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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  August 7, 2011 3:00pm-3:45pm EDT

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>> guest: oh, great question. definitely hillsdale. i ought to have a list in my head, but i don't. i gather pepperdine. southern schools tend to be pretty good. because they're in the south. oh, and, of course, kings college, my number one recommendation. and you can live in the greatest city in the world, new york city. it's christian core curriculum. yes, kings collegement what else is there? i'm sure there's some other good ones. it's not a question i answer a lot. and he has another question for me, and i think he's going to quote from one of my books. >> host: well, we're out of time. ann coulter on "hannity & colmes" in '04: >> host: we've got to watch out for spending on the military. that's from '07. here's a list of ann coulter's books:
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>> host: ann coulter, thank you for being our guest for the past three hours on "in depth." >> guest: thank you. >> host: next month on "in depth " ellis coats will be our guest. and then in the october michael moore will be our guest. the accidental millionaires, and finally david brooks in december. enjoy the rest of your sunday. ..
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named
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>> captivating at the time. but it's been lost to history. it's a footnote. a story -- it was a time just after the world changed and then the soldiers that -- here we have just this year in march, the last living soldier of world war i, a man 110 yeald, was buried at arlington national cemetery. there are no more from that era and of course --
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>> a sexual revolution going on. you have all the media things. radio course begins to become a very popular medium. eventually becoming the media of the day. tabloid newspapers are still very strong. movies, the film industry had been around for a few years but really reached its -- got its attraction in the 1920s. along with that, the cult of celebrate came long. what andy war -- warhol would describe as 15 minutes of fame, came long later, fort sports figures became famous. against that you had this
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reaction to that revolution, and it was described in an odd word that was created at the beginning of the decade by warren harding, who ran in 1920, when he said we want to get back to what he called normal simple. there was no such word. he was the first republican -- getting back to the way things used to be and are a lot of people that resonated with them. they saw the country blowing apart, the values they held were changing, and so you had a number of things that came along at the same time that emerged. one was a movement called fundamentalism. you hear about fundmentallism, you think about it's associated an awful lot with islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, and people through in christian fundamentalism and use the mistake of evan gel calism and
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fundamentalism. it began as a theological influence and also a cultural thing. it was sort of something for people to get involved in, and it's hard for us to imagine today but it was such a pervasive movement in the 1920s, that the famous seasonal of baltimore, man by the name of hl man kene, said in the middle of the 1920s, if you were to heave an egg from a pullman car anywhere in america you're bound to hit a fundmental list in the head. there will millions of people who embraced it. so it was cultural reaction to the way things have changed.
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in 1915, in was a regrouping of the klan, and by the time you come into the 1920s, this group, very patriotic, very pro america, very antiimmigrant, antiforeigners kind of thing, really takes hold in the culture, and for a moment in time, there is a blending together of a lot of the commonality here of fundamentalism and the klu klux klan. this is something that -- one of the reasons they have a difficult time repudiating it is they have had a difficult time acknowledging it was part of the past. but there was a lot of affinity between the klan. the klan was about three things in the 1920s. it was racist organization, as it's always been, and it was also antisemitic, as it's always been, but that was very prominent, antizionist. the zion is in movement was
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coming along, and this is where the story comes in, particularly in texas. it was also anticatholic. sort of a throwback to the old know-nothings, and it was this anticatholickism that really was part and parcel of its popularity, particularly in the south. so you have the 1920s. sort of the breeding ground and fertile ground for the coming along of demagogues, and sometimes in the name of religion, and along comes this complex character, the shooting salvationist, and the book is about him, this character, john franklin norris, or nope at j frank. he was born in alabama and moved to the hill country of texas where he grew up.
