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tv   2015 Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest Saturday  CSPAN  June 6, 2015 12:00pm-6:01pm EDT

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previous "after words" at our website booktv.org. >> and we are back live from chicago from this year's printers row lit fest. in just a second, steve phieffer and adar cohen discuss their book jimmy, lee and james. it is about the 1965 selma to montgomery voting rights march and events that led up to it. they are joined by two activists who participated in the march. this panel is just beginning. . .
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you can keep the spirit of lit fest going year round with a subscription to the printers row journal, the tribune's premium book session, fiction series and membership program. download our trip books apps for info on lit fest and the digital book store. we encourage everyone to post messages and those to twitter, instagram and facebook using the hash tag p r l f 15. turn off your cellphones and camouflages off and expand your
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mind. with that please welcome dahleen glanton of "the chicago tribune". >> welcome to our discussion about the selma to montgomery marches. this year as you know mark the 50th anniversary of the voting rights act and it is fitting that our guests here include steve fiffer and adar cohen who have written one of the most detailed accounts of the events that literally forced president johnson to introduce the bill. "jimmie lee and james" explains how the murders of 3 to men, jimmie lee jackson and african-american farmer who was shot to death by a state trooper and reverent james reed, a white unitarian minister from boston who was beaten to death by a
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white mob ignited the historic bloody sunday march in 1965. i would like to start with steve fiffer. tell us how you found these men the >> the book was inspired by an obituary during the summer of 2013 of a man i doubt anyone had heard of named willie lewis back in the mid 50s he had been a witness to the abduction of and the till a famous civil rights case she was from chicago and to mississippi to visit relatives and to have the audacity to speak with a white woman in a store and for that crime he was pulled out of his bed and beaten and torn off a bridge and will be lee lewis was a witness to this and had offered to testify and he was a
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young african american teenager himself and that great frisk testified at the trial of the white men who were accused of killing emma kills. those men were acquitted and willie lewis got out of town as fast as he could because he knew his life was in danger and made me think about all the unknown people who bravely stood up during the civil rights era and i had done a couple of books which the founder of the southern poverty law center and was present at the dedication of the memorial in the late a.d.s and revisited that memorial, remains of what matters, jimmy the jackson and james read. there is a new way to tell us story, by telling the story of these and known people and their
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sacrifices. >> we have two other relatively unknown heroes with us here today glad to have them. we have reverend joseph ellwanger who was present at the time of the concern white citizens of alabama and was very active in the movement in selma and also paul adams iii who was very active in the civil rights movement and participated in the earlier march. he is now chairman and executive chairman and founder of providence st. mel high school in chicago so welcome everyone. [applause] >> would you set the scene for us in selma in 1965?
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what was it like there and what rendition that led to these murders? >> i would be happy to end thanks for moderating today, everyone who organized the event. cell 1965 is a place that had been selected carefully by civil rights movement leadership as the next battleground the next place where grievances with the whole institution of jim crow and racial segregation would be so dramatized and so provoked and so ruthlessly harassed that a peaceful protests would gain nation's sympathy in order to continue to advance racial justice and desegregation so selma is not an accidental site for all of these historic events
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but a carefully selected site. it starts in marion where in a nighttime march jimmie lee jackson is shot by an alabama law-enforcement officer james bond hard fowler. jimmie lee jackson is the black woodcutter and farmer who in the small town of marion has sought multiple times to register himself as up voter, has not been able to complete that task and was involved in a peaceful demonstration in marion. it was that night time demonstration and night marchs were particularly dangerous and this night the police and
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deputized white citizens attacked the peaceful marchers ruthlessly and cut the street lights in order to do so with maximum chaos. during that melee the media were not spare. they were attacked as well. their cameras spray-painted with black paint to prevent the images from being captured. this event, what the peaceful protest is commonplace, jimmie lee jackson died days later of his gun shot wound. and that really aroused the energies of the movement and caused dr. king to utilize jimmie lee jackson the movement needed a focal point for their
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energy and frustration. the decision was taken to selma to montgomerie at that point. the second character in our book, james reed to get a to selma, james reed response to dr. king's call, white clergy throughout the u.s. to selma to show their support after the horrific events where once again peaceful marchers were be set upon by troopers, in a moment of great historical irony, 50 million americans are in their living rooms watching the film judgment at nuremberg, the film this famously grapples with the legacy of nazism and the holocaust. in that film, abc make the decision to cut away from that
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film to showed footage of alabama state troopers attacking peaceful protesters from horseback with all manner of weapons. en the nation is riveted in the way. those images capture their imagination and their moral imagination in a way that had not been achieved before. james reid response to dr. king's call and comes to selma where he is beaten and dies. >> paul n. -- you were there. at the time. you knew dr. king and the u.s. some times were involved in those high levels behind-the-scenes discussions. tell us about dr. king. what was he might?
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>> i met dr. king when he was 14 before he became famous in montgomery. i was born in montgomery. 74 years ago. i met dr. king as a career day. i was just thrilled meeting such a young, handsome, debonair person. i really was thrilled by the fact that it his age he had a ph.d. from boston university. the enthusiasm of that really carried me. this was in 1955. in 1955 i want to mention the death of emmett feel. that was the event of my life. i was there when rosa parks sat down on the bus in montgomery, alabama and the whole nation stood up. as of very young man i had been
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following dr. king. going to selma for the third march, he was there for the second march. i was there for the third march that actually we went from selma to montgomerie and unfortunately after that march we got -- became a very sad event after that. >> i've met dr. king when i was at the seminary in st. louis, just a passing meeting there and met him in montgomerie after the montgomery bus boycott when i had done a summer internship, was still at the seminary but i really got to know dr. king when i was pasteur in birmingham
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pastor of an african-american congregation in birmingham from 50 to 67. so the demonstrations in 1963 in birmingham where an opportunity for me to really begin to get my toes wet in the civil rights movement and i did serve on the central committee, the 1963 movement and that met that i met at the gadsden hotel with martin luther king's staff james bevel, andrew young, need people each of them personality. a leader clearly recognized by gee movement, he knew he needed
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the movement was quite a connection deep commitment and he listened to people as they talked about what they're going to strategizing tomorrow. he would come in and get his own views and ultimately the birmingham demonstrations ended in victory, albeit a rather minor victory locally, but an important victory nationally, the 1964 civil rights law was passed as a result of the demonstrations in birmingham and a very similar scenario in birmingham, demonstrations, the selma demonstrations, birmingham had the foil that just pushed
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what would be an ordinary march down the street into a national televised, experience, extreme push back on the part of the dogs fire hoses that are well-known, and in selma 19 miles south of birmingham, i did lead the concerned white citizens of alabama in feet marge in solidarity with the voting rights movement in selma which had been going on for two months, started in january, january 2nd and here it was march 7th, march 6th for our march and march 7th next day was bloody sunday. we had no idea that would happen but anyway that was my
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involvement. i did participate in the turnaround tuesday two days after the bloody sunday march and the last day it was the selma montgomerie march. very moving days that have tremendous impact for us today. >> talking about bull connor in birmingham in selma and it was sheriff clark. he was the same guy you knew you could get under his skin and if the media was there those images were going to come up north and hopefully mobilize the nation. a couple days before jimmie lee jackson was shot in marion another hero a person we talked a lot about in the book had tried to lead a group of people to register at the courthouse in
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selma. in front of television cameras sheriff clark had pushed vivian downstairs and vivian had got up and turned the other cheek and said you can hurt us but you can't stop us. we are trying to exercise our right to register to vote. and vivian was scheduled to and did preach the night did jimmy lee jackson was in that protest. of lot of people think the reason the police were out there waiting for the marchers when they came out of the church that night and turned off the lights and started beating the protesters was because they wanted to get reverend vivian. >> it is also very clear from the book that it was george wallace who was votethe loose cannon
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in alabama. you attended a meeting with him and earlier with president johnson. tell me about those two men. >> interesting personalities indeed. i was chosen at the end of the selma, montgomery march. i missing infant and dexter avenue baptist church with my wife joyce who is in the audience today, and here was dr. king on this stage, winding out a powerful event, dr. king gave one of his greatest speeches even greater than the i have a dream speech, is not well known but they were winding everything down and dr. king and announces the 15 clergy who were to meet with george wallace. george wallace would not meet
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with dr. king, said that is off-limits and king said okay, meet with the leaders of the movement. clergy had been involved in the movement and when he read off my name, the only white clergy in the group, i was quite surprised. it was an interesting meeting to meet with the man who said in front of the university door, trying to -- previously trying to shutdown integration of the university of alabama, segregation yesterday, segregation today, segregation forever and he was still in that mold. that meeting with george wallace was a meeting with a silent, stuffed animal almost. he didn't say much of anything.
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he did not want to meet with us to recognize the validity of his movement which is why king insisted that there be a meeting with george wallace and call him to accountability for the voting practices in the state of alabama so he certainly could make a difference if he wanted to. this was a symbolic meeting. symbolic indicating the movement was clearly more powerful. than wallace, who did not want to meet with us but he had to. so we told him the voting practices and the state of alabama have to change and you are the man. thank you for meeting with me today and that was it. he was not making promises. it was after event that he met with lyndon johnson.
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my meeting with johnson was called by the national council of churches that want to representative from each of the denomination's to meet with lyndon johnson and this was the friday after bloody sunday. i was the only white southern past 4. the rest of them were mainly from the east end the north and the midwest and black pasteur's. i remember -- from d.c.. meeting with president johnson, he was very calm and polite compared with what he can be and what he was with wallace a couple days later. but with us, he recognized that he was up against the roll, the movement had brought this issue
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up and bloody sunday had made it very clear that the nation had better act on this. the pictures not only had hit the abc/nbc and cbs but had hit the papers in moscow and all over, this was during a the cold war. the fact that there was such a meeting was a sign of the power of the movement. he didn't necessarily want to meet with the movement but he did. >> james reid had been killed couple days earlier and it is important to note that while jimmy lee jackson, up for black would shopper from rural marion county his death was relatively unnoticed even though it did inspire the march it became
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bloody sunday. reid, being a white unitarian minister from the north captured the attention of the president who was monitoring, we have in the but presidential laws where there were discussions about this in a birmingham hospital. read was the lingering before dying, send yellow roses to mrs. reed flew her back to boston, none of this had been offered to the family of jimmy lee jackson started marches and protests in the north around the time you were meeting with president johnson. one anecdote at the meeting is there were protests outside the white house, president johnson made the remark that it was hard
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for his daughters to be studying because of all the turmoil going on outside and brown called him out and said there are people that are dying in this movement. i am sorry for what is happening to your daughters. when johnson went on tv at the end of that week a day or two after his meeting with you, the same day king had eulogized read in selma he said a good man has died in selma and that was reverend read that no mention of jimmie lee jackson at the time. >> it is interesting because in the book you talk about how reverend read initially had reservations about going to selma. almost kind of a foreboding that
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something might happen to him. i don't know. as it turned out it was him who basically forced the president's hand in the legislation. >> i think this has a big role in it. his presentation was well founded, it was dangerous and he asked folks who had been involved more closely than he had been, how dangerous is it and the answer was it is pretty dangerous, it is never explicitly stated, to have these horrible deaths take place.
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no one wants, writers. the momentum of the movement is such, that constant engagement with law-enforcement. it results in untimely deaths. reverend reeves was one of those deaths. it is this to capitalize on end news positively to galvanize further support. >> the documentation in history that reverend read, jimmy lee jackson has never been heard of. it is extremely fair that because a white man was murdered but not white man's murder was not recognized and
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the fair thing, i remember the speech the president made. he specifically mentioned rev. read, but did not mention jackson. the inhumanity to man that existed then and to some extent exists now. it is very very sad. >> exactly for that reason i personally am grateful for this book. this book lifts up the importance of jimmie lee jackson. if it hadn't been for the death of jimmy jackson. the selma march would not have happened. and bloody sunday probably would not have happened because it was 250, at 300 people blacks from marion who were incensed and enraged to jimmie lee jackson had met such a war will death at the hands of state troopers that
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said we are going to march from selma, montgomery, they heard the march was supposed to start on march 7th, they came ready to march king was in atlanta, abernathy was there. they had no intention of starting that sunday although originally they talked a little bit about it and that is where the people in marion got the idea so they came and they were so determined to march because of jimmie lee jackson's death but they did march and then bloody sunday occurred. those events are closely linked and bloody sunday is extremely important for the passage of the bill and if it hadn't been for bloody sunday there wouldn't have been the call for clergy and people all over the country and read it wouldn't have come to selma on tuesday and would not of been killed. the series of events is truly
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amazing and mysterious in the way it all comes together and does result in a -- the voting rights act of 1965. the power of it is not recognized by most people, but within a year or two the whole apparatus of legal jim crow collapse because suddenly not only were there black voters, a few black officeholders but white officeholders recognized we have to listen to this part of the community and things just change in a way that it would have taken many more years for a jim crow to collapse as fully as it did if it hadn't been for the voting rights act. >> one other thing that is important to realize is one of the impetuss of wanting a voting
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rights act was because juries weren't selected from the voter rolls and as a result of that, almost every jury down there was an all white jury and that gave carte blanche to private citizens and law enforcement officers to wreak havoc because they are facing juries of their peers, all white juries. in addition to being able to vote for officeholders and to hold people accountable blacks could begin to become jury members during that time period. >> that raises the connection with the bombing of the sixteenth street baptist church. the idea of beginning to focus on voting rights happened as a result of southern christian leadership conference saying what can we do to redress the deaths of the four girls that
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were killed here and they realized with all white juries, all white district attorneys, all white judges there is no chance that the killers of the four girls were ever going to be brought to justice and that is where they realized the voting apparatus is absolutely essential and selma is the focus and so on but there is a really important connection with the jury situation end the impunity with which white folks could operate in their lynching. >> a lot of people are familiar with the 1963 birmingham church bombing but you have a special wing to that. can you talk a little bit about that. >> it was an awesome day.
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i was pastor of an african-american congregations in birmingham. september 15th, 1963, is an unforgettable day. the bombing took place at 10:18 or 10:20 in the of morning and it happened that one of the four girls was the daughter of the sunday school superintendent at the congregations chrismac air was the sunday school superintendent and father of denise mcnair. as a result chris mcnair and his wife christine s. two participate in the service, that was an unforgettable experience and just to be there in bombing and at that time and to feel the
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tension that created in the black and community being incensed and enraged in the white community, basically passing it off, a few people were deeply concerned that many passed it off and even suggested the perpetrators of the bombing is seals eat people, and drawing attention to the movement. that is how why else, the gossip line was to defend themselves in the southern way of life and constant criticism of the movement. >> one thing i am curious about, it was very dangerous. and to step up and be part of
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it. was it that people didn't have any sympathy for it or where people simply afraid? what was it like at that time? >> if i had to pass it to something, i thought this was the way things do. i remember in montgomery we were across the bridge and i was on the other apex of the bridge and everything stopped. i thought i am going to die today. not knowing there was a prayer meeting and that was not the communication but i thought i was going to -- the other time was a notorious black disappearance.
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getting through that, getting to montgomerie, the death of viola luthor and really turned me off a completely. we are fighting for the voting rights we have 3,000 troops deputize by the president of the united states and this woman is murdered. was i afraid? yes. but i had to stand for something. >> this was after the march when they were transporting people back. >> she was the transportation coordinator. to think that someone had been murdered that night i did nothing it would happen but it happened. >> this was a time when the ku klux klan reigned supreme. they could do anything they want.
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sheriff jim clark and george wallace and all of the law enforcement people considered them as their right hand debbie's. when we came on march 6, '72 of us marching to the court house of selma in the street right in front of the court house where 500 white men with bats, steel pipes and obviously there to threaten us, we were not sure what was going to happen. your six seven sheriff's deputies standing in front of us and 500 of these white pupils over here with all these weapons standing there with impunity. they knew they had the blessing of the sheriff and that is what
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did scare whites and blacks from taking action. it was real. the flip side of it is it was so maddening, so unjust that those who were really under the heel of that oppression recognized if i am going to die let me die for something that is right, something good that might make it change but don't let me die at the hands of these folks and that courage that you see in the civil rights movement in king and the montgomery march and all those marches is a courage that was born from at deep commitment that we simply cannot abide the segregated way of life. one of the savings in the movement is a few don't have
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anything worth dying for you don't have anything worth living for. that was a deep part of the movement. >> i have a conversation with an activist from marion and she described working around-the-clock supporting a family and still going out and doing these protests and saying good night to her children and saying this is another one of those protests where it might not end well. i could get hurt, i might not come home. i asked how difficult was that for you? how could you do that with the a young family with though much to lose? she said you have to understand i wanted to vote. i was half dead anyway. so i didn't have much of a choice. she told me that. when you sit face-to-face with
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folks who put their lives on the line over and over and over again for this right, it is inspiring and humbling. >> it is interesting. we have two minutes. we are opening up for questions from the audience. if you have a question would you line up over here? while you are doing that, i am going to ask another question about the organization of the movement. looking back on it, it seemed like it was just this really organized thing and king had trouble keeping his own troops in line. >> there were marches all over
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the state of alabama. all over the south. known l.a. doctor king could control those people. you had -- that was another maneuver and the genius of dr. king was to keep this together. >> malcolm x. >> if you talk about the movement as highly unorganized movement the very word movement implies it is something that is deep in people's souls and you don't control that with a set of rules so a lot of things did happen. turnaround tuesday is a good example of the difficulty king had in deciding whether we are
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going to begin the march to selma were stopped, turnaround and wait for the federal judge to get approval for this march but king was criticized by his own staff for that decision so it was not an easy road just going from day today took a lot of struggle and a lot of give and take. it was organized in the sense, here were people coming to get there for a purpose and goals >> reporter: and they were willing to listen to the decision as they did on turnaround tuesday. come around and come back even though many of us felt it should be going on but it was highly
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organized and the congress and it -- the congregation based movement of today which started in the 80s, two major foundations where congregations work on justice be shoes really i think comes out of either directly or indirectly out of the movement of the 60s where the nation and the religious community recognized that coming across denominational lines and working for justice issues is not only something that brings about change but something we need to do if we consider ourselves people who stand for something other than building edifices and payrolls. >> do we have time for questions? yes? >> what are the learnings of selma 1965 for us today in 2015?
