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tv   In Depth  CSPAN  November 8, 2014 9:00am-12:01pm EST

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three-volume biography. on wednesday, james robins recounts the military career of general george custer in hudson, ohio. and on thursday in brooklyn, new york, mark leibovich, chief national correspondent for "the new york times" magazine, profiles several politicians and members of the media. that's a look of some of the author programs booktv will be covering this upcoming week. for more, go to our web site,, and visit "upcoming programs." >> host: michael korda, who is
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alex kellner? >> guest: alex kellner was the name that my uncle, alexander korda, was born with and which he changed when he moved to biewd past as a university st as a university student, because it sounded jewish. at first he spelled the new name crda, then changed it to korda because it looks hungarian that way. >> host: who was sir alex korda? >> guest: he was the prototypical film producer, also film director. he directed his first film at a teenage age in 1914 and directed at least 100 or twice that many movies during the course of his life and produced i don't know
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how many. europe, the united kingdom, hollywood when he was fair, he was an affable genius and being his nephew was a full-time excitement. >> host: what was his influence on you? he and your father and your other uncle? >> guest: and enormous respect for talent of any kind. he was that making films and recognizing all sorts of talent even if they don't share it themselves. secondly although they were in tense at making the best possible film and the best possible film, they also had a great capacity for in forming what they were doing, having fun and the friendships that came along with business
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relationships. they were enormously influential. >> host: what was your childhood like? >> guest: barring the great and foreseeable episode of the second world war first through canada and the united states in 1940, because alex found himself unable to complete three films in england, one was the thief of baghdad and the hamilton woman. the only way to get them done was to go to hollywood and do them. so we all went to california and that was a huge upset in my life. of myself as english. those thoughts occurred at 6 or 7 years old. i suddenly found myself plunged
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into america and not brought back until 1945 or 1946. my childhood was in no way difficult but was a constant successions of ups and downs and changes in mood. i stick close to home now. >> host: in your book "charmed lives: a family romance" you write like my father, ours went to immense struggle to see that the children were scared the grim deprivations of his own use while at the same time believing an unhappy childhood was essentials to success. paradoxically because we had not suffered, he was unable to take seriously. >> i think that is true. alex had gone through so much, fears anti-semitism, being unimaginably for by any
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standards we can draw today when the father of three children die. bent then becoming the mainstay of his family in his teens, making enough money to support is two brothers and his mother and alex was in any case by instinct survivor no matter what happened. first world war, second world war, he kept surviving. he loved us very much but he didn't take seriously people who had not had that experience of having to scramble and fight for survival. >> guest: why did you not going to the movie business? >> guest: i could not see myself as having a real talent in the movie business. it struck me the only thing i knew how to do was play with
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words and so i became a book publisher, a book writer. i think that was quite satisfactory. i don't think the words need another quarter in the movie. >> host: you fell into publishing. >> guest: i never thought of it as a serious protection. i was a book consumer, it never occurred to me how books are produced or why they are produced for any of those things and i came over here after completing my education at oxford to work for my cousin sidney kingsley on a book about the hungarian revolution which i wrote a play about. next i went to cbs as a scriptwriter which is really hard to imagine how grubby that is. it was like the shape of the longshoremen, you went in every morning to cbs, said in a big room and waited, they presented you with a book or script and
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once they did, you go back for the report and got paid. one job opened up in book publishing it was a huge change in my life because you got a weekly paycheck, you have a desk, a place to work and because it was such a huge change in my life, my relationship became a fixed one. i spent 48 years working on assignment and that is because in some sense -- >> host: when did you become editor and chief? >> i can't remember. certainly it was back 40 years, maybe four or five years after i went there in 1968. >> host: when did you leave simon and schuster? what year? >> i don't remember exactly what year. it would be perhaps ten years ago or something like that. i was halfway tempted to try for
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50 because it is a round number. seemed like a serious episode in life but i felt that eking out the last two years, being able to save 50 as opposed to 48 didn't make much sense of a left no regrets. and for all those who work there, had good relationships with them too but there came a moment when i no longer wanted to do it. >> host: what does an editor-in-chief do? >> guest: it is like being company commander. you do all the older soldiers do except that supposedly you do it better and with more experience. it is not in direct order job, you don't tell other editors what to buy or what not to buy.
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you may try to influence them to do those things that he sensually not. >> host: what was it like to work with mack schuster and dick simon? >> guest: was fascinating. he was a deep eccentric and because they went back to the very beginning of book publishing when they brought young people together going into the book business, in an age when the book business did not have a lot of juice. they were among the first to confront that. i believe dick simon actually worked for a horse, who was the alcoholic genius of book publishing in his age and so
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they connected themselves to a whole world of book publishing that was utterly fascinating and they were as i say, in different ways interesting people. >> host: how often is an editor also a writer, which he became? >> most editors take a stab at writing a book. it is rather like eating out in restaurants and deciding to be a coke. i don't think very many editors have become full-time writers or written as many books as i have, 42 or 43. that i think is probably unique. most people retire from their book publishing careers before they pick up a writing career. i did not. i put a toe in the water writing books. to everybody at surprise, above
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all to my own, the first of those books was a sensation. it was the number-1 bestseller, i want to go back and read them again now and that did have a marked effect on my life goes in producing much more money than i had made before in book publishing but also in carving half for myself a kind of parallel universe, one side of it going towards book publishing and editing and the other side of it going towards writing. bringing those two into focus, a difficult balancing act. >> host: your first book and l 1972, "male chauvinism: how it works," your second book was that good will and in that will befall you write all life is a game of power. the object of the game is simple enough, to know what you want
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and get it. >> guest: i think it was true then and what is known, there should be some moral basis to it. if what you want is entirely immoral and wrong than your life is going to pursue a difficult pattern, but assuming that is the case, if of course what we want is not to have power but its own sake, but power to do the job when one wants to do as we think it should be done and to live the life we want to live, as we have always wanted to live. >> host: ready about male chauvinism in 1972 is pretty cutting edge. >> guest: i didn't realize it would be. we were all astonished at how trendy it became. that is largely due to a piece
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of it on the cover of new york magazine, hilarious cover of a young woman taking dictation and in front of her seated at the desk is a pig in an absolutely beautiful cuts suit and shirt and tie and it just clicked in the public's mind as something they absolutely understood and worked in a way which astonished us all. >> guest: >> host: in your book another life, where did you get that title? >> guest: that wanted to call it secret beast, but i decided i can't really do that to these people. even though it was true so i changed the title to another life because it was from the
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beginning another life and because it had been at the beginning of another life to the one that was represented by being over the film business, moving to london and growing up not knowing where the rich wanted to go but it was this choice of another life. was about book publishing and getting. >> host: who are the sacred piece? >> guest: jacqueline suzanne, harold robbins. ronald reagan, richard nixon, henry kissinger, the people that i published. some of comparison pathetic piece by the way. >> host: a lot of your personal life reads like a nonfiction madmen. >> guest: i'm not a huge watcher of mad men, but that is true.
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that dovetails with the whole thing geographically and partly because in the office grammar will resemble mad men of course. all office dramas resemble other office dramas. >> host: a lot of drinking, smoking, extramarital affairs? >> host: yes. is not the advertising business. i don't remember in all my time at simon and schuster anyone being a really heavy drinker, certainly not while working. i remember a level of drinking when i first came into book publishing that was astonishing that that was the age of the two month and lunge so i had never done that myself. many of my elders in the book publishing business word that kind of steady, habituated drinker.
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the smoking, everybody smoked and everybody had an overflowing ashtray and nobody ever said anything about it so wasn't necessarily a very different world. key link in we have an e-mail from a viewer named brian. i enjoyed reading about richard snyder when i read another life, very well drawn figure in the book, could you dredge up a few of your favorite memories of his steamroller tactics in his rapid rise to the rank of simon and schuster. >> use extremely confrontational and aggressive. he was never confrontational and aggressive with me. and could be very difficult. he was apt to say whenever anybody said they liked a particular manuscript and wanted to publish it, how would you sell it to the sales force and if you couldn't answer the question he wouldn't buy it.
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he made instant judgment > host: has book publishing she? >> guest: it is in the process of transforming itself from the book, the object of which is familiar in to a business that concentrates itself around electronic purchase of a book in a non paper form, eliminating the bookstore which is a bigger institution so it is very hard for those who are outside and even those who are inside to keep track of what is happening
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but and say that behind all the technological changes the book publishing business is the same old business which is you have to find books people want to read and will -- >> host: is insular? >> host: i would never citizens of their. i would say of all industries if it can be called an industry, the most open to other people's ideas, to radical ideas and ideas that you might not want to -- book publishers have always been open to new ideas and new ways of writing, in a way for example like the movie business. >> host: welcome to booktv on c-span2. this is our monthly index program. this month it is author, book publisher michael korda.
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we are going to put the numbers on the screen. if you would like to conversation, 585-388 zero. five 85-3881. in a mountain or pacific times and you can also ask a question, make a comment in social media. @booktv is our twitter handle,, you can make your kind there as well and you can send e-mail to michael korda is the author of many books, both nonfiction and fiction on booktv. we will concentrate on the nonfiction. to give you an idea of the topics that he has written about here's a list of some of his nonfiction books including a and 11, his first win the discuss a little bit, "power! how to get it, how to use it," "charmed lives: a family romance" came out in 1979, man-to-man, surviving prostate cancer,
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another life, a memoir of other people can out in 1999, country matters, pleasures and tribulations of moving from a big ci country hamas, the untold story of the battle of britain, "hero: the life and times of laurence of arabia," clouds of glory, the life and legend of robert e. lee is his most recent book. who was t. e. lawrence? >> guest: perhaps the only hero anybody remembers of the first world war. lawrence of arabia was bigger than life even before being put on screen in the greatest single
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epic motion picture ever made. lawrence was an extraordinarily charismatic figure. i was taken by lawrence had a very early age when i read my father's copy and followed in some degree lawrence's half. i loved motorcycles, joined the royal air force, when i did my military service, i felt that in some respects lawrence was my guide. that is the impulse under which i worked for the hungarian revolution following winston churchill less famous remark that it is pleasant to be shot at and survive it. that was an experience one should have at some point in one's life. much of that comes from a childhood misspent in reading
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about lawrence. >> host: in net books this book is about the creation of a legend, a mythic figure and a man who became a hero not by accident or even by a single act of heroism but who made himself a hero by design and did it so successfully that he became the victim of his own fame. >> yes. lawrence is the first modern victim of his own celebrity. that has become familiar, that is the basis of which all gossip magazines and reality shows are based, that people reach a level of fame that not only cuts them off from the rest of the world that at the same time makes them eliminated even when they don't want to be so that lawrence became somebody who could not step out the door to pick up his bottle of milk without flashbulbs going off in his face.
