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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  September 20, 2014 12:02pm-1:31pm EDT

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encourage you not to. i would encourage you to go with the flow. last hundred pages go by pretty quickly but i think they are more powerful if you don't know. thanks for your question. >> are you aware of the smithsonian holds some genet artifacts? >> yes, have you seen them? they are sprinkled around at the naval academy, the smithsonian, obviously the national archives have some stuff and there is some stuff in san francisco as well but thank you so much. thank you so much for coming tonight and we have some books down here, right? so please form a line to the right. >> full of your chairs and cleans them against something, thank you. >> interested in american history? watch american history television and c-span3 every weekend, 48 hours of people in the events the help document the
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american story. visit for more information. >> we traveled to the minnesota historical society and hear about the 1920s and 30s gangster era. >> bank robbers were seen as kind of anti heroes who were evening the score after the depression which is totally untrue. they were killers who wanted money, but the public saw the gangsters and a more romantic light. and you knew as you drank with them that they wouldn't kill you because they all had the deal between the cops and crooks.
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>> we start with a look at the influence st. paul had on f. scott fitzgerald's. >> you want to understand the modern world and where we are today there is no better place to start them looking at f. scott fitzgerald because he was so complex, dealing with the complexity of american life and that still resonates today. >> st. paul, texas, a huge impact on fitzgerald's and he had an impact on st. paul. >> st. paul was the most important town of adam scott fitzgerald's legacy. he lived all over the world but the vast majority of experiences in his novels and his writing either directly came from st. paul, was planned in st. paul, written in st. paul, rewritten in st. paul, so st. paul had this huge impact on his life until he was probably 40 in the hollywood hours. if you read fitzgerald's
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stories. f. scott fitzgerald was born in this apartment in 19 -- 89 six. was considered a luxury apartment back then, can one of the richest men in st. paul, he died pretty young. the family was living off of the legacy many. still the mcclellans were well respected around the time of st. paul. fitzgerald took his first steps here. he said his first words here. there were two sister is a died before he was born. he suggested that was why he became a writer and then he had another sisters that was born when they were in new york, but he said he didn't know anything else existed in the universe until his younger sister was born. he left at the time he was two years old because his father
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went to get a job in new york but they came back to st. paul. we are standing in front of st. paul academy so former st. paul academy -- fitzgerald's parents have a lot of ambition, that is why they named him francis scott key fitzgerald after a distant relative. the francis was the middle name of philip francis mcclellan, his grandfather who had all the money. so when the family moved back to st. paul in 1908 his father could not even keep the family together because of finances but they still wanted to thrust him into this saint paul society so what do you do? sent him to the most prestigious private school in st. paul, st. paul academy, sending to dancing lessons a couple blocks away on grand avenue. and so fitzgerald was rubbing shoulders of course with the
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elite of summit avenue even though his folks were not quite there. it is not that he was a poor boy, he was like today you would think of him as the millionaire among billionaires'. you don't feel sorry for the millionaire. many of his stories are about the influence of money and what wouldn't say the worst of the money but just the fact that money was such a big driver in the united states. he came back to st. paul as i said, on the cusp of being a teenager. he was very handsome. he was very smart and he was a leader. he was a natural leader but sometimes he was probably a little over aggressive so in the st. paul academy school magazine one of his friends said will somebody poison scotty to shut him up? apparently he talked a lot.
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he wanted to play sports but he wasn't very big. he was a little bit taller than i am, wait a lot less than i do, but he was on the third spring baseball team. how many students were here, not that many. he wasn't a great athlete so he realized he wasn't going to be the kind of hero athletes so he thought about other ways to kind of gain notoriety and found it through writing. he was writing detective stories. select to read them so he would write them. he was writing westerns, he was writing mysteries. he was writing about the civil war because his father was alive during the civil war and lived in maryland and his relatives, he heard stories about his relatives in the civil war. so he was doing a lot of
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different genres, he was writing plays, plays were being performed around the town and he was kind of gaining a little bit of notoriety in st. paul. this row of town homes was really important to f. scott fitzgerald. his parents lived in a couple different ones. not only did they move from block to block, they literally move from town home to town home. they are associated with the two great loves of those life king and the cell that serve as he went to school when she came to a party here and he fell in love with her and his parents were living at one of the town homes here where he kind of moped about. he eventually joined the army and went south and met sell debt and when she rejected him
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because he wasn't making enough money came back to this town home at 599 summit. this is where magic's truck. in the third floor space of there, he rewrote the books he had written while he was in the army called the romantic egotist and eventually it was published, this side of paradise, he literally some tact in cards of chapters and worked hard to write the book. max perkins liked it. supposedly after he learned that the book was going to be published he ran out under summit avenue and said my book is going to be published. his parents were giving him a last chance, get your novel published ago out and get a job so he literally, one of his friends got him the job on the
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railroad. he didn't last very long as a manual laborer but his book was published and his world completely changed. he got the girl of his dreams, zelda agreed to marry him. his book was published, he became literally is the 21st century self promoter. the difference between the victorian age and the jazz age, fitzgerald exemplified that kind of exuberance and self promotion that you see continuing today. his peers wouldn't and done the kinds of things he did, so they probably looked down on hamas little bit but he got a lot of publicity during his time. he wrote a pretty famous letter about being half irish and the
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half was his father from the old southern family and he said he would grovel in front of kitchen maids. i suspect his whole life he had a little bit of an inferiority complex, especially when he went east to school and saw some people who made vast amounts of money and then of course came out in the great gatsby. he had a very interesting relationship with people with money. they were his friends but i don't think you worshipped money. he was too frivolous with it. in order to be frivolous with money you had to have some so obviously, he made a lot of money during his lifetime. he did make some money off of his books, he made money off of the motion pictures, he made money while the was in hollywood, he made up pablo of money selling short stories so he worked really hard, made a lot of money but he didn't worship it.
