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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  August 29, 2012 10:30am-11:00am EDT

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"in depth" at noon eastern on c-span2's booktv. .. walter isaacson biography of steve jobs.
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begins may 21st, 1995, which if you are in the states was about halfway through the o.j. simpson murder trial. but on site and was a very beautiful sunday morning and if small plane a vintage cdc took off from the airport with a very important people on board. one was the speaker of the house of the commonwealth of the northern islands and the other was larry known as th in dhl. one of the northernmost islands nobody was really quite sure why he was interested in building the eco resort but regardless the plane and never returned, and this wasn't a particularly big surprise because he was known to buy really crappy airplanes and to not maintain them. in fact, on the islands that they had flown over on their way to to pot and had a crash. an airplane had crashed and he
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nearly killed himself to read a number of his landstuhl the conference declined to make the trip with him and no one was terribly shocked that this plane had also gone down. however it was a shock that larry hillblom was gone. he had arrived before and in a larger-than-life character in the islands. he had bought the bank, the airline, he bought the television and radio stations, he built dozens of businesses including the pawn shop and had been a bartender. so he was very well known, and there is a sort of myths about hillblom that was incompatible with him. but, few believe 21 to search for him they found two other bodies, the pilot and the speaker of the house. but hillblom's body was never recovered so this further in the sense of disbelief. but had to presume him dead.
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and if he days later, hundreds of people in cambridge california had paid their last respects. now, kings byrd is a little town in california just south of selma, about 20 minutes of fresno, a little peach farm in town. hundreds of people including members of the family and the princess and ceo of major corporations and billionaires' as well as normal citizens, dhl, friends from college or at this tiny little lutheran church to pay their respects and they are surprised because what they find out talking to each other is that larry was and tall he said he was. he had told people that his father was a bank robber who was electrocuted in san quentin and now they find out talking to his friends that larry's father was actually a roofer that died of heatstroke when he was
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2-years-old. larry told them he was the captain of the football team in kingsburg and they find out he was not the captain of the football team that he was a 135-pound linebacker that got his contact lenses locked out so frequently that the picture and the senior year because of the football team on their hands and knees on the field searching for his contact lenses. they find out he wasn't this dhaka and les mann and sort of brilliant charismatic person that they had assumed he would be, but he was a very awkward kid raised in the church and assessed with howard hughes. as one of larry's friends told me this guy is out there somewhere where the buses don't go. that was their impression of larry. he furthered this impression by saying odd things to people like his best friends he told he was going to make a lot of money and live far away and never talk to them again, which his best friend some sort of took offense
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to ancillary fault that this was totally acceptable. he told them he was going to make a lot of money and catholics don't get a divorce and he didn't want to get half of his fortune to a catholic girl, to a woman. he told them he wanted to be an actor and wanted to be an evangelist said he would study jimmy swaggart late at night and he got the picture of his always said he could study how this man manipulated and hypnotized people with his eye is. he also will fight his mother for some reason. he would tell friends about all these wonderful things he would do like hayrides and he had to keep his job at cambridge which is about three and half hour drive back and forth coming and he would say she did all these great things for me like this very odd way of talking to
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people. he goes to bolt school of law which in 1967 as a hotbed of antiwar movement and the feminist movement and the central liberation movement. in his eccentricity continues. there he is the entire war movement, he ridicules the protesters saying that more people die on the highways and in car crashes than in vietnam going to war. he ridicules jane fonda and joan baez and it's ridiculous that anyone would care with an actress or singer thinks. he's totally inscrutable. his professors can understand him because larry believes that the law we should be a function of business. you know, it should be structured to help businesses succeed. so, back to the memorial services, his college friends and law school friends and people he knew incite him are talking to each other. they do -- they do realize that
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there's a couple of constant themes in his life. one is that he is very stubborn and the other is that he is a master at manipulating people to do what he wants them to do. and this is really how larry he eventually made his great fortune. he became a courrier and he would fly from san francisco to los angeles every evening after he picked up documents from insurance companies in the san francisco bay area and then he would drop them off in l.a., spend the night at lax screen on chairs or whatever. he picked up what he needed to to to some friends go the next morning and to gough that afternoon to go to class. but he realizes there's a huge market for this because of the time it is only the post office delivering mail and documents and to the very bad job of it. so, the summer after he graduates from bolt he runs into