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something for an essentially shy person became more than he could bear his he joined the royal air force under an assumed name. and taking george bernard shaw's name very aptly because shaw was a friend. and attempted on the one hand to escape which was undoable. it was the most famous person in the world. lowell thomas created in a show that contained lawrence's music and played to millions around the english-speaking world so that the more famous lawrence became -- tried to avoid an escape that fate and the more he tried to escape the fate of the more curious journalists where
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to dig him out. it is a difficult combination of factors in which to live. >> host: you said he created his own fame. c-span2 in the sense that all heroes do. it is what robert e. lee did. even unconsciously, what will build their faith. they know the image that will be useful for them in extreme circumstances that heroism calls for. they didn't necessarily every aspect is thought out and not that every aspect, that is not the case but the hero knows how to make the camera focused on him. for example if you read about them you realize most people who write about these enormous battles of the american civil
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war place at the center of is the vision of lee on his horse even though they may not have seen him. >> host: how do you pick your topics? you have quite a variety of topics. >> guest: i like to write about people who overcome their difficulties. succeed in a very large way and somehow balance as best they can seek fame and success which they have won. the two things are very difficult. it is difficult to become enormously successful or enormously famous. is difficult to balance that with some kind of a life-and-death like to write about people who have gone from a relatively humble position to a position of the enormous fame and success and had to cope with that difficulty. >> host: e-book published by simon and schuster?
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>> guest: yes, a huge best seller about the actress which was in a into a television miniseries, and a novel about nelson rockefeller and his death and several other novels including one about marilyn monroe called the immortal cent during that period i was published by various houses of simon and schuster happy to be published by them. is probably a little uncomfortable to be published by your own house and have to deal with your own colleagues about your own books so i was not totally unhappy when i left to go to harpercollins. >> host: from your most recent and distant, lee had developed his skill at reconnaissance his courage without which no
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military virtue has meaning and his ability to keep his head when all about and the bruising there is to pare phrase kipling. all in all he was the perfect warrior. >> guest: had thought of calling my biography the perfect warrior. and yet i felt clouds--so much better described because despite his defeat, despite our doubts today to put it mildly about the wisdom of forming the confederacy, despite the question of whether we should continued fighting after failing at gettysburg, as that lee had
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nevertheless, in a magic quality of self conviction, courage and ability to see exactly how to get there. he was the perfect warrior. he was gentle and manner can't yet he was impeccable and aggressive and bold on the battlefield is altogether very remarkable figure. >> host: this deal, mr. korda was general be truly a great virginia gentleman to give grant, sherman and mcclellan had never come on the scene and the southern blockade had failed, with the u.s. aid be as divided today as a nation? >> guest: a wonder if he means that the confederacy survived, in what form with the united
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states -- >> host: i think if he is asking if grant and sherman and mcclellan had come done the scene, would the u.s. be two nations today? >> guest: i don't think so. he was a very reluctant secessionist. he disliked the idea of secession, call that silly, anarchy. he often be moaned that we were giving up a republic earned by our patriot father's, his tone was washington's favored cavalry commander and was pushed into secession slowly, very varying and enthusiastically, and eventually arrived there because
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he had drawn a famous phrase a line in the sand as early as 1850-eating 69, which was that he could not agree to see the state of virginia, his home state, attacked by federal troops. .. when that happened, he would have to, as he put it, draw his sword. otherwise he would not. so when virginia was attacked, he with great reluctance joined the virginia militia as its head. and when virginia voted to join the confederacy -- though lee had very strong doubts about that -- he assumed the rank of a con fed rate general. confederate general. once he had done that, had made that progression, then he fought on during rately, he fought completely, he raced any doubt from his mind which is the very correct thing for a general to do and became the most famous of
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confederate generals and commanders. and, indeed can, i think became the symbol for the confederacy, certainly the symbol that people admired then most and still do. >> host: what was his feelings about slavery? was he a supporter? and on the flip side, was ulysses s. grant an opponent of slavery? was slavery an issue with these two? >> guest: slavery's always an issue. [laughter] it cannot be erased from the civil war. i would say that to do the question separately, grant dislikes the idea of slavery although that was slightly altered by the fact that his wife, mrs. grant, came from a slave-owning family, had her own slaves and that grant's brief experience and fall your as a farm aer was sustained by -- farmer was sustained by the slaves his father-in-law gave him to do the actual work. in lee's case, lee grew up in
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the vast lee family, branches which extend through virginia, and slavery was as familiar to him as anything else around him. he expressioned frequently and certainly very strongly in 1858 and 1895 a dislike for the institution of slavery which he thought evil in any country where it exists. that does not necessarily mean that lee would have met a litmus test for racial equality in our final. in our time. he thought that slavery was a weigh station towards a better future for blacks. he thought that though freeing them was a worthy ambition, that they were not at present suitable to vote or be citizens.
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so he was not by any means a paragon of racial equality. however, it has to be said for lee that, a, he would not have fought for slavery. he disliked it. b, that he had the ability to see the slaves as people, not as objects or as potential wealth. he saw them, by and large, as people which which wasn't true of everybody. he stood up and would shake the hand of a black man who was leaving to pursue a career. he kneeled at the communion rail next to a black man, to the shock of the congregation of his church in richmond. he was that paradoxical of figures, a man who ended up fighting for something in which he did not completely believe. >> host: what makes for a good editor? >> guest: i think a good editor is somebody who not only knows
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what's wrong with a book and what could be done to fix it, but also knows when to leave things ahone. alone. the only thing worse than a sloppy or unambitious editor who doesn't bring to the page any serious way to improve it is an editor who does too much. so it's a balance. you must do enough, but you really can't take on the job of authorship. you certainly must not change the author's idea, however abhorrent they may be to you. >> host: what was it like to work as richard nixon's editor? >> guest: he was very, very easy to work with. first of all, he wrote himself extremely well in longhand on yellow legal pads. and his prose, while it's not
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poetic, is nevertheless very solid and very readable. and he was open to advice, suggestions. he was quite firm about what he didn't want to accept, but on the other hand he was always quite willing to listen. i found him a very, very interesting and likable man. he was the only one of my authors, the only person i've ever dealt with who always spoke of himself in the third person so that if you had dinner with him, he would say nixon will have another glass of wine. or if you suggested a change in a manuscript to him, he would think of it seriously, almost as if he were pantomiming thought with a kind of furrowed brow. he was a great actor in his way, and he'd say, nixon would not like that. and it was remarkable.
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you had to accept the fact that he thought of himself, he thought of nixon, essentially, as a separate creature altogether and referred to nixon in the third person. even at home. even having lunch at his house, he would still say, nixon will have another cup of coffee as if it were a perfectly normal thing to say. >> host: ronald reagan. >> guest: charming man. he was a great pleasure to edit. he did not, i have to say, do much writing himself, although his letters and his diaries and his documents are very, very well written, indeed. the book that we published by him, his autobiography, "an american life," he regarded as something being done by others. he went over it carefully or had other people go over it carefully. he was a pleasure to be around. he had a very good relationship with my wife margaret by phone
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because she is a great horse woman and lover of horses, and of course, so was he. and they both shared a great interest in pigs. at one time we had a number of pigs on our farm in duchess county, and it turned out that ronald reagan had been very interested in pigs and never failed when going to state fairs like the iowa state fair to go and visit the pigs. and he sent us a live picture of him -- with the winning pig at the iowa state fair. >> host: you told us of a time when his autobiography was finished and he turned and waved and said, "i hear it's a good book, i'll have to read it sometime." >> guest: absolutely. unfortunately, it was true. [laughter] and he did eventually read it and like it. but he was not deeply connected. nixon was. nixon, nixon started out writing every book himself, a certain
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amount of editing went into it. a lot of other people's research. he was a lawyer. he would stack it up in front of him and then take a yellow legal pad and then write. he took some pride in his work. ronald reagan, i think, was not essentially interested in that. but i remember visiting his office in california after he had ended his presidency, and he had this magnificent glass cabinet that stretched forever containing every single saddle that he had been presented with during his gubernatorial, his acting and his presidential career. this wonderful row of western and english saddles, all beautifully -- [inaudible] and he was so proud. he took one down and showed each one and described what it was and where it had come from and who had presented it to him. it was quite, quite
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extraordinary. i describe, i think, in the book the fact that when you visited his office, what you got was a photograph of yourself with the president. which is par for the course, i suppose, which he signed because it was a polaroid camera. it could be signed and put in a frame for you. and when he did that, i realized -- because i grew up in the movie business -- that there was a mark on the floor of his office on this beautiful carpet. there were two pieces of duct tape crossed so that you and he would step to the right place together for the picture to be taken. and i thought to myself, that's extraordinary. the man has been governor of california, the man has twice been president of the united states, and he is still a movie actor. he knows where to hit his mark. >> host: did that book sell? >> guest: ronald reagan's? >> host: yes. >> guest: it was disappointing. it did not sell as many as we
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hoped. to this day, it's actually rather difficult for me to say why, because i thought it was pretty good. [laughter] but these things do happen. political books are very risky. you can pay a lot of money for them, and mostly they do go for a lot of money, and you cannot gauge the success of the book by the popularity necessarily of the author. some of them work, some of them don't. it's maybe the riskiest kind of book to publish. generals are much easier. >> host: simon & schuster just this past year published hillary clinton's second book, and all reports are that it is not selling very well either. if you had been editor-in-chief, would you have advocated for that book? >> guest: the hypothetical is always difficult to answer. probably, but probably for the wrong reasons. i mean, i was absolutely charmed by meeting ronald reagan and absolutely charmed when i published jimmy carter's book,
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"a government as good as its people," and i'm sure i would have been absolutely charmed by hillary clinton who's a woman that i hugely admire. so the answer is, yes, probably, but for the wrong reasons. that's often the case with political books. >> host: joan crawford. >> guest: ah, you couldn't go wrong with joan crawford. i published joan crawford's book. i had a great time with her. i used to go to her apartment so we could edit it. she, too, wrote in longhand very carefully and knew what she wanted to say, and she maintained that firm control over everything that was always a part of her career, and i remember that although by that time she had been reduced to quite a large but not impressive apartment in new york city, this was after her husband had died and she had lost her temporary control of the pepsi cola
