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tv   2015 National Book Festival  CSPAN  September 5, 2015 10:00am-7:01pm EDT

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>> [inaudible conversation] >> in morning, thank you for being here it is such a great crowd here so early in the morning on a holiday weekend. my name is tim collins and i work for wells fargo, we have been a sponsor for the book festival for the last five years. i will make i will make a couple of brief remarks and then let you get to the good stuff. i want to tell you why we are involved with the book festival. yes, we are very large financial institution but we like to think
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of ourselves as a community bank and we are really involved in the communities that we serve both nationally and locally. we volunteer, a lot of our team members volunteer, we donate, we are on community board so when we looked at the book festival, it's such a great opportunity in such a community event about the local level here in the d.c. area and certainly representing the national community as well. second reason was we are involved in education. we have a program, called reading first which involves our team members parting with schools, preschool, k, first and second grade level to go in and give kids books. they read to them aloud in the schools. what we find is that when kids on their first book, their interest in reading really takes a quantum leap. it's a great program, we have donated more than 1 million books that we have team members volunteering almost 2 million hours of volunteer time with people and programs like that. enough about that, i want to tell you some things that we're doing today that are fun and contributing to the event. there's a stagecoach outside, we
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have a long history going back to the stagecoach which predates the transcontinental railroad which mitts roberts is going to talk about in her book. we have a stagecoach downstairs in hall b, and we also have a lot of other fun activities. we have a reading first program going on where we will give kids books. we'll be reading aloud in english, spanish, and american and american sign language and those who participate in that event will also be given the opportunity to have a wells fargo plush pony as well. then it's a there's a virtual reality experience, it's really cool it might not be a thing but it's worth checking out. it's a fun experience. alternate over to john haskell for the library of congress to introduce cokie roberts. thank you and have a great day. [applause].
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>> good morning, i work at the congressional research service which you may know about. in one of the research divisions, i was not given the thomas assignment at the festival to introduce cokie roberts. it is mostly telling you things you already know so i will say will save you those things. she is currently the senior news analyst at npr, among her many distinction she has three emmy awards, she also received the living legend award from the library of congress. she is the author of several books, most recently capital gains, the civil war, and the women of washington. she will be signing that directly after this event. she will have to rush down to the lower level, to the book sale shop, so you'll have to make way for her to get down there. i'm going to have one personal thing. from those of us who spent much of their lives in the heartland of the country, and the
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pre-internet era. many of us relied on cokie, whether as npr or abc-tv as a unique source, and i mean unique of reason, and balanced analysis of politics and issues today. she continues to provide that service. speaking to to provide that service. speaking to me and many other people we are very grateful she did that purpose for us and she continues to do that service. please tell me welcome cokie roberts. [applause]. thank you. >> thank you all for being here on this labor day weekend. i thickness a book festival is one of the greatest things that happened year in and year out. hundreds of thousands of people showing up [applause]. to celebrate books and to buy them. what a concept, children and families.
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usually my children are with me but i'm going to catch a plane and see them in a minute. it is a wonderful event and the fact is that i write these history books often, many of the characters in the history book are political wives. there is a political wife who starred this book festival, it was laura bush who went to the fabulous library of congress and said i did it taxes a book festival, can we do one in washington. it shows you what a fabulous legacy political lie wives have left here in washington. that makes it more delightful for me to be able to participate in it. also, we should just say the volunteers of this festival are the heroes. [applause]. by and large the heroes because there is no way this could go on
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without these wonderful hundreds of volunteers. thank you all very much for what you do. i have written history books about women in history and i never was going to write about the civil war. first of all all of my ancestors fought on the losing side. so i didn't really have any interest in its. secondly, it's an awful war. it is a horrible, horrible time in our history, we lost more than 600,000 americans and it's a failure of the political system that these politicians could not get to emancipation without war. as someone who covers politics and cares about politics, but to me is so dispiriting that i really did not want to write about it. my publisher had other ideas and was pretty clear that i was writing a book about the civil
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war. so i started to think about that, but i actually had had absolutely no idea what that book was going to be. i knew it would be about women, and plenty of the others people. people always say to me why do you write about women? why i guess the fact that i menace kurds via other half of humankind think they should have a book written about them. i would actually argue that history is not accurate without knowing what the rest of the world was up to. so i know it was going to be about women and that i would make great discoveries. i knew i would find a wonderful women's
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women's letters that would just delight me. i have to say, the men's letters, particularly, particularly in the pouting. but throughout our history are so studying, adding the and ready for for publications. where the women's letters were just letters. they are funny, frank, and truthful. they paint the whole story, and the same letter you will read about maybe we should go to war with france, but but i need my new hat that i left at home and so-and-so is having babies, and also often losing them, and here's what the economic situation is. you get the full picture of society and life through women's letters. you find them because most of
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them have never been published, you find these utterly delightful things. my favorite still remains from my second history book ladies of liberty from the republic it was written by john quincy adams wife. it was written when he was secretary of state, she was running his campaign for president, she called this is what her vocation to get him elected president. she wrote these wonderful, gossipy letters from home. abigail had died and john was lonely so louisa wrote these letters home. this particular letter was from 1820 and the year of the missouri compromise. because of the hammering out the compromise congress state in session much longer than usual. so finally they go home. in july, louisa goes to the trustees that dolly madison had
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established after the invasion of 1814. she gets there, one of the other trustee says to her we are going to need a new building and the weeds that says why? and the woman said the session had been very long, the fathers of the nation had left 40 cases and our institution was the most likely to be called upon to maintain this illicit progeny. congress had left 40 pregnant women behind and there is only like a hundred 87 members of congress. so she was up in arms and said i recommended a petition to congress next session for that great and moral body to establish a founding institution and to strictly move it to
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additional dollars a day which they have been giving themselves as an increase in pay, may be appropriated as a way to fund the institution. it doesn't get any better than that. when i found that i was in ecstasy. and that it did turn out that one of the great letterwriters that i found for this book, was her daughter-in-law, abigail brooks adams. she came to washington when he was in congress before he went on to be the union ambassador to the war. she wrote these are wonderful, feisty letters home. calling president buchanan of the heavy old toad and saying the senate behaved as children, and silly one says that. i could get behind that one. my personal favorite was i could
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advise at a young woman who wishes to have an easy, quiet life, not to marianne adams. [laughter] i knew the letters were going to be found. i started thinking about my own groin appear
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i also knew the story of rosie the riveter, the government girls coming to washington during the war. i knew the role of women during the war had promoted women's rights after the war. the republicans and their platforms in 1940s and then the movement toward equal rights again coming out of the experience of war. so i started wondering maybe that's it. maybe the civil war had a similar impact on women's lives and on the role of washington in society. so i started researching that and it turned out yes, in fact i was exactly the case.
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so that is the book. it was just fascinating to learn about it. it's as much a history of a washington era it is a history of the women. as someone who is lived here all of my life, and addition to louisiana, it was of great interest to me. some of these women are women that you know of, like dorothy dix, but you probably don't know all about them and some other things they did were absolutely remarkable. clara barton had come here to work in the government. she worked in the patent office and she actually made as much as men for a period of time. then, during the war government girls did show up in the same way as they did during world war ii. mainly it was women coming to make a living when their
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husbands are the men and their lives gone. then it coincided with congress passing the bill to allow the printing of greenbacks to finance the war. then, as now, the money comes off the printing presses in great huge sheets of bills. it's a. it's a lot of fun to watch if you haven't seen it. now course it's all caught up into individual bills by machines. then it took took women sitting there was scissors, cutting out bill, by bill, by bill. the treasurer of the united states, general skinner, said women are just better was scissors than men are. he also thought he could pay them less which was something many of us experienced in our own lives.
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then rosie the riveter, the equivalent, in my view the women who work in the arsenals. which they did around the country, here in washington there was mainly, very young and very poor women who worked in the arsenal. there is this horrendous arsenal explosion that killed a couple dozen of these girls. the day after, the newspaper, the story was awful to read. pulling the tarp off of the charred bodies and they were basically unrecognizable. the reporter said, they were trapped in their hoop skirts, you can see these 19th-century, midcentury, midcentury women working in this very dangerous job in this boiling hot arsenal and being proper in their hoop skirts. thousands of people showed up to the funeral led by the president and the secretary of war, and formed the
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procession going to the cemetery where there is a monument to them recognizing their tremendous contribution to the war effort. as i say, there were were women you knew about like clara barton, dorothea dix, there's also a woman journalist who came to town. some of them came before the war, one was grace greenwood she was an abolitionist, and she was the first woman allowed to write from the scented gallery. she was a soon kicked out of the senate press gallery for writing truth. she wrote that daniel webster was a drunk, meant it like that. again it reminded me a lot of my own experiences.
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there were activists, all of these fascinating women who thrive during the war in washington and the reporters came in large numbers. dorothea dix was here before the war lobbying in congress and she was so influential that she is actually given a little alcove in the senate library, by the senate in which to do her lobbying. when she was here she established saint elizabeth, then she went off to other places when the bill she was trying to get through was vetoed. she then came back and brought herself into the surgeon general and said she would be the superintendent of the male nurses. there were no female nurses, she created that and opened the
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professor profession of nurses. she was a formidable figure. there is just a few female doctors in the country at the time, 11 of them was a surgeon, mary walker, who again came to washington and presented herself to be into work for the union army. she was not hire, she worked as a volunteer. in a volunteer. in the course of her work during the war she was eventually hired, she was was captured and she had such horrific experiences that she is still, the only woman to have won the medal of honor. it was at mary walker during the civil war. by the time dorothea dix died, she had created more than 100
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mental hospitals around the world including in japan, meaning, meaning she had to travel by herself there. clara barton, what you know about, this is what drives me nuts about this book, clara founded the american red cross. really, was it hard? did anything go before that, what was involved there? well of course a a great deal was involved. she came as a governor networker and then did heroic work during the war as a nurse and as a supplier. she went to europe afterwards and discovered the red cross and came back and lobbied for two decades to get the geneva convention ratified by the senate. when they finally did ratify them it was with the american amendment, which which she wrote which said the red cross could
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go to natural disasters as well as to war zones. so anytime you see the red cross , after a flood, hurricane, hurricane, anywhere in the world, it's because clara barton, and she then went back as the american representative, she got the american amendment adopted by the red cross. there is a lot involved in founding the red cross. but i but i of course was most interested, because i'm me, in the political women. i got to know a lot of them very well and i liked a lot of them a lot. one who i really very much enjoy getting to know was marina davis, jefferson jefferson davis wife, him not so much. she was here as the wife, senator and all the women of
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washington after madison died was really buying to be the chief of bell. they describe themselves themselves as that. one of them, who i write about wrote a book about herself, called the belle of the 50s. so they all knew each other, they basically all liked each other even though they provide. one of the of the women who they all liked enormously was a dell cutts who is a dolly madison's great-niece. she then married stephen douglas, senator who defeated abraham lincoln in the famous lincoln douglas debate. she was furious this was happening. she wrote, the dirty speculator and party pics are, broken and health by drink with his first wife, buys an elegant well bred women because she is poor and her father is proud.
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but then she says it's a good thing there is a new water system coming to washington so that barry came his wife in the factories douglas may wash some off of her. if he don't come they will be a perfect rooms with better ventilation. you don't learn from the men was stephen douglas think stinks. when she did go off to richmond to be the first lady of the confederacy, she stayed in close touch with her friends particularly elizabeth of blair house. lizzie lee wrote wonderful letters. her brother was in the congress, her father was a big advisory to lincoln, her husband was a
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cousin of robert e lee, was in the union navy. because he was in the navy she wrote to him almost every day. and we have the letters of the wartime letters are published, and they are utterly delightful letters. she and marina tate stayed in touch through the war. she was also one of the few people who he friended mary lincoln, not easy to do. mary lincoln tank came to town at a tough time, it was a southern town, town, they didn't like abraham lincoln, and i thought she was kind of a rough westerner. not fair but that was the assumption. she then made life harder for herself by being a difficult person. at one point she was accused of messing with the state of the union message. there is an investigation of the
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first lady, private communications. she had a personal server to [applause]. he carried the letters back-and-forth and she is accused of leaking this to the new york herald, either in exchange for for money or she was having an affair or depending on the rumor of the moment. she was not a well-liked person. after the president was shot, the only person she really have become friendly with was elizabeth correctly, her dressmaker who is really much more than a dressmaker, she was an artist, shoes written about at great personage. mary lincoln in the white house for a few months goes crazy, out
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of her mind after the president was shot and the woman was there with her and takes her back to chicago. then elizabeth correctly wrote a tell-all book. nothing changes, it ended her relationship with mrs. lincoln and it actually ended her business to because others were worried she might write similar books. she was unable to do what she was interested in which is basically social work. people started showing up in washington trying to free themselves before me format the patient and after emancipation she saw she was a former slave herself and she saw the terrible circumstances. so she started what was called the contraband relief association which became freeman's relief association. she was very involved in getting people to help these desperately poor people because she did have the contact and was able to read
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those the money. that's what you started to think was the people had been behind the scenes or doing other things were now doing coming forward as the war ended. virginia clay who had been though wife of an alabama senator and a delightful cot in the prewar period, she wrote a book about herself and was suddenly on platforms after the wars with horace greeley. people who had fought her husband bitterly, leading up to the war and during the war, she, she had, because of her experiences during the war felt she could come forward and be someone herself and use her own voice to promote a cause which had not occurred to her before the war. marina davis, after jefferson
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davis died, long drawnout difficult situation, he had been in jail, accused of being one of the conspirator issues, she worked to get him out of jail. that's another thing these women showed up in the white house all the time. they would just go marching into the white house and tell off the president whoever he was. i am the president whoever he was. i am so jealous, i can't tell you. andrew jost johnson got clay's has been out of jail just to make his wife go away. now mainly she wanted the money, she wanted to make a living but she wanted the freedom. there is a big scandal of the first lady of the confederacy was moving to new york. she had always been a little too all of the complexity and for a
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perfect southern belle. so she wrote wrote to her daughter and said, i am free and 62 i'm going to move wherever i want to. so while she was in you worksheet befriended julia grants. it was page one in every newspaper in the country. which was another great thing now, you can get these newspapers online, the online, the library of congress has a bunch of them. there they were, and what they knew they were doing was bringing about reconciliation. that's what a lot of these women were involved in. in their own face voices after the war was over. you see the tremendous impact it has had in their lives and their role of women in america going forward. in fact, clara barton said at a memorial day established by the
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women, she said that one of her addresses at a celebration in the 1880s, she said because of the war woman was at least 50 years in advance of the normal position which continued peace would have assured her. so that is these women. that's a capital gains, their remarkable people and i love getting to know them and i know and i know you will too. thank you very much for being here. [applause]. their microphones at the front of each aisle of folks are appreciated if you could go to the microns because there taping this.
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i'm. >> i'm fascinated by dorothy's career be as at that time it was public and nontraditional role for people. >> .. loafing is. but the case you are talking
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about was definitely you there. i do write about it. women lobbyists were considered exchanging some favors for the votes and with some of that, when in government workers too. to get the job, the recent civil service is created because to get the job a congressman had to recommend them and sometimes demand something in return. always had a little with about it. they still did those jobs and there are lots of women lobbyists after the war. >> who would you put on the 10 or the 20? >> i have a hard time with this and part of the reason is women didn't have the same kind of power as benjamin franklin or abraham lincoln but i can make a good case for clara barton.
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she is not somebody you would want to hang which frankly. she was very worthy. an earthquake hits nepal and the red cross is there and it is because of her aunt that is true this many years later. i could make that case. [applause] >> not to change the subject too much but an inner city library used to fund raise and came across a book i paid $0.50 for, in two generations, three major religions. >> america, america. >> is there have the ending? >> 49 years this week.
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steve and i have hosted and i have cooked at our house for the last 47 years and it is written for marriages. >> i have enjoyed all three of your books on women's history and i was wondering if you going to continue the journey up. >> yes. i don't know how necessarily. people say what is your next project and this book almost kills me. it is like saying mrs. roberts, you just had triplets. when is the next baby coming? i am not exactly, things rattling around, but the immediate one was here last year, the children's book of family matters, wonderfully, wonderfully illustrated book
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illustrated by diane good, a beautiful book, doing the sequel to that, ladies of liberty for children, that one i can handle. >> it is good to see you. many years i have admired you. my question is did clara barn has any connection with free slaves? >> i don't have -- she was an abolitionist, she was an abolitionist but i don't have letters from her along those lines and it didn't seem to be a major issue with her. to her, i am saying. there were quite a few -- there was a woman named josephine -- >> i'm talking about clara
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barton. >> she was an abolitionist. it was a cause she was concerned about, but wasn't her major how occupation. yes. yes. >> thank you for speaking. i wondered how you got access to all these letters. was that difficult? >> we have the manuscript division of the library of congress and that is a good place to go. when i did family matters it was much harder for a couple reasons. we were dealing in the 18th-century, not the nineteenth and also a lot of people felt that i was the mere journalist and what was i doing rooting around in history? i am supposed to deal with today. people were not as forthcoming as they became after that book
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came out. once i published, started getting more help from historical societies, university libraries and historic homes. the library of congress was always helpful so that is, those are the main places you go. what has happened with modern technology is a helpful soul will scan a lot of the letters and send them to use a you don't have to travel and go through that way. even once i get them. once i get them, i stand nineteenth century handwritten letters that are written this way and this way because everybody was saving paper and i can't read them very well. i had to hire somebody right to
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read from so they were quite deciphering, but that is the street in itself. and the second husband's -- it is kind of a cheery, funny, flirtatious book. she wrote a diary about the same period which is far starker and it had not been published. i get that from duke university library. >> not meant for people who are 5 foot 2. coming closer, is there a way to
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handle gloria and world war ii? they are all over the world. we are losing the history of the war at home. >> there have been some good world war ii women's letters, books written, we were in this war too and there is a book about the wind air service pilots from their own families. more than half of it, i kind of like dead people. long dead people. even they can be a problem. i was talking to some group about founding mothers and someone was all outraged. that i have portrayed her
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ancestors in an unsavory light. give it a rest. several hundred years now, and she was actually a delightful woman but was of bit of a tramp. >> good morning, thank you so much for speaking. i was interested in your comment that you never had any intention, having that affiliation, and going through this process, how has it changed for you? you have associated or preconceptions you had of being a southerner? >> i am a southerner but i must say since i wrote this book all of a sudden my southern confederate army ancestry coming out of the woodwork. one of their uniforms showed up.
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i can deal with those people. the fact is i love growing up in the south, a tremendous sense of being at home. would never in a million years tried to pretend they do not exist. i grew up as the child of civil rights supporter from the deep south in the 1960s. and it was a very -- a cross was burned on our lawn. the very tumultuous time. would never in a million years say if it does not as violent and wrong headed and immoral as it was. the war itself as i said at the
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beginning aside from the fact that it was a horrendous loss of life and the people who lost the most were in the south. the area was ravaged for decades to come, but the fact is it was such a failure of the ability of politicians to do what they are supposed to do which is to bring the country together and it is the true object lesson of where we don't want to be in politics, people not able to come together and do the right thing for the good of the country and that is something worth learning over and over and over. [applause] >> there is a hook over here, very subtle hook, it says
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wrapped up! i am very grateful to all of you for coming. i will immediately go downstairs to sign this book. i really hope that you do read it because you will love getting to know these women and i do think it is important that we do know all of our history, the history of women, thank you so much. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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>> we are going to go down to the street. [inaudible conversations] >> for the fifteenth year in a row booktv is live at the national book festival at the washington convention center. you were listening to cokie roberts who will be our in-depth guest in december. she will take your calls on all our books. coming up in the history and biography room, joseph ellis
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talking about his book "the quartet," orchestrating the second american revolution. booktv is at the convention center and we are down in the lobby and we are joined by jeanne theoharis, professor, author of "the rebellious life of mrs. rosa parks". jeanne theoharis, prior to december 1st, 1955, was rosa parks rebellious? >> absolutely. and her rebellious spirit starts as a young person come as a kid, she grows up in a home with her grandparents and her mother, her grandfather after world war ii was an uptick of planned violence, grandfather will sit out at night, and young 6-year-old rosa parks will sit with him, pushes her hand she pushes back.
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political life starts when she needs to she describes, first elected as she ever met and that is raymond parks as they get married in 1932 and join him organizing around the scottsborough case, and for the next 20 years she will be active, she will join the naacp in 1943 for the next ten years, leading the montgomery naacp into becoming a more activist chapter doing the registration, working on legal cases, a legal lynching cases and try to get justice for black women who have been victims of sexual violence. in 1955 rosa parks is a seasoned rebel if you will. >> host: was december 1st, 1955, the bus sitdown, what was the plan? >> it was not planned, but it was up process both in terms of her life, a culmination of many
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acts of rebellion. certainly montgomerie's black community is thinking about filing a suit. as this is a year after brown vs. board of education, talking about the need to challenge segregation. this is all so not the first act, she is not the first person arrested on the bus. in the decade after world war ii you can see a trickle of people refusing to give up their seats, getting up arrested. in 1944 a woman named viola white is arrested, police raided her daughter. there is a s series of cases, 1974, new opportunity, in march of 1955, at first it seems this will be the case of a community that is galvanized, two things happen, the judge throws out the
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segregation charge and the community doesn't fully stand behind, they see her as too young and feisty. when i say it is not planned rosa parks is not a freedom riders, she doesn't get on a bus, but it is not spontaneous. it doesn't come out of nowhere. rosa parks made stand on the bus before december 1st, 1955. one of the things that galls her was many bus drivers would make black people pay and the front in the back. lewis bus driver, and consider her a party for not being willing to do that. she was coming home from work at 6:00 at night, she left past 5:00, goes to the drug store and
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buys a few things, boards the bus, sits in the middle section and it is a known man's land, in that black people, this is not the white section and she makes clear she is not sitting in the white section. there are a lot of myth she sits in the white section. she is sitting in the middle section. the middle section, black people would sit there but if she put it on the whim of the driver could be asked to give up their seat. the first stop after she gets on, the bus fills up, one white man is left standing. the bus driver notices this, his name is james blake, he tells the people in rosa parks's row, for this one white man to sit down, all four people in this row has to get up and he asks them to get up and no one moves. the axe again, you better make it right on yourself and the other three people reluctantly
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according to rosa parks get up and as she puts it, she pushed as far as she could be pushed, if she got up she would be consenting to this treatment and she did not consent. a young 14-year-old had been lynched in mississippi, she thinks about her grandfather and she refuses and so she actually, the man sitting next to her get by her and flies over to the window and refuses. the bus driver says i am going to have you arrest a. she says you may do that. the bus driver gets up and calls the police, doesn't have a cellphone. we can think about what is happening, she is sitting there, those of us who have been on the bus when somebody makes a scene, people are grumbling, getting off the bus. the police officers get on the bus and many of us think about rosa parks being quiet and rosa
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parks is certainly at shy reserved person but rosa parks is not quiet in key moment and when the police officers get on the bus and asked her why she didn't move she says why do you push us around? i do think rosa parks in many moments challenges in her body and also with her voice that system of inequality in this country and she is arrested. >> host: the teaching of history, we all learned rosa parks sat on the bus in the white section. this is what you write in your book "the rebellious life of mrs. rosa parks," turn of the century reconstruction history held a good black people as differential and happy, said too, so does the incessant celebration of rosa parks as quiet and not a angry. >> we learned about her.
