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tv   In Depth  CSPAN  May 25, 2015 3:00pm-6:01pm EDT

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this coming week and watch for the authors in the near future on booktv. now on "in depth" on booktv walter isaacson. best-selling author of several books including biographies of albert einstein benjamin franklin, steve jobs and henry kissinger took viewers questions for three hours. mr. isakson is former chairman and ceo of cnn. chairman of the broadcasting board of governors. . . >> host: walter isaacson, what is the link between ben franklin, steve jobs, henry kissinger and ada. >> guest: they're all creative minds and that interested me throughout my career. a lot of people write about sports heroes or literary figures, but to me it's people who can combine different
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discipline like the arts and sciences, the way ben franklin did, the way ada lovelace did and albert einstein. we talk about innovations so often, it's almost drained of its meaning, and i've always liked to write about real people who are in a situation whether it whether it be after world war ii when you have to create a whole new world order like the world bank and the marshall plan or steve jobs who says okay we are now in a digital revolution and have to make it personal. these are people who are able to think different and out-of-the-box. so i want to try to explore the creative mind and how it works. >> host: one of the themes in all of your her books seems to be the connection to spirituality. >> everybody had written about the leaves believes whatever they did was part of something larger than themselves. i remember sitting with steve
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jobs at the end of his life and i asked him why did you do what you do, what was the meaning and he said life is like a river. you get to pick things out of the river, really cool things people have done from great devices great ideas but after a while you realize it is and how much you get to pick out of the river but you put back. what you leave behind so that your spirit is still manifest after you've been gone. whether it is albert einstein or benjamin franklin or anybody else, they did have a connection to something supernatural something somewhat larger than themselves. >> host: from 2011 your book on steve jobs opening sentence in the early summer of 2004 i got a phone call. >> i've written or benjamin franklin and i must admit my
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first reaction was ben franklin come albert einstein you but then i realized he'd been sick and fighting cancer and we don't always look at creative minds in business and entrepreneurship and timmy to be able to get very close to and try to kill back the layers on the greatest business and technology innovators of my day in generations was going to be something truly special. i've known him since he came to "time" magazine to show off the original macintosh. we had remained moderately good friends ever since. especially when i had something he wanted on the cover. we had a great meal together and he would tell me how awesome the product was. so i really like steve jobs. i liked his passion. when he gave me a call i realized this is something special i guess to be up close
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to the genius. >> host: i asked him why he wanted me to be the one to write the biography and you are getting good at getting people to talk. >> guest: he was someone that understood the power of listening. and i think i learned that from him a little bit too because when i started looking and working with him i would ask a lot of questions and premises and then finally i realized if i just let him go and say ipod and then he would go on for an hour or two i could a really listening to try to pick up the rhythm of the way that his mind worked. so, i'm not necessarily the best academic historians and i may not even be the best reporter when it comes time to writing books. but i'm pretty good at just getting people to be willing to talk to me. and i hope that is because i try to listen. and i am lucky having been at
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the "time" magazine if i called up and ask to asked to speak to larry page i'm more likely than the average person to get through so i feel i should try to do that reporting and i should go visit will and spend time with larry page because i've been blessed to have that access of people just because i've been in journalism viable life so that's what i try to bring to the party. there will be people who will take the steve jobs or the innovators buck and do better in their own system of what does this really mean how does this lead to leadership lessons? but for me i can call people up try to get the quotes right as if it is a first draft for other people who might be able to analyze things from the books. >> host: so is this authorized
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>> guest: not in the technical sense of the term because when steve and i talked he kept saying i don't want to read the book first to cause he said to me one of the things that made steve jobs what he that he was is that he was brutally honest. he said i've always tried to be brutally honest and i want you to be brutally honest. he said i'm not going to ask to read the book before it comes out. i'm not going to have any say over whether you use an anecdote or not. i will read it six months after it comes out and that's why in the summer of 2011 after he stepped down from apple we discussed when should the book come out. he said i think you should make the last scene when i stepped down as ceo of apple. so i did and the book went to the printers and i was hoping he
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was going to be alive when the book came out. in fact he told me the last time we talked when i turned the book and i promised you i wasn't going to read it right when it came out but i will read it six months later and this was in late august and that made me feel good i thought okay he's going to beat cancer one more time but then of course we were not so lucky. >> host: said he has no idea? >> guest: i did down and read the last chapter where i take a lot of things he told me if i bring it together and let him have the last word for/pages of the book where from different interviews i took his thoughts about why he did what he did which made him creative and so i put those together from two or three separate interviews i have
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and i wanted to read it out loud to him to make sure he was comfortable with it. there are also some things in the book where he's tough on people or anecdotes i'm not sure you and i would want and i made sure he knew about each one of those especially ones where i thought he might want to -- like when he's mean to somebody i wanted to let him explain his side of it so anything in the book i thought might be a little tough that he wouldn't like i made sure he knew about this before because that's the way he was. he didn't try to sugarcoat things. if he thought you were not going to like something he would say about right. so i would go over things i thought he wouldn't like.
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>> host: you'll find good things off offensive behavior of command there are five pages where the offensive behavior is in their and a couple other things, primal scream therapy? >> that was something that as i say he might must make it very up close and talk about things like his therapy or examples where he was really tough on people and he encouraged me to be honest about it and we would talk about those things so in some cases i felt by the end of the process i knew more about him than i did about myself because he was a very self reflective individual. he understood himself extraordinarily well and once you started peeling away the layers he was very willing to talk about it and fortunately
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for me repeatedly he encouraged me to put it all. there were a few things i left out and i just thought were unnecessarily painful to some other people and didn't give much of an insight on steve so i could go over it with my wife and say that story should be left out, that could actually hurt this person and it won't hurt that it could help the reader that much he would say that it didn't, whether it was about his previous girlfriend or the daughter he had before he got married, all of these things and he said i told you that those in. >> host: was he smart you write no not exceptionally. >> guest: icon. and contrast him to absolutely wonderfully smart guy bill gates. he had what we would call conventional mental processing power. i marvel and watch bill gates
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take charge of information is. he would be processing the information and be absolutely brilliant. steve wasn't a brilliant in that way. he didn't have that analytical processing power. he had an intuitive genius for what people would like, the feel for beauty and what would work, so timmy i even saw it in albert einstein he wasn't the best physicists physicist in europe in 1905. in fact he was a third class path and examiner because he couldn't even get his phd. he couldn't get a job at a university. so you wouldn't say he is by conventional standards the
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greatest physicist mind of 1905 but he was the greatest genius. he was able to make imaginative and intuitive leap. they were not even in the same quantum orbit as albert einstein that there was a similarity which is that the genius of steve jobs came from making intuitive leap imaginative way questioning received wisdom and that's what ben franklin did come albert einstein, the question things you and i might. the wisdom of the writing at the beginning at the time marches along second by second. you get this patent clerk albert einstein saying how do we know that, how would we test that and try to synchronize them?
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likewise with steve jobs people didn't think we needed a thousand songs in our pockets. we had mp3 players, but he had a feel for beauty and customer experience but to me made him the greatest genius of the digital age. >> host: there is one aspect and that was the cover. we will show the original and then the paperback cover as well. >> guest: when i first did the cover when he got mad he got very mad. landed at the san francisco i
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poured -- i was worried. i thought maybe something happened. he starts saying you have no taste and i had no idea what he was talking about. tell me what you're upset about. he said that cover. apparently they put it in some online category and he said that's the ugliest thing i've ever seen i don't want to cooperate with you anymore because you are going to put an ugly cover on the buck. he said unless you agree to let me have some input in the cover i'm not going to cooperate anymore. that was the easiest decision i ever had to make. i said helped me suggest a
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better cover. he said black-and-white, make it simple. we went through a lot of photographs. the hardback edition, the older steve jobs you probably have it on the screen now. that's one of the great photographers. i worked with him and i think that he did that fortune magazine and a sister publication that there are four or five pictures he was considering including one that they had done earlier. i was hoping we could agree and we did buy the very end. then he just wanted that type if you look at it it's got no curly cues or the doodads.
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it was a very simple font. he loves finds. benjamin franklin mike said too so the only thing if he wanted my name and archetype and his name in white or a thinking it was my book. but it has nothing to do with me. you've cooperated. every word is built on something that you said so i wanted to be in the darker type and need to be more recessive and that's how it turned out that there were
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maybe eight or nine conversations with his own directors making sure that cover that looks so simple took a lot of work. sometimes simplicity is the ultimate and in custody is difficult because there's steve jobs and there's the great designed or actors they say simplicity isn't just about making things easy. you have to understand the depth of something. it's hard work to create simplicity to leave out something and that is what he was able to do on the ipod to the iphone the ipad the original macintosh, and he pushed to make sure that it was done on the cover. >> host: why the younger steve jobs on the paperback sex
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>> guest: by the time the hardback has been out for a year, alberta watson's photograph was similar and they used on their posters and the memorial services. it has become a standardized photograph and there were people both at apple &-and-sign n. and schuster. i also saw the picture and i think that was done for the rolling stones in the early 1980s. whether it was watson or apple or simon and schuster everyone thought we wouldn't be thinking different if we use that and i think apple felt lately that iconic and classic image was something that they owned and i
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wanted to make sure that was the paperback because they asked that we try to think different. she was so good it is deeply understood. had she not they can do what he was. he wasn't having dinner every night with famous people.
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whether at home or the office or whatever, but the one thing that you discover is that even though he's rough around the edges, he developed a team of people who was deeply loyal and more than just loyal, they loved him and likewise when he has a mountain and a family who's not only loyal to him but deeply loves him and so when people say he was a pretty rough character. i would say yes but i hope you
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look at what happens is that he is able to have deep love and loyalty at home and at the office and therefore put it into the context because some people were mean and nasty and a steve if steve had something else. it wasn't just like it was hard to deal with. he connected to people and inspired them and made them love him and that is the essence. every now and then i will read articles with people who try to be like steve jobs and be brutally honest. yeah but don't try this because he could pull it off because deep inside he knew how to connect with people. he knew how to make them feel inspired. he really cared deeply about other people otherwise he wouldn't have known how to make
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such products and so when you talk about his home life and his office life there were people around him, his wife and his kids who truly felt a deep passionate appreciation and love for him and so it was more complex than some people make it out and i wish i conveyed that better in the buck. people say he was kind of mean. wait, wait i tried over and over in the buck to say yes he was tough on people but whether it's the original macintosh team or his familycome he would give up anything in the world to make sure he would have the opportunity to work with him custody with him, to be around him. >> host: in the introduction to your book the innovator's come in your most recent book, as an electronics g. can come up and you give your radio and address here.