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corporation. and she took me in one day to show me what she called her closet. in fact, if there were three or four bedrooms in this apartment, they were completely covered in clothes. each dress in a plastic, zippered bag with a note on it in her hand of the place and the date where she had worn it and the matching pair of shoes underneath it. hundreds of them. and going back to i don't know how far. and it was just amazing. i mean, it was one of those sights where you say to yourself this can't -- i cannot really be seeing this, but i was. >> host: will durant. who was will durant? >> guest: will durant was a philosophy student and teacher who set out to write books that attracted the attention of the co-founder of simon & schuster. because max not only loved philosophy, but also yearned to
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publish large tomes on philosophy and history. and will durability satisfied that -- durant satisfied that over years by writing the story of civilization which i think reached possibly ten very substantial volumes, big volumes over there behind you that might be the same size. i became the editor, i think, of the last two or three. >> host: what was it like working with him? and did they sellsome. >> guest: oh, in those days they sold terrifically. they were in the book of the month club, that determined what would happen to a major nonfiction book, and will durant was, as max schuster liked to say, the mainstay, the foundation of the book of the month club. the book of the month club was founded upon people getting every volume of the story of the civilization. so, yes, they sold large, large quantityings. i'm not sure anybody necessarily reads them today. >> host: michael korda, when you were editing ronald reagan, you
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were also kurtty kelly's -- cutty kelly's editor. did that create problems? >> guest: it created a brief spat because kitty kelley did a book about nancy reagan which was published at the same time we were publishing ronald reagan. and the reagans felt about kitty kelley as one might feel about a hand grenade with a pin removed. but when it was explained to the president that we had a contract for kitty kelley's book and, therefore, would have to publish it and that it was just as it was in the movie studios, a contract is something you have to respect, he totally understood and forgave. i'm not sure that mrs. reagan did, but he did. >> host: want to read one more quote from one of your books and then we'll get into phone calls and some of the e-mails that we're getting. but this is from 2006, "journey to a revolution: a personal
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memoir and history of the hungarian revolution of 1956." when things get bad enough, men will give a gold watch for a loaf of bread and women their virtue. war and revolution teach you the relativity of values pretty quickly. >> guest: i think that's true, don't you? there's nothing like the ec tricepty of hard -- extremity of hardship and danger to bring out just how far people will go. to survive. and when bullets are flying overhead, a gold watch doesn't seem like a big thing to give away in return for some kind of safety. the same can be said for extreme inflation. when extreme inflation hits, it suddenly takes $100,000, then a million dollars and a billion dollars and then a trillion dollars overnight to buy a loaf of bread, then a gold watch suddenly becomes an extremely
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important thing. it keeps you alive. it's real as opposed to paper money. so i think that's so. i think that we go through life skating along until we confront something that is on a huge historical scale and that we are plunged into or go into of our own volition as i did in terms of the hungarian revolution, and then realize that the scale of values is quite different from the one that we ordinarily pursue. >> host: are you a trained historian? >> guest: no. i'm not trained at all. i i did study with great admiration a little bit under roper when i was at ox toford who i admired -- oxford who i admired enormously. i think he's superb and a hugely readable historical document, exactly the way history should be read. that's a book like garrett
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battingly's the armada that combines, i think, scholarship and storytelling in a way that i always wanted to do. i found my way towards it slowly by writing first self-help books and novels. but when i started to do the grant biography, i said to myself, well, this is what i've always been aiming for, it's always been what's at the back of my mind. and i'm just going to somehow do it. i don't claim to any special training or, indeed, any special skill. at doing it. but, and i think the biggest project that i've done is probably "clouds of glory," the robert e. lee biography because i could deal with grant. it was a relatively small book, and i could deal with english things for the sort of background of knowledge. but i came to lee as somebody who was not born in america and was not by any stretch of the imagination a southerner or a confederate sympathizer. and so i had to confront a vast
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amount of material and somehow make it come out all the same, as a story. i think when you write a big biography like lee or like lawrence, you always have to say to yourself however much material you found, however much new material if there is anything you found, how do i fit this into a story that people will read from page to page in not a kind of telephone book of facts, but a living story. >> host: well, car men gonzales e-mails in to you from glendale, california, and you spoke to this first question a little bit. can you ask mr. korda if general lee ever had any doubts about the cause of the civil war. his second question, were there any letters or diary entries that made him think war wasn't the best option for resolution? >> guest: well, let me answer the second question first, if i may. robert e. lee was a west pointer, spent 36 years in the united states army. his father had been a very
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successful general, not so successful after the revolutionary war, but a very successful general. and robert e. lee was a professional soldier. war did not seem horrifying to lee. it was what he did. he fought in the mexican-american war, he had his doubts, as grant did, about whether that war was a good idea, though their doubts were very different impulses. but i don't think that lee rode out onto a battlefield and found himself ree pelled by what he -- repelled by what he saw. that's not to say that he was bloodthirsty and not to say that he was, that he liked war for its own sake. but a professional soldier who is, as we say in english, put off by or war is a contradiction in terms. that's what -- we expect professional soldiers to want to fight wars, and it's also how they get promoted.
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as for his doubts about secession, yes, lee never gave up those doubts about secession. he disliked politics together whether they were confederate or union politics. he had been pushed into secession with the utmost reluctance, and yet once he was there, he could not forgo his professionalism. he had chosen to commit himself to the course of virginia when virginia joined the confederacy. then he was committed to the confederacy, and he would fight to the end. i think it's very interesting that when he surrendered, first of all just before he verpd ed, one of his generals said why not disperse the army? let it take its weapons with them, and each man will go behind a bush or a tree and will fight the union troops all the way to their homes.
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and lee would not hear of it. he was determined to surrender his army intact, to surrender their weapons down to the last weapon except for the side arms that officers were able to carry home with their horses. he was determined to make a professional, complete surrender. the idea of guerrilla warfare, as it does any professional army officer, horrified him. and he would not have the war stretched out to infinity by 100,000 jesse james behind each bush trying to shoot a soldier can. once he had surrendered, then that was it. the war was over. and he himself, which i thought was very moving, that under all circumstances whatever we thought that events might prove and he hoped would prove that god had in mind a restoration of the union. and he immediately put his
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shoulder to the wheel, as the phrase goes, to make that union possible by surrendering completely. when he got home, he was in the habit at first of cutting off one of the buttons from his gray uniform coat to give to his daughter and her friends -- one of his daughters, and her friends. and then he was told, which was correct, that the federal governor of richmond had forbidden the wearing of confederate buttons. and so he stopped giving them away and moved them from his coat and replaced them with leather or horn buttons. he was determined to live up to the surrender and determined to reunite the two parts of the country after war. after the war. i think lee more than any other figure helped cement the two parts of country together in the four or five years he lived after surrendering the army of northern virginia. >> host: did he and ulysses grant have any relationship in
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those four to five years? >> guest: not a prior relationship. lee and grant had met during the mexican war, but grant was then an obscure captain, and lee was already a national hero and a lieutenant colonel. quite famous and one of the great hero heroes of the mexican-american war. a war they both disliked, by the way. he came to grant late in his life. grant did not confront lee's army until gettysburg. and he came to a great respect for grant after the war when there was a move to have lee tried for treason. grant put an end to it immediately by writing that that contradicted the terms of lee's surrender at the courthouse and, therefore, it could not take place. and in 1868 when lee came to
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testify before congress, he actually met grant briefly and with great politeness and respect. so they were not close, but there is a huge respect. to read the pages in which grant describes in his memoirs meeting with lee at ap maddox courthouse is to read one of the glories of american nonfiction writing. american writing, it seems to me, has two great stars, stellar objects. in fiction, moby dick. in nonfiction, its equivalent is general grant's memoirs. there was a time when there was no house north of the mason dixon line where there was not a bible and general grant's memoirs somewhere in the home. that book, to read grant's description of lee's surrender is to be overwhelmed by the dignity of both men and by the respect they had for each other and for each other's army. it's an enormously moving part
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of american literature. >> host: in "another life" you write that general grant was the last president to write his own memoirs. >> guest: without any help. richard nixon wrote his, but he had large numbers of researchers and helpers in that sense. grant was dying when he -- and also bankrupt. he wrote his memoirs because mark twain invented the idea of paying grant for the book before it was written, something which publishers until that point had hardly ever done. and paying grant in modern terms a huge fortune. so grant, bankrupt and dying of throat cancer, sat down with pads of paper and a white linen scarf wrapped around his throat because of surgery on his throat and wrote without anybody's help, wrote this huge, enormous
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book, gathered the facts, remembered them. it is one of the epic, courageous events in the history of literature. certainly of american literature. and he did it sitting on the porch of a borrowed house in his silk top hat while people came by to watch president grant sitting there writing and dying. >> host: in your book "the unlikely hero," grant had an extreme, almost phobic dislike of turning back and retracing his steps. if he set out for somewhere, he would get there somehow, that far the difficulties that lay in his way. this idiosin rah city would turn out to be one of the factors that made him a formidable general. >> guest: oh, very, very formidable idiosin rah city for a general. grant as a boy would not go back
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on his steps and always wanted a straight line towards where he wanted to go. as a general, he did much the same thing. the result is he took very, very large casualties quite up. not always, but quite often. lee was a much more inventive general than grant. first of all, lee was always short of men, was always short of guns, was always short of ammunition. his men were short of shoes, short of blankets in the winter. he was short of anything. the confederacy could not supply it or replace it. lee made up for that by an enormous ingenuity and maneuvering. he was spectacular. he would advance to the flank, vanish for days, reappear to the side if the enemy were beside him or behind him. he was one of the great maneuvererrers in military history. he fought his battles where he wanted to fight them and when he wanted to fight them. and when he got all of those
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equations right, he won. when he didn't, he lost. but his speed of maneuver, the speed with which he moved, stonewall jackson -- his brilliantly gifted corps commander -- marched his corps 54 miles in two days before the second manassas, 54 miles in two days in the middle of summer for men who were mostly barefoot and carrying their rifle, their bayonet, their ammunition and their powder. a huge distance. lee counted on that, he could move like lightning. the german generals when they evolved their technique, it was to lee and jackson that they looked. the germans knew more about the shenandoah valley than anybody does in this country. they studied it as if it were part of their own home. every single town, village, river, stream, hill they learned in german military staff school.
