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tv   In Depth  CSPAN  January 3, 2016 12:00pm-3:01pm EST

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world war which could have obliterated the human and animal life on the entire planet. >> now we are alive with author david merrin s. talking about his many books. you can participate by calling or texting in during the program or by sending in questions via e-mail, twitter or facebook. >> host: david maraniss, what inspired you to write about detroit in 1963. >> guest: it was the inspiration for any of my books. in 2011 is in new york city in a
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bar across the street from the circle in the square theatre wordplay lombardi was playing. i was there with the cast of lombardi, watching the packers in the super bowl, which was sort of surreal in the first place. i was standing next to who played lombardi in the play and i was looking at the screen at halftime. i was nervous because i am a packers fan. there he was on the screenplay and lombardi and the little skip the network had him do. and then, all of a sudden there was a commercial and i wasn't really focused, but i saw a freeway sign on the commercial that said detroit and not caught my attention. ..
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restored theater in downtown detroit, and walked down the aisle, and there's a black gospel choir on stage, rising in song, and eminem turns to the camera and says: "this is noter to city and this what we do." i choked up watching it. it got me in some way, and my wonderful wife would say, why are you falling for his? they're just selling chrysler. and detroit is a mess. that was true.
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but it got me thinking about what detroit meant to me. i was born in detroit. i lived there the first six and a half years of my life mostly, and my earliest, strongest memories, are of that city, and that commercial provoked something in me that set me on the path to thinking about, what die do? i write. how can i honor this city that mean so much to my earlier thoughts and my family? then i started sort of over the course of several months figuring out how to do the book. >> host: why did you focus on 1963? >> guest: one of the ways i operate is -- for most of my work i use the metaphor, i set my oil rig somewhere and drill as deeply at i can. what i wanted to do in the first place was honor this city. what detroit gave america. which is an enormous amount. so i started thinking about those threads, what did detroit
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give america? that was the heart of the labor movement under the united auto workers. very important to civil rightness the 1960s. connected in part to the auto workers-but in terms of supporting the southern civil rights movement and the activities going nondetroit. it created motown, the sound track of my generation, and it, of course, first and foremost, the center of the automobile industry. so i wanted to write about those four aspects of what detroit gave america. at their strongest, and that took me to a specific era. motown, only existed in detroit from 1959 to 1970, so i wanted early motown. that took me into the early '60s. the first motor town review left detroit in october of 1962. i saw that as possibly a good place to start. turned out quickly that the detroit auto show opened that
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very same week in october of '62, introducing the 1963 cars that sold more than ever before. i took a further step about civil rights and saw that martin luther king came to the city that very summer of '63. and delivered hills "i have a dream" speech in detroit before he did it in washington, and also that the walter luther was central to all of that and the united auto workers. so i had the four threads in that series iwant show to you video and i want you to tell us what this and is who you're talking to. >> guest: walter luther was the president of the united auto workers during its heyday, from he 1940s through 1970, when he died in a plane crash. he really was instrumentallal in two important ways. one being bringing the united auto workers into the middle class, and another was he was a progressive leader who believed
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that the chance to get into the middle class rested on equality. so he was also very strong in terms of supporting and pushing civil rights for everywhere. when you think of -- for everyone. when you think of the people who transformed america during the 20th century, walter luther is very important and underrecognize figure. >> host: what was it? >> guest: sorry? >> host: what was the video? >> guest: that was done by simon and schuster, my publisher, sort of to promote the book in different ways. walter luther, is a say at the en, consider one of the most important underrecognized figures of the 20th century, and he did it all in detroit. he came from west virginia, came to detroit as a very young man, with his brother, victor and roy, who all three of them helped develop united auto workers. he had to negotiate a very difficult situation over many years with tension from the auto industry, the ford goons beat
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him up, and the left wing of the auto workers union, the communist aspect, didn't like him either. he found his way through that and was a very progressive, rational force in the american labor movement for a very long time, very close to both president john kennedy and then lyndon johnson. extremely strong on civil rights. the united auto workers' role in helping the civil rights movement and martin luther king is very important. >> host: david maraniss, you have been writing books over 20 years now. the way they're promoted, is this new, putting out video trailers? >> guest: yes, it is. the publishing industry, like my other industry, the newspaper business, sort of only understands the future a little late. right? but they're in the 21st under now, using social media, and finding different ways to
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promote books, which is part of the game. >> host: when it comes to topics, this is what you write in your book "they marched into sunlight" connections fascinate me. connections of history and the individual lives, the accidents, incidents and intentions that rip people apart and sew them back together. these interest me more than ideological formulations that tend to be certain of the meaning of it's up -- it all. >> guest: i try to be honest about the fact i'm not an ideology. i have strong political beliefs but i try to look for the truth first, and if the truth doesn't fit what i think, then i move. and i'm interest in why people are the way they are, and i look for the best in people, call myself a humanist.
