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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  October 29, 2011 12:00pm-1:00pm EDT

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someone. he would invite them to dinner. he never met a stranger. he was always a carrier. he could never tell anybody no, whenever they ask of them. he would try that, but if it could. he allowed the university of tennessee in the facility for many of the functions. he actually donated his literary work, the research papers. he had only done to university printings. he may come and and be here for two or three weeks and be gone. he may be gone for several months. but as he got older it was a little harder for him to get around. so that having some health issues. we tried to do some of the work here at the farm. he really does want to use this place is a place to come in and wind and relax.
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just enjoy the serenity and the founder. the last time i saw him here at his home in tennessee as you walked out the back door of the white house and get into the car with his travel companion. they left. he was enroute to speak at seattle at the university. he passed away before he ever got to speak of a sudden heart attack in seattle, washington wanted your intent of 1992. very emotional. it just really took a lot of them. but he -- what he took from him he gave back to all the people throughout the world. he said he just realized after he had written routes that he didn't just do it for himself, but he had done it for all of those who have no one to tell
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the story. >> next, from the 2011 texas book festival sally jacobs presents her book, the other barack. this is about 40 minutes. sallyj >> welcome. want to start up by congratulating sally jacobs onat the other barack. sally president obama. other and just asking what led you to this project. project? >> i am a reporter with the i'ma boston globe, and i do a political profile. that's kind of thing that i do.e at the time of the election campaign was do licking at the cast of and characters. mh there was not much known about a obama this seems to be more known. sunited she lived in the united states s and profile. was but kind of a was
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a little bit of it on not this portrait of him, but it seemedtt to be a very important charactea . if barack obama won thenominati nomination we should know k something about hisnow father.eo a story that was waiting to be told. t >> the subtitle of this book,bte old and reckless life, presidenf obama's father, verye telling. s if you read the book to see if he is quite bold and reckless. talk a little bit about his lift and what characterizes his 46 years on this planet.certainly >> obama certainly was bold and reckless to describe and run bok through the entire narrative off the book. in terms of his character obama was a very bold person from the beginning. he was very, very smart. his that was kind of his past that emboldened him as a person, even as a young boy. he spoke of all the time and aue you dre where is a child in
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school you didn't speak up. he did. chaws' the teachers and othert a students. it was just part of his recklessness. arguin polly from his speaking out andm arguing. as he became older he had a very reckless lifestyle. heavy he was a very heavy drinker.hisn his nickname was double double double the man the reason for that -- wanted to keep going? the reason for that was because when he went to a bar his favorite drink was johnniealker walker black and when he went and he would order a double shod followed by a chaser of another double shot. four shots of whiskey, and this was the opener. his friends said he could have 16 shots and still walk out of , the bar standing upright and talking. it was a very heavy drinking a culture at the time. obama stood out in that regard.n also quite a womanizer, or at bg
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least that is what he is paid it being in our culture.bama seor the truth was obama senior came from the little tribe, the thirr largest of kenya's 40-some a tribes, and it was a polygamist. culture. h if obama had not had multiple wives it would have beenbeen unusual. of what was different about obama's sr. was that he was a serial merrier, mary one after the other. maied one you all live together. firs wife the first wife has a prominent position.ond, youond, third, fourth, all within this homestead. had obama's senior as the four wives, but he would marry, go oo to the next, i never really tolt the other.rried . the number of his wives wasthe f quite a mystery. so that was certainly a reckless aspect of his life. perhaps in a more profound and in important way he lived recklessly within the hawkins in political and social culture. what i mean by that is he wasew born and grew up at a criticalcm beforen kenyan political
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history. tears this is right in the yearsenden, before independence which was e963 and after. d h j-lo kenyatta was the president, and he started out on a rather nserva conservative path politically. this was very disappointing fort many kenyans it bought at last i independence from the british, our country. consvative, kenya of was quite conservativea obama's senior spoke out against that, against his economic policies which really were that adhering to the old days, the ds british structure, allowing outside forces to control the tnyan economy.e of obama's sr. was one of very few who challenged him. wrote he wrote a magazine piecebliclya publicly challenging the he was, direction he was going in.he meu he made quite a few enemies, bud it was a very bold and recklessa thing that he did.ou you did not if you did it was a some personal risk. he also after the assassinationt of a prominent nationalist at t, the time, very beloved,
