>> thank everybody for coming. [applause] >> a great conversation. the books are for sale and $20. cheaper than amazon.com. [laughter] and you get the bonus of getting it signed by the author. so please, please buy it and subscribe to first things magazine. >> there we go. thank you very much, everyone. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
>> booktv is live this weekend from the tucson festival of books. starting at 1 p.m. eastern, 10 a.m. pacific we're covering several author panels on topics such as the obama administration, natural disasters, politics, immigration and the impact of concussions on football. all this live from the university of arizona, the site of the seventh annual tucson festival of books. >> how did an army officer so associated with george washington's legacy go to war against what we today consider george washington's greatest legacy the union? it was this question that ultimately drew me to robert e. lee's story. and it's that tragic tension and the knowledge that history could have turned out so much differently. because on the eve of the civil war, leaders on both sides of
the potomac in richmond and in washington sought lee's services for high command. both knew about his connections to george washington. that was common knowledge. and both saw tremendous significance in them. they also knew that winfield scott, who at the time was the ranking general in the u.s. army, thought lee was the very best soldier he had ever seen in the field. and robert e. lee certainly looked like a fine soldier. he stood just under six feet tall, he had powerful, broad shoulders, he had a barrel chest. he had perfect posture. everybody who saw him said some version of the same thing that man looks every inch the soldier. and so in april 1861 an emissary for abraham lincoln asks robert e. lee to come to the city of washington. that emissary's name is francis blair, and he makes an
extraordinary offer to robert e. lee. he says, will you lead the main union army to crush secession? and as lee remembered the story, blair tried in every way to convince robert e. lee to say yes. he said, blair said to lee: the country looks to you quote, at the representative of the washington family to save the union george washington forged. and that was hardly an exaggeration. because here, after all, was the son of george washington's most famous eulogist and the son-in-law of george washington's adopted child. and so now only one word separated robert e. lee from the pinnacle of his profession from command of what would be the large american army ever raised, are glory perhaps that no american since george washington had known. and what did robert e. lee say? well, he said he opposed secession, and he did oppose secession. he thought secession was illegal. and equally significantly, he
thought george washington would have opposed secession. and that was no given at the time because people on both sides of this conflict claimed george washington for their own. secessionists say george washington was a rebel who rebelled against a union with the british. on the other side, unionists will say george washington in his farewell address said to prize the union above any seccal allegiance. can sectional allegiance. and actually robert e. lee was reading a biography of george washington in the months before the civil war. and he's hearing these arguments, and he concludes that he basically agrees with the unionist position. he believes that george washington would have opposed secession. so what else did lee say to francis blair? he says that he would gladly wash his hands of slavery he would gladly get rid of all slavery if it could avoid war. but then he says, but how can can i raise my sword against my native state?
and here blair family tradition says lee hesitated as if searching for an answer. but as lee told the story, he gave the answer once, no. he turned down the command. though he did not yet turn in his commission in the army he had served for more than three decades. he returns to arlington house. he soon learns that virginia, in fact, has voted to secede from the union. and there on april 20th, he writes a letter resigning from the union army. and his wife would call that decision to resign the severest struggle of his life. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> each month representative tom cole of oklahoma releases a reading list on his web site. here's a list at the congressman's recommended books which focus on the life of dwight d. eisenhower.
mall, professor of politics at princeton is the author. professor jamal, let's start with the question that you ask on the back of this book which is why has democracy been slow in the middle east and the arab world? >> guest: so the book tackles this question head on, and what i cois i try to take on -- what i do is i try to take on the academic explanations as well as the more popular explanations about why we haven't seen democracy in the middle east. so if you look at -- let's start with the popular explanations. often times people say there's something unique about the rehiggs of islam or the culture of islam that has prevented true democracy in the region. there's probably some truth to that, but let's look at the empirical record. if you look at the number of muslim countries worldwide inside and outside the middle east