[inaudible conversations] >> every hours we bring you 48 hours of books on history, biographies and public affairs by nonfiction authors. >> when i look at why the country does well and why it doesn't, i think it's a fundamentally a values thing. it's not natural resources. these are two really crucial values. do you believe the future can be different than the present and do you believe you can control your future?
these are not universal. some places they have it and some places they don't. u.s. we have an exaggerated sense of control we have but it's good for us to have that. >> this sunday your questions for author and "new york times" op-ed columnist david brooks. he'll take your calls, emails and tweets on a variety of topics including his budget was bohemians or bobos. his bestselling books is bbos on paradise and paradise drive and the latest the social animal. david brooks in depth live this sunday at noon eastern on booktv on c-span2. ..
i's sponsor is, proud sponsor of the new york public library and have been live for some years and they are also members of the new york public library, lawyers for the library committee. it was founded in 1924 and offers forward thinking approaches and solutions in seven major practice areas, corporate, energy and environmental, financial services tony powell real-estate litigation and profit. thank you very much. [applause] briefly let me tell you about some of our other events this season. next week i will be interviewing
number note eco as part of the rolex weekend and jesse norman, peter sellars, and many others. the following week -- i like that -- the following week diane keaton and just before thanksgiving, joan libya. after thanksgiving it with josh ritter and steve burn. join our e-mail list and find out more and be on top of what we are doing next season, the spring season will open with cornerstone in conversation. tom brokaw will happily sign books after our conversation. once again it is a pleasure to thank our independent bookseller 192 books. [applause] the first ten people who sign
up after our event tonight and become friends of the new york public library, all of you are already friend of the new york public library but support us even more if you know what i mean will get tom brokaw's new book for free. you all know who tom brokaw is. for the last few years i have asked the various guests i invite for a biography of themselves written by themselves in seven words. if you really want to be modern, which tom brokaw and i will talk about, a tweet of sorts. tom brokaw send me the following seven words. some people ask for seven and they give me 27. no, it is seven words. he knows what an assignment is.
he said curious, talkative, grateful for that, impulsive, in patient, forgetful. tom brokaw. [applause] ♪ >> that was for you. >> that was great. >> you love frank sinatra. >> guest: i do. i had mixed experiences with frank sinatra. in my generation he was the voice and he was larger than life. encountered along the way not
always pleasantly because of was a reporter and he didn't like being in the news and especially the way he got himself into the news so he would do something inappropriate and we would report it and the next day his public relations person would come to see me and he would say frank doesn't think you are aware that he is underwriting an orphanage in mexico or some good deed. i would say i did hear about that. doesn't excuse the barber role in which he was involved last night or whatever. and for an odd set of circumstances one evening in new york we have a mutual friend, legendary figure by the name of swifty lazar who had invited us to dinner. he had also invited frank's wife and frank was going to arrive later. oh my god, what is this going to be like? so frank sinatra came and sat down and looked at me and said i
watch you every morning. and he said i got tickets for my concert if you want to come. he turned on the charm and i was instantly seduced by all that. because he could be -- didn't know which one was going to show up. the good one showed up. he was absolutely wonderful. >> you went to the concert? >> i didn't but at an occasion later -- want to exchange frank sinatra stories. he made one of his greatest albums at nbc because we had the best sound facilities. the audio wizard in burbank in those days like frank sinatra said stick around. will be 2:00 in the morning but you will want to hear this. i went to the sound stage and way in the back where no one could see me and frank came in at 2:00 in the morning and i saw
the artist because he worked with the orchestra and the score and one carlos and he was all business. the model focus that he had and doing take after take after take and i thought that is who he is. because he was so good at it. >> he is also in your story and a promise we won't only talk about frank sinatra but a story you also mention he was the voice. is one thing you are known for tremendously is your own voice. >> it is and it is widely imitated as well. no one does it better than david gregory. i get picked up on a lot and that is fine. it is a form of flattery. i can sing a note. brought music to our family because the girls were fine but the paint comes of wall if i
open my mouth. >> i would like to begin quite simply by referencing the subtitle of your new book "the time of our lives". the subtitle reads who we are, where we have been, and where we need to go now to recapture the american dream. when i read that subtitle i was rather struck by just how loaded the terms are. for foreigners who have been in the country for 30 years i would like you to explain what it means, these two words american dream. >> everyone has their own interpretation but i suppose if there is a kind of consensus it is the american dream, our children will have better lives that we will. that every succeeding generation has a little better life in some
fashion. it has gotten reduced to what are called quantitative better life. that is what we have to reexamine. how many houses, how many cars leader and how many toys can you have. that is the measure of the american dream. what i try to do in this book is to turn the thinking some to the quality of life. let's make that the measure of the american dream. more tolerant than america, more opportunity in the workplace, reforming our education system so everyone has an equal opportunity to move themselves forward. to do something about our political culture so it doesn't seem walled off to many americans. that is getting the american dream and that is the question that comes up time and time again as i go across the country from people on main street, people in power. they're worried whether their
children will have what they have so i asked them to examine what does that mean? what do you mean have what you have? happiness can be achieved in a thousand different ways and we have continuing pride in who we are. >> would we capture is very important, it speaks of something that was lost. >> i do think it has been lost to some degree. if you just look at the polling in this country now all the confidence in our institution is down to single digits in many instances. most people think the country is on a wrong track, on the right track. they express overtly their anxiety about the future their children will have as they look at the workplace disappear. i once did a series on nbc nightly news about autoworkers
in america. i picked five generations of them. the great grandfather who had been worked in the original ford factory and had been beaten up by goons when they tried to organize. his son, the great wave of the 1950s. got big benefits, good salary, good retirement program, had a house in every peninsula of michigan. of big fishing boat and a good life. his son was outsourced across the midwest racing from ohio to indiana to other plants that were not part of the central system and when i said would deal brought about the 10-year-old. original computers. got to get the working on computer. that is the transition. there was a time you have a strong back and good pair of hands and good work boots you could find a good job and get paid for it. you were the manufacturing capital of the world. that is no longer true.