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survived a gun shot wound at 13 that almost killed him. his father was a hopeless alcoholic but his mother was extremely devout and the driving force of his life. when he was in his late teens, he experienced a religious conversion and felt the call to the ministry. he went off to baylor university, which is where all baptist kids went at the time, and graduated with honors, and then went to the seminary in louisville, kuk, -- louisville, kentucky, and was the prototypical young man in a hurry and caught the notice of nondenominational leaders, and at a young age was tasked because of his writing skills with being the editor of a major
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baptist periodal called the baptist standard or the texas baptist standard, and it's during this particular time that he develops a flair for public controversy, and he decides to write a series of articles against racetrack gambling in dallas and in ft. worth, and is credited for leading the way to see gambling banned in most of texas for the next 20 to 30 years. and he likes that crusading kind of stuff. well, he becomes the pastor of a church that was celebrated church called the first baptist church in ft. worth texas in 1909. one of the wealthiest congregations in texas. known as the church of the cattle kings. there were 12 millionaires in the church, and norris was one of the highest paid clergymen in
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america. one newspaper voted him the best dressed pastor in america. and he began a ministry that was at first pretty sedate but eventually he decided he would turn into and morph himself into a sort of a composite, and i have done a lot of radio interviews and am trying to give people a feel for what this person was like. billy sun day was -- a little billy graham. and add to that a little dose of william randolph hearst. a very famous newspaper man and also someone who had napoleonic tendencies, and add to that the name of pd barnum, and because it's the 20s and because of norris and some of the things he
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did, put a little al capone in there because he was very much into winning battles and fighting battles. he built first baptist church from a few hundred peoplin' 1909, to a church that would drew sometimes 10,000 people by the middle of the 1920s. there are churches in america bigger than that now. lots of churches. but at that time there weren't. this was unheard of back then. it really was before the name was used, the first megachurch in america. he didn't do it without controversy. there was an area in ft. worth during the days before world war one called hell's half acre, the redlight district of the town, where the brothels where and the gambling houses and bars were and so forth. it was a place that all the cattlemen that were coming up, driving the cattle up the chism trail would stop, and the real
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picture of butch cassidy and the sundance kid was taken in hell's half acre. norris decided to take that on and shut it down. so he go to being this crusading kind of local pastor, cleaning up the city, and along the way he made a few enemies, and one day his church blew up and burned. and rumors were circulating, how did this happen? was it the work of the enemies? eventually many people believe that j. frank norris burned his church down for the notoriety. in fact he was charged with arson, then he was indicted for perjury. and in fact another indictment -- he was indicted three times, had two trials, and was acquitted on all counts, but it was never fully proven exactly what happened, and i detail that in the book somewhat, even though that's not the story i focus on.
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that in itself is another fascinating story about this guy. he leverages this notoriety and celebrity and he becomes this big megachurch pastor by the middle of the 1920s. let me read a passage. i have a couple but one of them illustrates what the media thought.him during this particular period of time. and it is a description from 1924. in january of 1924, a popular periodal of the day called "the world's work." devoted to international news written with a reformist bent profiled norris as a leader of all fundamental lists in the country. potential leaders abound, and among them the strongest, shrewdest and most romantically adventureous is j. frank norris of texas.
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one tanks says he totes a gun. the other says he totes two guns. many of frank's former foes adore him, has does half of the community. buildings a block and more attest his success, and his auditorium will hold 6,000 with a choir of 700. prince of crowd gatherers, pair gone of advertisers and a sensationalist of the first order, norris created a new profession, that of church efficiency expert and is it most brilliant practitioner. heralded as the texas cyclone, he will enter any city you choose to name, lay hold of some dotterring, dead or alive downtown church, draw crowds, galvanize them, get the institution financed, and erect a living, lasting monument to his abilities. after witnessing his performance in cleveland, dr. w. w. buzz sadr, a business leader, declared norris' genius would be worth $50,000 a year.