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>> i'm old enough to have gotten my first experience soldering circuits and getting to play with the hand radio. >> host: i remember when they gave way to transistors and science is sometimes weary about calling the great change revolutions because they prefer to view progress as evolutionary are we in a revolution or evolution? >> guest: the steam engine connects with the mechanical processes and suddenly we move into an industrial age where machines and people have to work together. i think we have that here with the computer and the internet
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all working together each of which would have been important but the combination of the switched digital networks with sort of the computer revolution that we have leads to a new way of doing that only information, but conduct during business and so it's a revolution and i do remember a great historian of science who wrote a book about the scientific revolution then he says it's because of the thoughts of the people at the time that knew they were going through a revolution so i talked about introducing the buck you look at the vacuum and get it
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tested to see if it's burned out or not. so how does the circuit do logic with the step by step off switches like that and so you get the feel they don't quite have a feel about having on off switches all coming together to say we have a machine that can do these tasks. >> host: and in fact you say that math is a spiritual. >> guest: she's the beginning and is lord byron's daughter. so she has a political speak in her but her mother was a is a mathematician and as you might
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imagine he was a little too much of a romantic and have had her tutored in mathematics as if that was some antidote of being romantic and being a puppet. and it's what she calls political science. the combination of poetry science and art and this is the essence of everybody i've written about. albert einstein does it. it's been sort of what has driven progress since cynthia nardo da vinci is a great engineer and artist to combine the two disciplines and all of this work. so to me, the notion that there is a connection between mass and
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natural beauty there are a lot of people who get upset on the humanities education. they also but i also feel that they loved the arts and humanities to have a beauty for the feel of math as well just as you love shakespeare people would be appalled if somebody said they didn't know the difference between hamlet and macbeth but then they would brag that they didn't know the difference between the transistor and the resistor or the gene of the chromosome or the equation of the differential efficient. she knew that it was a good lords brushstroke for something beautiful in the universe and that people say it's hard i would say take the line of the
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poetry. she walks in beauty like the night. that is a tough line that you can visualize just like the beauty of an equation. that's what i meant by saying that there's a beauty in both the arts and humanities and technology and science on the other side. >> host: you've got the e-mail in here.
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what is it that she contributed. >> guest: there are steam engines and they would be have such beautiful patterns. they were defending the followers smashing these looms because they felt it would put people out of work. but she would save those punch cards of thanks beautiful patterns.
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it was unusual for a woman in the 1830s to publish but with the punch cards peace machines can do anything, not just numbers. >> host: you quoted her as saying the bounds of the arithmetic and cards had occurred. the analytical engine doesn't occupy common ground with the calculating machines. it holds the position on its own to the extent of the uniting link that has established established between the operations of matter and the abstract process.
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>> guest: in 1992 or 1993 i became the head of digital media for "time" magazine and time warner. and so you would run into people and so throughout the '90s i was always wanting to do a history of the digital revolution because each day. >> i had a feeling we were living through this revolution. i started interviewing people and did a cover story on bill gates talking about what with the revolution would bring.
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they talked to him at least as a wonderful guy who was another wonderful person and writes the internet protocols. how do you think that these profits make an intranet out of it and so i got a chance to be up close with these people and to me, as i said earlier in the show but i hope to bring in the party is doing a little bit of reporting to find these people and have them talk to me. we sat down to tell me exactly why the proposed were written
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the way they were. >> host: talking to the people you did for the innovators if you were covering the auto industry to be like talking to henry ford and the dodge brothers etc.? >> guest: sure. the early people are no longer with us. robert is one person i wished i could have talked to. he's the co- inventor of the microchip in other words working with bill shockley originally who had created as part of a team to transistor and that sort of conduct or electricity and you can make it a little bit more in pure by the semi conducting qualities change.
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you can replace those horrible vacuum tubes with a transistor. and then what bob does with a group of people because it is old teamwork. >> he does something even more. he creates a company that is called intel but it's a new type of company. they sit in a big open space and so that whole new way of doing business in the digital age and he was a mentor to steve jobs
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but he was so nice he could never say no to people which is why he had to form a partnership at the beginning because he at least knew how to get the microchips out the door by telling people no come you have to focus or you can't do that. and so you get to the genius of creating the microchip and the brilliance of creating a new type of corporate structure and you also get the concept of how do you form the right team? his partner we all know at that the exponential rise of the processing power of the microprocessor we talk about what was it like a.
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i got to sit down and figure out about these people. it made him a bit famous because of he's the guy that is going to make him famous. >> host: how true to life is that movie ex- >> guest: like any great movie it takes some literary license. most notably he's a russian soviet spy so that is a little
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bit of a literary license but what is true about the movie and so important part some of the key factors, some of which that he was an outsider coming he was a long-distance runner committee wasn't very good at dealing with other people, but he discovers working at the park trying to break the german code developing the concept of the computer based on the universal computing machine he has a logical computing machine based on the genital purpose but if he's going to break the german code he's going to need to work as a team so partly through his time john clark, one of the women programmers in the movie says to him as do others we are with you. you've got to work collaboratively and he does.
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many other lessons, the imitation game. the name of the movie is based on the paper after the fourth artificial intelligence. we believe perhaps knowing his own personal life that they are both pre- programmed and maybe you would never be able to talk them apart. at a certain point you wouldn't know the difference and they are thinking. and actually it hasn't been that successful at reaching but he has been successful we have been successful putting them in symbiosis partnerships like talked about. when he writes the paper about the imitation game he calls it.
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that is an interesting tension. they try to defend chemical treatments as if he's a machine and you can reprogram them chemically. then he dips it into cyanide and tragic but it also makes you realize it's now over. so there is so much you can get from the movie. i have a chapter on this in my book and it ends with something
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called a buffer ever and that related to the quest for artificial intelligence and there's that great truth to convey enough movie. but like any movie you can say that didn't really happen. >> host: welcome to book tv on c-span2. this is our in-depth show where we invite one author to talk about his or her body of work and this one is biographer and author journalist walter isaacson who is the author of these books. first book came out in 1986 evan, evan thomas is the co-author, and is the co-author ended in 1992 kissinger ben
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franklin and american life in 2003. einstein his life and universe steve jobs 2011 and finally the innovators came out last year. he's also the ceo of the aspen institute, former editor of times cnn and the former chairman of the broadcasting board of governors. he will be with us the next three hours. if you would like to buy a win and participate in the conversation with him here are the numbers. (202)748-8200 if you live in east and central time zones come 748-8201 for those of you in the mountain and pacific. if you can't get through on the phone lines and want to participate choice social media. you can join the conversation on facebook and you will see right you'll see right at the top of the page some video that we
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shared earlier this week and you can also make a comment underneath in the comment section and you can send an e-mail and we will begin taking your calls and social media comments. want to get for just a couple more of your books before we get the calls. this is the ben franklin american life book and you write the most interesting thing that franklin invented and continually reinvented with himself. >> guest: i >> guest: i love ben franklin and there is a great story that he tells her he is a young tradesman that arrived in philadelphia and he is trying to be a good person. he pulls a club of people for the working class and shopkeepers of market street and they make a list of all the values in the industry and he marks how well he's the done and
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finally masters all 12 of them and he shows them to the people in his club and one of the people says you've got a virtue that you should try. he says humility. you might want to try that one for a change. he says i was never very good at the virtue of humility, i never mastered it by discredit the pretense of humility or could take it very well. and i learned that the pretense was just as useful as the reality because it made you listen to the people around you and that was the essence. so to me franklin not only doing that and sort of self-improvement which was his goal but they were writing about it and doing a autobiography was is a legal vulnerability was. that to me is why he was constantly reinventing and then polishing his invention of
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himself and history. >> host: how well known was he cracks can you compare him to today? >> guest: he was probably one of the best-known people in the world by the time he becomes -- well in the western world i should say that by the time he becomes the envoy to france after he's done everything from the electricity experiments, the lightning rod, part of the continental congress, declaration of independence, he goes to france because of his writings and he's electricity experiments they carry him to the steps and frank when franklin you say about inventing himself and reinventing himself he wears a coon skin cap and an old backwards coach because if people in france have been
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reading rousseau once too often like the notion of a natural philosopher. he never lived in the wilderness in boston and london but still he can be the natural philosopher coming from the wilderness in the country and the land called america to meet with the french and he knows how to play it. the french love him. they have little claims of him and even in america, john adams was partly a friend and rival. you've got to read david mcauliffe's wonderful book to show the respect is also the rivalry they had about john allens lamented the history of the revolution of the stake in
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the ground lightning happened and he would get too much credit for. but i'm partial for inventing it as a country. >> host: when it comes to the founding fathers, with whom was he close? >> guest: very close to thomas jefferson. obviously he's much younger he's a protégé and succeeds him as ambassador to paris with a particularly it goes back to something we've been talking about on this show is the belief that an educated person should love science, love the art live music, should understand electricity and plans and everything else and that was the enlightenment the period in which after the walls of science into statecraft and how you live your life came together.