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i think he really felt the biblical it is the worship of money that is the root of all evil, not the money itself. ♪ >> when i have the opportunity to come here, it is such a thrill for me because i knows that is provided inspiration for fitzgerald and the kind of stories he was interested in, the saturday evening post stories, this is the the epitome of that huge volume of work that he produced that he felt a little bit ashamed of but are wonderful stories and so i see
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this as a real positive place for his career. there was one particular party at this house that fitzgerald didn't attend and apparently a young man -- it was a costume ball, he liked to have costume balls, this would have been filled with people in different kinds of costumes. a young man apparently dressed up in a camel's outfit and went to the wrong house. who knows y? the next day fitzgerald heard about the story and said he tried to find out more information but then he sat down and wrote a short story called the camel's back. he didn't read the committee by the story but it won and o. henry ward, the first store to win and a henry award. a pretty nice story about a costume party takes place here. he said it in toledo, ohio,
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anybody who knows knows it was here. a lot of people think fitzgerald made money off of his writing early on but actually he was making it from movies so it was the movie money is encouraged zelda to mary him and camelback became conductor 1492. it has very little to do with the story but there is said dancing camel in the movie and that is about it. so this is a scene from as i said, one of fitzgerald laps of henry prizewinning stories. at this point when he is writing these short stories for the saturday evening post, he had already sold this side of paradise but it took awhile for the book to be published. in the meantime short stories he had already written he was polishing and sending for
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publication, he was writing other short stories and selling them to the publications and selling them to the movies so at this point he is in his 20s. what is interesting is when i was first doing research here i would ask people who were still alive who knew fitzgerald, we know about this that outsider/insider, he said he was a great friend, he was not an outsider. he was part of our group and it kind of puzzled me where that idea came from but then i started asking if their parents were associated with his parents, no. his mother and father, it kind of skipped a generation so his grandparents associated with the wealthy people of summit avenue end he did but his parents didn't. there were reasons for is that.
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his father lost his job. he was unemployed. his mother was a little quirky. they didn't run around a lot with the parents of the children fitzgerald ran around a lot with so i am sure he got the feeling of also being a little bit of an outsider so that he could step back and objectively right about that period without funding the over it. f. scott fitzgerald probably sat at this bar. he wrote almost everything down but he didn't say i was at the basement bob but i am guessing he was. this is a pretty special place for fitzgerald's dollars when they come to see the actual places where he socialized, where he worked, that inspired him and so is this is one of the
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many places in st. paul that provided information for fitzgerald and his stories. the university club was the center, one of the centers of the social life in st. paul back then, still is today. fitzgerald was probably never a member but he had a lot of friends who would have been so he would have had access to these rooms. he met several people here including that donald ogden stewart who he convinced become a writer and went on to win an academy award for philadelphia story and he had a party for zelda when they were living at 626, they call the bad luck ball because it was on friday the thirteenth and to show you the extent that they would go to to entertained their guests fitzgerald literally had a newspaper printed up, a full
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newspaper printed up with stories about about friends of his who would recognize the store. you would not want to be with a drunken fitzgerald at a party i am guessing. he got pretty obnoxious. i would say he was part of the obnoxious drunks. he might pick up some of the glasses in this room and throw them. he would tip over chairs. zelda was kind of the same way and so the two of them together if they had been drinking heavily, probably could have been pretty bad, yes. i would have been with fitzgerald. i would have preferred at semi sober fitzgerald. one of the reasons he was never a member in theory you had to be a university graduate to become a member and fitzgerald's had dropped out of princeton. he said for medical reasons. his grades weren't very good.
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and he loved princeton. in fact he was reading the princeton weekly when he passed away supposedly. he wrote -- he wrote the plays for the triangle club when he was a member if there, the group that toured the united states doing these performances and he toured with them, he came back to the twin cities to do a performance as a member of the triangle club. princeton was the symbol to him and it was important to him that he went there and his whole life, despite the fact he never graduated, princeton held a place in his heart, a very important spot for him. after he had won zelda they were married in new york city. either her parents or his parents came to the wedding, they did a european tour just as his parents had died after their marriage and zelda discovered she was pregnant so they moved back to montgomery to be close
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to her parents but it didn't work out so fitzgerald's road they moved home to st. paul. they lived in a house on the lake but it was kind of a summer resort. they lived in a hotel but of course they were not going to have a family so one of their good friends, her grandparents lived in this house and she got it for him so they could literally move into this house for the winter. it was a pretty brutal winter and fitzgerald had an office downtown. he was working very hard. he was working on approved pages of the beautiful and damned, he was writing the play the vegetable and i think part of this said he took from this house that zelda was pretty board. tried to have parties for her at the university club. she didn't have a lot of friends. a lot of his friends's wives didn't like her probably because she was a little bit of a up
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flirtatious southern bell and all their husbands like her. it really wasn't going very well in st. paul. they made it through the winter, as they tried to go back to white bear lake again but it was pretty much decided by both of them that st. paul was not going to be the place where they were going to make their home and it had a lot to do with the winter is here so they moved back to new york and of course as we know, he lived in europe, he lived in hollywood but this was kind of the beginning of the end for him in st. paul so they left st. paul in 1922 and despite the fact that he said he was going to bring scotty back, their daughter who was born here he never made it back to st. paul. i think there were several influences st. paul had on him. one was catholicism, of course st. paul was and still is a very
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kind of roman catholic town and his writing is filled with priests and good and bad and a lot of people have been about that influence of religion on f. scott fitzgerald and he got that in st. paul. i also think his writing about the wealthy came from st. paul and so st. paul had this hold on him for most of his life. when he needed money he would write short stories about st. paul and so throughout much of his life he was a st. paul, midwest boy. the famous line at the end of "the great gatsby" i guess this is a story about the midwest after all and this is the midwest he was mentioning in "the great gatsby". ♪ >> as a part of booktv's recent