40% of the american economy is financial services. shovelling money and creating new instruments. >> do you think that worry of parents for the next generation for their children to do better than they did in their own times when they were productive is something that has always existed? do you feel it is exacerbated? >> even in the worst days of the 60s the greatest generation as i called them off and would shake their heads how other kids were behaving but said they are so smart. they're so well educated and they travel so easily. i can't believe the starting salary that they get in a law firm or ibm or one of those places. i used to take the temperature of that generation a lot because i was covering the 60s a lot and even though they were not happy with their deportment they could see they were the masters of the world and the idea that their children could say i am going to
take a couple years off and travel world and come back and start my career or they were starting businesses at a very early age and doing inventive things as their parents were looking at with a sense of all. now their parents are looking at their children with a sense of anxiety. they are looking at them across the dinner table because they are moving back in with them. the kids are in big numbers and they do it for a couple reasons. one is economic. they can't get a job. can't afford urban housing. the second is a number of them said to me i trust my parents. they are my best friends and best counsel that i am going to get and i have seen what corporations have done to my dad and my mother and i won't going to that. >> parents doing a good job of educating their children? >> yes but educating them for what? that is the issue.
i believe that a society is best served by a strong liberal arts underverdict but in the modern economy you also have to have specific skill sets to work in high-tech manufacturing. therefore there is a boom going on in america in community colleges because they are affordable and teaching young people practical skills to take to the workplace. other young people look at their friends who go to college and emerge as 10% of them do, those with student loans and they have debt of $40,000 when they get out of college. >> would use a reminds me of my own father. when i went to university just before i went off to university both my parents from old vienna. my father sat me down and said paul, don't forget the word
university comes from the word universe. don't forget for one second you might be going and studying literature and philosophy and law as it were and back in those days, right across the street is the medical school. go and look how they cut a body. go and look at what other people do and i was reminded by this in part by this fabulous quotation you have of former president where you say -- is fantastic. you are not expected to know but you are expected to wish to note. i would love you to elaborate on that. arafat that was very inspiring. >> i waited for gm body's in coming speech every year. and his baccalaureate speech and made it clear to him i am
ripping him off as fast as i can. it was real wisdom of the best kind and he gave -- a very literary figure, scholar and he would give wonderfully wise speeches to those leaving yale and would also say -- i think that was a speech in which he said do not become hostage to the orthodoxy of others as you leave here and at that point we were going through the jerry falwell parrot robinson -- pat robertson influence and he found that tyrannical as a political egos. he was saying to the university -- he was threatened for taking it on. he was saying to the university students use your mind to reason, to think, to be
independent. we lost him far too early. we have too few giamattis anymore. too few -- i quote john gardner, founder of common cause who had his own populist wisdom how we should conduct ourselves in a civil, social society. >> do you feel he was saying that because in some way young people are not adventurous enough when they go to school? >> this is a pretty adventuress generation. they don't have the lodestars they once did because they found instrumentation -- found it on the screen and how much they serve that to get that kind of wisdom i don't know but they are utterly fascinated with good reason by the new technology. i have a line i use when i go to university campuss in which i say i never expected in my lifetime something as
transforming events this is for communication, research, commerce and for ways we can't anticipate. online universities are exploding. bill gates spent most of his evenings in online academies reading great literature or learning new things. then i say to that but you are not going to reverse global warming by heading -- hitting back space. won't get rid of global poverty by hitting delete. an end by saying it will do no good to wire the world if we short circuit our souls. >> but you say you worry of the day when someone will write a song called the treatise as time goes by. >> i also look and say to young
people know text message will ever replace a whispered i love you. or holding hands and a first date. >> the new technology, you see their value, what worries you about them as people are not thinking enough about their limitations. >> because i think humankind has advanced by technology, that it has wisdom in the hand that activate that technology and have passion that they bring to their lives as well. it is an instrument. it is a tool. we have heads and parts and they should drive that technology, not the other way around. that is what i believe. are also worry, stanford law -- when i was doing some work in silicon valley i was sitting in
the courtyard at stanford law school and was on line and this young man came to me and i am very partial to stanford because i left a lot of tuition there for my daughter when she went there for four years but he said to me a pertinent question. you have written a lot about generations. what about my generation and the definition and meaning of friend? do we know what that means? are we going to lose it because we made it a verb? we are friending people now? very relevant question. how do you measure friendship. not because you share a facebook page or know how to tweak you. >> and also one of the things your book speaks about, this notion that technology in some way also interrupt our cause of thinking. and i think this will lead us quite nicely. >> i have -- you really have to
bring discipline to the technology. it is too easy to go on google and start searching and searching for something whether it has any meaning or not. someone has said to me and it is certainly true in my case. i have a friend who is not technologically advanced at all and is quite disabled so is confined to the library and we tried to encourage him to get and ipad he said not meaning to be humorous is that that thing old men use when they wake up in the middle of the knights of they can read the new york times before the morning? yes, that is it. i know it well. we haven't had a dialogue in this country. doesn't mean we have to assemble some were to have that dialogue but even within families there's not that much of a dialogue. best use of this technology to be aware of. i will segue into the same when i say to the audience about the impact of this technology and
journalism. not just on the forms of journalism but how we get our news. there was a time that a lot of you remember well, we got up in the morning and got a morning paper or went to the news stand and pick off the paper is available in new york got home in the evening and watched david brinkley or walter or hopefully later tom, dan or peter. maybe you call that the late evening news. you were a couch potato. it was delivered to you. now you have to be a proactive consumer. you have to go find the sources of this information. not just take it because it comes off the screen. you have to measure the credibility and reliability of it over time. somebody in montana comes to be quite wide on a regular basis. won't believe what i saw on the internet! you are right. i am not going to believe it. >> yet there's a yearning.