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>> we haven't learned enough. to be honest i was back in selma for the 50th anniversary and for the celebration of the voting rights act, tears came to my eyes because people died and we are not voting. i don't think we learned enough about history to appreciate it. >> if you learn the lessons, in the 45 anniversary, in selma he came over to our table at the restaurant and pointed his fingers shaking with excitement and said when you look at what we were able to accomplish through this humble movement in
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selma there is nothing that we could not accomplish for the sake of justice if we are organized if we are committed, if we are willing to take risks and selma 1965 is that kind of a watershed moment it does change dramatically. we should rise out of our cynicism and fatalism that there is nothing you can do. looking at what is happening in washington d.c. these days as well as our own state legislators, we are tempted to say there is nothing we can do. selma is 1965 reminds us is amazing what we can do if we really are committed and come together. [applause]
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>> we are out of time. thank you very much. >> once again thank you very much to our panel and thanks to all of you for attending. our office will be signing books in the lobby right outside. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> you are watching the tv on c-span2, live coverage from chicago. five more of their presentations coming up this afternoon including eric larsen brian borough, margaret lazarus steen. after this short break you will hear from wall street journal reporter jonathan -- jonathan eig who has written a book about the birth control pill. this is live coverage from chicago. >> booktv is on twitter and facebook and we want to hear
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from you. tweet us twitter.com/booktv or post a comment on our facebook page facebook.com/booktv. >> the library of congress is the largest library in the world. here are a few history and biography books the library suggests. the library of congress recommends the battle for america 2008 in which washington post veterans dan balls and haynes johnson tracked the presidential campaign of john mccain and barack obama. in the woman behind the new deal, the life of francis perkins, the first woman appointed to a president's cabinet. also on the list is an at gordon reed's examination of the headings family who were slaves to thomas jefferson and their role in early america. in american lion, the life of andrew jackson, his time in the white house and his role in shaping the executive branch. the library of congress's list
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of suggested reading and history and biography continues with the american future which attempts to place modern debates the war, religion, and religion into historical context. in lift every voice patricia sullivan provides a history of the civil rights movement in america and the development of the naacp. finally david taylor's soul of the people tells the story of a group of journalists working on federal writers' project in the 1930s and chronicling the great depression. that is look at some of the books on the library of congress' list of suggested reading list to see the full list check the web site at www. read.gov/book soup but lists. >> booktv recently visited capitol hill to ask members of congress what they are reading this summer. >> i talked economics for the past 18 years and went to seminary before that. i like reading a combination of
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economic ethics. some people thought that was immersed joke but i take it seriously so i am starting with peter wallace's hidden in plain sight. the latest definitive account of the causes of the financial crisis. if you don't have an account of the causes of the financial crisis it is hard to solve that issue going forward. we don't want that happening again. verisign we are headed in the wrong direction with a few economic variables, debt to gdp are off track, in san mortgage business and the federal reserve has some heavy lifting to do. that is the main economic piece i want to read. the rest is the western synthesis between the judeo-christian tradition and the greeks and indictment reason and i taught that for the last 18 years and reading a few books, whose justice, which rationality by alistair mcintyre out of notre dame fame, one of the talk philosophers in the
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country. and then on my stack immoral vision of the new testament by hayes considered one of the foremost authorities on ethics of the new testament that is not on the ability of the but the moral vision contained within the new testament. and i got a book economics as religion from samuelson to chicago by nelson. of -- i have been dabbling in several of these books for a long time but i want to dig in a little deeper because i think they're needed up here. the final one on my stack when i made my way through some of it is called berge what dignity and that is by dierdre mccloskey. she is quite a renaissance scholar herself. she has been combined economics and ethics and literature for the past few decades, chicago school trained economist but has been validated by nobel prize winner is. there are six volumes in the works.
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i referred you to the second volume and it takes on the causes of long run economic growth. most people are not familiar with this but it is the issue that improve human welfare more than any other issue you can name period. i say that with confidence. argument is all human civilization income per person is $500 a year per person for all human history until 1800-1800 you get a hockey stick and get massive explosive growth in free-market countries so there has been a lot of speculation on the true cause of that. i did my ph.d. in economics on that. she takes on every single one of the nobel papers, not capital accumulation or human capital or science or private property rights or the industrial revolution. she dates every single one of these variables and she concludes the ultimate cause, the biggest cause of economic
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growth is the first time in history, 1800 when a culture change the moral weight which such that we started to call in the business person morally good. that is a lot for these days. k-12 education we are neutral at best on that proposition. what lisa about business? morally good? problematic, corrupt? in i read i am afraid to say the answer too often is business is morally bad. a lot of history had that feeling or belief. if that is your proposition don't expect a lot of growth. we need to do a little work examining that and getting back on track and saying how do we make business more legal event paying attention, we have kids in the inner-city is right now lower income folks, their only hope is to enter the free market economy with a well paying job. if we are teaching the next generation business is morally bad, why would a kid want to sign up for that proposition?
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is not attractive. this book is hugely important. there are a thousand other offers in at 6 volume set. turf first book is similar and deals with history of virtues from plato on. that is my reading list, light reading for this summer on the beach. i did forward to this act. >> booktv wants to know what you are reading this summer tweet as your answer at booktv or you can post it on our facebook page facebook.com/booktv. >> you are looking at a live shot inside the auditorium at jones college perhaps, one of the event sites for the printer's row that fest. they're not quite ready for the next event yet so we will take another short break. this is booktv, television for serious readers.
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>> here are some books being published this week. mary katherine hammer and guidance and argue the political left uses fake outrage to disqualify opposing viewpoints on topics of health care infrastructure, education, sex and race. in midnight's furies asia editor for bloomberg you examine the contentious relationship between pakistan and india. also being released this week
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contributing editor for popular science tom klein tells the story of taylor wilson who at 14 build a 500 million degree reactor and became the youngest person in history to achieve nuclear fusion. final the in arms, guy loss and recounts how three young men in florida won of $300 million contract from the defense department in 2007 to supply ammunition to the afghanistan military and became large-scale weapons traders. look for these titles in bookstores this coming weekend watch for authors in the near future on booktv. >> what interested you in weapons of mass destruction? you wrote about germs, biological warfare? >> the happiest subjects. >> you seem to be drawn to grisly ways of dying. >> it was so crazy because i have been so blessed.
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my life was really lucky. i had a wealthy talented father, a brother who was a great musician, grew up comfortable but i grew up part of the time in las vegas when my father nightclubs, i didn't realize until the time send me back to las vegas after 2001 to look at what we were using the nevada test site for and to write a series of articles for. that is when i remembered this. i remembered growing up during the period for four years, open air testing and i remembered failing one of the tests. was only 60 miles from the place where we did most of our above-ground testing and most of
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our underground testing too. and i remember the bomb bay very much being a part of my childhood. my mother, to take us to j.c. penney, donated a set of clothing in the apple bombing at. pentagon, wanted to see what would happen to mannequins, regular clothes inside the houses they built which you can still see today if you go to the test site. they have to war as i can highly recommend once a month. and you saw they detonated a bomb and you saw the mannequins argon but they have pictures of what was left and would be absolutely horrific. the atomic testing museum in las vegas let's use it on a bench the way our soldiers did end
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feel the rumble of the earth, they recreated batch what the sky looked like and all of a sudden it came back to me. i realize where my interest in weapons of mass destruction came from nevermind we risk systematically lied to about the effects of radiation. that was i think part of the reason i wanted to learn about this, i knew a lot about what we were being told was not right. so my early pieces were very skeptical. national security justifications for some of the weapons we were developing, and neutron bombs, things like that. >> you can watch this and other programs on line at booktv.org. >> on sunday june 7th booktv is live from chicago with pulitzer prize-winning author lawrence wright on "in depth," our live monthly call in show. lawrence wright is author of
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nine books with topics that range from modern religion to the september nivens 2001 terror attacks and camp david accord. is more recent titles include a look at former panama dictator noriega in god's favored, a fictional account of the dictator's last years in power before his capture in 1989. he also wrote the looming tower which won the pulitzer prize in 2007 an examination of a rise of al qaeda osama bin laden and fbi agents responsible for tracking their actions prior to september 11th. lawrence wright also investigated scientology in going clear which became an hbo documentary. his latest book is 13 days in september, an account of the peace agreement between israel nt did that camp david in 1978. his previous books covered topics like growing up in the 60s and 70s, profiles of religious leaders and what identical twins tell us about
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inherited traits. lawrence wright live on booktv on sunday june 7th on "in depth". you can participate via phone social media or in person at the chicago tribune printer's row lit fest. ..
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>> welcome everybody before getting started i would like to thank our sponsors. today's program is being broadcast live on c-span2's booktv and if there is time at the end of thepressin presentation we will take questions while lining up here. you can take the spirit going year round with a prescription to the tribune row journal. and download our app for more information on the festival and access to the bookstore and we encourage everyone to post pictures to twitter, instagram, and facebook with #prlf15.
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before beginning the program, we ask you silence your cellphone and turn off your camera flashes. please welcome mary schmich pulit pulit puliter prize winner for the chicago tribune. >> is this on? it is. i was telling john and not blowing smoke, i think this is going to be one of the most interesting conversations of the weekend. i want to tell you how i meet john. i was in baton rouge and went to the louisiana state house basement and there was this eager young reported sitting
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there said chicago tribune. i got to know him after that and he would occasionally send me story ideas. it is one of those things be nice to the kid record because he may turn out to be important. we are here to talk about the birth control pill. you have win about alkapone lougarig, why the birth control pill? >> sometimes i joke and say al kapone was one of ten children. but seriously my wife was saying i should write a book women would like to read. and i remember a sermon i heard from my rabbi 10-12 years ago
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when he made the case the birth control was the most important invention of the century. and the more i thought about it this is something that transformed the world and changed human dynamics, what a family means, women's ability to change their body then their lifes all as a result of one invention. all i knew was it must have been in the '50s or '60s. i had little knowledge of this. why would a man invent such a thing? it had to be man right? men controlled science, government and big pharmaceutical companies. so i looked into subject the scientist was a man and there were two women involved and all rebels and outsideerrs and were
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basically doing something illegal. >> your book is called "the birth of the pill: how four crusaders reinvented sex and launched a revolution" so give us a background of the four people. gregory pinkton. >> he has been banished from harvard, denied tenured even though they admitted he is one of the smartest. he's working on in vitro fert fertlization back then. he tries to start his own laboratory taking any money he can get to try to reestablish his career. he meets margaret sangar who is
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this crusuding rebel -- >> she is character number two? >> since the early part of the century she has been going around saying women need to control their bodies so they can have sex for fun and it can be healthier and they can take control of their lives and that is not going to happen until women have a better form of birth control. she describes to the scientist we need a miracle tablet allowing women to turn on and off their reproductive system. something you can hide from men take it every day go off if you want to get pregnant and every scientist says it will never work. she meets him in the 1950's and science is advanced. singer is 71 years old.
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he said i can do it. how much money? and she said i can come up with a couple thousands. and then mccormick comes in and she is quite old, in her 70's and nothing to do with her money and wants to devote all of it to a search for birth control and agrees to fund it on her own. birth control is illegal in the 1950's. they are trying to create a pill for perfectly healthy people -- something that has never been done. this is a high risk adventure >> birth control of all kinds was illegal? >> except for condoms because they were for men and men can do whatever they want. it is illegal to dissiminate information about birth control
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even because it was bunched in with pornography laws created after the world war. we don't want women to have too much fun during sex. margaret sangar went to jail many time for distributing contraception. they cannot ask for government funding and they cannot test the pill on women in clinical trials if he can come up with something that works how will they test it? how will they find a drug company planning to make it? they are flying by the seat of their pants. >> you have the science, the birth control cruseders,adecrusaders, you have the funds. >> you need a body. he has only worked with rats.
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you need a gyno. >> john rock happened to be the most respected fertilty doctor. pinkett goes to rocket saying i think progesterone could work as a birth control pill because a woman already has contraception. when she is pregnant she can not get pregnant again. if we give the woman progesterone she will not ovulate and then won't get pregnant. he mentions this to john rock and he said i did it. i had a theory it might help their reproductive systems mature so women seeking getting
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help pregnant, infertile women are coming. so they were not dropping dead so you can check that off the list. progesterone might work. john rock thinks it might rest their reproductive system when they stop take and calls it the rock rebound. you can tell they are very good at marketing and promotion and thinking big. so pinket says can we find more women to give progesterone around? so they go and round up women trying to get pregnant let's give them progesterone. >> but not tell them why. >> there is a lot of scientific risk taking and violations that would never be acceptable today
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but were well-won -- well within the bounds then. the first women who received the birth control were women trying to get pregnant. a little irony there. and they go into insane hospitals and give it to women there. >> take us back a little before this. talk to us about the affect that world war ii had on the opening up of ideas about sexuality. >> we tend to think no one was discovering sexuality or having fun until play boy and the bill and the sexual revolution exploded. but the birth control revolution started earlier.
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it started in the 19th century when woman started controlling how many children they had by denying men sex and that is when you see them getting involved in politics and they did that by controlling their family size. world war ii is another huge event in the sexual freedom because women have more freedom while the men are out fighting. they are put into the workforce and move out of homes before marriage -- that had never happened. and they have romantic relationship and sex with people they have no intention of marrying. that is risky in the '40s. there is nothing reliable. but when men come home women are not pensive to go back home and quit jobs and are not sure they want to give up fun dating and having sex.
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and the men were having fun with the government giving out millions of condoms because they understood men needed a release from the stress. they enjoyed the service of prostitutes in europe. they came home and felt like sex doesn't have to be for having kids and you don't have to wait for marriage to enjoy it. >> so a shift happened on both parts of men and women in terms of what sex is four. >> that is right. pregnancy is the only thing holding it back. it tends to make the sex less fun. >> you can go back to the beginning of time and women were looking for ways to control the number of children they had. right? what were some of the primitive ways women did this? >> abortion was the number one form of birth control for thousands of years and women would find ways to abort the children by just brutal methods
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that often resulted in serious injuries and deaths. there were amateur abortionist all over. but people would use half a lemon for a cervical cap. women were desperate. that is the thing to understand why women took these enormous risk and undergo back alley abortions you had to understand how terrible it was to be pregnant when they couldn't afford more children or their body couldn't handle. margaret sangar saw her mother die after going through 18 pregnancy and 11 surviving. that wasn't uncommon for women to be worn out from repeated
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pregnancy. >> world war ii changed people's perception of what sex might be and what birth control could be. tell us more about how the experiments proceed. >> pinkett is running the show. there is no prescribed path and you never saw the development of a drug accepted like this without any backing. he is getting the chemicals he needs from a company in chicago and they are saying make sure our name doesn't show up. we will deny we know you. make sure it isn't on the scientific papers or the bottle. only when they see women are craving and willing to try this.
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he is really out on his own. the fact he is able to find john rock an established doctor is remarkable. >> how did they find john rock? >> they were in the boston area and knew each other from scientific meetings. everybody knew him. he was a super star in the world of obgyn. these two, the fact they are willing to take the chance and john rock's mission is more interesting and his ambition. he believes sex is good and married couples should enjoy it for fun. he is a catholic and goes to church every day but thinks they thchurch is wrong about birth control and abortion. he thinks women need help to control their body and with the right contraception the pope might agree. the rhythm method was approved
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and john rock thinks if they embraced that they might embrace that. he believes progesterone is natural so why can't the pill be natural? he believes it is possible and he can pull it off. not only to invent the pill and get it on the market and give it to women but even to change the catholic church's view on it. that is what he is after and he thinks it can be done. ought n you see people invent things that change the world but these four people believed they were dropping a bomb and doing something that transformed society. and knowing that from the outset is something extraordinary. >> john rock is gives this to the patients and they are not fully aware of the purpose.
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they know watt they are taking but don't know exactly why. they take this into mental hospitals and eventually to puerto rico. >> in boston they are able to find 50-60 women and that is not enough to go to the fda and get approval. you need more test clients for the trial. he goes to puerto rico to deliver a lecture and realizes there are birth control clinics all over the island because the eugensis, this racist movement that was fairly poplar in the 1930's opened birth control clinics. even though the predominant religion is catholicism the woman are comfortable going to
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the clinics so he thought maybe we can test it here. we have talented american doctors working down there. this seems like a great possible solution. >> he meets another woman who plays a significant role in the book and has a local chicago angle. >> dr. ray, a brilliant doctor who decides she doesn't just want to take care of the healthy in chicago but wants to help the poor and moves with her children to puerto rico to do medical work in the slums there. she is down there and agrees to help run the trials. they begin taking the pill to the woman in puerto rico and word gets around american doctors are offering this new contraception. >> they are telling these women it is a con trutraceptioncontraception?
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>> yes, but they are not saying it is experimental. they are not being asked to sign consent forms like we would today. and no body knew the risks and the side effects were terrible because it was huge doses of progesterone. they wanted it to be hundred percent effective so he didn't care how sick they were just wanted to make sure no one was pregnant. the only woman involved was complaining saying you have to shut this down because the side effects are making the women miserable. but he didn't care and kept going. he was trying to get enough numbers to prove it worked. as the word got around, the catholic church realized this was being tested and the priest began giving sermons saying we want to remind you this new
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contraception around is a sin and the lines at the clinics were even longer which is an important message. at every stage when woman found out it was being tested they raised their hands and said when can we get it? the side effects were concerning but having another child was a greater concern. they said we need this and that convinced people to get involved. >> there is something terrifically disconcerting in reading this book. the book is a great read. it is so easy to read. on the cover, ken burns called it suspenseful. it really is because he is watching these four people try to create this thing that the world is telling them not to create. at the same time they are running scams, kind of. it is very disconcerting to
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thing of these poor women in puerto rico or women in mental hospitals and patients of john rock. >> yeah it is concerning. they would make the argument we may not know the side effects but we know the side effects of pregnancy and a lot of women die from such and women are forced into poverty and children are dieing because families can't see them. so that is how they justified it. we can argue the ethics of that all day long. but in the 1950's they were within the bounds of the normal -- >> there is one thing in the book that struck me like an undercover drug deal where john rock is collecting urine samples from this patients and having
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somebody drive the urine samples to having them drive to meet someone somewhere. that is very undercover. >> it is remarkable to think about how crazy this was. they are making it up as they go along. there is a point where margaret sangar asked him to attend a convention in japan and announced they created the birth control bill and he agrees. he is a flame thrower and loves attention. and john rock says wait a second. we only tested this on 60 women for a few months. you cannot tell the world we discovered this. that is crazy and suicide. he goes to anyway to japan and tells the world and it appears in newspapers all over country
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and world that the first oral contraception has arrived. it alerted the government the feds and the catholic church this was going on. but women all over the country began demanding is saying i want it now. writing unbelievable letters that were sad saying i heard about this. and he was mailing it to relatives and friends who needed it. >> who was manufacturing at that point? >> no names. they finally go to the fda in 1956 and ask for approval but this is brilliant because he doesn't say they only tested at this point on 160 women. he had he tested it on 1,600 menstrual cycles. they don't have for approval as birth control but a pill to regulate women's cycles and the fda approves it with one
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condition: warning this may prevent pregnancy. you could not ask for better advertisement. and women are going to the doctor by the tens of thousands saying i heard there is a pill for in irregular cycle and they are walking in with nine children behind them. and the doctor knows. the doctors are calling patients saying i have something you might be interested in. it changes the world because the women say we want this and this is what we have been waiting for. >> when point does the pill come out of the closet? >> by the late '50s it isn't being used for birth control but then they went back and said
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remember that pill? we would like to use it for birth control. the sciencetist who approved the bill had 11 children. >> tell me about jack sural. >> he went down to puerto rico and saw the woman suffering. the average woman in puerto rico had 6.5 children in the 1950's. he saw the families in the slums. this wasn't just about sex. sangar believed sex was important and one of the main reasons she wanted to pill but smart enough to recognize that wasn't the best way to sell it. she sold it as a way to help control the population growth and people were concerned the population was growing too fast and help foster the spread of communist behavior and birth control for population control was a much more acceptable political cause. so jack sural got on board with
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that and came to believe this was way to help the world. >> help the world and help his business. i will let you read this because it is such an interesting passage about where this crusade to make life better for women meets commerce. >> back in the chicago suburb jack sorrel and his fellow executives faced a delima. the pill was going to be controversy untested and opposed by the catholic church but represented a potential gold mine to the company that offered it first. here was a pill a woman would take every day for years in sickness and in health. if if worked won approval and didn't make women sick and became poplar or socially acceptable millions of women might each consume 240 tablet as year at a price of 50 cents a bill. it would be the biggest product he brought to market and they
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paid nothing for it up to this point because mccormick carried much of the cost of develop. >> that is how innovation happens happens, ladies and gentlemen. >> it ain't pretty. >> paul was working on something as well? >> there were a lot of scientist trying to figure out hormones work. we began to search for ways to make it cheaply and people in mexico found you can make progesterone from yams. a couple different chemical companies were trying to make it at the same time and there was great competition to see who would get it first. they chose another scientist
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formula for progesterone. once sural came out you saw other companies jumping on board trying to compete and catch up. >> so at what point did the pill become "the pill"? >> it is the first product in america that did not need a name. there is no such thing as the car or the sofa. and it becomes the bill for a couple reasons. women are not sure what to say when they go into the doctor's office. and because it is so different than what came before. all of the different forms of contraception were things you had to fumble with during the sex act. and the pill was so completely different you were able to identify it by the fact it was a pill. it was the pill. it was so important to women it didn't need a name. i think between '67-'68 you see
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it changing society and you see woman waiting to get married and have children and instantly you see the number of women going to college creeping up you see the number of women graduating and going to post graduate school creeping up. and women on college camps all really very quickly as i said before it is pretty unusual to see new invention change the world so dramatically. ...