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the salesman from this little courier office. he's kind of a silver-tongued man, a smooth talker, and they decided they were going to start their own business and to get a vintage of this man forex breast couriers. he gets another guy, robert lynn involved and he's going to provide the money. because he and larry are pretty much broke. the incorporated in september of 1969 and immediately lynn drops out because they can't stand each other, they are complete opposites and later was argue industry to be a total disaster which it is for the first year. they don't have any money. leary is the only person available to be a courier so he is living on coffee and methamphetamines going back and
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forth between l.a. and honolulu and he's either living on a friend's torch comegys dumpster diving for food some of the time come and they are just unable to sign up. they can't get insurance. but the idea is so strong and it's such a great demand for the product that eventually dalsey's magic begins to work in the degette bank of america, they get the federal reserve, they get the shipping lines, degette ibm. and suddenly it is just taking off because no one can believe that dhl can actually pick up the documents one afternoon and the next morning report the office across the country across the pacific ocean the documents, are there. it's just mind-boggling. this is five years before fedex. so the word gets around and dhl starts to take off. and larry has this kind of
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altruism that gets people to work for free and to rally around the cause and he carries a red book around with him and he's just convinced he's a master of manipulating people, which he is. one year, the second year of business sales goal of a thousand%. it's taking off like crazy. the that attracts attention. first it attracts the attention of the fbi because they're concerned about all these people flying for free and maybe they are flying something they shouldn't be. so, the fbi sends the two agents out to figure out if this is a drug running operation or something. and essentially the fbi agents become convinced and then they become couriers because they can't believe what a great deal it is. the of an outfit by seattle and to detect by the nixon administration that says the bar and air carrier they are not allowed to fly without a certificate and the are attacked by the post office not just in the u.s., but around the world, because they are doing something
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that is considered illegal. they're supposed to have a monopoly on delivering mail. but he wins every time and he starts to have this kind of uncanny knack for leading all of his competitors. so, by 1981, 12 years then dhl is the fastest-growing company in the world and larry is bored out of his mind. he doesn't want to run a company. he wants to be behind the scenes pulling the strings. she doesn't want to be sitting in board meetings and sitting behind the desk and during the typical things that a businessman would be required to do. and he discovers this little island in the western pacific called skycam which is beautiful, but it is also -- it is truly magical place and that you get 95% of your federal income tax rebate and larry thinks this is the most amazing thing that he has ever heard about in his life. succumb he immediately moves
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there and goes about becoming a citizen. he buys these businesses and runs for office and loses, but he eventually gets appointed at the supreme court justice on the island and gets to know all politicians and offers up his legal services for free which means he can read the laws on banking and real-estate and all these other really fun things. that also happen to benefit him. now he's coming under attack from the fbi, again, which seems to insinuate himself into this common law of the united states. and, they see him string of the island of petitions against the u.s.. the u.s. has this covenant relationship with saipan and the marriott now where they are supposed to really maintain control. but larry doesn't want them coming in and auditing the tax returns or exercising any authority over him. he wants their hands off of his
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island. so now he has a new cause which is independence for the marriott of ireland, and he has new enemies. there is a guy that runs a computer land which is another one of the fastest-growing companies who decides to move to saipan because he heard about the 95% tax rebate and he holds a press conference announcing that he is great to move computer into saipan, degette vintage of the tax break and not pay income taxes which drives larry crazy because larry wants to keep this all under wraps, and he knows it's going to attract the attention of the reagan administration and congress and they are going to go crazy. as a, larry stays up all night one night and rewrites the tax code. they are taxed two months ago by the fbi in the cayman islands about 25 years after. he also mixes it up with frank lorenzo, the chairman of the texas air continental airlines
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and the most feared corporate to say when they both want to buy the local air carrier, so they go to battle, and larry ends up bringing lorenzo to his knees so well that he forces lorenzo to personally give him his ps1 pass that allows any ceo to fly on any airplane anywhere in first class, even if someone has to be yanked out of the seat in order for them to do so. and larry just once again has this amazing ability to beat these much larger and for -- adversaries for reasons that are in the book. but larry attracts other enemies including a local attorney who is more sort of altruistic with the island's cause who thinks