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i'm not blind to flaw but i think every human being has flaws. it's just an exaggeration of some over others, and so i'm not -- i'm also never trying to preach to the choir. i think that's a waste of time. it can get you popular. in this modern world you get more hits the more provocative you are. my interest is always trying to find the dispute the complexity of truth, and in this modern american culture come plexitis not often what people are looking for but it's what i'm looking for. >> host: om for your book, people often assume i'm first and foremost a political writer who occasionally dabbles in sports, turning from serious work to play. i've never looked at it that way. there's as much about politics that is utterly trivial and boring to me and much about sports that is inherently dramatic or sociologically interesting. it's not the general subject
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that draws me but the possibilities of a particular source sunny have spent much of my journalism career writing about politics, starting with covering maryland politics in the late '70s, and then national presidential'm -- sort of became the post profiler or biographer of presidential candidates in the early 780s. did gary hart and jesse jackson and bill clinton and clinton again and bob dole and al gore. i've done a lot of that over the years but never -- i've never really been one of those people that lives on die with the latest polls or a lot of the sort of gotcha stories that are ridiculous, that come and good every week. i've always tried to work on the series that -- i'm trying to build something substantive and substantial so over the course
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of a year, i've illuminated some subjects and that's the way i've always approached. to get to the larger point, one of my mentors was david halberstam, and he wednesday talked about going to the toy department to write be a sports book, i completely disagree with that. his sports books were more illuminating than some of his other work, and i think that sports offers the opportunity to write about several -- along with the drama, which is similar to politics, winners and losers and there's a contest, and there's certain drama to that. but sports is one of the key ways to write about some of the major sociological issues of the united states, including especially race. and i've always been interested in that. >> host: vince lombardi. you moved to green bay for a winter. roberto clemente, moved to puerto rico.
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>> guest: spent a lot of time there. >> host: barack obama, you traveled to africa. indonesia, hawai'i. why is it important to get into the physical space? >> guest: that's the first law how i do this. good there, wherever it is. only by immersing yourself in the geography and the culture of a place that you can start to understand the forces that shape somewhere, and for lombardi, for instance, first i moved to new york for two summers with my wife, linda, because that's really where he was shaped. he grew up in sheepshead bay. went to fordham university. taught high school football across the river in inglewood, new jersey, an assistant coach at west point, and then for the new york giants. he was 45 years old before he got to green bay. then green bay tells so much about the magical nine years when he went from 45-year-old assistant coach to an american
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icon. winning five championship in those nine years, and the -- one part of it is that the football aspect of the book -- the book is about much more than football. it's about the m mythology of competition and success in american life, about leadership, about the collses, what it takes and what it costs. but the simple aspect of the book, the climax, is the icefall. new year's eve, 1967, minus 17 degrees, in green bay, packers against the cowboys. final drive, packers win in the last seconds. i had to endure a green bay winter to understand what that meant, and not only did that help me understand that, but it helped me understand the entire culture of essentially a one-company town. when linda and i moved to green bay, bat week after we were there we both got terrible
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earaches and we had to drive down from wisconsin where we were living, into the city to a hospital to get treat for the earaches, and when you went into the hospital, every doctor's door had a little jersey on it, either number 4 for brett favre favre, or 92 for reggie white. after a couple weeks linda came home and said, i feel out of uniform. she had to go to kohl's department sore to boy a green and gold sweatshirt to wear. all of these little things add up. another thing that happens is once we got there, everybody -- all of a sudden knew we were there. the local bar maid told everybody. the post mistress. so it was -- the local parent ran a story -- the local paper ran a story, clinton biographer is in green bay writing a buy agograph on vince lombardi.