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>> the response, it's one of the really important things we don't talk about much. we talk about the invention of the pill and how it changed the world, what margaret sanger to have women to have control. birth control. the important word here is control, and the pill would give women control. it also gave men kind of a pass in a way that are not necessarily good. because men are able to say well it's her problem. and that's one i think, of the unfortunate side effects. >> but, you know, i'm ten years older than you are, i now reveal it, and one of the fascinating things to me about reading your
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book was growing up in the time when this was being invented, i grew up in a big catholic family. my mother had eight kids, there was no pill. catholic. and when i got to college in california, all of a sudden all the girls were getting the pill at the health center. and that was my introduction to it. it's like oh, whoa, there is a pill? what's that? and just, you know, and then once you knew you knew, and it felt like you'd known forever. but really just, as you say, how quickly it all changed. right there in the '50s. >> and how revolutionary it was. i think you can make an argument if the pill doesn't come along, we don't have ruth bader ginsburg on the supreme court. even sandra day o'connor. they were able to go to law school and start careers because we're at an age and i don't know about their personal use of birth control, but they're at an age when women are starting to be able to have make more choices for themselves, and the choices are not all controlled by the timing of their marriage.
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>> i think we may want to take some questions from the audience. >> sure. >> yeah? i asked jon, we were walking over here, about questions he'd been asked, and he said he'd never been asked anything that was too embarrassing about sex, is so don't break that now, okay? [laughter] >> that's okay, bring it on. [laughter] >> i though we have -- do we have a microphone here somewhere? where are people going? yeah. right there. so while somebody's getting to the microphone, how did you find all this stuff out? >> well, you know, the great thing about scientists, they're way better than gangsters and baseball players about keeping records. [laughter] they wrote thousands of letters they saved every scrap of paper from their research. margaret sanger and katherine mccormick wrote each other sometimes several letters a day so this was a gold mine for me x. most of it was already
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archived and organized really nicely, so i was able to do a lot of my research at these libraries where the research, the archivists have already gone through these papers. >> was there any information that was really hard to get aside from the dutiful work of getting it? >> i worked really hard to find women and find the children of women who were some of those early guinea pigs in the mental asylums and in pert rio and that was tough because you say, hi, i want to talk to you about the fact that your mom was in an insane asylum and may have been one of the first women tested as an experiment for the birth control pill. well, you get a lot of hang-ups. [laughter] so it took a lot -- i had to get a lot were better at how i introduced myself before i got a few of them to stay on the phone and talk to me. those stories were really moving, but those were hard to come by. >> yeah. >> hi. i have a question about the science when they moved from progesterone toest to general. i don't know if you covered that in your book. >> yeah, it's a great question.
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pincus was scared to death of using estrogen. he knew they worked in similar ways but estrogen was thought to cause cancer so he avoided it as best they could. and when they were doing these experiments in puerto rico there was one period when they were cataloging all the results of the, that period, that cycle of tests and women were complaining a lot heads about the side effects -- less about the side effects. they weren't getting as nauseous. he became confused, why all of a sudden are the numbers looking better? he asked sir ril to test -- cyril to test that batch of pills, and they had contaminated them with a small amount of estrogen. pincus said, well, keep that in there now, and let's see what happens. [laughter] so they began using a combination of progesterone and estrogen, so it was one of those great accidents of science. >> a great, great book. we discussed it at great length
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in our book club. >> thank you. >> fascinating book. this is sort of tangential. clearly, there was a very interesting comment sort of the connection between the early work and eugenics. as one section. but, you know one of the things i'm same basic age as you are mary and i remember if you're of a certain age you remember lots of conversation when i was in college about, you know, zero population growth. can you comment on what -- because that was clearly a motivator or some of the participants in the story. can you comment on what's happening today in the world using the pill for sort of population control, you know, in all kinds of markets, especially in the underdeveloped world? >> yeah. the birth control pill did not do everything that margaret sanger thought it would, and it certainly didn't work the you
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eugenicists thought it would because it did not help much in poor parts of the world. it became something that was enormously popular among middle class and upper class women who could afford to pay for it and who could visit their doctors regularly and get prescriptions refilled every month. but in, you know, remote parts of the world where access to health care wasn't good, the pill did not have the same kind of effects so obviously it did not help reduce population, the population explosion the way people thought it would. and as far as your question about the eugenicists it's really a messy business, and you'll hear people complain that margaret sanger was a racist because of her willingness to ally herself with the eugenicists. i think it's very complicated as most people are. and certainly in the 1930s and '40s most people's relations with race were complicated. you know, we were a very racist society. she, on the one hand opened clinics in harlem and had w.e.b. duboise on her board. on the other hand she absolutely welcomed the support
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of the eugenics movement because they were powerful, because they'd already done some of the work she was hoping to do, and she saw in them a useful ally. whether she herself was racist or not, i don't think she was any more racist than the average white american at that time. that's not to excuse some of the deals she made and things she said, but i think we need to understand the complexity of those kinds of issues back then. >> i'd like to also thank you for the book, for a great discussion and it really does stimulate a lot of good conversation. to me, one of the things that i found most interesting was published at the same time, i think, the hobby lobby ruling came out and i wonder if you could talk a little bit about the controversy that it's hard to believe almost 60 years later, there's no resolution, it seems, particularly with now the over-the-counter possibility of the pill. maybe you could speak about that. >> yeah. a lot of people say to me, wow,
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it's great timing when hobby lobby was coming out. i wasn't really smart or anything about it -- [laughter] you can pretty much count on the fact that there's going to be controversy over birth control anytime you publish a book, which is sad, the fact that we're still having these fights, still basically arguing over whether a woman should have the right to control her own body and make these decisions for herself is ridiculous. if these were questions -- thank you, whoever's clapping back there. police[applause] if this were a question addressed to men if men were being told by politicians they couldn't control their own bodies, it would not go over very well. so i think it's really rooted in just flat out sexism. and i'd like to -- i know margaret sanger and all these people involved in the creation of the pill would be horrified that we're still debating that now. >> jon have you faced any political backlash or specifically political response to your book? >> no, not really. it's been surprisingly pleasant.
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i mean, i've had really nice, smart commentary from very conservative publications, from religious organizations. i think people have really used the book as a chance to discuss these issues. and because i try to really stay right down the middle, i don't take a side. obviously, i think you can read between the lines and see that i think birth control's been good for society and that women should have access to it, but i tried to write the book as straight a history as i could. >> yes sir. >> as you say the cultural questions go on and on, but you had said earlier on that the contraception, contraceptives were illegal early on when this whole process started that you're talking about. were statutory changes preceding the pill or were they pushed by the advance of the drug? >> that's a great question. it was really the drug that moved the ball forward in many ways. that's something you see throughout american history, our actions change, and then the law
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catches up to it. so women began using birth control, using it openly even telling their priests, yeah i've got to disagree with you on this one i'm going to go with the pill. finally, in 1965 in griswold v. connecticut, the supreme court affirmed women have a right the birth control as part of their right to privacy which was an unusual constitutional argument. it was the first time that argument had been made, but it was hugely important and it opened the door and really, i think it was very much an example of women speaking up for themselves and saying we need this, and then the law found a way to catch up. >> i got here a little late so if you covered this already, i apologize. my first question is what prompted you to write this book, and number two, in all of your research what surprised you the most if there was something that stood out. >> i did mention earlier that i was prompted just by how incredible the story was, and i think that ties into part two of your question, what surprised me the most. what surprised me was they were able to pull this off.
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[laughter] they never should have been able to do it, it was ridiculous. think about it, four people with no government support no university support with one woman writing the check for the entire process testing something that's illegal. it's mind-boggling that they pulled it off and that, to me, is the biggest surprise. you know, i think it goes to show what a few people can accomplish when they're willing to take chances. >> i think we have time for maybe one more question. >> it's a quick one. besides the corporation, did the original people in it profit? >> that's another really good question. no, none of these four heroes made any money on this. and pincus was in a position to. he might have tried to patent this himself, but he never did. and part of the reason for that was he believed it was important to get this done as fast as possible, that we needed to get this in the hands of women and the best way to do that was to let g.d. cyril take the money. if they were motivated by
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profit, they might be willing to take the chance and bring this drug to the market. the other reason, again, there was a lot of sneaky, slimy stuff going on. pincus was also taking money from cyril, so i think he was worried he might get into some legal issues because he was in some ways, an employee of the company. so, as usual, it was not neat and tidy and you can't wrap it up in a ribbon and say that pincus was being unselfish. but he did ultimately, do the right thing. and had he tried to control the patent and profit from it, it might never have been released. so that's again, history's messy sometimes. most of the time. >> jon, we're still talking about this book, but you're writing your next book, right? can we ask you what it's about? >> yeah, sure. i'm working on the biography of muhammad ali. >> the guy is versatile. >> yeah. a little crazy maybe. thanks. [applause] >> so we're out of time here,
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but you can tell from the way jon talks that he knows how to use words. this book is really entertaining. but it's also really enlightening, you know? and, i mean, part of the brilliance of it is that he posed a question that you didn't even know was lurking in your mind until he posed the question who invented the pill? it's a great yarn. >> thank you. >> thank you. he's going to sign some books out there. [applause] >> all right well, thank you very much for our panel and thank you all very much for attending. as we just said, mr. eig will be signing books right outside in the lobby. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> and you've been listening to jonathan eig of the "wall street journal" talking about his book, "the birth of the pill." this is booktv's live coverage from chicago. we've got several more events coming up today. we are in the north auditorium of jones college prep which is right next to the open-air part
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of the festival which is held just on the south side of downtown chicago. and starting in just a few minutes, erik larson, whose newest book is about the sinking of the lucetania. he's also author of "the devil in the white city," that became a runaway best seller, and he'll be back to talk about "dead wake" in just a minute. this is booktv's live coverage on c-span2. >> when i joined the army, i just assumed that i was going to have to prove myself and exceed the standards to be accepted and i strove to do just that. but what i realized during my journey is that all the good leaders i served with held themselves to a higher standard, and they consistently applied leadership principles meant to improve, not degrade or debase.
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in the army, we call it leading from the front. in the book, i spend some time talking about the difference between leaders and soldiers who just met the standards and those who always tried to exceed the standards. and it's kind of like the difference between being an a student and a c student. except in the army lives depend on our performance and our leadership. the leader who's satisfied with just meeting the standard, never striving to a higher standard, will probably never lead a high performing organization. now, when i joined the army back in 1975, i joined the women's army corps. it was kind of like a separate branch for women who desired to serve. and to be honest i never dreamed about joining the army. i always knew from the time i
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was in elementary school that i was going to be a coach and a physical education teacher. as a kid, i was a tomboy. i don't even know if they use that word anymore, but i loved sports, and i went to one of the top physical education colleges in the country courtland in upstate new york. now, during my junior year in college, the army offered women $500 a month during their senior year in return for a two-year commitment and a commission as a second lieutenant. well $500 was a lot of money back then. and even with four generations of west pointers in my family, thought of joining the army had never crossed my mind. but it was an offer i couldn't refuse. so i joined and began my two-year journey in the army, a two-year journey that turned into five years, ten years twenty years and yes
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thirty-eight years. so when people ask me if i always knew i was going to be a general, i tell 'em not in my wildest dreams. when it happened, there was no one more surprised than i was. except, of course, my husband. and now you know why they say behind every successful woman there's an astonished man. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> here's a look at some recent books featured on booktv's "after words," our weekly interview program. one recent guest was april ryan, white house correspondent for american urban radio networks. she discussed her new book, " the presidency in black and white," and her 25-year career in journalism. we also spoke with presidential candidate mike huckabee about his book, "god guns, grits and
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gravy." the former governor talked about his views on politics and culture. wes moore was our guest for "the work," his quest to the find meaning and fullfulment in his life. we also spoke with eric foner about his book "gateway to freedom," which details the history of the underground railroad. also appearing on "after words" was cornel west. he talked about his latest book, "the radical king," a collection of speeches by martin luther king jr. tax reform was the focus of our conversation with grover norquist. he outlines his ideas in his book "end the irs before it ends us." also appearing recently was elaine lowery buy author of "be safe love mom." she spoke about being a mother to four military officers serving in a war zone. and peter september 11 vin appeared to discuss his biography of michelle obama. he looks at the life of the first lady from childhood through the white house.
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"after words" airs every saturday at 10 p.m. and sundays at 9 p.m. you can watch all previous "after words" on our web site, booktv.org. >> and booktv recently visited capitol hill to ask members of congress what they're reading this summer. >> this summer i'm reading a black book this thick that i was given when i came to congress. all congressmen were given this book. virtually none of us have read it. it's jefferson's manual. so the rules of the house were written by with thomas jefferson. now, when he was vice president he was over the senate, and he said, well what's my job? we knead some rules here, we need something to go by. so he did a lot of r&d. not r&d in the technical sense he did ripoff and duplicate. he went to parliament, and he took all of their rules and he wrote 'em down, even the ones that they thought were so normal they'd never even written them down. so if you go back, even the british go back to jefferson's manual to see how parliament was
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run in 1801 when he ripped off and duplicated all of that and brought it to congress for us. now, obviously, those rules have been updated and annotated by precedent, and i'm fascinated by rules. as an engineer in congress, it's like reading a programming manual. most people would fall asleep after half a page. and i can get through about ten pages, twenty pages a day because i find it fascinating. and i think there's some secret sauce there in the rules. if you can understand the rules then i think you can get more done in congress. a lot of times if you see people in the speaker's chair they're being handed written notes and that's the parliamentarian telling them what's in order to say. and when you're working from the floor, you're working sometimes against the parliamentarian. you'd like to be working with him. and if you can compose music instead of just reading music, in other words, if you understand the rules and you can
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formulate motions in the proper order, then i think that gives you some influence that you otherwise wouldn't have. it keeps you from looking stupid too. >> and booktv wants to know what you're reading this summer. tweet us your answer @booktv, or you can post it on our facebook page, facebook.com/booktv. [inaudible conversations] >> and we're in between events at the 2015 chicago tribune printers row lit fest and we'll be back with more live coverage after this short break. [inaudible conversations]
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>> on sunday, june 7th booktv is life from chicago with pulitzer prize-winning chicago lawrence wright on "in depth." he's the author of nine books with topics that range from modern religion to the september 11th 2001, terror attacks and the camp david accords. his more recent titles include a look at former panama dictator manuel noriega in "god's favorite," a fictional account of the dictator's last years in power. he also wrote "the looming tower." it's an examination of the rise of al-qaeda, osama bin laden and the fbi agents responsible for tracking their actions prior to september 11th. lawrence wright also investigated scientology in "going clear" which also became an hbo documentary. and his latest book is "thirteen
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days in september," an account of the peace agreement between israel and egypt in 1978. his previous books cover topics such as growing up in the '60s and '07s profiles of religious leaders and what identical twins tell us about inherited traits. lawrence wright, live on booktv on sunday, june 7th, on "in depth." and you can participate via phone, social media or in person at the chicago tribune printers row lit fest. >> you know, you really make me think of one of the facts. and i guess it's not that surprising in retrospect but seemed surprising when i was doing the research, was how much more accessible flexible schedules are to white collar workers. and that higher earning workers and men particularly are the ones who have most access to family leave and sick leave and vacation days. and, you know, and i think you point out that they also have
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more flexible schedules just generally. i mean, i think the way our fair labor standards act works is that if you're not -- if you're a salaried employee, you don't punch a clock if you have to run out for a dentist appointment in the middle of the day, you don't account for that extra hour and a half by working -- although people understand you probably will. >> right. >> but that kind of ability to kind of deal with daily circumstances, and i was thinking about, you know, i was thinking about that on the way here, about all of the snow days that. >> right. >> -- we had in the d.c. area. and for people who work -- and i know this is now becoming less of a mother's issue, but also a father's issue. the mothers and fathers who were struggling to try and figure out who, if the school was closed who would be able to stay home and who would go to work. >> right. >> but, you know, a lot of white collar folks were able to telecommute -- >> right. >> -- or come in late. and if you're an hourly worker if you're working at mcdonald's that's just not an
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option for you. so i think it's a good point. and, you know, i actually have seen data that shows flexible work hours actually increase productivity. >> yes. >> ultimately, for the economy you have lower job turnover so that you have greater experience in the workers who stay, and you don't have the costs that are associated with recruiting and training somebody new. so i think it's definitely something that we should try and push down, because i think those of us who have been lucky enough to benefit from education and a socioeconomic class that has allowed us to be lawyers and doctors and whatever have, by and large, been able to take advantage of those circumstances when we have a family crisis or when there's a snow day or whatever reason might you might need some flexibility in your job. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> here's a look at some of the current best selling nonfiction books according to "the chicago tribune."
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topping the list, the life-changing magic of tidying up. in second, david mccullough, a two-time winner of the pulitzer prize, recounts the birth of flight in "the wright brothers." bill o'reilly along with david fisher come in third with a companion book to the fox news series legend and lies which examines the lives of people in the american west. up next, fox news contributor and former white house press secretary dana perino shares stories from her years in the white house and her time in television in "and the good news is." our look at the chicago tribune's best seller list continues with "american wife" from taya kyle, widow of "american sniper" author chris kyle. she recounts her life after her husband's death. up next in "the road to character," new york times columnist david brooks looks at the lives of ten historical
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figurings as examples for how to achieve success. also on the list ashley vance profiles the inventer and cofounder of tesla motors and paypal in "elon musk." wrapping up this week's bestsellers, tom brokaw longtime host of nbc nightly news program, discusses his personal battle with cancer in "a lucky life interrupted." and that's a look at some of the current nonfiction bestsellers according to the chicago tribune. [inaudible conversations] >> and we resume our live
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coverage from "the chicago tribune" printers row lit fest. now, erik larson whose latest book is "dead wake: the last crossing of the lucetania." this is live coverage from chicago on booktv. [applause] .. chicago tribune.
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[applause] >> that is enough of that. does anybody in here not know who erik larson is? you walk in saying that looks like an interesting name? he is, without argument and you can argue if you want to the finest non-fiction writer alive. [applause] >> he is also a terrific human being and you unfortunately have to listen to larson and kogan. this is the first time we are having a conversation without cocktails. you describe this as a floating village in steel.
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you get 15 minutes to ask specific questions so i will not focus too much on the book. my editor has specific questions. but i want to talk more about the process in a sense. you are now in what you call the dark country of no ideas. >> that is a term i didn't come up with. my good friend and publicist came up with it when i am looking for a period to describe my next book. when i finish a book i have no other idea on my plate and start from scratch. it is a long-ish process taking about a year before starting the next project during which i am unpleasant and snappish and pissy. >> that process -- do you sort of read not indiscriminate and
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go from there? >> i wish i had a way to distill the process. it is mostly chance. i do things that i hope will try to jog things lose in my mind. i will walk through the stacks in my favorite library in seattle and just pull books at random and just read to see what the book is about as a way to expose myself to new things and books i would never come across. this has never yielded anything. never! but it is a way to make -- truly it is a way to make me feel productive. i don't like sitting around and i have a lot of desk toys as some of you know and i can spend a lot of time orchestrating
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battles with the ken doll and japanese boat train but in the end it doesn't pay college tuition. >> of which there were three. >> there are one. >> one is still in. one may be going to law school but we are not sure. we sound great
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novel, by caleb car called the alien alienist. it is about a fictional serial killer in new york. i came away thinking i got a sense of what old 1890's new york must have been like. then i thought why don't i try to do a non-fiction book about a historical murder and try to
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devote the same thing. this is a long story so if anyone wants to get up and go to the bathroom get coffee -- >> i am sure you will be bored to tears by this. >> you may be. i said grmi am going to look into a book about a murder. i took out a book called the encylopedia of murder. i came across many guys and i was excited. the story of had horror hotels and acid baths. but i didn't want to do what i refer to as crime porn. something along the line of gosford park. i kept looking and found the murder i started working on.