groups assembled such as this one a yearning to come together. as i often say you can't take that sense. we need in some form or fashion we need others. you say we must return to our fundamental obligation. it is time to reenlist as citizens. when you and i spoke he repeated that term reenlist our citizens. what do you mean? >> it has become my mantra. i measure what we are to against the history and the immediate legacy we inherited. let me give you an easy example of that. hy save this wherever i go in the lot of you heard me say it more than you would like at this point. i have been engaged in the two longest war that american history. that is an indisputable fact. iraq and afghanistan. a lot of families in america paid a terrible price in terms of loss of life or grievously
wounded people physically and otherwise. they represent less than 1% of the american population. they are all volunteers. they come from middle-class and working-class families primarily. very few elite institutions or upper-income families send someone off in uniform to fight for all of us. they are bearing this terrible burden. nothing is asked the rest of us. no additional taxes. we don't even have to think about it if we choose not to. we can go through our lives and the war could be going almost as an afterthought for us. that is not just and just in my opinion but kind of immoral in a democratic society. that is an example of how we have to the rest of us have -- i have the title of a chapter called a local sam needs us. we have to reenlist the citizens. this next year is going to be
very important. i don't know whether the republicans will win next fall or the democrats for a third-party candidate but i do know that it will be determined and defined by those who get into the arena and pursue and encourage what they want for america to go forward. i said on meet the press among the go and repeated it again recently that whatever you think about the tea party and come only guess in a room like this, but -- [laughter] -- but the tea party played by the rules. they are mainly, the organized, got to washington and stayed disciplined. they're dominating the dialogue in the republican presidential debates because of that. a proportion of their numbers if you look at the polling they don't represent a majority of americans. quite a distinct minority but
because they stay on message and they use the instrumentation available to them, they are really -- the tail wagging the dog. if you are not happy about that. if you want to encounter your own passion in the arena you got to reenlist. >> in that same vein you think public service is so important? >> this is from the ground up. again wherever i go people said why can't we have mandatory public service or a lot of people say to me we should go back to the draft. the draft won't happen again. too politically toxic. the military doesn't want it. they like motivated volunteers. there is no reason why we can't elevate the idea of public service so it is more than the sum of its parts. there are a lot of good programs. teach for america. after being embedded with troops
in afghanistan and in iraq especially in afghanistan, on a couple of occasions, special forces, i go into these remote villages where i see these guys that i was with in their goggles and kevlar helmets and vests and they would be shaking down and confiscating weapons and in a way would say to the village elders we are here to win your hearts and minds. it didn't work. it didn't connect. i came away and fought there has got to be a better way. i admire these young warriors because they are well trained and they know what they're doing and they're frustrated because too much is being asked of them. i came back and read about this. why can't we have a diplomatic special forces? people who are adventurous civilians. we ought to have public service
academies in america. six -- public, private, johnson and johnson and john dear fellow and agriculture, caterpillar and construction. they spent three years getting specialized training and they are assigned to accommodation of government and private sector coalitions to work abroad or work in this country. at an end of three years public-service the corporation takes them in for two years to prove they have a chance to see if they want to keep them and whether the young man or woman wants to stay there. it is not as well form as it ought to be because i was trying to kick start a conversation. originally -- in south texas some friends of mine and big business men and a very conservative guy, i didn't have the private piece of it at that point. he said make it private public. get the private sector involved.
>> you are interested in that partnership between public and private. it can work. >> a big friend of this country. mitch daniels is doing a lot in indiana and turning it over to private corporation but on a smaller basis across the country water district are being turned over to private companies more profitably and efficiently. the state in which you live has 11,000 state agencies. this is a system that was designed for political patronage 100 years ago. it is not necessary for us to have that many state agencies here. long island as you go across the calgary each county has a different water district and different set of rules and well-paid commissioners. >> what would you do? >> consolidate a lot of it. consolidate lot of education in america. people have attachments and pride in these institutions. the system that is going to
consolidate and change the reform is a system being reformed, the way it exists and out so they're not inclined to do it. >> we had a malcolm web well and when the cop, founder of teach for america. one of the most powerful parts of your book is precisely you worry with the state of education in this country and you have this anecdote about being in corey and seeing children congregate legal very young -- >> that was 15 years ago. i was there during the olympics. doing nightly news because of the time difference. original very late at night or early in the morning and when i was finished there would be not yet don and i looked down from the -- being on a rooftop, junior high courtyard below me
and 5:45 or 6:00 flashlights are all over the courtyard and it is students waiting for the doors to open doing their homework. that is how motivated they were. they were not going to open for another hour. arne duncan, secretary of education talked-about president obama meeting with the president of korea. of president opened by saying what are your problems with education in korea and the president of korea said parents are demanding more of me than i can satisfy them with right now. we have the flip of that going on. here is korea in 1950 with a stone age economy. 80% illiteracy. now it is one of the great industrial powers in the world and they did that in the most hostile possible conditions and at rocky little peninsula. anyone who knows of great americans who come here and open business and go to school,
driven they are. are deliberately didn't choose china to make it the centerpiece because we all know a lot of that but it is going on everywhere else. >> i very much enjoyed reading this encounter you had with president obama where he said the biggest lesson we learned from world war ii is america can do anything when it puts its mind to it but got to exercise those muscles. they have atrophied a bit. we are soft in ways that are profoundly dangerous to our long term prosperity and security. the notion of atrophied muscles. i would like you to expand on that. does connect to your story. >> i don't think he is wrong. we went to work after 9/11 on a
credit card. we didn't ask anything of the rest of us. no sacrifices whatsoever. we were encouraged to go back and go shopping again. we had this enormous bloom in housing which was irrational from the beginning. i remember our daughter calling me from san francisco when they were buying their first home and she said they are offering these 20 year deals with interest only for the first fifteen years. you could see what would come at the end of the first fifteen years. she said we are going to be more cautious. i worry about my friends. i went to a couple major construction people at that time and what is going on? they said there is so much instrumentation. people will loan anything. fannie mae and freddie mac were driving a lot of that. those were two political institutions, quasi public. they got very -- getting the idea of home ownership for
everyone when plainly not everyone was qualified. we are paying a big price for that. we have twenty million homes in this country and the moment that are either in foreclosure or stress or in danger of going into foreclosure. that means twenty million homes -- not buying new carpeting. can't move to a new job. they are stock and they're stuck with the biggest investment they're going to make in their life for many of us. this represents a lot of their network. we get the housing thing figured out it will be a harder not to get the economy really rolling back on track in the way we need to. neither party is talking about that which is striking to me. >> your book is made of poignant questions. one of them is a question john f. kennedy asked many years ago. if john f. kennedy were around today and asked what you could do to your country, what you