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he understated the case. and so that sort of gives you a glimpse of the press clippings around the country of this name many of you don't know, but he was an emerging figure. the story -- probably the reason you don't know it is because of the whole story that happened. i think most folks are familiar with some of the parameters of scopes trial in tennessee in 1925. the issue was evolution. the lawyers were clarence dare row and william jennings bryan. william jennings bryant has a presidential candidate. he was a gifted orator, and he was a hero of the little people. they called him the great commoner. by the middle of the 1920s, he is in his 60s and has been relegated to an eye side role in democratic party politics and becomes the leader of this movement called fundamentalism,
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and the apex is when the big trial took place in tennessee, and of course william jennings bryan goes down the to work with the prosecution. a footnote to this is that one of the preachers, in fact the man probably most responsible for getting william jennings bryan to go to tennessee was j. frank norris, and one of the things bryan did before he died was write a hand written note to j. frank norris, thanking him for his help, his encouragement in going to the trial, and norris opened that handwritten over in after he had gotten the news that william jennings bryan tied, and the printed the note in his newspaper, which at the time had 50,000 subscribers, and his goal very much was to become the heir to william jennings bryan and become the leader of fundamental lists or what we
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might call conservative christians in america at the time. and it might have happened, except in the year he got in a battle with local city leaders in fort worth, texas. he is always fighting about something. the particular issue this time had to do with taxes and it was an interesting story. the first baptist church in fort worth owned the tremendous part of an entire downtown block in the city of fort worth, and also part of another block, and for the buildings they weren't using, they rented them out. in fact the jc penney store rented space from the first baptist church. the problem was the first ban baptist church was not paying tacks on that portion of the property, and so as a result of that, norris was taxed -- the church was taxed, as were some other churches in forth worth at the time, and j. frank norris resisted this and vowed to fight.
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so he got into a heated battle with the city leaders, including the mayor. the mayor was a man by the name of henry clay meacham. he is credited for bringing aviation to fort worth, texas, back during that team. are we okay? >> better. >> want me to keep going? >> needs another nickel. >> there you go. >> norris would really use this newspaper, his radio, and his pulpit for personal attack. he wouldn't be above just preaching a sermon where he would accuse the mayor of all sorts of things, including having an affair and other things. you can imagine -- this is before there was an fcc. the fcc didn't -- first part didn't come along until 192 7,
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so it was wide open. things got heated up. this is that period of time 85 years ago in fort worth, and what happen was a friend of the mayor took umbrage, decided to speak 0 the preacher and defend my friend. so he went to see norris on july 17, 1926, basically they had a heated argument. he said you need to stop criticizing my friends. norris said he was going to keep on doing it. and what happened in those next movements was debated, analyzed, testified one way or another, a lot of controversy about what really happened. but the facts are that norris picked a gun from his desk, rolltop desk, a picture of william jennings bryan, a pacifist, above the desk -- and i have a picture of this in the
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book as well as the gun -- and shot the man four times and the bullets went in chips and chips lay dying on his floor to put it in perspective, if you heard of the megachurch preacher rick warren, or you know of a televangelist like pat can -- pat robertson, how being a story, for whatever reason, shot and killed a person in the office. this day of 24/7 news, this would be casey anthony who? it would go away. and that's how big a story it was with the media such as it was at that time. that was a saturday. by the next morning, every newspaper in america because of wire services, which is another part of the story, that were just coming around, government the away out to -- every paper had headline about this minister in texas, this ambitious leader
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who wanted to be the heir to william jennings bryan, shooting and kill manage in his office. he was indicted and charged with first degree murder, which meant that if he was convicted, he would have faced the electric chair in texas. the mayor wanted to make sure that norris was convicted, so decided out of his own pocket -- he was a wealthy department store owner -- to hire some extra lawyers, special prosecutors, to help the district attorney, and it was welcomed by the district attorney. so what you have beginning is this big legal battle that is going to come along with some of the most powerful and influential lawyers of the time, and they have a hearing in fort worth but it's clear he can't get a fair trial there because opinion about him is so pronounced. so they vote to move the trial to austin, texas. and the judge sets the date for