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visit to st. paul, minn. we stopped by the minnesota historical society library to learn about the impact st. paul has had on pop culture on a national scale. ♪ >> the public doesn't come in to the stacks. they have things paged for them. this is $500,000 collection so this is just one of the levels of our library stacks and i like to is think of it as a library of libraries. we have an incredible collection of native american material which is especially rich in the minnesota native americans. we have a nearly complete collection of books from the nineteenth century on the civil war and beating of to that on
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the abolitionist movement. so this is a little bit of a glimpse. what i have done is pulled some of my favorites, the things that i consider treasures and love and i am going to show those to you individually. we could probably start, a good place would be with our map collection. we have a collection of almost 50,000 maps and they go from the mid 1500s to maps that were probably on the press yesterday afternoon. we get maps daily. this is a map from 1581 and i like starting with this when i have a group of school kids because there's no here here. if you look in the center of the continent there is not a single great lake, there is in the mississippi river, there is nothing known about the interior of the continent and what the minnesota historical society likes to do is to fill in that information to the point where
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we know every square inch of land and who owns it. we have what helps us fill in that gap, all of our maps from tribal land exploration and discovery. this is the map that accompanied the lewis and clark reports. and a pretty significant event in u.s. cartography, this shows that it isn't going to be easy to get across the continent, you see that range of mountain, the rockies. we also have this probably my favorite item in the collection is this popularly known as the bomber at less which accompanied a trip up the missouri river by prince maximilian von weed and members of swiss artists and trained as an artist so you get some qualities that doesn't exist in the other artist
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renderings. this is just -- just so beautiful and so detailed you can tell almost the bead work and porcupine quills and all of these constants. the one thing that people probably don't think about the minnesota historical society is that we are not only collecting minnesota history but we are here to preserve minnesota culture and one of the ways we preserve minnesota culture is to collect literature but what we like to do is collect the box that have some additional information, something a normal library would have still a lot of libraries have timber lane. we have the copies that he is given to this radical, duluth judge was a model for the judge in cats.
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his name was judge nolan, mark cohen. and so we know that about him. plus that came with photos judge nolan had taken of a pick nick with sinclair lewis on the north shore of lake superior. i think they were trying to set sinclair lewis up with judge mullen and secretary says she is the other person in the photograph. he had a nice long career. he was riding in the late teens and fins and 20s he wrote the breakthrough book, main street and that is essentials reading for anyone in minnesota. the author that most people associate with minnesota and st. paul in particular is of course as scott fitzgerald and the minnesota historical society just loves to document especially the early life, the
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early career of f. scott fitzgerald and fits kind of before he becomes a superstar so i have a couple of fun things here that are from that time period and i will take a little time to show those to you. he published first in his school -- i guess newsletter or something and we have all of that. this i just love because this is junior high school textbook from the dough was printed in 1911. just a crummy little book. if anybody sold this it wouldn't be for more than a buck or two. we paid $25,000 for this. the reason is because it was phoned by francis scott
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fitzgerald's. there are some marginal notes in here and marginal drawings. that is kind of fun. the really important thing here is the last page of this. the text, if i can read that to you, it is just kind of makes you slap your forehead. francis scott fitzgerald, st. paul, minnesota and he describes himself, playwright, poet, novelist, essayist, philosopher, low-fare, useless, disagreeable, silly, talented, weak, strong, clever, trivial, a waste. in short a very parity, a mockery of one who might have been more but him nature and circumstances made less. with apologies for living, francis scott fitzgerald. then you get this flourish at the end of that. is so -- the best combination of
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15-year-old boy and somebody who's more insightful and the rest of us. the kind of nails himself. we also have, speaking of early stuff, he was asked in the fall of 1919 the librarian, a librarian at st. paul public library was trying to stay on top of local writers. so f. scott fitzgerald was one of them and he is saying you know that he is -- has got books in the work and short stories and he is very stern he is going to become a writer sunday, as is his military service record and this was kind of fun because
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they ask occupation, he writes was a student and now writers. so he is sure of that. we just got this letter that is kind of fun, it comes out, the letter was written a month before his first book comes out and he is trying to hire a clipping service in new york, and he is telling the clipping service that he is a brand new author and he was an overnight sensation with this book about a month before the book came out he was so unimportant that the clipping service acknowledges receipt of the letter and rights without reply, they underlined that. they didn't even get back to him on that. another like the st. clair lewis we like books, that that information that wasn't known before, this is really a great example, this is beautiful land
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dammed and he inscribed this to norse jackson who was of boyhood friend of his in st. paul and basically that the main protagonists in here is modeled on norris' jackson so that kind of information is really important to us. the historical society, i think we have this image of being a very formal institution but the library love collecting pulp fiction so we have paperback editions. this is a comic book that was published in st. paul, a catholic comic book and the interesting thing about this is this has the first printed cartoon ever of charles schulz in the back of it. just keep laughing, by sparky. this was his home. he grew up on the corner of
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snelling and still be. his dad was a barber. you went to central high school, he stayed here well into his formative career, then moved out to california. i don't remember, i think that was the decision of his wife's, but he is very st. paul. the thing i love about this collection is you could come in and find any aspect of minnesota, sports history or business history or immigrant history and you can find things, very proud to be st. paul or minnesota, like this early fitzgerald stuff but i also think that there is enough depth there is that what you really walk away understanding is you have common humanity with
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everybody else, your experience is not different from your grandparents's experiences, the recent immigrants, and we are all impacted by the police we grew up. so i really like the fact that you can learn not only your differences but your similarities to everyone else in the world and i think that is one of the many important aspects of history and what history can tell us. >> up next, why st. paul became a safe haven for the most wanted men and women in the country from paul "john dillinger slept here: a crook's tour of crime and corruption in st. paul, 1920-1936". >> with cities all over america is that we're safe havens for gangsters, hot springs arkansas, outside chicago, more in any of those cities was st. paul.