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the published my local phone number. i get bombarded with all these calls from people and this is still the day when you had a regular phone and that old-fashioned answering machine that you'd push the button and it plays back messages. so i'd come home from day of research ask there would be many, many messages on the machine. the first guy said i hear you're writing a book about guy lombardo. not quite. then there were other messages that were incredibly valuable that i would not have found had i not moved there a guy who whats the cady that oneida golf and riding club, who caddies for lombardi and told me about his temper and he had to tike irons out of the river, and how he was the one golfer there who always insisted on having the oneed na indians -- those cadys cady for
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him. a lot of other rich little kids who would cady but he wanted the indians who meant more to them to have that job. there was another guy who played the piano at restaurant in appleton, and would describe how lombardis' marie would good down there on friday nights and walk in, and the piano player would have to play a medley from "my fair lady" and let marie lombardi sing along. and then he described how generous tipper lombardi was. he would give a very generous tip to everybody who world there the piano play, the mate at the d, the server, the chef. about he would deduct a dollar from everyone's tip if someone came back and bothered him when he was eating. that's classic lombardi. so many classic stories i got groom living there that's true of every one off my book. it's valuable to feel the culture. >> host: where did you come up with the title "when pride still
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mattered." >> guest: i stole it bit i credited the person i took it from and got his blessing. richard forbes, the novelist in one of his books about the ex-sports writer in new jersey, a trilogy he wrote, and somewhere in at the book the main character driving up the new jersey turnpike and stops at the almost dared direst stop where -- the lombardi rest stop where i have been many times. he wrote putt when pride still matters" and i said, that's it. it has a double meaning to it. of course lombardi evokes this great pride, and i write very much in any book about the fallacy of the past and everybody looks at the past as flowerrous and better and there's always more shades to its than that.
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>> host: lombardi believed in fair play. told his players but not in the concept of good losing he equated a loss with a sin. quote. i don't want any good loseres around here. i if you want to be a good loser, give the other guy an opportunity. good losing is a way to live with yourself, way to live with defeat. >> guest: lombardi -- i should point out that the adage that is most often attributed to scripts lombardi on that subject, winning isn't everything, it's the only thing, is not his. he did not coin it. didn't even really believe it in a sense. i found -- i did an etymology of it and found it was first uttered publicly by a young 12 or 13-year-old actress in a john wayne movie, trouble along the way, and talking to a social worker played by donna reed; at
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halftime of the game donna reed is complaining about how john wayne, the coach of this all-catholic football team has been cheating and getting pro players from canada and all these other ways of cheating. donna turns to the little girl and says, this is not right? the little girl says, development you know? winning isn't everything, it's the only thing? and i sort of traced how that came to that screen play from another coach who moved to ucla and was close to a screen writer out there. lombardi was much tougher on his team when they won but played poorly that, than if they played well and lost. but he understood, particularly as a professional coach, that if you don't win, you're gone and that's true of the players, too. so, it's always that tension in sports between winning and other
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things, but in professional sports a little less so. >> host: was vince lombardi political? >> guest: i wouldn't -- he was surprisingly -- he wasn't active politically but he liked the kennedys. he was an irish catholic, he identified very strongly with john kennedy, who coincidentally helped him get paul -- to play in a couple of key games in the early '60s. and then actually supported bobby kennedy in '68. his wife, marie, was a conservative republican, but in 1968, according to some sources, richard nixon loved lombardi, and actually asked john mitchell to check into him as a possible running mate, and mitchell came back and said, well you know, lombardi is great but he is a
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kennedy democrat. >> host: october 1967. what was going on. >> guest: the middle of the vietnam war. it was a very dynamic time, i would say. you asked that question because it's the center of my book, they marched into sunlight, which is about a protest at the university of wisconsin, against dow chemical company, that turned into a police riot, basically, and a battle in vietnam was going on that same 24-hour period in which a battalion of the first infantry division, the black lions battalion, went off on a search and destroy mission and got destroyed. everything is up in the air in october of 1967. it's right after the summer of love in san francisco, the counterculture is strong. the antiwar movement is growing. nobody knows where anything is going to go. for the war and the antiwar. it's a few months before the tet offensive when the public turned
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for good against the vietnam war. it's a period when lyndon johnson, as president, and the commanding jenna vietnam, general william west moreland are pushing for more troops, thinking they can win the war through attrition, through fining the viet cong and killing more offer them to win the war. all of that is happening at this very come bustable -- come buttible moment in 1967. that's where i try to draw the story from. >> host: where were you. >> guest: at the university of wisconsin. i was a freshman. a townie. i grew up in -- spent much of my childhood in madison, went to high school there. i was wearing my first blue jean jacket. my hair was growing out a little bit. i witnessed but did not participate in the dow protest. it was an act of civil disobedience of people who
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opposed the war, marching into the commerce building where the dow chemical company was interviewing students for prospective hiring, and they sat down in the very narrow, dark, dank, main hallway of the commerce building. when you go in, you feel leak glory a submarine almost. a few hundred people to in. there was on the edge of the crowd outside watching as the madison police arrived at the tower across the street, the sociology building, and marched into the building with the batons out and saw the kid come flying out shortly afterwards, many of them with bloodied head. >> host: who is clark welch. >> guest: i would count him as one of the two or three most amazing people i've met in my life. he was a commander of a company of -- the delta company of the
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black lions. he had come up as a -- 0 through the ranks. he was only lieutenant, very rare for a lieutenant to be a commander of a company but he was so strong and well-regarded that they gave him his own company. he tried very hard to talk the commanders out of marching into the jungle that fateful day. he respected that it was going to be trouble. he was overruled. largely because of pressure coming down all the way from washington, and from westmoreland, and from the general leading the first division, general hay, upon the battalion commander, harry allen, jr., find the vote congress and kill them. there's so much pressure that clash welch wasn't listened to.