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one big difference jefferson writes the first draft of the declaration but there's a committee to help them out. the jefferson writes legal of these truths to be sacred. it is self-evident and this notion of science that there are certain logical ways to come from rationality and reason and not to dictate the particular reason but it goes on with certain unalienable rights you see that by the creators of balancing the role of the providence with the right-hand rationality and reason and that's to me you can see the
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mind of benjamin franklin and thomas jefferson working. >> host: ben franklin's epitaph that he wrote himself a coma like the cover of an old book that's contents are worn out with its glittering lies here. the workshop of the lost or well as he believed appear once more in a new and more elegant addition revised and corrected by the author. >> guest: he always considered himself a printer. i loved that even when he was the greatest leader of both the continental congress and the constitutional convention he still assigns himself when he goes to a large or something, bill franklin printer. he had an unused outlook about life and even the afterlife. one of the very last letters he
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does as a very religious man he says jesus do you believe in the divinity of jesus christ and the afterlife or whatever and we had written that revised by the author for that addition but he never took -- he didn't agonize, he just had a generalized feel about the beauty. so he writes back and assess a never figured it out but i would figure it out soon enough so there's no need to start worrying about it now. >> host: the year 1905. why was that such a big year? >> guest: because he hasn't been nailed to get his phd but his questioning received the wisdom to matter how we observe it and they had gone in the
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standard time zones. if you synchronize clocks you have a signal between the two. they travel at the speed of light. and you have a patent examiner saying that it seems they should very jimmy what if i'm traveling really fast? wouldn't it be different for me? and associate comes out with this lead to that time is relative depending on your state of motion. it's always constant but time is relative. so that's a special relativity that he does the exact same spring another paper about talks about how basically the
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fundamentals of quantum theory that light is both a wave and there are sort of particles of life but there's also a way and it's a whole concept that becomes quantum theory. so you have to grade scientific theories that are the pillars from newton's mechanics into the new world that is relativity and quantum theory and both happened in the spring of 1905 while he is sitting on a stool doing thought experiments as a patent examiner and that's why it's called a miracle year for einstein. >> host: what do those mean to us today? >> guest: every single great advance of the 20th century has a fingerprint of albert einstein. space travel, splitting of the atom gps television television
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and even the microchip and microprocessor. when they are making the transistor in my book the innovator you need people that know how to fix a piece of silicon to become the conductor in a different way but you also need somebody like john a great theorist perfectly dedicated to understanding this quantum mechanic that arises in the paper that wins a nobel prize and people like bill shockley working with him to do that and what they do is they can and vision the dance of electrons and the surface state of the site conducting material based on the quantum mechanics that comes out of the paper so whether it is a transistor in the microchip or space travel or the gps and your iphone or the splitting of the atom which by the way is not only a scientific advance but a huge geopolitical
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strategic issue which is how we use the atom bomb which is something. it's hard to think of something that makes our life what it is today that doesn't have a couple of the fingerprints of albert einstein on it. >> host: he spent his time at princeton at his papers are contained out cal state? >> guest: the physical papers are at the university. there are a set of copies -- >> host: in jerusalem? >> guest: yes. even when he's dying on his deathbed he has nine pages still on the relativity theory with quantum theory because they don't quite reconcile. he's trying to get the unified theory. >> host: and we will show that formula. >> guest: one last line for the gerbils off at the end. i went to the university because like i said i like to interview
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when i get the chance. i love seeing the physical document. so i went to go through all of his papers. wonderful people at caltech the people that run the project come even though there is a copy i felt i got to pay a visit to the shrine and to see the papers at the university so i went there and that's where the papers are and by the way, something really cool that all of the viewers should do right now is starting about two months ago caltech princeton and hebrew university all agreed to take the papers and put them online. several people that visit hebrew university or caltech it's so cool because now we can crowd source. not only are all of the papers online come up with english translations, so you can read the hundreds and hundreds of letters in 1905 if you're trying
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to figure out this complicated controversy what did marriage play in the interior will read the papers online and see the letters he wrote to his friend helping him the patent office. it's exciting these days we can get the papers online. i really salute the outside papers project for doing that. >> host: at the end of the paper you write miracles serve as evidence of god's existence. for einstein was the absence of miracles that reflected the defining part. >> guest: einstein believed that there was a spirit manifested the laws of the universe. in my book i have a whole chapter because he wrote about it a lot. he answered a lot of questions about it but he believed in a spirit manifested and he said
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that my sense of a divine being. he created things according to rules and soap the amazing thing is the universe didn't necessarily have to have these beautiful rules like e. = mc squared but it does. so understanding those rules helps you have a sense of who god is but that he didn't believe in a personal god that if you pray really long and hard so that the new england patriots would win the super bowl if you prayed hard enough or whatever you were praying for. and he said for some people miracles show god exists but for me it is the elegance of the law of the universe and the fact that they always hold back to me is a miracle. that that's toomey is that to me is spiritual, so that's kind of interesting to move to that
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level of thinking yes, it is in that spirit of the law of the deep beauty and complexity into the equation for general relativity is pretty complex but it's still there and it always holds and in some ways that's evidence of the divine existence rather than praying for a miracle and having a miracle happened. >> host: we have three minutes to cover the cold war and henry kissinger before we go to calls. the book in 1992 for a while after this book came out he didn't speak to me. why is that? >> guest: well, like the steve jobs book i think if we'd be right at the nobel peace prize we would see it doesn't do me justice but now come he is a very funny guy. i was at a dinner last night and saw him. >> host: would you consider him a friend? >> guest: someone i respect
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and find it has a deep sense of world order and how the world works and i think anybody that has a biography written about them would think at first. i don't think that he had a fingertip feel at the time when he was the national security adviser and then secretary of state for the value that has to be an understanding for foreign-policy in the democratic system so he's a great realist. yes but we have to have an idealistic foreign-policy. but when i was editor of time we invited him back and i thought i wonder if doctor kissinger will
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come back because he was pretty annoyed in parts of the buck and i got the phone call back that said even the 30 year war had to end at some point so i will come to jordan or. he has a good sense of humor and you don't always have to agree with especially the certain things than mixing foreign-policy did when it came to cambodia and dealing with the bombing of north vietnam and a lot of things one could second guess, but if you read him, you feel a deep understanding for statecraft and the creation of world order. he was able to do a brilliant out-of-the-box thinking to balance off russia and china to create a triangular diplomacy where opening to china and détente with russia as we pulled out of vietnam preserves the united states influence and power in the world after the
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retreat from vietnam by doing this triangular balance with russia, china, and to me that was a creative leap that even the bright people, the best and brightest come of the george bundy's hadn't thought of earlier and that helped preserve our influence in the world. made, averill herry man, georgetown ten net, dean acheson, robert love vet john mccloy. were they the establishment? >> guest: they were. i wrote that book with a friend evan thomas, because i was knew at "time magazine." i was covering ronald reagan -- these people handing out leaflets and evan, a friend of mine from college, he had come from a more prep school background. i said evan, what's this establishment thing? then we decide to demystify is buy writing a book at six people who at the core of the
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establishment -- there were three republicans, tree democrats, had a passion >> they had a passion for rising above politics. they think out of the bock. suddenly we are having to contain russia. they create new institutions. the marshall plan the world bank, and aspen institute was created to win the thinking war. today we engage into new struggle against terrorism, islamic radical terrorist. and we are still using the old intitutions the wise men invented. we are making world bank and imf deal with it. i wish we were as creative as they were and think out of the
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box to say what international anti-terrorist organization should replace nato. instead of radio for europe what should we do to fight the hearts and minds of people around the world. i liked the creativity. it was weird to have two young people going to a publisher say we want to write about two people you may not have heard about. my editor said i always wanted to do that book and call it the wise men. she was able to make that book good and untangled a pretty complicated narrative. and every book since then i have has been published by them and edited by alice because i feel
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loyalty about her publishing a book about the statesmen no one heard of. perspective? she sees the big picture and detail which is the essence of creativity. whether you're a bob noyce or steve jobs you care about each -- the beauty of each curve in the computer you're making, but also moving to a mobile system. that was steve jobs' genius, people like kissinger had that as well ben franklin seal the big picture and also know that the devil and god is in the details. i remember the very first chapter of the wise men and it was trying to keep harriman and
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love vet together with acheson, who went do went to school together and part of skull and bones at yale and they were getting confused. so wrote there is a tip in the margin. and she said all things in good time. they will get ahead don't get behind it. don't flash forward. don't flash back. that was the first piece of advic advice i got on a book. i realize we dote on the moments that happened before and you should keep all things in good time and do it chronlogically and start the bio with the person being born and end with the person dying and show how it builds up; all things in good
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time. >> host: >> host: this handful of men and a few of their close colleagues knew america would have to assume the burden of a global role out of duty and desire. they were the original brightest and best men whose outside personality and forceful actions brought order to the post-war chaos and wrote the leg legacy that dominates american politics. we have been talking to walter isaacson for over on hour. you have been patient and we will begin taking calls e-mails, tweets and facebook comments now. we will flash those addresses and phone numbers on the screen one more time so you can get in. this is an e-mail from jim give in eastern peoria illinois. i am reading "kissinger" right
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now. out of "kissinger," "benjamin franklin," and "steve jobs," who do you identify the most with when you were writing? >> my daughter said all biography is autobiography and when you write about ben franklin you are writing about yourself. you wanted to be a publisher in the media but cared about science and juggled a few things so ben franklin was your ideal self. i said that makes sense. what was i doing when i wrote about einstein? she said you were writing about my father who is an engineer loves electrical engineering, has a halo of hair and said you were doing, you know because of
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your father really loving einstein and you were trying to do that. and i said that is great. what about kissinger and she said you were writing your dark side. and she said i cannot figure out steve jobs. and i said i was writing about a young person who can be a little bratty pushed to love beauty and technology but was hard to deal with and i starred at her. and she said oh you are right. i love ben franklin. i think ben franklin is the one i get to talk to members of congress later this week at the library of congress they have a gathering that david wine stein helps put together and who due doo you want to talk about? i want to talk about ben franklin. he was able to do the
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practicality and holding to the values we like the most in this country. i cannot say i would be a ben franklin but if i wake up and wonder what i should aspire to do i read his biography. >> host: michael foley. i enjoy your book and it has been in my library for years. i recall you writing there was animosity toward franklin for his peers that continued past his death and it took a number of years before he was appreciated. >> guest: yes, this happens to everybody in public life. moreso then than now because with the media you could be torn down. franklin was a compromiser. he believed they may not make
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great heroes but they get a lot accomplished. franklin rubbed a few people the wrong way because of this jovial personality bringing people together. so you know i think anybody whose powerful, well-respected greatest science of his era, greatest publisher of his era, you will have people who resisted him. he wasn't the most profound of our thinkers. he wasn't madison he wasn't jeffer son jefferson. there was a quality of to him that i argue in the last chapter that ran deeper. that ability to say the working together is what america is about but some people felt that the was sort of a shallow and even a mark twain or others
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disparage the autobiography of ben franklin. i think it goes deeper than that. i try to show that in my biography of him. >> host: ann in santana, california. you are the first call. >> caller: yes i have been reading "the innovators" and trying to figure out if there is any particular symbolism behind the cover of your book. >> guest: no i wish steve jobs had helped more. i wanted to show sort of interconnected. i wanted to show that people wove together. i wanted to make it feel a bit creative but also show some of the pictures but there was not a grand secret design. but thank you for asking. >> host: the four people on the cover?
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>> guest: ada lovelace steve jobs, bill gates, and allan toring. about 30 main characters in the "the innovators" but those four inspired be. >> host: bill portland oregon, you are on. >> caller: good morning, thank you for taking my question. i appreciate you, mr. walter isaacson i think you are a great man. >> guest: i write about great people. i don't think i can take the title myself. >> caller: i wish you a long life and keep bringing the history and icons to us common-thinking folks. first question and just an additional question with the server forms or cloud computting
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and 3-d printing do you see that as a change to the world? and second is when is ilan musk going to talk to you? >> guest: i think 3-d printing will have a transformitive effect. the way we organized work is through films or corporation because you needed to be a big equipment to have all of the equipment you needed to manufacture things distribute things, bring together people in the working environment for creativity. nowadays we are seeing anybody can be an on call working whether it is driving an uber or designing something cool that stores in the cloud or uses server farms in order to have
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their own big old servers and 3-d printing so things can be manufactured in a tailored way. back when lord byron was learning about mechanical looms he thought we would be putting out the same fabric over and over. now we can go back to the period where artisans get to create what they want to do and instead of it being mass produced and mass marketed by mass corporations i think the notion of cloud computing and 3-d printing and on demand services will allow people to be more entrepreneural and create. especially if we get digital currency online. it will allow people to create
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on their own rather than be part of large industrial organization. >> host: richard in palm springs california. go ahead. >> caller: mr. walter isaacson it is fascinating listening to you. where would you place steven hawkins over all like in placement to einstein. and secondally in the imitation game ellen churning was asking a problem with charles dancing's character until it got to winston churchill and churchill signed off on it. i heard winston churchill loved the outside of the box ideas. the bouncing bombings that wallace incentvented and those different inventions from world war ii.