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may be leery isn't he appears to be and there is a lot more self-interest going on in the larry's seduction of the public techs and buying all this business about this. and also the owner of a tv station out in guam that gives him the title king larry, pretending to be this great person that is writing the loss for free and is a nefarious a great deal of power over these people. finally, larry attracts the eye of the state department because they hear that he's starting to invest in vietnam. which he was in 1991 about ten years after he got to saipan he becomes bored with that and he had been a naturally ejected place for a guy like him because it was a legal. he liked anything he wasn't supposed to do. and was really virgin territory because americans were not
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allowed their. and he started going there and it had to be so secret at the time that he actually was brought in the trunk of a car across the border because it was a legal and illegal for americans to do business. so, when he died there were some investigations and putting a grand jury that was working in vietnam. after he died, after the plane disappeared, some people i should say disappeared. another investigation began and that was larry's sex life. there were a lot of rumors, including saipan it's not hard for rumors to spread. he had told a friend that he's left with over 250 virgins. he told his law school professor, who was now the dean, that he spent millions of dollars. he had a surgeon come over with his wife while they were in the strip club and he was trying to get the surgeon to take the girl
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in front of his wife which was kind of a larry thing to do, but he just did this all the time and he actually flew out the board of continental airlines shareholder to vietnam and took some of them on a tour with extracurricular activities explaining that he could tell girls were virgins if he took them into the shower at the hotel and they knew how to use the shower because they were so poor that obviously they knew how to use the plumbing. they had been in a hotel before they had been with a westerner to before. why do the investigations of his sex life matter? well, larry's welcome although he is a friend of lawyer is 11 pages long, double spaced, and on what really said was don't pay any taxes and set up a trust and get my money to medical research preferably at the university of california. so, because there was no allowance for children, if you
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could prove that larry hillblom had a child or you're his child, you would inherit his estate which at the time included most of dhl and assets variously valued at close to a billion dollars. so, now the stage has been set for a battle between the state of california which thinks that it's going to get hundreds of millions of dollars for medical research and larry's friends who in theory at least want to honor his final will and testament and his wishes, and a bunch of strippers and prostitutes from southeast asia and their young children when a film was actually still in the womb who under the law are entitled to take and the estate and dhl, which at that time the nightmare scenario for the companies that will now be owned by, you know, potentially an infant from southeast asia whose mother is
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an exotic dancer. so, that is the battle that his disappearance of the plane sets the stage for coming and his lawyers knew him from saipan primero we start going to manila and other parts of the vietnam looking for children. so, they make these pamphlets with his photo that say if you slept with him call us because if you got pregnant or had a baby you are worth a lot of money and it's not that hard to find these women come and there is a woman that has a way and she files a paternity suit and manila one of whom is just 15, she's and impregnated, and it
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becomes a battle to be fought in this tiny courthouse saipan in front of this former police officer who is now a judge. now, it's also a battle for his legacy. his family and friends don't want to believe or admit that he was a kind of violent and had this very prolific sex life, and they don't want his money to go to these women and their children they think he never would have wanted them to have a diamond. on the ever have become a bigger attorneys for the children including johnnie cochran who insists the children are larry's legacy and not only that but he didn't change this rule because he wanted them to be included and he must have known and his friends tried to get him to change many times. so in fact this was like his final little practical joke to set up a huge estate battle with
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the kids that he fathered versus his old friends and family. this became a huge battle. was called the world's biggest probate at the time, and there's a lot of talk about what he would have wanted and what he would have done. and his legacy -- the irony is he told his best friends he didn't care what happens after he died because he would be dead. but, the end of the probate i won't reveal. i will say that conduct of the top of the conversation steve jobs has been compared to him quite a bit and i didn't realize how they were until i started reading more about jobs. they were both brilliant, they're both obsessed with technology. larry had actually created one of the first processors in existence, which a lot of people didn't know. dhl 1,000 so. there were flawed but visionary, revolutionary, and they were