have done for your country recently how would you answer? how would you answer? >> i would say i appeared at the new york public library. >> that is one of these things. >> i honestly think i'm at a stage of my life that if there is an oxymoron in american life it is we don't exist. this is the modest of me. i have seemed to have earned a certain place where people will listen to me and always cared about the country and the greatest generation, writing that book gave me a kind of platform that was completely unanticipated. so i thought i ought not to squander that. i ought to step up not just as a citizen or a journalist but as a father and husband and grandfather. if i see these things are out to write about them and try to start this dialogue which i am
trying to do with this book about where we need to get to next. in our family we all do a lot of things. she has a micro finance project going in malawi. i have a daughter, another daughter is spend a lot of time in haiti this year living in a temple with rodents crawling all over her. she was doing grief counseling. another daughter who works for the international rescue committee in san francisco. because we were raised by parents and grandparents who saw that as part of the national -- you gave back in some fashion. i have done that but i think my larger contribution is try to engage people in the events that define our time. >> you have passages in the book precisely about the legacy of
parents left to you and how careful and cautious they were and thrifty and never spent more than they had. almost everyone else of their age, they were thrifty by nature and necessity. they didn't spend what they didn't have and they saved something every week. >> sometimes to a fault. [talking over each other] >> i would say likable little bit. you can afford this. it was hard for them. hard for them to spend some time. didn't mean they didn't have a great life. they did everything they wanted to do and i had the good fortune of having real resources. i could help them in ways -- on trips or helping them buy retirement place. but it never defined our relationship. my dad died the week before i
began -- about three weeks before it began, it had been announced and this was a great thing for our family for me to have this wonderful job and all this responsibility. it came with it, very substantial salary. and i caught a wave of people getting paid a lot of money for this kind of work and got a lot of publicity and my father who never earned cash in, more than $9,000 in his life. an end maybe he did better than that. worked with the corps of engineers and other construction foreman. recalled me a wonderful sense of humor and said i am reading reports about your salary. is that true? a ice and we never talked about my salary before. i made good money before that but this takes me to different level. i said -- i don't know. just reading about it. we went on to something else and a week later time magazine did a
very detailed report about what we were making and what barbara walters was making. my father called me and he said i am reading time magazine. i said come on. why are we talking about this? he said i will tell you why. for as long as your mother and i have known you you always read a little short at the end of the year. we want to know how much to set aside this year. it was a perfect way of dealing with it. i took him shopping in california and he came to visit a set of very high end place and we were driving and i had a car going through the supermarket and i thought i would show off my thrifty gene so they had fresh squeezed orange juice and i said to dad that stuff is really expensive. let's get the box stuff. he reached into my shopping cart and picket three expensive
bottles of california wine and he said the money you save on orange juice will pay for these. that put it in perspective. >> he must have been very proud. >> he was proud but not a modest about it. you could not ask my mother about me without her saying my son is running a restaurant and my son mike went in to the marine that lives around the corner and they just didn't play favorites. my father when i first got to have some kind of public celebrity somebody once asked him -- he was gathering at the ellis club in our home town. he said are you related to tom brokaw? my dad said i think he is a cousin. i am not sure. >> another aspect of your book that i would like to talk about is -- which i didn't really know
is the incredible importance you attach to what one might call an enlightened form of philanthropies. bird plays an important role. by that i mean foundations such as one of the ones i am particularly attached to, the robin hood foundation. you talk about it in a way as a model. the robin hood foundation would do well to expand in many different cities. >> we are fortunate to have a robin hood foundation. i was a big skeptic when it started. these are rich guys trying to buy a reputation. i have a lot of friends involved in it. they invited me to their breakfast with another one coming up before long. john kennedy jr. was there at the time and he introduced two young men he had gone to prep
school with running a school in east harlem. very moving about what we were doing and how john was attached. when john was lost i thought what could i do? i went to the school and so on would like to help out and i did and the robin hood people came to me and said we could really use you on board because we are all hedge fund guys. we make a lot of money. but we don't have much of a political year. we don't understand how rest of the world works. we are used to having our way. we need someone to give us a reality check. i went on the board and i was astonished at the commitment of these people and the discipline they brought to how they gave away their money. they paid all the overhead for robin hood. they had metrics in which they went to agencies. very professional staff. take the measure of an agency
for abused family members and they come back and say that is not going to work very well or it is doing something important but we need to go in and they pay for everything. all that is done. this is the most generous country in the world. there is no other country in the world that gives money as freely as the united states does for a variety of causes and no city will compare with new york when it comes to raising money. i do a lot of events at the waldorf and sometimes for causes that almost no one knows about. it is routine to raise $2 million on the night of the waldorf. one of the things when we first began to have somebody in our family and my girls sometimes were given -- even more dangerous than i wanted them to be. i had grown up with no money and
when i found part of the attractiveness of it that it gives you freedom and you can help out worthy causes. but robin hood is a model but there are a lot of models. and will share one other one with you that i am particularly taken with. this has to do with education which i think a lot of how we reform education in america will depend on the public/private partnership. there's a man in atlanta named tom cousins who is a sussex the this successful commercial developer. he and sports teams and rebuild downtown atlanta. he is a third or fourth generation georgian, well educated man of faith. a presbyterian married to a wonderful woman and he is making a lot of money and doing small things and wanted to something bigger. there's a part of atlanta called the eastlake area whiff of golf course called the eastlake golf
course where bobby show and played his last round of golf. it completely deteriorated and was surrounded by the most crime-ridden neighborhood in atlanta. tom decided that he could change the neighborhood beginning with the golf course. everybody told of it was the dumbest idea. his response was i lost a lot of money on your dumb ideas. i would like to lose some on my dumb idea now. he reformed the golf course and sold memberships and made a fair amount of money and took all that money and went to the community. not an easy sell because they were suspicious. a white guy coming in to take advantage. indeed makes income housing. i will build it so we can bring black working-class families and we need to change the school system. it is an amazing mall environment. cnbc did documentary on and warren buffett saw it and so did
join robertson was one of the fathers of the hedge fund modes they said this in, we are your partners and they have purpose build communities. they are in indiana and new orleans and charlotte. they will go into a lot into these downtrodden areas. what they're doing is creating communities and making schools the centerpiece and i don't know how much of his fortune he will give away but he couldn't be happier and couldn't be more modest about it. i thought he deserved attention and there are other examples like that. that goes on in this country. we need to elevate that kind of example it seems to me. and make sure that becomes the goal. >> that is with the interest in employing philanthropy reside. >> it does. and one of the things that is happening in philanthropy is this new generation, my age, the