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would you talk about winston churchill who i regard as the greatest figure of the 21st century. >> guest: absolutely. i forgot to talk about musk as well. so let me rewind. i interviewed musk and admire him the way he's doing innovation because it is easier in the technology and digital space because there is less regulation and you can do it in a garage or dorm room creating facebook or apple. but doing cars batteries or rocket ships involves higher collaboration and it is hard to innovate because of the regulations. so his ability to think utout of
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the box in those field is something i admire. steven hawking is someone i admire. he takes a strange thing about einstein's theory of relative is if the equations are true you could have black holes. all of a sudden even gravity and everything comes in on itself like a singularity and stephen hawking has helped us understand that. i see him as one of the great of our time and i loved the movie about him. and churchill. he encouraged out of the box thinking and as the movie show it does simplify it but when the letter comes in saying we need these resources churchill
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gets it and understands how important it. as much as i admire churchill you talk about him being the greatest person of the century. at "time" magazine we had to pick the person of the century and we spent five years discuss discussing it. if you thought it was a century of great political struggle against communist behavior nazi behavior facism you have ben franklin and you have churchill. if you think it was about civil rights you get martin luther king. and if you thought it was science and going to the moon einstein's finger prints are on
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it. we went with einstein. one thing that went against churchill is he was on the wrong side of history when it came to the rights of blacks and women. and his class it ghandi was there. churchill was ahead of every day when it came to fighting com communenist behavior and nazi but when we look at history we admire the strengths but we have to look at where did they turn out not to be as right as they should be. >> host: how much conversation was there about einstein? >> guest: that is how i got interested in him. i realized no biography since
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the papers were written and none from the birth to end written in in english by an american. i realized it would be fun to write a biography of him. you can tell from things i said my vote as much as i like roosevelt and others my vote was for einstein because some centuries become remembered five or six or ten centuries from now will be remembered for advances in science. the fact we went to the moon created the transistor, the internet. we had a revolution based on splitting the atom and the way the electron dances.
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it was a century of state craft and revolution that was political. other centuries will be remembered for other things. >> host: you were the editor at "time" magazine? >> guest: i went to the park and churchill's rooms. i went to south africa to look at what ghandi started. there is no right answer obviously. that is why it is an interesting article. i kept saying -- steve jobs would say the journey is the award instead of the destination. it isn't so much einstein's destination being the award but the ability to talk it through and we did for two years had people talked through what matters. what will matter a century from
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now. what will matter ten centuries from now? and you could come down on churchill or franklin and be just as right. but the conversation about it was a fun one to have. >> host: bernie in howard beach new york you are on with walter isaacson on booktv. >> caller: thank. i enjoyed the "kissinger" book very much. i have not seen the film along with it. i would like you to help me out. i know the geometry of the enigma machine. the one who wants to send the message his enigma machine puts it into the cipher and the one wants identical settings to
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decipher it. >> guest: this is the enigma machine and the code changes each day to decipher it. you only have 24 hours to be able to break what the deciphering is. in other words that the w in the code acts verses the letter p. there were multiple rotors so it was difficult to break the code for which letter stood for what. there were a few things that helped. no letter could stand for itself. but it was hard to break until they realized there were phrases they could use. the movie doesn't show fully is that the breaking the enigma
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code was seen doing by an electronic device. it wasn't an electrical mechanical device but it used electronic circuits to do it. that wasn't built by alan toring even though his ideas were used on it. many people like max newman who was a professor at cambridge to helped do it. so it is good to read i hope the andrew hodges enigma book or read the chapter in my bock that talk se talks about it. >> host: nancy in georgia. >> caller: thank you and good afternoon. it is an honor to speak to you.
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i called to see if you were aware of james love discussion. it relate do is the discussion about franklin and volture. i wondered if he was aware of the spontaneous generation and how it was debated with franklin and price, the british unitarian counselor who said the crux of miracles is to prevent the need to for miracles. >> host: why is this important to you? >> caller: the debate in the american philosophical society was because of the sea shells being in the andes. and jefferson didn't think it was a miracle. this was before the discovery of plate tectonics.
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i am concerned about protecting the water in the aquafer here. i think the british biologist said the game for earth is gaia and we have developed these communication systems, which i cannot use i have photo synthesis epilepsy but to protect the earth. >> guest: jefferson and einstein were right why the fossils were there. they are not just miracles they are natural explanation. i think it is important not to debunk natural explanation but appreciate the beauty.
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there was something mesmerized and the person believed that magnetized trees could cure things. and they asked franklin to do a test. and you have this magnetic forces that are super natural and franklin just does a controlled study. doesn't tell people which trees were mesmerized. he said it isn't a strange mystery. i think we can appreciate the beauty of life we should look for natural explanation. >> host: rob is in fairfield, connecticut. >> caller: hi peter i hope you and mr. walter isaacson will find it interesting my nine year old niece and seven year old nephew with debating which is more boring when uncle comes
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over to watch booktv or golf. i am a secular agnostic european american american i cannot figure out how social leaders have impacted by life positively one half of one percent. i wonder if you could say maybe because of guilt we place importance on social leaderserizeleaders as opposed to steve jobs or ford. i don't know the man or woman that created chemotherapy or radiation.
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>> guest: that is why i wanted at a make andrew grove or david hoe who created medical treatment involvesing aids or the people that sequence the genome. you have to look for great military political and science leaders. they all play a part. but in my writings especially after doing ben franklin who i began writing about being a diplomat and states crafter and then realized he is a good scientist. i realize we have to look at the science technology, and engineer. the internet and computer are the two most important
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inventions of our time. they are changing our lives more than anything happening. and most people do not know who invented them. my book "the innovators," says this is how the computer was invented and the people you ought to thank for that. likewise of the internet or search engines or whatever. so i think it is important to celebrate those people as much as we might celebrate a political leader or you know a social leader. >> host: bonnie lincoln, fort myers florida. how did you listen to ben franklin and albert einstein? >> guest: they wrote letters every single day. as i said earlier you can go online and just search einstein papers project and you will see every letter he wrote dozens in a given day and the papers we
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wrote. so if you go chronologically and go through page after page of the papers of benjamin franklin. you feel a letter he is writing to his sister son, and then part of poor richard's almanac and you see how it is happening. or looking at leonardo divinchi is the notebooks he left. i worry about they are not reading letters in the archives these days. we are not writing journals or diaries the way people in the wise men did. conversations happen not just by others. i am reading the documents and
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they will give you one thing and you interview the people and they will say i wrote that letter but here is the real reason i wrote it or that memo was that way because of this reason. so it helps combine archive research with old fashion journalistic interviews. i was able and have been able to combine the two. to read the documents and then do the interviews. >> jaquim in is in san jose california. >> caller: thank you for taking my call. walter isaacson said we need to rethink institutions like nato and think outside of the box. ben franklin's father would say we would do orphan development
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projects in high conflict rural areas and they would say this development is the front line on the war on terror. what are your thoughts about these approaches of leading with peace initiatives? >> guest: absolutely. at the beginning of the cold war we did this with social organizations like the world health organization, development groups, and un development projects. at the aspen institute we have a middle east investment that helps palestinians and others in the muslim world create small businesses with loan guarantees from israeli banks so people get working together. ben franklin understood this in philadelphia. it is about people getting
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together to form a lending library that can be done. i think as we fight the new struggle it really helps i mentioned desmond hammond who is the new head of the bill and melinda gates foundation. the things they are doing on world health the types of things the aspen institute is doing to create empowerment through non-governmental organizations. that is part of the forefront of winning this war. >> host: what is the aspen institute? >> guest: it is sort of like a think tank. we have 30 people looking at everything from educational reform to relations are russia strategy groups, arms control,
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environmental energy. and it a leadership institute where we have leadership programs around the world about a dozen in the united states and different fields, and we bring young leaders together to try to come to common ground based on pragmatic, fact-based things. it is non-partisan whether it is a program with half democrats and half republicans working together or henry crown program that brings entrepreneurs and business leaders together to find solutions to our problems. we try to turn thought into action. >> host: founded? >> guest: in 1949 by a group of chicago industrialist. and one of the earlier questions is don't you like science technology, engineers as well as political leaders. we have to realize people like
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steve jobs and bob noise who were engineers but started intel as well. it is good to look at the business and entrepreneur community. there were business and entrepreneur leaders in chicago when realized you need nato the world bank and you need think tanks to look at democratic values, the values of free minds and market, and figure out how those would help make a better world and that group of business leaders led my walter pep henry crown of the crown family they helped create an institute that would look at our values and how they could help shape a better world. >> host: how did you get the name? >> guest: there is a campus in aspen, colorado which is
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confusing. our head quarters is in washington. one of the hundreds of glories of being part of the aspen institute is when it is hot in june-august most of the programs are done in colorado in aspen. >> host: walter isaacson is the ceo of the aspen institute and author and biographer. we have over an hour to go. we ask every guest what they are read reading and what influences them. here is a look at his answers:
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♪ mine, ugging by -- uncle by marriage. we called him ♪ >> guest: the lazy river over there, and ann percenty was a friend of ours and we could not figure out what her dad did. and we said what does your dad do? she said he is a writer. it wasn't until the early 1960s i said oh a writer. that is something you can be when you grow up like a fish fisherman or engineer or doctor. so i took an interest in uncle walter and i would sit there and read his books and say they are
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deep philosophical religious messages. i asked him about that and he would say walter two types of people come out of louisiana. preachers and story tellers. he said for godsake be a storey teller. he said it the story telling is the most effective way to get across the type of things youert interested in. he was someone i deeply admired. and i reread the movie goer over couple years. >> host: and dave egger isn't he new orleans connected? >> guest: he came down after the storm. if you are from new orleans you say i will judge people by what they did after the levy broke. and greg came down and wrote a
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great book with the characters comes out of the hurricane. i admired him well before the hurricane. i remember he went to cuba to bicycle around cuba and report on it. when his book "heart breaking work of staggering genius" about helping raise his brothers after his parents died it was like a voice i can relate to. so novels including the circle coming out with a warn about the privacy and personal issues that come from overreliance on the digital revolution. we have two or three devices and watch you follow a twitter feed is great but it is good to read a novel like a circle that says
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let's detach a little. >> host: what is it like growing up in new orleans? >> guest: when ben franklin runs away from boston and gets to philadelphia he said there is no jews and many others making for creativity. new orleans had that triple fold. in my neighborhood of broad more in central city was mixed economically racially ethnically and you realize the same neighborhood a hundred years ago that louie armstrong grow up in and he is influenced by the great french opera singers and the slaves coming from the plantation and people
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coming back and hawking their items. he put in the wave sound because complicated family life. but in that diversity you get jazz and blues with king oliver and all of the great jazz has been heard and all of a sudden he is doing a 17 bar with the open west end blues and you say where did that come from? it comes from being exposed to a diversity of talent and musical influences. that is true of the food of new orleans. i just came back. my wife and i go quite often and came back from last week and looking at the restaurants and architecture you say i didn't think the city would be back after the storm.
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it has been ten years. we have been creative about the school system about an entrepreneur economy places like idea villages that tim williamson started that is an incubat incubator for people. the next wave isn't information and digital technology but cu connect connecting the creative industry and arts to technology. theater that is interactive. food and music new forms of it we can do when we connect creative arts to technology. i see that happening as well. >> host: phone lines are jammed. we will put up the numbers and our social media address if you want to get in and talk with walter isaacson. "benjamin franklin" one great moral issues historians must
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wrestling with when writing is slavery. slaves made up six percent of philadelphia's population and franklin had facilitated the buying and selling of them through ads in his newspaper. >> guest: yup, when he started the paper you can see ads for buying and selling slaves. and when you look at jefferson who is a big slave owner that what you got to wrestle with. the thing with the franklin book is that everybody makes deep, moral mistakes at the time. you had the constitutional convention shave part of the joint and then another part. and compromises on slavery and realizes it was a deep flaw and
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mistake he made because he is introspective. we have to learn that. i know mistakes i made neither by greatness or mistake is half as high or low as ben franklin but he did that from the beginning of his life. he kept a legend and made a chart of all of them. he called the era meaning mistake that he made. on the right hand side how he had rectified it. he was an aprentice and wasn't allowed to leave. he ran away secretly because he doesn't want to work for his brother. he calls that a moral lapse and rectifies it by providing for the education of james' kids.
