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tv   Open Phones with David Mc Cullough  CSPAN  November 26, 2015 10:12am-10:53am EST

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the second reason is the german people, the kids i interviewed now, they feel a terrible shame at having been arrested. many of the people, a lot of my research was getting the fbi files of these fathers declassified so the kids learned for the first time that their fathers were not charged with any crime and there were a letters to the attorney general and the attorney general said it is not personal. we did the rest you because you had done anything wrong, we arrested you because you are a citizen of a country, your adopted country is at war with. it is just like that. and it is on that basis that all aliens are arrest in times of war. areas in new effort now among
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some of the german american children to attempt, they don't want any money but they would like an apology for what happened to their parents. i think the likelihood of that happening is very low but they are trying to do that. yes, sir. >> my question is who profited from the construction of the camp? was their money involved? competitive bids and all that sort of thing? >> it was a camp and owned by the federal government as a place for migrant workers to come. it was already in the government control. i don't think there was a lot of money. i went through lots and lots of records on how much it cost to
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do the swimming pool but it was just local people so i don't think in this camp there was 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, though witness situation. irene house andburg who was saved in the last exchange, when i interviewed her she is a really serious worker for peace in the world and we got to talking about witnessing each other's pain and no matter and she has a situation where she and a few other jewish holocaust survivors meet with palestinians and they tell each other their stories and she says to me in the interview enemies are people whose stories you haven't yet
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heard and whose faces you haven't yet seen. that is the heart of the literature of witness. and 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 very much. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> we also spoke with david mccullough in september about his most recent book "the wright brothers". that is next on booktv.
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>> two time pulitzer prize winner david mccullough joins us on set at the convention center. "the wright brothers" is his most recent book, most recent best seller. who founded "the wright brothers"? >> they did. their only funding they had was what they took from there rather modest earnings from their bicycle shop. they not only funded their efforts but they virtually made everything they were in need of to create the first flyers that they built and the first flying machine as they called it. with the exception of the blocked for the motor they had for the flying machine which was made of aluminum, their idea was a small startup company as we would call it today in
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pittsburgh, aluminum co. it was the first aluminum engine ever built and when it was first used, it slipped and rather isn't saying that is not going to work, they said build another one so the second one didn't split and produce more horsepower than they expected. it is a wonderful example not only of their innovative capacity to solve problems but also when something didn't work they didn't give up. they never gave up about everything. their perseverance against the odds is a life lesson we can all benefit from. >> host: we are going to put the phone numbers that because we want you to talk to david mccullough, truman, johnstown
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flood, and sent in 48-8200, 748-82001 in the mountain and pacific time zones and also we are taking texts. if you want to text and ideal or question to david mccullough 202-245-2842 is the number. you can contact us by social media. as well as we talk. you say they are self funded. did a die welt the? >> guest: yes they did but not superrich. not the robber barons of the day. orville more so than wilbur because wilbur died very early in a tragedy in 1912. he never really lived to see great money. they were only in it for the
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money. because they have been raised on the idea the good life is a life of high purpose. they selected this as their objective. they were not bothered by the fact that they had no money or the fact that they had no college education, not bothered by the fact that people thought they were crackpots and made fun of and ignored even by the press even after they had proven that they could fly and airplane. >> host: after december 1st, 1903. >> guest: it took five more years until 1908 that the world was willing to admit the human beings could fly. it didn't happen in this country. it happened in france. the federal government, the press or anybody else wanted to accept the fact that these men
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had done something miraculous. imagine, they cracked one of the most difficult and presumably impossible technological problems in history and by doing so changed history, changed the world in a way nothing else ever had but for the invention of the telephone or light bulb or any of the other things happening at the same time. >> host: how do you should pick your topic? >> guest: something clicks and that is it. with this one, just finished the book, americans who went to paris have the abilities as architects, doctors, painters, sculptors, writers, the training of the kind they needed was
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available with no schools of architecture, medical schools way behind those in europe. medical school in paris, the greatest in the world. out of that susan siegel hundred but got so intrigued with this little known fact of american life. and i will do that about that right brothers on france. once i started reading about them as human beings, not just his miracle workers, the nineteenth century idea, just the right one.