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january of 1927, somehow not realizing that by doing this, he makes sure that this trial, which will be juan of the most celebrated in the history of texas, take place the very same week that the youngest ever governor in the history of the state of texas, a man named dan moody, is inaugurated in texas, and dan moody, because first baptist was the biggest auditorium in town and they had all sorts of evens evens there - spoke from the pull pit of norris. and you have the inauguration, and austin has 50,000 residents. a sleepy town, state capitol, hasn't seen the boom that has been seen these years later. and the trial is moved to austin, texas. it draws every media outlet you can possibly imagine to the
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trial, and as a result of this trial, norris is -- his case is brought before the jury. it becomes sort of a duel between lawyers. some of the greatest, most celebrated lawyers, names that are forgotten today for the prosecution, a lawyer named bill mcclain, wild bill mcclain they called him. sort of an f. lee bay lee -- baily of the day, and the lawyer for norris was dayton moses, and he was being led by dayton moses, and as a result of all this, this trial took place -- i write about it in "shooting salvationist" and comes to the point of verdict, and just like we sometimes see in trials, the verdict doesn't turn out the way a lot of people who just seem to know the facts think it should turn out norris does not die in
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the electric chair. in fact, he lives until 1952, and he has -- he never reaches the place he wanted to reach, because he is always going to be marred by this story, but he is still a gifted man. he begins to pastor two churches at the same time, one in detroit, michigan, one in fort worth, texas, commuting back and forth. this in the' 30s. 25,000 members between the two churches. after world war ii he gets involved in anticommunisms and realizes that roman catholics and he are on the same page, and this man has an audience with pope pious xii in 1947. so he was an interesting pragmatist, a man who could change. one little footnote and i'll take questions if you have them. in the 1940s, one of norris'
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young students -- he was always having young people come along. he was charismatic individual and some wanted to be like him and learn from him and he had the reputation of not taking anything from anybody -- was a young man by the name of john burch. a name you may know. john burch became a missionary, sent out by norris' church to china. while he was in china in the late '30s, '40s, the war was heating up and john burch got involved in military actions and became a clerk. and when do little's raid and the ditched in china, john burch helped recover self of the pilots and take them to safety. john burch was murdered in china right at the end of the second world war by a band of chinese
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communists. they shot him to death. and norris grieved. he changed the name of the hall at his church to john burch hall. why that name is firm to you is because there's a group called the john birch society. that group did that start until 1958 by a man by the name of robert welsh. there's a display at president johnson's library. what robert welch did was he used the name of john pitch because john birch was the first cashty of world war 3. used his name to create the john birch society. what its interesting is one of the features of j. frank norris' work -- you see this throughout the book -- there was always a conspiracy against him. it was always this group or that group. it was in the ''20s, the mayor
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or the catholics in the town are against him, and then later john birch's name, name associated with norris, bought man who died before there was a john birch society, associated with a group that is known for their love of a good conspiracy. it was a fascinating story hiding in plain sight. i call it the most famous story you never heard but it was page one in america in the 1920s, and i was grateful i was able to dig it out and nobody had gotten to it before me. thank you very much. [applause] >> take a few of your questions if you have any. and love to talk with you. and then i'll be happy to sign a book for you. so raise your hand, and we have one over here. get the microphone over to you, sir. >> how did you get on to the story? what brought you to the issue itself? >> well, i told you earlier that
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i'm a minister, and when she bro duesed me, i'm a minister. my background is baptist. and i'm from detroit, michigan. and my mother grew up in the church that he pastored in detroit, michigan, later on after this happened. when he pastored these two churches. and so i heard the name. norris died four years before i was born, and so i heard the name, and norris -- what i remembered my mom saying, he preached long messages. my grandmother used to say he would pack a lunch when he was preaching because he would preach two-hour sermons. one day in a chance encounter with somebody, i told somebody where i went to church, and even though these things happened long before, this guy said i'd never go to that church because that's where that astor was that killed that guy. so i asked my mother and others and heard the story, and they didn't really know the story completely because it happened so men decades before and nobody talked about it. yeah, that was dr. norris and he