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challenger, he was assassinatedr 1969 again obama senior spoke of loudly a very loudly. that also put him at someonal rk personal risk. that's so for many reasons that is whyd we subtitle that the bold and >>ucous live. >> ostensibly he is arrogant, defi defiant, and recalcitrant. that is that fair to say the otherst5 characters of his first non? de. >> yes. he certainly was defiant and recalcitrant. as a biographer i thought that my job was to try to understandy you he was, go deeper than the h veneer of thee personality, the four shots of whiskey,isky, womanizing . i feel that obama's sr. wasd. no really want it as a hee this is my armchair psychology,, but he had a very violent an alcoholic alcoholic father who beat his mother. interactive one. eight tried to murder his mothee what i'm saying is that obama'sh
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seniors fathere tried to killma obama's in his mother.kil his i got this from a number of people, one of them witnessed io the from one of his sisters. the father was so mad that he dg went outside and dug grave, dug a huge pit. a reason i'm telling you this story. digs this huge pit and takes her h out there with the big sword and starts to literally cut her the throat. never in one of the other children saw the sun,.as the mother was so horrified. then she decided to leave.hildr tree sofmall children of which obama's sr. was the metal. sa she said to them, i'm going to go away. i can't take this anymore. long follow me if you can. aw cultlong afterward she did leave, ran away.eaveyour this was not done in the culturr you do not leave your husband w and you rarely divorce how. obama sr. was about ten years lr old. several weeks later they decided there would find the mother andy it took up by foot. so they walked only at night. julet
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walking through the jungle withk dangerous animals. th the walk for two weeks. they finally get to the village which is where he was born or h his mother has fled. fat the people there called the the father.motr, they did not get to see their te fault. runn came inin beat them from runninm away and track them back across the lake to the village which is llage where he ultimately grew up. the point of the story to me ine the absence of the mother is a that obama's a year was leftnd with a very violent father and d without his mother. i feel like he was wounded byhe -- he never -- he never had full self-confidence after that. it explains in some ways his need to always one of people, is need to quintiles did not have.h he went on to lie about things in his job.s a huma it undermines him as a human myg so that's my long answer to whyh i think those adjectives to apply to him.
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>> rounded and insecurity that comes from the formative ays experience. to >> exactly.sate always trying to compensate for not feeling sure of himself. >> you used armed chair psychiatrist, you might derive the conclusion that he's a narcissist. do you feel he had the qualities of a narcissist penalty? >> yes and no. he had a series of jobs, lost several of them, and then had one for five years. he pretended to be better than his boss who had been trained in india. many kenyans went to india, and he looked down on that degree and told him so and went off on trips for the kcbc and pretended hefsz his own boss and lied to
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people about who he was pretending to be better. he went to harvard, got kicked out, he came this close to getting his degree and was kicked out for unfair reasons but he claimed to be dr. obama because he felt he was trying to compensate for shortcomings. >> we painted a negative portrait of this man, but there were positive aspects to him. he was seeming to be very attractive to women, and he always had a series of sponsors or supporters or believers. talk about that aspect of his life. >> he was very attractive, all the women he married fell in love with him. he was sexy, intelligent, fun, and there's lots of kenyans now, men in their 70s who worked with him who were great to me, talked with me about him, and they admired him a lot. he was so smart, and he realfuls
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passionate about kenya. that was the love of his life more than the women in his life. he believed in an independent kenya and a kenya for after africans. there was the concern about the political drift in the country and argued against the president at some personal risk in the defense of the kenya he had in mind. it was really his speaking up against the power against the president that defined him as an independent and admirable person to some people. some of his friends tried to get him to stop. for example, after tom boya was killed, this was a huge seismic event, and obama went out to bars and said publicly he thought the president had killed him, not literally, but hired the person that assassinated him. that was a very dangerous thing to do, but it was true. most people believed that he did stage the assassination, but
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very few went out to challenge him. you know, obama took perm risk to do that. later on, he would say to two of his friends that he felt he, himself, had been pegged for assassination because of what he had been saying. now, i don't know if that's true or not. it's not impossible. there were many political assassinations in kenya during this period. it was sort of a culture of assassinations. the president got rid of his enemies. obama also happened to make things up, so it's hard to tell. he did have many car accidents. he told one friend he had been struck by a car walking down the street, told a friend he received death threats because of what he was saying. obama was his own worst enemy, so it's hard to get the total truth out. i think there's some degree of both true here. i think the president was aware of who obama was, and i don't think it did him good, but obama lost his own jobs himself, so i think both things are true.