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but at the end, he tolerated and compromised on slavey. we frees his slaves and feels it was an error. but at 80 he becomes president of the society for the abolition of slavery. his last great piece he always wrote jokes and parodies, was a piece called the speech by the devon of algiers which was a leader there explaining why they put whites in slaves. it was palleting the argument and rid dual -- ridiculing the arguments made in congress to justify slavery. when you get to the compare and contrast of franklin and jefferson you know jefferson never gets it down. he is from virginia. franklin is from pennsylvania.
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as brilliant as jefferson was he doesn't get to the same moral place ben franklin was of being appalled he had compromised on the issue of slavery and trying to rectify it. >> host: >> host: "benjamin franklin" '03, "einstein" '07 and the most recent book is "the innovators." someone is going to buy one of your books. which one did you suggest? >> guest: nowadays we talk about ben franklin being the person i relate to the most. if you want to understand the role you can play in life and in pulling people together, you know when i graduated from
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college i don't remember the speaker was, a sermon was given saying what we forgot to tell you. we told you this is an exclusive college and you got into classes and clubs that were exclusive but we forgot to tell you life is inclusion and you are judged by how many people you bring together not exclude. that was the point of ben franklin's life. someone who was able to bring different races and creeds together into a scent of civic community and to me that is still the most important lesson. during his life time he donated to the each and every church. they were building a new hall next to independence hall with creatures of the great and he writes a fundraising document
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saying even they were sending someone to preach islam to us we should offer a pulpit and listen because we might learn. he is the largest contribute to the synagogue in philadelphia. when he dies instead of his minter accompany him all of the preachers and ministers march with him. that was the secret sauce of the nation we were created. one of inclusion. that is what worth fighting for rather it is paris syria, in ferguson today. so he is the inspiring of how do you live your life. obvious obviously einstein wants to understand the spiritual beauty of the elgence of the laws manifesting in the universe einstein and steve jobs if you
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want to know how to make a dent in the universe by having a passion for making beautiful products. obviously like a kid you like all of the books but there is a concern partiality saying how can i make my world better and that is start by reading ben franklin. >> host: what is your next book? >> guest: two books i am juggling with and maybe people by twitter can tell me what to do. i like the notion of new orleans where reverse strand and people come together and that is how creativity occurs. you get jazz or whatever. and to me the tail of louis armstrong's life is a tale of creativity of different diversity and the life of the arts but connected to more.
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i played jazz growing up and played jazz with people who played with armstrong so i feel a kinship but i am not sure i fully understand whether he was happy or whatever. and the other, which is going in the way back machine, would be the ultimate connection of arts and engineering. the ultimate connection of the person with science and the person of humanity and that is leonardo divinchi who is the man in the circle. that is the symbol of the connection between the arts and sciences. and that to me is such -- and you have so many notebooks and drawings that geeking out on those notebooks and seeing how he thought of himself as an engineer and he did autopsy and you know anatomy on cadavers and
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that reflected in each of the paints he does. to me that is an exciting thing to do. >> host: we learned walter isaacson is writing to two books. effie in wyoming. you have been patient. thank you. >> caller: henry kissinger came to congress and many were shouting and holding signs and interrupting them and not surprising john mccain called the protesters low life scum. i think activist are the greatest people of the time. do you see the protest? and do you have comments about it? and what do you think about non-prosecution of war monglers? >> guest: i saw it on tv. i wasn't sitting there. i think the ability starting with people like thomas pane to
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people today in our society for protest and have free speech makes us a stronger society. you look at societies like china where the free flow of ideas is repressed and never successful in the digital age. i think that is an unfortunate approach for protest. we have better ways to make our mind than making a piece of dumb theater against george shultz or henry kissinger sitting there. i think there are way do is express and study one's feeling about kissenger's decisions. i don't think he was a war monger. but if i did i hope i would find a better way to convince others of that than doing what i think
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is not very useful bit of theater and i did admire and read the testimony of henry kissinger. if you are looking for books to read and understand where he is coming from read world order. it is great book that came out last year. you may say he is a war monger. but here is a structure of thought that leads to his sense of what makes for a good stable order. you can disagree with it. but push back intellectually. >> david is calling from st. thomas virgin islands. >> caller: i am a few fan since seeing you on booktv walter isaacson. if you would indulge me.
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i would like to make a comment to the friends in connecticut. i would like to go with my question. i feel much at least the last millennial of history, has been about the evolution of power more than the individuals. ... our technology, as we move toward becoming sigh borks, i guess how -- cyborgs i guess, how do we protect ourselves from losing our individual uniqueness in that process? >> guest: i think you answered your question in the very beginning of the statement which is it's the humanities and the arts that make us unique. one of the things about that alan turing movie, in the end he's a human. in the end, he has his own creativity. and so the end of the innovators, there's a chapter about this. i also did a lecture the jefferson lecture last year which is the importance of connecting the humanityies to
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the sciences. why? because it's about the importance of connecting humanness to our machines instead of letting our machines sort of run away without us. a lot of people fearing artificial intelligence singularity, the robots taking over. but as long as we understand our connection our interfacing with our machines, i think our creativity our art our moral sensibilities, those are the things we have to understand. and to understand the moral aesthetics and sensibility, it really helps to understand the humanities and the arts. >> host: athe tila bay posts on our facebook page, of your books which do you find teaches most about learning about culture or a culture? >> guest: well, the benjamin franklin invents a new form of culture, a culture in which there's a tolerance of people
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different religions backgrounds, ethnic groups to create a democracy based on individual liberty that also has a spirit of community to it. that's one of the strands of america, and i even think tocqueville didn't fully get it right. he thought our forming of associations was in conflict with our individuality. ben franklin knew that our individuality and our ability to come together to form militias and street-sweeping corps and libraries and hospitals, that was a core of a new form of culture. but to me if i had to answer in another way, the very interesting cultural situation is when einstein is in germany wrestling with general relativity. that comes after the 905 -- 1905 miracle of special relativity. he now wants to tie gravity into it. he wants to make it a way to tie in the whole forces of the universe and have a neary of gravity that relate -- a theory of gravity that relates to even space and time. the grandest and most elegant of
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all theories. but he's doing it in germany as a jew when anti-semitism is rising. he's a member of the prussian academy, but he's gotten -- he's split from his wife he's being ostracized more and more by attacks on what is called jewish science. and so watching that drama as from 1914 to 1915 with the 100th anniversary now of general relativity which is 915 and, as i say, the most elegant theory in my mind of all of science, as he marches to that great theory with these huge social forces sort of pushing in on him, racing to get that theory right. to me that's the most dramatic period the summer of 1915, when all of this is happening in germany, all of this is happening in europe. and he's trying to figure out the spirit manifests in the laws of the universe.
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>> host: another facebook comment: being in the field of science education both as an educator and researcher, i'm always puzzled how little emphases is placed on history and philosophy of science innovations in primary and secondary school education. what are your thoughts on this issue and how that might help students pursue science? >> guest: i think it's a great question because i've come to believe that one of the best ways to teach science and to teach the human the cities is through the history of -- humanities is through the history of science. starting with the scientific revolution. starting with galileo kepler and others as they start doing experiments and they test certain theories and copernicus comes along. reflect with our religious convictions that, you know, the sun revolves around the earth as opposed to a solar system or whatever. and then seeing how the
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scientific method has progressed all the way through, helps teach us how to think, helps teach us how society progresses, but also how to combine an appreciation for the humanities for that matter religion art, you know whatever particularly is important to you. how that gets reconciled with science! my daughter, she's trying to figure out what to major in and the college has a great history of science department, and she mailed me and said i didn't know science had a history. but now that i look at the history of science, i see how we build on things ask how there is a method -- and how there is a method that then -- as i'd said about frank lin and jefferson -- can be transferred to how we make a constitution, how we make a democratic system, how we make a society. so i think an appreciation for the history of science is something that our society, you know should grab onto more. and it may be the coolest way to
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teach. you know, we do teach physics. we teach biology whatever. but if you want to understand where biology is going and where it came from read the double helix by watson and craig. that wonderful, you know, rushing into the eagle pub in cambridge having decoded the dna and announcing it to the other people in the pub, that gives you an excitement of science but it also helps you figure out how human creativity can decode the structure of dna. >> host: you've mentioned betsy, your daughter, who introduced you to ada lovelace, but you also in all of your books mention a woman named kathy. >> guest: oh my wife. you know, she's got the most common sense of everybody, and she is the first and last reader of every book, you know, when i do the first draft and before i turn in the last draft. and, you know, there's a -- when you connect the humanities, kathy's somebody who, you know, she's been a lawyer, but she works on the washington women's foundation, new york women's
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foundation, you know helping other people. that notion of being engaged in society is always helpful when you're trying to write a biography and say how will that connect to other people in society? >> host: facebook comment: in the wise men you write about the mesh establishment -- american establishment. is there an establishment mentality today? if so, what is it, in your opinion? who or what determines those within this blushment? >> guest: yeah, there is an establishment mentality, and i mean that neither to elevate it, nor to denigrate it. there's a general consensus that i would call, you know, we have some at the aspen institute, the aspen strategy group. our aspen strategy group is run by brent sew craft who was george bush the elder's national security adviser and a great professor at harvard, bill nye. but likewise, council on foreign relations, the various sort of established view of the world
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which believes in free minds, free markets a liberal democracy. it believes in balancing a realist view of foreign policy meaning what are our national interests, and say if we're going to talk about ukraine and russia, is this the best place to assert it? is there a balance we can do with russia? how do we get out of this? with an idealistic approach to foreign policy which is we want a democracy. we want, we want to fight against people who are tyrannical. so that wrestling with a balance between idealism and realism and with interventionism versus a more humble foreign policy, you could see that happening in the american establishment. the good thing about united states is the establishment is always being challenged. so whether it's, you know a ted cruz or, you know, a rand paul in the republican party or in the democratic party people who are more against the general