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it's quite extraordinary. lee was an enormous genius. he had, as i described it in "clouds of glory," the serenity of genius. he relied on that genius. and by the large -- by and large, it served him very well indeed. ultimately, however, numbers tell, and grant's ability to use numbers, his determination to keep on going towards where he wanted to go, those wore lee down. he was forced to retreat again and again and again until finally he was outside richmond at which point war could only become a long and painful siege. >> host: you've been listening to our conversation for the past hour, michael korda is our guest, former editor-in-chief of simon & schuster. historian, writer, etc. lot to talk about, a lot of topics.
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i don't think you're going to be able to stump him. we've covered a lot of topics, and whatever you want to ask, it's your turn now. we're going to begin with david in the hope sound, florida. david, good afternoon. >> caller: good afternoon, peter. it's always a pleasure to say hello to you. and, .. much. i am somewhat familiar with your writing. >> guest: thank you. >> caller: years ago i read a book by ben hecht, "child of this century," his autobiography, in which he talked about, wrote about a conversation he had with your cung l, alexander. uncle, alexander. at the time that israel was coming into existence. and your uncle said to him -- and this is an accurate a quote that i can muster after all these years -- if the j everything ws in
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after all these years. it is the jews in palestine packed up, meaning the british, we will exterminate them. that was a terrible thing to say. i have never forgotten it. every time i see his name in the credits in a movie i get angry because of it. i am just wondering what you have to say. >> guest: i would not trust ben hecht's words about anything. that quote is very unlikely for my own brother to have made. i will not say that as a naturalized british subject that he would necessarily have been in favor of israel, but he was
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too tactful and causes a person to have said anything like that about the jews in palestine. i have always thought of him as very talented but something of a gossip monger who i would not necessarily take seriously. i read the book too and is a wonderful book but i don't believe most of the quotes in it and certainly not that one. >> host: you write that you were not fully aware that you were half jewish. >> guest: i wasn't aware at all until quite late in life when my uncle zoltan died and my father came to california to meet me for his funeral and mentioned he had been searching for a rabbi. it struck me, what on earth? my uncle was a man of curious enthusiasm and as we all know
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los angeles is a place where people develop very and familiar images but it struck me as odd that he would have wanted a rabbi and i asked about it and finally came to the conclusion that the answer to that is that the killers as i soon learned they were originally called were jewish in the austria hungarian empire. my mother's family was firmly english and the most growths back to the beginning of time. and so i had never -- my mother in fact, long after my father's death, when she read lives, did you like the book very much? she felt the whole description of my father having been jewish was a great exaggeration because he was sure he would have told her and he never did so she went to her grave thinking my father
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had not been jewish. she thought i was wrong. i came to accept that instantly. explained a great deal that would have otherwise been inexplicable but that is not to say any one of them would have made an anti-semitic or anti zionist statement, far from it. i think the answer is that we have to place ourselves back in the spirit of the 20s and 30s, people coming from hungry which had been part of the austro-hungarian empire and had become in the 20s a fascist state in the center of europe, they were already exotic, strangely accepted and peculiar. they saw no reason to further
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complicate that by turning themselves into jewish refugees. they were exotic enough to begin with which out that so without ever having made the point they slid into the world without being forced to confront that. that is very understandable in terms of where they came from an in terms of europe in the 20s and 30s. so i think that none of them would have been foolish enough to say that. >> host: if you would like to converse with michael korda, 202-585-3881. for those out west, linda is in knoxville, tenn.. >> caller: you are a worse person. i am a horse person. in 2003, you published a book
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called course people, i'd pull off my shelf. it indicates i read it in january of 2005. the question is, what do you see as a worse person is the future of forces, worse people, worse culture, not just rich horse people but force people in america given all the anti-war sentiment and pressures from zoning boards, environmentalists, pita nuts like a carriage horse controversy and even agricultural preservationists. >> guest: let me say i keep glancing to the right because that is where the speaker is as if he were hovering over my head like an angel. i shouldn't do that. my wife margaret is a worse person. i am a fairly late in life
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course enthusiast. it is margaret who pulled me into the worse world on this scale to which it reached. and whatever i know about horses i learned from being around her. secondly, let me say you are combining a number of different factors. a lot of people who love horses don't think the carriage horses are a good idea because they are exposed to bad weather, i don't feel one way or another, i like a carriage horses being there but as an animal lover i am not sure it is a good idea for the animal. into a part of the country where i live there is no anti horse sentiment that i know of. bid has -- there is no anti
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horse feeling that i know of. we keep a number of forces at our property and nobody has ever objected to it. i would agree with you that it is a difficult thing to do, i have to say we would be much richer if we hadn't kept horses but we would have been much poorer for it. we have always been attracted to horses and we are attracted to each other because we used to ride together early in the morning in central park's 0 horses have been part of my life and i am enormously sympathetic to the horse is as long as they are well-kept and provided for and looked after. i don't think that i would want to push some out but i would want to make sure that they were treated well. >> host: your the first guests to talk about the hungarian revolution, robert e. lee and horse is all in the same program. do you still ride today?
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>> guest: if i were not here, i would be on a course this morning. and is getting difficult to do that in the winter because it is so cold and one gets arthritic and circulation is not as good as it used to be. i am a fairly consistent writer and i used to ride every day of the week. for her it is a 7 day a week activity. >> host: c.j. in pacific palisades, calif.. >> caller: i have enjoyed it so much. and i have been a great admirer of yours ever since charmed
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lives. i want to ask you given what you spoke of, the scale of values, what advice would you give to a young man graduating from the university today in light of all the madness it looks like will be ruling the world in decades to come? >> guest: madness has always ruled so world. there have been briefed periods when certain areas, certain nations, it has looked stable. england during the victorian era, when the united kingdom, in the victorian era, looked stable and felt a stable, america after the civil war went through a long period not without problems, not without issues but stability and reliability, world war, depression and another world war and the cold war. it has never been in the history
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of the world the time where some part of it somewhere wasn't in flames and where there were serious battles taking place, religious, political, somewhere. the fact that they were not taking place right here right now doesn't mean they are not taking place somewhere else so i would advise any young people, not any young person is necessarily looking for my advice, to even feel about these things, there will never be at any rate judging from past experience a time when the world is absolutely peaceful, all the way around its enormous circumference there will always be trouble somewhere and we will always be committed to do what we can about it. that is a permanent fact of life.
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i also think taking it on an even keel is what matters. when the worst comes along and a crisis hits as we will know it and figure out what to do. >> host: michael in fayette, alabama, you on booktv. >> caller: hold on, yes, ma'am. is a real thrill to meet you. i understand you are the nephew or son of alexander korda. your book is about much more than what the last caller said, i arrived late, then a movie industry. i had two questions for you that i will ask as briefly as possible. i love your father's and the collapse movies if your uncle was sold on korda. i am really a big stickler and
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it burns me about copyright and royalties for one's work not going to the original producers or at least the heirs and erises because i'm a commercial artist and studio artist. >> host: if you could get to your question and we will get an answer. >> caller: okay. as a disney tight cartoonist i'm a fan of old warner brothers work. so many of the studios so their copyrights to their libraries to television syndication companies in the 50s and 60s. that is not as tragic as folk artists or folk musicians like the composer of lima away. >> host: i understood the question. >> guest: so far as applies to the kordas my uncle alex sold
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the, the rights when he wanted to sell them, to television. he regarded his films as children that would be in his old age, which he had not been to see so deals were made then which led the korda films to all sorts of areas of ownership with mercer in to be -- that is the way life is. people might assign these rights, and can't expect the children or grandchildren necessarily to in paris when they have been sold. >> host: thomas in can growth, california, go ahead with your question or comment, thanks for enjoying the interview, i wanted to -- for mr. korda to tell us more about graham greene, one of the people in mentioned.
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>> host: tell us his that was. >> guest: everybody should read some of graham greene. he's one of the greatest english novelists of the 20th century as well as an extraordinary figure in his own light. i have a vast body of work, chiefly his nonfiction is known for. i had known him ever since my childhood because he was the first friend of my father's, and he wrote for my uncle, a film script called the third known which was later made into a motion picture directed by carol reed and set design and became the opposite of war, the most famous, the most successful, most emblematic of european films about postwar europe. those who are old enough to
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remember it will feel their nerves jangled, graham was a man of extraordinary farm -- charm, deep religious conviction that that is the wrong word, deeply divergent drive, a catholic who nevertheless was unable to follow adopted religion, an extraordinary figure. i owe him a great deal and i was very happy in my publishing career i finally came to be his editor as well as his friend. >> host: in another like you into the graham greene encourage you to go to hungry during the revolution. >> guest: he felt adventure was always good for a young man.