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i thank my lucky stars. i found something 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, go ahead and ask your question. >> caller: hello? >> host: we are listening, please go ahead. >> caller: just finished your book on "the wright brothers". i did not realize a piece of their plane went up with neil armstrong in 1969. >> guest: i couldn't hear. >> host: i could barely hear. he said something about just finished your book and that there was a piece of the plane taken to the moon with neil armstrong. >> guest: yes. neil armstrong carried part of
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the canvas that was the covering for the wings with him to the moon. he didn't leave it there but he took it as a symbol of their heritage, if you will. their allegiance and gratitude to what the wright brothers had done. it was an extension of what they were doing, what the wright brothers started and what was so interesting is neil armstrong also came from the same section of ohio that the wright brothers did. the first human beings ever to fly in a motor powered aircraft, the first human being to set foot on the moon came from the same neighborhood in ohio. >> host: chris from tampa texts to you, what was the competition initially and were they aware of
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it? >> guest: competition was comparatively modest until then and they were aware of its. most of it was in france and they were also aware that they were way ahead of the competition. because by studying birds, storing birds, they had figured out a solution to the problem and that which they called wind warping. when they went to france to demonstrate what they had achieved, the great french aviator paul said we are but children compared to them. they are so far ahead of us it is almost heartbreaking. they also, immense respect for what they achieved. >> host: next call for david mccullough is from quincy, ill..
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>> caller: i am honored to ask david mccullough question. why did president adams, who had been a great attorney, fair and reasonable man, ever sign the sedition act, and why was that act enforced during his presidency so vigorously against the supporters of thomas jefferson, many of whom were imprisoned for criticizing john adams and his administration? >> guest: the signing of the sedition act was a grievous mistake on the part of president adams but he himself never got involved with it. in never realized though he said so it was apparent from his actions that this was a mistake. he had nothing to do with it once it was passed.
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yes, it was wrong, the american faith as it were, but if you look at how relatively few people were in fact imprisoned it was a mild mistake rather than a mistake of great consequence. i don't know president who didn't make a mistake in office. it is a shame when they do but then again, history is about human beings. history is human. >> host: another text from the indianapolis area. which president had the most consequential career after the presidential term ended? >> 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
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dying day and died with his boots on on the floor of the house of representatives. john quincy adams is a vastly underrated american. we don't give much attention to one term presidents but he was the very great man. i think intellectually, iq levels, he may have been the most brilliant human being ever to occupy the office. >> host: 202 if you want to text in a question, 465-6842 is that number. next call for david mccullough is from tom in florida. >> caller: good morning. my question is my father in law was the manager of the wright aircraft factory in 1916. did david mccullough learn anything about him to his name was milton whiewend.
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>> guest: i wish i could say yes, but no i don't. my book ends in 1910 when orville and wilbur wright decided they achieved what they set out to do, therefore they can take that flight together. until then they would never do that because if one were killed they wanted the other one to still be alive to carry on with their mission. it was a mission which they gave total devotion excluding almost everything else we think of as a normal life in order to achieve it. they never married, never went on vacation, they were totally committed to their work. much the way their father was a minister, committed to his work, his mission. for them, their objective to fly, control themselves in the air was a mission and it wasn't
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just misunderstandings about the wright brothers, not that they invented the airplane which in itself would have been a phenomenal accomplishment, but they invented how to fly it. they learned to fly it. they were the first test pilots ever and they were testing something no one else had ever at tested because of the world had ever had such a machine available. >> host: what is the next book? >> guest: i don't know. you got some good ideas? >> host: my good idea is to take this call from kathy in illinois. you are on with david mccullough. >> caller: hi angela it "the wright brothers". i am at delta airlines complete and have a further appreciation of flying. my question is what took wilbur's held down, did they
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ever established between the ailerons and the wing warping? was that a result? >> the aileron in existence not long after the wind warping and the wrights knew about it but felt there's was superior. the aileron's began to come in short the afterwards. others used the aileron. but i don't think so. ..
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one of the perils of that earlier day. >> from matthew he asked i recall some of the things president kennedy inspired him into public service and following his dream, can you please discuss this part of his life and how he change career path? >> i would be delighted to. a very long time since the president of the united states had called upon us all to do
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something for our country. too often they spent time telling us what they were going to do for us. when president kennedy made that summons, gave that magnificent summons and that our inaugural address, i i took it entirely too hard. i had a very good job in new york and i gave it up to come to washington to do something, in some way, to serve my country. i wound up working at the u.s. information agency. it was a wonderful organization but i was being run by edgar. for the next three years when kennedy lived, i had the huge privilege of the graduate school
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of working under edgar, it changed my life. it was while i was in washington working on the process but i happen to discover the materials. i suddenly found myself launched in an ambition to write a book. once i got started on it during the research and the writing i knew it was what i wanted to do for the rest of my working life. to to tell stories. host: up next, richard and charlotte north carolina you're here on book. >> caller: thank you david. i appreciate very much the many books you have written, especially the wright brothers. i just made the, my brother knew grandmother knew the wright brothers said she called them the crazy bicycle boys.