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it wasn't particularly mysterious or interesting. there was a bizarre hurricane connection. i fell in love and it became the book called "eye of the storm". when i was done i started thinking about maybe i should look for a murder. i never heard of the world's exhibition. i had never heard of it. there is nothing on my plate and i will read about the fair.
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i went back to the same library and they have a large collection about the world's fair even in seattle and that told me something. but what happened was i started reading -- the first thing i read was this tedious academic thing about the fair. it was like a marxist, feminist deconstruction of whatever pavilion. it was really mind killing but i was already in that zone so i was willing to read anything. then i came to the foot notes, a lot of historians tend to put the best stuff in the footnotes because if you get tenure you cannot write about things in the footnotes. first one i came across was the trigger for this book. that was where i read that juicy foot was introduced to consumers
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for the first time at the world's fair. why is that significant? because i am a big juicy fruit gum chewer and some of you out there. but you know the juicy fruit gum is a private obsession because it is a strange gum. if you are sitting next to someone on the bus chewing juicy fruit gum you think they just threw up. it was like wow, this is fascinating. and the more i read about it from the foot notes and the more i read getting into more interesting books i thought this was an amazing event. that is what brought me back to holmes. i thought i'm going to do this fair but i need something else and holmes provided the dark u juxta juxtaposition to the light city. the title came the first day and stayed every sense.
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>> the last lit fest you were telling me it was the devil city and you were insecure about that book. those of whew who read it i assume most of you, i don't find that as a writer anything to be insecure about that book. were you surprised at the level of success of that book? >> i was very surprised. >> we can go on about the logic of publishing for another half hour. >> i will mention one thing that happened with the introduction.
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two people showed up and during the question and answer period, two young women in their early 30's, stood up and were you know, well groomed they seemed like normal people and they were. but it turned out they said they were direct descendants of the serial killer and they were both corporate lawyers. i asked if they had any weapons. but they -- one of them said, you know i want to tell you we are so happy about this book because it is the first time anyone did our black sheep relative any justice. and then i swear to god she said as a matter of fact we are having a family reunion in the hudson valley this saturday and
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did i want to come? >> can we assume the garden of the beast was somehow born out of that? was perhaps born out of some of your research for devil in white city? dealing a professor, a woman who worked at the tribune. zeier >> zero connection. really? >> no connection whatsoever. >> you could not have said i think i want to do a take on hitler in world war ii? >> absolutely not. no, what happened was it had to do with the political situation when i started thinking about
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the garden of the beast. it was getting creepy with the bush administration putting political agents into departments and firing u.s. attorneys for their political beliefs and it got me thinking this is what happens. people wonder what might it have been like to lib in berlin during hitler's rise? that was the question that popped into my head. it is more convoluted than that. i happened to go to a bookstore trying to be productive and went into a bookstore to look at the works of history and came across this book face out i had never read. 1700 pages. no pictures. small print. this is why i had never read it right? you are probably thinking this is the bible.
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1700 pages, no print and rise and fall of the third right. i had never read it, took it home loved it if one can be said to love a book about the third right. that is when the two things came together. this concern about politics and a political situation and realizing that the author of rise and fall of the third right had actually been there in berlin and had socialized with all of these characters and awful people before they became known as awful people and before the war and before anybody knew how it would turn out. that is what made me start thinking what would that have been like to have lived in berlin when you didn't know the ending. how would it have fell? what would you have seen if i had been in a cafe when hitler is driven by in the open car. would i have been thrilled or board or text friends saying what is up with that mustache?
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and then it came to finding the right characters and thank god i came across ambassador dodd and really his daughter. >> you write in the short introduction to "dead wake: the last crossing of the lusitania" you talked about a day in may the depths have been obscured in the mist of history. i am curious why certain things do get buried like that? part of it must be research along the way. not hers but others. >> first of all in the case of lusitania it is not like anyone knew the story. >> i think most people know
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lusitania was a boat and it was sunk. that is not a story. you know what i mean? am i wrong? >> you are exactly correct. that is what we all pick up from high school. okay. lusitania torpedo sinks and next day we are in the war like it is the world war one equivalent of pearl harbor. i was doubting the research of not entering the war after reading this. questions like in the case of serial killers and the world's fair or in the case of isaac storm, the storm that destroyed galveston, people in texas knew it teaching it in seventh grade but outside of texas no one knew
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about it and i didn't know about it until i stumbled upon it in the new york world a newspaper from that era. again with the killer and the world's fair stumbled across that too and no one else in chicago knew about the world's fair of 1893. >> especially with a book like this where there have been millions of words written about it you do certainly can and you research the old fashion as a way of gaining light in other books, how do you get around that? >> that was a big thing. it was a mental obstacle about doing the book about the lusitania. it crossed my mind do to it because i like mari skare --
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maritime history -- i have been fascinated with this and i would have done a book about the titantic if james cameron and others did it to death. there was this obstacle of knowing a lot had been done. but something kept gnawing at me. i put it in an archive to look at the materials and i realized i might be able to bring something because this was just a glimpse of what was available and i knew much more was available. there was show much fine textured material, so deep and rich and the whole deal that i
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thought i think i can actually do something knew here in terms of the history and that is to put on my alfred hitchcock hat and do a book of suspense. there were new things in the books and it is hard to do a heavy research project without finding things. there too i am surprised at the reception because my fear was people would be burned out on lusitania like i have been there done that. >> do you feel with all of these best sellers in your background do you feel any pressure, erik, with each new book after the success of devil? >> yes. >> and it is allevated by a
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glass of red wine or is there something more to it? >> only way to alleviate the pressure is -- there is pressure and you feel it and anybody who says they don't is probably still drunk. but for me what you have to do is put a list aside and say forget it i am doing a study i want to do because i am interested in this study. i proceed with the idea of if i am interested in this someone else is going to be interested. that is my feeling. so far i haven't been wrong. it could be with the next book. it helps i have a sounding board like my daughters who don't
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mince words. >> you said your wife's first book is isaac storm. i suppose it is like saying who is your favorite daughter. do you have a favorite book of yours? and why? >> i don't have a favorite book because i can't have a favorite book. it is like daughters. i don't have a favorite daughter. i have a favorite wife. >> you met your wife on a blind date, did you not? >> i did. >> anybody else meet on a blind date with a successful marriage? i don't believe any of you. >> and we have been married about 30 years. it was a blind date however the first date was terrible. >> where did you go? tell me you didn't go to a library? >> it was in san francisco and we went out for a drink and dinner. there was no chemistry and nothing.
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but then a couple weeks past and i felt i was arrogant and can i use the word asshole? i was an arrogant asshole and called her up on the theory of every woman deserves a second chance. the second date clicked. it was great. >> there is, given your profession, there is no underestimating the value of having a family that you appreciate and who also, and i can get the sense, understands you and what you do. >> i have two families. the secret family is not one want to talk about. no value of family is
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incredible. for stability, maintaining a positive footing and you can't get lost in your own little world as you know when you have first toddlers and then teenagers and then you know kids who need to learn how to drive and all of this stuff. it just keeps you balanced. >> you have used your kids to your advantage you were telling me when you were here with devil in the white city you didn't have her out crying on the street trying to sell copies. but you had her sing. >> i did. i don't know if anybody was here for that. but it goes back to the printers road of 2003. there was a song in devil in the white city written for the fair. it is the one that goes da-da and i had my daughter do it. she was so cute. i tried to get her to come back
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for this. she is 21. and she is living in new york. she is like dad it is not happening. >> something else happened at the printers row thing of taking questions which will in five minutes. you got asked a seminole chicago question, didn't you? you were talking about the nature of taking eggsquestions and many get up saying i have a question and they will ask and it will be answered and the second part of that question is... but. >> we had started to talk about it earlier. devil in the white city the first inkling i got was at the university of chicago, and a number of chicago police department homicide cops turned out. i didn't do anything. they came to hear the talk. and there was a bunch of these guys and it was a packed house. during the question and answer
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period a guy gets up and those who recall the story, chicago won the right to do the world's fair over new york and washington. and this guy gets up a classic guy, kind of gnarly and he says i just have one question you know chicago gets the fair, new york and washington don't, who put on the fix? the kicker is the guy turned out to be the alderman for hide park. >> be careful with your questions. this is a fantastic book. i cannot pick my favorite erik larson book. devil in the white city is way up there and when i ireread to like i do every couple years it risus to the top and then every couple years he as a new book that tops that.
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this things hit the book so effectively. harris swam from the ship. quote i had no feeling of feet when i went overboard. he felt as comfortable as if he had simply entered a swimming pool. so composed when he came across a floating book he picked it up and examineed it. -- examined it -- i am in awe of where that writing comes from. you are in the presence of a master and a decent guy and a cool guy and i probably think a pretty good father too. >> don't be too much in awe because if you read that correctly it should have been fear not feet. >> well my eyes are going.
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i had no fear as i went overboard. erik larson, line up and ask questions. you have to step up to the microphone. >> just shout your question. >> did he go to the family reunion? >> no. >> those are the kind of questions i like. >> i like historical books in general. doris goodwin and such.
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i love your books and you have a different style almost like a novel. i feel like your books have a theme. do you write to get a message across as opposed to getting history across? >> no. it will be great if we can take 50 questions in 15 minutes if every answer is no. >> no but i never set out to flog any message i really want to get across but invariable there is something that emerges in the course of research that is not intended but does come out, if you want it to be a message. like in isaac storm about the hurricane the story is about
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hubris guy who thinks he knew everything and proved him wrong. and you know i spoke with one that came closest to starting with the idea of a message was in the garden of beast. i had no intention of making any kind of -- like getting up on a soap box and preaching. i let that story, once i found the characters you have to go with what you have got. i love nuance. i love nuance characters. in the case of garden of the beast, i have been criticized by people for including martha in the book or not being more judgmental in the book about the ambassador and his daughter and not taking a more judgmental stand on hitler and so forth but jove to tell it the way it is.
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it doesn't take away. it isn't part of the architecture of the book. >> back in the day when you used to appear at smaller venues like out in forest park. i saw you doing an author event for devil in the white city. you mention the types of story where you have two and you bring it together at the end i believe you called it a parallel narrative -- >> dual narrative. >> you said it was difficult to do and that particularly book would be the last dual narrative and obviously it wasn't. so my question is what attracts you to the dual narrative and is this your last dual narrative? >> are you a stalker?
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>> i never want to do another one because it is like writing two books instead of one. you are writing two books. i did say publically i would not do another dual narrative and the next book was thunderstruck and it was completely by accident believe me i told my wife you know i am going to get attacked for being derivative of my own book. but it was like i just love the story and that became the story of the second most notorious murder in british history. that was the second last one i did in my view. i don't like at it as a dual narrative or this as a dual narrative. so yeah. >> i don't have a question so
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much but i want to thank you for all of the great books you are providing. i have been telling friends that if you read the book you are only reading half the story. i mean if you look at the notes toward the back of the book he provides so much more information you are not getting if you don't read them. for example, he puts in his foot notes where you can go to a website and see film of people boarding the boat and film of the boat leafving the harbor. it was so nice you offer all of this additional information for the readers. thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you very much for your comment because i have learned people love the foot notes and i
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love people that love the foot notes because that is the genesis of devil in the white city. i worked very hard at my foot notes to squeeze in the things that would not fit into the narrative sometimes they are far field. >> young lady? >> can you seen or are you aware of the photo stan's company production of the devil in the white city? >> i know of it but i have not seen it. do you recommend it? >> highly. when i read the book -- >> i will make you a deal. >> when the announcement came out, i was very anxious to go see the production and i thoroughly enjoyed it.
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i recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the book? >> did you read the book? >> yeah. >> let me interrupt and ask there is always every since published, there is a lot of movie buzz about devil in the white city. what is going on? >> it is still under option by leo leo. there is incentive to do it and soon there is going to be a change of studio but they are still progressing. look at gone girl. you know? it is just terrific. for my books, it is good.
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>> yes, sir? >> you mentioned what it was like to write a pre-war book not knowing the ending. before you write your first sentence do you know where the book is ending? >> that is a very astute question. you need to break it up into phases. like in the actual final writing process, after i finished by research, actually i know when i do the book proposal. with non-fiction books it is not like novels. you have to have the novel turned in before they can decide if they want to publish it or not. but non-fiction, you send them, this is important to realize when you think about why some books are expensive and some are not doing research is an ex
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expensive process. i make a pitch of a book proposal that is very detailed based on my preliminary research. it is an educated guess as to what is out there. by the time i have the book published i know where the book is most likely going to begin. i do also know the ending. there is always one scene that comes out early in the process that you realize that is where i am going to end this book. it can change and there can be additional material that follows follows. i love touching the end of the book to see what happened to them in the end. i also think of it as thing with the music trailing off and stuff. but i also know watt the main ending will be before i start to write the actual ending of the
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book. >> erik when you were younger you had a dream of becoming a new yorker cartoonist. >> that is correct. >> do you do any drawing now? >> i do draw. i gave up my aspirations at an early age. 13-14. i was drawing cartoons and submitting them. >> i sent them to the new yorker and they came back within 24 hours thchlt hours. my feeling is the new yorker had a guy waiting at the mailbox. i love to draw and i do keep an ongoing journal of text and drawings. >> part of your youth was a desire to and becoming a novelist. you could say, right now, i am not going to go to the dark place, i will sit down and write
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a novel. is that every going to happen? >> probably not. i am a failed novelist. i have four complete novels and one didn't include the novels. >> there are a hundred publishers who say we will pub publish that. >> the historical aspect is outstanding and gives a lot of information and makes it come alive. i am wondering about your character development being
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suburb. is that from your research and do you put your own feelings of the character development to make them real and personali? -- personal -- >> i don't start a book unless there is enough material that the characters will be rich and come alive on some level. once you decide who the characters will be it becomes a process of going to distance. going to the archives. spending endless amounts of time and looking for the bits and pieces because if you break down -- i would argue if you break down some of the things that you might have in mind about characters and character development, i think what it might come down to is three our four very specific choice details about the character. that is what it is all about. it is not about masses of
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material. it is finding those little specific things that are going to light the imagination for me and for a reader. if you put them in the right places and the right structure you will have a book that i would argue seem much richer and more alive than the words themselves if you analyze them or were to suggest. that is something i feel. >> what do you, erik larson and this is my last question i would assume there would be like 30 lusitania questions but it means many you have have not bought the book yet. what do you read for pleasure? >> i read fiction. i am almost exclusively a fiction reader. in the course of the day, especially when you do research there was a lot of really awful non-fiction out there -- sex and you know things very dry stuff i
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have to go through in the course of the day -- so i love to just read fiction. >> anybody in particular? >> well you know i just finished a book on the plane called missing person -- very good. i love detective fiction. i love anything that is well written. that is my thing. anybody read this is where i meet you? the first 25 pages of scenes are funny and then you have to be a guy to appreciate it. the guys i always go back to are like hemmingway, dashal hammond,
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west mcdowel i loved. he is a detective writer too. and i have been reading dark scandinavian detective stories. i couldn't find steve larson. there was this creepy iceland story. think about the scandinavian authors. they know how to kill people. >> erik larson you know how to write a narrative. dead weight the most recent. you know what his other books are. if they are not on the shelves you should not be at lit fest. thank you for coming. he will be signing outside. thank you.
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>> on behalf of the printers row lit fest we would like to thank the panel, thank you for attending and mr. larson will be signing books in the lobby.
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[inaudible conversations] >> you are watching the printers row lit fest. kenneth davis is up next. you might know him from his don't know much about series. he will talking about his book the hidden history of the american war. that panel begins in just a few minutes. this is booktv live from chicago.
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>> this is booktv and we want to know what is on your summer reading list. at booktv is our twitter handle and you can post it on facebook.com/booktv or send an e-mail to us. what is on your summer reading list? booktv wants to know. >> on sunday june 7th, booktv is live from chicago with pulitzer prize winner lawrence
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wright on in-depth. he is the author of nine books with topics from modern religion to the september 11th 2001 tear terror attacks. his former bookerize god's favorite, a look at the dictators power and capture. he wrote the looming tower that won the pulitzer prize in 2007 examining the rise of al-qaeda and tracking their actions. he investigated science tall in going clear. and he wrote about the peace agreement between israel and egypt in 1978. he writ about growing up in the
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'60s and '70s and what identical twins tell about about genetics and inheritance. you can participate via phone, social media or in person at the printers row lit fest. >> there is a lot of science going in the legislations and the challenge frankly. the real challenge in all of this is how do you convey these in many ways incredible and complex relationships and facts in a way that people can relate to them. right? so just to give you one quick example of this. there are three figures in the inentire book. we talked about temperatures. no one cares about temperatures. we care about the damages associated with the temperatures and what it means in dollars and
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cents to you and me personally. and this is essentially where some might say the real guess work begins. this never stopped an economist to do it. we know what happened at one degree warming above pre-industrial levels because we are about one degree or point eight degrees warming above pre-industrial levels. we are already there. we know that. now, you can make educated guesses on what happens when you go from 1.2 to 1.5. what happens at five or six degrees is anyone's guess. now what to economist do? we are in the world of let's extrapolate what we know from what we don't know and see what
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the damages will be. let's say at six degrees fahrenheit, only a 10 percent chance, but a chance we would not want to erase playing. how do you get down to theres and cents? -- dollars -- you see watt the damages are with six degrees of warming. for the one standard thing that has been with us for two decades and let's take what we don't know and make a guess on how it works. no one believes it will creep up linearly for every additional degree of warming it is the same damages. the higher the temperature the more the tipping point and the more issues that will happen and
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make it more dramatic. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> booktv is covering the printers row lit fest. we will take a short break as they get ready for the next event but we will be back live. >> presidential candidates release books to introduce themselves to voters and promote
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views. neuro surgeon ben carson calls for greater individual responsibility to preserve america's future in one nation. in against the tide former road island governor recounts time serving as a republican in the senate. and former secretary of state, hillary clinton, looks back on hem time in serving in the obama administration in hard choices. texas senator ted cruz in a time for truth recounts the journey from a cuban immigrant son and on up. and former arkansas governor mike huckabee gives his take on culture in god guns, grits and gravy. and former new york governor is running for president and in
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1998 he released a book looking back on his past through the governorship. and kentucky senator rand paul calls from a smaller government and more bipartisan in his latest book taking a stand. another entrance to the 2016 presidential race is former texas governor rick perry. in fed up he explains government is too intrusive and must get out of the way. in american dreams florida senator mark rubio outlines plans to restore economic opportunity. independent vermont bernie sanders is a candidate and his book is about an eight hour filibuster on tax cuts. and rick santorum in his book argues the republican party must focus on the working class in order to retake the whitehouse. others who may announce running for president include vice president biden in promises to
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keep. he looks look on his career in politics and explains his guiding principles. in immigration wars former governor jeb bush argues for new immigration policies. and more presidential candidates include louisiana's governor who explains why conservative solutions are needed in washington. and in stand for something, ohio governor called for a return to american values. and donald trump writes about in time to get tough about criticizing the obama administration and how he thinks prosperity should be restored. in a fighting chance massachusetts senator elizabeth warren recounts the events in
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her life that shaped her career as an educator and politician. and finally former virginia senator james web looked back on this time in serving in the military and senate in i heard my country calling. >> the american justice system is not designed to get the truth. that is not a bad thing. it is just the process and it isn't designed to conduct the investigation. the judge can actually order witnesses in and propose questions to try to figure out what happened. the american process is designed to hear two different narratives and to see who makes the most convincing case. and the point is a portion guilt an assigned punishment. the point of it is not to get a comprehensive look at what happened. that is the fbi's job and they have not done the job.