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she is incredibly celebrated and honored. on the other hand we hear about one day rosa parks had a lifetime of activism both in montgomery and they leave montgomery in 1977 and she will spend the second half of her life as an activist in the detroit fighting the racism of the jim crow no.. she will continue to do that. rosa parks will call malcolm x her personal hero, the active against the war in vietnam, active against apartheid, a picture in my favorites in the book of an older rosa parks protesting outside the south african embassy, she will continue to the end of real-life saying the struggle is not over, there is injustice in this country and she will be resolved to keep fighting and yet i think the way rosa parks is tossed is as a problem resolved in the past when the actual rosa parks said there is much more work to
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be done. >> host: how did you do the research on this book? >> guest: i had to do a lot of digging. i went to all sorts of archives, in part because part of rosa parks's papers were caught in a dispute over her estate, had gotten the papers to sell with all of her in effect, they languished in new york for a decade until this summer howard buffett made an incredible donation and recently gave them to the library of congress and in february theyopened. they are re
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the next one you will hear from his historian joseph ellis. his book is called the "the quartet," orchestrating the second american revolution. they will be in conversation, david rubenstein is of finance year of the national book festival. this will begin in just a
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moment. and world war ii internment camps. and evan thomas on richard nixon. buzz aldrin, have chance to talk with all of those authors throughout the day. stick with us, fall schedule available at booktv.org. and the face book page, facebook.com/booktv. and professor and historian joseph ellis. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> good morning. i am the director of development at the library of congress. it is my distinct honor this morning to introduce the gentleman most responsible for making this national book festival possible. our lead benefactor, the co-founder and co-ceo of the carlyle group, co-chairman of the national book festival,
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david rubenstein. [applause] >> we are very honored and privileged to have one of the leading authors and scholars of the revolutionary war period, joseph ellis, a person who grew up in washington, went to william and mary, went to william and mary and got his ph.d. at pal and spends much of his academic career teaching at mount holyoke college where he was dean of the faculty at one point and dow prof. and taught at williams and west point and university of massachusetts and and his. on the side when he hadn't been teaching he had been riding best-selling books. among them biographies of john adams, george washington, thomas jefferson, the national book award, the book on the
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revolutionary brothers, founding brothers, revolutionary generation won the pulitzer prize in 2001. most recently he has written a book, at "the quartet," that has been on the new york times best-seller list for ten weeks. it is what he calls the second american revoluon, the revolution that began in 1787, not 1776. let's go into that. thank you for coming, joseph ellis. why did you decide to focus your academic career on the revolutionary war period? what was it about this area that was interesting to you? >> i do seem obsessed, don't i? they asked willie sutton back in the 50s, why do you rob banks? will be said because that is where they keep the money. the late eighteenth century is where they keep the ideas.
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that is the wellspring, the big bang, the place where the values and institutions under which we continue to live pan-american work created and in some sense they are like our classics, what plutarch were to the founders the founders are to us. >> host: let's say there is true. windier come to this realization? in college or graduate school? when did you state your family i will spend my career focusing on the revolutionary war problems? >> guest: i never said that. my wife said why are you doing this? when i was writing about jefferson she said she wouldn't write about jefferson, you don't like jefferson and i said i have red hair, i went to william and mary and virginian, i don't
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think -- >> host: you are not a descendant of him? >> guest: no, but the way historians work is you don't know what you are going to do when you start scout and i started out thinking i was going to be a southern historian. things just evolved and the guy that converted me to the founders, once i got into the family correspondence between john and abigail, there was a world that i found so fascinating that i wanted to keep living in it. >> host: what is so relevant about the founding fathers for those living in 2015? >> guest: what is relevant? some things are irrelevant that i wish were not relevant.
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there are members of the supreme court led by justice scalia and justice thomas who believe the interpretation of the constitution must depend on what date divine to be the original intent of the framers. i think that is a crazy idea. none of the framers would actually agree with that. it is ironic but one of the only in tensions the framers shared was the notion that their intentions should not be used in that way. but i think that they are the fixed object, the founders against which we do our political isometric exercises. >> host: we have deified our founders of bit. washington, jefferson , adams, madison, hamilton -- >> guest: hamilton is really big
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right now. >> host: in most areas of human conduct we have advanced, people are faster, better athletes, smarter in technology, why is it in statecraft or government we don't seem to have any more washington, adams joy and jefferson, hamilton. where are these people? are they hiding somewhere? where these people so unique that it is a once-in-a-lifetime thing? >> guest: when i am on book for i ask the question of the audience, the wilkes bar question. i say the population of wilkes barye, pa. is twice the size of the population of virginia in 1776. if we go to the streets we walk the streets and we look carefully, will we discovered george washington, thomas jefferson, james madison, james
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monroe, george mason, patrick henry and john marshall? the answer is no. now one answer is they are fair in blatant form, but you won't find them. there is a kind of crisis theory of leadership, leadership only comes into existence in times of great crisis. the problem with that is we can think of a lot of great crises that don't produce great leaders. it is certainly impossible to argue that the late eighteenth century was a time when there was something special in the water back then, it was a crisis that managed to generate the most impressive group of political leaders that the united states has ever had. they are all flawed. let's get this on the record.
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they are all flawed founders. if you look back there for perfection or to meet all our standards of racial justice and sexual equality you are going to be disappointed. but this is -- all apologies to who is the guy that wrote the greatest generation? >> host: tom brokaw. >> guest: this is the greatest political generation in american history. i can hide behind the observation of henry adams, writing in the grant administration said if you look at the list of american presidents from beginning until now, you got to believe darwin got it exactly backwards. [laughter and applause] >> host: who was the one indispensable founding father the washington, adams, hamilton? one person had existed what would be different?
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>> guest: i have a lot invested in making the case that they function so well because they are a collective and there's a kind of built in checks and balances in the personalities, idiosyncrasies and ideologies of the respective founders. if you just had hamilton we head towards dictatorship. if you just said washington, jefferson, we are moving towards anarchy. there was one who was the founding his father of them all and they would all agree about this. you asked franklin, hamilton, madison, adams, they would all agree washington was the greatest. and because of his judgment. he wasn't as smart, hamilton was the smartest. he would have gotten the highest grades on the s.a.t.s. jefferson was the best red,
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madison was most publicly agile. adams was the most thoughtful about government i think. so each of them had particular strengths but they all said washington was indispensable. and he was. the most indispensable thing he ever did, which is what marks him as so different from all those revolutionary leaders is you walked away from power twice. he was indispensable because he made himself disposable. think about revolutionary leaders in history. julius caesar doesn't do it, albert cromwell doesn't do it, napoleon doesn't do it, stalin doesn't do it, mallory doesn't do it, castro doesn't still hasn't done it. the only one who has done it was the south african leader, he walked away. washington walked away.
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most important act of power he ever committed was to surrender power. he did it after the revolutionary war, surprised everybody by turning in his sport in mount vernon and after he was present after two terms he could have served a third term or life, just to terms to go back. >> host: the premise of your book. we have a revolutionary war, 1776, finally win the war 1783, treaty of paris, everyone goes back to their respective states. did the people who were then operating under the articles of confederation expects to be one country or 13 separate countries? explain the articles of confederation. when did that come about? >> guest: the 1780s is a kind of dead sound, somehow we declare independence in 76 and win this war which is a big deal against
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the greatest army/navy in the world and then after awhile there is this interregnum and we come together again to declare nationhood in 1787 and ratification the following year. abraham lincoln gives credence to us at of assumptions which are historically on -- inaccurate. the first clause, the first sentence of the most famous speech in american history says four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation. no they didn't. they brought forth a confederation of sovereign states provision of the united to win the war and then go their separate ways which is precisely what they did. the resolution for independence july 2nd which is always the date adam fought should be the national anniversary, july 2nd, 1776, the american colonies are and have every right to be
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independent states. think about the arguments we have been hurling against parliament for ten years. sovereignty rests with the respective colonial legislatures. the last thing the americans want to do is create a federal government separate from the states because that looks like a domestic version of parliament. they don't want to do that. the assumption most people have that there is this seamless natural evolution from 1776 to 1787 doesn't work. it is not true. you got to figure out a way to explain how you get from independence to nationhood, if in fact most people don't want it to happen.
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and they don't. if you took a poll, most people are born, live out their lives and die within a 28 mile radius. there is no, i know this is a surprise to some young people, there is no internet. they can't communicate. i am saying american history is headed in a particular direction after the war. it is headed for the european north american continent, headed towards a e.u. rather than a united states, is headed towards a confederation model. somebody changes the direction in which american history is headed. there is a reason lincoln has to falsify history in order to win the civil war for to justify because he claims the war that the union precedes the states, and the confederacy has a pretty good argument, mainly the
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confederacy chlamys the civil war is the second american revolution to win back their own sovereignty. it is in the end war about slavery. i am on that side with the confederate flag so don't get me wrong. we are not a nation in 76. patrick henry at the virginia ratifying conventions as opposing, he opposes the constitution. suppose we do this and virginia delegates in the senate and house all vote against a tax bill and it passes. then we have been taxed without our consent because he doesn't think that he is an american. he thinks he is the average union. jefferson fought that way too will he said i want to get out of philadelphia, don't want to write this document, i want to go back to my country, his country is virginia. so that somehow we got to
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explain how history is headed in one direction and changes and heads in a national direction. what happens is during the revolutionary war the colonies are governed by the articles of confederation which are put together to govern them through the war. the war ends, everyone goes back to their respective states, wash their hands of unity can the articles of confederation do not allow congress to tax. >> guest: states don't have to pay. voluntary thing. would you like to pay $1,000? i am sorry about that, that is the way it is. we are running a $40 million debt, someone said there are two modern miracles, one is einstein's theory of relativity, one is compound interest, and it is going to be $77 million by
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the time you get to 1787. we are a banana republic. we cannot pay our debts. there is no way we can do it and that is -- >> host: congress is not able to tax, there is no standing army and then recognizing this, a few people say this isn't working, two of those people with james madison and alexander hamilton and how did they come together to create something that would be different. what did they do in annapolis? in 1786, there is a recognition, needs to be coordinated among the states. new york is charging tariffs to new jersey and rhode island. wants to pay of money to expand
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the potomac, wants to get maryland and pennsylvania to contribute so they have this convention in annapolis with the limited purpose of trying to get some kind of agreement for interstate commerce among the states. it fails. five states show up. everybody has gone away by the time they get there. hamilton and madison have met each other before. they worked in the confederation congress together, hamilton from new york, madison from virginia and they are part of this. this, hamiltonian version of leadership is really great, dangerous as the dickens that really great. they have just failed even to get a quorum. hamilton writes a draft to be sent back to the confederation.
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all of us agree that we need to call a convention this second tuesday in may to address the larger question of rights and responsibilities within this large production of states that provides energy for a federal government. it would be as if a journeymen boxer had just been knocked out and had declared he was going to challenge the heavyweight champion of the world. that audacious form of leadership won hamilton's part. what happens, the triggers, makes more plausible such a convention two things. one, in my section of massachusetts, western massachusetts there is this uprising of farmers, really only
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1800 guys who don't when to pay their mortgage and they want to vent that against boston. boston has always treated western massachusetts as a colony, they -- the whole water supply is like that. this is not manipulated, the serious crisis, madison thinks it is a conspiracy by the british coming down from canada to take over new england and blown out of proportion. and the need for reform becomes plausible again. the other thing, to join the team. >> they send this to congress under the articles of confederation.
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maybe they agreed for the convention. >> they replaced the articles the convention is charged with reforming the articles. they need to do something, coordinated foreign policy, massachusetts has its own policy. adams is over there as ambassador to the court of st. james, no one believes i can represent anybody because you don't have central government for me to represent. so yes, we clearly need to do something to reform the articles. there won't be a consensus about how much reform there should be but yes, reform we want to do. this is where what happens becomes close, the people who want to have the convention get together in the spring, washington, hamilton, madison and j. they say we will only be -- settle for not a revision of
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the articles but a total replacement of the articles which was a violation of their instructions. washington said i will not come out of retirement unless you promise me the we go for broke. if we don't go for broke is not worth it. risking my reputation and legacy and don't want to risk it for small potatoes and they promise and madison is the one who organizes the plans, the va plan which sets the agenda for the philadelphia convention. >> washington agrees by madison and hamilton to lend his prestige, they get to philadelphia, people show up, they have various times 55 or so delegates, they decide to have secrecy, no one knows what is going on. >> this is the rule, total
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secrecy, no press coverage allowed whatsoever, nobody can communicate with anybody outside the convention about what has occurred, can't write letters or anything like that much less twitter and one of the reasons a second convention can never work, do what this one did. 55 white males get together and decide the future of the country. you can't talk to them while this is occurring. >> they are in philadelphia, didn't know how long it would take but it started in may and went to september roughly. they are there for 90 days, madison and the virginia delegation have a plan to change the government. what is the essence of that plan? >> madison's plan, the va plan calls for a free prongs' government, the article isn't really -- it is that league of nations with congress that represents each state, every
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state has one vote. he says we take the model that each state has independently adopted of an executive branch, bicameral legislature, some states have single house legislatures and independent judiciary. that is the model for a national government. madison wants for there to be an article that allows the executive branch to veto all state legislation, and he also wants both houses of the congress to be based on representation, political, population rather than be state based. he loses both arguments. his notion of executive veto is dead on our arrival. the great compromise of the convention is so-called connecticut compromise for states in the senate by
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population in the house. hamilton, madison, and washington all regard that as a huge defeat. what they get is a compromise. one reason i find myself so insistently arguing a judicial velocity based on original intent impossible is nobody got what they wanted. that is to say that the intentions of both sides, those opposing the constitution and those supporting it had to be compromised and the result is a hybrid system that is part confederation, part nation. we don't become a nation in 1787. we have a foundation for a national government. as one historian nicely put it, the federal government they created is like the roof without
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walls. we still aren't a nation. i don't think we become a nation until the civil war. nationalism starts to reroutes head after the war of 1812. they create a federal structure which is partially based on states and partially federal and where that line is drawn, we can all disagree in peace about that. >> they reach an agreement after three months. they then have to send the agreement to someone to approve it, to the confederation congress to approve it, they ascended to the state conventions. what do they decide about the approval process? >> guest: in the document itself it specifies how they can be approved. it cannot just be approved by the confederation congress or the state legislatures. it must be approved by the elected ratifying collections
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selected in each state. that is their way of saying it has to go back to the people. it has to be ratified, a group solely there to vote on this. and late to this game, intractable in a place where massachusetts sens which is and quakers and crazy people, they are all down there in 1787 and won't even cooperate. nobody at the constitutional convention. they boycott the convention and ratification process. >> host: ratification means nine states. >> guest: is another illegality. according to the articles, for the articles to be modified it requires the unanimous vote. they say and they say this in the document, this will be
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approved if nine states ratify. to give them authority to do that? nobody. they know if it is unanimous it will never pass. it goes right out, the against everything and they make it nine the and the whole strategy for ratification, not enough americans know about this, there is a sequence of states that have their meeting this and they will vote, 1,638 delegates in 13 states will meet and argue about this, if we can get to nine there are certain states it is going to be tough, rhode island, new york, virginia is going to be tough because you have patrick henry on the other side but if we can get to nine it is over and they will have to come in. the other states have to come in so they're trying to get to nine
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and virginia looks like it will be the ninth state. >> at the end of the constitutional convention three delegates, two from virginia and one from massachusetts refuse to sign because there's no bill of rights. is that a big issue in the ratification? >> guest: it is the biggest critique, the document should have had some kind of bill of rights. every state convention concludes some version of this. madison -- madison, hamilton, jay wright the federalist papers which are the most important -- >> total of 85 of them? >> 85, madison wrote 29, hamilton wrote 51, jay wrote the others, j. got hit in the head by a rock in the beginning, defending hospital that was being attacked by at mob in new york because they claimed they were doing work on cadavers which people felt was the bad
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thing. he got hit in the head, couldn't cooperate but j. if you wear an investor in american statesman, go long on john j.. his reputation is going to go up not just because i have written about him favorably, but his papers are being published and all of a sudden we see a luminous presence, serenity, incredible correspondence with his wife and he is a formidable figure, when washington becomes president, he goes to jack, john jay, he says what do you want to do? any office you want is yours. everyone thinks he will go to hamilton first, no. he will go to jefferson first, he is that prominent a figure. >> didn't take any position. >> he wants to the head of the
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supreme court. big mistake. >> host: ratification of occurs. >> guest: most people in the ratification conventions would have preferred to say we don't like the articles and want them to be changed but we don't really like the full changes of the constitution. that option is not available to them. it should be. madison controls this. you can make recommended amendments but they cannot be mandatory. you either vote this up or down, yes to the constitution or no. that is the only choice you got. if you voted down we are back to the articles. you can recommend amendments and if you do, this is where the
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bill of rights is going to get made, we will take the monday consideration. but you cannot make a mandatory. >> host: the constitution is ratified, the ninth stage was new hampshire and virginia came next. but when they were ratified there was no requirement of a bill of rights. why did madison feel in the first congress he should draft a bill of rights? >> guest: great question. this is like the setup question. the bill of rights, we like to think of it as the american magna carta partly because it comes at the end, is us separate legal documents about defined rights and a lot of people jefferson included think the bill of rights is more important than the document called the constitution. a lot of americans think that wait too. that is not the way madison thought about it. he thought we got to add a bill of rights to take some of the
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recommended amendments that have been proposed by six states, there are 128 amendments. a lot of them are repetitious. he takes the 120 amendments, some of those amendments, all six states that make amendments make the following recommendation in one form or another, we don't want to pay taxes and we don't want to pass the thing. ..
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for adams to be in london. jefferson is blissfully present in paris at this time, american ambassador there. that is probably lucky because if jefferson were here based on everything he says later, he would have probably opposed the constitution. >> he thought a constitution should last 20 years in redoing every 20 years. >> guest: madison spend all those years trying to get it through in the first thing jefferson says is all constitutions should go out of existence every 20 years. >> host: if you could have dinner with any one founding father who would it be and what question would you want to ask that one founding father?
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>> guest: my favorite founding father is adams. not just because i have been a massachusetts man but because he is the most garrulous and outspoken. he will tell me the truth. he will tell me what he is really thinking and what he feels towards the other. the question i would ask him now is john, now that you are sitting up in heaven, what do you really think of from. ..
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we have now time for questions be you talk about the process of this whole thing was kind of unauthorized. he said only nine of the 13 had to ratify, what did they think happened to the remaining four states. did they say do your own thing? you said they never actually joined. eventually a. >> eventually all this dates had it happen. they could do do it correctly with the pressure to join. if virginia hadn't ratified, even if nine states had, that would've caused a major problem. i don't know if the unit could have functioned without virginia. it is virginia. it is the largest staple the new land, economy, population. they assumed that if you get to nine. the pressure will build. new york was 321 opposed to ratification. george clinton was opposed, there's no way to win a debate, the only way to win was kicking and screaming because they had no choice. by the way, hamilton was part of the new york debate
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says, if you don't come in, i'm going to get new york city to succeed and join connecticut. [laughter] >> one of the problems was also that there's three delegates to the constitution, to work put in supporters and against the constitution. so hamilton had no influence, because every state had one vote he be outputted every time. >> as you mentioned the genius of the constitution is to change and deal with different issues at different times. do you think the founders would be shocked by the fact that today, we find it hard to pass amendments of the constitution and have to go through the supreme court for every issue. more often,. >> that's a loaded question. i think there is some consensus
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that the current legislation is dysfunctional. i think it is also pretty much a bureaucracy, i don't think the founders can be blamed for this. one way you could blame them, this this is where you are blaming madison although, we don't have a parliamentary system. that is to stay, you can have a president elected and you can have another party controlled both houses of congress, as it does now and that makes for divided government. there's a believe in checks and balances that seems to be somewhat a stumbling block. i would argue, the major reasons for dysfunction are not themselves and for the function of the structure of the constitution, it's what by and large, we have done to it up here in the 20th and 20% true. the filibuster is
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unconstitutional, especially the form in which it is taken, and the rule by the speaker of the house may not report a build if the parties. >> you may go into a little more detail but what would the founders think about the current state of the united states senate. with the popular election of senators but the role that says one senator creates his or her hand and now creates 60 votes to pass any item of substance. >> their differences of opinion
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back then about the role of the senate. i think if madison would think the way in which the filibuster has evolved in which you just described is a violation of what he intended and he should be put before the supreme court and rendered it possible the judgment, in keeping keeping with his intent in this case, that form, a silent filibuster is unconstitutional. >> thank you very much i have read a lot of your books. in page 185 you five you mentioned veterans in your new book to tea parties. basically with that in mind, when i think of the u.s. constitution, i also think think of the age of enlightenment. , do you think basically that we need a new style, a new change
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in government right now, i don't think we would be able to get it. you mentioned maybe today, your. >> your question is what. >> today's lobbyists and the executive orders do we need to do something today relative to the constitution and the way it is structured? >> oh. i'll pick something out of your question to answer. the larger answer is we are only 320 million from success in that regard. the tea parties real origins are not with the tea party of the
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revolution. remember the original tea party is protesting the fact that it doesn't have any right because parliament is taxing without their consent because they don't have representatives in parliament. the anti-federalist say, were being taxed without our consent even though we have representatives. the reasoning is they don't trust the big government. they don't trust any large federal government far from their own borders and their own neighborhoods. that is the real political origin of the tea party mentality which is a constant strain in america and it takes on different names at different times. now the 21st century it is calling itself the tea party. the government is not us.
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you get into all kinds of conflict now, i don't want the federal government to take away my medicare,. the if you're looking for the origins, last. >> last question were out of time. >> at the beginning of the talk you said the topics discussing today came from a great political party, what will it take the country to see that class of leaders ever again question work. >> impossible to answer that question. i would say there's only one crisis that have the potential to generate that kind of leadership. , global warming.
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that will grow to come as lines miami's underwater and droughts are killing millions of people in africa and the weather is the first item on the news every night. we will have the energy to think about, in that sense global warming could become a god senate could wake us up. i want to thank you for the extraordinary talk today. >> thank you all very much [applause].
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>> you can see professor joseph ellis there walking off the stage, and finishing up those talks with david rubenstein at the national book festival. lots of events coming up still with the history and biography
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room. in about ten minutes jan russell, her book is called the train to the city. she will be speaking about ten minutes. after that we'll be able to talk with david mccullough, tom brokaw and others. lots of of call in opportunities coming up for you. one of the things we like to do while we're here at the book festival, it's sometimes easier outside when it was held at the national mall. one of the things we like to do is show you what it looks like here at the convention center. the second year in a row that it has been held inside and we want to show you what it looks like here. some of the crowds, the vantage of the convention center for the fact that it's air-conditioned on a hot muggy day in washington, there are bathrooms.
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use a little bit of that festival feeling of being outside when were not at the national mall but we make it work as we can. want to give you a sense of what it looks like, here's a third floor picture, here's our set, right here right here in the lobby of our convention center. there are thousands of people walking around here. this thing is spread out all over, there's rooms, there's a history and biography room, there's children's authors, there's young adults, there's fiction authors, about 275 authors are here for the 15th 275 authors are here for the 15th annual national book festival. this is the 15th year in a row that c-span book tv has been live with the festival as well. throughout the day, when we do collins we will have our our usual phone numbers, we'll put those up.
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we will be doing something else this year that is texting. if you are on your phone and you are hearing an author you want to talk to, we will be taking your texts as well. be prepared for that. prepared for that. social media of course is another good way to stay up with book tv, and to talk with some of the authors. will begin with facebook. facebook.com/book tv. we have put some videos up there, one of the video we put up there is a 15 year retrospective of the national book festival, some of the authors we have covered. if you happen to be on facebook and want to look at that will see facebook.com/book tv. there is also added instagram to our coterie of social media and if you want to see some of the pictures, behind the scenes pictures here at the book festival you can follow us on instagram as well. finally, over 200,000 over 200,000 people follow us on twitter. what we do on twitter is we send out send out schedule updates,
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pictures from behind the scenes, and publishing news on twitter. you you can follow us on twitter as well. that's at book tv. you can also get the full schedule today at our website which is book tv.org. you'll have a chance to talk to authors later one wrote a book about china. he will be here taking your calls, we'll be talking about latino americans what their beliefs were about asians in america. those are some of the follow-up that we have coming up from the national book festival. here is what it looks like, this is video that was shot on periscope. we want to show you what it looks like here.