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wasn't the hoffman prairie by patterson air force base like now wasn't that a reasonable place for them to learn to fly? it would've taken a north carolina out. guest: first of all your grandmother was a monk a large crowd who thought they were wacko. crackpots. but they would say they're nice young man but they are little off-balance. hoffman prairie, as you say is . it's by patterson air force base. because it is part of the air force base it has been preserved as exactly the way it was. what went on at hoffman prairie is far more important than what people realize. the plane they fluid city hock was not a practical airplane yet, it took three more years at hoffman prairie to develop a practical airplane. so the real airplane, as we would say, airplay that people
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could learn how to fly and could fly was born at hoffman prairie. host: from new jersey, do you think the wright brothers, hinder progress of the american aviation. guest: no, no more so than alexander graham bell patton hindered the use of or it was solved. [inaudible] so, all you have to do is look at what happened in aviation, from almost no time the wright brothers, the plane that they developed was not recognized as a reality until 1908.
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the plane they flew in world war ii, or world war i was vastly different from what they had flown. at that point the advance plate has developed in just those seven years, eight years since the wright brothers plane was recognized as being a reality. of course, then you accelerate the progress beyond anyone's imagining where lindberg is fine in the atlantic from the 1920s. orval wright lived to see the jet propulsion, jet engine, he lived as the rockets, the rockets, he lived to see the horrible devastation caused by airplanes used as weapons in world war i and world war ii. will bill wright did not see world war i. he died before that. host: here's a call in from dallas, pennsylvania. >> caller: hi, thank you for
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taking my call. i just want to mr. mccullough to know how often i had read his books and enjoyed them. my question is, why did it take americans so long to get behind the wright brothers and their ideas? the french french seem to get on board quickly. i just wondered why, thank you. guest: i think the most dramatic example of how blind we were without deadly the reason we were that way, is that we are flying a plane almost every day when the weather permitted, just a miles outside. reporters and editors for data newspapers would not even bother to come out and see them for themselves what was happening. well, some years later one of
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the editors of the paper was asked how could that be? it was happening right under your nose so we paid no attention. he. he said i guess we're just plain stupid. the first person, the first eyewitness to publish an accurate account of their flight and this immensely important breakthrough changed the history. it was a beekeeper up in northeastern ohio, named amos route who drove down to see for himself what was happening down in dayton. he wrote an article about it for his beekeeper's journal. that was the first, complete, accurate account that the airplane had arrived, ever published. by a beekeeper who is very interested in whatever was going on. he was not blinded by what he
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had come to feel was what everybody knew, somebody had to say it. it's real, it's here. that was amos route. note tom hanks is going to be making a movie, a series for hbo based on the story. i can't wait to see who gets cast as amos route. i have some ideas. host: do you have any input? very. guest: very much so, as i did with the adams. i think the world of tom hanks
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and i know the beautiful work he does. to see all the people who work with him, some of the best people i have ever worked with in my life. host: mr. mcculloch, the text from a philadelphia area. i'm an aspiring area, background and background and history, i greatly admire how you are excellent story tell you in and brilliant research. the question, how do you find your voice? i, that's tammy in huntsville, alabama. guest: i assume you mean my voice as a writer. by writing. there is only one way to learn how to write, that is is to sit down and write. and right, and rewrite and learn to edit yourself. that is the hardest part of it all. you have to separate the writer you, with the editor you. let that editor show that person who wrote this to how to take the work. one way to do that is to take what you have written and put it
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on a shelf for a couple of weeks or more. then take a fresh look. you'll see things about it that you did not see while you were writing. another very helpful way to learn to write is to have someone read it aloud to you. try to write for that year as well as the eye. you will hear things about it that you have written but you don't necessarily see. repetition of certain words, or certain kinds of sentence structure. or the fact that you suddenly become very boring. you will hear that. so my advice, is read everything i have written in the last 50 years, my wife and she still does. that means she reads it maybe three or four times because i do one draft after another. always, always i hear things, she, she hears things that need to be changed.
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host: do you enjoy the book tour? guest: i love it. it is very gratifying. i love meeting my readers. no writer could survive without readers. i am dependent on readers. it's just like going out to meet your customers, i love to hear what they think. 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: the next call comes from dublin, indiana. tom you are on the air. >> caller: thank you very much. mr. mr. mcculloch, i really love your books. i live here in indiana, the bishop preached here in my little town. wilbert was bored just a few miles from here, in millville.