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>> at the same time if you look at what the defense did, we got a simple narrative which is he did it. and their focus has been on not disputing guilt but preventing him from being sentence to death. >> which was their job. they did it great. it has been amazing to watch and watch the prosecution which was more of a surprise or i should say was a surprise just the way they selected witnesses and staged the case and the way they always timed it from going mundane in the morning to emotional in the late afternoon to have the jury go home at the end of the week pondering with force of what happened at the marathon. it was just like watching an incredible theater production. and it was devastating.
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it was devastating not just for the people in the courtroom but the entire city of boston which is why you heard victims coming out against the death penalty and asking to have it overlooked because it is emotionally powerful. but it is unsatisfying because questions have not been answered and can't be answered. one question is where were the bombs made and they don't know where the bombs were made. they know they were not made in the apartment or the dorm ramsey they were made somewhere else. if they were made somewhere else who else was involved? was this person unwilling involved? whoever owns or rents the space building the bomb? or was this the soul accomplishment. and the biggest question is what was the relationship between the fbi and tamerlan someone they interviewed three times as a terrorism risk.
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how come he was able to build a bomb and set it off. >> and napoltona said you were a conspiracy theorist for raising questions because the fbi does thousands of assessments on people every year and the fact they didn't immediately recognize him is indicative from her point of view of nothing. >> well, this seems a little conspiracy because all i did was raise the question. the bombs went off on monday afternoon. on tuesday morning the fbi technical specialist isolated the likeness of the brothers from surveillance tapes. and until after tamerlan was killed they could not identify
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the brothers. i am assuming and i can the joint terrorism task force in boston is not that large. the number of people who go out to interview real life terrorism suspects is finite. three days is enough time to show people the pictures they isolated from the video tapes. is it conceivable they didn't show their faces? it is a sign of incompetence. >> you can watch this and others online at booktv.org. >> booktv is live downtown with
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chicago from the printers row lit fest. kenneth davis is live neck with his book called the hidden mystery of america at war. you are watching live coverage on booktv on c-span2. >> welcome, everyone to the 31st annual chicago tribune printers row lit fest. i would like to say thank you to the sponsors before starting. we are broadcasting live here on c-span2's booktv. we will reserve time at the end of the presentation for audience questions so you can line up here at the microphone off to the side so the live television audience can hear the questions.
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you can keep the spirit of lit fest going year round with a subscription to the print's role journal that is the premium book series. ... >> marc jacob of the chicago tribune. thank you. [applause] >> hi, thanks for being with us. it's my honor to be interviewing kenneth c. davis here.
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you know him as the author of the don't know much about series of history he's written for the op-ed page of the new york times, has appeared on npr's "all things considered," and is one of the folks in the world of history writing who is really terrific at translating history to a modern audience to a general audience and also i find having, you know, just finished his excellent new book "the hidden history of america at war," that he has a real way of getting past the boring history that we were taught in schools to the interesting stuff in history that we really would like to know and that is really true. so ken, thanks for joining us. >> it is a great pleasure to be here, thank you for having me. it is a great pleasure to come back to printers fest, printers row. i was here a few years ago and had the good fortune to follow john green onto the stage, and that was a challenge in itself.
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today i follow erik larson onto the stage -- [laughter] i don't know if that's a compliment of just a very, very highly placed second violin. but i'm happy to be here, thank you very much. [applause] i actually, since we just heard the word "twitter," i actually tweeted out the other day -- yes, i tweet -- the notion that, you know, let's play two. i think a famous chicagoan said that, erik larson and me back to back a great history doubleheader. let's go for it. >> some of the themes of your book, and one of them i thought was, and just to explain how the book is constructed, and correct me if i get any of this wrong -- >> oh i will. >> it's six essays, the really
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interesting thing about book is how there are certain themes that go all the way through. one of them is who fights america's wars, and you talk about how in the american revolution the militia versus the actual members of the continental army and all the way to the iraq war you get into how at one point in time there were more military contractors in iraq than military personnel uniformed, which is kind of an amazing thing to think about. and so can you talk a little bit about who fights america's wars and why that matters? >> absolutely. let me just explain, first of all, that many people do know me from the don't know much about series, don't know much about history which was published 25 years ago. [laughter] i can't believe -- well i was a very small child when it was -- [laughter] first appeared. but that book was written in a
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question-and-answer format. i tried to ask very basic questions about american history like what does the declaration of independence declare what three-letter word isn't in the constitution. that's not so basic but it's kind of interesting. and then kind of offbeat and quirky questions like why is there a statue of benedict arnold's boot, and we can come back to that because he's an interesting character. this book is very different from the "don't know much about" series which was written in that question-and-answer format and was supposed to be this refresher course that so many of us need because all too many people, i have discovered in doing this for 25 years or more, say to me exactly what you said a moment ago history is so dull it's so boring the way they teach it. it's all those dates and battles. well, this is battles too but it's not boring battles, speeches. i never had that sense. as a child growing up, our
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summer vacations were usually throwing an old army surplus tent, an old army surplus mummy sleeping bags into the back of the car and we went off to places like fort ticonderoga or gettysburg or valley forge. so from the time i was a kid i always had the sense that history is something that happens to real people in real places. and, in fact, i have a souvenir from going to gettysburg in 1963, and it was the centennial of the battle, of course. and it's a small wooden revolver. and i remember standing in that field being about 9 years old at the time and knowing something extraordinary had happened here, feeling that this was the hallowed ground that lincoln was talking about even if i didn't really know the gettysburg address then, that this was a special place. and i kept that i still have that souvenir gun on my desk. i keep it to remind me of that feeling that i had standing there in the summer heat when i
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was a kid and knowing that history is something real that happens in real places and it's about what we feel and see and smell, and it's not just about memorization. i came to this book which is a story of six narrative accounts of six battles that stretch from the american revolution to the war in iraq to try and get some sense of that because we as a nation, as a people are not good at history in general, but specifically not very good about our military history and the place of war in our history. and so i've tried to focus on these six battles as a way to talk about how important and how significant war has been in our history. and, as you mentioned, who fights our battles. and, ultimately we start to ask the real big questions, when is it worth going to war. abraham -- i'm sorry benjamin franklin, i quote in the
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beginning of the book, says there was never a good war or a bad peace. he said that in 1783 just as the revolution ends. and i'm not sure that i agree with that, but the trick is to figure out when is a good war. and that's certainly part of the question that this book tries to explore. >> so talk a little bit about the militia in the revolutionary war. i don't -- i cowrote a biography of benedict arnold's wife, peggy shipman, and in that book we dealt with a little bit about militia and how you couldn't order militia around the way you could regular soldiers. there's one case where benedict arnold's aide tells a militia member to fetch him a barber, and that causes a giant incident in philadelphia which arnold gets denounced in the newspapers and all that, because you're not supposed to give orders to militia. >> well, this is really part of the mythic narrative that we tend to learn if we learn anything at all about our school
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book history of the revolution, you know? the minutemen grab their trusty muskets, they dropped their plows or took off their shopkeeper aprons and raced off to fight the war. that was certainly true at lexington and concord in april 1775. it wasn't true for most of the rest of the war. george washington feared relying on a militia, and he wrote to the congress to rely upon the militia is to rely upon a broken staff. every colony before the revolution had the provide men to a militia and they would be required mostly to defend their hometown their local towns in the south particularly the militia had a very specific duty
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which was to suppress slave rebellions. part of the story we don't quite talk about and certainly one that i talk about in this book. what washington discovered was that these militiamen often were only enrolled for nine months, three months, six months, and this is why in 1776 thomas paine writes a very famous essay called the crisis in which he said the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will soon be gone. he was talking about militiamen. summer soldiers. they would come when they didn't have the harvest crops and didn't have the plant crops but then they were going back. so this is why washington needed a real professional standing army which became the continental army. and so there was a real discrepancy between the militia governed by the states and the governors and the continentals washington's continentals.
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that was an army largely composed not of farmers who were rushing off with their muskets, but immigrants, german and irish largely in the revolution. one in five of them was an african-american, 20% of washington's soldiers were black even though he resisted and wouldn't enlist blacks when he first took over the army. and young -- teenagers, eventually, out of work landless with not much else to do their friends joined, and so they joined. very different picture of the men who served and fought and, ultimately, won the revolution from the kind of heroic minuteman myth that was created after the war. >> and there was great fear of a standing army. >> that was the fear, and that was why the narrative was crafted, that the militia had done it. people like thomas jefferson james madison samuel adams really feared a standing army. they knew the history of republics before the united states of america. they often ended with a military
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strongman marching in and taking over going back to the time of julius caesar in the end of the first roman republic. so they were very, very afraid of an army. they considered soldiers to be basically men of the sword, as they called them, or men of the blade. they thought the officers' corps which they associated with england was just a bunch of aristocrats who had nothing better to do, and then the soldiers were the dregs of society. so it was a very very negative image of the soldier. and that's important because it carried on in this country for a very very long time, and it's certainly reflected in how the congress at the time took care of our soldiers, the american soldiers. washington had to really beg for most of the six years of the revolution for money to clothe and feed his troops. he writes a letter from valley forge basically saying that his man servant -- and we assume
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that that means a slave named william lee -- was basically naked at valley forge. washington didn't seem to suffer the same discomfort himself. but that's another story. >> so, all right. so fast forward that to the iraq war where you have this situation, and you deal with this -- i personally feel it's a very important issue in our society now that the sense of shared sacrifice that you may have had in world war ii and in other major conflicts really doesn't seem to exist in the same way in the modern the contemporary war. and the idea that in iraq especially we were hiring a lot of hired guns through halliburton and other companies, and it just changes the whole face of war, and it also changes the way public views war. >> well, that's one of the important threads in this book, "the hidden history of america at war," because i want to write and tell the stories over 230,
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nearly 240 years of who has fought our battles. and exactly as you say the armies that fought for us in iraq, we like to think about u.s. troops going off, but the story that i tell in this book in the last chapter is the story of the battle in fallujah. that was a battle begun when four americans were -- and this is a very grisly, gruesome moment that many of us probably remember well -- four americans were attacked and brutally killed, two of them were dismembered and hung from a bridge. and that scene was shown around world. what many americans did not realize was that those four men were not soldiers. they were private security contractors; essentially, mercenaries we might call them. working for a company that now is much better known to most of us than it was in 2004, company known as blackwater. that name is no longer in
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existence, the company has been sold. so the idea that these four men -- and they talked about americans being brutalized, and they compared it to somalia and blackhawk down in mogadishu. this was a very different situation. those four men had gone into fallujah with poor equipment underequipped, not properly staffed in very lightweight equipment. they did not speak to the marines who were outside of fallujah who were having trouble in fallujah at that point. of course, this is already a year after we've had the mission accomplished moment. so put that into the context here. this is supposed to be a war in which major combat is over according to the president. what happened, though, is that once those four men were killed, the united states army and the
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marines have to go in to suppress what is now becoming an insurgency in fallujah. they go in as the men in the first chapter, the chapter about yorktown go into yorktown with cold steel or fixed bayonets. the marines in 2004 go into fallujah with fixed bayonets. that's one thing about war that hasn't changed, and i think it's a kind of neat irony of sorts. but the marines go in, and very quickly it's a brutal fight. and the casualties, especially civilian casualties, are mounting in fallujah. and so the word comes down from washington to pull out even though the marines are very close to completing their mission. what that means is that they have to go back in about six months later and finish the job. so this is the intersection, of course between military affairs and political affairs because
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this was all being carried out as the presidential race was going on in 2004. and so we can never separate military history from political history, and that's certainly also one of the lessons of this chapter of the book. >> well, it's also one of the threads of your book, the idea that sometimes the reasons that americans have gone to war have been suspect or there have been misleading statements made. i mean, there are great examples of that. obviously, the battleship maine the explosion that set up the spanish-american war. i'm sure you on your book you get an endorsement from evan thomas who wrote just a wonderful book called "the war lovers" about how william randolph hearst and teddy roosevelt pretty much sent america into that war whether they wanted to or not -- >> and many did not. >> yes. well right. and i read that book, and when i read that book, i couldn't stop thinking about the invasion of
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iraq. and i couldn't stop thinking about other instances where there have been there's been intelligence that's been wrong or there have been some people who wanted to take things as pretext. the interesting thing about the battleship maine was at the time they said it had been a mine that had blown up the battleship, and it was probably spanish. and it's pretty much thought now that the problem was that they put their ammunition too close to their boiler, right? >> that's what the navy determined after many, probably 70 years later. >> right. 70 years later. a little too late to undo the war. >> right. [laughter] >> and -- >> the horse closing the barn door after the horse is out i believe. >> what's interesting is that some people at the time seemed to know it because there's one member of the investigative committee in thomas' book he talks about how one member of the investigative committee was an admiral and he took his battleship, and he separated -- he created more separation
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between or more padding between the munitions and the boiler. >> right. >> so he must have thought that maybe that was the cause. >> let me just point out here since we're talking about a lot of different battles in a lot of different places that this is a chronological sequence, and the battle we're talking about or the war we're talking about is perhaps one of the most obscure now to many americans, although it seems that all of our wars are fading into that black hole we call american history unfortunately. and that's certainly another reason i wrote this book. but the spanish-american war is a fascinating moment in our history because it is the moment at which we become a global power. almost by accident, but certainly by design of some of the men you just mentioned, theodore roosevelt, henry cabot lodge chief among them. but just to go back for a moment to refresh your recollections in case, this was a war over cuba,
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a war -- spain held cuba as well as many other possessions around the world. this was a vestige of what was once the greatest global empire a european nation ever held and it included the philippines. certainly, when william mckinley very reluctantly took the nation into war william mccan kinly the president at the time, was a civil war veteran had seen how horrible the civil war was and was not eager to get america into a war but was really kind of provoked into it partly by newspapers that pushed what was known as yellow journalism at the time, really ramped up the emotional aspect of going into war. and what mckinley didn't realize, and he said it at the time was he had no idea where the philippines were. they were a spanish possession,
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and theodore roosevelt -- a fairly young assistant undersecretary of the navy who was in charge because the real secretary of the navy was on vacation -- orders admiral dewey, who's in hong kong, to steam for manila bay because he knows that this is going to be, he knows that the war is coming, this is going to be the moment that america can now seize a very crucial piece of territory in the middle of the pacific ocean. he was had no qualms about it at all. and that's how america got involved almost by accident. and this is part of another theme of the book, the unintended consequences of war. very often we don't think about this. and mckinley certainly had no plan to make the philippines an american possession, but he later did. and that created a war a conflict that was larger actually than the fighting in cuba over, with spain over cuba
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and more protracted. and, actually, the story i tell is set in the philippines of a massacre of a small company of men who are getting ready to celebrate or commemorate the death of william mckinley by assassination which puts theodore roosevelt -- the hero of the spanish-american war -- into the white house. it's a fascinating story on so many levels, but theodore roosevelt is certainly the central character. and i want to reiterate how important the people are in this. these are stories where we're certainly talking about policy and all that but this is really stories about people whether it's the men who were around george washington at yorktown, the men young boys who go to the philippines or theodore roosevelt as a real force of nature in american poll the ticks. it's -- politics. it's really the people that are driving these stories. >> yeah, i'll second that as far as i mean the title "the
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hidden history," i think is appropriate because you do mention people who i've never heard of before who were, you know, people who were right there at the where the battle was happening. i wanted to ask you another thing about this. you also sometimes go to obscure places like in the philippines which is not -- you know, if you were telling a general history i'm not sure that's the first place you'd go to if you wanted to explain the spanish-american war. but it's a very smart place that you end up, and you can -- and everything kind of comes from that. i really like the way the book goes through the specific and then kind of broadens out and tells kind of the big picture but doesn't lose the small picture as well. >> well, the point of it was try to focus on an extraordinary moment a dramatic moment, usually one that our schoolbooks do leave out that then allows us to speak about much larger issues. and a question here was the
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massacre of a group of american soldiers by fill filipinos which created complete outrage in this country just the way i call them pearl harbor moments. we've had many of them in our history. when something disastrous happens and the nation really comes together. well, this was a pearl harbor moment in 1901. and the chapter is called "the water cure." and it's significant and the reason i called it "the water cure" and focused on this moment in the spanish-american war is that this incident really leads to a horrific series of events in which atrocities are committed by american soldiers against filipinos and a method called the water cure was used by americans against filipinos, a method in which a prisoner was, basically laid down on the floor, and water was poured
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down forced down his stomach until he was willing to confess to anything they wanted him to confess to. obviously, while i was writing that waterboarding was very much in the news. and so the notion that questions of atrocities and torture were being addressed in 1901 in the spanish-american war was certainly something i was not really familiar with. and this wasn't a matter of doing some historical dig into secret documents. this was actually a senate hearing was held about these issues. william howard taft, the future president, was the civilian governor of the philippines. he actually has to testify in congress about the so-called water cure. so i think it's incredibly instructive to see that this is a story that could have been torn from today's headlines but was happening a hundred years ago. and that's really the point of studying history in the first
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place, isn't it? that we learn something from it. but if we don't know the history, we certainly can't learn from it. >> that's exactly right. and i did like the truth telling you did in this about there were american atrocities in the philippines. you know, i grew up learning that the united states had liberated the philippines and given them their freedom after world war ii. which is true, but it's not the whole truth. i mean clearly, clearly the americans tried to suppress an independence movement in the philippines at that time with rhetoric explaining that they were they couldn't self-govern themselves and america's goal was to christianize them which you point out was ridiculous considering the spanish were certainly christians and had been there for centuries. [laughter] >> and many filipinos were very devout roman catholics as well. but this is an interesting small
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point, that mckinley says that he actually has a dream, and he tells to a group of evangelicals who come to the white house. yes, there were evangelicals in the white house in 1900. [laughter] and he tells them that he had a dream, truly a divine dream in which he was told to take over the philippines in part to christianize them which must have come as a surprise to the pope. [laughter] because there were quite a few roman catholic churches spread around the philippines at that point. but it also is a reflection of the deep anti-catholic mood many this country -- in this country at that time. and, certainly, it's a much older story. catholics in the 19th century in particular for all the talk that we have of a christian nation were the dreaded feared, evil religious minority that was threatening to take over country. and this wasn't a small group of
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people who thought this, this was being preached from many of the most prominent pulpits in the country. there was a belief that catholics were coming to america in large numbers -- specifically irish catholics -- to take over the country and turn it over to the pope. and they were going to build a new vatican in cincinnati, of all places. [laughter] i've never quite figured out why cincinnati was this catholic, new vatican target zone. >> when al smith ran for president, there was campaign literature against him that showed the building of the subway in new york, and they said there was going to be a subway all the way to the vatican. [laughter] >> well, and we laugh at it now but it was part -- it was truly a part of the political dna of america at the time. famous campaign slogan against al smith was that -- who was a roman catholic himself, was that
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he was going to bring rum romannism and ruin. the rum because he was opposed to prohibition, and romannism being catholicism ruined because he obviously, would do things like raise taxes. so that element of anti-ca thofl schism is certainly a big piece of the story in the spanish-american war. and, again, part of the untold story, part of the hidden history, as i like to call it. and the wonderful part of all of this i think is that when you hear these stories some of them can obviously make us angry some of them can make us cynical, but they're so much more interesting than the kind of pap that we are certainly told as very young children and some of us never get past. >> i really enjoyed what you wrote about the african-american soldiers in various battles. and one of the things that was really interesting was that most of the time they were discriminated against and were not given any, you know, there
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was an attempt the diminish their bravery. but they were sent down to cuba for the spanish-american war, and they were called immunes, right? they were considered immunes because, of course, they were going to be immune to all tropical diseases just because they were from africa. >> that's right. and that was actually a belief. these were the famous buffalo soldiers, and i describe their transition from the u.s. colored troops the usct, of the civil war. and they are featured in the second chapter of the book which is about the battle of petersburg, actually because it was a year-long siege in which the u.s. colored troops performed valiantly. and after the war, many of those troops were sent to the southwest to fight indians. and it was there that the native americans -- partly out of respect for the frosty of the african-american -- ferocity of the african-american soldier,
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cavalryman in the southwest -- called them buffalo soldiers. certainly because of their hair appearing like a buffalo's skin, but also the fact that the buffalo was sacred to them, and they felt a kinship of sorts with these african soldiers because of their bravery. they had enormous respect for them. but when the spanish-american war begins in 18 -- at the turn of the century, they are brought specifically to fight in cuba because they are thought to be immune from tropical diseases. as slaves were much earlier in american history. because they came from africa the presumption was they would be immune or less likely to catch tropical diseases. of course, utter nonsense. but to this theme of african-americans in this military history it begins certainly, with the first chapter because, as i mentioned one in five soldiers in washington's army was a black man. certainly not depicted routinely in the patriotic paintings we see. but more to the point, this is
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the one i'm sure they didn't tell you in school, that the first thing washington did after the battle was over was -- and it was written into is surrender document -- was make sure that he recovered the property being held by the british garrison. and everyone understood that that property meant about 5,000 escaped african-american slaves who had joined the british in hopes of winning their freedom. i know they didn't tell me that one when i was in school. but this included 17 people from washington's own plantation, mount vernon, who had left about six months before with a british captain who sailed to mount vernon and said come with me if you want to be free and they did. they were in yorktown. included about two dozen people from jefferson's plantation. washington made sure all of them were returned to slavery. and this is, of course, the great contradiction of the american revolution. and one of the threads that is
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woven through this book is how important slavery and the race relations was not only in military history but in all of american history. and we certainly have to understand that today if we want to understand some of the very, very serious issues we're facing every week, it seems around the country. >> yeah. it kind of drives me crazy when you hear people say well, the founding fathers worked really hard to free the slaves when four of the five first presidents owned slaves. >> indeed, they did. five of the first seven, ten of the first fifteen. >> right. >> so it's not what we talk about. >> and, you know, and you also quote another story nor tom fellow -- story in tom fleming who, i was talking to him about this and he dismisses that as what he calls presentism, you know? the idea that you shouldn't judge people from the past on present-day standards. but i do think that there's something to judging people on
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basic human standards, you know? slavery was just plain wrong, and i think there are plenty of people alive then who knew it. >> well, of course. and washington himself knew it and that's why i would -- as much as i admire thomas fleming, i consider him one of my literary mentors of sorts and rely have relied on his books for many years for my own research. but george washington was aware of this contradiction. he was aware of this conflict. and, certainly one of the themes in the first chapter about yorktown is the fact that these three young men -- alexander hamilton, the marquis de lafayette and another fellow named jack lawrence who are the washington men that the chapter's named for -- were probably, they're all in their mid 20s. they were very, very close friends. they had been with washington through all of the defeats and disasters and disappointments. but these three were probably the most outspoken proponents of putting black soldiers in
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uniform. jack lawrence -- john lawrence -- was a lieutenant colonel. he's there in yorktown that night. he's fixed his bayonet. he was the son of henry lawrence, the president of congress. and henry lawrence had made his fortune trading slaves, shipping slaves to america as many as 8,000 is the estimate i've read. lawrence was sent to england and europe as a young man to be educated, got completely caught up with the ideals of the enlightenment and came back a complete abolitionist, writes to his father i don't want those slaves, i think we should sell them. he's actually given the privilege and the assignment by congress to go down to south carolina -- of all places, which is where he's from -- to recruit and arm 3,000 emancipated slaves. the legislature of south carolina sort of politely but
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not so politely says no thanks, to that idea. but this is part of the story. and washington, as i said, realized the conflict. he writes in 1776 there is no man who wants more than i to the see a plan adopted for the abolition of slavery. while he says that he doesn't really do too much to bring it about. and i think that, yes, presentism is a real thing but i think you can judge washington by his own standards of what he thought was moral. same thing with jefferson. they knew this was a contradiction to their ideals. they knew it was an affront to talk about liberty and equality and justice and keep these people in chains. they both perhaps foolishly optimistic, believed that slavery would end in america. and on that, of course, they were tragically wrong. >> i think we'd like to take some questions if possible.