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had other fight with somebody back in the '20s and he killed a guy. that's how i heard about it the first time as a teenager. then when i went to conditional, i studied baptist history and came across his name as most will when they study those things in depth, and developed an interest in it. and along the way i had a file folder and would put little articles and eventually got more things. the internet comes out and you can get more stuff, and in 2007, it was several boxes. my wife said do something with that stuff or else. so i did. eventually i collected 6,000 pages of court records, newspapers. i have a complete run of norris' newspaper, which he published weekly so a lot of the story is in his own words and i think that makes it very interesting from an original source kind of standpoint. that's how i dime know -- i came to know the story. anyone else? yes, ma'am. >> what did you find was most difficult thing about writing
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the book? >> i think it's after i had gotten it done, thinking i was done. that was the most difficult. going through edits and rewrites. it was sort of like when my first daughter was born 34 years ago, made the mistake of saying, boy, i'm glad that's over, and the doctor reminded me, you're just getting started. it was sort of that same experience. when i thought i finished the manuscript a couple years ago. what we have here is so much better than the raw footage of what i had written. i think that's probably the hardest part. i loved the research. i just could spend all day long doing that stuff. i like the actual writing of the book. but going through the post book when you think you have it done and the editing and all that, probably the most difficult part. who else? yes, sir. >> what about the last year or two of his life? how did he die and what was his health like and his political involvement or anything else? >> it's very interesting because
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in 1948 -- he died in 1952. 74, almost 75. in 1948, when he great enter national debate was going on about israel, and whether or not there's going to be a new nation for the jewish people in pal stein and eventually in may of 1948 it comes to be, and harry truman, 12 minutes after midnight when it happens, we're the first country to recognize the state of israel. actually norris by that time had become a little bit of an expert on middle east politics and history, certainly from a biblical standpoint, and had a exchange on correspondence with president truman on this. also in the 1930s -- this is a cool story i found out later, not in the book. pretty boy floyd, gangster, and you can see this in bur -- burrows' book about john
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dillinger, the mother of pretty boy floyd was a fan of norris, and norris played intermediary between the floyd family and j. edgar hoover, trying to evict wait the surrender of pretty boy floyd. i thought that was an interesting post script about norris and always finding a way to get involved in public events. he had a series of health issues in the late '40s, couple of strokes, and a lot of the stuff he had built he sort of splintered off. he alienated a lot of peep around hem. by the time he died in 1952, several various splinter group. the group known as independent fundamental baptisted, called ifp, he is the first one of that particular group and they splintered into a lot of different ways. he died at a youth camp. he was speaking at a youth camp in florida in august of 1952,s' his body was flown back to fort
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worth, texas, and he is buried in greenwood cemetery, not far from where d. e. chips is buried as well. a little interesting closure to the story. anybody else with a question? >> how does carter figure in this? >> a famous name, what the publisher of the fort worth star telegram. was the president of the fort worth club. it was a big place for the shakers and movers of ft. worth. he was one of the pallbearers at the funeral of d. e. chips, friend of chips. he managed -- he was a pretty wise person. he managed not to allow himself to get baited and sort of drawn in to j. frank norris' web, but i deal with him an awful lot in the book and he is a fascinating character, and after mayor meacham died. mayor meacham's daughter married
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amon carter, and they were a very big power couple until carter died. >> when was that? >> probably in the early 1930s. and they were married when he died in the middle 1950s. that was his wife, and the daughter over mayor meacham, and to this day their papers are together at university of texas at arlington, i researched them, the meacham carter family papers. >> distanced him from the norris camp? >> everybody sort of forgot about it. on the one hand the baptists -- it was an embarrassment to them. norris didn't want to talk about it. texasans didn't want to talk about it because the story brought in the klan and other things we would as soon forget about, so without anybody telling the story it gets buried under the silt of time and that's where it's been. >> did norris ever talk about the klan and say later that was a mistake? >> i never found any evidence