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the pattern of machine gun fire over one's head was a forceful way of getting one into contact with reality. he was probably correct about that in the narrowest sense of the word because that doesn't leave you to think about reality very hard nothing will. yes, he was in favor of my going to end helped considerably. he was always in favor of graham greene, the adventure, the unusual, stepping out of the ordinary, he loved to go to places like vietnam and cuba. he loved being on what he would call the edge of things and his life was spent on the edge of things. he was an enormous talent and the most lovable of them. >> host: from another life graders are always outsiders and
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probably ought to be. only outsiders see things clearly. the people who publish them or make movies or produce plays are always richer and more powerful. however successful the writer is. he was not quite my uncle. sidney king is the author of dead end and the patriots and monitor statements and detective story. very successful pulitzer prize-winning playwright who married my mother's cousin who was the rival to surely temple, a child star, it rains, it rains pennies from heaven. and he told me at my first meeting with him, he had agreed to take me under his wing to advise him on a play he was writing about the hungarian revolution so he was my first step into paid work as a young
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man and i am grateful to him because without that, i should probably have gone on grubbing in a variety of unseemly ways and never found myself into the world of book publishing. >> host: i was soon to discover, you write, there is a tendency among book publishers especially when making speeches on public occasions to boast that the writer and publisher are part of the same team. this of course is pious nonsense. c-span2 it is pious nonsense. publishers still boast that. the book publishing industry is sliding into a morass where people's books are being sold for $8 or $9, electronic books and the author's share of that is tiny and authors who helped with copies of the work. the publisher and the writer at the same business and i never
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felt that was entirely true. the writer is at his or her own business of writing. the publisher is in the business of trying to make money out of what they do. there is nothing wrong with that. is a perfectly respectable profession but not the same profession. >> host: mary is in rochester, minnesota and you are on with michael korda on booktv on c-span2. >> caller: please tell us about marital's later life. >> guest: unashamedly an attempt to tell in the course of a novel the salient fact about the rise of merrill o'brien and about my uncle alex's decision which was a stroke of genius to turn her name into merlo brown and make
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her into a movie store. i wanted to tell that story. i had known it for years and couldn't tell it in a nonfiction way so i told it as a novel which i felt was the right decision because i needed to get inside merrill and i think i did. the first thing to be said is queeny was an appealing figure. she was courageous, spunky, talented, in her own way very loyal to the men in her life. i don't necessarily mean sexually or erotically loyal but loyal to people who helped her. she is loyal to those who helped her on her way to stardom in a way that was very rare for movie stars period. she was all so enormously gifted. to see her films today she could be with the right director, just wonderful. many of those films are
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terrific. i had a wonderful time getting to know her. it was much more difficult than i anticipated. i had never written a novel before. that is different from sitting down in those days and actually trying to to write fiction. i think i was fortunate because i knew her story. i had that to fall back on. would merrill have said that or done that? if the answer was no we shouldn't do it or say it. i am happy remember the book. i remember it with great fondness. it was a enormous fun to write. elizabeth success. was made into a miniseries with kirk douglas as my uncle alex and it was an extraordinary
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occasion. and i think of it as my most successful foray. >> host: what was the process like going from novel to miniseries? >> guest: fortunately for me i wasn't involved. nobody in the world asks the author of a novel when they should do when they are making a miniseries. if you are on the side, i looked on it as an interesting process, i grew up as a child of the movie business. i knew better than to say that isn't the same as the book. my uncle alex would never do what kirk douglas did. it was interesting, like going to a foreign country, enjoying it, but never for a moment wanting to live there or go back and revisit it.
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>> host: john from pennsylvania, please go ahead. >> caller: two questions that into related. i am interested in the mechanics of your writing, how you write, longhand, typewriter or word processor and the second is comparison of the screen writer and the novelist, do you have -- how did you view -- the people you met, how did it seem different? i assume it was. >> guest: i have never written a screenplay but i did write for a film based on charmed lives. and on my abilities as a
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screenwriter. i don't think that writing is separable into different factions. any way that you write is good, with the right screen plays, novels, poetry, it is all the same. there are different conventions these you cannot like poetry, and it lets you have a sense of screenplays that ultimately all riding is one. everybody who does it is linked into a fraternity horse or ready, and something that sounds easy and in front of a page and type 1 at the upper right hand side. >> host: george, michael korda is our guest. >> caller: thank you. i have a question about wings --
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"with wings like eagles: the untold story of the battle of britain" which i very much enjoyed. you mention in that book princess elizabeth, current queen, served in the anti-aircraft service. in researching that a little bit i found very little details. i wonder if you knew more about the character of her service. >> guest: i'm surprised you can't find more about it. there are plenty of photographs in woman's army uniform. there are plenty of photographs of her standing next to an army vehicle which she rode and was taught to repair and change the tires of, and even some -- i was going to see the computer but it wasn't anything at the time, the place where the anti-aircraft
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guns were aimed. the mechanical equivalent of the computer and princess elizabeth was in charge of that and a part of that throughout the early part of the war. i think you would find if you pursue this hearty enough that there's an awful lot about that and any biography of the queen there will be at least a chapter and quite a detailed one on her service during the second world war. >> host: where were you during the war physically? >> guest: during the first part of it, for those of us from september of 1939 to about november of 1940, from november of 1945 to 1945 it was in canada. in los angeles and new york, back to the united kingdom after the war. >> host: what the remember about that? >> guest: remember the sirens
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very well. i remember your school on the hall of white. and i remember this all moving out of london to a house in denim because my father and my uncle alex made a movie called shape of things to come based on h g wells's novel of the same name and they believed as did everybody at the time that when war came it would begin with the german air raids that would flat in london and had actually shown this at the beginning of this movie of h. g. wells's novel. so we all moved to the country in the days before the war broke out looking to the rise and waiting to see london go up in flames. we had no idea that first of all liftoff was not prepared to do that and was not close enough to do it and even when they started
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to do it there was this apocalyptic vision of what would happen which they created effectively on film which we were waiting for at this rented house. the entire korda family was forced to live in one house at a time with disastrous consequences because -- my mother used to go to bed every night saying oh where is that wretched during, out waiting for him to arrive. i don't have a dramatic memories of the war, from 39 to the end of 40. >> host: frank says since your work is a well researched by would like to know if there are any good history resources online or do you like to handle primary resources with gloved
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hands. >> guest: i don't think i have ever used gloved hands. i am more at ease with papers and the screen. that is not in any way a condemnation of it at all. i just have come late to the computer and i think of myself as being competent with it. i am hopefully not attend to the computer as my son is for example or as young people today are. so yes. i rather like to get a stack of paper and go through it and mark it with be particularly. there is an enormous mass of stuff with records of the war. i like to have -- go through it and market up. i am always afraid of it is on the computer screen that i will lose it or not be able to get
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back to again. if it is a piece of paper i know is there. >> host: carol is in texas. >> caller: thank you for your program. i read the book revolt in the desert and in there, he is proud of his ability to blow up if things, his expertise with demolition, he doesn't show any real remorse for any kind of anti-war sentiment and i wondered if you could comment on how does this sentiment and this remorse find its way into david lean's portrayal of him in lawrence of arabia. that is my question. how do you square the real t. lawrence with the one they projected on the screen.
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>> guest: you shouldn't look -- as wonderful as it is -- for the absolute truth about a person. lawrence's ruthlessness and affected boyish pleasure in blowing things up and lack of remorse about killing people was one of the things that made him a great warrior. great warriors do not sing around worrying about the people they killed or how they did it. his remorse crept into his life later but not strongly. lawrence was haunted by many many things. i don't see much evidence that remorse for killing was acute concern of lawrence's at all. i think that founded way onto the screen because the screen writer put it there.
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i don't think that lawrence would have accepted that at all. certainly lawrence's brother did not. >> host: if you live in the eastern and central time zones, 585-3881. for those out west we have an hour and half left in our program today. here are some of michael korda's books we have been discussing, "male chauvinism: how it works," 1972, "power! how to get it, how to use it" came out in 1975, "charmed lives: a family romance" 1979, man to man, surviving prostate cancer in 1997, another life:a memoir of the the people in 1999, matters: the pleasures and tribulations of moving from a big city to an old country farmhouse" in 2001, "ulysses s. grant: the unlikely hero" in 2004, "journey to a revolution" 2006 about a hundred revolution, "ike: an american hero" 2008,
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"with wings like eagles: the untold story of the battle of britain" 2009, "hero: the life and times of laurence of arabia" 2010, finally his most recent, "clouds of glory: the life and legend of robert e. lee" came out this year. what book are you working on currently? >> guest: i am edging towards one but first of all i don't want to assume, if i did another long huge biographical work -- it would be a mistake. i wrote a shorter book. i don't see myself writing another book of 850 pages. history almost certainly but not the length of "clouds of glory: the life and legend of robert e. lee". pleasant as it was to do, at that is ambitious for somebody who is approaching the 2. >> host: one thing we like to do when we have an in-depth guest on is find out what books they are reading, what books influenced them. what are their major influences?
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here's a look at michael korda's answers. ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ >> host: back live with michael korda on in depth as we continue to take calls. tom in wharton, new jersey.
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>> caller: i would like to ask mr. korda about working with jacqueline suzanne. >> host: why are you interested in that? we will never find out. jacqueline suzanne, you published her second book. >> guest: the first actually but the second did very well. a number one best seller. she was extraordinary. an entire film, isn't she great with me? about my relationship with jacqueline suzanne. we got along famously. it is engraved, for any reason put on hold, and would come over i want the name of the girl who put me on hold.
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she was amazing. she could be very nice, tremendously difficult. i have never forgotten she had so far as i know the only-fighter in the world that is painted pink, always rode on pink paper. in capital letters and revised in hypertext. she was amazing. when we published jacqueline suzanne we did not manage to come to an agreement after the one we published. that book which i think was called once is not enough inspired dick snyder, the publisher of simon and schuster to a note that read once was
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enough for us. >> host: was a high maintenance working with her? >> guest: very high maintenance indeed. what was then the publicity machine, the successful author you would not have sitting at your desk editing poetry for serious nonfiction books.e columnists, getting onto them or griffin shows when all that mattered in this very useful to have the experience and see a close up. >> host: this is not typically a topic to talk about jacklin suzanne, but it's a book publishing topic you will tell a quick story here. the first night you met her or the first time you met her in new york on the utility stories. number one you ended up with her husband's blue cashmere jacket.
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and then you went to dinner with kind of a motley crew of show, carson, >> guest: irving mansfield was so proud of his shoes that were made of some extraordinarily elegant and unlikely whether that he passed around the table for us to look at and admire. he took off his loafers and passed it down and i suddenly felt like what are we doing here? we still had not ordered to dinner and we were sitting at the dinner table looking at his shoes. i said to myself how did i fall into this particular part of book publishing? it was fascinating. >> host: was she profitable for simon and schuster? >> guest: huge the. we paid a fortune for book and we made a fortune. you couldn't -- you couldn't keep up with their demand.
