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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  October 9, 2011 11:30pm-12:00am EDT

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powers who are happy to have their persons with whom they could have good bargains for themselves. now more than ever, the african youth fortunately understand that it has to get rid of president that are not really concerned with the well-being of the people, but more concerned with their own power in their own wells. that is what is needed. no country, to my mind, canned come affluent rich with only the help from outside, even if that helps sometimes can bring
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important element and can be humane and soul for hunger like the world food program. but that coming up of the strong africa begins at a country like donna is good. a country like their days doing a very good job. some countries begin to understand the way in which they could develop, but we have still a lot to learn about how to be usefully partners of africa and not normally what the chinese are doing at the present, which is buying land and that is dangerous for africa because land has to be used for agriculture and not for
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bioenergy. so the problem of africa is one of those that is giving me the most thought i traveled in africa and therefore man's it to your question is all too brief. we could have a long, long conversation about it sometime, but not today. even the annual national book festival on the national mall in washington, d.c. an interview with sergey will who discusses bor book unfamiliar fishes. >> we are now jokoined by the author of this book, unfamiliare fishes, sarah vowell is a were gassed.
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sarah vowell this is whatourst history of hawaii.tory how did you get interested in the history of hawaii? the history of hawaii? >> guest: it is about the history of america's relationship to hawaii. first, i went there i went to see pearl harbor. just as a tourist. i wanted to see that. while i was there i went to see the old palace of the hawaiian monarchy and realize those two sites are related because the japanese never would have attacked honolulu harbor for being part of the united states if the united states and descendants of american missionaries had not overthrow the hawaiian queen who handed over the island to the u.s.. that was the start of my interest in the relationship between the two countries. >> host: when did the missionaries first go to hawaii?
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>> guest: they left boston harbor, new england calvinist left boston harbor in 1819 and arrived in hawaii in 1820. the first new england whalers from boston harbor arrived because hawaii was a great stopping of point between whaling grounds. these groups arrived within six months of each other and they had an enormous impact on the island's. >> host: what happened? >> guest: the missionaries set up shop and settle down and set about christianizing and westernizing the hawaiians and teaching the entire population to read after they had invented a hawaiian written language and translated the bible into that
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language. they were well established and well acquainted with hawaiian monarchies. whalers were sailors on leave every time they came to hawaii because they would stop between the wailing ground in peru and japan so hawaii became there are and are spot. the whalers and the missionaries felt they were basically from within 100 miles of boston. they frequently clashed because they had differing goals. missionaries were held against the monarchy to do things like outlaw prostitution and regulate liquor. when sailors on leave came, liquor and the company of women were high priorities for them. so the hawaiians at this time get the worst of america.
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they get our puritans and our sailors on leave. >> host: sarah vowell is our guest. her most recent book is "unfamiliar fishes". she has written several other books. the word he should make about the puritans. we will put the numbers on the screen. 737-0001 in the east and central time zone and would like to talk to sarah vowell. 000 2 for those of you in the mountain and pacific time zones. -- is our e-mail address and is our twitter handle. would you call yourself a historian? >> guest: no. i am a writer who writes about history. i like to tell stories about history but these are narrative's. they are non-fiction so they are
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factual or i hope they are but my goals are to have personal interaction with historic sites. i do a lot of reporting. i am a kind of journalist so a lot of what i do is hanging out talking to locals. my book tells the history of americans in the horn islands but i will do things like rent an apartment in a building where jack lord stand in the opening credits of hawaii 5-0 and talk about that and how that relates to the history of americans in hawaii. it is placing history within the context of the present and go to a lot of sights and talk to people on the ground. >> host: when did you find congress became interested in the hawaiian islands? there's a reference to president john tyler in 1842.