new generation, the bill gates of the world, nothing like that. the way they're spending it be pretty how actively they are involved, this generation of philanthropists want to run their money. we are surrounded by a this library and the vanderbilts and j. p. morgans and the ford foundation but they turned the money over to a foundation and walked away. this new generation wants control and they're doing it and having a big impact in a lot of areas. education will be held in part by eli roads, home builder from los angeles, jim simons made so much money as a hedge fund guy. they know what education did for them. >> i love the story you tell about bill gates and warren
buffett. tell that story. >> i got to know bill early. are thought he was going to get in our business as we had to content. i've added point of going to seattle. it stands for microsoft nbc. we formed a partnership that didn't work out perfectly but we have many pieces but bill would come to new york and have meetings. he was meeting with jack welch and jack called me because i helped him go into the building. we got some stuff to discuss. they took our picture. this was before melinda got control of bill's wardrobe and personal grooming. he didn't care about all that stuff. it looked like his hair had been cut by shrubbery she ears of some kind and he had a plaid jacket and striped pants and i
am in my anchormen out fit and we have our picture taken. they got it to immediately and i'm going out to lunch with a close friend of mine who is on warren's board and also his lawyer and he said warren will be there as well. we have all known each other for a while. we go to lunch and our show this picture to warren and my friend ron and said you are a mother. you have three sons. which one are you worried about? [laughter] warren says i tell people bill and are so rich because we share a comb. that was a killer line. >> in your 50 years -- >> half a century. >> that also is that.
it also is the strength of longevity and dedication in doing something. who served you early on and late on as models? >> to derive all my ideas on? in my profession, i had a real privilege of being raised by newspaper guys. hy caught the wave early. some very important jobs at an early stage in my life. newspapers were still the dominant culture when it came to covering politics and covering everything. when i was in los angeles i arrived in 1966 at the 26-year-old to cover ronald reagan running against pat brown for governor and the l.a. times had a really first-rate political reporting team. older guys. i have often thought back on it. don't know what prompted me but
they metaphorically put their arm around me. and helped me through it. and kept their eye on me. paul conrad was a pulitzer prize-winning cartoonist. again to write for the times and that sealed the deal. they felt i was one of them. when i moved to washington i was coming from l.a. where i was working as a local political reporter and there was some skepticism whether i could do the job. after about three weeks on the job at the white house there was a legendary washington newspaper man by the name of peter from chicago. he did the same thing. he became my friend and we stayed in touch and talked to each other and my closest friend was a wall street journal reporter. that helped me a lot because it gave me the disciplined
framework in which to operate as a broadcaster in all this but also standard of print journalism were different than what we did in broadcast. best of all, what it did was keep my ego in check. you couldn't be at the vote around those guys. they would suck the air out of me in a nanosecond. peter ustinov when he would see me across the way. i would be at the booth in a convention presiding over our coverage feeling good about this and i looked down out of the booth at 4,000 people i would find peter and he would mouth this obscenity to be silently and it would break me up and bring me back to what i was doing. that was very helpful to me. older guys, walter cronkite -- we treasured that. andy rooney is not doing well
right now. he is having a hard time. i will cherish that friendship forever. he is a great man. when i made a member of the greatest generation and wrote about him he would argue with me. i don't think i member of the greatest generation. i don't even like the phrase veteran. i don't think -- finally assembled put asterisk an by your name saying everyone is a member of the greatest generation except andy rooney. >> you hold to that phrase. >> i do. my defense is very short. that is my story and i am sticking to it. i leave it at that. i used it before the book was written on the air and a lot of people responded to it and i have a lot of challenges to it. it was not a perfect generation. i don't say that but in fact that generation came out of the war, came out of the depression
with their life was about deprivation and sacrifice and a lot of hope. never wining or complaining and they fought the greatest war in the history of mankind. in 1939 this country was the sixteenth military power in the world. by 1941 we were in the greatest war of all time and it was in the pacific as well as in europe and africa and six of seven confidence. pacifists' one day after pearl harbor list and became warriors. at home we stopped all civilian production of automobiles and turned out new tanks and new weapons. building the dirksen senate office building 9 in which a top. i talked to one of the machinists who said the engineers would leave yellow legal pad drawings the night before and we would machine them all night long by looking at the drawing the. these were farm boys who knew how to do this kind of thing. they did. nothing less than save the world. not just the americans but the
british holding the line originally. the russians pushing the germans back was usually critical and came home and didn't whine or whimper again. they went to college in record numbers and build new industries and gave us new art and science and build states like california and florida and texas and got married in record numbers and went to college and set about the 1950s to achieve a prosperity none of them never believed they could have. the resistance of the changes but as i remind people betty friedan was a member of the greatest generation. began to change attitudes about women in america and the african-americans who served came back and that became the foundation for the civil-rights movement because they were not going to be discriminated against in the same way and the next generation led by dr. king and others really did change
that. they launched the war in vietnam but members of the greatest generation where the most particular critics of that as well as well as george mcgovern and gaylord nelson and the others who gave another kind of voice to it. i am satisfied that there was a generation worth celebrating. >> take us back a little bit when you began and you were an acre so many years back then. was it easier than it is now? >> much easier. when i started in television news i didn't see television a lot. remote parts of the country and it was a nirvana to me. >> first time when you were 15. >> i saw the beginning in 1955. i was just mesmerized. >> can you remember exactly? >> i remember the night was coming on they were talking about it. >> what was your first
impression? >> the idea that we were seeing things i never expected to see in my living room in south dakota. i read the papers and some of the tone and news but to have a on a black-and-white television sets at 5:30 at night two guys doing a 15 minute broadcast and say what was going on in washington that they can stuff that was going on in europe, it was amazing. before that to go see the world series in a small town a mother would put all of us in the car and drive to soo city, eyewall. we will watch on television to see the world series or go to su falls because they could get the signal. we could get them in a remote area. when i got to the big town with a population of 9,000 we had a television signal with three channels to choose from. on sunday i remember watching walter cronkite doing his sunday afternoon shows, and ed murrow who was a huge hero of mine
watching that. i suppose then the thought began to form that i would like to do that. the thing about network television in those days it was a real meritocracy. they reached out across the country to get the corresponding quarter. time magazine and the new york times and the other great institutions, you had to come from harvard or yale or have a different pedigree. television, it was an open field. i described it as the oklahoma land rush rushing across the landscape so i started in omaha. when i was there, there was a very good reputation and we would often feed stories to holly brinkley. and one of the officers of nbc came out. they going to go from 15 minute to half an hour. they were worried they would not be able to fill that half hour so they were asking the affiliate's to keep their eye on
stories. first, appeared on holly brinkley one of the flying melindas fell off of a swing bar at the circus in omaha and died and one of the photographers got a picture and i was on the air with -- >> with so many networks available and so many ways of getting information is network news still relevant? .. safe.