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>> [inaudible conversation] >> and that video was shot by
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book tv on periscope as another way to show you some added video, some added pieces. you can follow us on periscope as well as book tv. if you happen to be in the washington area and you are in the neighborhood, come on down, pick up your 2015 anniversary edition of the c-span book bag. these are very popular i think think we give away like 50000 of these, you can send one-sided says national book festival 2015. with a quote by thomas jefferson, this was the theme of this year's at book festival, i cannot live without books. here's what it looks like on the more important side versus book tv. as we get ready for the next author and this is going to be dan russell, it's up on the third floor here at the
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convention center. you you can see the room is starting to fill up, they're going to be introducing her in just a minute. it looks like jake scheier, who is writing up the escalator here on the way up to the history and by all review room. he is shooting a video on wi-fi video as well, he is on his way upstairs, we'll watch a little bit more of the sights and sounds.
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[inaudible]
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>> thanks for coming to the 15th annual national book festival presented by the
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library of congress. mine name is paul, i work in the library services, our division focuses on catalog related issues, obviously were here for different issues today. it is my pleasure to introduce jan russell, author of train to crystal city, fdr secret exchange program in america during world war ii. mrs. russell is also the author of ladybird, biography of mrs. johnson. the mrs. johnson. the editor of live to tell the tale. three stories of modern adventures from legendary explorers club, i should point out she is signing books from 18:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on the lower level where books will also be for sale.
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she was born in beaumont texas and grew up in small towns in east texas, her her father was a minister of music in a southern baptist church. she pursued of current social work. at the young age of 16, she had had a part-time job in a weekly newspaper, she attended the university of texas where she graduated in 1972 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. she had a brief reporting stent on the morning news. in 1973 she was the political reporter at san antonio light, she joined the hearst bureau with a focus on texas politics. she was a fellow in harvard college in 1984 studying american literature. when she returned to texas in 1985, she joined texas monthly magazine as a magazine is a senior editor. in 1999, her highly praised by a biography of lady bird johnson
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was published. this trailblazing history highlights little to recognize her understood national, international and social psychological issues surrounding texas. it appeared in january 2015. mrs. russell is also a member of the texas institute of letters and philosophical society of texas. she is vice president of gemini length a literary organization. somehow she is is also found time to serve as the vice president of a foundation which works with contemporary artists. she is a certified first-degree black belts in the media which combines martial arts, modern dance arts and yoga set to music. she lives in san antonio with her husband and she is the
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mother of two children. she also has two stepdaughters. and a step son-in-law. without further do, please join me in welcoming mrs. russell to the stage. [applause]. >> it is such an honor for me to be here and the first time at the national book festival. i would like to thank the library of congress and each one of you who calm. don't. don't worry that i'm a black belt. you're safe, as you may have heard i have a long history in journalism but i want to start by explaining what interests me most as a writer. i've always been interested in the literature of witness, witnessing the women's movement and as you have just heard a
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sort of political scandals and taxes of which there no end. and a lot of wheeler dealer scandals and conspiracy theory. i like the intellectual and emotional intimacy interviewing people face-to-face. upholding, i like the silence between talking interviews as it gives me a chance to reflect and to wait. the second thing that has always and for my work is the subject, articulated in the biblical book of job that confronts the universal question, why did good people suffer. in fact why do all of us suffer? how can the suffering be endured and more than that, the path that transforms the resilience.
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in 2010, when i started the train of crystal city, by the way crystal city is not a metro stop in my book. it is a small town in texas. i began interviewing child survivors of the camp who are now in their 80s and 90s. to take something from the distant past and most of it largely unknown and to explore with living characters, survivors seem to me and a possible prospect to pass up. i like to run through some photos of my characters, i ask you to serve as witness as we explore the characters in my book. so i began. i began my book 40 years ago when i was a young student at
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the university of texas. the guy in the left, allen was the dean of architecture and it was my job as a member of the daily texan, he was part of my beat. when i first met alan i had never before seen an asian person so i asked him where he was from. he said california. but he then said he understood and explained that he was japanese-american. so i asked him a question people in texas always ask and that is how did you get to texas? he he said my family was in camp he or. and i being a good baptist girl at the time, not so good now, i said well church camp? [applause]. and he said not exactly. over the course of our long relationship he explained to me that he and his family were in
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the crystal city camp. so i always knew even from 18 years old about the camp, i knew it existed, but it was something that was in the back of my mind. after i learned that alan had died, i decided to take this on. i was very sorry that i had not gotten more information about the camp so i dug down and i dug deep. almost all of you know about the executive order 9066, in 66, in which 120,000 japanese, two thirds of them american were put in relocation camps. this is a very beautiful photograph of this very famous photographer of one of the characters in my book being rounded up on the streets of san francisco. this is the cuda family, the little girl holding the doll is
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standing next to her mother. you can see the army people putting them on the bus. this is a photo of them after reverend kudo was a rested, they are going to the camp that they will go to before they go to crystal city. i always had this a photo over my desk when i worked because it seemed to me kind of up madonna childhood about the effect of war on civilians and in this case, innocent civilians. i love the look of humanity on mrs. cuda's face as she gathered her children around. most of you know about these war
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relocation camps, crystal city was a very special camp. it was the only camp during world war ii that housed germans and german-americans, japanese and japanese americans and a few italians and i telling americans. what happened is in 1939, roosevelt we were still in the grip of isolationism but he realized the war was coming. so he authorized a division called the special war problems division to begin figuring out how from the ground up japanese and germans in that sense, fathers that could be traded for people behind enemy lines in war zones.
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so in 1939, j edgar hoover was given the task of coming up with leaders in the german community and in the japanese community who were after pearl harbor immediately rounded up, the camp in crystal city became the center of the president prisoner exchange program because people of all over the world, and literally all of the world came to crystal city and the government said to them, we will reunite you with your families but if we need to repatriate you, then you have to sign this document saying that you would agree to go. that was the price for reuniting their family. my book focuses on two families, one german-american and one japanese-american and i'm going to show you the face of sumi.
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she is a japanese-american, now she is 90 years old, here she is with a ribbon in her hand, standing in a right dress, with her father tom who is a photographer in los angeles, he was the most successful japanese photographer in california, that's the reason he was immediately arrested because of the government was very was very concerned about anyone taking photographs of military things. he was taken, all of the men were arrested and were about enemy aliens. none of them ever had charges filed against them so they never knew why they're arrested. the terms of their internment
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was indefinite which made them eager to find a way to give out of interment even if it meant going into war with japan. there were no lawyers allowed to them and so it began pursuing his family. the second one that i focus on is ingrid, this this is a photo of her parents who are german immigrants, living illegally in the united states and when they were married in a little town of west virginia. this is a photo, ingrid is the one sitting on the chair with her mother, this is a photo after they were arrested and taken from them, it was a matter of two months they had lost their house because they didn't have any money to pay for their house.
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this is their last moment in their house before they go to crystal city. ingrid had lovely long red, golden hair. her mother decided for some reason to give her a perm the night before. so she always called this the unfortunate permanent shot. the camp opened in 1942, over the course of the lifetime from 1942 until 1948, three years after the war was over, 6000 men, women, and over, 6000 men, women, and children came on the train to crystal city from places in latin america and places from the weston east coast. i want to tell you about the camp itself. it was earl harrison, he's the
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guy on the left he was the head of the ins to find a location for this camp. it needed to be someplace outside where the media wasn't around, it needed to be not too close to military installations. it needed to have train access and access from latin america. he was an unlikely candidate for this, he was a philadelphia lawyer, a very smart guy who actually, he and his wife had actually kept jews in their house who were trying to get out of germany. so he was a very good hearted man, one of the nuances of the book is how hard he worked to make the camp in crystal city, and manageable for the children of the camp. the other guy you can hardly see
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him in the photo, joseph is an irish-american from buffalo who had gone through a bad divorce and was looking for a place to run away. when people like that existed they often go to texas. so he did in fact go to texas. the camp was 240 acres, it had bungalows, according to the geneva convention you're not supposed to have multiple nationalities in your camp but we did have it in crystal city and the german side a camp was one, the japanese was the other. this photo, came from warner ulrich who was five years old when they came to the camp. he has taken a very special interest in trying to get all
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the bungalows lined up with the name so people were in it. i show you these photos because in my research for this book i often thought is this really true? do we really do this, and widen anybody ever talk about this so i'm showing you the photos to prove that it did exist. this is another view of the camp from the aerial, you can see it's not very, there is nothing around it. crystal city is one of the poorest cities and taxes, it's located 35 miles from the mexican border but you could see the lights from the camper mexico which, add night people from mexico could see the lights of the camp here. everybody in the camp lived behind barb wire, the camp was
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with both texas rangers and board patrol rangers boarded the camp. the penalty for escape was a death. everybody knew it and smartly, and the entire history of the camp no one ever attempted to flee. the kids in the camp, who this may sound crazy but some of their best memories are at the camp because they were with their family, they did not know why they were there, at the camp had three schools. a school called the american school where you got an american education. this was taught by school teachers from texas, many of those school teachers had husbands fighting in europe and in japan so their kindness to these children is something to be marveled at. there is also a japanese, this
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is sumi at the bottom, she was in the american school, they had sports and things like that. sumit was a strong leader and in texas that we usually call that a cheerleader but that was the way it was. there she was, she was in girl scouts. there she is. it's the german the hair place for the germans. everybody worked in the camp and raced food, there was ice that came every morning so she had to bring the ice to the camp and things like that. everybody worked. when you are in, if you're a citizen of japan and you are in a camp you are allowed to display this, your own home
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country's flag. here are some japanese people doing that. in the camp this caused a great deal of conflict between the german side of camp and the japanese side of camp. the japanese women ran the mattress factory, those of you familiar with war relocation camps know this happened in more relocation camps as well. everything was made there, so everybody was very busy. which was good. there is a story behind this photo, the japanese liked their own kind of food so they went to o'rourke to find the camp and said we need a place to make tofu. they were a long way firm tofu
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and crystal city so they turned a victory head over to it in the japanese people figured out how to make tofu. so we had to surely what was the first tofu factory in texas at a crystal city camp. when that happened the german said well if they get tofu, we want beer. so there's the beer garden and issued an order that you could only make beer once awoke. this rule was often broken in the camps. in order to irrigate the vegetable gardens of farms, they built an enormous pool. this was an incredible source for the children in the camp because it became their swimming pool. in summer, it's 125 degrees in crystal city so they were all in
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their scorpions and rattlesnakes and these people came from the east coast and west coast, it was hell. so the swimming pool became their place of total comfort. it also became a place of a lot of traveler g, i don't want to give up too much of you have not read the book. there were several very sad drownings in the pool, so there you have it. this is a photo i love, it's a photo of japanese and japanese-american immigrants. you can't tell which one was which. giving a christmas tree, i love this because it's that face of humanity of people struggling to overcome their boredom, their
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1942, the second, the second in 1943 sumi and her parents were scheduled to be exchange them. two more in 1944, one in february, one in december. the final exchange in january 8 when ingrid and her family were traded into war. this is sumi, once she was traded into japan. her father by this time has grown a beard and looks more japanese to us. this is sumi, but the great part of my book is as soon as the
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americans occupied japan, sumi and all of these kids from crystal city were in songhai. they went to the army and said can you give us a job, we are americans. they work to be their families even though in japan, these people were considered spies. they were stoned, et cetera. they eventually all made their way back, the situation, here sumi with her children, her husband was with the member of the 4/42 which was an all japanese brigade in world war ii, she lost her husband then and has raise the six beautiful children, every single one of them went to college. she is very proud of them and she told me they're going to ask how did you do it, how did you live through it and she said
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tell them i'm one tough cookie. these are ingrid's two younger younger sisters, the same thing happened when they got traded. ingrid and her brother got jobs with the military and they made their way back and rebuild their lives here. i've often asked myself if pres. obama had traded me tonight to syria, if i be fighting to get back to the united states. these children these children fought very hard for their american citizenship and their resilience is so inspiring to me. i'm not going to talk about that right now, we are running out of time this is ingrid and her first husband who thought he was a german-american and was
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enlisted when war broke out and fought in germany against the germans. isn't she beautiful. this is ingrid with her family and this is my last photograph with ingrid should, she die before the book was finished. it's a source of sadness for me. before we get to questions and i talk too long, i want you to know a little bit why this book mean so much to me. it taught taught me so much about how one suffers. none of the 50 kids i interviewed everest why this happened to them. their question was how do we transform what has happened. the japanese, there may be some people who know they have this incredible word which means to persevere on endurable situations in a way you practice
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this is you practice whether it's calligraphy or meditation, or tea ceremony. you do something every day to give your soul and enough strength to get through the next day. in so many ways this book was mine and i'm very grateful for this practice. i was inspired by the children who obeyed the first commandment, they did honor their mother and father even though they took them into war. at the the same time they never lost faith in the country that had in fact betrayed them. i was inspired by the american officials in crystal city who had a very difficult job to do and did the very best they could to make a very bad situation work. i will take some questions. thank thank you very much, i hope this has been a little, i
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hope you'll read the book. and. and thanks. can i take questions? [applause]. >> my life is now divided from before your book and after your book because when anybody ever says can you believe xyz happens, i said you don't know what happened in crystal city. i was absolutely astonished when you didn't mention, and i think the audience would appreciate hearing how our government collaborated with south american government to kidnap people, bring bring them here and arrested them once they're here for being here illegally. the second thing is a question, i don't understand how crystal city was allowed to continue in existence until 1948. i just kept scratching my head saying the war was over, why were they released? >> these are two great
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questis. the book is very complicated, my take on it is quite new. my father fought in world war ii, i'm very glad we won world war ii. but the situation there, all the were off the books, roosevelt had initiated the good neighbor policy in latin america. once the war broke out, conversant fbi agents to 12 different latin american countries. we were looking for people to exchange on the way exchange works, you try to give, the prisoner exchange is a useful diplomatic tool in war. but when you do it, you try to get a low value exchange e for a high-value american, so you are doing that. roosevelt was trying to get low value people and
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there were about 4000 germans from these countries, incredibly 80 women women of them jews who fled. they were taken, put on a blacklist that the fbi had and the army came up to where they were, they deposited them at the port of new orleans, the moment they sat on american soil they were arrested for being an illegal alien. they were then taken to crystal city. many of those were traded. that was the nature of it. the other thing is, roosevelt was quite worried about the panama canal, he wanted his military forces in these latin american country, what happened to these people is a many those people were very wealthy in
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peru, their homes and their houses, their businesses were confiscated by their home governments. that's another reason they tried to do it. the second question was, i forgot, one second. what was the second question question mark. >> how did it continue to's existence in the 1940s. >> no to obama, it's easier to open camps than to close it. this is happening right here now. so truman, inherited fdr's camp he attempted to deport, if if you got these people here, he attempted to deport the remaining people in crystal city. by the time the war was over the people who are still left they
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didn't really want to go back. they knew, all the news was censored in the camp so they didn't know that germany lost or that japan lost until they got there and just lived it. so they began to hire lawyers to keep from being deported and it dragged on until finally they deported as many as they could and then they left the rest go including reverend who was the first person that i showed. so it's a mess, once you have a camp or whatever you want to call it, then how do you close it. >> you had japanese american and german-american citizens who then traded back to their country their ancestors leaving american pows. why were citizens being allowed to take on the country voluntarily.
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>> most of the ones, the way it worked in the case that you just as the father and mother were legal residents. >> and matt. >> ..
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at the very last trade i don't know why they didn't start doing this earlier but in the last trade i found that the holocaust museum a list of 300 jews, and german jews that were part of the last exchange. by the time they left there were only 100 left because two of those living holocaust survivors are in this book so in that case it is the total catch-22 of war in that you have an american, german and american from cleveland, ohio traded for irene, a german jew from germany when it was supposed to be the other way around and when these two women found out they will like wow and so yes, it is very
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very hard to believe, mind-boggling. is that it? yes, sir, please. >> i never heard of this so i am interested in reading your book. but i had a cousin by marriage intern with his parents, he was japanese-american. his mother was mexican. his father pledged loyalty to the united states, was sent over to fight with the americans, they had to remain in the camp because the sun had japanese blood and was kept in the camp. >> i was so shocked. i was so shocked to know that if i had adopted, if you had adopted, if i had adopted a japanese child my child would have been taken from me.
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it was about the blood which is that terrible scar for us. with the german to return to was more like the occupation. en engineer was a very high value trade because the hoover's theory was if you can build a bridge you can blow it up. so that made him automatically on a list of people who had to be taken. you are next, we are almost out of time but thank you. for this audience it would be worth you telling a little bit about the adjournment american
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efforts to have recognition about this. >> from san antonio, there are others here. president reagan did the right thing when he delivered an apology to all the japanese that were in turned including the japanese people that were interned in crystal city and they were compensated for this terrible act of injustice. the german american community for a variety of reasons there is no one who ever apologized about 300,000 german and german americans that were in turn. you probably had different camps, what you learned about in
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pathetically bad history books in school. and they made the argument, there was probably something wrong with you because it wasn't the blood issue, it was a race issue. it was an ethnic issue. what is the difference between race and ethnicity? i am not sure but that is what they said. the second reason is the german people, the kids i interview now, they feel they terrible, terrible shame at having been arrested. many of the people, my research was getting the fbi files of these fathers declassified so kids learn, their fathers not charged with any crime. there were letters to the
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journey general -- attorney general, he said we didn't rescue the as you have done anything wrong. we are arrested you because you are a citizen of a country that your country, your adopted country is at war with. it is just like that ended is on that basis that all aliens are arrested in time of war. so there is a new effort now among some of the german american children toattempt, they don't want any money, they would like an apology for what happened to their parents. the likelihood of that happening is very long that they are still trying to do that. >> my question goes to profits. who profited from the construction of the camp? was their money involved? where it their competitive bids? >> the camp before it was a camp
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owned by the federal government as a place for migrant workers to come and so it was already in the government's control. i don't think there was colloid of money, if you went through lots of records on how much it cost to the swimming pool and things like that but it was just local people. i don't think there was a a tremendous amount of financial profit. there was a lot of political profit but not financial that i know of. thank you very much. i would like to close with one thing about the witness situation. i ream harrisonburg was a holocaust survivor saved in the last exchange.
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when i interviewed her she is that serious worker for peace in the world and we got to talking about witnessing each other's pain no matter and she has this situation where if she and some other jewish holocaust survivors meet with palestinians and tell each other their stories and she says to me at the interview enemies are people whose stories you haven't yet heard and whose faces you haven't yet seen. that seems to me to be the heart of the literature of witness. my gratitude goes to my characters who had the courage after so many years to tell their stories, show their faces and attempt to make meaning of their suffering. may it be so for all of us. thank you so much. [applause] [inaudible
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conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> it was indeed this big crowd for you, nice presentation.
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>> you are watching booktv on c-span2. the fifteenth annual national book festival held in washington d.c. the fifteenth year in a row booktv has been lively did began in 2001, two days before 9/11 and was held at the national mall for many years. we are at the convention center. this is the second year in a row that it has been held inside. in a couple hours the winner of the national book award will be the next speaker, you will hear from the history and biography routes but if you want the full schedule you can go to booktv.org. we are bringing three call in guests to you and the first one is two time pulitzer prize winner david mccullough who
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joins us, the wright brothers is his most recent book, his most recent bestseller. who funded the right brothers? >> they did. their only funding they had was what they took from there rather modest earnings and they not only defended their efforts but they virtual made everything that they were in need of to created the first flyers they built and the first flying machine as they called it. with the exception of the motor for the flying machine which was made of aluminum, their idea, a small startup company as we would call it today in the boat, alcoa, aluminum co. it was the
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first aluminum engine ever built. when it was first used it split and rather than saying that is not going to work, they said build another one. so the second one did and split. it produced more horsepower than they expected. wonderful example not only of their innovative capacity to solve problems, when something didn't work they didn't give up. they never gave up about anything. their perseverance against the odds is a life lesson that i think we can all benefit from. >> host: we want to give you a chance to talk to david mccullough, truman, johnstown floods, has written about paris and the right brothers is his most recent book, 202-748-8200,
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748-8201 for those in the mountain and pacific time zones. we also are taking texts. if you want to text an ideal or questions to david mccullough, 202, 465-6842 is the number, you can also contact us via social media. we will put those addresses up as we talk. you say they were self funded. did they die welt the? >> guest: yes they did but not superrich like some of the robber barons of the day. orville more so than wilbur. wilbur died very early, tragically in 1912. he never really lived to see great income money. they were never in it for the many. they were in it to -- they have been raised that the good life
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is a life of high purpose and they selected this as their objective and they were not bothered by the fact they had no money, not bothered by the fact that they had no college education, were not bothered by the fact that people thought they were crackpots, they were made fun of and ignored even by the press, even after it they had proven that they could fly an airplane. >> host: after december 1st, 1903? >> guest: it took five more years until 1908 that the world was willing to admit that human beings could fly. it didn't happen in this country. it happened in france because the federal government in washington nor the press or anybody else wanted to accept the fact that these men had done something miraculous. one of the most difficult and
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presumably impossible technological problems ever in history and by doing so changed history, change the world in a way no one else ever had. much more than the intention of the telephone or light bulb or other things that were happening. >> host: how do you pick your topic? truman, the right brothers, the johnstown flood? >> guest: i really don't know. something happens and it clicks and i think that is it. with this one it happened because i had just finished the book on americans who went to paris to perfect their abilities as architects, doctors, painters, sculptors, writers because the training of the kind they needed was available in our country, there were no schools, medical schools way beyond those
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in europe. medical school in paris was the greatest in the world. i took that up until 1900. but i got so intrigued with this and little known fact of american life that i've is thinking of carrying it into the 20th century, the second volume and in doing so i found out about the wright brothers in france, that they are meant to be in dayton, ohio. once i started reading about them as human beings, not just as miracle workers, this is a book i want to do. skip to paris in the twenty-first century and just the right brothers. i thank my lucky stars that i did because it is selling
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everywhere. so infinitely fascinating. so many surprises. about how different they were from what most people imagine. >> host: fred in new york, you are the first caller for david mccullough. ask your question. >> caller: hello. >> host: we are listening, please go ahead. >> caller: just finished your book on the right brothers and i didn't realize a piece of their plane went up with neil armstrong in 1969. >> guest: i couldn't hear. >> guest: i think he said something about a just finished your book and that there was a piece of the plane taken to the moon with neil armstrong? >> guest: yes. he carried a piece of the canvas, the covering of the wings with him to the moon. he didn't leave it there.
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they took it as a symbol of their heritage if you will. and gratitude for what the right brothers had done. they saw it as an extension of what the redoing was an extension of what the right brothers started and what is so very interesting is that neil armstrong also came from the sedum -- the same section of ohio that the right brothers did this southwestern ohio. the first human beings ever to fly in a motor powered aircraft, the first human beings to set foot on the moon came from the same neighborhood as it were in ohio. >> host: crisp in tampa says what was the competition initially and were they aware of it? >> guest: the competition was
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comparatively modest until then and they were aware of it. most of it was in france and they were also aware that they were way ahead of the competition. soaring birds, they figured out a solution to the problem and they called it wind warping. when they went to france to demonstrate what they had achieved, the great french aviators all said we are but children compared to them. they are so far ahead of us it is almost heartbreaking but they also felt immense respect for what they had achieved. >> host: next call from steven in quincy, ill.. >> i am honored to ask david
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mccullough a question. why did president adams, who had been a great attorney and fair and reasonable man, ever signed the sedition act comment and why was that act enforced during his presidency so vigorously against the supporters of thomas jefferson, many of whom were in prison for criticizing john adams and his administration? >> guest: signing the sedition act was a grievous mistake by president adams but he never got involved, he realized though he never said so but is apparent from his actions that this was a mistake and he had nothing to do with it. it was wrong, it was against the american faith as it were, but if you look at how relatively
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few people were in fact in prison, it was a mild mistake rather than a mistake of great consequence. i don't know a president who didn't make a mistake in office. it is a shame when they do, but then again history is about human beings. >> here is another text from the indianapolis area. which president had the most consequential career after the presidential term ended? >> guest: john quincy adams. he went back and served in congress and that was his star performance. he was for all the right things and fought for them until his dying day and he died with his boots on on the floor of the house of representatives.