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it was estimated at 50% of minnesota's were involved in making bootleg liquor in those days. the other 50% were buying it from them. this minnesota area was also well situated to make bootleg liquor, we have a lot of germans and germans know how to make beer. we had more breweries per-capita than almost any city in america. when you break the law and make illegal liquor you need water, you need fresh water. we had the mississippi river only a few yards from where we are standing today. we are very close to the border of canada sell liquor could be imported and exported over the canadian border. as a result, this area was a haven for bootlegging and became a haven for public enemies and gangsters. in the 1930s virtually every major gangster, a kidnapper and
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bank robbery in america lived and worked with in the three block radius of where we are standing today. john dillinger, baby face nelson, all were here. people don't know that. there are no statues of these gangsters but this was the epicenter of 1930s crime in the era of john dillinger. basically the police in st. paul at the turn of the century since the word out to gangsters, bank robbers, kidnappers, come to st. paul, you can be here, you have to promise not to kill or rob anyone within city limits of st. paul and of course pay a bribe, as long as you are on your good behavior, mr. john dillinger, baby face nelson, you are welcome in our city. so the deal between the crux and the gangsters was tolerated for almost three decades and the
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people of st. paul would see the most notorious gangsters in america, wanted men like a bank robber john dillinger walking along the street and it was like seeing a celebrity. but you wouldn't fear for your life in st. paul in the 1930s because you knew the fix was in. the crooks were on their best behavior. in march of 1934, the most wanted man in america, public enemy number one, bank robber john dillinger, is living right behind us in apartment 303 of st. paul's lincoln court apartments. basically regrouped to get his bank robbery gained ready for a crime spree. he was here enjoying time with his girlfriend, they went to the movies just one block away from us but meanwhile his gained is getting weapons, getaway cars and casings which banks they will rob from their home base in
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st. paul. the fbi didn't know that this was john dillinger but they began to get hints that a strange man was living in this apartment building. the shades were always drawn to the bottom. john dillinger never came to get his mail but the big tipoff was john dillinger's girlfriend, a beautiful indian woman from wisconsin would come out on his grass and hang up john mallinger's laundry dressed in a halter top and short shorts. i talked to men in their 80s who remember 70 years ago when dylan sure was here and this girl was so beautiful face still remember john dillinger's girlfriend so the fbi sent a crew here to knock on john dillinger's door but they didn't know. they thought it was carl holman which was john dillinger's alias when he lived above at 303. >> you are walking toward john
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dillinger's apartment, apartment 303. all you know is there is something suspicious in apartment 303. this is john dillinger's dog here and john dillinger is in bed with his girlfriend, she opens the door, peeks out and you, the fbi, go i am here to talk to carl holman. the deer woman forgets her own alias'. egos carl, oh oh, my husband and the fbi are not fooled, we are saying right here, you go and get carl. the jig is up, it is the fbi. john dillinger, cool as a cucumber says get your clothes on, he puts on his pants, gets a machine gun, comes to the store, opens its lightly, leans out, grins at the fbi and start firing machine gun bullets out of this boy. the police and the fbi start firing back at him.
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the door is chewed up by bullets. to give you a sense, john dillinger, not a master criminal, not a single bullet hits any of the fbi agents in the corridor you are in but one bullet from the fbi and the police's ben hits john dillinger in the 5. incredibly he has escaped from the fbi issued out, blazed down fire and comes out this tour. he is wounded in the leg so he races over here, stand here holding a submachine gun in one hand and again in the other and tells his girlfriend get the getaway car so literally the most wanted man in america is standing here bleeding like a stuffed pig. a bull like in this building next door sees the man he recognizes as john dillinger, bank robber, reaches and his bed, takes out a shotgun, aims it at dillon jew who is here,
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the kid is seconds from becoming the boy who kills john mallinger when his mother, hearing the shots from here, tackles harris son, throws him into the ground and john dillinger is not killed in st. paul, he gets in the getaway car with his girl and wars away to wisconsin for a little rest and relaxation at the little bohemia lodge. the deal between the crooks and the cops which has stood for years meaning the quote live here but don't kill or kidnap anyone here fell apart. the history of the building we are in right now which is today called landmark center but in the 1930s the public enemy's-year-old it was called the old federal court building. the history here is incredible. above our heads on the fifth floor is the offices of the prohibition bureau and the man
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who headed the prohibition bureau was the man who wrote the american prohibition law, the full said act. it was andrew volstead, a congressman from granite halls, minnesota who created prohibition in this building. then when the prohibition was repealed and all these bootleggers, what were they going to do? they turned to bank robbery, kidnapping, labor racketeering, extortion, and murder, and that is what this building became. the fbi, federal bureau of investigation, has this building as their headquarters. if these walls could talk, what notorious stories they could tell. in the mid 1930s, bank robber john dillinger's girlfriend was tried successfully in this room but before she was found guilty of harboring her boyfriend, john
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dillinger, she tried to escape. she said she had to go to the lady's room, the federal marshals followed her through this before and then the men, the marshall, somewhat shy, stood back, allowing the girlfriend to go to the bathroom at which point sheet simply kept on going down this hallway and tried to escape. the federal marshals overcame their shyness about a female soon to the convict and grabbed her and made sure she did not escape on route to the powder room. the fbi was quite concerned that the bill injured gained would try to come here with their machine gunsng would try to come here with their machine guns and free his girlfriend. there were federal marshals with sawed-off shotguns and thompson submachine guns waiting in case
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any member of the gang would show a. you can imagine what it was like in the sweltering heat of summer of 35-36 when all the gamesters were here and everyone was waiting to see if other gangsters with machine guns would come and try to free them. we are in debasement of landmark center which is open to the public. right here is the radiator that the director of the fbi, j. edgar hoover, kept one of the public enemy's, handcuffed to just before hoover dragged him into the court room to have him convicted. he pled guilty to the kidnapping in 1930s. this is a photo of alvin, a fascinating character, had something of a heart. he promised if any kids were around he would make sure the kids weren't killed if he did issue out with the fbi.