i thought i would be adventurous. i thought i would get the network to oversee the world. it was very excited the idea that you could, you know, get on a plane and fly somewhere to be on air. i went to atlanta right at the heights of the civil rights movement. that's when nbc picked-up and sent me to california. >> by the time news comes to anchors, it is old news now. it's already being "the huffington post." it's already on the huffington places. >> it's like -- dan peters and i grew up as correspondents. we wanted to be reporters and we find ourselves for anchor chairs for tuusly for all of us. technology changed so the satellite made it possible for us to anchor from anywhere in the world. you know, we got on airplanes
and flew to the philippines when coino aquino was taking over. >> you found yourself by chance in berlin. >> yeah. and i was in berlin -- well, not entirely by chance. i didn't think the wall was going to come down but i thought it was a very good story. >> it wasn't a bad story. >> i won the lottery. i was the only one who was there last night. i was laughing about it the other day. i like the outdoors and i don't really have a really formal wardrobe so i generally tend to read my l.l. bean jackets when i go on the road and i had this kind of worn out jacket and i was going on the air the night the wall was coming down. this is going to be around for a long time. so i went over and got mike besher one of our correspondents had a really good looking topcoat and i traded jackets with him and i show up in this very handsome topcoat. >> bring me -- because i watched that moment of you at the berlin
wall. bring us back to what it was like to -- there were a few milestones, at least three that had tremendous, watergate, the berlin wall and reporting 9/11. and i think the last one, of course, probably must be one of the most difficult moments to report. if you can bring us back to what it felt like those three stories. >> to put it quickly in a larger perspective. a lot of people say was that the biggest story i ever report? i say it was the most difficult day and the most difficult days that came after that. i do think the biggest story of our lifetime is the fall of the soviet union. and the redefinition of communism was a rise of china and the fall of soviet and the liberation of eastern europe and that's still playing out. that was an enormous seismic event in history. and it lowered the threshold of the chances of thermonuclear exchange between these three superpowers.
we still have the other area. so when i i got to berlin the day before the wall came down because there was not much going on here. and they were trying to get out of berlin and get to czechoslovakia and other places. and we were racing around. i could go through checkpoint charlie and report on the other side. and then late in the afternoon, on that thursday, the propaganda chief for the east was at a news conference and it was a typical communist bureaucratic news conference. you're fending off these news questions. i was exhausted. i had been up most of the time since i had been there on tuesday since noon. and all of a sudden someone handed him a piece of paper and he said -- his name was shabowsky and he said that the bureau has decided the residents of the ger can escape and any through the gates and the words or words to that effect and it
was like hearing this beam come in from mars. the people in the room couldn't believe what they were hearing. and then the man said thank you very much and left the stage. i had an appointment to interview him right after the news conference so i went upstairs and got the camera in place and i said, of shabowsky, pull that paper out again and read to me again and let's talk about what it means and he read it again. and i said that means residents of your country, citizens of the gdr can leave anytime they want to through the wall. he said, yes, that's what it means. and i ran downstairs and some of my print colleagues were standing there, roy guttmann from the long island newspapers. and they were trying to figure out -- the wall is down. it's going to happen. so we race back through the wall, through the gate at checkpoint charlie. the guard who had given us is terrible time going in and out
for the last two days was standing there and he kind of let us breeze through and i stopped and i said, do you know what's happened? he had been watching television. he said yes. what do you think? and he said through the interpreter, i'm not paid to think. and he went on his way. that night, by the time i got to brandenburg gate the people had come from the west and they were cheering on the young people on the other side of the wall who were very uncertain about whether they should get up and come over the wall or not. one of my cameramen had been down the other gate and he had the first footage of people coming from the wall and then they poured over top of the brandonburg gate. it was the most exciting single event to know that i was the only one there, you know, everybody else was back in studios in new york covering it. i kept thinking to myself, don't screw this up, tom. don't screw this up. this is a big deal. [laughter] >> do you care to say something
about watergate and reporting at that moment? >> what it would be like today? >> watergate? >> yeah. >> watergate was -- it would be much different. people, making judges immediately, guilt or innocence. the white house press corps, i look back on that as a model of tempered reporting. we reported what we knew. we had suspicions and things kept unraveling as we went along. but no one went on the air and said he's guilty. and there's no way around it. or we didn't have a lot of people debating each other on the air. moreover, as a practical matter, as a reporter, when i finished with the evening news at 7:00 that night from the lawn, i could go work the phones to get ready for the today show.
i didn't have to go to m nbc, and speculate. i was going to do the work on the reporter. when i got on "the today show" i had new sources and new information and new ideas. it was a real constitutional crisis. the presidency was at stake. the company was deeply divided. but what i always remember about it -- i was in san clemente when the supreme court decision came down, that they would to have give up the tapes and everybody knew it was over at that point. and what i remember about it, once the tapes came out, this country, even the last offenders of richard nixon said he broke the law. he's got to go. they either said it to themselves and it was unspoken. everyone knew. i had been according to some republican senators during most of that year who were, you know, defenders of the president and they were conservative republicans. and one of them called me at about 6:00 the night that the tapes came out. and he said, tom, you've been very patient with me.