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>> guest: our relationship with hawaii was discovered by europeans in 1778 and this is when george washington is holed up at valley forge. immediately -- he is the one who put hawaii on the map. anyone who takes a look at that map and see where these islands are there between the west coast of the united states and a great market that is china and the rest of asia. it is obvious that these islands could be important stopping off points and important in terms of trade with asia. once they are on the map and the man with a cash register in his years covets them. the united states seized the islands as important in terms of strategic location and
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commercial. in terms of new england shipping industry and commercial wailing it is obvious from the get go that these islands are going to be very valuable and crucial. the tyler administration recognized the hawaiian islands as a monarchy. as a kingdom. it is interesting because americans were there so early. we hadn't even settle our own west yet. later on in the 1840s as we push westward and start selling oregon and california and the gold rush happens what new england missionaries accomplished in hawaii which was to christianize them and build a churches and schools and try to turn hawaii in to these new england communities a lot of people on the east coast of the united states, senators and government officials as well as
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business men sees the example of what the missionaries accomplished in hawaii as perhaps being inspirational to what we could do on the west coast of the united states. the missionaries brought their wives and something they saw of what happened in hawaii as these creatures and their wives and exerted this westernizing influence on these islands people hoped could happen on the west coast of the united states. >> host: first call for sarah vowell is from michigan. good morning. you are on booktv on c-span2. >> caller: thank you very much. i would like to ask sarah vowell if she thinks the western is asian of hawaii was more religious than cultural. what they call the white man's
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spirit or was it commercial? people basically wanting to make money? commercialization versus the white man's burden? >> guest: it is the united states. you don't have to choose. you have missionaries and commercial sailors. you have both things going on at once. those missionaries, especially the early ones were not quite idealistic and they accomplished a lot in terms of literacy. culturally the interesting thing about what they did besides teaching the entire population to read within a generation, hawaii was the most literate country on earth because of their efforts. as a consequence those missionaries taught the first generation of wine writers and historians to write. at the same time they are trying to dismantle the traditional hawaiian culture especially in
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terms of religion and dress the missionaries had a problem with the hawaiians's way of dress or lack thereof. there is that but because they taught the first generation of writers and historians to right, we have impressive records of the old culture. because of their invention of written language a lot of the old hawaiian language was preserved. that is an interesting paradox but because the whalers arrive and that coincides with the heyday of wailing in the nineteenth century they completely change the island in things like agriculture. hawaiian farmers started growing products that american sailors wanted to eat. potatoes, cattle and things like that. commercial development of the
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waterfront especially in honolulu. this typical relationship going on with the west coast of the united states. the honolulu waterfront was built using timber from the pacific northwest. the change in terms of the culture. both commercially and in terms of religion was radical and had do with the christians and the sailors. >> host: why was 1898 so important? >> guest: that was the year of the spanish-american war and the year the united states annexed hawaii and takes over the philippines and invade cuba and the philippines, takes over guam and puerto rico. the year we became an empire and the year we became who we are now. and hawaii is part of that. there was a cute debate at the
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time because we love to bicker. a lot of people who objected to becoming an empire and acquiring colonies saw it as a betrayal of our original ideals. the ideal of government based on consent of the government. the majority of the hawaiian population did not want to become an american territory. the philippines who had been our allies against spain in the spanish-american war when we acquired the philippines as spoils of that war our old allies, the philippine rebels started pointing their guns at us. who could blame them? we took over those islands and colonize them and they became our property. same thing with hawaii. that is the corner we turned that there is no turning back from. it was this -- it is a question
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of does this country want to be good or great? people like the or roosevelt and henry cabot lodge and men in the government and military who saw greatness as empire and wanted to build up the navy and acquire these islands specifically to use as naval stations to support and navy. to become an old-style european style empire and they saw that as greatness and they won and we live in their country. whatever you think about that on one side or the other and there are points for either position, that is the moment when that happened and we are still dealing with the ramifications of that. >> host: next call from washington d.c.. you are on booktv. please go ahead. >> caller: i have read all your
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books and i wonder if you are working on anything and what we can expect from you in coming months or years? >> guest: i don't know if i want to give anything away yet. i am thinking about architecture. i am not ready to talk about that yet. >> host: give us a synopsis of the word he shipmates. >> guest: that was my book about the founding of the massachusetts bay colony in 1630. it boiled down -- also about the founding of rhode island after the massachusetts bay colonist gets booted out of massachusetts by his brethren for being a rebel rousing loudmouth and he goes on to found rhode island. it is sort of deals with the two things i admire most about the american puritans sort of hinted
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at in that title. i love them as thinkers and writers. my -- one of my favorite pieces of writing is john winthrop's sermon a model of christian charity where he imagines new england as a city on a hill. i love them as thinkers and writers. one reason i wanted to write about them is when someone says puritans people think of them as stupid and these were the most educator, intelligent abstract thinkers of all time. they just happened to be born before the age of reason. the other thing i love about them that is at the heart of winthrop's sermon is there communalism. their love of one another and the idea of community. it is this poem of community that we must be as members of
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the same body to rejoice together and suffered together and mourn together as members of the same body. there's something beautiful and idealistic about that. is also the force of the whole dark side of that community that anyone who spoke out for didn't conform to their narrow ideas and ideals were banished. it is a refusal to tolerate the ideals of others. it is an even-handed portrait of them but there are things i do admire about them. >> host: where did you grow up? >> guest: i lived in oklahoma until i was 11 and then montana. >> host: next call from north carolina. >> caller: i like everything
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write. [talking over each other] >> caller: the roll corp. played in the overall -- overthrow of the queen in hawaii. >> guest: that came later. the goal of newfoundland the pineapple plantation was a distant relative of sanford gold who was one of the missionary descendants who helped overthrow the queen and became president of the republic of hawaii, be short-lived government in between the hawaiian kingdom and hawaii becoming american territory. there's no real relationship other than they were distant cousins. at stanford is an interesting figure. his father was a missionary. first feature at the school founded by the missionaries to
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educate missionary children in honolulu and that is the alma mater of our president. it was interesting to me at the inauguration of president obama when he had his alma mater marching band playing in his inaugural parade and from this school founded by sanford's father whose ended up overthrowing the queen and taking her place as figurehead of hawaiian government and when they were marching in his inaugural parade they were playing a song written by the queen being played by the high school marching band of a school attended by all the missionary descendants who overthrew her. i love irony. >> host: is that where president obama attended? that was founded by the missionaries. any evidence the missionaries
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ever enjoyed waikiki beach or had a picnic? >> guest: the thing i love about the early missionaries is they are not ones to have a good time but they worked very hard. i especially became he enamored of the wives because they did all the wife and mother nineteenth centuries of raising children and making food but also had to teach school. also had to teach school. their journals are remarkable for the amount of complaint and they had reason to complain. they had very hard lives. if you want to connect memoirs i would say the hawaiian missionaries are not your true source but they are interesting. >> host: california, you are on with sarah vowell. >> caller: my name is mike. i read assassination vacation.