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he pled guilty to the 1933 kidnapping of millionaire william hamm, spent decades in prison. when he got out, all of the ill-gotten loot, his kidnap money, ransom, a bank robbery loot was in banks, accruing full interest while he was in prison. gets out of prison and old man, he is of wealthy man, goes to spain where he is seen eating find food, cavorting with 19-year-old girlfriends and one night takes an overdose of sleeping pills and takes his own life. didn't leave a note. he knew that his time had come and he enjoyed the good life as a gangster, he was in low demand and decided to end his life. in this building is the inception of prohibition that led to widespread organized crime all over america. that is how how capone got his
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start as a bootlegger and in 1934, this is the building where all of those bootleggers and bank robbers were tried and sends to alcatraz, leavenworth and other prisons across america. it is where it began and where it ended. every gangster in america came here and as a result st. paul in the 1930s, i wouldn't call it las vegas but it was a very lively city because the gangsters brought their gun malls during prohibition, you had the biggest jazz artists of the decades here in st. paul. a very lively place partially because the gangsters were welcomed here. we were a few yards away from the mississippi river, in the underground gang steering cave. this is today, what a shot cave but in the 1920s and 30s it was
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called the cassel oil, it was run as a gambling casino, a fascinating history. these caves were naturally made in soft limestone by water dripping from the mississippi river. when prohibition was passed the bootleggers realize it is dark, it is cold, it is private. let's fill this room with illegal beer, then prohibition was repealed. and let's do night clubs. the gangsters of st. paul and the good people of st. paul who liked partying with gangsters came here. and other caves nearby were filled with tuxedo, waiters,
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chandeliers, kitchens but it was also where john dillinger and other notorious gangsters--the appeal of this underground nightclub was that you were rubbing elbows with the most wanted bank robbers in america. today we look at the mafia with horror. organized crime as terrible people which they are. but in those days, bank robbers like john dillinger were seen almost like robin hood. they were seen as post the freshen when banks would foreclose on your farm the bank would foreclose on your house. the banks were not popular. the bank robbers were robbing the bankers so for a lot of people in those days bank robbers were seen as kind of
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anti heroes who were even in the score after the depression. which is totally untrue. there were killers who wanted money but the public saw the gangsters in a more romantic light and you knew as you drank with them that they wouldn't kill you because st. paul had the deal between the cops and crooks. there was a very rigid process if you were a bank robber or kidnapper coming in to st. paul, minn. by train let's say from chicago. there were rules. the rules you would identify yourself when you got off the train, my name is al capone, you would give up ride to the police, here is some jewelery we sold in chicago, here you go, if you needed a place to stay the police would a range for housing for you as a bank robber if you needed a gun. the best submachine guns in
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america were available to you in st. paul. if you needed a getaway car there were auto dealers in st. paul whose specialized in bank robbery getaway cars, heavily armored on both sides to deflect police bullets and if you needed a girl, female companionship, the police would arrange for a girlfriend. alvin creepy carpus met the love of his life in st. paul. st. paul was the department store for gangsters. if you need a girl, a gun, to launder money, you needed a getaway car, you came to st. paul and the police made sure you as a gangster got whatever you needed. the fbi were trustworthy and were not correct and it drove the fbi crazies that the police in st. paul, minn. were in the
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pockets of the gangsters who would be partying here. when ma barker was living on south robert street in st. paul, only a few miles from where we are standing today, the fbi got a tip that ma barker and her bad boys, the barker gained were there, the fbi race to the house and by the time they got there the barker gained was gone, tipped off by the st. paul police so there was no love lost between the fbi of j. edgar hoover and the corrupt local constabulary of the police who were taking bribes. who were on the take from the underworld that party here. speewun did to in a way live the high life and the they good-looking court and that is what happened. they age well, they slept with beautiful women, they drank wonderful line and i think these
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gangsters knew that their lives were short and they are lived the that the gangster life in st. paul. >> this weekend booktv is in st. paul, minn. with the help of our local cable partner comcast. next we sit down with author kao kalia yang. herbal "the latehomecomer: a hmong family memoir" describes her family's experience of living in refugee camps in thailand before resettling in the united states. the twin cities area is home to the largest hmong community in the united states. >> the vietnam war as the world knew it was over. still lives in the mountains, my mother and father, the american shield had been lifted. the communist government in may of 1975 declared a death warrant
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against the hmong, helping the americans in a war termed the secret war. on may 9th, 1975, the newspaper of the people's party announced the agenda. is necessary to associate down to the boots the hmong minority. their allies infiltrated hmong village is beginning a systematic campaign to kill off the hmongs to depended on democracy and falling against communist rule. many of the 30,000 hmong men and boys treated by the united states had been killed, their fight remained. in the hearts and homes of their wives and children, their mothers and fathers and friends and neighbors. the secret war was the biggest covert operation in cia history and its ramifications would tear into the history of the people. right into the pages of their lives and the winds before and