he said it's over. and we're coming to tell them that. we're going to make a call first and the white house told them not to come. that the president has made a decision that he's going to resign. that was a very dramatic time. tanks were in the streets. there wasn't any coup. on people didn't hang on at the white house. i remember about two days later after president ford had been sworn in one of the white house staffers who had been very loyal to known, came down to the hallway to get something and burst into tears. i said, ruth, what's wrong, they told me to go get the president's papers and i don't know which president they're talking about. president ford or president nixon. but we got through that transition. >> in closing, i'm wondering two things. first of all, when you look back, any regrets? any stories that you feel that you could have told better?
any stories that you feel that you withheld and wished you had told? >> yeah, didn't go to he vietnam and i regret that. i was a young reporter for nbc and they didn't send married reporters. they sent mostly single people. i covered the war at home as i often described it. and that was a big piece of what was going on. but i wasn't there and so i regret that. most people say that's nothing to regret given all the other things that i've done in my life. story that we could have told better -- >> told differently, told better but you feel you didn't tell -- >> i don't think that we -- i think that the signs were there for this economic downturn. i don't think we did a very good job. i was out of the chair by then. but i went -- i write about this in the book on the night of the millennial change from the new year's eve -- >> in europe. >> 1999. none of us was saying this was
likely to happen. man from the "new york times" wrote a very pressing piece about how overheated the market was and what could happen. but the rest of the world we were worried about y2k. we didn't see 9/11 coming. the spring before the attacks of 9/11, i had gone down to see the director of the fbi because i was working on computer hate, a story about these racists and bigots who were using -- and it was very well organized computers to spread hate. they had -- some people had been murdered as a result of their actions. and i wanted the fbi to cooperate with us on a documentary about how they sort of hate crimes on the computer. and louis said that's not high on our list of priorities. that will work its way out you. ought to be looking at terrorism. i'll never forget that. that was like in march before the 9/11 attacks. and i walked out with my colleague and friend andy lack
who's the president of nbc news. and we kind of talked about that, and he said maybe we should look into that but it kind of faded away. and then 9/11 happened. >> how do these things fade away? >> well, it faded away because -- and i think this is part of what's going now. it wasn't tangible in a way. even though we had the attacks on khobar towers and the cole and tanzania and kenya, you know, we were all into thinking they won't come here. i think part of the problem at the moment in just country is, you can't touch and feel and smell or feel the hot winds of the debt that we're in, in just country. so people can put it out of their minds. it's not looming over them in a way. you can talk all you want about what it's going to cost your children and grandchildren. but because it's not tangible, it's more of an abstract, i don't think it has the same impact. >> in closing, you write about
the state of journalism today. and you say this about investigative journalism, you say without investigative journalism, what would we know about the people's revolt in egypt? or long before that, of watergate? the silence spring, tiananmen scar, war, islamic rage, peace, calamity and heroism. tomorrow i'm welcoming on this very stage edward morris in a speech he gave at berkeley, a commencement speech since you like commencement speeches, he says this, i have often wondered why we need the phrase "investigative journalism." isn't all journalism supposed to be investigative? isn't journalism, without an investigative element, little more than gossip? and isn't there enough gossip
around already? >> i don't disagree with him. i've often said the same thing about investigative journalism. it's redundant in my judgment. there's entertainment journalism and i tell my friends in the print business when they complain about what they see on television, okay, i want you to go to press tomorrow and onto the streets with only the front page. no sports news, no crossword puzzle, no cartoons, no entertainment guides, just the front page, just eat your spinach, folks, and we'll see how successful you are. so journalism is a broad spectrum. i do believe that the culture of journalism will survive all these changes. >> you do? >> in how it's delivered. yes, absolutely. people will have a constant appetite for information about what's going in their lives. walter isaacson has written a book about steve jobs and we were talking about the publishing business and he said something i hadn't thought about. he said i am buying print copies of books because i know they'll survive and i want my children
and grandchildren to see them in print form. i don't know what happens to the electronic books that i am buying. will i be able re-read those and will i pay attention in the archival way of those books? so i think that's interesting. edward morris by the way -- i talk about him in the book in the context of robert mcnamara, he's a brilliant dock marion, i thought fog of war is a national treasure. >> thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you. >> after 90 minutes they're going to be impatient. >> a couple of good questions.
can we bring -- >> if you have answers. no questions? i think we've been at this at 90 minutes. you've probably heard everything you need to hear from me, go ahead. >> hi, mr. brokaw, thank you so much for being here and for sharing your words. i was very inspired. i was particularly interested in your description of the collaborative environment in which you were raised professionally. the mentors. and as someone here who is not experiencing the same kind of cultivation in the workplace, more of a competition, both among entry level workers and among the more senior workers and entry level workers, i'm wondering if you could speak a
bit to your opinion on that. how did we move away from a cooperative workplace to a competitive workplace and what affect does that have on the workplace and the productivity of all of us. >> you want to repeat that question? [laughter] >> sorry. >> can you make it shorter. >> sure. >> cooperative workplace -- >> cooperative workplace versus competitive workplace. >> and specifically your inspiring mentors and where did they go in the workplace today? are they still there? am i just not finding them? >> i'm not sure that i can answer that. i think they are still here. i think that it still exists. but what i think is that the information overload and what we see on the screen all day every day has so many parts to it, it's hard to pull stuff out.