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>> talks about his four wives, sally. give us a brief history of his marital life. >> yes. his marital life was a mystery not only to biographers and people trying to understand his life, but also to his wives who never knew how many people he was married to. the first wife was grace, who was a kenyan, she was 18, he was 23. they had two children together 6789 he took off, left in 1959, went to hawaii, met the president's mother, and married her and tells her about wife number one, and doesn't say they have two children. they are together for a year, and he heads off to harvard leaving behind our president who was a year old. when he gets to harvard, he meets a woman named ruth baker, a white jewish woman from the suburbs of boston who falls
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deeply in love with him. he leaves, gets kicked out, and says come with me, follow me. this woman had never been outside the united states. she had never been on a plane, and she follows him a month later, and when she gets to the airport, he's not there. he tells her about wife number one, but not wife number two, which is the president's mother. he suggests in good tradition that wife one lives with them in the house. this woman wanted nothing of it and refused to know that person. she -- they had a very difficult marriage. he was -- this was when he began to decline, drinking heavily, going out with night with other women, and ruth was unhappy with him. i spent a couple sessions with her, and she put up with a lot. when he began to strike one of their children, she left after seven years. she lives in nairobi to this day. by that point, he enters the period of decline, and shortly
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before he dies, he married the fourth wife, and they have one child together. those were the four, and with the fourth wife, she knew nothing about any of the previous three wives. after he died, it all ended up in a huge legal brawl. wife one and wife four went to court. wife one started it. over his assets, which were not huge. he had about $50,000 at the time. it was the matter of who's the left wife standing. obama never had divorced his first wife although he said he it. if he had not divorce her, than the other marriages didn't exist, perhaps, including the president's mother's marriage. the judge upheld the last wife and said she really was the wife that was married to him in the end. it was a huge battle and reflective of his life.
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many of his eight children became involved and also were quarreling about which of them should inherit too. it was a good reflection of the chaos of his domestic life. >> back to wife number two, the mother of the 44th president of the united states. she was named stanley by her father who wanted a boy and then became anne when she went to the university of hawaii and met obama senior. talk about the union, how did they meet, and what was the nature of their relationship? >> they mitt in a russian class, russian was very popular at the time because of sputnik, various things going on. they were submitten with each other -- smitten with each other. she wanted to stay in seattle, but six months, she writes to her friends and says she's dating an african and says i'm in love with the african, never
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names him, becomes pregnant soon afterwards which must have been very, very difficult for her. the rate for intermarriage was tiny, and lower in honolulu. there were few african-americans, and he stood out in a big way, and to boot, she's pregnant at 19, also, a very difficult choice. they left honolulu to go to maui, got married, nobody was told about it. nobody i interviewed on either side of the family attended the wedding. by the time they come back, it's difficult. he's becoming difficult. i was able to get a hold of his immigration record, and we were led to believe they lived together for a couple years or even a year and a half, he was out of -- obama senior left anne by the time, six months after they got married living in separate dwellings, and then there was the time he had a choice of where to go because he was so very smart graduating from the university of hawaii.
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he got offered some money from harvard, 5 lot of money from new york university, but obama being obama, he decided he had to have the best, so he chose harvard. that meant he didn't have enough money to take his son or wife, but chose harvard and left them behind. they stayed in touch a bit, but he was wrapped up in harvard, and they never saw each other again until ten years later when he goes back to hon honolulu. >> what did she see in him? >> i'm not an expert, but from what i do know, she had a hunger for what was different. she became an anthropologist, interested in things exotic, other, and he was all of that. he was very bold as was she. as you know, she traveled widely. he was very sexy. you know there's many aspects. she was drawn to other cultures, and that's what he was. >> the -- their son, barack
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obama, jr. spent two periods with his father. one ten months old and the other at 10 years old, a month apiece. talk about those experiences and exposure to his father. >> sure. the first one was when he was really little. i think he remembers nothing of that. he doesn't mentions it. the visit when he was ten was very complex. obama senior, at that time, was on his downward curve. it was 1971, lost three jobs, just been fired, politically on the ousts with the powers -- and he didn't know what to do. the third wife was in the process of divorcing him. he was barely on speaking terms with any of his then seven children, and he goes to hon honolulu to essentially develop business contacts, but had in his minute maybe get back together with anne, get barack,
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and go back to kenya. i know this from several people, but anne had her own defined life and notions of what she wanted to do and going back to nairobi in a male-centered culture was not what she wanted to do. on the other hand, she encouraged him to know his father. they encouraged him to write, or would in subsequent years, but always talked about him. by the time they get there, they start out well, visited the sites, obama jr. was exited too see -- excited to see his father. he describes looking at the father, how thin he was, a yellow cast to the skin. he was not well. he had a car accident, and he's trying to figure out the person, and his grandmothers are given respect to obama senior. by the end of the month, he was tired of the man. his father was bossy, didn't listen very well. he wanted his life back.