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all over the world. legend says the we come -- shares a guy from quincy is as we are from siberia but a lot of historians agree we are from china. my family is from china who immigrated to thailand and america. the chinese are cultural genocide so the hmong -- our family is part of the wave of the flood in to china where we hope to live in peace but to colonize, they want money so they came to the motions and asked them to pay so for those series of awards and the crimes decided -- to hold the american that the hmong are fighting city keep fighting so america was entrenched in vietnam and so the hmong recruited a lot of the
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plan boys to fight on behalf of the cia and in a war that was unpopular like many wars being fought right now, and popular and in the mountains, recruited over 32,000 men and boys as young as 9 and 10 to fight. of the hmong fighting the war another third were slaughtered in the aftermath while the americans left the country and so my family we are one of the hundreds of thousands left behind but we were waiting for peace and it came because boys and men away to the jungle, so my family--we became refugees in the process in the camps in thailand so i was born in a refugee camp and i was 6 years old when we came here. by 1975, the first hmong people began to enter the country, 85
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to 87 the biggest wave which is what we are, we came in on july 27, 1887, and we were the biggest in the country. in minnesota the first hmong families arrive in 1976. growing up by had come from this but whenever i studied the vietnam war in school there was never any mention of the hmong, no mention of my father or uncle or my family. it took me a long time to find what we were. they were not in the middle east, we were not the americans. as a kid i used to look for hmong in a map of the bigger world. this is the hmong land, the houses of mongolia. before i knew our history people say where are you from and sometimes it was easier to say mongolia. mongolia made sense. that is how i explained what i was.
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i wasn't learning it. i didn't write -- my sister loved to read. he would hold my hand and climb onto the road. i used to ask her about children like me. the librarian gave me books in chinese and vietnamese. there were not many books about the hmong. in my heart it has always been a yearning to pick up a book about men and women like my mom and dad. we are at hmong village in st. paul, minn.. this is where a piece of my heart is. my answer and uncles, people like my mom and dad, not like mental oil. you walk for a the booth and everything looks the same. all the clothing, traditional
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hmong embroidery, all looks the same until you come to the vendors and find out who made that particular outfit, who created that particular necklace. i think hmong village is a different country. i think is becoming one of the factors of st. paul because there is no hmong house, the way it is quote what not, people come here to st. paul, more and more people saying you should go to the hmong village. i noticed every time i come here there is more diverse city fear. some of the vendors are not hmong. they cater to the hmong population but right now because of the refugees there is of lot of refugees coming through because the food is similar, the culture is similar, more and more east african, they don't --
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the place is increasingly diverse. i like to look up and see my grandmother on the east side. she looks like she was sleeping. i took off my shoes and posted slowly, she was sitting by the side of the bet on a chair. ..
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>> in all the languages of the earth and in all the riches of words, there are no comparisons or equivalent for my grandmother trying to be strong for me. and i am excited organically in the process of "the latehomecomer: a hmong family memoir", i wanted to write my grandmother because i realized i was forgetting bits and pieces of her and i didn't want to do that. and so i i started writing this
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long love letter and my dad said what you doing and i said i'm running writing down my love letter and he said, you know, dreams don't die. if you dream in the right direction, you don't wake up, it only gets bigger. and i wanted to remember my grandmother with me. and so if i'm going to be the first child, you're going to be the second, is, is what my dad said. he knew that they had a good program at columbia. and so i got in and i applied to. and they sent me there and the book was written at columbia university, and it was to educate young men and women who didn't know about us and the war and what we were doing in minnesota. because they're in new york, everyone assumed that i was an international student because colombia has so many. so whenever i said that i was
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from minnesota, they were like what? so in the process of answering the questions, i think that substance and history entered the history of the hmong people in of my family, as well as of my grandmother. so "the latehomecomer: a hmong family memoir" is my grandmother and she promised me she would never die when i was growing up. and so many were suffering from post hermetic stress disorder and other afflictions and i used to cry for people in my life come all the adults in my life varied in 2003 i asked my grandmother to get up and she looked at me and said i am not getting up again. and i said okay and she said you
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have to understand that there are people that love me and a mom and a dad and brothers and sisters and your grandpa as well. and somewhere in my heart i'm going to go back to the house of my youth and everyone will be there and dinner will be ready and they will say why are you so late in coming home. so grandmother said she was going to go home. so this is the story of "the latehomecomer." and i know that for me, because hmong people had this trial in the 50s, it has taken us a long time. so i truly am "the latehomecomer." and the more i speak in travel and realize, the more i realize that the americans are only beginning to come home to with each other and the right answer isn't that i'm from america but that i am home.