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consensus that led us to a lot of interventions, some of which i thought were misguided in the past 15 years including, in my opinion -- i may be wrong -- you know, the invasion of iraq. i thought that was a misguided and ended up being miscalculated but also not thought through enough. so challenging the establishment view. and by the way, the american foreign policy establishment from democrats and republicans were generally in favor of the invasion of iraq. that was a mistake. so that says, hey, we need outsiders who are going to challenge that view. say what are we thinking? why are we getting into this? so the balance between an establishment view which the wise men represented in the late 1940s and the outsideers, this is why democracy tends to be so much better even -- that's one of my criticisms of henry kissinger is he doesn't realize that's the strength of democracy, when people from the outside get to challenge you and
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get to say no, what are you doing? why are you going into cambodia vietnam, those type of things? that, to me, makes democracy stronger at waging foreign policy. >> host: the wise men, of the six how many did you to get to talk to? >> guest: well, george kennon very much so. chip bolan was no longer alive. spent a lot of time with john mccloy who was, you know died right as the book came out. but he gave great interviews. likewise with avril hairyman. and i remember at the end as we were finishing the book, his wife would let us sit by his bed and talk about -- and lovett, mccloy herriman and kennon bolan and acheson had both died. obviously, i talked to a lot of bolan and acheson's children and colleagues. but working with evan thomas my
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co-author on that book, we were both journalists. once again it was a chance to look at archives look at all the letters. acheson -- i'm sorry, herriman and lovett who were both the brown brothers herriman when lovett and hairyman were then going into government, wrote each other twice a day. so you got the conversation in the letters, and then you could go to governor herriman and say, okay what did you mean about this thing on laos when you wrote the lovett? and so one of the things evan and i were able to do in writing that book was combine the ability to go to the archives, new york historical society had the brown brothers/herriman archives. also then go to the people and say -- who were involved -- and say when you got that letter what were you really aiming at? and that's why i like this intersection that i've been able to be part of between the journalistic approach to history and an archival academic
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approach to history. >> host: are we losing some of that with today's technology? >> guest: oh yeah. >> host: often people e-mail a couple times a day. >> guest: look, i remember sitting at steve jobs' house and i said what about the e-mails when you were first coming back to apple, 1997 '98? hugely dramatic period. you didn't write letters, you didn't keep a journal. your memory's pretty good, but you know, all memory's are bad and maybe yours, you know whatever. he said, yeah, i got those e-mails and it was the next computer. he had it in his house. and he in and all sorts of techies tried to figure out how do we get access to these e-mails that were composed on a you nix-based -- unix-based operating system, and he couldn't even get those e-mails. so i stoims talk to archivists nowadays. we did something at harvard that john hue by and others did which
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is to try to get oral histories but also get people's e-mails. i went back to my e-mails from the early 1990s, and after four or five techies helped me, i found all the e-mails where we were arguing with cbs and trying to create pathfinder and roadrunner and broadband systems. i said here's all my e-mails but i would hope that university libraries when they get the papers of bill gates, they get the papers of arthur rock let's say, who started venture capital in the west coast, they say we not only need your papers but give us all your old computers we want to save your e-mails. because i worry we're not archiving e-mails very well. i just read an unbelievably good good piece last night by jill lepore in the new yorker about the internet archive which i'd always admired but never quite knew how it worked. and these are people who are this in san francisco but now in
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consortiums around world archiving every, you know, you're looking at your twitter feed. well look when twitter is affecting the events in ferguson or the events in tahrir square, how are we going to the get those tweets 50 years from now when we're writing about what really happened? how are we going to get those e-mail, those facebook pages, how are we going to get even the web pages that somebody may have put up when it's 50 years from now and god knows where they are? so i think we have to have a real effort to archive people's e-mails voluntarily, you know? not like the nsa may be archiving our e-mails when we don't want them to. but if you're donating your papers and you're bill gates, make sure your e-mail's a part of it. and if we're trying to archive all the newspapers let's also archive the twitter. twitter is doing that now, but facebook and all the web pages. people should read jill lepore's
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piece -- >> host: and, of course jill lepore was a national book finalist last year for her biography on jane frank lin. the sister. >> guest: yeah, jane, the sister of ben franklin. and this is the cool thing, they wrote letters all the time. so you have the letters ben franklin is writing to the french foreign minister but you also have the letters he's writing jane talking about, you know, what he's doing. and, of course, that's a different conversation. and it's great the way. >> she has tried to create a biography even though we don't know much about jane, but create a biography that is based on the letters to her brother and from her brother. >> host: elizabeth in willowby ohio, you've been very patient. you're on with walter isaacson. >> caller: thank you. first of all, you have to do innovators, part two. i -- there's a lot of information that you have been covering in innovators that i
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really am looking forward to reading about especially the women in i.t. >> guest: right, right. >> caller: having studied i.t., i know it's hard for us to get into it, first of all. the second thing is maybe i would like to see that book on da vinci because after taking a math class and i.t. classes and an art class sometimes all at the same time, i'm beginning to understand we don't understand the interaction between the arts music and engineering. and the other half of our lives. >> guest: absolutely. and when mozart -- i mean, when einstein is trying to do general relativity as i described before in 1914,-15 and all hell is breaking loose, he believes that mozart's chords help him connect with the harmonies of the universe. ben franklin is that way.
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ada lovelace, as i said earlier is great at connecting art to science. leonardo is the greatest. but you get back to the part two of the innovators i mean one problem, you know, with the innovators and criticism of it is every day i get four or five letters saying you left out, you know seymour clay or you left out the people who did basic at dartmouth, whatever. i would like to someday have a multimedia crowd-sourced open source book maybe with a digital royalty system in which people take a book like "the innovators," and that's there you know, as the foundation, but they write are other chapters like ornaments that they put on. they say, you know here's what happened at bell labs or xerox park, or here's what happened you know, with this innovator i worked with who was doing supercomputers at mit or carnegie mellon. all these people have written in saying here's a story you didn't
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put in and then somehow or another have a way to crowd source but also let an author cure rate a living and grow book. i hope we have that and i hope that's an innovation we'll have in five years or so especially if there's a way to have a bitcoin or cyber currency that allows anybody who creates something for a book like that to get a piece of the royalties or a piece of the payments for the book. >> host: and there's one vote so far for da vinci. we'll see how this crowd source goes in the next 40 minutes. alan in fullerton, california you're on booktv on c-span2 with walter isaacson. >> caller: thank you. thank you for taking my call. >> guest: thank you. >> caller: thank you mr. isaacson, for the wonderful books and helping us understand a little bit more about the people that are shaping the way we live. look forward to the next book. in your opinion is there another trait or characteristic that all these innovators share something that in your view
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transcends time, space background gender? i feel that they innovate in spite of all the turmoil and all the stuff that's going on around there, they just challenge that. >> guest: right. >> caller: what is your opinion? thank you. >> guest: i think there are a couple of traits that are important as different as ben franklin is from a steve jobs. they both have a rebellious -- they all do. i mean, einstein runs away from high school, benjamin frank lin does steve jobs drops out of college. maybe that's why i don't get asked to speak at a lot of graduations, because most of the people i seem to know run away or drop out. so they have a rebellious spirit to it. steve captured, steve jobs captured that when he comes back to apple and had to write a manifesto that becomes a television ad. and you may remember it, here's to the crazy ones, the misfits the rebels, the round pegs in the square holes. the people who think different, the people who are crazy enough to think different are the ones
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who do. and steve had a motto when he was doing the original mcinso much when he put up a pirate flag and said it's better to be a pirate than to join the navy. i think you would find that in einstein, you'd find that in franklin. that ability to question conventional thinking to think out of the box while still knowing what was in the box and to challenge conventional authority and received wisdom. that, to me, is awesomely important if you're going to be an innovator. >> host: benjamin sorenson tweets in who in today's world most closely lives up to those featured in your book? is innovation limit less? >> guest: it is limitless. as i said about elon musk -- who's answer number one to that question -- it's harder to do in the nondigital world than in the digital world. in other words, you can do facebook. in your dorm room i
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but if you're going to do things like biotech or rocket ships or batteries or electric cars, that is, you know you face a lot more regulation you face the need to not only innovation, but to collaborate, build teams and push the bounds of reality. i love what larry page is doing at bag google. i think jeff bezos is awesome because he's connecting commerce to innovation. and just like bursting out into cloud computing suddenly. so we're all empowered to put us, you know, to create businesses in the cloud as ubm is doing as -- ibm, as others are doing now. but i just think bezos is truly awesome. i think sheryl sandberg and mark zuckerberg the way they're doing facebook, a platform upon which to build things, that's really cool. i think we're seeing innovation all over the place. i ran into tony friday dell yesterday, you know, he was the person who helped design the ipod. but now he's creating an
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internet of things where my thermostat and my garage door and my whatever it may be are all connected and i can, you know, sort of help my life become better through connecting things. so there's just enormous innovation. one interesting question is everybody i've mentioned, you know is in the u.s. why is it we're a more innovative society? i think because we allow people to question authority. there was a discussion about code pink earlier. i didn't like -- i mean, i was appalled and horrified and didn't like what the code pink people did to henry kissinger. but you know what? we live in a country where that happens. in china in other places there isn't as much questioning of authority, so you don't get as much innovation. >> host: tweet, as head of the aspen institute, who is the most fascinating speaker you've heard in the last year? >> guest: you know, we've had great world leaders from tony blair to, you know, shimon
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peres, hillary clinton, you know people -- or barack obama was there before, george bush people -- the elder george bush have all spoken at the aspen institute. i find the people who are doing new things, who are at the cutting edge of say, science and policy and technology who are less well known will come to aspen ideas festival or come to our action forum or come to our strategy groups, you know like eric lander. take him. somebody you may not know. i hope he writes a book someday so you'll have him on. but he does -- he's helping do, complete more sequencing of the genome at mit and hard voir -- harvard. but he's a humanist as well so he understands how we're going of of the day that bases that are going to help us build -- databases that are going to help us build new drugs, but how our privacy concerns are going to be affected. we may have to have a system where we say, count me in.