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they had differences when obama senior said to his son, he wanted to watch the grinch who stole christmas. his father said, turn that tv off and go back to the studies. everybody was pressured and tired of the situation and had a big fight. it was a four week visit, and that's the last time they saw each other. it was when they were trying 20 understand who he was, what it was like to be a black man in america, to be a black man at all, but even that faded out. >> he goes -- barack jr., goes to kenya really in search of his father's legacy in 1986. what does he discover on what is more or less a quest of sorts? >> i think it was a hard journey for him. his mother had described the more positive side of him
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wanting her boy to feel his father was a good man, so she told the positive side of which certainly was one, but when he goes to kenya, he finds the siblings and family members there and realizes his father was not a great person or not someone to idolize. he was a broken man and an alcoholic, and that's heart breaking to him. my feeling is he wanted to know about his dad, but not everything because it was a painful journey, so he writes his book about that, which i thought was a bold book and honest. he tells the truth of his father, a certain truth, and that's as much as he knew about him, i think. >> there are offspring, so half siblings that obama has around the world that connects him to his father in a sense. what are his relationships like with the offspring of obama
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senior. >> he had eight children, one died in a motorcycle accident in his 20s, so there's six left. eight total, one died. he's not particularly close to any of them. i think there was a period when he was trying to learn about his father, he got to know them. he went to kenya several times. the two oldest he knows the best. the one daughter, she's the one he's the closest too, but it's a complicated family, and there's the folks in nairobi who want to be closer to them, but he's not reached out in a great deal to connect with him. there's one brother, mark, living in china, who looks like him, and he totally backed off of the family, the one who was beat by the father, and he was wounded that he wanted nothing to do with nairobi or obama. never used the name obama, but when the president -- when obama ran for the president, he opened
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himself up to it a little bit and the two got to know each other, and it enabled mark to take the name back, not for showy reasons or reasons to profit, but because it was his name, and at last, he could feel there was dignity in the name obama. he was the president. i think they have had a meeting of minds, but none of them are particularly close is the truth. >> two more questions and we'll open it up to you for questions. there's a microphone over there. when you see bam on television, the 44th president of the united states, do you see any qualities in him now that you could relate based on your research directly to his father? >> absolutely. despite their unlikely lifestyles, they are very different men. the. -- the president's about control and reserve, the other was the opposite. truth is they are smart. love him or hate him, the president's a smart man.
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i think they also both were very ambitious. they both created themselves out of very little. certainly bowsm senior growing up very poor in rural kenya made something of himself backing a very successful economist, graduated from the university of hawaii and harvard as did obama the president. he came from modest circumstances and became the first african-american president, an extraordinary achievement. they both also tasked themselves as mediators in the political culture of the day. obama, our president, tries to bring competing elements together. his father did the same thing. he was not just a critic of the president, but tried to bring the two polar extremes of kenya politics in the 60s, the left and the right, tried to find a peopleound, no that tried to find a common ground, not that many sun people follow his suggestions. finally they both blacko apparent.with they both had to deal with not d having two parents and what thae
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meant. sha so i think theyre q do share qut bit. aut >> what most surprised you about this character, barack obama's sr. as you went through hisgh hs story? that was there any particular elemen, of surprise you about him?out oe surprire was one piece of news that came out of this book that i did find surprising and wonder thi about to the state.a's that is, in his immigration filr he would be interviewed every year to have his visa renewed by immigration authorities.hose one of those interviews, he saih not to worry about his baby. residen he wast, putting the baby, the y president, up for adoption. armyife is making arrangements with the salvation army to put the baby up for adoption. do now, did they really do that? u were they going to?n? may be. be vi would have been better forhar obama to not have a mixed race baby. c it complicated hisom profile, bt i don't know that and would have
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never put her baby up for adoption. not clear to me that they went that way, but that might have talked about it. asere w there was a home for unwed mothers run by the salvation army, which is what i think heof was referring to. the wh iece of the formation of was able to present to the whitn house and that's the one thing s the president responaded to. he said he did not think that they had done that.told tm. with the mother tell a child that she had thought about putting up for adoption, maybe,t maybe not. that was one of the more surprising pieces of the reporting journey. was >> what do we open up to questions.that >> i just like to say at the brgs a debt is a very -- your book an brings a very interesting and go into history where history is, background of the first black sy president of the united states. i wanted to say that is a realld good idea. su my questionre is, surely you ran