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and i belong to this country and i am an american. so it becomes this bigger thing and i think the book is getting bigger and the dream is getting bigger and i'm not waking up and i'm not afraid that the dream will die or that the late comte coming won't happen. i am not afraid. so "the latehomecomer: a hmong family memoir" took four years to write and then five years. i understand if average for a book in this country. >> host: what was the toughest part of that. >> guest: for me, the toughest part of writing the book was finding an end. i began writing about my grandmother's death, which is actually at the end of the book and how do you put an end to a book and i used to write all the these stories when i was younger of a girl who would have brown eyes and black hair and she would be one of her dad and mom to help her get a job and so she
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would in the end inherently died and i would say the end. and i would just say that is the end. but understanding that especially the nonfiction book has a cover and a photo of the author and the bookends but my life doesn't, it's one piece of a big life in one episode of a bigger human experience. and i think that the book was challenging for me on many levels. i came home from new york city to finish the book here. and in new york there were all of these people who knew my story and they were recording me and they would offer me drinks and free books and i thought that was a great way to write,
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but i wanted to come home and i wanted to draw from home. at a time i graduated in 2005, i was happy with it and i found out that none of these literary houses were interested in me. they were saying that we don't know who hmong was. and while we have had enough about vietnam. and so december 17, 2007, my birthday, i was feeling very disheartened and i did a google search and i remember somewhere reading about minnesota was home to some of the finest independent publishing houses in the nation. and the first that came up was coffeehouse press and they said that we are looking for the underrepresented voices in literature. and i knew that immediately that
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is what i wanted to do. and so then they asked for the whole book. and that is how it came into being. so "the latehomecomer: a hmong family memoir" is the best-selling coffeehouse book in history. they do more and more literature and fiction books and the book sells and i think it is a surprise to them and also to me. i think they have had 10 or 20 runs by now. and they are a conservative press and so each run is two or 3000. so it's coming really from many institutions. the university of minnesota college of education, and that in his really helping the book.
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and it's really helping the trajectory of the book as well. and it was number 11 on the independent book club list. in the book was number 11 of all time. so lots of people are reading it until i have probably visited over her 200 places since the book came out. and that has really helped. and so i would say, would you have "the latehomecomer: a hmong family memoir", no, but a lot of people have been asking for independent reading groups have been picking it up. and so that is how it came into being. and i think it is because people feel themselves in the book.
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i think i better have a piece of myself as well and i think that that resonates with people and i think that so many americans are calling this place home and parents, grandparents, they are both with the same accent. and there are poetics of the language and they could only dream, my father said. he is my biggest literary influence in this includes my sensibility of the world and a lot of readers resonate and many are surprised by "the
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latehomecomer: a hmong family memoir." and i think the courage have my grandmother has been so unique inhumanity and i know that i am writing from the fabric of a human being. and i have an opportunity from one human being to another. and i know that it is my money and what i buy and sell. and it's an important speech. and i have to say that since the book came out, a lot of minnesotans have said welcome home. to my mom and dad into my aunts and my uncle when we go to meetings. and we belong to each other and hear there are a lot of people that i belong to and a lot of people that belong to me. and the writer just doesn't come forth from the family but a
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community. >> during booktv's recent visit to st. paul, minnesota, we stopped by common good books to talk about the impact of bookstores have on the community you right now we are in st. paul, minnesota and we are in a residential neighborhood right across the street from mcallister college and so we have people visiting the college. it started in 2006 and pearson are always be one of the bookstore in the neighborhood
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and in part because he wanted to give something back to st. paul. so one of the things we must have is these quotes painted on the wall. we put these up since we moved in here. and in st. paul we believe that anyone who lives up here must've been trapped by circumstance. we are heavy on literary fiction and poetry and history. and we cover all subjects and we find that these are the most effective selling areas that we have with the books that are easiest to see and discover. because of who we are. and what we have right in the front is fiction and we are able to stock a lot of fiction and they are the books that everyone
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expects to find in books that are new to them. and of course, people like paperbacks as well and so that is front and center here at the store. nonfiction is a very good category for us. this is the early best-seller of the early part of the year. and another is regional books and most independent bookstores do will very well with books about their local area. and there are a lot of good materials for us to choose from and summit avenue is a block north of us in off the street where the wealthy built their houses in the early 19th and 20th centuries. and it's like a beautiful street. the literary scene in st. paul is quite vibrant.