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anyone want to step up there and throw something at mr. davis? >> not literally. >> not literally. [laughter] >> throw some ideas at mr. davis. >> thank you very much. one question is with respect to the revolutionary war the idea of the british quartering homes for soldiers, was that in any way a violation of the magna carta, of any principles laid out in the magna carta? >> a greater scholar of the magna cart that than i would have to answer that question quite honestly. of course it is then established in the bill of rights. the third amendment is the quartering act i suppose? but i'm not really sure if it goes back to the magna carta. i think it's down in washington right now, so maybe we should go down and check. but it's a an interesting question. >> well, in general, i mean any relationship -- was king george violating the magna carta in any way that provided some justification for the revolutionary war?
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that's my only question. >> i don't think that the men who were fomenting the rebellion and raising arms and up in arms were really too concerned about the magna carta. they certainly thought that their british constitutional rights were being cut short. but i think it's certainly more about, ultimately about who was going to to have the power over this enormous place called america. it wasn't even about a few votes in parliament, you know, no taxes without representation was a great slogan, but it wasn't very meaningful. so i'm not deliberately dodging your question, but i am because i don't think that the magna carta was really the driving force for the men of the revolutionary generation. >> and there's some people who even thought they were
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undertaxed compared to people back in england. >> well, and, of course, this thomas -- samuel johnson who asks in 1775 how is it we hear the loudest yelps for liberty from the drivers of negroes? >> right. >> a question that we -- [laughter] still don't really have an answer to. >> yeah, it's a good question. yes. >> i feel misrepresented in a way where you said quote: we became a global power end quote. referring to the spanish-american war. i have severed my ego from the state. consequently, i do not identify with power. i'm a pacifist -- >> okay. >> and that's that. >> do you have a question? >> now my question is this: do you think that 9/11 is part of the hidden history of war? considering that mossad and the
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bush crime family planted explosives that wrecked the -- >> okay, thanks. ken, do you want to talk about 9/11 and what it means to -- >> i certainly, i certainly discuss it at length in this book and i have in other books. i am not a believer, to be honest with a lot of the so-called 9/11 conspiracy theories. i'm sure there is hidden history, i'm sure there are answers yet to be determined. but i'll wait for a more full accounting before, before that. and just to the first comment about we -- >> from who? >> i certainly did say "we" meaning the united states. perhaps more correctly i should say the spanish-american war marks the moment where the united states of america becomes a global power. there were not -- there were many people at that time who would agree that this wasn't a good idea, chief among them perhaps mark twain who wrote angrily and was part of the anti-imperialist movement.
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he wanted to actually create a new american mag in which the stars -- flag in which the stars were created by were changed to a skull and crossbones. [laughter] that was, that was mark twain's suggestion for a new american flag in about 1911. >> thank you. >> thank you. next question? >> yeah. i had a couple of -- just i one comment and one question. the comment was i saw a television series called "liberty," i think it was that was -- really learned a lot about the american revolution. and they had, you know, they described the second half of the revolution as in the south. and there was an episode where the british just sent the african-american, or is the slaves, you know, to die basically. that was kind of a caveat on what you mentioned. >> well, thank you.
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and we mentioned thomas fleming and that is his work, actually "liberty" was written by thomas fellowing and turned into a pbs series i believe it was. what you're talking about is exactly what i cover in this chapter, you're exactly right. the african-americans who sought freedom with the british in 1781 at the invitation of the british, many of them were dying rapidly because of disease and starvation in yorktown. and yen cornwallis the british commander -- general cornwallis the british commander, then forces many of them out of town. and the descriptions which i include in this story of the dead and dying african-americans who had been forced out of yorktown during the bombardment is part of the scene in this. needless to say, they were, they were victims either way you look at it. they were either going to be victimized by british or they were going to be returned to slavery by george washington.
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>> right. yeah. another part i remember from that series was that there was terrorism, the way the british used southern, you know, poverty, you know, types to be terrorists in the south to discourage i guess, you know, people from fighting the british. >> i'm not sure what exactly you mean by "terrorism." the whole campaign of british in the southern states definitely took a very different tenor and tone. and in part, i'm going to relate it back to this question of slavery. a lot of the people in the southern states and other historians besides myself have written extensively about this, were really sitting on the fence about independence and revolution until the british make this pronouncement first in
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1775 and again in 1781 that slaves of patriots -- not slaves of loyalists slaves of the patriots -- would be freed. and it's really only then that a lot of the southern slave holders become more vociferous in their decision to join onto the liberty cause. but the war and the fighting in general in that, in the southern theater there was much more vicious in many cases and many more instances of what we would call atrocities on both sides than had been true earlier in the war in some of the northern states. i don't know be that's the terrorism -- if that's the terrorism you're referring to, but the most notorious british soldier at the time was a man who was famously known for not allowing soldiers to surrender and giving no quarter as it was put at time. >> i remember the example was
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these plantation women he cut off their breasts and had them hanging in the plantation home, you know so there was cutting up of -- >> there were, certainly accounts of that. and there were accounts of that, and i include one of a woman who was actually a loyalist who was assaulted in her home. and not to take away from your question, but this is certainly a theme that is carried on in this book which is how we think about war. i know we're talking about armies, but there are almost always civilians caught between two warring armies. certainly was true in petersburg which is the second chapter of this book and more gruesomely in berlin, which is another chapter in this book we haven't even touched on yet where the women of berlin were raped massively by the invading soviet red army. which was in relately abuse for -- retribution for what the germans had done to the russian soldiers.
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so this is part of the horror of war that we have to realize and talk about and understand when we have this thing called war. and if we sanitize it and prettify it too much it becomes way too easy to get into it. >> i think your book does a great job of telling the truth and making us really understand what war is in reality. and the book is "the hidden history of america at war" by kenneth c. davis. really worth your time, and i learned a lot, ken from it. >> well, i hope so. thank you. [applause] >> all right. well, thank you once again to kenneth davis and marc jacob and, of course, thanks to all of you for attending. mr. davis will be signing books right outside in the lobby.
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[inaudible conversations] >> and our live coverage from chicago will continue in just a few minnesotas. up next -- few minutes. up next, "vanity fair" correspondent bryan burrough talking about the u.s. radical underground in the 1970, and then the final event of the day author margaret lazarus dean talking about leaving orbit: notes from the last days of american space flight. now, our live coverage from chicago will resume after this short break.
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you can follow the schedule updates all day long at booktv.org or follow us on twitter, @booktv. and, finally throughout the day you'll see schedule updates at the bottom of your screen. booktv on c-span2 television for serious readers. [inaudible conversations] ♪ ♪ oh, i want to know, oh, what are you waiting for? ♪ what are you waiting for?
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>> well, one he wanted the staff there every moment. i mean, he always wanted you at the other end of the line, and he -- i was only there a week or so. i think it was the second week i had an office down the hall. it was a large office, because we used to have all these meetings to plan these programs, and i had my own bathroom. and he called one morning about 8:00, and my secretary -- incidentally, a call from lyndon johnson in those days, we had a line called the potus line, it just rang. it didn't ring intermittently, it rang until it was answered. laugh and you could never pick it up fast enough. he always made you feel like -- and he said -- she answered the phone, and he said, where is he? she said well he's in the bathroom, mr. president. he said isn't there a phone in
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there? [laughter] and she said, no. he said, put a phone in there. [laughter] so i came out and they -- and she said the president wants a phone in the bathroom. i said forget about it. [laughter] we forgot about it. the next morning, same time, i'm in the same place the same call. [laughter] and he shouts at peggy he says i told you to put a phone in there. [laughter] and she said, yes, mr. president, yes, mr. president. by the time i got out of the bathroom, there were two army corps guys standing in my office, and the phone was installed. [laughter] that was when he wanted you all the time. i mean, i i just -- and secondly he saw, he saw things, always a way to do something we needed a law, we needed some help. not necessarily trying to get
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me one of my kids, i was in the hospital in virginia -- in washington. my son joe had swallowed a bottle of aspirin and the president called and, of course, i didn't -- i just ran. i didn't leave a phone number. and finally he got gets me at the hospital, and he said what are you doing what the hell are you doing there? i said well, my son swallowed a bottle of aspirin. and he's 2 years old. he said, well, he said, that's terrible, terrible. he said, you know we shouldn't have, we should have -- make these people have these bottles so that little kids can't open them. [laughter] and that's why most of us in this room have trouble opening our medicine. [laughter] [applause] it's called a child safety act. [laughter] but he knew how to take care of -- i mean, elementary and secondary education. for years we've been trying
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to -- it'd been on the democratic platform to have elementary and secondary education in poor schools, couldn't get it. the problem was the catholics were able the block it unless you provided aid to parochial schools, and the evangelicals and the urban secular jews were able to block it if it did provide aid to parochial schools. [laughter] and we couldn't make any progress. and johnson started working on it, working on it. and it got more complicated with the civil rights act of '64 because now then we've got this charge that, well, it was going to be more money for blackings. blackings. and adam clayton powell, harlem congressman, was chairman of the house education committee. and president johnson finally says adam, you've got to leave town, and you've got to turn this over to somebody else. some of you may remember that's when adam clayton powell left. he never quite got back.
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[laughter] and he said he wanted a congressman from brooklyn, hugh carey, to try and put the bill together. carey was in a district in brooklyn that had orthodox jews, roman catholics, this array of van jibbings -- the fact that a johnson you that was incredible. carey came up with the idea of leasing books and equipment to parochial schools. johnson started selling it. there's a wonderful meeting with cardinal spelman from new york, billy graham and arthur goldberg standing astride the white house pool. they were in their clothes. that is the hottest room on god's earth, the hottest room. and johnson. and he's working on them.
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in the background i think bill moyers and me in a picture i have in my office. and it was so hot in there that you could see the sweat through cardinal spelman's black cassock. [laughter] i mean, it was just incredible. and he worked on it and worked on it and worked on it. they finally agreed. it was fantastic. he got the bill passed, and then he said to john mccormack the speaker of the house he said hold the bill up, you know? if you get a bill and you don't sign it within ten days, it's a pocket veto. hold the bill for a month. and mccormack said why? and johnson said because i want to sign it on hugh carey's birthday. we wouldn't have this bill without him, and he did sign it on hugh carey's birthday. that kind of thing. >> how did he know so much about so many people? i mean, i'm told that he had the phone number and the name of every member of congress on his desk in the oval office with little notes about what they might need or might want.
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how did he, how did he assemble all this? how did he -- where did he get all this information? >> he accumulated it. i mean, it just was absolutely stunning. i mean, and it was invaluable to him. i mean, he loved politicians. he spent time with them. he knew when their wives were sick, he knew when their kids were sick or when they had a problem or didn't. and he knew what would move them. i mean, there were -- it wasn't always hugs and kisses, incidentally. [laughter] we lost -- we needed to raise the debt limit once, and in the course of hearing it, we lost the vote. we lost -- six liberal democrats voted against raising the debt limb. and we had this meeting and johnson used to have these long sheets of everybody's name so is
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we'd count votes, you know, for against, undecided. and we had the six congressmen and we were going through them. and one of them, dick ottinger from westchester county, very lovely county in new york said simply said the war was taking money away from people that needed it, people that needed housing. and poor housing. and johnson says joe call up ottinger. you tell him we're going to put the biggest damn public housing project in the history of this country in the middle of his fancy westchester district. [laughter] show him there's plenty of money for housing. i did, and we did get his vote. [laughter] >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org.
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>> and we're in a break between events at the printers row lit fest. booktv's live coverage from chicago will continue at the top of the hour. >> the state department requires its foreign service officers to be well informed and knowledgeable across many disciplines. here's a look at some of the books it recommends to its employees. to start jared diamond argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world in "guns germs and steel." in "ghost wars," a past winner of the pulitzer prize for general nonfiction steve carl looks at the origins of al-qaeda in afghanistan before the events of september 11th. tony jeth recounts the challenges europe faced in "postwar." in "americans in waiting," the
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history of immigration is investigated. our look at the state department's recommended reading list continues with david fromm kin's explanation of how the modern middle east was created in "a peace to end all peace." in "blink malcolm gladwell examines how people make snap decisions. and martin gilbert chronicles the events and people that created the modern world in "a history of the 20th century." that's a look at the state department's recommended reading. to see the entire list, visit state.gov and search "suggested reading." >> on sunday june 7th, booktv is live from chicago with pulitzer prize-winning author lawrnlings wright of "in depth," our deliver monthly call-in show. he's the author of nine books with topics that range from modern religion to the september 11th 2001, terror attacks and the camp david accords. his more recent titles include a
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look at manuel noriega in "god's favorite," a fictional account of the dictator's last years in power before 1989. he also wrote "the looming tower," an examination of the rise of al-qaeda, osama bin laden and the fbi agents responsible for tracking their actions prior to september 11th. lawrence wright also investigated scientology in "going clear" which also became an hbo documentary. and his latest book is "13 days in september," an account of the peace agreement between israel and egypt at camp david in 1978. his previous books covered topics such as growing up in the '60s and '70s, profiles of religious leaders and what identical twins tell us about inherited traits. lawrence wright, live on booktv on sunday, june 7th, on "in depth." and you can participate via phone, social media or in person
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at the chicago tribune printers row lit fest. >> and starting now from chicago, author bryan burrough who's a correspondent with "vanity fair" as well. his most recent back is called "days of rage: america's radical underground, the fbi and the forgotten age of revolutionary violence." he's in conversation with chicago-based author and historian rick perlstein. booktv on c-span2. ..
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>> to our digital bookstore and finally the lit fest loves social media. so feel free to take pictures, post messages and upload them to twitter, instagram, facebook hughesing the #prlf2015.
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please turn off your cell phones and flash on the camera and i will introduce our moderator rick perlstein. i will give a short introduction were bryan burrough although for the research in his most recent book "days of rage" i joke we should call him bryan burrows. thank you. i am here all week. and he writes for vanity fair he writes books, and the book for which he is best known other than his most recent one is barbarians of the gates that came out in 1990 over the merger of rjr reynolds and nabisco.
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his latest book is an accomplishment of research story telling and moral inquiry. and it is something based on the facts we know and that is domestic terrorism. he takes the story back to 1969 or so. and all the way up through the middle of the 1980's. and one of the striking facts in the book is that the most fatal and interesting year for domestic terrorism prior to first world trade center bombing in the united states was 1981 which really makes you scratch your head and say maybe i should read this book which you should. i have read it closely and have
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a review in the nation's magazine coming about next month. first thing i would like bryan to talk about is the scale of violence during this time. my favorite example is a story you told about the evacuation of a movie theater. maybe you can address that. >> this was a small item in the new york times i picked up. may 1970 small puerto rican independence group set off a bomb in the theater in the bronx during the liberation of jones. bombs were so prevalent by that time. and according to the new york city times when the police tried to cleanup the theater after the
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bomb no one wanted to leave and wanted to see the rest of the movie. it was like we are new yorkers, it is a bomb already. >> and the box score in the san francisco chronicle. >> san francisco had so many bombs during the 1970's the chronicle ran a box score of how many there were and who was in the lead. but the scope of domestic violence, what we would call domestic terrorism today i don't call it terrorism because by and large these bombs were not intended to kill indiscriminately. most were protest bombs set off in empty buildings, court houses, exploding press releases. they were not intended to kill they were intended to draw the media and police focus to communicate and that would take to the bottom of the pay phone or sent to a radio station and
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this type of thing. the sure scale of it is what stunned me. the senate inquiry in the early '70s counted 2,005 bombings. i remember trying to explain the first bombing in berkeley and we disclose why it was so little noticed and it was because i counted 34 other significant bombings in february around the country most that injured far more people than the half dozen people weather's first attack did. the major thing is not only how widespread it is but how forgotten it is. there is so little culture in the memory.