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antisocial man who also really had an interest in conducting the world. but while steve jobs legacy i think is pretty well size at this point, larry's continues to be a source of much debate and much controversy. maybe it isn't resolvable but maybe we will resolve it tonight. i don't know. with that, i would love to take your questions and talk about king larry. >> is there any thought as to what it is within saipan right now? >> yeah, saipan is much like the rest of the country or the rest of the world in that i went there, you know, to talk for a simple a woman, and attorney's wife who said this is the only person in the world where the
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library is named after a known pedophile. and, you know, understandably so. on the other hand, they're our friends who think that was just larry. during his lifetime, it is worth mentioning that larry got away with a lot coming and this is not a secret, it is an open secret we have the continental airlines find these places, the bishop of saipan called larry his favorite evin. people were aware of what was going on and they have a son. the first child was 11-years-old so that could have been around in his mother would come to his house in saipan and then on the windows at 3 a.m. and demand his money and his best friends would pay them off and make them go away. people were aware of was going on. larry is not the only man that in the oldest and that kind of
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activity in that part of the world, so he did a lot more, and became a hughes is you -- huge issue because there is so much money involved and there is an acceptance of men sleeping with much younger women and the acceptance of polygamy and the children in that part of the world but it's not the case here. going to saipan was an awakening to hear people talk about larry and how great he was and this and that. but if you were there and you accepted the culture it wasn't as big of a deal. >> what happened to his holdings? >> larry's vietnam holdings -- the take on larry as a
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businessman with dhl he was always years ahead at this time, so he got into vietnam very dearly and he wanted to be the first, and i think he really kind of got off on the fact that he was getting there in the trunk of a car and he said of his holding company from a disguised his ownership and he was there and the state department was going crazy but he was going to outsmart them and it became a sort of cat and mouse thing. the great thing is it allowed him to buy incredible properties in vietnam that some people say will never be purchased again, they are just incredible. the bad things is that he was 20 years ahead of his time, so you have hotels people for example where people in vietnam couldn't stay in them they were not allowed to stay because they were scared of what to cook in their rooms or do things that were fine and the local culture but you couldn't have people cooking in their 300-dollar room of the palace to tell. so, he put in over $100 million
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before they were ready for business, and they were sold a few years later for 15, so they lost about 90% of their value in five years and during his lifetime it really killed him. there was a huge drain and he said that his businesses in such a byzantine complex way that it was almost like michael jackson where he was worth a lot more dead than alive because there was no way to untangle everything he created and support an investment like vietnam so some people speculated that he staged his death because they were coming after him and they were upset that he was late on his payments and so forth but it was a disaster basically. >> how did you get interested in his story?
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>> i read about the probate in "the wall street journal" in 1997. there's an article called air freight the strange life and the bizarre death of the shipping magnate or something. there's a whole front page about the article and with this journalist had done is go to vietnam and manila and started interviewing people and it portrayed this completely biggar human being, he was german phobic, he was very wealthy but he drove this old honda civic with rusted out floorboards and dirty t-shirts and flip-flops' and he would show up to congress and a ripped jeans and a surfing shirt and flip-flops' and she was just a totally bizarre individual, and yet this reporter going to manila for a few days finds three kids that said they were larry's and was
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just kind of fascinating not only like one when he moved to saipan as dhl is becoming successful. like what mark move to tonga and start up enough espresso cafe. it's the fastest growing in the world becoming super rich and it's his dream in life and he moves to an island to become the bartender? there is just something compelling about telling that story and finding out who he was >> clearly it started in the u.s. and the first roads were california, honolulu and what not. he took on the post office like you said, and he won yet dhl isn't much of a player in the u.s. market before fedex. why is that? >> there's a number of reasons that it never really succeeded here like to get overseas. one is that he really took an
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interest in the u.s. market, and he wasn't necessarily a good businessman. he was terrible with the health and was a terrible manager. the international growth was handled by the other people. he was a genius at hiring. he had all these crazy ideas about everything and the u.s. was sort of his incubator and most of them feel they and they definitely paid a price for that. he hired a grocery store executor and hired larry roberts which was a disaster and they lost ground. when fedex came in years later with their own airplanes, they just ate their lunch. they took the business they would have had in the u.s. for the most part and then the cities became the

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