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into the elusive birth certificate.i >> well, to be honest with you i never paid much mind to the birth certificate. born clearly born in honolulu. you can look in the newspapers. in addition back to materializea in his immigration file there is an indication, barack obama jr. was born in honolulu, augustneeg august 1961. written in 1961 and a never thought about it again. >> of the questions? .. questions? as you cue up, think about this notion, if i can get you to come to the -- thank you. >> my first exposure to the book and hearing this it seems so very sad. i'm sorry. i felt a lot of sadness when i heard you answer these
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questions, and i'm curious about your own emotional journey as you completed the book and talked to the people. would you mind sharing your personal feelings? >> the sadness about the story or just the journey -- >> the life stoif -- story and the people involved. could you separate yourself from it or found yourself drawn into some of that. >> yeah, i mean, i definitely got drawn into it. i spent two and a half to three years on this project, and i got to know a lot of people in nairobi who knew obama senior. he was a fellow with huge promise. you know, the harvard piece was interesting to me. in the immigration file, there were detailed records of what happened to obama at harvard, and if you think about this guy who gets to harvard, hay vard from nairobi in the 60s, he did it. it was not new math. computers were starting. it was a new thing, and i found fellows who helped him get
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through it. he not only got through all examines, but defined the thesis, and he was going to finish it. harvard agreed to let him come back for one more year. what got him was the women. immigration looked at how many women and marriages he had, and they didn't like it. they thought he was a polygamist, thought about getting rid of him, and every year they looked at his profile. in the last year, immigration does the interview, they think he has a third wife. what about this guy? are you signing off on him? they already signed off for obama, you know, internally, they said he could come back. well, they don't like it. it's a guy having too much sex, not enough money, and they don't think he looked well for harvard. you see this in the record. it's not me interpreting. they say to each other let's drum up something and get rid of him, and they did.
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within three weeks, they send a letter to obama saying sorry, we don't have enough money, you need to go back to nairobi. it broke him. degrees there at the time were gold. at the time of independence, there's only 500 kenya men and women, 500 with college dregs. this was your passport. not only do you define the new kenya, but would be quite a significant person. obama would have had a university of hawaii degree and a ph.d. from harvard, and they told him to go back. he begs them, there's nations, obama's called, wants to know why. they never said why, and said harvard doesn't have the money. it was a lie. he goes back, and from there, he begins to collapse. he pretends to be a doctor. people call him doctor because he earned. they know he didn't have it, but this is obama. that's a long answer to i do
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feel sadness about him because i feel he could have been a real success, and his life was a tragedy. his eight children, you know, they are confused about him. when he ran for the president, they all began to look at their name also like mark and say who is obama? they put their dad away, he had not been good to them. he didn't know how. he had no mother. he didn't know how to nurture. all the children, four out of five who were surely his children, have written books about themselves and their father, sort of biographies, but clearly, they, too, are trying to understand themselves like the president in his own memoir, so there's a fair amount of human damage and pain that came out of this man, and it is a sad story. >> the president might not necessarily identify with his father and some of his penalty could be compensating for his
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weakness. does he identify with his father's native country? do you get a sense of his relationship to kenya? >> that's ad good question. the answer to that is yes and know. obama wanted to know who he was and where his blackness came from. he's gone to kenya several times. on the other hand, i don't think he has experience of kenya culture, didn't grow up there, no connection to it really. his father is dead. he has remote relationship. there's pandemonium in the universe there. when i was there at one point, there was a fight between two of the siblings. one went to the grandmother's hut throwing things through the window and somebody called obama in the white house saying you got to help out here. you know, he's not going to get involved in that. he's put it at arm's length to protect himself, so while he
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does embrace who he is, the fact he does have a kenya heritage, i don't think he's particularly connected to the culture now. >> any other questions from the audience? please. >> i wrote about the book on the website. >> i can't hear you. >> i wrote about your book on the website, and i thought how painful it must have been for president obama to read this. did you ever consider waiting until he was out of the white house, maybe a few years after to publish this or is there a purpose in publishing now while he's still in the white house? >> no, not at all, wouldn't wait because if you were not the president, no one will read the book. i mean, the reason the book is significant is because it's a piece of history, i think. you know, it really helps to understand a significant event in american politics love him or hate him, obama is the first black president. that's significant. who is he?