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they expected to have the full attention of a large publishing house directed entirely on jacqueline suzanne and her book which they had, she was pretty nice, low success author by a huge ratio. a big publisher however much effort it will make for a book, has a the books to publish and he had never grappled with that. it was exceedingly hard for her to except. >> host: who was swifty lazarre? in the not jacqueline's is an nazi agents but privately the one else's. to the force of nature. under 5 feet tall. having had at checkered but very successful career as a music agent and film agent, one of his
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authors, i cannot remember which one famously said everybody in has two agents, his own and irving lazarre. he had no compunction about grabbing an author who already had an agent and selling a book without asking, for more money than the author expected. he was a wonderful man, quite extraordina extraordinary. in some ways terrifying. always very kind to me and margaret. irving was i was going to say a vanishing breed. he was a vanished breed. he would get up every morning late, around noon. he had to swim in his pool, he would start the call publishers
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all over new york city before they went to lunch and after they got back from lunch and when he picked up the phone he had a private member, he would say hi, kid know, it's lazarre, what is cooking? then he would give you the list of things he was prepared to send, not exactly clients but he was -- kirk douglas, you were interested, he would say great. then he would say i have a publisher in new york who was interested. i can get you $1 million. that is the way he did. he did it to everybody, he was an amazing person. >> host: will the relationship? >> guest: the co-founder of random house who got his publishing career started for horse liver right, like dick simon and went on to found,
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buying the paperback life, the modern library. and went on to become an enormous publishing success, had his own television show, so he became something unusual for a book publisher and the biggest rival of simon and schuster. it was divided between random house -- hand the older firms which had been connected as it were to boston and cambridge more than they were to new york in some respects and who were brought into the modern publishing by people like dick simon, the first people to start to get up and cells of the
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birdie books, crossword puzzles, they were very serious, they wanted to publish the best authors and the best books but they understood that you might publish commodities in order to have somebody do that kind of publishing so they changed the publishing world, huge. >> host: david in brookhaven, n.y. you are on with michael korda. >> caller: i am your age, michael. on the wings of eagles, i at that correct. in 1938 i was a 5-year-old, and the first radars that i learned many years later with the actual
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hardware that you wrote about in your fantastic book "with wings like eagles: the untold story of the battle of britain". i wanted to thank you for that and give you that that of information. >> guest: i thank you for is that. the invention, more important, willingness to build radar in britain in the years from 1937 to 1940, that was the critical factor in winning the battle of britain. the construction of these towers-enabled air force 5 to command how many were coming from which direction and all the mess at what i eat so we did not have to keep aircraft in the air waiting to see the germans but could send aircraft to know exactly where to go when the
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ground controller told them where to go and at what height to climb. that is the critical factor that enabled the royal air force to win the battle of britain, and the invention of radar is one of the great things in a difficult war. >> host: michael korda's rules of power, number one, act impeccably, number 2, never reveal all of yourself to the people. 3, learn to use time. think of it as a friend, not an enemy. 4, learn to accept your mistakes. don't be a perfectionist about everything. 5, don't make waves. moved smoothly without disturbing things. >> host: >> guest: 5 is very good. imus say i am not in that category, willingly goes back to read books that i have written at any time. i am not ashamed of anything i
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have written so there are a number of things that i have written that don't matter but i rather like -- those would stand the test of time for anybody in ambitious and trying to get something done. >> host: jim, go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: i enjoyed three of your books, power, was sort of an analysis of contemporary culture and a delightful memoir of your family and a straight biography of t. lawrence and i wonder what led you to go away from writing about what you experienced and into biographies of other people? >> i began writing what i saw
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going on around me so mail -- at 11 came out of the perception that i did not perceive as a radical at the time were in that period in the 1970s in subservient positions and in a general in business and other areas under the rule of men who were what we would not call chauvinist and i came to that because in my family the women had been married to men who were not only focused but hungarian. a whole separate category. it was a powerful resources. used to having their own way.
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so that the spirit of al sharpton was alive and well in the courts of what was happening. nevertheless my mother was a successful actress before the war and in some films and my and merrill overall, a hugely successful actress in her own right both by my uncle alex and later by other people. my first wife had been a huge star and success in central european films before the invention of sound in 1920 which put end to her career because she had such a heavy and very nick sent, there is no way she could appear in sound. there was this country, reality in my family. of strong ambitious, and got their own way. when it came to their careers and what mattered.
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i was very surprised when i finally ended up in my office in new york as it happened in 1968 where i brought my first real job as an assistant editor to discover the depth to which women were submerged at simon and schuster. we have a wonderful head of production called helen barrow, a gutsy lady, a seidler who ran the side of simon and schuster and once at the meeting said she would not increase from bucket for this or that matter and she famously followed into the men's room and when he was standing there unzipped, explained how she absolutely had to have this money and finally came up and said get out of here.
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it was unthinkable, she was the first woman to add pants suit to a publishing office and might have thought the world was coming to an end, the fact that she turned up in a pants suit, called board meeting is whether it should be allowed to, and all of this was present in this book world despite the fact, get the most powerful people resent as they still are now women, but that tradition of male chauvinism was on radar. and it was interesting i had no idea that it would suddenly make me famous and their expectation -- >> host: you read men are adept at forcing women to become
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stereotypes. >> guest: that is true of all but the greatest of motion picture stars, that their careers have suffered often by men putting them into a stereotypical role. not giving them the chance of growing and changing and doing different things like meryl streep's career so many different things with great ability that it is quite amazing. even the best of movie producers at the time when i wrote at the 11 did not dchauvinism: how it not do that. >> host: an e-mail, what books sell best in america and why?
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>> guest: in fiction books with a strong story and a somewhat sympathetic heroine. bond girl which has the number 1 since forever and which i read as i explained when you asked me what i was reading, for three years i have been reading nothing but robert e. lee's orders and papers imac to reading fiction with a jolt because margaret said when she read bond girl was a wonderful book, what wonderful lover, and set it down and read it. i can pick a bond girl and read it. you are so right. i put this book down and limited liability to the apps despite the fact she's vicious and conniving. for me that explains the book's
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suspense. it is acquistion of her character and personality driving the book. i think that is always true. in nonfiction, there are two kinds of books that succeed. one is very risky which we discussed, which is the celebrity autobiography. some fall flat on their face, it is like going to las vegas and picking a number and don't win. the other, nonfiction books that tell you it would prove some part of your life. that is a particularly american phenomenon and one which sells millions and millions in whatever form doesn't matter, e-book score hard-cover books, books that change your life. simon and schuster was virtually
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created as an ongoing entity by making friends and influencing people, the prototypical self-help change your life book, read this book and it will change your life. and that book, whatever it is, will always be -- that is not to say what people want to days make friends and influence people. each generation seeks for its own kind of help and sustenance and device and it will be different in each generation but there will always be somebody who captures that need. >> host: you write sad macs schuster was a genius at writing copy as far as selling. >> host: spotted the fountains in rome. wonderful, wonderful. he had many gifts even though he
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was a difficult and abrasive personality. but he could flat a copy and advertising copy just like an endless -- thinking about it, tonight i walked without -- he explained mathematics. he would produce wines like that out of nowhere. how did he do that? he had the gift. he had the strange ability to find in your books and what it was that would make somebody want to go to the stores, it is an unusual talent and not all that widespread. >> host: diana l. boren, given the changes in the industry and the absence of transoms what is the equivalent of getting a book over the transom today for
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unpublished writers like me? >> guest: it has been some years since i have been on the receiving end of it. publishers have eventually worked out that employing a lot of people to sit around reading manuscripts or coming in packages from unknown sources is not a productive way of spending money. obviously always the exception to the rule but nevertheless that role isn't given any respect in publishing today and hasn't in many decades. it is increasingly dying out, we do not expect manuscripts unless they come basically from somebody we know. my feeling is that the internet will lead not necessarily to self publishing. it will be called a lot of that and will be interesting to see. is a form with various internet
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sites. and their chapter of it by many people, my experience in publishing that is attuned to that. and what is coming, in the package from federal express and on screen from the internet. >> host: you wrote when i came to work on august 11th, 1958, was a bronze plaque bearing the words give the reader a break. >> guest: i have one on my desk at home. it is vital to keep in mind. you must always ask about anything you have written. is it clear to the reader, when
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you were in the publishing business, as an editor or as a book designer or anybody involved must be, you must ask yourself, does it help the reader? gives the reader a break. do you want space between the lines even when it is expensive? it is tiresome to read. you need the chapter to have the beginning and a middle and an end. you want all of these things, whatever you are satisfied with what you have done what you are a writer or an editor, ask yourself have i given the reader a break. >> host: even though the time had not arrived when dick schneider and i were to get together in the evenings over a drink in his office to invent meaningless titles in order to lower senior editorial talent
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from other houses to simon and schuster, a vice president and associate publisher, chairman emeritus of the editorial board, senior editor and corporate vice president. .. could possibly believe that an editor's title held anyone genuine significance. >> guest: i think that is always true. i have held every publishing title it is possible to hold, and i am now, i believe, editor-in-chief emeritus of simon & schuster, if you can accept the presence of so dazzling an object in this studio. [laughter] but the truth of the matter is an editor is judged on one thing and one thing only, and that is the books that he or she brings in and how successful they are. now, if to lure them you have to pay for money, fine. if you have to invent a title to
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make them feel important and part of management, that's fine too. but nobody pays any attention to that. an editor is judges by his or her authors. >> host: like most people, dick snyder, the publisher, credited me wi >> host: like most people the publisher credited me of machiavellian scarce ambition. >> guest: there is probably an element that that is true of the nothing to that degree. i always thought it publishing the most interesting thing is reading people's books the of liking them. that machiavellian ambition
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ambition, i think that is a factor that the less there is the more people want to have a big part of it so even if it is not a corporate business with the title to mean something were corporate charter at general motors. nevertheless the -- people maneuver of ways of the hierarchy but the truth is but there is a difference in publishing the people whose career rest of what they do as an editor and rest on running a business. it is possible to move between these two things but
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they are quite different. >> host: bits per pennsylvania thank you for holding you are on with former editor in chief michael korda. >> caller: i was wondering why general grant given his given name was changed to you niseis - - jewesses' s. grant. >> guest: unisys grant disliked his name. and when the husband came home to say the boy was is agreement and her mother picked up the name ulysses.