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where he actually dealt with that particular issue. certainly the klan went away. sortly norris -- >> involved with the klan early on. >> he was. i don't know whether he was a member or not. but he certainly -- he spoke at their rallies. the local grand dragon in fort worth was a member of norris' congregation. norris actually in 1925 ordained him and put him on the staff as an assistant pastor while the man remained the grand dragon of the local klu klux klan. but times changed and he moderated his views, as many people did in fairness you go back and look at major figures in the 1920s, a lot of people -- senator robert byrd, hailed at a great statesman, had a record with the klan, and it's unfortunate. i never found a sermon where he said so sorry. hi did express a few regrets but
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he showed his change by doing things differently. for a man to go from being an anti-catholic to having an audience with the pope and actually getting a blessing is a pretty good paradigm shift but he was an opportunist. >> that what i was going to say. >> that's my view of him. was he sincere? it's hard to dish can't -- hard to -- i can't put myself in anybody's shoes. there were core things he believed in, but i also think he believed in himself and was an opportunist and seized the moment. the cautionary tail is of the cult of personality, when people take themselves too seriously and other people take them too seriously and follow people blindly, that's part of the difficulty. anything else? yes, sir. >> have you read robert harris books about sociopath inside. >> i haven't. you could probably build a case -- >> do you think norris might
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have been a sociopath? >> i don't know. one of the marks of that, my armchair thing, is people don't experience regret. i don't know i'd go that far. i think norris probably did regret things and there's anecdotal stuff, people who knew him, that he never got over that particular moment in his public per soap na, i think he liked that controversial tough guy thing. this was the day and age when people didn't talk about their feelings very much and not very transparent about things, and i think he sort of enjoyed that persona, even though deep inside it may have troubled him, some of the things that happened in his early ministry. okay. one more over here. two for one tonight. >> does your book cover the back story of the hoist the -- history of the time?
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>> that's a great question. when i wrote the -- i'm not from fort worth, texas. i'm from detroit michigan. i'm a yankee. that's even worse. and i spent all my ministry and life in new york city area and the east coast. so, i knew that i would be writing a lot about fort worth, texas, and i wented to make sure i got that right. i wanted to make sure that, if somebody grew up around there, knew people, they would read the book and say these guy did his homework and research. so there's a lot about fort worth. some people say maybe i put too much detail in it. i don't think i have. there's a lot about the city. something i grew -- that's bob schieffer wrote the forward. he says in the forward if he hadn't grownup fort worth he would have thought somebody made
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this stuff up, but he said nobody did, it really happened, and he was gracious and kind. and i thought that was nice compliment that somebody that loved ft. worth that much would take this work seriously enough to do that. okay, again, thank you very much. i appreciate taking the time to come and listen. i hope you enjoy the book. [applause] >> david stokes on the murder trial of reference j. frank torrey. for more information about the book, visit the shooting salvationist.com. >> i began two years before the bombs began to fall on cuba, exactly two years to the day, april 15, 1959. that evening, fidel castro arrived in the united states for a visit. this is his first visit to the united states since he had taken over cuba at the start of the year. dwight eisenhower was signature
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president. richard nixon was vice president, john kennedy was still a junior senator from mast massachusetts. he and his entourage arrived in washington with cigars and rum, and castro spent most of his visit hugging and smiling and saying all the right things. there were some americans, including dwight eisenhower himself, who had serious concerns about eisenhower, mainly that he was communist in the making. many found him to be charming and charismatic. after a few days in washington, was castro took a train to new york city, and he had a grant old time. he went to the top of the empire state building, shook rands with jackie robinson, went down to
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city hall, up to columbia university. having left new york city, where the policemen who were assigned to protect him because there were all these assassination plots surrounding castro, and these were reported in the press every day, and none turned out to be real but the police didn't know that and castro was completely impossible to protect. he would throw himself into crowds, hugging and kissing people with no concern for his safety. and one afternoon, on a whim, he decided to go to the bronx zoo. the press followed. federal agents followed. the new york city police followed. and castro did what everybody does at the zoo. he ate a hot dog, he fed peanuts to the elephants. rode a miniature electric train, and then before anybody could stop him, he climbed over a protective railing in front of the tiger cages, stuck his fingers through the cage and petted a bengal tiger on the

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