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how did he get there? where's the blackness from? you know, we care about this now. historians will care 20 years from now perhaps. if there is anguish to the president, which probably is not an easy book for him to read, i don't think it's different now or five years from now. it's a reasonable question, but i don't think for a personal reason it would have mattered to him, but i think the book had to be published during his presidency because that's what it is germane to. >> other questions? >> have you got any research on how many presidents have had normal childhoods with normal families and perhaps having not so normal family night give you more incentive to be president? >> well, i guess the first question, of course, is what is normal? i don't pretend to know what that is. you know, again, that also would be hard to define. yes, certainly, there's a number
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of presidents with only one parent and dysfunctional homes. dysfunction, chaos at home sends you in one of a couple directions, one it makes you; the other, it breaks you. your internal chemistry and how you react to it makes the difference. it obama jr. was raised by his father, if he had that penalty -- personality at the table every day and guiding him or not, i don't think he would be the president. the president defined himself deliberately. you can feel him choosing a course, figuring out who he is, and i think if he had that self-absorbed man, he wouldn't be the president, so, yes, but i think every situation is different. hard to generalize. >> question about you mentioned obama's grandparents, his maternal grandparents who were very prominent and important in his lives, and they had a very
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respectful relationship with obama senior. talk a little about how they responded to him. >> to obama senior? >> yeah. >> yeah. i think -- i think they tried very hard in their culture. this was sort of shocking to them. 23 you read the president's book, i think they were taken aback. she was dating a black man, but, you know, they loved her so much and knew she was happy with this, and so they embraced it. i think they were fascinated with him. they were not particularly happy, neither side, the parents on neither side were happy they were going to get married, and there was a lot of turmoil when they announce it had, but the couple got married anyway. i think they did their best. obama was not an easy personalty as you know, but they supported the marriage as much as they could, and when it was over, they were wonderful to that little boy. obama jr. was really raised by them. the mother was off traveling, pursuing her own dreams so i think they did the best that they could.
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>> sir? >> anything that he had a rivalry because he went to harvard and yale -- did that come out of anything. >> i'm sure of the yale -- >> he would have been upset of harvard because his dap #* dad was not -- dad was not granted immigration status possibly. has that come out that he preferred to go to yale or why he chose yale. >> you mean the dad? >> they both went to harvard. >> no yale connection? oh, i'm sorry. >> they talk about how he meant his end. what were his last days like, and how did he die? >> he ended his last days in a fitting manner for obama senior. he was working in the treasury, and every day he would go to the
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bar, and a group of them came from the treasury as the day wound down. obama was the first there and last to leave, and they drank outside. it's a great bar, lots of trees outside, and he had a driver take him home because he knew he was pretty drunk. on this night, his driver was off, and the friends said don't drive home. let someone take you. he refused, said good night, i'll see you tomorrow, headed off in the car, and 10 minutes later, he crashed into a tree several blocks from his home and died instantly. some people, the family has maintained he was murdered because of his political speakings, the medical record says the opposite. he drove himself into the tree, and i don't think there was foul play, and that was the end of it. >> what was the reaction in the village to his death? >> you know, obama was very loved. he was a character and very well known, and i think he was widely mourned. there was no bad feeling about
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him particularly, so it was a sad and very unexpected end. >> there was clearly am biff lance with obama jr. towards his father. what was his reaction to the death? >> i don't know a great deal about that. he makes a reference to receiving a phone call from kenya. like any son, he was, of course, deeply saddened by it. i think he had felt he might learn more about his father if he had an opportunity to travel more, so it was disappointing for him. it closed a door in more ways than one. he would never talk to him again or learn who his father was. >> any final questions? i think we're out of time anyway. sally, thank you very much for not only this discussion, but for this great revealing book about obama senior. thank you, all, for coming today. [applause] >> thank you. [applause]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> is there a nonfiction author or book you'd like to see featured on booktv? send us an e-mail at or tweet us at >> paul bergeron, author of andrew johnson's civil war and reconstruction, sat down with booktv in knoxville, tennessee. that interview is next. >> paul bergeron, you believe that andrew johnson has been misjudged by history. why is that? >> well, partly and maybe primarily because onson's record as president following lincoln was not as successful as lincoln. and he had the insurmountable task of trying to win the peace