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i was surprised to learn all of the support the father and the sister gave the brother. i was a little saddened at the end that orval and his sister kind of had a falling out and i was just wondering, was that ever resolve? or not? host: first of all, who is the bishop? spee2 the bishop was their father. he was a bishop in the church in the denomination he belonged to. the sister was catholic, the youngest of the wright family children. yes, i was very surprised to learn how important the father was, how important the sister was. they wanted the joys of my work on this project was to bring them front and center.
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they were part of the joint effort, you cannot leave people like that out. the sister was far more important the people would realize, i personally feel that if she had not been there, she had not been part of it the story would not have come out as it did. she was always there when she needed, she would keep their spirits up what she needed that. she was very bright, she was very funny, and could be very smart if she wasn't believing someone is behaving the way she should. of of course the father was inspiration all their lives and never lost faith in them. he didn't really understand the technology they were working with. very few people did. they were brilliant businesses,
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aeronautical engineer solving problems that intellectual problems, that nobody at any institution of technology or the smithsonian had even gotten anywhere near as far as they did. yet, they never have been to college, never never even finished high school. that help the fact. wilbert -- and catherine understood that so did the father. host: from andrew in virginia, a fantastic book, are you surprised teddy roosevelt did not embrace right brothers directly? why? guest: well, he did and he didn't. he had the nerve and the courage to go down to the summary, the first president country president ever to go in the
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summary which was not exactly safe thing to do. it was leaked from the white house to the press that he was taking very seriously of going out over to fort meyer, cross the river to go up with orval right when he was doing demonstration flights with passengers. orval was very upset by that. he told people that he did not think the president of the united states should take such a risk. but he insisted on it, he would do it. within a few days later, young thomas, a lieutenant in the army went up with orval and orval crashed and the man was killed. so had the adore roosevelt chosen to go up as he probably wanted to, he might well have been the one who is killed. host: there is a suggestion for
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your next book, how about your bio? guest: zero, that might be awful steamy. [laughter] guest: i might. i have a lot of stories to tell about the people i met along the way. so grateful for the help they have given me, the windows that have open and the friendships i've made. the things i have learned about how to go about this work. host: robert in west lafayette indiana, you are on with david mccullough, this is this is book tv on c-span2, national book festival. >> caller: mr. mcculloch, big fan. thank you for showing us.
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host: rich in michigan. rich, are you with us please go ahead with your comment. >> caller: okay, my wife and i had the opportunity to see you speak in michigan a few months ago. i would like to go back to your earlier book, you referred to paris as one of the centers of medical research, the first portion of the century. why why france, why paris? what was going on in the country that, that type of research, often very expensive, why was it being carried out there? what changes changes were taking place in france? guest: well the french worked met way ahead of us in medicine and in technology, and engineering, science. the french also had the best medical training in the world, so that was not available here. the harvard medical school, for
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example was pitifully small, inadequate, part of the problem was that cadavers were illegal and much of our country. so therefore anyone who wanted to understand anatomy, understand dissection, anything like that, was limited in the opportunity to do so because all the cadavers were sold on the black market as it were. they are very expensive. so very often even the doctors themselves or professors themselves did not have access to cadavers to show about how things work in the human body are put together. whereas in france, there is no such ruling. they could spend days, months, doing nothing doing nothing but dissecting bodies. one of the beneficiaries of that experience was oliver wendell
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holmes senior who went on to become one of the looming figures of the harvard medical school, who specialized in taut anatomy and dissection for most of his time there. that is just one example. we are far more indebted to the french in many fields that we realize. medicine is one of the clearest of all examples. host: how much time did you spend in paris? guest: well, a good deal but not as much as most people would imagine. when i was getting my information and material from was a letter these young medical students were home. they wrote and reminisced on years later. many of them were the sons of doctors, their fathers wanted to know what are you learning, what's the latest? they were in the very forefront of the experimentation.
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in their fathers here in the united states did not want to be left behind. so the sons had to write home about how they are doing fine and working hard to stand up trouble. they also had to talk about what they were learning every day. those letters are absolutely phenomenal. they are all available at the harvard medical school library in boston. host: hears last comment for you, this is a tax. who is the last president to write his own speeches, what are your thoughts on the modern presidents and their gaggle of writers and handlers? this is from vijay in maryland. guest: that's a good question. my guess is that it was theodore roosevelt. i think the power of the president to communicate with the country is somewhat diminished by that.
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that is not to say that some presidents sense have written some of the most powerful parts of their speeches they have made or announcements they have issued. john kennedy kennedy of course was a very good writer. the strongest praises i think are all often when they're speaking speaking from their heart and not somebody script. some presidents have had wonderful writers for their scripts. ronald reagan had peggy noonan for one of his writers. she also then wrote for george hw bush when he became president. of course,
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