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john quincy adams is a vastly underrated american. we don't give much attention to one term presidents and he was the very great man. i think intellectually, high q level, may have been the most brilliant human being to occupy the office. >> host: 202 if you want to text in a question 465-6842 is that number. next call comes from tom in florida. >> caller: good morning. my question is my father in law was the manager of the right aircraft factory in 1916. did david mccullough learn anything about him, milton wind. >> guest: i wish i could say yes but no, i don't.
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my book really ends in 1910 when oral and wilbur wright decide they have achieved what they set out to do but there for they can take a flight to get their on the same plane. until then they never knew that because if one were killed they wanted the other to be alive to carry on with their mission. and it was a mission they gave total devotion excluding almost everything else to achieve it. they never married, never went on vacations, they were totally committed to their work. much the way their father was committed to his work, his mission, for them their objective to fly, control themselves in the air was a mission, wasn't just for the misunderstandings about the wright brothers, not just that
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they invented the airplane, which would be a phenomenal accomplishment. they learned to fly it. the first test pilots ever and they were testing something no one else ever tested because the world never had such a machine available. >> host: what is the next book? >> guest: i don't know. got some good ideas? >> host: my idea is to take this call from kathy in illinois. you are on with david mccullough. >> caller: i thoroughly enjoyed the right brothers. a further appreciation, the -- what took will perhaps help down, did they make a difference screen ailerons and the wing warping? or was that never resolved?
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>> guest: the aileron was in existence, not long after the wing warping. they knew about at, it was superior. the enron came into use shortly afterward. and is used the enron. they thought what was done was what was necessary at the time. had they lived longer, might have changed over to an aileron. and the business problems down to the point -- i don't think there's any question about it, yes. he was washed out, they were worried about it, very pale,
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very on edge and contracted typhoid. it is like a greek tragedy because their father warned them all their lives since they were little boys beware of bad water. we take clean water, pure water for granted but it wasn't by any means. one of the perils of that earlier day. >> host: this text from matthew asks i recall david mccullough saying president's big kennedy was aspired to public service and following his dreams, in this part of his life, how he change career paths. >> guest: i would be delighted to. it has been not very long time since a president of the united states has called upon us all to do something for our country. too often telling us what they
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are going to do for us. when president kennedy in made that summons, gave that magnificent summonsed in his inaugural address i took it entirely too hard and had a good job in new york working for time and life and gave it up to come to washington to do something in some way to serve my country and i wound up working at the u.s. information agency which was a wonderful organization which also at that point with my very good luck was being run by edward r. murrow. for the next few years as long as kennedy lived, i had a huge privilege, graduate school glory, working under edward r.
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murrow. and working on a particular air project to discover materials for the library of congress and suddenly found myself to write a book. and research and writing and this is what i want to do the rest of my working life. >> host: up next richard in north carolina, you are on booktv with david mccullough. >> i appreciate the many books you have written especially of the right brothers. i am a proud daytonan and my grandmother in new the right brothers and called them the crazy bicycle boyce. i was going to ask you, wright-patterson air force base, a reasonable place for them to learn to fly when they could have done its in dayton.
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>> guest: your grandmother was among a large crowd that thought they were wackos, crackpots. they would say they're nice young men but a little off their bounds. it is eight miles out of dayton. part of the wright-patterson air force base, because it is part of the air force base it has been preserved the way it was and what went on is far more important than people realize. the plain they flew in kittyhawk in 1903 was not a practical airplane yet. it took three more years to develop practical airplane so vaughn real airplane come as we would say, that people could
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learn to fly, was born at the prairie. >> host: new jersey text, do you think the right brothers hindered progress of the navy--american aviation? >> guest: no. no more so than alexander graham bell ended the use of telephones for the development of the telephone or alexander graham bell's patents stalled the use of the telephone. no. all you have to do is look at what happened to aviation. with an almost no time the right brothers, the planes they had developed was not recognized as a reality until 1908. the plane used in world war ii, world war i was vastly different
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than what they had flown an inch the more advanced plane had developed in those seven years, eight years since the wright brothers's plane was recognized to be at reality. as the acceleration of progress was beyond anyone's imagining where charles lindbergh flying the atlantic in the 1920s, orville wright lived to see jet propulsion, jet engines, rockets, he lived to see the horrible devastation caused by airplanes used as weapons in world war i and world war ii. wilbur wright did not see world war i. he died in 1912. he didn't hold back the advance of aviation whatsoever. >> host: karen calling from dallas, pa.. >> caller: thanks for taking my call. i wanted frank micciche -- david
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mccullough to know how often i have read his books and enjoyed the. my question is why did it take americans so long to get behind the right brothers and their ideas? the french seemed to get on board quickly. and i wondered why. thank you. >> guest: the most dramatic example of how blind warehouse, is if you were flying complain almost every day when weather permitted just we miles outside of dayton and reporters and editors from the day newspapers to see themselves what was happening. some years later, how can that be? it was happening under your
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nose, i guess we were just plain stupid. the first person, the first eyewitness to publish an accurate account of their flight, this immensely important breakthrough changing history was the beekeeper in northeastern ohio who drove to see for himself what was happening down in dayton, saw what was happening and wrote an article about it for is beekeeper's journal and that was the first complete accurate account that the airplane had arrived ever published. by at beekeeper who was very interested in whatever was going on that was create of whether it was in any field. he was not blinded by what he
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had come to feel was what everybody knew. like the king has no clothes. somebody had to say it. is real, it is here. tom hanks is going to be making a movie, a miniseries for hbo based on this book, and i can't wait to see who gets cast as a mess. i have some ideas. i was hoping paul giamatti because he does that kind of a part. >> host: will you have any input? >> guest: very much so as i did with the adams series. and i think the world of tom hanks and dino what beautiful work he does and all the people who work with him, some of the best people i've ever worked with in my life. >> this is a text from the
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philadelphia area. i-man aspiring writer, background in history and education. i admire excellent story telling and brilliant research. the question, how did you find your voice? in huntsville, alabama. >> guest: i assume you mean my voice as a writer. my writing. there's only one way to learn how to write and that is to sit down and write and write and the right and learn to edit yourself. that is the hardest part of it all. you have to separate the writer you from the editor you. let that editor show that much of the road this difficult prose how to make it work. and put it on a shelf for a
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couple weeks or more. you will see things about it that you didn't see when you were writing it. another very helpful way to learn to write his to have someone read it aloud, tried to write for the year as well as the i. since you will hear things about it that you don't necessarily see. repetition of certain words or certain kinds of sentences, or the fact that you become very boring. you will hear that. my wife has read to me everything i have written for the last 50 years and still does and that means she reads it may be three, four times because i one draft after another. and always always i hear things, she hears things. >> host: you enjoy the book
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tour? >> guest: it is very gratifying. no writer could survive without readers. i am dependent upon readers, not caring to meet your customers, i love to hear what they think and what they like about what i have done or what they feel might have been better or what they would like me to write about the next time. >> host: next call from tom in dublin, indiana. you are on with david mccullough on booktv. >> caller: i love your books. i live in indiana and the vision in my little town, wilder was born a few miles from here.
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surprised to learn all the support the father and sister gave the brother. i was a little saddened at the end that orville and his sister had a falling out. i was wondering if that was never resolved or not. >> host: who was the bishop? >> guest: their father was a bishop in the church. the sister was catherine, the youngest of the family children. yes, i was very surprised to learn how important the father was, how important the sister was, and one of the joys of my work on this project was to bring both of them front and center because they were part of the joint effort and you can't leave people like that out.
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the system was far more important than people realized. i personally feel if she hadn't been there, hadn't been part of it, the story would not have come out, she was always there when they needed her, to keep their spirits up when they often needed that and she was very bright and funny and can be very sharp if she thought somebody wasn't the hitting and somebody should be a. the father was inspiration of their lives, never lost faith in them. didn't really understand the technology they were working with. verfew people did. it wasn't just that they were bicycle mechanics. they were brilliant business, and aeronautical engineers solving problems, intellectual
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problems that nobody at polytechnic institute and massachusetts institute of technology or the smithsonian had gotten anywhere near as far as they did and yet they had never been to college, never finished high school but that never held them back. wilder was a genius. i don't think there is any question about it and that is important to understand. >> host: andrew in virginia, are you surprised teddy roosevelt did not embrace the right brother is directly? >> he did and he didn't. he had the nerve, the courage to go down in the submarine, first president to go down in a submarine which was not a safe thing to have done then. it was leaked from the white
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house to the press, across the river, to go up with orville wright when he was doing demonstration flights, and orville wright was very upset by that and told people he didn't think the president of the united states should take such a risk but insisting on it, he would do it. in a few days later, young thomas, a lieutenant in the army went up with orville and orville crashed. had theodore roosevelt chosen to go over and go up as he apparently wanted to do he might well have been the one that was killed. >> host: a text suggestion for your next book.
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how about your bio? >> guest: that might be awful steamy. i might. i have a lot of stories to tell about people i met along the way and people i have been so grateful to for the help they have given, the windows they have thrown open and the friendships i have made. and things i have learned about how to go back. >> host: robert in indiana, you are on with david mccullough. this is booktv on c-span2. >> caller: i am a big fan, so much about history. >> host: rich in michigan. i you with us?
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please go ahead. >> caller: my wife and i had the opportunity to see you speak in dearborn, michigan. i would like to harken back to your earlier book, you refer to paris as one of the centers of medical research, why france? why paris? that type of research, very expensive, why was it being carried out there? what changes were taking place in france? >> guest: the french were ahead of us in medicine, technology, science, the french also had the best medical training in the world and so that was not available here. the harvard medical school for example was pitifully small, inadequate, and part of the
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problem was the cadavers were illegal in much of our country so there for anyone who wanted to understand anatomy and dissection or anything of the kind was limited in the opportunity to do so because all the cadavers were sold on the black market as it were, they were very expensive so even the dr.s themselves didn't have access to cadavers to show the workings of the human body are put together. in france there was no such rulings. they could spend days doing nothing but bisecting bodies. one of the beneficiaries of that experience was oliver wendell holmes sr. who went on to become one of the living figures of harvard medical school who
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specializes, who taught anatomy and dissection. but that is only one example. we are far more indebted to the french in many fields than we realize. medicine is one of the clearest of all. >> host: how much time do you spend in paris? >> guest: a great deal but not as much as people would imagine. when i was getting my information and material, the letters these young medical students wrote home or the reminiscences they published years later. many of them were the sons of dr.s, faber in the forefront, experimentation and in the united states did not want to be left behind so they don't just
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write home about how they're doing fine and working hard and staying out of trouble but what they were learning every day, those letters are absolutely phenomenal and still available at harvard medical school library in boston. >> host: last question or comment for you. who was the last president to write his own speeches, what are your thoughts on modern presidents and their gaggle of writers and handlers? >> guest: my guess is fear roosevelt. i think the presidency, the power of the president to communicate with the country is somewhat diminished by it that. skews me. that is not to say some
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presidents since have written some of the most powerful parts of their speeches they have made or pronouncements they have issued. john kennedy was the very good writer. the strongest phrases are when they are speaking from the heart and not somebody's a script. some presidents had wonderful writers for their scripts. ronald reagan, but also wrote for george h. w. bush when he became president and of course kennedy's ghost writers and franklin roosevelt, great
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speeches. words are much more important than many people realize. i remember when hillary clinton was running of the last time and she accused her competition just using words, using words is a huge part of leadership. the great presidents have all had that power of communication, lincoln, theodore roosevelt, jack kennedy, words matter, words in dur and they carry on in the following generations. we still quote. martin luther king without the power of his words. that is why it is so important we learn to use the english language. one of the startling marvelous aspects of the right brothers was the quality of the letters they wrote, not just that they
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were correct grammatically, they were powerful, they were effective, they were clear, they could be very funny, they could be very touching. they were incapable as the collection at the library of congress proves, they were incapable of writing a short letter or a boring one. if you want to get inside their lives which is what i wanted to do, as human beings, that is we're it is. what they put down on paper in the english-language. i would have wanted to have written my book about the wright brothers even if they had not succeeded in their mission to fly so much is there to learn of their attitude toward life and the value of having purpose in life, the value of remaining modest. modesty is so out of fashion today that it is disheartening for particularly among our
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political aspirants. you were brought up to the modest. you didn't brag. you didn't act like you were bigger than your boobs. you didn't fit. you didn't tell lies. you had good manners. the right brothers were bicycle mechanics, never went to college, never had any wealth, were gentlemen if every there were gentlemen, the rich gentlemen. when they got to europe and became famous and were associated with royalty and the wealthiest people in the world they never felt the least inferior because they had been raised to behave as gentlemen or, why should they feel inferior in any way? certainly they were as well read as anybody of their time, maybe better. >> host: anytime you are in washington and want to talk to our audience we would love to have you come over and take
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calls. >> guest: you want to be careful about saying that. thank you very much. >> host: up next we will talk to tom brokaw, his most recent book is lucky lives interrupted. your calls and texts as well. booktv is at the national book festival for the fifteenth year in a row. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> lucky life interrupted is tom brokaw's most recent book. let's start with a text for the viewer. how are you feeling? >> actually feeling pretty well. my cancer is in remission. i have some residual structural issues, bone marrow cancer, tried to have that repaired. my back is not all i like. >> host: you write about when you discovered at the mayo
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clinic, 48 hours before you told america. what was that like? >> guest: not easy. and across south america, in various parts of the world, fishing in montana, suddenly had an incurable but treatable cancer that i don't know much about. i was that at mayo clinic board meeting, didn't want to tell my fellow board members so i was left to deal with it and the only distraction i had, working on a documentary on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of john kennedy. and work on my ipad finding out more about this. got back to montana in the middle of the night, sat on the edge of the bed, we had an unbelievably great life and nothing had ever gone wrong. i have got cancer. it was stunning to those of us
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and we went from there. >> host: 202 is the area code, talking with tom brokaw, we want to get you involved, 748-8200. east and central time zones 202-748-8201. in the mountain and pacific time zones, taking text messages as well for our guest. 202-465-64842. text in. don't call that number, text into that number. your most recent book, lucky life interrupted. why i am still a lucky guy, i have the best medical care, we caught it early, and fairly or not i have access to whatever resources i need. >> guest: that was all true but it is a more difficult experience than i anticipated.
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even with that structural helped that i had, good health care plan that i have, one of the things i write about in the book is doctors really have to learn how to talk to patients about what to expect. no one said to me there is going to be excruciating pain because bone damage will come with it. there will be moments we tell you something is going to happen and it won't so you have to be prepared for that. the thing that i learned on my own was what was very helpful in my case was to have my emergency room doctor, a brilliant young physician who had been through a lot of different things as i consider very, kept notes on all the conferences, did independent research, the teams at the mayo clinic said we will take jennifer on our team every day. she is helpful to me because she could interpret things. not only that but when i was talking to a doctor the doctor would say what is your scale? 3, she would stand behind and
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say -- >> is it difficult to get around in montana given the remoteness of your place and i still fishing? >> guest: i am very now and i jump into the cold river to get my heart started and fly fishing. i don't ride a horse because of spinal damage. i have to get back to that. i can't climb the way i used to going up and down the mountains. on the other hand american health care is pretty amazing. in montana they have a clinic that is an affiliated partner of the mayo clinic. if i need something i can get down there and get care. i had to temper my physical life. i hope to get most of that back at some point. >> host: what did you learn about the american medical situation with this? if you're in a position like i
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am with financial resources and can pick up the phone and get help it is the best. if you are down in the middle ranks or lower end of that it is confusing. you will still get good care, but it is really tough to get through the system and the big thing is the cost. i to the bill this morning that cost $500 and i when i was being treated the same bill as chemo i was taking two, $1,000. ..
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my plan doesn't cover it, i go to the hospital and their shipping this stuff around and it becomes a bureaucratic nightmare for you. that's real issue i think. think. communication is a big part as well. tom brokaw is our guest text (202)465-6842 this is mary and huntsville alabama. please comment. >> hello tom, we were together at the university of south dakota. i want you to know that at 18 months, i was in the mayo clinic at 18 months with a tumor in my cheek and i still here at three years from 80. i was born september 25, my folks were both over 40 but i
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have also been through cancer couple of times. i think of you often, i listen to you when you are on, you are quite wonderful. i just wanted to say hello, that's all. >> mary where in south dakota are you from original leak. >> watertown south dakota. >> home of the watertown arrow. >> yes. >> were you able to catch all that. >> she said she was talking about her own medical care at the mayo clinic, she was there for 18 months. and she went to university of south dakota when you are there as well. when people see you, do they want to talk about the greatest generation, their own health stories or the news industry
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today? >> a combination of the three of them. i still get people coming up to me every week even though it's been out for 15 years. where their father was, what their mother was doing, things they didn't understand that they now understand. i am now at a collection point where a lot of people talk to me about that. they want to know what type of regimen i am on for melanoma. then they will say to me, how, how come the news is not like when you are on it. and i have an unusual answer for them. i say, if you work harder at it and you don't be a couch potato, you have access to more news than you have ever had before. i have a friend who is at the financial times in london, i can raid his editorial and columns, but i have to work harder at it. we didn't have c-span in the beginning by the way. so you just can't take whatever comes off the screen, you have to be a proactive consumer. >> next call is lucille from
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iceland, new jersey. >> hi peter, hi mr. mr. brokaw, this is a question for mr. brokaw, before i do my question i want to say i saw the exchange and it all brought tears in my eyes. it was just wonderful. my question is, i'm am a retired nurse, work for 35 years. my mother-in-law is very ill right now and we are working on getting her some long-term help. my question is in the book you kept talking about having a liaison or an abundance meant to navigate all of these positions. i am doing that for my mother-in-law, the normal american patient does not have access to a person like that.
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how, or where can that person can the people get to that person? >> i think i understand the question is how do you get access to the best care to find out what's going on. there are now now many sites for example something called multiple my not smiling oma research facility, who has created this clearinghouse where you can go on and find out what is the latest information, best technique, good doctors, you have to be careful about randomly googling everything, you will read stuff that is not necessarily true. you have to be able to use filter through it. the best way is to find other people who have gone through these experience. whatever kind of cancer it is. talk to them. right up your network of friends, who worked for you, what was what was your success rate, if you do that, you can do your own detective work. the problem is, most people going to a doctor's office and
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treated like a temple and they don't speak the language. they take whatever is said to them. you have to be as aggressive as finding a position or determine your pot pattern of healthcare that you do with find a flat screen television or new parish shoes, or an automobile. >> we have no idea how much healthcare costs. >> know, people don't ask questions of our cost, one of the things i'm trying to get the medical community. at the medical school i said you have to be aware of what these things cost because it depends on what you're going to order. so you have to know completely what troubles the patient. >> in. >> in fact part of that address that you put in the book, my guess is talking about the
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payment system in its current form is unsustainable on a national level, it it is too chaotic, too expensive, too uneven and too inefficient. >> i've done three documentaries on health care in america. one of the things i learned quickly was if you have an uninsured person come to the er, what happened when they have the staten island ferry ran aground, they didn't have any coverage it was a very expensive process. so the hospital did was shift a lot of their cost to the rooms where people have very good healthcare. we were able to track how they are able to do that. it is routine practice in american hospital. they call it cost shifting. if they have a lot of coverage they get billed for a dr. visit for 250 that 250 goes down to the person he doesn't have the coverage. it's a nightmare for
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the hospital, for the system, they need for the system, they need to have much more transparency. >> where you part of the greatest generation. what is one of the best world war ii memoirs that you recommend. >> there so many of them, i would talk about my friend rick who is one of our great military historians, the reason i say that is his book are the most combination of history memoir, he got so many letters and he has personal stories as well. as you read the book, you are getting the big picture, and also getting the ground up of what people were going through. other concerns of whether they would return. i think rick has a sense about
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him unlike others that i know. >> rick atkinson by the way and tom brokaw have broke appeared on our in-depth program. our three-hour monthly program. tom brokaw, rick said you can watch them both on my netbook tv.org. that program is live again tomorrow and lynn cheney is our guest, her most recent book is on james madison. by the way the way rick act is now writing about the pacific. he's going to write about the revolutionary war. >> i know he has been inviting me to retrace the steps of george washington. he was just looking at the ticonderoga battles and going back through, he does all his own research, he takes my breath away. are you participating at all, not yet but i'm going to. we are very close, he lets me know when he's going to be. something you. >> something you talk about in your book this is from linda and marietta california, how has
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getting cancer reformed your philosophy of life and death. >> it might be that i'm in the mortality zone as you as i call it. i've 73 when i was diagnosed. my wife was in such good form, now i'm very conscious of the fact that i am vulnerable and that i did have, what is what is a terminal cancer but it could be treatable. i am on the roulette wheel like everybody else. when i'm spending more time doing is sorting out what counts for me. beginning with my family, family, my granddaughters, and my new grandson. spending more time with them and looking at life through them. we have a granddaughter who just darted at columbia this week and i've been texting her every day because i'm so excited for her. so they all call me todd because they've see me on television and she said i haven't started class
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yet and you're asking me these questions. some very involved. >> you have a call from tim in milwaukee wisconsin, tim you're on the air with tom brokaw. >> thank you mr. broca i respected your work as a journalist for so many years, i miss the old nightly newscast with you, my question on journalism as a whole, you had mentioned earlier that perhaps there so many ways to get information and news, if you click on and get the guardian in london times. my concern is it seems like you have to work hard and now like i get pbs and occasional nightly news, what is your overall state of investigative journalism these days. >> i want to wish you well to in your fate with cancer. >> thank you very much tom brokaw question mark. >> we talk about this a moment
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ago, and i said was you have to be more aggressive as a consumer of where you get your information, how reliable it is overtime. investigative journalism there's more being done that you realize. the livingston award is for 35 and over, almost every year we give it to very hard-core investigative journalist. a lot are doing it in digital arenas and online, it's been breathtakingly good work. there's also something that is a nonprofit group of first-rate journalists, they are dedicated to investigative journalism, they have already won at least two pulitzer prizes. the work going on out there you just have to go find it. >> are you in favor of the affordable care act and how it is changing. >> i think it's a mixed success depending on where you live and
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what you are doing, kentucky has pretty good success, when they deal with states, they are are giving them a lot of inventions of letting them determine what they want to do, people have to be prepared, the cost of insurance is going to go up in pretty sharply. >> my initial reservation was that they took too big a bite all at once. i would would have started with just of the uninsured and then rolled and the other things that needed to be done based on what you need to learn from that. it won't be reversed but it has to be modified. >> mary is calling in from dayton ohio. >> hello, can you hear me question mark. hello mr. brokaw happy to be able to talk to today. i can't believe i'm getting it on this, i watched book review
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every saturday and sunday, i'm in a nursing home. anyway, i i want to tell you about my husband went to mayo clinic as he was having trouble and when he came home he sat in his leather chair and told me that he had cancer. i sat on the chair, we held one another and cry. we had a beautiful story of life for us. i was 62 when when he died, he was 67. we miss him greatly, he was a wonderful man. so that's what i wanted to say about that. i will certainly be reading your book, i appreciate your life like i did my husband which is
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an example for other people i think they tell me that. so that's what i have to say, say, i'm actually in a nursing home. >> how old are you now mary? >> i am now 78 years old. thank you ma'am good luck to you. >> mr. brokaw, repeat the essence of what she wants me to answer. >> i think she was sharing a story that her husband came down from mayo told her that she had cancer and they cried and had been for life today. >> meredith and i had the same experience. it was about 1:00 o'clock in the morning and i said this is going to change our lives. i didn't have any idea about how dramatically it would change our lives, she is a rock. she is very cool and whatever she does, at this moment she is going to the mountains with three of their friends, spending three days in setting up camp. i couldn't have gone through
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this without her in so many ways, middle of the night getting my meds, doing that kind of thing and then being well organized. she never panicked, a doctors in our family, she should of been one of them. >> this is a text message, are you using any alternative healthcare methods? >> know i am not, i have a have a sister-in-law, meredith sister who is integrative medicine. healthcare methods? >> know i am not, i have a have a sister-in-law, meredith sister who is integrative medicine. thus far i have not found the need to do it. i am doing more therapy now, i did do some acupuncture one year ago, i was in montana and you have to do it over a longer period of time to relieve the pain in my back. i'm finding finding a good physical therapy is taking care of most of my needs at the moment. >> are you paying right now q mark. >> a little bit.