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which was more difficult than winning the war as it turned out. so historians have had very mixed feeling about jobson. but -- johnson. but beginning after some complimentary studies of johnson, and then the civil rights movement in the '50s, '60s, '70s and when historians began to write during that period, they began to focus on the whole racial question. and johnson was declaredder redeemable racist and that everything he did was motivated by his racist attitudes. so that became the conventional wisdom of the day. and he hasn't recovered from that yet. of course, almost everybody in the united states was racist, but he was in power of being the president, and he decided to take a stand, a very narrow, strict construction of the
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constitution. and can this meant that if he couldn't find a piece of legislation passed by congress could be squared by the constitution, then he would veto it. so unfortunately, that's where he got caught. and beginning in 1866 with several vetoes which i think he made a mistake on those, that began to feed the notion that he was worried about how blacks were going to achieve new status in society, and he didn't want that. and there's a more subtle side to that in defense of johnson to defend the indefensible. he, he felt like that he himself as well as all lower class whites had helped themselves and earned everything they got, and he couldn't see how he could favor one class over another. so he translates that to the whole racial issue k and that
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just -- and that just gets you in an almost impossible situation. >> if we can go back a little bit, what was his relationship like with abraham lincoln? >> well, contrary to what most historians say, lincoln and johnson had a very close relationship. it started when -- actually, served in congress together back in the 1840s, but that was not much to build on. not that johnson wasn't around, it was that lincoln only served one term. um, so when lincoln is elected president in november of 1860, johnson goes to the floor of the senate where he served and be gave a speech against secession because he's worrying about south carolina seceding, so forth. and that was december of 1860, one month after lincoln was elected. then he, johnson, did another
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speech in the senate in february just shortly before lincoln was inaugurated, again criticizing secession and making a strong pitch for the union. lincoln was quite impress with the that, as were a lot of people. and so when lincoln became president, he sought out johnson's advice about the south. johnson, by the way, was the only southerner from a seceded state, confederate state, to remain in the senate during the early months of the war. >> what was johnson's view on the war? >> >> his view was that it was a terrible mistake, that there was no such thing as secession, the union is permanent, perpetual, it has to be preserved at all costs, and he shared that view, of course, with lincoln and many others. so he sees the civil war as something tragic and needs to be ended as quickly as possible. and he spent three years in tennessee trying to bring that
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about before it does happen. the war ends, and as he found out, you can't have elections in a war zone. so they kept postponing elections to try to restore government. so he was very negative toward the rebels and continued to be that way. and the rebels were very negative to johnson. >> why is it that andrew johnson is one of the least-liked presidents in history? >> well -- [laughter] number one, he followed lincoln. and as soon as lincoln's assassination occurred, lincoln began to be elevated constantly in the. >> booktv has over 100,000 b twitter followers. be a part of the excitement.
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follow booktv on twitter to get publishing news, scheduling updates, author information and talk directly with authors during our live programming. >> and now from knoxville, tennessee, university of tennessee history professor dan feller shows us the papers of andrew jackson. a 17-volume series of andrew jackson's speeches, letters and other writings. >> the andrew jackson papers is a project that's been going on for several decades now to collect and order and transcribe and publish andrew jackson's complete documentary record; every letter he wrote, every letter that was written to him, his presidential messages, his military orders, the scraps of paper on which he wrote notes, the autobiographical
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reminiscences that he occasionally penned, everything. every piece of paper which still survives on which andrew jackson left his dna and publish this in a series of volumes as a permanent record to be used by historians and anyone curious. i've been working on the project eight years as the director of the project. way back in the 1980s i was an assistant editor on the project. and the project, we planned 16 or 17 volumes. we've published eight of them. volume nine is about to come out. we're in the middle of the presidency right now. this is where we produce the volumes. if you look around the room, you'll see boxes. all of these boxes are full of folders, and in each folder is an andrew jackson document. the ones that are out on the table are the ones we're working on right now from the year 1831, this is for volume nine in the series. and if you open a folder, say
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this one here, this is a letter from jackson to his secretary of the treasury, samuel ingam written on june 6, 1831. open it up, here's a photocopy. that's andrew jackson's handwriting. this letter is at the university of pennsylvania, that's where we photocopied it. and there are also several other versions of this letter here because this letter provoked a little controversy, and it got into the daily newspapers. what we do is, first, we produce a transcription of the letter like this, and we send it to, we transcribe it, we put on some footnotes. if any explanation is necessary, which it often is, and then we send it to university of tennessee press, and they publish it in one of our volumes. we're finding a lot of information about everything. jackson's papers are kind of a window into everything that's going on in the united states during his presidency.