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i want my genetic, you know, information to be shared so that people can make things or i don't want it. those fascinate me and that's why i like being at the institute. it's not just about political stuff, it's about real interesting issues where science intersects with society, policy and business that i hope we can have practical solutions. >> host: lee bullhead city arizona. please go ahead with your question or comment. >> guest: thank you. took me seven calls and about an hour to get through. >> host: welcome. >> guest: second on da vinci. okay. i want you to think of a baby for a minute. a baby's born, knows nothing. knows no language. doesn't know house from a dog. but what they do is they watch and they listen. and as they grow older, they begin to get more curious about this and that. and i think that curiosity is the key to all these people. some other things are the rebellion i agree with, collaborating, because you can't
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live on an island. challenge -- all those things are true. i but i think that curiosity is the key to everything. >> host: lee, what do you do in bullhead city? >> >> caller: pardon in. >> host: what do you do in bullhead city? >> caller: i'm retired and i've read about 500 books in my motel room. >> host: from what are you retired? >> caller: of what am i retiring? >> host: from what are you retouring? >> caller: i don't think you got the time -- [laughter] the most important one to me was when i was recorder and editor for a newspaper. >> guest: oh, same with me. >> host: thank you sir. >> guest: you talk about curiosity, yes. that to me, is something that you see in every great innovator. i'm so glad you raised it. let's take einstein, for example. when he was about 6 years old, his father gave him a compass and he looked and the needle twitched, and it pointed north no matter how he turned it and
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he was mesmerized by it because nothing's touching the needle, there's no particles hitting the particles in the needle. so he's trying to figure out what is a force field, you know? how does a field work like that? now, look, you and i probably remember getting a compass when we were kids and it was like, wow, it points -- and then a moment or two later we're like oh look a dead squirrel. and we're on to something else. there was a passionate curiosity for einstein on that compass needle that when i said he was on his death bed trying to connect gravity, particle physics and relativity and all of his theories, the unified theory, it was basically still that curiosity that came from why does a compass needle twitch and point north? you can see that from benjamin franklin. why does it take a ship a little less time to get to europe than to come back? and he measures the temperatures of the water as he's sailing to england for the first time, and
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he's able to chart the gulf stream. so how, you know, einstein worrying about why is the sky blue, things you and i might not even question or keep being curious about he questions the obvious. so if i had to list traits, i would put collaboration or, i'd put rebelliousness, i'd put a passion for perfection like steve jobs had but i'd also put curiosity up there. >> host: dean barker, new york city. this probably isn't the way to ask a question of mr. isaacson live on booktv at the moment but if it is, here's my question. this is the way, dee barker, why does the innovators not include jack kilby in. >> guest: i love jack kilby, he's in the book in two different places and, i mean, jack kilby's great, plus when he gets the nobel prize, and he has such a wonderful answer when the
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swedish academy says the whole digital revolution comes from your thinking. he said it reminds me of what the weaver said to the rabbit -- the beaver said to the rabbit at the foot of the hoover dam which is no, i didn't build it, but it's based on a idea of mine. kilby and noyce kilby from texas instruments, the ability to have that rivalry and that race but then also to collaborate and work together, maybe the index is messed up. is it in the index? >> host: yeah. >> guest: okay. i urge people to read about jack kilby because i truly admire his spunk, his spirit, his ability to figure out how to etch transistors on silicon. so creative. and then doing it, and they have an intellectual property dispute, you know? a trade -- a patent war over who did it. and it took years to get through the courts and finally people at texas instruments like kilby
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and noyce say let's just settle it, let's move on. >> host: yeah. big section in the innovators. brian in texas, you're on air. please go ahead. >> caller: oh, hi, good afternoon. just wanted to say that i'm really enjoying the conversation. and i wanted to -- the reason why i'm calling is i'd like to put a, place a suggestion to mr. isaacson since he's the head of the aspen institute. and, actually, i'm doing it more in the way of a plea. the suggestion is this is this. the aspen institute focuses on developing leadership, and there are two critical issues that are illustrated by three books one of which you referenced in your either books that influenced you or books that you're currently
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reading. well, those two areas that i'm thinking about are the problems that exist currently with wall street and what i specifically have in mind is the behavior that wall street engaged in that eventually resulted in the recession. the second thing -- and this relates to the book that you referenced -- is the disfunctionalty in our health care system. >> guest: right. >> caller: and there are three books that i have in mind -- >> host: hey, brian, can you get to, can you list those three books so we can get some more calls in here? >> caller: sure. three books that i think do a really good job analyzing this. the book america's bitter pill another book called 13 bankers by simon johnson and then another book called in bed with washington, i believe, by larry doyle. but i think those areas would be excellent areas for you to, you
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know focus -- >> host: thank you. we get the point. >> guest: i agree with you. stephen brill's book, "bitter pill," which started as a time magazine cover is an amazing look at the dysfunctionalty of our health care system, and i would certainly tout it and ask people to read it. i haven't read the other two books. i think when it comes to the financial industry, one of the best things we could do is have a disruptive technology. you see it in bitcoin as people build coin base and block chain type systems we'll be automobile to have a digital and cyber currency that provide alternatives to some of the banking system. and it might enable commerce in a better way. >> host: george is in fort myers, florida. hi george. >> caller: hi. >> host: george, we're listening. >> caller: can you hear me? >> host: we are listening, sir. please go ahead with your question or comment for walter isaacson. >> caller: okay. einstein described himself as a
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determinist just like mark twain did. and i'm wondering how they got there. >> guest: you know, the issue of free will versus determinism is one of the richest, most difficult topics that people have wrestlinged with since plato -- wrestled with since plato and socrates, certainly einstein wrestles with it, certainly steve jobs wrestles with it. and i'm not sure anybody's ever going to resolve it. it's at the core of alan turing's imitation game question which is do we have free will in a way that's different or consciousness and free will in a way that's different from a preprogrammed machine? einstein was a determine cannist, but, of course, he wins the nobel prize for his quantum mechanics or quantum theory paper on the photoelectric effect which basically says that at the subatomic level things happen by chance. there's statistics but not
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determine city. and there's an indetermine that city which by the way means there's an indeterm city at the basis of the universe. so einstein, as much as he likes to believe in a deterministic universe comes up with theory that says the universe may not be that way. so even einstein never cracked the issue of determinism and free will, so certainly i'm not going to be able to. .. he believes there are laws that determine things. not as if time is totally relative. he is saying, that, there is a relationship between the time and motion and but that that is the law that determines how time and motion go together.
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so he is not saying everything is relative. he is saying, that there is a certain laws that can be expressed in the equations of special and then general relativity. now, what happens though is people who look at the theory of relativity especially asa anti-semitism is growing in germanye think it is sort of ties into a relvoice tick's morality and the relativity of you know, people who are doing art and plays and music with stravinsky, doing music with the old laws of tonal chords are being broken. there is a resistance to ma modernity. we see that today, people who resist modernity whether it bemo in the muslim world or america who resist change. there is einstein saying that the fundamentals that you've
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always believed in, that time marchs on whatever, know there is a relativity. he wasn't as i say a relativist. he believes in laws of nature but the people who criticize him heu is saying everything is relative. we want certainty. that was part of the anti-semitic backlash against what was called, jewish science. >> host: where do you write? >> guest: i write at home usually and i write at night. i'm somebody who from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. when the:0 phone is not going to ring and the iphone will not do a lot of alerts at me and things will pop up on whatever, i can be in my home office, writing hard and writing alone. now i'm not one of these people who tries to be an iron person and gets no sleep. one of the joys about being at aspenn institute i can convincee people no great ideas don'tk happen before 9:00 a.m. wee
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shouldn't get too early. there were jobs like at cnn i had to be in 6:30 or 7:00.n i like to write at night. and sleep in until 8:00 or 9:00 when i can. >> host: do you write on an apple product? >> guest: i use dropbox. when i'm writing i put it in the cloud. you can amazon, ibm. microsoft has a great cloud service too but i always used dropbox. so i can be on the train going to new york on my ipad. i will call it up and fiddle with it.o i get to my office which we use dell computers, you know that are networked in the office. boom, i can call it up there on my iphone. i can pull it up. on any device i want to, so i'm notn as wedded to hardware, i think one of the great joys we now have is having cloud services where, you know, if we took a break here and there and there was computer on that side of the room ande i wanted to call
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up something i was writing i could pull it up out of either dropbox or any cloud service i use. >> host: do you worry about security in that way, the security of the material? >> guest: i worry about security, we got hacked in the aspen institute and chinese were reading all of our reports. part of me said, we want people to read our reports. ifar they're spending their time translating all of our reports it will be good for them andg good for us. i think there are innings it you haveme to worry about -- things that you have to worry about privacy and security but, somebody reading the first draft of one of my books is not doesn't keep me up at night. >> host: dennis chicago heights illinois hi, dennis, you're on the air. >> caller: hi. i want to thank c-span for thisis program today and especially i want to thank the author because i have read all of his books. i have enjoyed all of them. everything fromd the beginning wise men all the way till his
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last book. the question i wanted to ask himo is on the kissinger book with the release of white house tapes and stuff through the nixon administrationwh and the like, ih think douglas brinkley was part of it, has he changed his idealsrt of what kissinger was about, at least in the looking at the tapes? he is a lot worse than what he is portrayed in your book on kissinger? >> guest: we're always getting more material. i have listened to a lot of those tapes before i wrote that book. they were many, many of them available. i have watched the new ones as they have cometh out. there is no fundamental homelyt cow it was totally different than we thought. the tapes, you know, really are revealing because they show private conversations where kissinger didn't know he was
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being taped. so you see him sometimes cater to the darker side of richard nixon's personality. doug brinkley did a great job editing some of those tapes. i'm glad they're coming out. i have a friend evan thomas, who we talked about, who did the wise men with me, writing a biography of nixon based on those new tapes. i mean those tapes are weird butd for -- historians, we're talking about we used to have letters. we used to have diaries. we used to have taped phone conversations and taped meetings. that is a treasure trove for historians and but it doesn't, i don't think there is anything that has come out with my book that fundamentally changes the book.b >> host: chapter 32,f january 1977. for the first timent in eight years henry kissinger arrived in new york city without the luxury of being born by one of the air force jetse of the presidential fleet. it was the week after jimmy carter's inauguration and the
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cherished perks of power were starting to slip away but unlike any other previous secretary of state indeed unlike even past president kissinger would be able by didn't of dedicated efforts and larger than life personality, retain the trappings of grandeur long after he left office. >> guest: we were in washington. yesterdayce kissinger spoke at a lunch, at csis, one of the great think tanks here. he was 9 it years old. he gave an overview of the world order and how it affected our relationships involving ukraine in particular and russia. that was, you know, still as brilliant as, any analysis you want to see. likewise with the codepink thing he was in front of john mccain's armed services committee earlier in the week, giving testimony. he was at the alfalfa dinner last night. so henry kissinger, has by dint
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just his ideas his thoughts and his writing his intellectual rigor, retained the respect and the trappings of power. heaven knows you say that is 1977. >> host: january. >> guest: let's do the math. t it has been 38 years since the guy was last in government? most people in the united states weren'ta born probably since he was last in government. and yet he is still somebody who, as much as you may want to be appalled at the codepink thing, shows how he is still a dominant part ofn our thinking and of our debate over how idealistic, versus how realistic our foreign policy should be.o so i definitely respect. as i said, if i had to pick a book of understanding, some of the crises of the world now i would. say read "world order." henry kissinger.r.
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he wrote a book about diplomacyh starting with richelau, parkt talking about world order and treaty of versailles and how the nation states come b. he is still able to apply that intellectual framework to this world. >> host: dot clintons hold that same aura?ld >> guest: yes especially with secretary clinton running for president. bill clinton has that, when he comes to then aspen institute, we have as i say people of both parties come. even republicans in our audience inbu aspen when bill clinton is there, doing his tour of the world and just answering questions and remembering everybody's name, and having readt you know, wonky policy papers on how urban revival happens in older cities withpo rivers and how the creative class was there. or how micro payments help womenla in india do certain things, he
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understands and knows more than anybody else, and he is absolutely hypnotizing when he is giving a dissertation. so he has that aura, definitely dissertation. so he has that definitely. >> host: latecomer stand to retail california. thanks for holding on. uri with walter isaacson. >> caller: hello mr. isaacson. i'm 15 years old. before i ask a question, i would like to say i'm in favor of the da vinci book of wealth. it seems that a lot of people my age don't get into biographies that much. i would like to ask you because the steve jobs book was my favorite book of all time. i'd like to ask how your writing sets you apart from others because you are seems to be the only one i can connect to in that genre. >> guest: first of all you want to give steve jobs credit. if you like about this because steve jobs is a truly interesting person and was able
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to be you know revealing and dealing with the biographer. so i doubt i deserve the credit for the fact the steve jobs biography is very interesting to you. there is a larger issue which i think historians especially historic biographers come you sometimes write about the great forces of history. the very beginning of my "kissinger" book, but the epigram is something that he wrote on one of the shuttle missions back and forth to the middle east. he said something when i was rather harbored, used to think history was made by great courses but now that i'd get up close i see the difference individuals make. so we biographers believe in the role of an individual to bend the forces of history a little bit. we also have to understand because this is why i wrote "the
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innovators," that sometimes we biographers distort history. picnic it seem like it is just one person sitting in the garage and having a lightbulb moment and innovation happens, when in fact it is great innovators and thinkers, great individuals who know how to collaborate in forms teams. so that is what i tried to do in my latest book. but what sets me apart maybe from other academic historians is maybe if you just tell the story but here is the beginning and here is the person. here is how he grew up in you listen to that person, read everything that person did and you can say that you can tell the history of our time to people and to me that is the best way to appreciate the creativity that goes into making history. >> host: as a professor i tend to think of history is run by impersonal forces. but when you see it in practice, you see the different personalities make. henry kissinger 1974 after his
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first middle east saddle. >> guest: between gola malar anwar sadat but great leaders which we don't have now. you are not dealing with the golden aa or or shimon peres orin and marjah.. -- anwar sadat. by the way that is the quote i was thinking of. >> host: walter isaacson, you haven't written about anyone who has been elected to office. >> guest: wow i never thought of that. franklin does get in the colonial assembly of pennsylvania. your point is correct. i hadn't really thought about that. i do think that it is important and great to get in electoral office that has so many impediments to it.