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in my lower back. i had for compression factors in mice by. i i wish i had not seen it it was pretty ugly. what happens is it's a bone marrow cancer. and these fractures, they were detected early enough so they went in and repaired them they do something with all 3 ppoplastic which is a cement, i lost 2 inches in height which is hard to accept on that have to be very careful about not torquing my back. i do my stretching and yoga every day, water therapy is very good for me, i do see incrementally that i'm getting better. >> how long, and you write about this, how long did you have this back pain before it was diagnosed correcing cy question mark. >> i had have a complete blood test nine months bes ore the diagnosis, completely clean
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three months after that is when the back pain began to set in, i thought it was a result of a bike trip that i was doing in argentina. i got back, did my typical stuff, got on a plane, went plane, went to south africa, mandela was dying, went to zimbabwe on a sstuari. i came home from that, in the back pain would go away. orthopedist orthopedist looked at it and said it's your lifestyle, tom, and your 73 and out there banging around. they didn't take a picture all the way down my sipne, the lower back pain would go away. my primary physician at the mayo clinic, he is not a he said something was going on here and on its own one morning he took my blood test and did what theyd something was going on here and on its own one morning he took my blood test and did what they said it they kept eliminating things and came to the conclusion that it was multiple myk, nomesu his thought, was that only enter
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could've done that, he's that smart. so that morning i thought i was fine, that afternoon i was told i had a pretty nasty disease. it turns out i had a hole in my pelvis which i did not realize. my daughter pointed out later that i was 60% involved with myla noma. >> next call. >> hello how are you today. my question is, on military movies didn't have to have a stamp from congress they don't dishonor them does it have to go to the library congress? someone who m les a military movie from a book. >> is at your question?
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>> i actelogize we had a litinge trouble hearing. he was asking about military movies, do they they have to be appr laed by the g laernment during. >> during world war ii there is lot of oversight, but not now. steven spielberg and i have talked about this, i was living on an army base in world war ii. i was like four years old, as all, nobody ever got killed on the american side, in 1948 there is in a is a film called battleground about the bating cf the bulge. it was a great cast, it was very touching a very realistic film. one squad was in the bating ce f
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the bulge, people died, died, there is uncertainty whether they would survive or not. i said to sipelberg later, that was a revelation for me because i had never seen that kind of reality. he said to me i think it's maybe the best poor film ever made because of the authenticity of the time they made it. so if you want to see more real fiases like that go seem poor films. saving private rhyme it ryan is a great military film. they said you guys are walking across open fields like there's nobo bu around. you would have been behind formation, you would've would've been chattering the way you were, n a t with the landing itself they didn't think anybody could ever re-create that, but they did. >> a text message for someone who has had a lucky lme be, what would be your one piece of advice to people who are not so lucky question mark.
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>> tomorrow is another day. don't use your fate to others, take control of your own life. the sun does come up again this there were times in my career my life when i didn't know whether it would work or not. i came out of high school, dropped out of college eventually and i was just a wreck for about three years. when my wife, put me up in the right direction and got me going again. >> another text, celebrity does not come with a free pass, you are just lucw with good genes, did you write down all your questions before seeing the dr.? >> no i did not, because i was was unprepared for what the diagnosis was. i'll give it a quick sequence.
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he looked at all the numbers, then he turned to me and said, and and this is his exact words, you have a minute malignancy, skull multe bale m awa noma, we know people who have died from this, fr3 skull multe bale m awa noma, we know people who have died from this, frank reynolds, died from it. n a t you're at a good pk,ce because were making great progress. that was his opening line, we alad awondered what you'd say sy under those circumstances, i remount very cool and wanted to a journalistic mode and smou how long do i have? he said five years but i think you'll beat that and i want to look at more things. that's kind where we are, how do, how do i treat it was the next questioofh primarily with drugs but there is something called stem cell and were going to look at you and make sure were going to get it right. i could see beemind him my primary care physician had a
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great concern in his eye. that's because he knew how much my lmee was about to change and i didn't. i knew i had cancer, i would need to be treated, i knew it would just drop my life, i knew it was a possimarklity i would e from it, but i'm an optimist i thought i would beat this, but i diwith 't know how hard. >> another text. with your view of history and your journalistic eye, what is your greatest concekne and hope for our nation. >> i try not to be the old bogey and say it was bmouter in my day but i've talked to a lot of younger and older people as well we all agree, it is more chaotic than any other time i can remember. part of that is the result of solatal media and the immediate impact it has. my big concern is the ctek,rization of america, were bre ling ourselves up into
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a lot of different parts. no one willing to find common ground. the genius of this country has always been that however dihanicult the time, there was always common ground. i was a white house corre has watergate, i go to the hil m and talk to big republicans, and they were in touch with each other about, if this didn't go well, how, how do we hold the country tfromouher. that was a bid f lesson, you dot don't see that anymore, now is a republican seen talgresng to a demo bu at they go back to the caucus and gets questioned by others about what they were doing. for all the strength of our many parts we are grady then that we need to find ways to work together and it on ravel, there's lata's simplistic solutions being thrown around right now. we need to examine those, i would hope as we get closer to the primaries in the cauromses, the voters, and i'm confident
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they will be taken as sharper pencil to these candidatehe v >> you mention president nixon,. >> i talk to them for the book actually. >> in 1973, 1974, what were your impression of the nixon white hous at >> with the bunkeet they close down every day if you are a repoceker, you would go early in the mokneing and went get out after nightfall because you are working all the time. one of the things ibe thressed e the most, i was colleagues with some people they were so cares l about what we would do because the consequences were so big i would wo, 1 really hard for the nighing cy news, then i would gt on and work for the today show
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in the morning, now now i would be asked to go on msnbc. there are be a lot of opinion out pres aces what i would have to say. those day it was methodical about how careful we were and we would check with each other. i had a friend who is a great reporter from the wall street journa m we had a bud bu sigtem. if i found something i wasn't entirely confident about, i would go to him. in the white house itself they had a terrific staff at the lower level, the se bu mouary of stahan for eeeie in other people who had real concern about the fate of the country and they q eemouly share this with you. it was a great test of our syststic. in the end, justice prevailed, but right to the end, a lot of people in america thought it was a coeenipracy of some kind. when they heard the tape and heard the supreme coucek, they went the other way and said you
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got to go. >> here's the last call for tom brokaw. >> tha re you very much, thank you for sharing what i would have to call on bridled ot coimm with us, i i know you have millions of people who are fulling for your full rec laery, my question table when it didn't go well for me. i admire people who do because they have an engaging mind. i really centered on writing more, reducing the kind of wide
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range of interests i have down to just a few that i am really interested in. that's the big thing. and saying no to requests and not yes as often. >> final text from you. i read something that criticizes you for not. >> jim and i were close friends, we've had this discussion before, i think he has a legitimate thing about his part of the boomer generation. in fact i wrote about him in a book called boom about how he did answer the call. he went to vietnam and how he represents a part of our society that does not get enough attention. i think think is quite correct in that. he doesn't think that things get
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enough attention. i'm a big admirer of his. i cannot predict where he will end up which is part of the appeal of it. if you look at his vietnam record and his writing ability and we need more citizens like that. >> why think you have covered the greatest generation, the greatest generation, the news media, and healthcare. >> we did. >> "a lucky life interrupted" as always we appreciate you taking calls. >> thank you i enjoy being here. >> our live coverage continues and we have several more hours of coverage, if you want the full schedule go to book tv.org or follow us on twitter or on facebook. >> ..
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> and for the 15th year in a row book tv is live at the national book festival. several hours of coverage. colin programs, several hours more ahead here at the convention center. go to booktv.org to get the full schedule. pleased to be joined on our step in the lobby of the convention center by evan thomas' most recent book is the author of many books, but most recent is called being in nixon, a man divided.
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itwas richard nixon always fascinating to the news media? >> yes, he was. even as a green congressman the exposed alger hiss does a communist by and it made his career. and all of a sudden he was thrust into the spotlight on american history really and never left. he liked it there. extremely shy, awkward, shy, awkward, lonely figure the liked being at the scene -- middle of events. >> why would a shy, awkward, lonely figure begin politics. >> you have to be a little crazy to be in politics anyway. he needed something. he wanted something, and politics gave him what he wanted. >> hope and fear raised a constant battle.
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>> the sad. >> the sad part, and neglect next and accomplished a great deal and opening up china and politically but at the end his obsession with his enemies got to him. he just could not leave alone his enemies and made powerful enemies and they got him. >> we are going to put the phone numbers up. we have a short time with our guest. 748-8201 if you live out in the mountain and pacific time zone. finally, you can send it. do not call this number but send a text message, 202 465 eight 202. we will talk about his books
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as a historical figure is he fascinating? is the important? will he be a blip? >> he will be important. he accomplished aa great deal. the only president in history to be driven from office. that alone will keep him in the history books. he stands for people losing faith in government. unfortunately his legacy is that people believe less government and lesson our leaders after watergate. it's a terrible legacy to have. >> you have both come out with knew books in the past couple of months. why more books? what did you discover? >> i tried to humanize nixon in our popular imagination he is wicked and evil. i just could not believe he
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was that we could are evil. i was interested in trying to make them into a human being. as the title of my book, what's it like to be richard nixon. i knew there was a more competent -- a more sympathetic story. >> what did you learn? >> he wanted to be a much better person than he was. joy, serenity, and a good kind of pride. he really could not be that person that he wanted to be. he worked at it. and the tragedy is that he could not be the person that he wanted to be. >> why not? >> haunted by these demons. not a well loved child. now, most politicians are driven. you could argue that most are crazy. the central rocket fuel that drives you. nixon had that and
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abundance.abundance. and drive to him and made him relentless and he never quite. admirably he was great. he was obsessive in a way that hurt him. >> when you talk about these , what he wanted to be, did he have any confidence? share this with anyone? >> he always carried around a yellow legal pad. his best friend was is legal pad. he did not really have friends. they never talked. would not speak to him. >> was she fairly presented? >> we have an image of her from the photographs of haggard person.
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that is a little unfair. thatthat was true at the end in the last year of watergate. pretty beat up. a mother and father were drinking too much, but there was a real marriage there which is one thing i had not i had not realized when i started this. the love letters between them real and powerful. many times nixon thought of quitting politics. that was the one who told him to hang in they're and not give up. at the end the marriage was in trouble. but then they rebuilt it and they had a real marriage. >> kevin thomas is our guest, longtime newsweek editor reporter. other books include robert kennedy, a book about dwight eisenhower, john paul jones, how many total?
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>> nine. >> and he has been on book tv for a lot of these books. let's begin withlet's begin with a call from david and hope sound florida. how are you? >> actually, it's a little cloudy. i'll get through it. it rained a little bit. these are the things that you have to put up with. it is better to be here that up there. let me tell me tell you, although i will be up there next week. okay. it is an honor to speak to you, it really is. the last time we spoke was sometime in the 19 90s, and you90s, and you said you were going to do a book on new york's liberalism. but it never happened. >> you never did it. absent an old bronx man. i was interested 1st of all, and aside if i may.
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in june she speaks and wrote of the fact that her mother lived in the bronx for a little while, worked at saint barnabas hospital in the bronx. it was never -- no one ever made us aware of that. >> a hidden chapter of misses nixon. she was like richard nixon or showers had to work for a living are really dirt poor when she grew up and never forgot that. that brought her close to the american people somewhat but was in some ways and in bettering experience for her one thingone thing that she shared was a hate of controversy and confrontation. that hurt nixon during watergate. and really killed him and watergate. can never faces on
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subordinates. >> marvin is in los angeles. >> i'm wondering in your research did you find anything new about whether gerald ford and richard nixon had some sort of deal. number two, i wish c-span recredit laura bush for starting the national book festival. have you done that much? >> i know about laura bush. i think there was a weekend and not. the evidence is slender, but it is true how hage went to see vice president ford and laid out options, one of which was pardoning the president. you get theyou get the sense as you read about that that
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hage was communicated. you get to become president, but it was never denied, but my own discretion was that there was a bit of a wink and a nod. >> next call is richard in boca raton. >> it is a pleasure listening to you speak. i read your 1st book, the six wise men, and i thought it was excellent. two excellent. two questions. is it possible we can have six wiseman today? and the 2nd question, do you think that hillary clinton in retrospect realized what she was doing with this e-mail scenario? i will hang up listened to your comments. >> could we have the wiseman today?
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>> it was informal. there was no national security advisory are national security assessment it was much more informal command presence could call from prices like harvard now. it was a world that does not exist anymore. in some ways it is a better world because we don't have a bunch of guys from harvard and yell running things, but that ruled does not exist. i would hope that the presidents are able to find wiseman and women. they are out there. my beef is that the politics have been taken over by the consultant in the consultants are just about getting elected. i think they hold politicians back and make
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them do narrowminded things. too strong. presidents and presidential candidates could stand up to them and follow their own conscience in mind. hillary clinton, it is hard to know where this is going. she likes to be in control. obviously made a mistake. these things are always clear in hindsight than they are at the time. it looks like. >> evan thomas is our guest. good afternoon. >> good afternoon, and thanks for this.
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i am curious. mr. nixon earned his moniker tricky. law degree from duke university. he knew the impact from the tapes. my question to you is, in your research did you figure out any reason emotionally, emotionally, psychologically, or regionally why he did not burn the tapes? >> he should have and he knew it. when he heard that the tapes are going to be exposed publicly and he was sick, pneumonia and did get some advice one is he did not think you would ever have to turn over the tapes. obviously that was a mistake in a miscalculation. he thought that the tapes might vindicate him.
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he thought that he could rebut some of the charges against him. what he failed to anticipate how salty he was. being roughened; profane. he just did not foresee this burningburning the tapes, you run the risk of being illegal trouble. >> city have a political philosophy? was the conservative, moderate? >> it was hard to grasp. he was a moderate republican that does not really exist today. his rhetoric was very conservative, but he often
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-- people of said he was liberal. he was an activist, more activist in 1970. they were more willing to let government do things. nixon likes to get things done. >> to you have any information online nixon offered the vice presidency to robert finch before offering it? >> i know he did. california lieutenant governor, old friend, very good-looking guy, smart guy. i have been doubtful that it was a real offer, that it was meant to be real. you're my friend and i'm going to give you this offer and the expectation that your going to turn it down. >> how much access to you have? have they become one?
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>> national archive. the privately run foundation. they have a good new head of the foundation. things are getting much better. >> are the daughters involved? >> sure. absolutely. >> they refused to talk to me. i understand that. i have been in the public spotlight for six decades. i was not shocked. i got within a week of seeing her and she finally said your just going to have to write your book.
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she wrote a very good book about her mother which i used extensively. i did get help from some family friends. >> hi. yes. what a thrill it is. curious about richard nixon claiming to be a quaker. 25,000 names on that. and eisenhower was a jehovah's witness and the mennonite. warmongering. thank you. >> of course it is hard to reconcile. nixon's mother i'm sure was upset, but nixon on vietnam
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inherited a terrible war. 550,000 men in the country when he became president. too long. too many young american men died, but he faced a very difficult problem getting us out of that were. you can mock and ridicule it, but nixon wasn't fear about trying to do that. he thought he would get help from china and russia. he felt stuck in that war and frustrated by it and would lash out. >> how does nixon make his comeback after he lost the california election for governor? >> famously he won't have big nixon to kick around anymore, and people thought
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he was finished. but he never gave up. and he believed, if i don't get back in the public life i'm going to be mentally dead in two years and physically deaden for. he worked his way back in and helps other candidates, travels all over the country and made himself essentially again and laid low. >> peggy calling in from the hand in hawaii. >> hi. i am calling because i know that nixon did some wonderful things when he was president. i want to ask the author if he ever read them raise watergate book. the reason is because there were many that were not released at the time that they put in the archives and brought out. the watergate book written and 94, you can read the tapes and what nixon said.
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i can get a million dollars. and i cannot believe that that does not come out. people do not talk about it. the tapes -- they must have done a deal with some of these tapes were not supposed to be shown which is why he had to step down because he knew there were other tapes out they're that would eventually come out. >> there are about 3,700 hours of tapes. about 3,000 the been released. privacy reasons and national security reasons probably will never be released. inin those 3,000 that have been released some of the ones mentioned slowly trickled out. resisted. don't release the tapes. he lost in the tapes are out many are incriminating.
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the one you mentioned about a million dollars, he talked that way. the record is murky hello what he did caps off the language is incriminating. i've listened to the tapes. i've certainly talked to experts. so i'mso i'm pretty well-versed on the tapes. there are a lot of them. >> once again just running through the numbers, how many tapes, are they accessible to anyone? does it cost money to get copies? >> 3,700 hours of tapes, 3,000 that are publicly available to anybody. you can go to the connectors website and listen to them, the nixon library and listen to them. you can get them online just by going to nixon tapes .org
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or you can go to the library and communicate with the library, but they are available. >> worth listening to. >> hard to understand. the understand. the quality is low, especially the ones that were done in nixon's highway and dod office. you have to be very patient about listening to them. others are better. there are shocking was that you can understand. if you enjoy this stuff, it's pretty interesting. >> just came out with the latest edition. they are doing a fantastic thing publishing transcripts. >> jim in tacoma, washington. being nixon, a man divided. >> this is pleasant. i have read a lot of your work.
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i was 18 when nixon became president. i despise the guy to this day. the beginning of your interview said that it was a salient factor that he wants to be better.better. what real relevance is that to what he actually did? >> look, it is a fair peemack. i do not excuse him from that. there is a lot to not like. i do not despise them, but one can pretty easily. however, i want to humanize him and was curious. the chiefchief of staff said his boss was the strangest man i've ever met. i was curious about that. what was it like being nixon back he wanted to be a better person. don't we all want to be better?
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that's true. i was interested in the conflict the nixon felt. i thought it was worth writing about and we need to try to understand the fullness. >> i met nixon once in 1988. i was at newsweek, editor of newsweek. he. he came by a lot of his rehabilitation tours he came and said their grandfather was a great man. my grandfather had been norman thomas, socialist king and flatter me. very shy but a politician, could remember names and did his homework silly to flatter you by guilt knowing something about you. >> by saying he was a great man, what does he say?
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>> he was just trying to flatter me. my grandfather was a complicated fellow in his own way. he was a moderate socialist head of the socialist party in the united states and did run for president six times respect for norman thomas. mostly he was trying to flatter me. >> was that the end of the conversation? >> a great-grandfather. >> next call comes from dennis and lynwood, illinois >> first of all, i would like to thank you for the kennedy book and all the others. one of the things that bothers me, especially being in the vietnam era and serving, i remember reading the page. and the soldiers that were
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being treated, i remember reading other books about how bad he treated them veterans administration and how bad he treated the soldiers i came back from that war. that is a bigger scandal in some of the others. >> i don't know enough to comment intelligently. particularly the pow. he worked like hell to get them home. very close to them, moved by them. like them. they actually liked it. the pow, glad that he was dropping bombs all around them.
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nixon felt as all presidents to the burden of sending young men into battle. the 1st thing they did, lbj left a list. nixon was moved. he was not casual sending young men into battle. >> as a new congressman in 19401947 feet toward europe. what city did he visited y? >> a rebel and 46 and 47. they went to berlin. i think they went to vienna. they went to whatever city they couldn't eastern europe and saw the shock of the war
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and how bad europe was. the united states needed to spend a lot of money in the plan that came out of that was enormously generous great act by the united states. >> that they have paid things men jfk assassination. please explain why. >> accessed -- obsessed with the notion that the president kennedy had order to kill president need him in vietnam. it does not exist. but when kennedy learned he
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was shocked. >> next call, a few minutes left. >> hello. my question, when is mr. thomas going to write? i would really like to no more about them. a very good book by w a swanberg that won the national book award. i would recommend if you are curious.
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>> mike, king furred -- part of me, mike kingsport tennessee. >> hello. i was convinced that the time of watergate that nixon had convinced himself that he needed to stay on as president. how far would he have gone? what he have set aside the constitution and set himself up as a dictator? >> obviously he had an expansive view of executive power. he thought he had a lot of power and used it and abused it. he should have been impeached. but a lot of the conspiracy theories exaggerate just how bad nixon was. i do not think that there was a massive conspiracy to assault the constitution is
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some people do. watergate was a series of screw ups. those guys screwed up. they walk into the office, office, broke into the watergate, got caught. covered it up. i don't think it was a massive conspiracy. i just don't. >> i appreciate so much he was a survivor of the uss johnston. the call an interview him about his experience. >> what was his name?
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>> so nice to hear your voice. >> i also read again recently i appreciated. >> thank you so much. it is a great story. it is a great story. >> it was a destroyer. attacked by japanese battleships. went right for them, torpedoed one of them. the ship was sunk, the
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captain was killed more of the great moments of american heroism. evan thomas and his most recent book, being nixon, a man divided. >> thank you. really enjoyed it. >> book tv live from the national book festival. held at the convention center in washington dc. collins on the set, showing you the sights and sounds of the festival and covering authors of the history and biography run. coming up next is evan oz knows, and we will go live upstairs to the history and biography room, national book award-winning book is entitled agent ambition chasing fortune, truth, and faith in the knew china. he will join us down here and take some of your calls. you arecalls. you are watching book tv live coverage of national book festival.
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[inaudible conversations] >> hello, everyone. welcome to the national book festival. i am a reporter for the "washington post". the post is a charter sponsor of the book festival , and it is my
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pleasure to introduce our guest for this program. born in 1976 and is a staff writer for the new yorker. he writes about foreign affairs and politics, author of agent ambition chasing fortune, truth, and faith in the knew china. that won the national book awar. in the book he traces the rise of the individual in china and the clash between aspiration in the authoritarianism. he had this to say, and the pages of the new yorker evan oz knows has portrayed, explained, and poked fun at
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the state china better than any other writer from the leicester east eliminating the gilded age, appetite, challenges, and dilemmas in a way that few have done. also is a contributor to this american life on public radio and frontline. before moving to the new yorker he was a beijing bureau chief for the chicago tribune we contributed to a series that won the 2,008 pulitzer prize for investigative reporting. the award for young journalists and the award for profile writing. please welcome evan oz knows. >> thank you very much. thank you to all of you.