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and then she also added the letter s but there was no guarantee of that. in any case his mother always called him ulysses when you -- as listed he was put down as ulysses s grant which was embarrassing for him because he had the initials of hog -- hug. >> host: new york city. >> caller: i like your work.
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it is wonderful and you are a fantastic director. it is important people like you because you select a book that makes it out to society so thank you for your work. but what you think of the publishing industry going forward? some say what you did was wonderful but now publishers are collecting authors who already have a presence in the order to get your book published you have to have 50,000 followers on twitter as opposed to wonder -- whether not you are wonderful writer with a book. thank you. >> guest: there are two strains. one strain is a book
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publishers are even before then in the 19th century. the other is to find a good event important work. but i don't think the publishers have changed too much. and so they do take the next number of authors. but people began to read the books of the card and i am sure this is not as good as the great tablet.
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in the same way people say today. but everyone of those technical innovations but it wasn't a tablet but now it is the same book. >> host: next call comes from california. >> caller: in 1956 as the airborne infantry, we were at the airport for three days on alert i was
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wondering if you ever found out about that? >> guest: i know you did not get there. [laughter] but up to a point i felt seriously about the bulgarians but i was very realistic for that soviet union in the situation that they would be expected. with that hon period revolutionaries abroad about to let that happen that the hungarians did not expect that to happen.
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that i receive them from budapest. >> host: from your book like over the inert world of refrigerator commercials with ronald reagan. he presided over a country their seismic changes except in outlast would have refused to accept in 1919. global power with all the associated dangers and risks american was isolationist for all practical purposes ceased to exist. he himself had done as much as to the man to kill when he landed in north africa in 1942 and normandie in 1944 to one absolutely true. >> guest: absolutely true. dash enormous admirer of the general because the critics
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came out and everybody came up with books but in fact, because of the day -- the day they're all under his command without any need to pick up the phone to ask the president what he should do. he was the supreme commander. he did not call washington he simply did it.
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with the decided to go he made up his own mind. and with that ability is what makes him a great man. it is extraordinary to the degree that i take -- teeeighteen from the beginning made the right way and what ike wanted to put into action. he was hugely successful and was overshadowed in the end by the billions in dues and energy of john kennedy. but as on the great american presidents and second to
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none with american military expertise. >> host: you worked at simon & schuster you got to know the eisenhower family? >> guest: slightly. i knew david eisenhower i met him i was nixon's publisher and susan has become the deer family friend. i never set out to write a book nor did it occur to me that in any way that they should have a say what i wrote about ike. honestly but to portray him
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as a great man that he was. >> host: one more quotation from your book. >> guest: i think that is very true of americans today. they suffered from in essence shackled with a tiny special area of knowledge rather than giving anybody a broader sense. but there is the tendency that despite their importance to see that ike career was like grant.
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on one hand a successful journalist but of the other hand a successful person on the other hand, the chief of nato and president of columbia university. he was a very capable man. >> host: you were on with michael korda. >> caller: i am enjoying your discussion very much. i recently wrote a memoir of william tecumseh sherman and i was amazed at his ability as an author to capture it in one detail the essence. i would like to hear your thoughts on sherman and perhaps why he is underrated by people who are interested in books today. >> guest: that is how i
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feel about grant's memoirs that people have stopped reading them and they are placed on the shelf of the great to bury akin passage as opposed to being part of our history. sherman like most people wrote extremely well. in his march and sherman used to say ike was stuck with him and he would stick with me when i was crazy but they're both readable and important. >> to list one of your favorite books as "war and peace". how would you suggest people read that?
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>> guest: yes. there is no other way to approach that book. so for those who are hugely expensive and which encloses not just the entire world that the entire point of view. so it is very important not to feel rushed. but to approach "war and peace". but for me i would agree that an accurate and that is
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probably the more engaging book. but "war and peace" is like a beethoven symphony you cannot do it in five minutes you have to take the time to have the silence to consider it and not hurry to let work on a new -- on you. >> host: as an editor what would you say to another if they say it is just up here? >> guest: those are the same words of almost every author. up here is no good. we don't care the truth is it probably is not up there. what counts is what you put on paper. >> host: this is an e-mail. >> hello mr. korda i worked as simon & schuster pocket books so many years ago.
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wiedmaier your management style and inside then and still do. your books on chauvinism and women being molded by their mentors has me curious. i remember in executive secretary that had more power than most men in the building also in your book power the description of the company having to move to another location to ensure the removal of the executive who insisted on paying visits even after his retirement struck a significant memory with me. i just ordered three more of your books. >> guest: a thank-you. that is true there was a period in time when the great man quote-unquote assistant or secretary had the dermis power you could not get through to the great
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man himself but you could perhaps with the knowledge that she might perhaps take that case or proposal to the great man. this is like what i've read scripts at cbs when i first came to the country. by then to be paid by the peace. but the notion one of the upper level executives at cbs was unthinkable if you were lucky to have a cup of coffee with a great man assistant. with the hopes that she may say a word about you. of course, that is a form of power for their arrest nevertheless on the assumption that the real power is a closed-door behind the office not the desk that is outside.
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but women have changed that the enormously. and at this point the great and important publishers that directs the publishing houses are within -- within. and have the assistance. with their secretaries that is less true but for reasons that the mill started in particular in the studios still tends to be run by men. but nevertheless that still a remains true but it is a vanishing phenomenon. i doubt gender has anything to do with it. >> host: corpus christi texas. >> caller: as an inspiring
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nonfiction writer i found your responses to be both inspiring and fascinating. i have a couple of questions under very similar. what are your words of wisdom to aspiring nonfiction writers like myself who are considering writing autobiographies? and number two in your opinion what is the biggest challenges facing a writer in the process of writing an autobiography? is there any pet policy would want to avoid? >> guest: i am glad that you asked. first writing about my family that book publishing in another life. and i think the first thing that you have to do is to
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find a way to tell your story that is sequential. start at the beginning go through the middle then get to the end to make your life into something. some people can do it and some people can. but they thank you have to force yourself to raise certain type of objective the abbey impartiality about your life it is always difficult to read when someone tries to rewrite the history of their own lives than come out better than they did. you have to put down the times they were wrong. and right to with us certain
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objectivity with that important biography sometimes they do work but it is rare. >> host: you talk about the first time you ever approved using the f word. >> guest: yes. you could not say no to him so what he wanted he got. when he finally got tired of having that f word in the book but then never by the expected the sky would fall. but then to see it on the paper but by that time nobody cared.
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but i think this is true in book publishing people build up resistance to things but when i first got into book publishing it was to any number of books. >> but within 10 years of that victory with levy chatter les lover it looked like some the school. but if there's something in our way then it is all right.
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and remember being told about any member -- number. is not the publisher is their job to figure out what people want to read. but it is not about that. >> host: max schuster did not publish the autobiography. >> guest: no he did not. i remember telling him what a great historical document
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took this book to those elections in what that said was it is a masterpiece but i do not want my name on the same book as albert. it is wrong but we will not publish a new book is not easy for a publisher to say that i am not saying random house i don't want to publish a separate probe.
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>> host: indiana please go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: yes mr. korda i have a question about the war's. with your work as a writer and they have presented but it appears 9/11 was the inside job. >> guest: i will not comment on that. it does not look like that. i think it was an act of terror. >> host: arlington virginia..lhe
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groundwork for the modern, high-tech world we live in by investing a tremendous amount in science and technology. the creation of the first satellite and the defense advanced research products agency, darpa, and other endeavors that really moved along a lot of our, you know, progress in science and technology. >> guest: i think you're right about that. i think that ike -- while he was not a scientist -- was extraordinarily aware of the effect of technology on life and on war. in those terms, it was ike whose enthusiasm for the autobahns in germany caused him to produce our highways which changed the face of the united states. and ike certainly was the most
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thoughtful person in the world about the atom you can bomb -- atomic bomb. henry kissinger has often pointed out that when he published his book on the atom you can bomb and foreign policy, he went down -- atomic bomb and foreign policy, he went down to ike to talk to him about it and was absolutely stunned by ike's intelligence, his grasp of the subject, his understanding of the subject. i think ike was a very, very smart guy, smart enough that he could afford sometimes to appear not so smart. which is the ultimate smartness. >> host: thomas, santa barbara, california. e-mail: i'm an admirer of u.s. grant and am troubled that his presidency is usually rated among the worst. how would you assess his presidency? >> guest: i make it clear in my biography of ulysses s. grant that i think grant was a pretty good president. he had his limitations, as every president does. but he managed to sew the
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country together. he failed in terms of civil rights. he tried, but failed. he was a disaster in terms of economic policy. but there was an economic collapse coming anyway, and whoever had been president it might have taken place. but i think grant's presidency holds up as one of the more important presidencies of the united states. he certainly kept us from entering another war, and that was the most important thing for the future of america at that time. >> host: and a follow-up from vince of shelby township, michigan. you mentioned today that grant's autobiography is one of the greatest pieces of american nonfiction writing. does mark twain deserve most of that credit since he edited the book? >> guest: no. mark twain went over the book. he published the book. he found a means of publishing the book that was unique. he created the book club in order to publish grant by sending salesmen around from door to door with pictures of the various leather bindings you
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could have on grant's memoirs when they were finally published. it was an enormous and imaginative project which changed the face of american book publishing, as i say, invented the book club. he did not, however, change significantly any word that a grant wrote. and grant wrote what he wanted to do. to my knowledge, mark twain never claimed to have had edited grant in that, in that sense. >> host: michael korda, is there an author that you simply would not work with again? because of your experience as his or her editor? >> guest: well, i don't think i'm going to be called to make that decision can unless something truly miraculous should happen. at my age, i'm not planning to make a comeback as editor-in-chief of a major publishing company, even if anybody wanted me to. no. but an author i would not publish, there are authors i would hesitate to publish that would make me uncomfortable. jack abbott, for example.