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we have a lot of strong readers here. and that's very good for us. and there's a very strong community of artists and writers and poets in the twin cities and in st. paul as well. and so there are several strong beautiful areas. the fitzgerald theater is one of them in st. paul, it draws a lot of authors. and back here is the area where we do our time selling books. and when we put it all together we roll them out of the way and as you can see people in their bring up microphones and give authors a chance to meet their audience is. >> the challenges of an independent bookstore are
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getting people into the door, getting them to understand what your products are and having people buy them. we are fortunate that we are able to stock a lot of books that you don't find everywhere. people are constantly discovering books and we have very good ways that are able to recommend books to them and we offer and advanced that introduce people to books that they might not expect to find. and of course, the challenges include getting people to understand what you have and getting them to come. but the online world is not very tricky. it doesn't have much in the way of character and it doesn't make for a very interesting afternoon out. and for all of the online retailers that they offer, it's hard to find something that will surprise you. and you end up getting the books that everyone else got. so what we offer in a source in
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trans- toylike does is something to discover in a new way. and right next to it could be something you didn't know about. and there are a lot of writeups that our employees do on our favorite books and you can actually find something new and if you talk to us, we are able to suggest something new as well. so what we offer is authors the chance to discover books that you weren't expecting and in that way it is something that we don't feel it's anything but good. and so if you are a small bookstore with a smaller profit, you're not selling as many books in an average week, you buy the ones that are going to sell the best. that is a business decision. we are able, because we have a loyal clientele and a steady
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business and we sell those. and we have to wait a little longer for the customer to come in at times. >> during booktv's recent visit to st. paul, minnesota, we sat down with jack el-hai, author of "the nazi and the psychiatrist." a profile of doctor douglas kelley who was responsible for deciding whether nazi war criminals were mentally fit for trial. >> the designated it up until the end of world war ii. and this is a world war ii officer named douglas kelley, who came into the service while
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world war ii was going on and they had the honor to talk with and study the top not see officers including hermann goring as they waited trial. he joined the knotty party in the early 20s because he had been a war hero and he was very unhappy like many german during the treaty oversight. and he wanted the provision of the treaty thrown out and he wanted germany to be able to be armed once again and he was looking for a party which would necessarily be a right-wing political party the respect of his views even more importantly had leadership at the top so that he could write himself that
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way. and he met hitler in the early 20s and killer could see that this is a man who had respected german veterans and also he had upper-middle-class background and that was what he wanted. and so they became partners in the sense that he had a very active part heard he organized the brownshirts in the uprising in munich that the national socialists attempted. causing quite a ruckus before he was injured during that uprising. and as a result, the hospital treatment, he became addicted to morphine which led to an addiction that he had been one
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of the things that doctor douglas kelley had to help you must help them overcome this addiction. which he was able to do in pretty short order. but it was a quite strong dependency going on and doctor douglas kelley got into the position pretty much just by chance. he was one of the highest-ranking psychiatrist was stationed nearby and there were many others who wanted to examine these men and study them in all of these people were denied but doctor douglas kelley got the job. he had order from the u.s. army and now simply to evaluate the top rating nazi prisoners to determine whether they were mentally fit to stand trial and that was a pretty easy thing for
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him to handle. but he set up for himself the ability to study more deeply into the minds of these individuals and whether they carried any common psychiatric illnesses or disorders that might account for their heinous behavior during the war. so he was looking for a garrisos bias. and so they talked about all kinds of things while they were in prison. his method of studying was to give them a battery of psychological tests, including iq tests and other psychological assessments and also to spend hours and hours interviewing them and talking with them.
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and so he spoke about a whole range of things and one thing that douglas kelley learned is that he thought that he had done nothing wrong and that he had acted as a legitimate government official. and the only reason why he and others were on trial and not truman and eisenhower and the rest on the allied side, was because they lost the war. and that is how hermann goring saw it. and he did not consider himself a killer. he said that yes, he had disregarded treaties and bombed cities and it resulted in the death of people and he started
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the adoption of the nürnberg laws in germany, but he didn't see those as a criminal act but legitimate acts of a legitimate government. doctor douglas kelley found much to his disappointment that there was no nazi bias or disorder that accounted for their behavior. and in fact, nearly all of them were mentally healthy and this was a great blow to him because he believed at the time that psychiatry could and should be able to account for all kinds of behaviors, including criminal behavior and he was crushed to find out that it couldn't account for the behavior of these top hermann goring people and the government. i think that his relationship with the hermann goring was unusual. and i think the relationship was
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unusually close for a doctor and subject and i say subject because in most ways douglas kelley didn't treat hermann goring as a patient. and he was well aware of the bad points of hermann goring. and hermann goring was the coldest and most coldhearted man that he had ever encountered and he really pressed him and he asked him why he had done so many things he had done and why had he ordered the murder of the associates during the night in the 1930s. and his response was that he looked at kelly like he was a dunce of some kind and said it was what i had to do. and to him, the personal bonds
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were not so important. there was something in his way blocking his goal and his assent to power and that is what he cared about. and kelley recognize that. and another thing is that hermann goring love to take the psychological tests. he was a little bored and he saw them as challenges. he scored high on them and had a high iq. and he loved getting feedback on his responses to the rorschach tests. and the subject is asked to talk about what they see in a projection of images and the
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responses of hermann goring were very imaginative and colorful and often it was something about himself or various versions of himself with these images. so he was an extremely cooperative and engaging and helpful psychological assessment participant. in the kind of inside at kelley got was very sobering. even though he didn't find any mental disorders, he came to the conclusion that their behavior was a reflection of normal behavior. but normal in the sense that there is a small segment of those of us that are in the normal category who under
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certain circumstances and motivation would climb all over the backs of other people in order to get what they wanted and what really motivated the top nazi people was not ideological fervor or or mental illness but a hunger for power and attention. and kelley did what was asked of him. he certified all of the nazi leaders as sound mind and suitable for trial. i didn't find any evidence that anyone tried to declare that kelley tried to declare what they were saying. and when it became apparent early on and maybe even before the trial, when it became apparent that he would be convicted and executed, he very
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much did not want to be executed by henning because in his mind that was a common criminal born of execution and not a dignified way to be executed and he asked the allies authorities to execute him instead by firing squad in that request was denied and the allies wanted these war criminals to have a form of execution that was ignominious and when he found he would not be executed by firing squad they sought the help of one of the american guards in the present to get not one but two of the cyanide capsules to bring them to him in his cell. and so when he finally did take his life the night before he was to be executed by hanging, there was not only the remains of the
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capsule but another capsule in his cell as well. when kelley found out that he had committed suicide, this time at kelley was back in the states and no longer in nürnberg and he was shocked. he did not see him as a suicide risk. and he sought is a grand theatrical statement of defiance against the americans and the allied authorities. and he was able to go out the way he wanted and he made an impression on kelley and may have led kelley down the same road years later. and 12 years later, kelley was a very troubled man, overburdened by work and an alcoholic. marriage in trouble, emotional


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