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you have heard this from other offers. it is a special pleasure to be here with people who choose to be inside to talk about books. you are self selecting, and we we are an endangered species and i thank you for coming here. ii think that there are a lot of people in this room interested in the suspect of chat -- the subject of china for me if you want to know what it feels like to be a writer in china it is useful to remember and observation like john king fairbank, one of the great american china scholars. and he said, and i quote, quote, china is a journalist dream and statisticians nightmare because it has more human drama and fewer verifiable facts per square
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mile than anywhere else in the world. i once mentioned that to a colleague and they did not find that funny in the slightest. he said that in 1947 and in some ways the observation is still accurate. china has become a much more verifiable place simply because someone like me can go and live there for eight years and can simply by virtue of technology and transportation get halfway across china in a morning and begin your reporting or you can go online and begin to understand bit about what's going on. it is not a substitute but a place where we are beginning -- i should say we no longer have the luxury of imagining that it is unknowable. and yet in other ways china has become more puzzling as
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we began to try to ask larger questions about it, it's intentions in the world , but it's seeming contradictions. so many things do not seem to make sense. on paper it says this been a reality is is this which is ultimately what our responsibility is as writers , try to make some sense of it on the page. i want to read a few lines i think it will frame now i have approached the place in writing. a new fashion, philosophy, way of life, they describe it as a favor. people contracted western business suit fever and john paul saw fever and private telephone fever.
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it was difficult to predict when or where a fever would ignite or what it would leave behind. in the village of shaw job population 1,564 they're was a fever for the american cop show hunter better known in chinese as expert detective hunker. when the show appeared on chinese television in 1990 the villagers started to gather to watch detective rick hunter of the los angeles police department go undercover with his partner, detective deedee mccall, and the villagers came to inspect the detective and find at least two occasions to other his trademark phrase works for me, though in chinese and came across as a religious man because works for me was mistranslated as whatever god wants. [laughter] the fever passed from one person to the next and
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affected each in a different way. some months later when the police tried to search the home of a local farmer the man told him to come back when they had a warrant , aa word that he had learned from expert detective hunt to a. why do i begin a discussion of china with the somewhat specific experience of a single village 25 years ago? for me it is about a waya way of seeing, a way of looking at the place, about a kind of focus on the intimate changes in people's lives, the perceptual changes, the things that do not always turn up in the headlines but are in there own way the forces that are propelling china through history at this moment. i have come to call this the age of ambition and am referring to two specific things. one is this grand national ambition to stake out a greater, more glorious place for china and the world
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command the other kind of ambition is the force of 1.4 billion individual aspirations of one kind or another,another, each now distinct and potent in ways really that were never possible before in chinese history. if you begin to understand those two kinds of ambition you begin to understand some of the choices that china is making collectively and on an individual basis and the tensions that is creating in its relationship with the rest of the world. when we talk about where china is and where it is going, it is useful to remind ourselves about the path that it has traveled over the past quarter-century. two decades ago i got interested. i watch the class it was absolutely electrifying, this operatic story of
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revolution and civil war and this massive protean in many ways tragic force of chairman mao and then deng xiaoping led china out of seclusion and back into the world, and then you had after all the events at tiananmen square, the democracy demonstrations and 89 which it happened just five years earlier. i was absolutely fascinated by the. they built this tent city at the signature of party power but becausethe because you saw if you remember very clearly that they were torn between what it meant to be of the east end of the west. they had shag haircuts and them boxes. in somein some cases they carried placards that have the words of patrick henry
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and then they also sang the great communist party him. when it came time for them to present their demands they did it in the traditional style down on their knees in a formal petition that they handed out to these apparatchiks who were still buttoned up in the mao suits, but he had the sense of this place that was right at that moment on the cusp of extraordinary new demands. people are demanding so much more of the country, themselves. there was a student protester who said that spring to a reporter something that helps me understand what the moment meant. i don't know exactly what we want, but we want more of it. that movement ended in bloodshed and remarked that anniversary.
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i flew to beijing and 96. at the time china was a different place than it yesterday. at the time the economy was smaller. beijing, there are people in this room over they're. it smelled like coal and wet wool and sheep tobacco and i absolutely love the sense of this place that was just sort of beginning to unfold in front of you. you are able to travel in ways you could not before, but it was not a glamorous place.a glamorous place. when he wanted to go out for a nice night on the town you would go to the jingle a hotel which the architect described as aa perfect replica of a holiday and he had seen in palo alto, california. china is home to about 30 percent of the skyscrapers under construction worldwide. china today is defined i should say, the last
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generation the story of china has been one of growth and sudden new plan. we may be having a different conversation in a year, but for the moment the defining fact has been the sudden sense that they have things that they did not have before. your average person eats six times as much meat as he or she did in 1976, but this is also aa ravenous era of a different kind in which people have awoken with the hunger for knew ideas and new inspiration and respect. the boom year has not met the onset of great fortune. people made about $200 a year. the average income is about 6,000 a year. with that has come an enormous gap between the rich and poor, the
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difference in income and life expectancy between the richest places and poorest places is the difference between new york city and ghana. if you think that that kind of gap is a political issue, you can imagine how awkward it is in the people's republic which is still ruled by the communist party that is one of the byproducts of this time that has introduced a contradiction that is hard for china to reconcile. what do chinese leaders today, the people running the country, what is it that they want? what is there ambition, aspiration? well, this current generation of leaders, the leaders of the standing committee of the politburo came into power around was living in beijing in november of 2012 and got this invitation to go and see the unveiling of the new leadership.
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until that moment you don't know who will be running the country, and it is always in the same place at the great hall of the people in this vast building built by the hands of volunteers in the 1950s. i go to see the unveiling. seven men, the president and the premier and the other members of the standing committee. they come out on stage and the 1st thing you notice was conformity. they were virtually identical dark suits. they were virtually identical red ties with the exception of one who i can talk about. the hair was dyed to the identical shade of black which i mentioned not as a.of humor but it is a relevant issue to appear vital and that you have many years ahead of you in your professional life.
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to thoseto those who are watching at home the message was unmistakably clear. we have comewe have come together around a shared idea of what we represent and aspire. there are no idiosyncrasies. we are one group. this was coming after a turbulent time in chinese politics. and that the new president steps forward to give his 1st visit, his 1st address to the nation has the general secretary of the communist party. what he says is actually quite striking. he will dedicate himself above all to what he called the great renewal of the nation and would then repeat this over and over again. the great renewal is the chinese dream. the chinese dream was on bus
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shelters and television advertisements. it sounds a little bit like the american dream. the chinese listeners as a couple meetings that are quite clear. one is just extending this growth and transformation. china is building airports and railroads. china landed a spacecraft, talking about a mission to mars and talking about a mission to the deepest regions of the ocean. china today loans more money to the developing world and does the world bank which is about to continue to grow, but the idea of the chinese dream was also about something else, something deeper, something less physical, trying to pull
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people together in a country that is increasingly driven by centrifugal forces that are driving it in all kinds of knew directions, trying to pull people together around a common idea of what china could be, to pull people together to unite and reinvigorate support of the goal of restoring china to the status that it once enjoyed. as was a civilization that was printing books 400 years before gutenberg, the country that as recently as the 18th century controlled one 3rd of the world's wealth. andand so if you are the leader of the chinese communist party, that's the goal that your trying to reclaim. and that more -- that full her sense of what china can and should be is putting it into greater confrontation, greater tension with the
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rest of the world, not only the united states but also with its neighbors around the east china sea. this china imagine itself vaulting past the united states to become the most powerful country in the world? does it see itself as a rival to the united states and the ability to influence others in the ability to intervene in ways that we want to. it is especially tempting to feel that way now when we sense in our own politics a kind of paralysis command and ability to get things done, but it is important to remember that there are reasons to believe that chinese leaders have a sense of what is possible and what is not possible. the simple fact is that that china is not prepared to vault past the united states overnight. it is in so many ways a developing country today.
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being the preeminent power is expensive. you're expected to take a leading role. and as much as chinese military is growing, the annual spending officially still only a fraction of our defense spending is. the unitedthe united states has about one dozen aircraft carriers in china has one. instead of imagining china is preparing to vault past us, it perceives itself as returning to a position of greatness in the multi polar so that gives us a sense of what his vision is.
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the question is whether his people feel the same way. to understand that we have to no a bit more about the aspirations of china's 1.4 billion because it is a force that is in its own way the source of china's greatest strength and its greatest uncertainty. it is useful to.out the subject of individual aspirations to not merit much attention for most of chinese history. the individual as a force in politics or law was always understood to be embedded in much larger forces whether it was the family or village of military or the country command you saw this expressed in all kinds of ways in law and art. this was something that the great writer noticed. if you look back at a painting from the 11th century, and if you look at
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it what you see is the only individual, the only person the only individual is a horseman driving a car through the mountains and the lower right-hand corner. and if you saw that the message was clear. this is where you fit in as an individual into this vast beautiful complex cosmos when you look at the equivalent western image, full framed portrait of an individual.individual. i think this is the 1st selfie, perhaps. in china the word itself, ambition had a negative connotation. one of the words you can say
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it in chinese means wild heart. to have a wild heart in china was to have a kind of wolfish ambition, i desire to put yourself in front of others at the expense of others. there was a collection of advice for rulers, and he advised, keep power out of the hands of the ambitious just as you would keep sharp tools out of the hands of the foolish. had sense that we should be suspicious of individual aspiration extended all the way into the heyday of socialism. .. neighbor,
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socialism no longer there are now as many christians in china as members of the communist party. it is not just religion. in this pursuit of faith, this pursuit of moral meaning it is about people saying i am going to choose for myself what i care about and what i want to pursue because the material factions are inadequate. i will leave you with an example what that feels like for someone in the thick of it. a few years ago when beijing hosted the olympics that was right beforehand an uptick of nationalism. the olympic torch had made its way around the world and as it
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travels around the world that encountered protests, people protesting chinese policy and inside china there was a reaction. young chinese especially reacted and said this, they reacted very defensively and said, and this doesn't back my image of the place. it was an inquiry moment. some of that was directed at foreign correspondents. i got a note on my fax machine at work but said correct your misunderstandings on china or you and your loved ones will wish you were dead. it wasn't directed at me personally but journalists as a group. there was a video that popped up on the chinese web and was a angry and it was called china as stand-up and that video was manifesto of a certain kind, flags waving in the wind, blair said china must defend itself against the effort to encircle and contain the country and keep
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it down and it became enormously popular, second most popular video in china. i said to made this? i got in touch with the guy and said can come see you? i had an image of who it was, somebody cleary had i figured he was in his parents' proverbial basement and he said you can come see me and it was clearly in my view someone who didn't have much of a sense of the west and i got there and realize quite quickly that my impression was wrong. his name was, and he was 26 years old and first thing he did when i got there was fried to a my taxi fare, dressed more or less the same way and was at that point getting his ph.d. in western political philosophy, he was studying something, dissertation on phenomenology, he said i you familiar with her
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slaps' work on phenomenology? of course. every american, we are all very familiar. he was very generous in letting me into his world for a while and came to understand more about what was going on. in some ways the bottom line was he was enormously proud of the country and experience he had had. he had also grown up in an educational environment, he had not heard much about the details of the cultural revolution but had the sense that the vision we have china overseas was not the vision he had of china in side and we will seymour of that kind of clash in the years ahead between what the joy is that people feel on the ground and the china we are beginning to understand from outside. thank you very much for listening. i appreciate it. [applause] if anyone has questions i will
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be happy to answer questions. >> i have read your book, is marvelous and great to see you. i want to ask about the activists in p.m. and square, some have been caught in the age of anxiety, the age of affluence but some probably haven't. and you talked about something of a rise of buddhism. does that make life any easier for the followers of the dalai la lama. and china's influence exerts on things like not allowing the dalai lama into south africa. that is astonishing given the history of south africa. and also do you see in terms of ameliorating the separation movement, the chinese clampdown?
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>> i will do my best to encourage them fast. looks like we have a couple minutes. question of the tiananmen square generation. it was for many of them a defining experience of their lives, the young people, they have gone in all different directions, hard to generalize, some have become plutocrats, members of the new rich and others never recovered from the political disappointment of what was possible and impossible in that moment. i am afraid the situation in far western china and tibet is not improving. is getting worse, if people would agree with this in beijing, there is growing tension and there is at the moment no political framework for how to relieve this tension and the tension continues to grow and the growth is because of policy and i think there is a sense they will be one of the defining issues in the next few years, thank you for your
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question. >> i went to china for the first time last year and aside from the incredible development everywhere, one thing that strikes you is a number of what you showed, a huge apartment buildings many of which are and tea, some have finished and some from the finish but standing empty and they seem to be building more. what is happening with all this? why does this keep going on? is there going to be some sort of collapse that will leave all sorts of people bankrupt or in a bad way? >> coast cities as u are describing them are real phenomenon. especially two four years ago when you had what you had in simplest terms was in a sense the engine of growth, combination of local government policy, availability of cheap money, these things combined after the financial crisis to incentivize people to build build build and often they build beyond what market forces could
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support and today one of the things we are wondering and have watched is china has gone through this roller coaster, equity markets and the question of the future of the economy, what happens to these buildings? in some places those empty buildings are full because there are still hundreds of millions of people trying to go from the country selling is the timing issue. they were built at the wrong time that some of the may fill up and some will not. >> thank you for your fascinating work and your talk about china, interesting. you have taught me more than i note, i live in but era of the last half of my life, i miss the fun exciting part. i follow chinese news but the one thing is very often, political censorship, the gap of the rich and the port, i wonder
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if you have the input about the challenge to get to where you want to go, what you want to know? >> great question. in the end there's only one decision to be made which is when and how does change happen? the reality is for all forces you describe in your question over the last decade people's lives are becoming larger, more diverse, more diverse demand tended isn't to the system to figure out how to accommodate them because they cannot be put into the box. it is the thing to be watching, who among the leadership will figure out first that if they want to remain in the position they have that they will and must figure out how to adapt. we are out of time. thank you for coming today.
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[inaudible conversations] >> national book award winner for 2014 for nonfiction for his book "age of ambition," chasing fortune, truth and faith in the new china. evan osnos is making his way down from the first floor of the convention center where that was held down to our set, he will be here to take your calls. 202 is the area code, 748-8200. in the east and central time zone if you want to talk to evan osnos about his experiences in china or talk about shine in general 202-748-8201. those in the mountain and pacific and the third option today is text your question to evan osnos. don't call on this phone line, use it as a text, we won't cancer as a phone call but we
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will look at the texts, 202-465-6842 is the number for you to call. we will be back in the history and biography written in an hour or so after a call to evan osnos and buzz aldrin. we will talk about jay winik's book "1944," then you can see outside the convention center, but walking the camera inside to give you a sense of what it looks like in the convention center, crowds or nationals book festival, second year in and of wrote it has been held in door at the washington convention center. we are down here in the lobby. it feels like there are good sized crowds. sometimes on the mall you see
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how crowded, spread out over a couple different floors, library of congress wanted this for 15 years, started by laura bush, a first lady modeled after the texas book festival she started as first lady of texas, james billington, soon-to-be ex library of congress so in just a minute evan osnos will be down here. let's look at some sites and sounds. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> booktv live at the national book festival for the sixteenth year in a row at the convention center in washington d.c.. joining us on such in the lobby of the convention center is evan osnos, his book "age of ambition," chasing fortune, truth and faith in the new china, winner of the national book award for non-fiction in 2014. evan osnos, i want to start with a personal story. my sister just got back from china. she was there this past summer, she is a political, she is a dance teacher. she said what she saw with the building and what is going on was unsustainable. >> we are seeing she is right.
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these days we are going for peru this week, last week, the week for, an extraordinary period in china where so much of the economic formula, the recipe the work for 30 years is running out of gas. this doesn't mean china is like a barrel going over the falls. there are a lot of ways the story could double what is happening is indisputable, the thing that worked so well, exports, building those buildings, airports, railways, that period has run its course, has as many railways and airports as it needs for the moment in the venture will be there will be demographic pressure for more buildings that at the moment joy has to figure out how you get more money in the hands of ordinary people, how you get companies doing things that are not just manufacturing, how you build the chinese boom, how you get creative industries going. that is the challenge and what we are seeing, all this turbulence in the economy is a reflection that is going through
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a hard metamorphosis. >> since our viewers have been listening to you for the last 45 minutes talking about your book we are going to go right to calls and we are going to begin with frank in cleveland, ohio. you have been listening to evan osnos. had with your question or comment. can we put frank on hold? reminder to all our viewers, turndown the volume on your tv. we are going to move on to denny in columbus, ohio. you will hear everything through the phone, go ahead and talk, we are listening. >> caller: okay. evan osnos, your book is fascinating. i just started a book on pain and this seems to me to be one of the major movers in that
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century past. the we have taken chinese from a populist nation to considerable wealth and naturally they are growing. my main concern, and question for you is, how do we of college, because there is all kind of noise about how we have to worry about china because they're becoming a major power, how do we get along peacefully? it seems like the biggest news to -- >> host: thank you very much. >> guest: agreed question and it is on a lot of our minds these days. some of this almost feels like the is the self-fulfilling prophecy. if we imagine china will be our
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raw avalanche enemy in the world that will become one and i think there is the real risk in some ways that and we talk about this relationship that we assume the competition between two great powers is impossible and you hear about in the united states and in china people talking about a pattern of history, the great historian who notice whenever a rising power challenged an incumbent power there was a risk but fact the we know that history means in some sense we have a responsibility to be aware of it and part of the process of avoiding a conflict miticide wants is by understanding, doing our best to understand china's true intentions, what do they imagine? what do they expect and how does that impair our interests if at all? this is two big complicated country trying to stake out a relationship with each other but there's nothing inevitable about confidence is on all of us as
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citizens to make sure when we are talking to our political leaders in this campaign so we are asking serious questions and making sure they know what they're talking about when it comes to china. >> host: pings? >> guest: one of the most fascinating figures of the 20th century. he was a lifelong communist party member who was purged multiple times and was rehabilitated towards the end of his life but a critical moment in the 1970s he opened china up to the rest of the world. one of the things he was, one of the things he did that sometimes people don't recognize is he knew his own limitations. he was an economist. he surrounded himself, people who understood that economics of the period. the complicated part of the legacy is the end of his life, tiananmen square in 1989 he had to decide what to do, and that will always be a part of his
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legacy. >> host: paul, you are on with evan osnos. >> caller: i would like to know your take on the overall facades that china has and also as a journalist, at censorship, are you -- sense of being followed among journalists that i'd there and getting stories out of china versus getting stories in? are they in an overall good sense or are they still in the censorship kind of secrecy? >> guest: a lot of us who write about china struggle about what can we do, there are several things to think about. a simple matter, if you are a foreign writer writing and of foreign publication chinese government cannot interfere with what we put out. i send it to my editors and we work on it.
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if you are a chinese journalist you face enormous risk because there are things you cannot write about, in working this of the senior leadership for things that i can do and give you do it you run the risk of ending up in jail. a financial journalist was detained for writing about market turbulence, we would all agree a feature of the modern economy. the truth is western journalists, it is essential that the work we do we do without fear of favor with the we are doing it in washington, beijing, st. louis or anywhere and if we pull punches and say i am not going to write about certain things because it might alienate the authorities that we are not doing our job and by and large i have no a lot of chinese-american journalist over the years that do pretty good work. >> host: rick is calling from fairfax, va.. >> guest: hello. >> caller: how are you doing?
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just wanted to ask about an election reform issue in taiwan. they have a two party system like we do and i know that the cc be criticizes are two party system and equate that with democracy so i am wondering if there was like an elimination round, instant runoff style system in taiwan where you would have five to seven candidates if that would set a good example for the mainland government to notice? >> guest: interesting question. i will leave it to the taiwan experts. there has been as you referenced in your question a sense people wonder whether taiwan's experiment with democracy which has been in place for so many years provides the blueprint for the mainland. lot of people on the mainland wonder about the first expression of what a chinese democracy might look like. i don't know enough about the details of taiwan to give you a
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good answer. >> host: is your book for sale in china? >> guest: it is for selling chinese in taiwan and hong kong but on the mainland i did not make it available because on the mainland, in order to satisfy the sensors and for the moment i don't think it is the right idea. if chinese readers are reading that they are reading the full addition, one that they can get in taiwan and hong kong. >> host: what would be tough? >> guest: is a fascinating process. if you are a western writer writing about china you submit your book if you want to publish it in chinese and give the chinese publishers and they say there are things for instance, i have a sentence in the book where i say china has never been more prosperous, more urbane, more connected and yet it is the only country in the world that has a winner of the nobel peace prize in prison. the first half of the sentence is fine. the second half of the sentence is not okay.
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it is a hard choice because we want our books to be available to chinese readers, no question but i also feel particularly writing about shine i want to make sure they are reading the words i would give to readers in any country and for me it feels like there are ways at the moment to make sure there's a chinese edition in taiwan in hong kong. i don't feel comfortable making cuts that would change sensitive issues about politics and history. >> host: god is calling in from ben salem, pa. evan osnos is our guest, the book is called "age of ambition". >> caller: i really enjoy your presentation. my question, does the chinese media, the government vilify the united states or the americans, we have in our brief history,
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recent history, it seems the russians were is the enemy if you will of a previous time and now many of our issues seem very tied into the chinese economy or what have you but sometimes it seems although it may not be the intention necessarily of the press in the u.s. in china we have to have a country to demonize and other people, we lose the connection, the people that after the wall came down in germany's that we were able to meet russians and have exchange of ideas and i wondered if you could speak to that. >> guest: a great question. in some ways the chinese government through the media because in china much of the media, most of the media is controlled by the state budget has a conflict it way of describing the united states. in some ways it admirers things about america. the university system for instance.
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the chinese president's daughter enrolled at harvard and was educated there, a sign that there are elements of our culture the chinese leaders admire but also often times in the press in the chinese press there is the sense they're trying to convey what works in the united states may not work for us. certainly they believe the american democratic system is not appropriate for china and that comes through in some of the coverage but it goes in waves. there are moments the chinese press is tough on the united states and moments it is not. one of the things i am conscious of these days in the u.s. we are in the middle of political season and candidates talk about shine and they say china is taking our jobs. what happens is often when people are looking for solutions to complicated problems they oversimplify the situation. in the candidates language i hear the we vilify china in ways that the facts don't support. there are facts we can and
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should be critical about the shuttle's of the clear on the nature of economic interdependency. is not going anywhere soon. >> host: a text from new york city. has evan osnos read the book features on booktv the 100 year marathon, the ongoing central role of china's commitment about the hegemony and the impact of u.s.-chinese relations. >> that will, lot of attention from people to pay attention to security issues, the relationship between u.s. and china. from my perspective we are trying to figure out whether or not china perceives our relationship as headed for confrontation. as with our security community, there are people in china who want to see that happen. there is a variety of views.
