural events with the aim to restore some of the culture we have lost in the past 50 or so years. before that, isi also published books but not under our own publishing-- since 1993 we have have been independent within intercollegiate studies of cell. >> is the ideological, is there an ideological concentration? >> yes. more bringing back be underpinnings of conservatism. not so much this is what we need to do now and taking action but trying to bring back the thought and the culture into the movement and just get people to think about it it and ruminate about the topics we are seeing being played out. >> thank you

189 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on