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i was really intrigued with the story about lewis powell. something i didn't understand was as i recall in your book they found his skull in a box in the national archives or a repository. how did a skull end up in a box and nobody thought that was a little odd? >> guest: lewis powell was one of the conspirators in the lincoln assassination. what happens is ves you are one of the people who plot to kill the president and other high government officials and you are executed they are loose with what happens to your remains. so lewis powell who was executed for his part in that conspiracy, he is the one who stabbed secretary of state seward. powell was hand with the other
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conspirators. somehow his skull ended up in the smithsonian with all the american indian remains and when the law was passed to start repaot iating those american indian remains back to their tribe researcher who was going through all of these bones in the smithsonian worked at ford theater museum or one of the other associated -- recognize powell's names so that stalin made it back to florida and was buried near powell's mother. that is one of those sot ange things. if you want your remains to be intact and placed in the burial place of your choice do not plot against the american government. words to live by. >> host: sarah vowell is our guest at the national book festival. live coverage from booktv on
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c-span2. last call for her from salt lake city. >> guest: hello. >> caller: i am a big fan. i wondered about the whole hawaiian islant history byir ames michener. how did you become with the real facts andn'tpdates and everythig like that? second of all would you care to comment how the mormon missionaries have defected and have a college there and stuff? >> guest: i write nonfiction so that is the hand are have been dealt but with the mormon history it is interesting. one of my favorite people to
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write about was walter mary gibson who wasn't a con man but he can't reckon young into defending him to hawaii as a mormon representative and he became the head of the mormon church in hawaii. the mormon sainh t settled on te island of lanai which is -- walter murray gibson's dream was to build an empire in the pacific that he would lead. so his journals and diaries are so tingscinating, he is in this meadow and thinks he will rule the pacvesic ocean. he sees these poor mormons where they try to live as this 3
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saters fdrled with babies and odr and memories of me. eventually the higher-ups' in sat c lake got wind of what he was doing and self-absorbed ideas what the mormons should be accomplishing but sent representatives to hawaii to re he was premier of the government and he corepissioned the statue in honolutat. he ended up having an impact on hawaiian history but the mormons recovered from his leadership and went on to a sot ong religious presenc ba the brigham campus is one of the main colleges and at they also run the cultural center which might be the main tourist
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attraction on the island. they did quite well for themselves in hawaii. >> for those who didn't get through we will invite her back on be fk bo. and here is her most recent book "unfamiliar fishes". the next is thinking about architecture in some different way. we will look forward this event is part of the national book festival in washington, d.c.. for more information, visit and want to start by talking about why i wrote the book and what i hope to accomplish with this book. i wrote the book because of our party is certainly a crossroads and there's a division and going
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forward on a truly believe we have to unite as a matter of fact i extended on one of my fox interviews for karl rhodes and i had to kiss and make up for that. we can go forward a united party, but i do talk a lot about the cronyism and the republican party in delaware which the leaders have been ousted but the reason i bring that up is not to perpetuate it or to fan the flames but to put it to rest and say that the crony crowd the grassroots crowd that the party was founded on not just our party but of a country founded on we would be a powerhouse if we could unite and a lady tell some of the things that my campaign has endured and what i went through as a kid again to illustrate a point when we
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divide instead of when we unite and everybody knows it is no secret that the 2010 elections the republican party was divided, but i think that there are some examples to look at, and i draw the contrast between kentucky. in kentucky we had senator mitch mcconnell really campaigning against rand paul the worst thing to happen to politics until we win the primary. the day after he won the primary, mitch mcconnell and rand paul were orman orman and seeing that is that half we have to move forward that didn't happen in delaware but it's got to happen in 2012. so that's the message that


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