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as we learn more about what chinese hawks one. and also, everybody in favor of confrontation by no means. >> host: john from california texts questions regarding china's military ambition, aggressive cyberespionage, aggressive buildings, military buildup, behavior in the south china sea, anything troubling to you. >> we are in a very complicated moment with the chinese military. they have been growing steadily over the last 24 years and certainly when it comes to cyber there is a sense that the status quo, the trajectory we are on where china is conducting state sponsored activity or by allowing independent activity a lot is state-sponsored, they
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cannot have the hacking of major government agencies go and addressed so we are beginning to see that the u.s. is forming a more forceful response, we have rocky days ahead of us because china believes fundamentally it is involved in an asymmetric, not a conflict but engagement with the united states. we are much bigger, our military is more advanced so they by using the tools they have available and one of the ms. cyber. we have reached the point where something has to change so the obama administration is talking about sanctions on chinese companies and you will see movement toward the end of the administration. >> host: ray from connecticut. >> i really appreciate the talk and information about shine a. my question is started to enter south china sea. what is your take on what is
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going on? it seems it is a dangerous confrontation, in an economic sense and military sense. and for china's neighbors in the south china sea. >> guest: many of us have the images that are unforgettable images that are built out of reefs in the south china sea. and made a claim to that region in historical territory, and it is widely disputed. for a long time chinese leaders, those who follow them say we are going to put aside these questions for another day. more urgent priorities, we have to develop our economy and build up our infrastructure. the leadership is making a different ways and saying we
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will pursue this more aggressively and as a result you are beginning to see greater attention to its neighbors in the united states. and much greater recognition of the past year and this is that major change to the status quo. the united states ultimately is not going to allow china to change, the terrain and the political landscape of east asia. will happen slowly, and the united states, the united states hope it happens in bodies for negotiated solutions and what the u.s. is trying to avoid is any kind of movement by force or unilateral action. the u.s. when necessary will take steps to try to prevent this from becoming the confrontation that neither side can afford. >> host: larry from cleveland, china developing intellectual
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property in an authentic way? >> guest: this is one of the changes i have watched over the last decade, companies for instance that in the beginning, as clones of american enterprise or by taking intellectual property than they have begun to develop their own material and chinese companies are beginning to sue for copyright infringement, this is a sign schatz economy is moving but there is more to be done. at the moment it is the place where companies find their intellectual property -- >> host: the national book award for non-fiction last year for this book, age of ambition, a chasing a fortune, truth and faith in come china. no longer a beijing correspondent. worry writing about? >> politics and foreign affairs. line and the united states of
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america. >> host: do you still travel to china? >> guest: i do. it is hard to stay up on china if you are not going frequently and this is part of doing it for the long term but it has been a very essential part of the world and i will keep writing about it in the years ahead. >> host: susan, please go ahead. >> caller: it has been awhile since i have been in china and i was curious about the estates, i wonder if dad had been opened, i don't know the history behind that. >> caller: there is a fragrant ills that you go to. i have been there a number of times. i have never been to anything that would be described that way but fragrant hills is certainly open, and a popular place to go. >> next step is carmichael,
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calif.. >> caller: my question is who does the leadership of china answer to, meaning i am doubtful that they represent the people of china. i am just wondering, is there outside influence on the leadership of china? is the leadership of china chosen from an outside influence meaning the people who control the money in the world? >> guest: i will tell you how leadership is constituted in china. for many of us in the united states it is hard to imagine how leader should in shiny is chosen because they don't have anything like remotely familiar democratic system. the leadership if you're going to be a chinese leader ian come through the communist party, move that the first set, go to different jobs and eventually but there's a lot of internal
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politics, a lot of horse trading between regions and families. very powerful families and clans in the system, powerful industries. if you come out of the military that is one interest group. it has in its own way and internal politics but your question would indicate how to what degree our people accountable to the public, they are not fully accountable to the public in the way that we would recognize here but one thing you have seen for the last few years is taken a longer afford to be unaware of what people care about and what they want so they have to follow the closely what people are talking about online, they have to keep a sense of one step ahead of where public opinion is. public opinion matters in china because the thing the communist party worry about most of all is the unrest. they're trying to prevent what could be discontent from becoming political instability. >> host: president nixon 1972, jimmy carter in 1978, which was
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the most significant? >> guest: no question nixon going to china was a pivotal moment in the 20th century and transform the trajectory of china in ways it is hard to imagine. it is useful to remind ourselves of that. it was politically brave for nixon to imagine you could go to red china as it was known at the time and make yourself vulnerable in that way. we are facing a really interesting moment, we are trying to decide is china going to be a rival, an enemy or is it going to be a partner, a strained partner perhaps, never a perfect ally but there are so many issues of shared concern, things that are not solvable unless these countries figure out a way to do it. that is the point where we are. i am hoping the next generation of american leaders say there is a path way to do this, confrontation is not inevitable.
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>> host: omar is calling from tampa, go ahead. last call. >> caller: higher education, in the past year or so there has been a crackdown on western values, text books from the top level. i wonder if you have any observations or insight especially given preference to the need for creativity. in china. >> guest: that has been on my mind a lot. over the past year there has been a clear effort to try to limit and reduce the effective western influence and university campus, specific edict said you should know longer use western textbooks that represent democratic values. you see a collision between short-term priorities and long-term priorities. long-term china knows where it needs to go, generating the kind of indigenous innovation, the wild ideas, destructive ideas
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that made silicon valley and the united states that economic power that it is but in the short term it has political priority, it is trying to maintain control over people's lives and that is an essential contradiction. i think the textbook example which we pale lot of attention to this year is a sign of how much the leadership is struggling, how much to reduce their control over people's lives. over the long term there is no question that they simply cannot afford to keep a handle on the ideas people pursue an information they want to read. that is how you become a vibrant dynamic society. >> host: "age of ambition," here is the book, chasing fortune, truth and faith in the new china. and one, winner of the national book award. booktv live coverage of the fifteenth annual national book festival continues now. other call in opportunities, we will talk to the second man to
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walk on the moon. if you want to call in and talk with him, he comes, 202-748-8200. those in the east and central time zone 748-8201 witch mountain and pacific time zones, by the way if you want to send a text to buzz aldrin 202-465-6842 as we continue on booktv. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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>> booktv live coverage from the national book festival continues. we are in the convention center in washington d.c. we are pleased to be joined by buzz aldrin, a second man to walk on the moon, first man to do a airspace what i understand. >> i thought you were going to say something else. >> host: the author of a couple books on space, his most recent happens to be a children's book, "welcome to mars: making a home on the red planet". will you live to see man on mars? >> not by -- i was going to say not by earthlings but that would cause me trouble, and i think. i don't think so.
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i hope, of course, to have a president make a commitment to land on mars and that could be done on the 50th anniversary of our landing on the mission. 2017. 2019. now that means the u.s. will lead the other nations to land. and i think we will begin to explain just how we can do that and why it is so important to begin to build permanent, the same president before leaving
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office may make a further commitment to permanence. >> host: -- >> guest: the first landing on. >> host: there is an experiment going on where they are putting people in isolation. >> guest: it is called high seas and it is in hawaii. there have been other tests of different lengths. i am quite concerned about our ability to monitor the mental-health of people who may be asked if they want to go to mars permanently. you may know of the dutch
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company that has of program, mars one, one way trips to mars. they don't have a real means of affording it yet, but the response that they got was quite large, hundreds of thousands of people responded and knowing human nature, some of them maybe want their names in the news but ty will change their mind when the rocket gets ready to leave. if we train people who say they want to go but then they begin to have a little concerned, i am working on trying citrus a movie about where -- i made a commitment to these people, i am
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going to go, so he goes and after a while begins to wonder. because we need to monitor these people, with an improved electrocardiogram, mapping of the brain and i know a company that has been doing this and other technologies that can be checked changes that have occurred and they can use some directed magnetic stimulation, it is called magnetic resonance therapy. they have done double blind studies and they are in vogue process of getting more and more approval. they have done quite well with alzheimer's. i am glad to hear that.
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autism, tendinitis and ptst. i am concerned of our veterans, 22 suicides at day. i have a charity of my own. but in going to marissa, we need to be able to reminder not mental health of people. i am talking to a writer that i use for a science fiction story because i know he can develop characters quite well and he responded to me that he would love to do that and work it out but he says if this works can you imagine? there won't be dropped outs from school, there won't be discontinued if we are able to
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change the discouragement, the output of people worldwide this could be really much greater world. it may not be stimulated by the space program but -- sort of makes it more realistic that we can welcome people to mars how. >> we will how well our callers, you are on lough buzz aldrin. >> caller: but hutch free! i want to thank you, mr. aldrin faja, but it missed got a little shorter with this opportunity. a couple questions. going to marissa i would hope when his humans to mars in pan-american is to marcus, with
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an effort similar to the space station, international sanitary wide effort and my question, when you end neil returned to the command module and hooked back up with mike collins, what did the moon smell like? was their consensus? was their agreement on what the moon sellmelled like when you ha chance to gather around and thank you for this opportunity. >> guest: we all agreed, i am not sure who was the first one to say that the dust on the moon smelled like charcoal, burned charcoal from a fire or a fireplace. i don't know how to explain why that would be that way.
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there were other people who said the moon dust when you expose it to oxygen, the chemists is that we going to sink 50 feet when we landed. we didn't want anything to burst into flames so we did have a sample of the first one that neil scooped, the contingency sample in case anything went wrong at least we had -- put it in a pocket so when we got in, before we read pressurize the cabin with 100% oxygen we took that and set its on the cover of the ascent engine just to
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satisfy the skeptics. the bad news people. now, i had my relatives, my uncle was visiting and i told him the story about rocks, moon dust when you expose it to oxygen, we didn't believe that at all. in his ride from florida to california, happened to be sitting next to a reporter so he thought he would just share his thought that his nephew had shared with him. there was a headline in the paper, the head of the article,
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the headline, aldrin fears lunar rocks. >> host: here is the text message that has come in for you. did being on the moon and change your perspective about creation? >> guest: i don't think it changed my mind. it brought into focus a lot of other people, maybe, that had been sort of looking at natural selection, evolution, the garden of eden or coming down from the trees, we are here, regardless of where you and i came from. we are here now.
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my beliefs, whatever is they were when i was growing up, i think as the bible said, as children we thought about childish things that we have moved on and i expect everyone to feel the freedom of being able to gain a changing perspective, either reinforcements or may be shifting in different directions. i have great admiration for albert einstein and some of his thoughts but i certainly don't want to suggest anybody change their way of thinking. >> host: frank is calling from cleveland. >> caller: how are you doing? i just wanted to know.
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i wanted to know is there any way -- the united states the first to get on the moon but something we can improve, a spaceship or something, sit on mars or get to mars. >> guest: could you repeat that a little louder? >> host: we will go ahead and move on. you talked about a couple of those ideas, traveling to mars. we have a little bit of difficulty hearing frank. texas, buzz aldrin and i are listing, go ahead with your comments. >> caller: onetime years ago i interviewed you on the radio and you gave me a gift, you said i could have a lunar vehicle you
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put on the moon. all i had to do was come and get it. if you give us a little detail how that can perform in less gravity that a regular dune buggy. >> host: he interviewed on radio and he said you gave him a gift which was the lunar vehicle that you drove around the moon on and all you had to do was go up and get it. how did that perform? >> guest: no. that was much later on. i don't think you can give that away. i didn't go up there to get a lot of things. >> host: would you go back? >> guest: we were offered by the president the option to do what we wanted to do and all of us on
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the crew felt we had had such a wonderful experience with the opportunity that had been afforded us, and then to do that again would be at the expense of other people who were waiting in line and wanted to shares that. it just would have been selfish, too self-serving. people don't like that, nobody wants to take something that might rightly belong to somebody else. who has been waiting in line. >> host: louisiana, waiting in line to talk to you. we will go with brandy. >> caller: mr. aldrin. did you know personally the crew
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from apollo one? >> guest: i certainly did. especially ed white. he was at west.-- was debt that one year behind me. we would ride to madison square garden and compete with other people for the brave old army team. we had a special training table where in the ms halt even though we in different regiments in different classes, and later on, after i was in the korean war and their air force academy i had much more of duty in germany and i arrived at this base in
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germany and there was ed and he said you have got to get in this 22 squadron. it has a wonderful commander and officer and i got to know the really well. i took his advice and got into this squadron and it was such a wonderful group of people and we have been having reunions ever since 1959. i can't say -- is not more than the doolittle raiders but for a squadron of pilots, not in combat but training and experiencing each other, to then feel that we wanted to share
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that again and again, i contrast that with 24 people who reached the moon, and don't seem to be inclined to want to get together. we were of very competitive group of people, the 16 that are still living. i think it is a shame that we don't remain so competitive and don't think that somebody is going to get the benefit out of our coming together. it is a group that if they were to express their thoughts or opinions, it would be useful. except if they felt going to the
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moon was made me. let's go back to the moon. >> host: patrick in michigan, you are on the phone with buzz aldrin. >> caller: you mentioned earlier in the show maybe you were implying it is possible earthlings' would not be the first to mars? i was wondering as someone who is interested in ufos do you believe it is possible extra terrestrials visit the planet earth and they could possibly be to mars first? >> guest: patrick, remember carl sagan, the astronomer, very famous, was on tv quite a bit, he and his wife made a movie called contact. he was, quite respected person. he made a very key observation.
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extraordinary events -- extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. to claim that you have seen another alien, an alien is an extraordinary claim. there never is the extraordinary evidence. there is somebody saying this or that or interpreting the photograph in a particular way. it isn't convincing evidence to me. by saying somebody may have been to mars before, the moon of mars, the larger moon is 4,000
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miles above the surface and goes around in seven hours. it is a very likely stopping point to be able to control things on the surface. the photographs that have been taken by other satellites going around mars exhibit a very strange object on mars. is not a face. it is a vertical object and it casts a shadow. the canadians, i think it was maybe a 2006 did a study of sending a spacecraft or robot to this moon of mars.
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the russians have been trying to get their spacecraft three times and they all failed. the photographs that we see by the sun casting a shadow and knowing exactly where the sun was at the time the picture was taken, they can measure and come up with a calculation that this object was 90 meters high. that is a football field. in this study that the canadians did, all the engineers contributing to the study, they felt this was sufficiently unusual so they called it the monolith, after the 2001 arthur
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clarke movie where the apes were doing things on the moon and there was a big object that they couldn't understand. that was called the monolith. it is still there. i have seen the pictures of that. and i think it strangely was a natural occurrence. no evidence really one way or the other. but it disturbed people that heard me describe this on c-span quite a few years ago. remember? now that we are getting a little closer i have changed my story. because we need the support of
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these people that never seem to have extraordinary evidence. so i am going to suggest that what is is an antenna for the aliens out there. and in visible ray that communicates to earth and other planets here, with some of their people. aliens. and they are invisible. and there is one right over it thereby you right now. this will create a lot of interest. they will think about the moon and going to mars. we need all sorts of people because the public needs to support what the nation wants to
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do. >> host: you can see this crowd out here watching you. are we spending our nasa dollars as well as we could be in your view? >> guest: we don't have enough dollars from the government in the budget to be able to do what we would really like to do. sometimes to make matters worse, the politics may trade things back and forth. i will vote for you and you vote for my bill and there may be funds being sent to some place where the workers lose their jobs because we continue to work
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on things that are not new, keep doing the same things. without getting specific, that situation has existed and it does now. in my opinion, are we spending the money on the right objects? i don't think so. i don't think we have g. nasa is directed by the authorizing committees, the appropriating committees are the ones that make the final decisions, where does the money specifically go. and the power that exists in the chairman of the appropriations
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committee is very high. these committees that are in congress decides what the president and his representatives are very important in deciding what the budget is that will come and where that money will be spent. >> host: time for one quick call from chevy chase, md. you are on with buzz aldrin. >> caller: what is your opinion on the development of commercial space travel with the success of spacex? >> host: commercial space travel. >> guest: the airplane was used as a weapon in world war i. and the pilots that came back
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from world war i didn't really have a job that they knew how to fly so they would get into races and acrobatics and there were a number of accidents and as i understand it my father told me the federal government came to these pilots and said you are getting a bad name for aviation. we would like to organize the delivery of the air mail to different places and the success those pilots demonstrated by carrying the mail from new york to chicago to cleveland was successfully demonstrated and people said we can carry the mail, we can carry passengers
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and that was the beginning of passenger travel in aircraft and it is up question of the government being able to pioneer things that than can be probably done better by the competitiveness of the private sector. and they will do a better job. i think a lot of people, if they were given the choice, we have a big project. should we let the government do it? or should we have private companies compete with each other? >> host: 30 seconds, pop culture question, after not wives club show, don't know if you have seen it, is it accurate? >> guest: i don't know. i haven't seen it. >> host: that is from a viewer.
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>> guest: from a viewer? oh really? as i understand it, the wives of the early astronauts did not have much legal advice, much agent representatives and they didn't receive any reimbursement for their stories. we didn't get much government money either, but this was sort of voluntary and i think it was motivated by mitzi if we can find out all these raise the thin
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that these guys did and see if we can still the beans. that is not fair, you are asking somebody to rat on a very unique set of people. losing privacy is something that nobody wants to have happen. today, i can walk through here and somebody can take a picture, put it on social media without my permission. people will lose a lot of privacy by this new way of communicating with people. i haven't had anything other
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than observations from other people. i don't know what the script was like. my daughter did go with my first wife who was interviewed but what this resulted in, and i don't really know. she just passed away last month. i just think that is an imposing story, seeking publicity to sell the story or the movie, taking advantage of people in their private lives, not to joy how wonderful everything was but
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what went wrong. >> host: ladies and gentlemen, buzz aldrin has been our guest on booktv. buzz aldrin has always been willing to talk to c-span and take your calls, we always appreciate your time. "welcome to mars: making a home on the red planet" is his newest book. live coverage of the national book festival continues. we are going back shortly in the convention center to the history and biography room and up next you will hear from historian j. -- jay winik about his book "1944". you go to booktv.org and get the full schedule. both see the live coverage from the national book festival continues. >> it is my pleasure to welcome you here today. we are proud to be a charter sponsor of this event for five consecutive years.
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this is a great event and exciting to be a part of it. i just came from downstairs for wells fargo, so many things going on, in case you haven't been down there. we have our employee volunteers reading books as well as telling stories and distributing signature tony's going on. we also have the arch of gold mining going on for children to experience along with lassoing ponies as well and of course if wouldn't be a festival for wells fargo unless we had the stagecoach here for folks to take photographs with her iconic stage coach. is you we introduce a new exhibit called the together experience where you can participate in a virtual mes as an interactive game and record stories and a video booth and i expanded reading first program,
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wells fargo historians that are in period i tire, reading large assortments of books in english and spanish. ..
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our team supports and serves these great nonprofit organizations. it is through our partnerships with local communities the variable to serve and get back and empowering these communities it is now my pleasure to introduce steve levinson, nonfiction editor of the "washington post" to introduce our next speaker. >> thank you so much. [applause] >> thank you. i am steve livingston, nonfiction editor of the "washington post", which is a charter sponsor of the national book festival. our guest todayour guest today has spent a lot of time communing with giant personalities of the past, abraham lincoln,, abraham
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lincoln, ulysses s grant, robert e lee for his book april 1865 which was a number one bestseller. the polian and marie antoinette. he walks the board to have the corridors of power. fdr and the year that changed history continuing his explanation of crucial historical moments. what i find fascinating is his it portrayals of great historical figures bring him into contact with the great figures making history today. his buckstoday. his books are prompted presidents to call the author in for a chat. president bill clinton and george w. bush have discussed history with this best selling historian, and it is no wonder is the new york times says, he
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demonstrates the flair for story telling us suggests an almost cinematic you are there immediacy and embraces the old-fashioned idea the prominent personalities actually shaping the course of history. a historian who entertains us and enlightens us. itit gives me great pleasure to introduce j winning. [applause] >> thank you very much for that introduction, steve. and i want toi want to give a -- the lights out they're are really bright. i just want to give a quick thanks to our librarian of congress were all he has done as well as my friend laura bush. and more than anything else, i want to thank you, the readers, from this exists. you are the lifeblood of
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books, and as much as we love this festival, we hope that you love the festival and thank you for coming. [applause] now, let me just take you right into my knew book, 1944. 1944. it was not inevitable that the war would end as it inevitable that the war would end as it did or indwell at all. along the western line the allies were pinned down against tenacious nazi divisions alarming gustav line. in the east to the soviet union was making threats that they would make a separate peace with the nazi even at this late date. in other words, in 1944 the war and humanity remained in doubt. what would commence would be the most epic year of the war and, indeed, of the 20th century if not modern history, and it is against
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this backdrop that fdr and winston churchill would meet in egypt to discuss what would happen next in terms of the war, strategy, tactics. as they themselves would meet with the soviet head of state, joseph stalin. consider this remarkable partnership. here was churchill, legendary oratory, strength of we will, character who refuse to give up and given against the german third reich, churchill who one by one, as euro fell to the nazis, poland, czechoslovakia, holland and france was living under the nazi swastika.swastika. but had no point would he give up or given until the us entered the fray and fought the war along his side. and fdr who was crippled by polio, a legendary charmer whose oratory was the stuff of legend command here was fdr, the man who tamed for
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depression and uplifted a deeply ailing country when it was in the throes of depression and people worried that revolution could take place. in the hands of these two great men would come the rest of the war. in fact, briefly as they were meeting in egypt at one point churchill burst into fdr's room and says, mr. pres., i have arranged a trip for us. we must go for us. we must go see the pyramids. indeed, they motored out at sunset, the best of friends and most important of allies as the sun was setting and the pink line fell, they were looking at the sphinx and churchill thought to himself, i wonder what she has to say and he looked over to roosevelt and said, i just lovei just love that man. what did roosevelt say? roosevelt said nothing, as inscrutable as the sphinx which would be telling and the faithful months to come as 1944 would commence.
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soon they would all meet in tehran as they would gather with the soviet dictator, joseph stalin, and a conference would begin to decide what would happen next in the war. the conference was tumultuous with a lot of back-and-forth, discussions of tactics, strategy, of, strategy, of the pacific, the normandy invasion that stalin wanted to take place. and at one point something dramatic happens.happened. it was not battle plans are tanks were missiles. roosevelt started to sweat. beads ofbeads of sweat filtering down his face and he felt uncommon pain and could not speak. he was quickly rushed out of the room away from churchill and away for stalin and he met with doctors. the doctors diagnosed it as nothing more than ingestion, but clearly was much more than that. it was an omen of things to come. eventually heeventually he felt better and i finish the conference command as they did they came up with an important decision, that the
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day would take place after all which would mean the invasion through the western front against the germans that would take place in early june. and then roosevelt also shows dwight eisenhower's as the commander of forces. so with that the conference was a success. far away from the bloodsoaked battlefields of europe, far away from them and dialing -- dying daily day after day and believe i hopes for the future, hopes of success, fdr returned home feeling that all would be well. he was deeply ailing. i coffee would not go away, doctors said it's nothing more than the after effects of influenza. whatever it was it would not quit.
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here is a man who obtain depression, held held adolf hitler at bay and was deeply sick. he began to lose his ability to taste food as uniquely depicted. he will developed a hacking cough it would not stop. stop. his mouth hung open when he signed his correspondence and he could barely do more than a squirrel. when you asked how he felt, this normally stoic president would say rotten or i feel like hell. in other words, he was sick. again, his personal dr. in the white house wrote it off as nothing more than the influenza, but at a workup at the tustin naval hospital he said no, this was advanced heart disease, congestive heartdisease, congestive heart failure,
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and if dramatic action were not taken he would die within a year, and those words would prove to be prophetic. hereprophetic. here at the most critical part of the war roosevelt was dying. why do i say the most critical part? because what would take place in would be the most important military event of the entirety of this world war ii which would be the impending invasion of d-day. also something that would take place that was rather profound, not on the military side, with theside, but the humanitarian side, the greatest humanitarian crisis humanity is her face before it was as if every citizen from boston were put on a train and executed one by one. this was all taking place at the same time. he went down south to recuperate at his good
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friends estate. hehe said i want to rest and rest 12 hours a day indeed he did. hehe was supposed to stay for two weeks. he stayed for a full month. the war itself is going well the allies prevailed soon thereafter d-day itself a take place. slated for the beginning of june. the greatest armada and history,history, something never before witnessed. imagine the scene. 180,000 soldiers over 5,000
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warships carrying these men, 1,000 aircraft that would blanket the skies. it was a military caravan literally without peril. however from the early start it looked as though d-day itself would have to be avoided. dwight eisenhower, the knew commander-in-chief of the forces great stars it kicked up a great guest wins it will make visibility impossible so crucial to the command of the skies, and it seemed virtually inconceivable that they could carry out this invasion covering hundreds of miles so that even if stress is for office were hitler was. so eisenhower put his chin
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to his chest, based around, sound the couch and called on his officers. he decided to postpone the invasion. then he looked over how long can we let this invasion hang out on a limb like this? eisenhower was in agony. he decided to reconvene his men, staff and about eight hours. the whether was still looking good and teeseven will meet again in another eight hours. he was told by his meteorologist in 36 hours -- for 36 hours while a break and whether. in other words, small window in which they could carry out the invasion. eisenhower walked back and forth much into chest pacing putting down. right down the middle. and he said let's go.