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i lived through the '70s. i remember patty hurst and most thof -- of the rest of it was centered in the bay area and chicago. media capitals. if you grew up like i did in a small town in texas or small town in arkansas this was easy to miss. >> even though i am one day in new york in 1975 following a puerto rican bombing and there so so many threats that 100,000 office workers were evacuated milling around the streets of manhattan manhattan. >> it was the first time they evacuated the world trade center. >> one thing that speaks more of americaness medaling is you talk about new yorkers saying this is
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new york but you don't talk about this event in the book. i researched this period too and came across a lot of strange stories. but in 1975 a man climbed over the whitehouse fence with a lead pipe. and the secret service doing what they do when there is a physical threat it the grounds of the presidential residents they actually shot him to death. there was a like a three-paragraph story in the new york times that day. and that was it. there was a one sentence written about it. i compare that to what happened when a poor mentally ill woman a few years ago rammed her car into the capital grounds. she had her infant in the car. it was national news for a week but a hundred or so military and
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police personal descended on her home with hazardous material suits to make sure she wasn't part of a terrorist cell. >> this type of violence was so deeply woven in the '70s no body expresses outrage. it was so much a part of life in urban urban america it was no big deal. my favorite part is the woman from the new york post who they talked to after a bombing that killed someone at mobile head quarters in new york in 1977 and her quote was another bombing. who is this time? can you imagine saying that today? that is coming after the '60s and watergate and the multitude of awful things going on in new
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york and the country i don't think radical violence would have been in the top ten things of what anyone was worried about it. >> do you think it says anything about us as a people or country that we are so scared of our shadow? >> once we forgot this period we were reintroduced to violence. suddenly out of nowhere to a country that didn't remember this we had '93 and then 9/11. and suddenly when i say bombing to people they shutter and call these people terrorist. >> as they write back our own interpre interpretation of the past. >> for me to write this book i had to get back to 9/11. less than one percent of these bombs killed anyone. a few of them did. a bomb went off on a wall street
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restaurant that killed a four people but the vast majority were not intended it kill. >> there were awful acts. the independence cause of puerto rico was their one groups cause and they had a bombing in 1975 at the location where george washington said good bye to his troops and they did this during rush hour with propane tanks and killed six people? >> four people. >> four people. >> they were half new york/half chicago. their bombs were 74-81. the story, and i am sure it was the first time i read it they came from a high school in chicago and most were counselors
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and teachers and oscar lopez the one in prison was an activist. >> the interesting thing about that particular bombing to me is also in distinction to violent terrorist today, these folks within the mainstream even the level and liberal, you may say supporters and apologist. what is striking is the response of the achurch in new york saying -- they had a puerto rican mainstream social service group that was a front for a
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terrorist group and proved to the church's leadership the communicator was written from a typewriter and the woman running the group bought the plane ticket and the response of the archbishop of new york was there. >> the diocese, the government split into two halves with those who were freaked out and concerned and progressives who attacked the fbi for overreaching. in chicago, there were -- >> you have a quote about someone saying going after politically active hispanics. >> right. but it was difficult for anybody to imagine then or prove until now a revolutionary/terrorist bombing group was using the national head quarters of the church work out of the basement as a front and we can prove it with the woman's lawyer admitting it in the book. there are stories like this from the '70s that the have been
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forgotten. we remember patty hurst and when weather blew up the court house but there are so many other stories like that. >> let's talk about what these folks believed themselves to be accomplishing. let's center the discussion around a group that has profound connection to chicago and that is fdf, in the weather man in the weather underground that started in 1968 or 1969. >> there is weather, the black liberation army and others but the one thing all of these groups for the different causes had in common was they were born from the '60s. the underground in the '70s is a forgotten last chapter of all that happened in the '60s.
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obviously what happened is, i always say most of these people were unable to shake the dream of 1968. the dream of 1968 was a worldwide revolution was sweeping the global it was in evitable it was coming to the united states, the government would fall and literally a new world order was upon us. in 1969 it didn't happen nixon came in and started cracking heads literally as seen by the storm troopers here in chicago. and the hardest core of the in these
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times. now a great left wing magazine. and his cousin was in the weatherman group. and i said what would you do your cousin was an advocate of murderous violence what would you do if he knocked on your door? i would turn them into the fbi because he destroyed the left. >> they didn't do the left any favors. >> right. one of the interventions you make to this story is that you
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demonstrate that yes after this terrible accident that happened in a town house in lower manhattan in march of 1970 that pretty much several members of the weather underground blew themselves up accidently you point out that that move to a policy of only undertaking bombs that would only damage property not people. but prior to that they had a different idea in mind. >> that has been the central myth of the weather underground is they never intended to hurt a soul. after the townhouse that is the path they embarked on for six years. they did fairly conventional protest bombings in bathrooms. the fbi after a while began to take them less seriously and
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called them the terrible toilet bombers because the bath plea room is where most of them were placed because in a public building you are given privacy, you can close the door and do there wiring you need to do. but the important thing and one of the more important points in the book is what is forgotten by appall gist by bill airs and weather alumni is what they want to cover up. and there were two. for the first 90 days they tried to set off bombs to kill police officers and military worker. they did so in berkeley seriously injuring one officer and lightly injuring a bunch of others. there was an action in detroit in which bill airs group set off to bombs in a hall but they were
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found first. and the third was in the townhouse where the new york collective led by a young man named terry robins was building a series of large bombs they were going to set off at an officer's dance that night. as luck or however you look at it terry knew a lot about politics and poetry about not enough about building bombs and the bomb went off in his hands and killed him and two others and brought down the entire townhouse upon them and convinced the best of the leadership they had to stop murderous violence. other groups went on to do it but from there on the principle leaders and bill ayres called it
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responsible terrorism and that was protest bombing. bombs not intended to kill. >> bill said he never tried to kill cops. how did you get the story and how confidant are you they are behind this berkeley bombing? sgr >> my source is the man who built and put the bomb there and others there that night. but there is a large segment of the radical left out there who bill ayres is not poplar. a lot came forward in the book because they felt like why is he the only on the ground figure most of america has ever heard of. the young man who built 98% of the weather underground bombings comes out in our books and he is identified and tell his story. i feel certain part of is ron
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realizing he had a part in this history, too. and many of them, including howard, the one who talked about building and placing the bomb that night feel like bill is not telling the true story. the true story is uglier than they want people to remember. >> how did they get away with it? >> i love the fbi today and i love the loyalty and professionalism. i have come to know a lot of people there but the 1970's isn't their finest hour. there are funny memos you can get back in the old files about how these people leave like dirty hair and live like they do andrewing drugs. no one in the movement would
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talk to the fbi. so hoover and many on the left don't want to remember hoover eliminated black bag jobs and by and large i think that was moved away from. the weather squad especially squad 47 in new york brought jobs and illegal mail opening and everything you can do in space to going after weather. and long story short, one of the great ironies of the era is in the end one weatherman of the primary group, exactly one one of the two young women who crawled out of the rubble that morning was convicted and the top three officials of the fbi were indicted for these break-ins. one had the charges drop two
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convicted and ronald reagan pardon them. >> the fbi cheated and also lost. >> and not only that one of the most frustrating things is i thought i would go in and tell this with documentary files. but on weather, and most of these groups what they did is junk. i i talked to half a dozen investigations and after the investigations and scandals started they were taken all of the files home and burning them in the fire place. there is nothing there. as a result, i kind of had to take off my historian hat and put on my old newspaper reporter hat and start tracking them down. and hi i am bryan burrough, you don't know me i don't happen to be radical but would you tell me
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about the building you bombed in 1970. >> it is so cinematic. you see stuff ripped from the headlines. we are talking about a member of a black revolutionary cell goes into an after hours joint where bad things that are bad for the people are going on and make everyone strip down naked and steal their money, the cops come saying what are all these people doing naked and some guy is like some guy ripped us off but they are gone and another says no he is over there. and a lot of these stories end -- one thing i learned is if you are going to be a member of a violent reblutionary army and you get pulled over by the cops -- revolutionary -- the first thing you want to do is
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roll down the window. >> that is what the black liberation taught the members. >> when the cop came some would just start shooting at the cop and the glass would be flying and you don't want to get hurt. >> and these guys all had medium to large affros and there is a story about myers and people like the last quote on the shootout was women were picking glass out of his hair all night. >> how many round of ammunition were involved in that final round? >> i don't know but he was cut pieces. the black libation army wasn't prone to peaceful bombings. they fascinated police and were a spin off of the black panthers. >> run at least nominally from the algerian head quarters
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their world embassy cleaver who believed himself to be running the government in exile of black america from a room in algeria where he had a map with lights having all of the revolutionary cells including the one in china whose chairman was a guy now mow. >> he thought it was going to be a gorilla army and all of the groups believed once they started attacking with iviolence people will rise up >> the head of the liberation army on the run in los angeles and i think the fbi might be on to us let's find another black person and knock on their door to see if they will harbor us.
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when the fbi was closing in the leader decided they needed to move to a new place and didn't know a new place and started going door to door in their building say i am the commander here of the liberation army could we move in. >> and no one said yes amazingly but no one turned him in. >> and it was someone was strange and the man was as we know in chicago from fred hampton cutting down black leaders in cold blood. so it made sense. >> it was a time when government, because of the '60s and corruption of nixon administration and the war and watergate, the reputation of the fbi and the national government was i have not lived long enough to say an all-time low but i don't know how many times it was lower. >> if you are in the bronx and
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the heroin trade is run by the police joining things like the black liberation seems like a better change than voting for hump humphry. >> it was the perfect outlet for the black rights and after ten years with five intense years of blacks calling for black power and black revolutionary and off the pig finally somebody tried to do it. by and large they got cut to pieces but managed to attack a significant number of police to. >> there was a movement where one of the dla soldiers said don't you understand copper we are at war. and he said no if we were at war, i would have shot you
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already. you would not be handcuffed in the back of this car. let me ask you one more thing before we take questions. getting the story, i say this is cinematic because if i were writing the screenplay about "days of rage" it would be about a guy living in texas or new jersey getting the story and tracking down all of these gray beards. but i get a sense from the pref preface it was difficult and you were at the end of the rope a couple times >> a couple times. this was the most difficult thing i have ever done. it was almost 16 years and for the first 18 months it was getting a lot of doors slammed in my face. people are not going to tell you about the building they bombed in 1972. it waws only until i reached out for the defense attorneys and found the bar of radical
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attorneys was small, maybe a dozen or 15 that mattered and i made the argument my politics don't matter. i have a track record telling it accurately and the fact is look behind me. there are not a half dozen reporters and lining up outside of this door. you are 75 years old. if you don't tell me these story they will never come out. >> when was the movement in which you realized you might have a book that was successful on your own terms? >> the first time i started hearing stories that kind of were what they used to tell us in school that were bombs in your corn flake stories. the first time a bla guy told me about murdering a cop. the first time ron told me about building the weatherman bombs. the first time i was told about breaking chez out of prison and smuggling her to cuba.
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once i got a couple of those stories i realized -- i thought the book was uneven. i knew i had amazing stuff but it is not amazing everywhere. there were a couple groups i never talked to any of their people. i had to tell the story through the eyes of the fbi agents who pursued them. once i got a couple early stories i realized this suis amazing stuff and i had the bock. >> the joan of arc of the black left tried to shoot a cop at point-blank range. >> she tried to do it many times but we know of the one she was convicted of. she is the most prominent fugitive still living in cuba. >> what would you tell the students that want to name a building after her in berkeley?
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>> i did my best to play it down the middle and not make political judgments. i have had people on the right say i am glamourizinge -- glam orizeorizing them and the others saying i am not telling it right. but it is hard when you get students who want to name a building after these people and understand they are potent symbols but they tried to kill people. and they tried to kill police officers and families. look, if you want to name your community center with private funds after anybody you want to fine. but it sticks in my craw when people do it with public money.
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>> so a guy blows up his fingers -- >> he blew off nine fingers and half his face. >> and escaped from the cops. what is the story? he has one finger. >> pipe bomb goes off in his hand in july of 1968. nine of his fingers, half of his face, and somehow he managers with the stubs of his hand to flush most of the documents from this apartment down the toilet. we know that because the door closed behind him and there were scuff marks. by the time the cops came his head was the size of balloon and he was passed out and put in bellevue at the hospital ward and after several trips from a helpful defense attorney he suddenly came into the possession of wire clippers and
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somehow with no hands and one remaining finger his attorneys sued the city of new york saying that they wanted possession of the fingers back saying he wanted to sew them on. somehow willy moralis managed to tie a rope outside of his window and clip it and put down the rope ladder. it appears -- he was on the third floor and got ten feet and then fell because there was a massive dent on an air conditioner he hit on the first floor. and down there was an estimated 5-20 people who rushed him to new jersey milwaukee, and then mexico and cuba.
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>> we need that kind of per perserverence. he has been in the news on what is going to happen to fugitives with the new deal. well i bet you guys have interesting questions. sir? >> when you were finally able to pry lose some of the stories of the bombings that took place how were you able to get conformation on the stories and how difficult was that? >> by and large most of the details -- one of the biggest problems was the fallibility of memory. people told me these things and got the order wrong. let's say famous bombing. the first significant weather
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bombing was in june of 1970. i had the guy who built the bomb and a couple people there and the facts didn't match the account. you do what writers have done for decades. you say you thought it was at 5:00 the papers say it was at 6:30. well it probably was i don't remember. it was 40 years ago. you do the dates, times and facts and you tend to go with what watt accepted by the press and then the quotes memories and emotions and specific memories are where i become more comfortable bringing in the human remembered accounts because humans just don't remember the basic facts 40 years later. they just don't. >> you don't have a lot of footnotes for people to follow
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up. >> you are right. i should are done more. >> you can get the website. >> you are so good at it and i am not. i take things with a quotation from another source. most of my stuff is from personal interviews and unlike a lot of authors i don't footnote. this is from an interview done february 18th 2011 i know i should. i just say i talked to the guy and he told me this. >> do you have any instances where any of the bombers showed remorse or apology or did they take a stance it was justified? and a second question is do you have instances on the university campuses as well like wisconsin?
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>> first question first. i am always surprised when i get questions not meaning to comment on whatever politics you have but often questioners from the right are stunned when i say people in the book respect remorse because many do. two thirds of the people i spoke to did not express remorse but sadness they lost and sadness people don't understand the necessity or severity of the circumstances that required them to do this. about a third of the people i would say especially those who went into white coller jobs. many of the weather men went on to be doctors, lawyers and professor. >> mark speaks about the
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consequences. >> mark rud who was one of the early leaders and later marginalized and has had a long career at a community college. so i would say a third or 40 percent express some time of remorse. because of the main narrative of the book starting in fall of '69 and i am primarily concerned with people who took explosive and radical violence from the campus out into the mainstream america i primarily deal with campus violence in a couple background chapters early on showing in essence the bombing and domestic terrorism of the 1960's are roots in the campus bomb bombings especially in the late '60s but most of it was cocktails thrown against buildings at night with the notable exception of the one off attack that killed robinson in
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august of 1970 that was larger than any of the bombs set off by the other groups i am riding about. the significance cause the bomb and when i say it was a one off it was a group of students who did it one time and disappeared. >> there is a book about that. >> but the significance of that is weather was at a turning point. they were underground for eight months and trying get on their feet and the madison bombing changes the national conver conversation from what was wrong in vietnam and what was wrong with the revolutionaries on campus. i don't write a lot about campus violence but that would be the most significant bit in terms of what happened in the '70s at least. >> first, thank you so much for
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public enemies. it was a great read. >> thank you. >> my question is how made it clear how difficult this book was to gather information on. so what would you say was the impetus or the reason for your decision to tackle it in in the first place? what motivated you on the subject? thank you. >> thank you. i am -- i hop around with a new book and subjackedect every years. issues and books are not the primary drivers in what gets me to determine a good book. i want to go back and do
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something that had a feel. it had to be a situation where i thought i could break things and reurgeitate people's stuff. i reached out to a lot of guys and i realized a guy came back and suggested the fln. and i thought no one has written about them and they will not talk about me. it was screamingly apparent if i wrote a book about a terrorist group with no cooperation from the book i would get about 17 readers. >> outstanding, dedicated readers >> i looked at weather and the fla and none i thought rose to
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the significant or importance i wanted into book and that is when it wrote me you are missing. it is all of them. it is an era. an underground era. and maybe these people were only numbered in the hunts but the scale and breadth of violence they kept going i don't know how you call it not historically significant. >> this is in stark difference to what brandy and bill ayres said. have they spoken publically you to you about the differences? >> they are in flat contradiction. but i should point out what they say is accurate about it.
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i tried to talk with them for six years and went back and forth with e-mailing bill ayres. he is a talented writer and career communicating and i don't think the time is right for me to look back and he didn't see the value in allowing someone else to tell a story. >> was he admitted to can >>he was a graduate student.
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>> butcher, candle stick maker. it is remarkable. >> there were a number of weatherman that you know one went on to be a specialty at duke. no one outside of the family knee he was in weather until the energy. it wasn't named and it was one of the right hand man.
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and he went to know -- to a new york law firm. >> what is next? >> my question is with the increasing animosity we see in the political realm today do you think maybe in the next 5-20 years we will see another day of rage. >> we have a problem of right wring terrorism in america. we just don't hear it spoken of as terrorism. there were plenty of people going after cops in the first few years of the obama administration and clinic bombings and all of the rest. it is part of your political culture that is not being wreck
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reckened with right now. thoughts? >> who is the guy at the times? greg? in slate or slime and he has a new book out trying to argue that. economy equality and divided government has reached such a point we are seeing the seeds lane for what might be the revolutionary movement left right or otherwise in the near future. i would have thought your answer would be about progression in african-american and activist rhetoric. because the issue were the same at first that were the issues that furthered the panthers and spawned the bla's. and until baltimore, the activist were uniformally not only non-violent but preached non violent. it wasn't until baltimore we
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started to see op-eds and interviews of people saying i am tired of being in the protest marches. less dr. king and more malcolm in their voices. >> well i think that, you know like now compared to 1968 it was just one compared to three miles of adson street burned to the ground. the scale is not the same. people say baltimore is violence. how can you say we don't have violence like that today? i am like wait baltimore was a good night in 1966. baltimore was a good night in
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newark or detroit in 1968. there is no comparison. don't let the artificial amplification of cable and social media lead you to believe this is more than it is. >> the rioting in the '60s led to hiring black cops and not black cops like in harlem or chicago chicago chicago who would compete to see who could beat up the most black folks to be along the line. the whole ecology is different. the fact there is no african-american class to speak of like the ones you have now like the los angeles times who had to send out genders to cover because they didn't have black reporters, you know?
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>> it is true american police departmented departmented departments are better at saying things to hold down the feelings. you don't get police chiefs up there talking city after city after bad acts you had professional administrators that grew up on rodney king and knew how to say the right things. >> compared to the 1955 riots who accrued cops in mississippi and after the rights he said it is like one monkey threw a rock and they all did.
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>> let's give clarence a chance. >> a couple clarifications from an old boomer. los angeles times was the classified parks back then given a dime and told to look around and take notes on something called a telephone. i don't know if dzhokhar tsarnaev remember them or not. -- you can -- another thing cause sin queue called them self not having taken french i guess. >> it is an honor to be corrected by you.
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>> it is a great job of reaccounting the period. the flavor of the period i want to speak up for fred and other leaders to deannounced the weather on the ground. >> it sort of sounds like these were part of a fast radical left wing conspiracy. there were a lot of delusions you alluded to. i was wondering, the bla was a fringe of a fringe group and the
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weather underground was as well. but did you get the sense of what drives people? and they believe it was reportt to make peaceful change in violence make change in evitable. that is what took people over the edge making bombs. most of the members of nigh my generation didn't go far. and when the violence got serious most backed off. >> most? almost all. we will take your answer off the air. we have been cut off by c-span2 or we would love to take it. >> ladies and gentlemen, bryan burrough. [applause] [applause]
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>> you just heard from bryan burrough author of half a dozen books. we will break a break while they clear the room and get ready for the next event. this is booktv's live coverage from chicago on c-span2.