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it is something i never did and should've done. if i could rewind the tape put yourself out there appeared run for office. run for city council. and those people do get to make a difference. public service is a very noble calling. those of us in the press can sometimes make it difficult sometimes make it increasingly difficult to put yourself out there and be in public service in the run for office. and so maybe after da vinci and after leonardo and after louis armstrong. >> host: if you were to write about american president, is there one that pops in mind? >> guest: theodore roosevelt and i of course loved the bully pulpit as someone who is totally fascinating to me because he rises above party. he's both a republican and a bull moose party, that he is somebody who wonders and the importance of the bully pulpit, of traveling across this country
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and saying he wanted a square deal. you know, it is almost lake a time of prosperity, a time of great technological change. people moving from the farm to industrial. great technology exacerbating the divide between rich and poor. make it harder for the middle class for the middle class. so they comes up with a square deal and unlike some of our leaders today, he says i'm going to do it and i'm just been a go for 90 days on a train and talk in every single talk about the malefactors of great wealth. the bankers who was friends at jpmorgan nobody called the malefactors of great while to say we have to have a square deal. so i love teddy roosevelt and never surpassed was good when i know. >> host: william is calling in from hot springs national park in arkansas i believe. hi william. call code minus my comment and a question perhaps.
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many of the things i've been appreciated today have argued that answered and discussed. i would like to think c-span for the wonderful presentation that is made available to all of us and then i would like to express my deepest appreciation to mr. isaacson for presenting to us to determine up the trail of some of the less familiar maybe the forgotten characteristics of so many of our great people. one other comment i would like to make as i have a very deep affinity for ben franklin. i had the great good fortune as they used to work in a small country printshop that printed the community weekly newspaper and old ben would have been right at home. i did it on the washington hen press. i became the operator of the press later.
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>> host: >> guest: you probably see the great connection to someone like that who believes in the spread of information, who creates a postal system so ideas can move about like the internet. and so i really do admire that part of benjamin franklin, dead like me and you worked at a newspaper, book printing, love the free flow of information and ideas. >> host: and from trent trees ben franklin book and 21st century a successful networker with an inventive curiosity he would've felt right at home in the information revolution and his unabashed striving to be part of an upwardly mobile the made him and david brooks' phrase, our founding yuppie. as to what one point was there some resistance to franklin? he was entrepreneurial. he was upwardly mobile. he was born of a foreign
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working-class, candle maker becomes somebody who really want to succeed. so i think there was that enthusiastic yuckiness that i find appealing, but also what people say a little too ambitious little to brass. >> host: kristin spokane. >> caller: hi, i am a big fan mr. isaacson. thank you for taking my call. if the powers came to you and said here is the key and i open up all of it to you. who would you ask to talk to be the most influential person in the person at the very bottom of the list. >> host: chris, who would you talk to? who would be at the top of your
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list? >> caller: i like da vinci. at the bottom of the list i would like to talk to hitler. >> host: thank you man. >> guest: i would love to talk to leonardo da vinci about one thing that is still a mystery to me is that he was a total genius. there is so much that he didn't complete. at&t didn't complete, design for engineering that were never done. is it because he has a passion for perfection? is it because he didn't focus and try to do so much arisen because once he had broken the code on some team, he didn't deal he needed to put the finishing touches on a quiet that is what i am working on as i read his notebooks trying to get that question. likewise if i talk to louis armstrong, who would be okay i know everything about you. everything you did every day, but i don't know whether you're happy. i don't know what you felt about
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white people or whatever. i had the wonderful fortune to be able to do that with steve jobs. every now and then i would do a person who is alive like a kissinger or steve jobs. every now and then i will do a franklin or an einstein. when you get to talk to somebody, you say i know everything about you but this is still a mystery. at least in the case said steve jobs, page after page of my book is him trying to explain those things. >> host: new orleans finally get some love. duane bohne for tweet in. we armstrong would be a great companion to terry teachout. >> guest: terry teachout does a very good book on armstrong. but i don't know much of teachout, but i think that has everything about louis armstrong in it.
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i still find this a mystery. what was the cause of the smile and the happiness? so to me i also would like to wrestle with that whole question of new orleans and the diversity in the mix of people. i would say that tolerance, but also the intolerance. i mean he is arrested on new years day so it's not exactly ferguson, but what is happening with kids on the street back then and now. what is happening when story though opens and the great sense of tolerance, but also a tolerance for sin. you know his mother is probably turned tricks shall we say in parts of new orleans. so while it that gives you a sense of what is going or his mind and i would like to try to deal with that. to me new orleans is such a
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fascinating place. obviously, it is fascinating in a complex way. to me it is a beautiful way. it is a city of math. as we speak today the carnival season is beginning. the first parades are rolling. louis armstrong watched the zulu parade when his father, who didn't really raise them, he really didn't know his father that well. in whiteface and a mouse signifying in a strange way playing all those symbols of worries in say the early 1900 throughout new orleans is a city of mask. you mask for mardi gras. you wear your mask. louis armstrong himself and always wore a mask. i think that smile was part of a mask. now, what shakespeare teaches
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us especially growing up in henry the fourth is we be calm but mask we wear and not too is an interesting topic to explore. >> host: all right. we have four minute left. i've been waiting for a caller to bring this out. two questions. did albert einstein fail math? in a few years ago, a book came out, einstein's bright. >> guest: what happens when einstein died without much authority from the family, he take his brain. like hey you don't want to lose this thing. takes his brain puts it in a jar of fermata hide and keeps einstein's brain. over the years he would parcel of pieces of einstein ring against people would say i want to figure out, why was he so smart quiet there is a larger issue here which is really interesting. you can look at a beautifully old and this or that was
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different, but are we just machines? you can find in a size a little part of his brain, the explanation for einstein's genius. i don't ink so. i think we are not machines. we are humans. as much as they carve up the brain, as much as they try to find the secret. i said early on, you have to look for explanations of things but that doesn't mean under microscopes you can find genius by looking at the cells of the brain. and no he never failed math. in fact he was really good at math almost as good as he needed to be when he was finally doing general relativity. he laments the fact that is not as a little bit better because the calculus are starting to sound. he gets some good friends to help. he did fine and not. but it is a good mix to have because i saucon says who did
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the academy, he is doing a thing called you can learn anything. i urge our viewers. you can learn anything. you can learn math. you can learn relativity. go to cannes academy. one of the video of the videos about inspiring people that you can learn anything since learn anything if there's einstein and the baby in about the same there was a time even einstein didn't know how to add numbers. you can learn anything. >> host: where is the majority of albert einstein's brain right now for >> guest: i think most of it is now at him. but it was sort of parceled out. >> host: was not a fun chapter to write? at semi-amused. >> guest: it was semi-amusing. but it was a really amusing book about it. it was fun to write, but partly because they got to the larger issue. can we just look mechanically and figure out why he was a genius? now, you need the whole book, not just a microscope on his
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brain to say what made einstein into einstein. >> host: david england shot, pennsylvania. david you are the last word today. >> caller: thank you for taking my call. i read quite a few of your books, mr. isaacson. the last two books i read was professor todd coons, the teacher of the mind and your "the innovators." i read them because i saw you in 10 talking about them on booktv. it's such a wonderful format to have. i read a lot. i read all nonfiction. i am currently reading the doubles pay about buford at gettysburg. one of my questions is do you think sometimes historians and people that read your works don't understand and don't bother to look at that time that the person you are writing lives in or lived in and therefore they are making assumptions about that person based on our point of view of today?
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>> guest: yeah, that historicism or that historic fallacy has many names to it and which you impose the standards or ideas that today on a person. i think it is really important for readers and historians to wrestle with that. an obvious example is when you're doing slavery and you're trying to judge thomas jefferson or ben franklin or whatever. to me you have to rise above and be ahead of some of the moral sentiments of your time to be a great person which is why i think i can judge jefferson more harshly than others would because he didn't do that. or even churchill did not get on the right side of history. but that is me imposing a later judgment on that. you have to be aware of it. the last chapter of my "benjamin franklin" book was the most fun to write because it's however new generation discovers benjamin franklin and new and seasoned differently. and in an age of great economic
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struggle he is revered as a self-made person. in a romantic period like the 1820s and 1830s people look down on and because he is not romantic and material enough. so when "benjamin franklin," we see a reflection of our own time. we have to be aware that we as is judging him in the context of his time, but judging him in the larger context of history. >> host: so, does frank and deserve the accolade accorded by his great contemporary david hume of america's first philosopher, walter isaacson writes. this theology was an important achievement of the mint and franklin was an "avatar" in america. in addition by relating the rally to everyday human consequences, franklin laid the
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foundation for the most influential of america's homegrown philosophies, pragmatism. that is from walter isaacson's and american life benjamin franklin an american life. the first book came out in 1986 co-author with six friends in the world they made. "kissinger" a biography of 1992. "benjamin franklin" the note three. "einstein" 2007 "steve jobs" which is going to be made into a movie 2011. and "the innovators" a group of hackers geniuses and geeks created the digital revolution. you have been watching booktv on c-span2.
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>> thanks for joining us on booktv this memorial day. here's a quick look at our prime-time line-up this evening. beginning at 8:30, we're featuring books on the first ladies. we begin with peter sheriff ven's new book on michelle obama. after that, a book called, first ladies this is put out by c-span. this is based on the series that we did on first ladies last year. and finally hissing cousins. this is about the relationship between eleanor roosevelt and alice roosevelt. that's a quick look at our prime-time line-up this memorial day. booktv on c-span2. television for serious readers. >> bill gates, cofounder of microsoft and the bill and melinda fates foundation recently released via "vanity fair" a list of seven books he is reading this summer. first up, he is reading richard dawkins the magic of reality
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which gives scientific explanations for how the world works. next, two books by randall monroe. xkcd, a collection from his popular web comments which blends comment with humor and technology. what if? he take as scientific approach to answer unusual hypothetical scenarios. he is rereading dare huff's how to lie with statistics. first published in 1954 the book looks many ways that numbers can be manipulated. bill gates list of summer reading continues with the examination of the history of vaccinations on immunity. next, should which eat meat. a scientist looks at the practical and moral considerations of meat consumption. and finally, bill gate's reading hyperbole and a 1/2. cartoonists ali brash collection of humerus stories. for more information on bill gates summer reading picks
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visit "vanity fair".com or his website, gates . . a mass casualty situation you could leverage it for triage. you can good so farce to think of


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