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across the way was the head of the german forces. he said to his officers, we must stop the americans on the beaches and then he said faithfully, it will be the longest day, and it was. soon imagine what it look like to the germans, the german defenders of the atlantic wall looked out of the sea and all of a sudden cannot see any water. all he could see his ships coming. and then all of a sudden there was a series of explosion opening up the skies, as if the guys it opened up the primordial wrath. and there were literally without parallel. the invasion went well it
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was the kind of casualties that the americans are suffering. the withering fire for the nazis was terrible. severed limbs, arms floating in the water, and it looks like this general put it, a catastrophe of irreversible proportions. with the see behind them in the beach in front of them retreat was not an option next one of the american spaniard said men, we might as well die on hard ground as we do on the beaches.
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it was clear that it was fate would soon be sealed, the war would soon be over. along the way along with this relentless pursuit of victory was something else taking place. millions ofmillions of lives at risk. the juice would die at the death of auschwitz. picture if you will auschwitz. the crown jewel for the nazi empire. no food, no water, little light. it was hot. they were suffocating. many of the people literally died standing up. one of the trains coming to
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auschwitz they're were 4,000 children. when the train pulled into the station they were all dead. they suffocated along the way. when it typically arrived, especially these bearing the hungarian jews they would look up and see his great plumes of fire reaching 30 feet into the sky. these were the crematoria burning the jews and had this terrible stench but nothing that ever small before. this was a flash literally being broiled. he understood more what was happening. of what use is aa god in the world in which the only duty as a punishment and the punishment is exactly what the germans would wreak upon the jews. little did they know -- can you all here me? little did they know that within an hour of preaching and to auschwitz station
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they would all be nothing but ashes and dust. and asand as they stumbled out of the trains ss doctors would be screaming at them,, barking dogs, doberman pinscher's it would be barking at them, and the ss doctors and they would here ross komorowski morels. they were beaten every step along the way. the for you, right for you, love for you, right for you. if it was right you would become a slave labor and work to death. to the left, you are usually one of the elderly or a mother or a woman or a four -year-old little child can always the children, and they were taken to the gas chambers. they were told what would happen is they would be disinfected and do nothing more than take a shower,
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take off their clothes, clothes, some 2,000 of them, herded into these cold and for bidding rooms that had the showerheads, and they would be shivering, terrified, wedged in like bricks in the driveway. 2000, think. 2,000, think of that number 2,000. 2,000 is as many people as died at pickett's charge at gettysburg and they would be taking care of within one hour. wedged in all of a sudden the gas would filter out and there would be a great traveling, people rush over other people, children get crushed trying to get to doors to get to where there was air and they would be screaming and yelling and soon it would become a rattle and soon the rattle of become nothing more than a small illinois, and within 20 minutes they're would be nothing. they would be all dead. at this point the germans,
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wasting no time, but take out the teeth of the dead. they one of the gold fillings. they take. they take of the hair because they use it for mattresses. the fertilizer and ashes of the people would be used for fertilizer for the road. as for the living, those who were not taken to the gas chambers would be so emaciated that the hair would fall out. faces will become fleshless and they look like living skeletons and children would be forced often to urinate into bends which would become the drinking water. this is what was happening on that front. the question is what would fdr do? now that the war was going well and d-day invasion was successful when fdr stop the barbarity taking place? what he put an end to the cruelty? what he finally put a stopa stop to the massacre of one innocent after another. that was unclear yet, but there was someone in auschwitz itself the results he would put it into it, escaping from auschwitz, and
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along with the comrades from slovakia he did something nobody had done before, escape for three days they had in the cavity or woodpile and then for days, thousands of soldiers look for them, thousands of ss and out across. they look for them everywhere. eventually they could not find them. the search was called off. they got out of the cavity turned around and ran to never look back. soon surviving nazi patrols, shoot out, and tyson might, they eventually after 15 days tired and exhausted and worn out would make their way to slovakia where they told the story of what was taking place in the dark force. and then that memo would make its way in condensed
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form it with all hands on the commander-in-chief. this man was remarkable. the most amazing commander-in-chief that america had had in its history along with abraham lincoln. brilliant tactics, brilliant strategy, brilliant decision-making come out of his fertile imagination that came when lease which to live the british as well as the soviet union. out ofout of his fertile imagination they came the invasion of north africa 1942 which gave season to these young americans. it was out of his fertile imagination i came the arsenal of democracy that would ultimately consume the
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germans and out of his fertile imagination the can the fireside chats that uplifted the hearts of americans worried about the fate of democracy. ms. a real paradox here. roosevelt, the world's greatest humanitarian confronting the greatest trinitarian in history to be sure from the beginning it was hard understand the scale and scope grabs in pieces like a real thriller mystery more information
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leaked out about what was taking place at this terrible death of and in auschwitz. at one point they're was an anti- nazi german industrialist highly placed in the third reich who had an elegant party where women were there finest 1st among men were there best outfits command in hushed voices he heard for the 1st time talk of the final solution, the attempt to murder and kill every jew in the face of europe. he had met hitler once in a meeting, and a business meeting and so hated him that he risked his own life, boarded a train, went to switzerland, met with prominent jews to get the word to fdr because, as because, as he put it to his prominent contact, there will be giant cemeteries and he must put a stop to it. for 14 months nothing was done.
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everything he could to prevent jews from escaping to your. as they were cramming the constants of europe, just desperate to come to our shores. and youshores. and you read the new york times of the day about the migrants have been trying to come here. well, it was not unlike that they knew that it was a death sentence for them. for 14 months nothing was done. ultimately, what would happen is henry morgan felt roosevelt's best friend, the two routinely had lunch every week one-on-one, and he was secretary of treasury. so disgusted by what was taking place that he imperiled his best friendship with roosevelt and decided to write a stern memo to the president, and in this he said he talked about the inaction of the
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government, his bureaucratic ineptitude, the obstacles put up day after day to prevent the jews from finding some kind of safe haven. andand then he labeled this memo imagine this, the most hard-hitting memo ever written in the nation's history and to fdr, of all people, one of our greatest presidents and talked about the government acquiescence in the murder of the jews. fdr was so shaken up that he called a rare sunday meeting in the 2nd oval office. he said what do you want and they set up something called the war refugee board whose sole mission was to do nothing but help the jews. in too many cases, in fact millions of cases it was too little too late. having said that nonetheless there was more action. and then it became a great decision, debate. should they bomb auschwitz
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itself, put an end to the barbarism, make a symbol to the world that this is what the nazis stood for, and the west we will not stand for it. well, it turned out that we would not bomb auschwitz. john mccoy, the.man that roosevelt had in the war department put up one roadblock after another and said that it was infeasible that this could be carried out, too great a distance but it turns out bombers were routinely flying over and by auschwitz as part of the oil war. and then if we bomb auschwitz it will create even greater predictive miss on the part of the germans. one has to ask what could be greater and more vindictive than the fact that little children were being herded into the gas chambers. so, there is one other thing that was said, it would be a diversion of resources from the war effort which is a serious charge and something
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to be taken seriously. when the polishwhen the polish home army rose up against the nazis in warsaw and were being butchered in this terrible battle roosevelt actually sent help to them and dated knowing full well that it would have minimal impact, but he did it. i wanti want to make a symbol to the world that we stand for them, but he was not willing to do that. so auschwitz was not bombed. actually, not totally true. it was bombed that one bombed at one point, but it was bound by mistake. the ss ran into their shelters and did everything they could to shoot down the american planes, but the jews who were there, emaciated people cheered as the nobel prize word said we do not fear death, at least not that kind. and other so we just pray to god that those would come.
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so what would happen for the rest of the war in 1944 when roosevelt was dying. ironically really he would die the same time of day as would fdr. the germans surrendered and meantime the soviet union would liberate auschwitz and the americans themselves would liberate a small little satellite death camp.
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when they got there they were stunned by the images and again think of what you saw with that little boy in the new york times the other day. stunned by what they saw. human beings reduced to bony stakes, human beings, dead, bloated corpses stacked with eyes that were nothing but sockets. when they saw the americans they cheered like mad. what was the response? he said now we finally know what we were fighting for. imagine those words ringing in their heads. now we finally know. they danced and reward. people danced in london,
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paris, new york, washington, and this was as winston churchill put it, the greatest outburst of joy in mankind. roosevelt and what the war and he was one of the triumphant. and then there was the fact that one other thing took place. roosevelt in a way missed what i would call his emancipation proclamation moment. think about abraham lincoln for 2nd. in the throes of this terrible war that consumed 620,000 lives. he did this despite opposition in the north, and his own political party, despite opposition and his own cabinet he issued the emancipation proclamation which would free the slaves are make the war not just about keeping me in together for something more profound, freedom, liberation.
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roosevelt never quite did that. there are millions of deaths the torment us. this was the other fruit of 1944. 1944 is a story of great triumph a story of heroic actions and magnificent biters and soldiers of america, fdr's magnificent readership, the most profound war that america ever fought and the story of readers -- leadership and decisions made. it's also a story of decisions not made, tragedy, there's millions of lives who somehow slipped through our fingers.
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in the end 1944 is the greatest of years we can imagine, but it is also one of the saddest. thank you very much. [applause] >> i was wondering what you think would have changed. if you could paint a broad picture. henry wallop remained on on the ticket in the 1944 democratic convention and succeeded roosevelt instead of chairman. >> well, i have got to say, that is a funny thing because it is a question my guide asked me.
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what do you think would have happened? >> you asked about burns. well, wewell, we have david mccullough here at the festival, so we should ask him. well, it is not the subject of my book, but i certainly think that we would be living in a different world. i feel strongly. steve from the "washington post" said that readers make a difference in history which is the reason why we fight so much over -- we have elections, why they are so hotly contested because one reader does run thing, one reader does another thing. there's only one george washington, one abraham lincoln,one fdr. and, one fdr. and i guess because it is only one harry truman. german laid out the architecture for the cold war, that forty-year struggle. if it were wallace or anyone else it's not clear that whatever happened. so it is your question
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revealing just how important individual leaders are. >> two quick questions. one of my professors at georgetown university was john tarski. was he the polish diplomat you described just now as an escaping and bringing word to london and washington? or did he escape and bring the news of the death camps? >> okay. did all of you here the question about jan who actually taught at georgetown for many years and was a polish official and part of the underground and was not the one who escaped. the one who escaped is rudolph the 19 -year-old slovakian who was a register in the camp. and this is worthy of a hollywood movie. we're already talking about it now. i mean,, he had a phenomenal memory,, phenomenal health
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and was like a cat with nine lives. he prevailed enough so that he could do something no one else had done,done, escape from this horrific camp in these watchtowers and machine guns, these 2,000 members of the gestapo and assess. what he did was infiltrated the satellite camp and was bowled over by what he saw. it was like nothing ever witnessed in humanity. people stumbling along with living skeletons, literally like the walking dead. he came back and had a meeting with roosevelt. a meeting wasa meeting was supposed to be half an hour and turned out to be a full hour. it is reported that very few things shook up roosevelt, but after this meeting roosevelt apparently was shaken up and said you go back and tell your people they have a friend in the white house. he came out and was impressed by that.
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we have a friend of the white house. the polish ambassador said yes.yes. when it comes to the jews said nothing the platitudes. roosevelt was a great charmer and very careful never to over commit himself , and this is one of those instances. >> hi. thank you for your talk. you mentioned that fpr made some commitment. >> that he? >> that he dithered a little bit. there are some that have suggested they're might be anti- semitism. and then the 2nd question i had is the allies were closing in on the concentration camp i have heard there were efforts by the ss speed up the execution. >> well, as the allies were
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liberating a camps in winning the award of the speed up the effort? and the other was, was there any anti- semitism? and i look at this carefully you know, when they were very young fdr and eleanor who came from a very high society of america moving from one black-tie affair to another were prisoners of the time and there may have been a hint of not wanting to be socially around jews, but by the time the war came i think it is safe to say that fdr did not have one anti- somatic on his body, and many of his top advisers were jews. i find this very enlightening and profound. i don't care whether your jewish, christian, catholic.
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what matters is that we have a spiritual side and that we care about god and humanity. that is what matters. and so i don't think in any sense. however, it is certain that within the state department there were elements of anti-semitism, particularly among breckenridge, head of the visa department, so crucial to helping them get out and enough so that at one point the treasury secretary dramatically confronted breckenridge in a meeting and said, frankly, i must tell you that there are a number of people who think you are a little bit have to somatic. that was among the state department. and then eleanor was a passionate defender of the jews. she recalled after calm and later said that the inability of the administration to do more to help the jews was the greatest mistake that they had made. in terms of the german speeding up the execution,
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yes. when the day was one in the allies were closing in, the soviets were coming in, when the americans and the british are coming in from the west and there was this pants orpincer movement that was going to put a chokehold finally on the nazis, they tried to cover up their crimes and dismantle the gas chambers. a membera member were great death marches as they were moving the jews into the satellite camps in germany itself from poland, and there were long columns of people. i wrote about robert e lee's escape from richmond is the end of the war. 30,000 men and long columns stretching out. imagine what itimagine what it was like for the jews with no food or water, and if they stumble they would get shot in the head, and they would be the workers that would help in hitler's fanciful world.
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>> i recently read brightman and litman fdr and the jews. one of the impressions i got , one of the issues was that fdr was on a lot of the. he would appoint someone of pick the personality and let go and then just sort of balance between people in the cabinet. >> what he asked is, was fdr hands are not? did that have anything to do with all of this? and, i mean, fdr was a brilliant politician. at one point in the book essay that he had the charms of thomas jefferson, the persona of george washington , the wily instincts of an abraham lincoln, and the populist instincts of an andrew jackson. he was an incredible politician and an incredible leader. what is interesting is that however hands-on he may or may not have been -- and
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frankly almost every day at five or 6:00 o'clock he had something called the children's hour or the cocktail hour we would have his advisors are good friends command, and he would makes the drinks. hehe loved to mix the drinks and they would never talk about politics. his days were not always tough. he sometimes a-uppercase-letter schedule, but it is safe to say that on all of the major decisions they came out from his staff, not from from his generals, not from his military advisers but as i put it earlier come out of his fertile imagination. indeed, the invasion of north africa that came in 1942 was done in spite of what eisenhower and marshall said. that invasion would go down as the blackest day in american history. how wrong can they have been? roosevelt was able to peer out into the distance, and
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in so many of the major decisions it was is doing. even lend lease, which was giving assistance to britain and the soviet union whenever running out of money and running of weapons and this kept him alive until americans entered the war, he was aboard a ship, sunning himself for days, looked at a note from ernest hemingway that gave them tips on how to fly fish, but it was on that ship that he came up with the idea of then please all by himself. i think it's safe to say that whatever happened happened because roosevelt want it to happen. >> there were two other leaders in the world, stalin and churchill. churchill had an air force. stalin might not have, but he had some plans that could get over they're. stalin would have known. he would have had a motivation.
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did you get anything out of the history? >> no. heno. he asked if these efforts ever came up before stalin churchill. in stalin's case stalin and brutally murdered millions of people. as he put it, what is one or 2 million people? no one we will remember the riffraff generations from now. on the other hand, churchill had a different response than fdr did when he heard about the final solution. he called ithe called it the greatest crime that humanity has ever seen or witnessed in its entire history, and then he told his foreign minister, let's bomb those camps. use my name and get everything you can. in the into did not happen because of bureaucratic crossed wires and because they could not do. i think we are near the end. you have all been great. thank you for coming.
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enjoy the rest of your day. [applause]
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>> and this is book tv live coverage of the national book festival for the 15th year. that was jay winnick talking about the year 1944, and he was up on the history and biography room. we will be back there in about an hour or so for daniel allen. daniel allen we will be talking about the declaration of independence, which is her book, and we will carry that to you live. in the meantime, here is the -- here in the convention center we have to collins coming out. ray suarez will be talking about latino americans, but right now we are pleased to be joined by erika lee. here is her book called the making of asian-american history just published this month. erika lee, how do you define
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asian-american? >> is a great question. it depends on who you ask. according to the us government and asian-american could be somebody, one of 24 different ethnic groups. if you talk to any of the people at the festival today, they probably have a different definition of asian-american. probably speaking we consider asian-american someone who has descended from east asia, south asia, southeast asia. they can bethey can be people like myself who have been in this country for generations of people who are arriving today at the airport. >> what is the percentage? >> if we listen to the news pundits today we might think the largest immigrant group is from mexico would actually the largest immigrant group today's china.
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6 percent of the population, 19 a half million in the country. >> would you say the largest immigrant group, you mean -- >> largest single immigrant group coming in, yes. >> about 6 percent of the us population. >> yes. >> would it be fair to consider asian-americans the silent majority? >> that is another great question. one of the things that we face only talk about asian-americans is, they slipped through the cracks. onlycracks. we think about race relations we are also thinking african-american, whites. we are talking about immigration we are also thinking of latinos, but asian-americans have had a long history in the country, deep roots, at the center of some of the most important transformations in american history. thethe stories have not yet fully being told, something
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that i hope to reveal and share with the larger american public. >> well, what is one of the themes? there going to put the phone numbers up. one of the stories? >> immigration is absolutely central. asian seven coming to the americas getting back to the 16 hundreds, and they continue today. because it is such a central part of american history,
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this is absolutely an important theme for the making of asian-americans and also the making of america. >> are asians treated differently or more welcome than other immigrant groups? >> this is one of the most fascinating stories. we take a look at the long history of asian-americans, this may come as a big surprise to viewers and listeners, but asian-americans were the despised minority. they were the immigrant menace, the yellow peril in the late 19 hundreds. we passed some of our 1st immigration laws, strict chinese immigration, japanese immigration, immigration from chinese asia in the philippines because americans felt so threatened by what they called the foreigner or the oriental menace that was coming. today the stereotype of asian-americans is that of the model minority, the ones who are academically successful doing things the
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right way. >> on the change. >> would asian-americans fit in, the changing relationships of race and immigration international relations, a key turning.is world war ii. we know that the -- as a country wearc incated 120,000 japanese americans. one couldone could say that that is the peak of the anti- asian sentiment that was affecting our country at that time. if theat the same time we were opening our doors little bit to immigrants from china, india, and the image of asian-americans was beginning to change from that yellow peril to the model minority.
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>> host: let's take some calls. >> the immigration history research center. fifty years old. the largest research center and also with our partner have the largest immigrant and refugee archives in north america, researchers coming in from around the world every day and were engaging communities doing the work to better understand immigration yesterday and today. >> we had a committed group of faculty and students and staff who were in the 1960s beginning to wonder. this is an important history that needs to be captured. it has not been fully integrated into our institutions of higher learning. those immigrants are saying
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how and where can we preserve our history? and so with the pioneering work engaging communities, observing history, the archives are filled and we have been doing research in collecting and preserving history ever sense. >> norman in lansing, michigan. please go ahead. >> i was wondering, there is nothing wrong with being proud of your heritage, and i am not knocking anyone who is, but in this -- in these days, in the 21st century, do you think that the-aiding of american is starting to devise are helping to define the country?
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i don't know how to say it correctly. >> do you think that is the case? >> do you think that is the case? >> i think in some ways it is. i think that there are groups in this country that are using the-nations against us, the two parties one of the groups. people like donald trump using it against south americans, mexican-americans and stuff. and i think that we should concentrate on us being all-americans. >> i think we got the. norman in lansing michigan.
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the high physician of american. you agree? >> along and contents of history. it would simply be recognized as americans. many of the laws and social aptitudes have not made that possible. one of the things that many of us do in writing the history is of asian-americans are latinos are african-americans is to try to uncover the hidden history and try to make it clear how central those people were to the transformations in american history and to the changing
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definitions of what it does mean to be an american. >> your on. >> thank you very much. it's a very important topic. i lived in chicago for about 40 years. i got to examine my own prejudice over the years. years. first i della vietnamese refugees and saw their assimilation are not and how people, you would think they could not be that cold, but they were. and i. i worked with filipino nurses and became a minority in my own profession. and at 1st i was very angry and they would talk to go and i would be like well, hey, i was here 1st. then i watched world war ii. i have to say, i just love them and i hope the no that.
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>> that's an interesting story and speaks of theto the heart of someone who has seen these transformations and immigration in the asian-american populations. >> you brought up nurses in history. people coming here and perhaps taking away jobs. the filipino nurses is a really excellent example of how the united states actually lived -- went to the philippines, trained filipinos to become nurses and hope to recruit them and bring them over we can
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better understand the global forces of how people come to move and how they come to goodyear. the united states businesses and professions often have a very important role in bringing people here. ..
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>> you're on book tv. >> yes, hi, ms. lee, two part's question. in the private election a term such as anchor babies have been used. is that -- do you think that term is derogatory or is that an appropriate term in what -- >> what do you think? >> i have no idea. i think it's a little derogatory
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because, again, i'm not sure how many babies are born like that, how many immigrant who practice that and actually have their babies go here and go back to their country so their rights come back here. what percentage and is it a common practice or a misnomer really? >> it's a big misnomer the idea the immigrant are deliberately and planning and making these rational places to come here specifically to have a child so that think would have citizenship and be willing to wait 21 years that it would take to sponsor the parents over. that's one of the ways it has been used. it's also a misused of a small numbers that we are tracking in
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terms of what people are calling maternity birth tourism, from suspected numbers of women who are coming here to give birth and then returning home. the numbers vary very widely but in terms of the number of immigrant is very small. it seems that it's become a sensationial issue right now. >> what is your personal thought when jeb bush said what he said? >> i thought it was an interesting way to deflect what his position was being perceived as antilatino and perhaps point to a different, different, perhaps, problem that he was trying that --
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>> politically which way to asian american vote, split -- >> they are so extremely diverse, it is really like the latino population that encompasses great ethnicities and specially class. just like americans in general, they are often split along the two parties. in the past elections they have geared toward the democratic side and they are interested in issues with immigration and civil rights, for sure. >> what is the author's perception of international adoption which brings thousands of korean and chinese children to america? >> right. this is one of the histories where we focus on in the book. it's a history that's very important in my home state of
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minnesota where there has been many thousands of korean adoptees who have come since the 1950's and '60s. it's definitely a result not only of u.s. engagement but also social service and organizations being involved. it's part of the making of one my of colleagues describes the global families of america. >> hi, marilyn. >> yes, my question is about the suck sis -- success of a chinese minority that i see in san francisco in passing on the language i. i was brought up in the east coast and i saw the languages of greek, italian, and so forth, second generations, and i don't
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know if this is generally true about around the area of san francisco i see several generations speaking chinese and i wonder what the reason to that, how they can do that when others haven't been able to? >> i've been to san francisco, i grew up in the bay area, but i think in san francisco it's a mixture of both second and third, and fourth-generation families who have been been -- able to maintain the language but it is going away in addition to new immigrant speaking mandarin and it's a mixture of hold a new immigration in the bay area that may allow for that language to maintained, but also
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not just chinese americans, but americans are understanding that it maybe important to learn mandarin now or in the future. chinese language education across the count in general is definitely growing. >> you said you were born in san francisco. were you born in the bay area? >> i was born in east coast and moved and then moved to the center of the country. my parents are immigrant. i absolutely have. it's one of the entry points for providing this book. when i was growing up in the san francisco, which now is one in four are asian americans, i never learned any asian american history and it wasn't until college when i start today learn this history that i began to wander where are the stories of my family, where are they in
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american history and that quest that answered some of the questions that inspired to write the book, and in doing so, i did research on my immigrant grandparents who both sides came either through ángel island and they have a difficult time, the laws were stacked against them. the chinese and that meant that the vast majority of chinese immigrant were not allowed into the country, only certain classes of immigrant could come. some were able to come under those laws. i did have a grandfather who came around using a false identity to come into the country because it was the only way that he could. >> why do you think you didn't learn the history, why didn't your parents not tell you about
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