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for those of your readers who are too young to have heard of him, he was somebody who had been sent the prison for an ec tended period of time -- extended period of time and on his release wrote a very interesting book called "belly of the beast" about his life in prison and his former life in crime. and a group of american publishers and authors, including norman mailer, labored to get this book published. and in the middle of their laboring to get this book published, which it was successfully, he killed a waiter in a restaurant. i had the feeling then that jack abbott would be a risky person to publish. maybe because i'm more cautious than other people. so, yes, there are people at who i would draw the line, but how and where you draw it is difficult to say. i think any publisher, like anybody else, has to be able to
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say that's going to be too much trouble, that's going to be too big a risk or, no, i just don't want to involve myself with that perp. >> host: son of sam laws, good idea? when it comes to publishing? >> guest: i don't think it's a terrible idea. i'm opposed to them because it seems to me a somewhat roundabout restraint on freedom of speech. but in point of fact, if the crime is bad enough and the criminal or defendant can sell the story of the book, yeah, i don't think that it's wrong that the victim could get a share of the profits. >> host: who is robert moses, and what was your relationship when you published him? >> guest: well, we published him. i only met him once or twice in my life because i did a book that he wrote about the new york governor -- >> host: al smith. >> guest: al smith. he wrote a little book about
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al -- very, very good book which for the first time made me see that al smith was more than the perp who disliked -- person who disliked franklin roosevelt and thought he should have run as president instead of fdr. it was a very good little book. he was not only the most powerful person in new york at that time, but he also was one who run roughshod over everybody in his path, including me. so i would, i would have been reluctant to do another book, however short, with him. much as i think he was a great man. and i thought that robert caro's biography of him, "the power broker," is one of the great nonfiction books of our time. it is a wonderful, wonderful book. in its own way, as every bit as good as his multivolume biography of lyndon johnson, and i wait for each volume of that.
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>> host: next call com f >> >> host: the next call comes from georgia. >> caller: listening to your answer of the collar about writing the autobiography i uninterested because frankly they say yes you definitely need to put this down. i am not famous. so do you have friends or family or someone that you know, that are not famous that you have recommended they write their autobiography and how did that workout? >> guest. >> host: what is it about you or your story that people thank you should write about? >> caller: my wife had ed
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disease which i will not mention i'd want to take away from people who have that that went to trial in the courts and the politics of losing a job because of insurance. then tragedy at the end. it is kind of shocking. >> guest: let me say i agree with every publisher that everybody has a broken them but if you can get that on paper to interest anybody else except your mother is a question. if you have a story there's
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something in your life you think is worth writing about i am all for people to try that. i into addictive of the notion of that everyone of the books would be published but it has to go on paper and you have to make it interesting to other people. >> host: did robert to get your attention? >> guest: yes. but it probably is a good story but could it be made good on paper? only he can answer that. >> host: denver. good afternoon. >> caller: mr. korda i am a big fee and. over the years i just was finishing up the biography of william paley i have not heard him mention to have a right to know what you thought about him and also
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the late richard holbrooke wife who had written about the hong carian revolution. your family is mentioned quite a bit in her books. >> guest: i don't think i ever met him. he was a great man. he appears in the unfinished novel that truman capote was writing. but i have no idea if that is true or not. but kathy is a very good friend i ever great admirer of her book she did great justice to my a uncle alex. and she and i were both awarded the order of the merits of hungry. from the embassy in new york
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mr. korda the next call is from houston. >> caller: i am very much enjoying the interview. my question refers to a statement you made that had to do with the publishing industry that has not really changed that much. would you agree the burden has been placed on the author now for self-promotion and i am talking about the newly published author with the expectation that most of the marketing to come from the author? as opposed to it in the past where there is also more money at the time that this is a significant change? and the follow-up to that is
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as opposed to sell the publishing you will do most of the word kittiwake. >> guest: that is perfectly possible that people will self published on the internet than if it is successful enough that it will pass it to a written book published by somebody. but the most successful authors have always tended to be very, very clever self promoters. that is one example but anything data publisher could do could not do for themselves that they needed that backing of preferred
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for somebody else to take the bill. somebody always will take a back burner to publishing. >> host: ohio? we will move forward. we will move to west virginia. >> caller: speesix. >> host: we are having a little bit of a problem hearing you. maybe you need to move on your cellphone and we will try again in just a second. this is an e-mail. >> mr. korda had to have his
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prostate review that resulted in physical problems he had to deal with. and reading your book me into manpower you affected by that situation and was it tough to write about such a tough thing? >> guest: yes. it is very difficult. and i would not have done it if i did not feel at the time that it was important to be as open as i could. that that radical procedure that i underwent 1994 is still long for the treatment of choice for people who have prostate cancer therefore we're reaching a large number of people in that situation and i urge them to consider other forms of therapy them back.
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-- man that. i am still here. 1994 is a long time ago. [laughter] does it take a toll? yes of course, any surgery does. but you have to live with that imbalance that you have had as a very serious life changing his surgery. >> host: what do you miss most about going to cited schuster every day? >> guest: imus going past that stadium. and deeply as i admire it i don't wish to come back because it is a different place with different people when you leave it take your stuff with you that imus the daily movement with large numbers of people even
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extraordinarily as rockefeller center is. i find it inspiring and i remember the loving it you did meet at the coffee shop and jean shallot was part of your daily life that was terrific. >> host: antedate jonathan has your old job. >> guest: yes. >> host: we will try west virginia again. >> caller:. >> host: try again very quickly. >> caller: speesix. >> host: i'm sorry that is not a good connection. now we have montana. >> caller: it is a treat to listen to you. nixon was a good poker
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player. what about grant was see any good or did they play chess? [laughter] >> guest: i never participated in a nixon poker game but i heard he was very good. but lee was born again christian and it was a version as alcohol and tobacco so i don't know his card playing abilities were ever called for. but grant certainly has no reputation as a card player because his chief reputation was drinking too much. but i don't know if it shows grant as a poker player but certainly not lee.
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>> host: this e-mail was to know what you think of obama as a writer? >> guest: i cannot comment i have now read them. but as a president i do not think he has shown in foreign policy where it matters. with a steely determination to impose what america wants done in the way like eisenhower did. and that is unfortunate. i am a firm believer if the united states will be a great power one of the applications is to use that power wisely with the determination where it has to be used. grant and lee always knew
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that the american military force must be used precisely with the great force. it must overwhelm the opponent quickly and not be spread out that what marshal montgomery as always dismissed. if you go to afghanistan and scatter a company here or there or a battalion here or a group over there. now we have radio communication with the fact is you are committing that elementary mistake with military to scatter your forces. rather than concentrating them where it makes a big difference. >> host: if somebody buys one of your books which one
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should they buy? >> guest: i'd like "clouds of glory" that is the latest and i'd like robert e. the is fascinating and difficult and fascinating figure so "clouds of glory" it was terrific to do it i don't think i ever want to write a long a biography of a civil war general again nor do i think my wife would let me. [laughter] but to write about somebody iso with mired. -- i admired but one of the keys is to pick people that you admire. it is hard to imagine touche the right to a long interesting biography. it has been done but i could not spend four years inside the mind of adolf hitler.
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i would not do it but inside robert e. lee is fascinating >> host: the rise and fall of the of third reich t-bond a huge success. that which is back in the days of the tribune a very nice man. and a typical book publisher. simon gave him a job when nobody else would. over madison avenue as well. and joe got the book during a the mccarthy years and it was originally called his mother's nightmare. this subtitle was the fall of the third reich. it had a jacket that the
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title was spelled out but had 30,001st printing nobody read it. i gave the timing from the gallery. and i said you have to read this book is better than anybody thinks. he came back and said you are right to approach it in a whole different way and the advertising director came up to put the subtitle as the title of the book in to do a black jacket with the swastika. nobody at that time ever put the swastika on the cover of
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a book let alone simon & schuster. you can imagine. so much fear and dislike and discussed in the book went on had a first printing at 20,000 copies probably one of the most successful books in the history of cyberdash schuster. millions of copies sold one-fourth -- in one form or another. but it does show it takes courage to hire him in those days. and another who was fired rights box after box page after page on the typewriter that it took courage to look at that and say no.
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throw away the barbwire as the title of the book to put a swastika where everybody will see that. the book with a swastika on it in the window of my book store? we told the baps make them do it and they did. you can not be a book publisher and not have the courage to have to do what you think should. >> host: is there a book that you pushed for now you wish you had not? [laughter] >> guest: about south america i was very fond of as a best seller but the big
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crack in the book he found someone it had a photograph of him to sit down in a cafe and he published that book it is the schoolteacher that was related to meet. [laughter] and we probably have 250,000 copies of this book. [laughter] but they had a wonderful bit about the south america beauty contest every year but the one thing that we had was wrong and it was not
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him. so it just shows if you make that kind of mistake to closure rise polder silence then get on with the next book. >> we have about 30 seconds left. >> i know people don't have as much value in the books that are read by the author. but when i heard colin powell and senator obama their book that was the best way to take that book but the question that i have ike was the spy master i know people think that putin is reacting to the containment we try to push on him but what is your opinion?
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>> guest: he dealt with khrushchev so he could certainly deal with vladimir putin. and i would say yes. he is a spy master. >> host: books on tape for audio books? >> guest: i am not sure i recorded one of them myself. but for someone who is not an actor difficult and the hardest money that i ever made up i said i'd never want to do this again. to correct one voices. but the way people get of book does not matter if they listen, if i. read it is terrific. with the computer screens if
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they've read it on paper it is the book that matters mr. korda. >> host: the most recent book "clouds of glory" for the last three hours he has been our guest on booktv on c-span2. thank you for being with us. >> guest: my pleasure. thank you.
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it did inside look at the digital world and a study of the brain and human consciousness. we will start on a debate with the use of technology today and in the future. ♪ ♪ >> the microphone is on. i am pretty excited for this panel because you will hear very different views on what the future holds. selfie talk about the right to order to bring up our speakers and we decided you should probably hear from the optimist first then rigo
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to the pessimist. so the most optimistic person we have is dated sitting in the center he has written a book titled the enchanted objects that we have a pessimist neck and on the far side we have the other optimist. now dated and at&t are colleagues at m.i.t. but david in the middle his old work has been focused on how we make the physical environment with a digital environment as a machine interface so with david he looks at his house as the untapped store why is it my a umbrella glowing if it will rain later today why aren't my pills notifying me it is time to take them? he is an instructor at the m.i.t. media lab and the image recognition software company that stands social
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media of those four brands and products. >> it is truly evil. [laughter] >> previously the ceo of vitality a company their reinvented medication and packaging and he founded a company called ambient devices. . .


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