so i don't think that we make the same kind of assessment or inventory that we once did. life was a lot easier at one point in terms of choices that we had to make and we knew what they were going to be. i think that's not so true anymore. >> thank you. >> if you could make your questions very tight. >> very terse, very tight. paul, good to see you. i'm a print journalist and i spent a few years covering conclaves of print journalist of the american society of print editors, the newspaper association of america. and they bend themselves into pretzels talking about how they have to find new ways to reach young people. and at a certain point, there's a limit. can you recommend a way for the news industry to get together with the educational system to somehow revive the gene for
public affairs that seems to have somehow slipped out of the blood stream. >> yeah, how we were proactively trying to -- >> the news industry can only do so much. >> yeah, yeah. and i honestly didn't think it was the mission of newspapering. it was to try to be a proactive agent for getting people interested in public affairs. i think our job is cover the news and raise hell. that's what i really think. [applause] >> and i think other institutions have to get involved in getting people more involved in public affairs. what i do think is that if you're reasonably nimble on the internet now, you can find almost any kind of organization that you want including those that will pull you in to public policy discussions and make you part of a kind of cybergroup. part of the dilemma at the moment it's like drinking from a fire hydrant. there's just so many choices out
there. bill clinton talks about the need to have a place where you can kind of get a test for reliable information. he says society is atomized by all of this information going on. i think we just have to continue doing what we're doing. and make sure that public discourse is engaging and that people understand that it has relevance to their lives. >> we're going to take one more question. >> yeah. >> go ahead. >> you answered my question. >> okay. >> i thank you so much for coming. what's your advice for a young journalist looking for an inspiring story? >> my advice for young journalists is study medicine. think about becoming a doctor. [laughter] >> no, my honest advice is this, obviously, you have to get used to the new instrumentation and you have to be a master in it because a lot of it will be moving in that direction. there will always be a place for someone who can write.
someone who can express themselves coherently and explain complex issues in ways that people can take away something that is meaningful and useful to them, whether it comes off the internet or the printed panhandle or even on television. we have far too much now of -- there's what i call the school of hand journalism. you got everybody talking with their hands all the time. and it's kind of improvisational. the well constructed sentence is important over the air as it is on the printed panhandge or on internet. >> thank you all very much. [applause] >> come fly with me, let's float down peru ♪ ♪ in lavo land there's a one man band ♪ >> is there a nonfiction author or book you would like to see featured on booktv.
send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. or twitter us at twitter.com/booktv. >> here's a interview from c-span campaign 2012 bus as it travels the country. >> dr. starbuck, you have written a few books on archeology. why is it important for people to learn history through archeology. >> it's often said history is written by the victors, and we read about such things as major battles, generals, military campaigns. history talks about those who won. it talks about the names it talks about the great events. archeology on the other hand talks about ordinary people. we dig up soldiers at the military encampments.
it's the archeology of real people whereas history has traditionally been biased towards the famous people, the important people. well, to an archeologist everyone is important. when i dig up military camps, i'm digging up the activities -- the things that people were doing 360 days out of the year. not what they did on that one or two days they were fighting during the year. so archeologists love to say, it is everybody's story that we try to tell. >> and you've done -- you spoke about how you've done multiple kinds of archeology. how did you decide to transition to the military archeology, of for th for tts and battlefields. >> it's exciting to dig in other countries but gradually i started digging in historical sites in america. things like early factories. i dug up ely whitney's factory.
i've done glass factories and mills. but somewhere along the way the national park service asked if i would start working at the saratoga battlefield. i never worked on military sites before. i did know, though, that when you dig up early america, people in general are drawn to certain types of things. and other things maybe they don't find quite as exciting. it was 1985 that i first started digging a battlefield and i was amazed to find that everybody is fascinated by early military history. and it's not just memorizing facts and memorizing battle strategies. people want to actually go where the action was. they want to stand where the soldiers stood. they want to stand where the battle was going on and they want to see and touch the things of the past. a musket ball, a gun flint, a bayonet, part of a musket.
people want to physically connect with evidence with traces for past wars, for past battles. the moment i started digging forts and battlefields, many more people started signing up to dig with me. magazines started requesting articles. televisions started wanting to do programs on military digs. books, everybody wanted books on digging up forts. i never realized that level of interest exists here in america for all the old military campaigns, all the old forts and i suddenly realized i'd never planned to dig a fort in my life, but all of a sudden, people cared. people wanted to visit. people wanted to connect with past soldiers. and for 25 years now, i have dug up the remains of america's forts, battlefields and encampments trying to find out what soldiers' lives were really
like. >> and there's a lot of interest you mention in america with people of forts and battlefields. and in the forward in your book it states that sometimes it has compromised the material record, what does that mean? >> i'm afraid that battle fields are such famous popular sites that the moment a battle was over, anytime in our past, local people would descend to pick up souvenirs and in no time at all those musket balls, those bullets, they'll bayonets would be picked up and carried off. also, if people lived nearby, if the remains of a fort were starting to crumble, were starting to rot, the garrison had left, local citizens, local towns people would always go there, grab anything they could walk off with, whether it's bricks, old fireplaces, timbers, and take them off and use them for their own houses. so military sites are
compromised all the time by people wanting souvenirs and wanting things to recycle for their own use. so by the time the archeologists arrives, there's only a fragment of what was once there at a military site. >> what are some of the things that you found that you wouldn't -- people wouldn't expect that you would find a fort or a battlefield and what types of things can tell the most stories? >> i think what people expect us to find would be things like the musket balls, gun flints, and gun parts, that's always interested. i've seen lots of students get very excited finding a musket ball. but i think the more unexpected things are usually the personal items, things that a soldier actually had on their body, buttons, buckles, cuff links. anything of a personal nature, you suddenly see that button and realize a real person was wearing that.
and you're connecting with that soldier from the past. i think among the unexpected things we find, though, is the fancy things. i think we assume everything is sort of standard military issue. everybody is wearing the same thing, fighting with the same weapons. all of a sudden, you find something nice. and one fort is fort orange which was an early dutch fort and you'd expect on the frontier in the 1600s everything would be simple and crude. well, they have found the fanciest glass vessels, glass bottles, glass bowls from holland, the nicest things way out there in the frontier. soldiers, people living at forts did not just have crude, simple out of date garbage, if you will. they had nice things. they wanted to bring the best
things from home from the mother country, from europe, with them to the frontier of america. when archeologists find really nice things, we sort of smile to ourselves and say, those officers, those soldiers, they did okay for themselves. >> and what are you digging now? is there an archeological dig that you're working on right now or you're going to work on this fall? >> well, i'm doing two things right now. in the summertime, i'm digging fort william henry in lake george, new york. fort william henry is the site of the last of the mohicans so anyone who has read james fen athlete work cooper's famous novel or seen the most famous movie with daniel day-lewis that's the fort we're digging in the summer through the college and plymouth state university. however, this fall here on campus, here at plymouth state