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he gets letters from everybody. he gets petitions from indian leaders, he gets letters from several of these from mothers whose husbands are dead and whose only son was drunk when he enlisted in the army, and she needs him home, and could the president, please, release him. we get e petitions for pardons from criminals. we get, of course, letters from army officers and navy officers and foreign diplomats and officers of the government. so almost any subject that a historian is interested in in this period has information on it in our volumes. but we're also learning because the focus of these is jackson, we're learning an awful lot about jackson's personality. jackson's a famously controversial character. there's been a debate raging among historians about what made the man tick. for instance, about whether he was a crazy man with an
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uncontrolled temper, really a violent and dangerous man or whether he was simply a shrewd and calculating politician who faked his outbursts of temper for political ends. was he in control of himself? was he even sane? and so you have these two opposing pictures, and historians have battled back and forth about this. which was jackson? was he as one historian por traded -- portrayed him, a tiger pacing in his cage? or was he, again, a shrewd, calculating politician? the answer to all of these is, yes, he was all of these things. his character was so larger than life, i hate to use the phrase, but it was. he was so contradictory. he involved so many different clashing aspects within one person. i've ceased to be surprised --
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[laughter] by the things jackson will do. he will do something amazing, something that you don't expect every day. >> what was, what were some of the things that you just didn't expect to read or to find out? >> i didn't realize the full extent to which jackson was emotionally engaged in the famous eaton affair. this is a sex scandal involving the secretary of war which led to the breakup of the cabinet in 1831. and 1831's the volume we're working on now, so there's a lot on this. jackson fantasized -- there's no better word -- fantasized his own vice president, john c. calhoun, as, and this is jackson's phrase, an agent of satan. and jackson wrote letters. these are not for public display, these were letters to his own, in one case his own niece, saying that john c. calhoun is behind everything. he's behind the sex scandal, he's behind some political
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troubles in alabama, he's behind every vote that goes against me in congress. and jackson could write this letter that is almost literally paranoid. by the way, this is a letter that no one had seen until about last year when the owner of it, private owner, contacted us and said would you like to see in the letter. jackson can write this pair nowic private letter and can write another letter and say i've got calhoun. i've got him trapped. let's see how he gets out of this. the library of congress has the largest single collection. when jackson went home from washington, he took trunks full of papers with him, and after he died those papers went here and there. in the 1880s a cincinnati newspaper editor owned them all. verge eventually, the library of congress bought them. we're talking about maybe 100,000 pieces of paper. those were what jackson called
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his private papers. then official records are in the national archives. so if jackson wrote a letter on business, let's say, to the secretary of war, it wound up in the war department, that wound up in the national archives. we've searched through all of the papers from that era in the national archives. but then other letters wound up in other places. jackson wrote letters, for instance, to the secretary of the navy who was from north carolina. so his papers are at the university of north carolina chapel hill, some of them, some of them are at duke university. and some of them are in the hands of descendants, and those are the ones we still find out about. somebody calls up, in fact, someone called up yesterday, day before yesterday and said i have a letter from andrew jackson. would you like to see it? and, of course, we would. there are going to be 17 volumes altogether. the first six of them lead up to the presidency, and then the plan is to have the next eight cover the presidency.
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jackson was president for two full terms, eight years, so there'll be one volume per year. we've done the first presidential volume which covers the year 829 and the second one covering 1830. we're now on the third one which will be volume nine of the whole series covering 1831. this is really the heart of jackson's historical importance, is his eight year as president. so we're devoting much more space to the presidency than we are to jackson's pre-presidential career or his retirement years. each presidential volume is about 800 pages, 800-900. each one prints about 4-500 documents. >> next, military historian lewis sorley recounts the career of general william westmoreland who led american forces in the vietnam war from 1964 to 1968. mr. sorley speaks at the national archives in washington, d.c. for about an hour.
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[applause] >> there are many people here who have encouraged and supported me over long years of research and writing. i would like to acknowledge one in particular, former colonel -- [inaudible] who's come from houston to be with us today. viet and i have been friends since 1961 when as captains we were classmates at the armor school at fort knox. viet served bravely and honorably during the long years of the vietnam war including an assignment as province chief. after the war, he and his family came to america where thanks to incredibly hard work and fine family values they have prospered. viet has also written "steel and blood," an excellent book about
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armor and the vietnam war. ladies and gentlemen, colonel viet. [applause] as you know, we're going to talk today about the life and career of general westmoreland. i warn you at the outset, this is not a happy story. but it is, i think, an important, even essential one. my contention is that unless and until we understand william chiles westmoreland, we will never fully understand what happened to us in vietnam or why. his involvement in the vietnam war was the defining aspect of his life. he himself perceived that and was driven for the rest of his days to characterize, explain, rationalize and defend that role. his memoirs reflect the fixation
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in a long career totaling 36 years as an officer and a string of postings to increasingly important assignments, the four years he commanded american forces in vietnam and the aftermath constitute virtually the entirety of the account. all the rest, a meager tenth. understanding west moreland is not easy. he turns out to be a surprisingly complex man. fueled by ambition, driving himself relentlessly of impressive military mean, energetic and effective at self-promotion and skillful at cultivating influential sponsors, from his earliest days of services he led his contemporaries, was admired and advanced by his seniors and progressed raptly upward. -- dl


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