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>> ask members of congress what they are reading of summer. >> thanks for asking. i taught economics for the past 18 years and went to seminary before that so a combination of economics and ethics. people thought it was a joke but i take it seriously. i am starting with peter wallace and hidden in plain site. it an account of the causes of had financial crisis and without an account it is hard to solve the issue going forward. we don't want that happening and there are signs we are head in the wrong direction. and people are off track and
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hits in the mortgage business and the federal reserve had heavy lifting to do. that is the main economic piece i want to read. and then the rest is just kind of the western synthes between the judeo christians and i am read whose justice which rationality from one of the top philosophers in the country. and then the moral vision of the new testament by hays who is considered one of the foremost authorities of the ethics on the new testament. and then a book economics as religion from samuelson to chicago by nelson. i have been dabbling in several of the books for a while but i want to dig in deeper. and the final one i have on my
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stack is a fun one calls bor jaw dignity by dedra mccalski and she has been combining economics and literature for a few decades. she is a chicago school trained economist and been validated by lots. this is the second volume and takes on the causes of long run growth. it is the issue that improved human welfare more than any other issue you can name period. her argument is all human civilization income per person is about $500 a year for all of human history up until 1800 and then massive explosive growth in the free market countries.
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so there has been a lot of speculation on what is the true cause of that. i did my ph.d on that and she takes on every noble papers not human capital, science, private property rights industrial revolution and dates all of these. she concludes the biggest cause is the first time in history, 1800, when the culture changed the moral language we started to call the business person moralallymorally good. and we are find of neutral at best on that. ...
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[applause] >> that was wonderful. that was really beautiful. >> i would love i would love to start with some kind of writer questions rather than just questions about the space program, which we can get into after a while. the book begins with a
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moment own kind of loss when you can't separate. the could have been lots of other beginnings. was this always the beginning? why did you start their? >> it wasn't always the beginning. i had started a couple chapters later. i started going to the kennedy space center. and then many earlier versions i had really started at that time with the occasion of deciding to start this sort of ridiculous project. as i was finishing the book i kept feeling like it had not quite dug in enough yet to the deeper meanings of the questions i was asking. i was asking what it means that the special era is ending that this vehicle which is accomplished so much as being sort of unceremoniously retired and put away's.
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i'm not a physicist myself. i'm not astronomer. i love it and i feel deeply connected to it. it. the more i thought a lot that my really get to ask myself where was the beginning of it. i don't mean to imply that the story comes from a painful dramatic place.
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the childhood visits to this place planted the seed that took a take a long time to actually turn into a book what is. >> it hangs over the entire story. your family is ending. >> the cultural moment is really interesting to be starting this. it sort of surprised me. the 1st time i went there was about seven. it was about 1979 and i was only ten years after apollo 11. >> it was already in the museum covered with dust.
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and those events already seemed historical. the technology seemed out of date. that confusion that confusion find its way and the book as well. >> when did you make the decision the structure the book as the book is structured around the last three shuttles. >> right. a lot of of the material in between. i 1st i 1st came up with the idea that i should write about the end of the shuttle and follow 2010 which is about when that decision was made final. nasa decisions never seem all that firm. they are sort of deciding what nasa will do in the future's. the news came out. we have these missions left to do. it felt uncertain but seemed like it was probably going to be the end of an era.
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a lot of other events. i was invited to get the things that were not anticipated. but i think i had started with the idea said last lots of discovery, endeavor, atlantis and each of us to be different following that trajectory was sort of following what it's like. >> were you always a major character? wasn't always you going to want? was there ever a version of the book that was a little bit more abstract and historical? >> it was always 1st person, me going to watch and partly because i so admire the nonfiction writers. you do use your poor ties. the kind of technique where they talk about their own experience including the experience of being bitten by mosquitoes or eating
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coffee or wishing that you want their. the respond well to historic events being written about in honest and subjective. i had not quite realized how much i would need to put myself into it. i wasn't entirely being honest about my own involvement in these events was. so i think i had to push myself to put myself into it more even though for me and for a lot of writers it's not that comfortable.
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>> i try not to speak for everyone. >> and what about the other major characters in the book. buzz aldrin, kind of opposites. >> yes. that's interesting. this book really would not have happened in the way that it did if not for my friend omar he works at the
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kennedy space center. his father center. his father worked at the kennedy space center his entire life. he really grew up. we became friends through social media. space workers are allowed to invite family and friend for certain events. i really would not have had access from the beginning to the things that i saw. aside from the physical access i felt like by getting to know one person in his family's i was able to see a kind of individual and emotional dimension to what it means that i might not have gotten otherwise.
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to to meet people whose entire careers and lives have been devoted to making the space vehicle fly being put into museums. >> simultaneously to virgil like. that is also like somebody who is watching his will diminish's to a certain extent. he served lots of functions. and then set against him. when you meet him and introduce them. the book festival. >> yeah. as a chapter in a book where i spent i spent the day with buzz aldrin. i introduce another book festival.
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they were thrown together because it's such a big festival in his event was a a headliner we were in an auditorium that seated thousands of people. rebound of being trapped together for the entire day and it really was a chance to meet someone who has walked on the moon which is remarkable but also a chance to talk with him about what it means to him which it was. there were was. there were still five flights to go at the time i met him. and it's interesting to me to see how my guess as to how he would react did not always measure up with how he actually did react. he went to the moon in 1959's and ever since then has been waiting for us to get our act together and go to mars. he doesn't quite understand as i don't either. >> but as we talked before he was a bit like spark at a
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star trek convention waiting for them to make the next movie or something like that. >> yeah. well what he did that we know him for he did so long ago now. but he has this magnetic kind of rockstar appeal. outside in the outside in the pouring rain people wait for hours just to shake his hand. so it's a weird kind of combination. is in his 80s. but i kind of -- a real outpouring of affection, not just for what he represents and what he did, but for him as a person who took a personal risk for those guys did not know for sure they would come back safely. there's a sense of gratitude combined with the heroism that we put on your person like that. >> one of my favorite aspects of the book was the way it is in conversation with other writers of books. that has become that has become i think almost like a
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kind of sub genre and away. you think of a a book like nicholson baker's uni which is about his literary relationship with john updike. i wonder if you would talk a little bit about how you saw that aspect of the book because i think for me as a reader the kind of helps to find generationally in the book but also as i was trying to hint at the beginning, it helps to find a bit like where america was in the 1960s and where it is now as this was coming to an end. >> there are a few books that were sort of my literature canon going in this project. i knew these books even before it was an outflow. i've been reading about spaceflight for a good ten years before that. but the three main books that i felt like i was in
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conversation with norman mailer's fire on the moon which is his 1st person account of seeing lots of apollo 11. the right stuff and a little-known book by an italian journalist. her book is called if the son dies. all three all three of those books that we would categorize as creative nonfiction. none of them are properly called journalism. they journalism. they all have a real personal subjective kind of idiosyncratic approach. there are books that i admire usually. so i do throughout this book kept touching base with each of them in the things that they experience in the way that they interpreted that there were seeing. of course, there were writing in a much earlier era especially for mailer and for logic, they were writing these books in real-time as these things
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are happening. her happening. the books are filled with a sense of hope in the sense of optimism that now that we are doing this will keep going all the time. you know,. you know the next generation, everyone will go no space in the generation after that children we will be born in space. so it's hard for someone in 2015 new line 2011 which is when my lunches were taking place to read these books and cds experience as they were having that were so similar. but there interpretation but there interpretation of what they are seeing could not be more different from the meaning that i'm describing the things that i'm seeing. >> it's a bit like the phrase you use in the passenger read. the literary version of the 70s. >> right. for norman mailer the launch of apollo 11 to me that this was the beginning of the era in which people are constantly going to the moon it. it wasn't. we went to the moon six times and that was it. it's an odd task done for a
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writer in 2011 ago and see such a similar launch experience. what i'm saying is the end of the space vehicle. >> would you be willing to read a little bit about that >> sure. at the end after the last launch i had a chance to go back again for the last landing. what am going to read is a passage immediately after that's the reality is to wander around the press site
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blistering lodges is overrun with press come as you would imagine. landings get much less coverage. there's an end -- empty expanse of press expensive press site that i have the full run of. >> what would norman mailer think? 's if we could both be standing in this field of grass on the same floor's what will be seeing each other? i doubt very much our encounter would be anything like those i've had with other space bar people. that dude -- that food and sunburns. but he walk right by me assuming me to be someone secretary, wife non- writer, non- artist, non- ego with nothing to contribute but a to care for
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and feed a male ego and his babies? not long before the prime responsibility of a woman is to be on earth long enough to find the best way possible and conceive children who will improve the species from our what he wedding out of boredom and isolation and a lower standard attempt to bed me? economy at a jacob asked me to dinner from apply me with mine, does it make me shallow that the latter seemed less depressing's because in trying to seduce me he would at least have to talk to me. both the individual women he knew also a loss to men of his time that they were denied the pleasure of taking care of children home life. they were denied the honest and complicated friendship of women for professional collaboration and respect to
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mail actual report, gossip comfort, advice, simple favors games of online scrabble. as much as i envy norman mailer i can't envy his era. i would not have been allowed to be a writer or if i had i had if i had managed to make a place for myself readers would have hastened to assure each other that smart as i may have been our was i was a bad mother, wife, not pretty or nice enough. this is familiar from the narratives about women astronauts. we can go, but we will say you abandoned your children. it's a dream. the dream is alive. the dream is still in the process of coming true. >> i find that very moving. and i think it's at the core i think, of the conversation that is almost
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in a way like a kind of engine -- ancient greek conversation. and so he is writing kind of about the golden age. you are coming in and the 3rd age. and maybe and less literary terms of how have you come to kind of think about that version of the future versus your generations version back. >> that's a good question. i think it seems for a moment in the late 1960s as the technology was going to change culture and technology was going to change the ways in which people behave's. and this is like what has happened in a couple of generations since then is we have had to confront the fact that has not come to pass in the way we expected.
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now that people have walked on the moon everything is different's and it felt like there is an implication that we don't really have to do anything differently. everything will be better problems can be solved. cancer we will be cured can any problem can be solved through technology and specifically solved through large federal projects. it's a mixed history. certainly technology certainly technology has continued to evolve and given us things we did not have a but i think we have lost that sense that technology will change culture, technology will change us' and we will be a better civilization as a result's. >> somewhat collective. we all know what ipads and
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iphones can do for us personally. there's no sense of everyone being in that together. >> and that's why there's a conflict right now in terms of what we will happen next and spaceflight. they are interested in seeing the smaller companies with shareholders take up the project of getting this basin have that be something driven by private industry. other other spaces feel that that would be to destroy what was actually noble and good of a about spaceflight the 1st place. it was done by all of us for all of us with scientific goals in mind more than turning a a profit for somebody. >> right. in that sense of patriotism kennedy's mandate and mission. >> there was a sense of this country had done something that we can all be proud of
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unequivocally. there was conflict at the time about whether there was a great way to be spending that much money in that argument continues, but it continues, but it does seem like even for people who objected to it's we had shown he can accomplish something incredible the other in a short amount time >> i think one of the exciting aspects is that it is simultaneously analogy for that area but there is not very to deep inside of it a kind of rallying cry for let's try to figure out a way to do this again. what do you think keeps the culture from being interested in projects like that? 's i think we all have the standard economic explanations. it seems something else is missing.
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>> almost everyone i talk to about this seems to be in favor of continuing spaceflight projects. you know, there are certainly people who talk about the money and now it could be better spent. disagree with the way that nasa did what they did but beyond that there seems to be different interest in spaceflight and a love the love for spaceflight that transcends ideology and transcends the values that seem to guide this country more and more. and that's interesting to me it's will meet people that are very clear that taxes are bad in taxpayer funds should not be spent on anything but when you mention i'm of going to a shuttle launch that's great, nasa is awesome.
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there's a real contradiction's. >> keep the government out of my medicare. >> exactly. and not to say -- i think there is a parker see at every level's the values of spending billions of dollars on people going to space. there will always be some kind of contradiction. i feel like i see an interest. including young people. i'm a university professor. i meet young people and talk to them about my work and what i no command they all seem to be as enthusiastic as i am about the idea of going to mars. the problem is how that happens when there is not a national sense of urgency. especially when there's a sense of any kind of economic crisis decades of
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study to lead toward that. at something that congress does not seem to do well. there needs to be something steady and ongoing and that's going to be a challenge. >> you had already, you know, as you have been suggesting that read a lot about this. obsessed with the before you started the book. what were some of the biggest surprises for you in the course of writing the book and laying out. >> there are a lot of ideas people in my generation have grown up with not having experienced a path over gemini on mercury to my ideas about spaceflight and not -- that is of the group with the don't turn out to be entirely accurate. there is some retroactive that goes on especially in
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terms of up until 1969. it was never entirely clear that this is going to work. this project. but there was a lot of uncertainty about whether that was physically possible there was uncertainty about whether the funding would continue. i only learned about that reading but it subsequently. everyone supported and it was because of this that it happened. the more i learn about it more i learned there was a lot of uncertainty and controversy, not always a clear majority when it
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happens people who would rather support as a result of that. does it really quite make it into the legend that my generation was raised with. >> were surprises? you emea fairly wide cast of characters. three and a half launches. >> i went through a large that was scrubbed. i met so many people who worked at the kennedy space center. i guess what i expect at a certain level is defined that as exciting and inspiring as i find the work that they would probably find it boring as normal people do, especially a person is job is to sweep
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the floors in the vehicle assembly building a person whose job is to garden orbiter i thought before i went they're i would meet people are taken it for granted. what surprised me most is every single person i i met was proud to go to work with it everyday. they had an overall sense of where the work was fitting into the history of america spaceflight. i'm sure there were people who were not great at their jobs, but i never met any of them. i had a huge admiration for the people who had done that work. >> how do you think they would explain what they do? what would their -- emotional or intellectual. >> i think it can sometimes be hard for people with a
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passion to communicate. this is a deep love when people who have it. it's like saying you don't support humanity for america. why would you not -- i feel like i see this a lot. lot. even for a short time that my book is been out, sometimes seeing people kind of coming. nasa stop the shuttle because it was terrible and stupid and other people say is the most beautiful thing if human beings are created. they can't really communicate with each other. they are speaking from such deeply held ideologies that they can't communicate with each other. that was one thing i was interested in trying to do. i do love the space shuttle in spaceflight but i don't
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work for nasa. i'm not a scientist or engineer. now in english professor. so i felt like i was able to bring together some threads the people who are deeply entrenched would not be able to see. >> how do you see the generational story? one way is that the space exploration is just the latest example of these wonderful activities that the baby boom generation got to do enough people don't. >> that's a negative. >> what would have the popular music are the things >> is true.
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i generation has been raised with us is that we missed it all. the tolerable if the latter the music or technology or especially in the realm of spaceflight my earliest space memory was going to the aerospace museum, my 1st memory was the challenger disaster. it's a different entry for thinking about human spaceflight the meal understandably. i don't think that's really the case. the people become smarter or creative a better. and then forget all of that. there is a sense that at least in terms spaceflight we had the kind of faith in our government or of faith in collective effort allowed us to get something done.
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it's hard to imagine what it would take to create that kind of love. >> and the belief in the future that would allow for this. >> i believe that investing in this technology would inevitably lead to something better. >> if they have a question. >> anyone has worked on the military film studio the question is if the flag
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planted in the sea of treacly is on the moon putting it there contrary to my pacifist anarchist convictions the theory that the landings were faked. i like to talk to you after this. this. think it would be easier to talk one-on-one. i would like to meet you can hear what you say.
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>> thank you. >> outside of the apollo missions being mostly fascinating can i'm wondering about the long-term effects of the posttraumatic stress disorder that would come from being on the pollination. >> for apollo specifically. >> yes. >> the people who were involved in the program ways to talk about that experience now in a wide range a wide range of ways that it seems to have effects going forward. some of them religious seem to be a native of this love. science and technology and has become an artist. has become sort of soured.
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none of them are extremely negative about. some are more enthusiastic than others. anything like ptsd or anything dramatic about it. i think they were so well prepared for that experience and so well chosen as far as i can tell choosing test pilots was a very smart place to start. people who are used to put themselves into the hands of untested technology and you are able to keep their cool. smart place to start. i have never i have never heard of any talk about their experience in those terms although it could be that they have chosen not to buy the training is trained them not to talk about it in those terms. >> for them to come back from the moon and try to explain what has happened to
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them. metaphorically on two different planets with everybody they were targeted. >> is common to see and interviews with astronauts especially astronauts who went to the moon i wish i could put in the way through but i can't. it's possible that by choosing people who have this ability to keep their cool and terrifying situations we also inadvertently chose people who cannot really think about their own emotions up with this complex emotions and the words. >> after getting product and manned spaceflight as you did in all of your research i'm curious to hear what
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your considered opinion or hopes for the future of manned spaceflight. i have been fortunate enough to see. it really was kind of a perfect storm based on the geopolitical times that allowed the united states to do what we did the government. and watch it you can almost see at the.command i think you mentioned this in the book that it flattened out in the challenger disaster, the columbia disaster you can see the heads to the national disaster. one country will be able to do anything like that again together. maybe china. the people, technology, and
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maybe even the political we will to try to do it. a doing thorough. for not involve the international space station. they got almost scratch is probably stolen technology working their way slowly in the global flights. going to mars: this just a geometric progression larger progression and that. so what do you think? >> well, well, it's an interesting thing, the chinese space agency reinvented spaceflight. trying to put the space station of their own. we are at a.where there is an idea at least the private companies taking over the
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special use to do and develop the capabilities and show us what more they can do. some people are very confident that by having this just one being that the spaceflight was sucking up all the energy and projects. the when dinosaurs died out. that's a very positive way of looking at the end of the shuttle. able to put people and cargo in the low earth orbit the homogenous where we were in 1981. that's not exactly a leap forward. these private companies and nasa and the russian space agency and the european space agency.
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the snags in the process. the national space station's playstation's been in orbit since 2,000. inhabited since the year 2,000. for many different countries. and that is maybe the blueprint for what it would take to create a mars project. whether would inspire people to want to pay for that the idea that obama your willing to spend at its least five or 6 percent of the federal budget. we were able to spend that only because it was a proxy war with the soviet union.
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i'm not sure what it would take to make happen. >> what would it take to get you to go up in space. >> i don't think i would be a great astronauts. it's not really something i aspire to. the international space station has been safely in orbit. been in operation so long it seems like if i were offered a seat i might go. >> please join me in thanking margaret. [applause] >> once again on behalf of the lit fest thank you. thanks to all of you for
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attending. >> and that was margaret lazarus dean wrapping up to a one and book tv live coverage. and we will be back live on sunday at noon with our monthly three our in-depth program featuring pulitzer prize-winning author. he will be talking about all of his books and taking your questions as well as questions from the studio audience. following that more live events for cargo. scott simon, kevin schultz talking about norman mailer and william f buckley junior and finally alex kaufmann house kaufman of the impact of tough on crime policies
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in philadelphia. that all happens tomorrow beginning at noon eastern. now book tv continues on c-span2 went to the
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>> it is the 2nd most populated city and home to the university of nebraska.
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for the next hour we will explore the history and literary culture of this capitol city. >> on the most important american writers of the 20th century. left behind at least 3000 letters that we know about. those letters are all over the world that the biggest collections are here nebraska. >> we are in the heritage room in the lincoln city library. the purpose is to collect and celebrate and promote the works. we began the collection in 1949. she originally held just one bookcase where she would put books that would come in. the collection has grown from the shelf to 14000
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14,000 volumes and represents more than 4,000 nebraska authors. >> we begin our special look at lincoln. >> the american west has long been this tableau. love, loss, recovery, redemption, courage command failure perseverance, integrity, honesty all of these traditional literary themes that begins to start to congeal at this intersection of american history and things start to happen that have not happen before. standing there becomes this unwitting hero in a courtroom drama

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