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he fought in the bat. fought heroically. many, many of his soldiers were killed in that battle. he was haunted by that. for a lifetime. when i found him, he was the most difficult of the many, many soldiers that i encountered to interview. didn't want to talk. he was hiding in the hills of colorado at that point. fearful that some loved one would find him and say you're responsible for the death of my son, or my husband, or brother. even though he had fought heroically. and so -- but he was the crucial figure in me -- in the book, and after agreeing to talk to me, he went back to vietnam with me ask shared with me hundreds of his letters. >> host: booktv traveled with you to vietnam as well in 2002, i believe. >> guest: yes. >> host: we want to introduce our viewers to clark welch.
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>> guest: great. >> wayneed to go to vietnam. my wife supported it. it was not surprising at all when i wasn't ordered to vietnam. it was as if my prayers were answered. i wanted to go to vietnam. i belongs to special forces then. and the little -- the crest of the special forces and the motto, as i understand it, means to lib rat liberate the oppressed, and i fell for that. when he special forces send me to south america, i thought i was going directly -- working for the president of the united states to liberate the oppressed people, and when we all discovered that there were people in vietnam that were being oppressed, and there was a chance to liberate the oppressed, i fell for that. i believed it. i believed -- i absolutely believed it in with my everything. we did what we were supposed to do, first in the morning, and the enemy came down the trail,
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and we ambushed them and killed them. we knocked them all down. about six of them. they were pushing bicycles. some they were -- they didn't shoot back. we just fired and then it was over. when i came out on the road to see if we could take a prisoner and make sure they were dead, see if they had any identification, the little bicycle in front -- the bicycle had been knocked over. and when i -- little person -- when i went to see if they were still alive, we'd take them prisoner, but to see if they had any identification, any uniform. it was a girl. it was a little girl. and a little girl like that.
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i didn't think i'd do that. >> host: a complicated story? that clark welch. a huge heart and a soldier at arms. bearing arms his whole life. and that is what made him so fascinating to me. he had feelings about why he went to vietnam, the way he felt afterwards, betrayed by his government, that incredible sensibility about people and yet the ability to kill as well. all of that was within clark welch, and i have not encountered anybody who has met him who hasn't been affected deeply by his humanity. he and i probably disagree on almost every political thing except we have this connection because i see what the
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commanders see in them and the understood i was going to tell the troops and that boned us. he is the gary cooper character. he has a lot of integrity. but also that complexity, as you see in his reaction to what he had -- what he did in vietnam. >> host: where did this title come from? >> guest: they marched to the sunlight is from a poet poem by a vietnam vet, and as i was starting my research, as die with almost every book, i dig into poetry because i -- along with -- i'm a nonfiction writer. facts are incredibly important to me. but i also looking for sensibilities. i don't overtly preach in any of my books but you can see my sensibility in each of them. and poetry is a way that evokes that. >> host: from "they marched into sunlight" when cafe pacific
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flight 765 from hong kong touched down at ho chi minh city on the morning of january 20002, here i was finally, derek candidate late, the fing new guy himself first visit to a country i only imagined for better and worse. with my wife at my side i looked out the window from seat 45c, is a the airplane rolled toward the terminal. everything seemed exotic motor bikes racing our jet on the parallel dirt road, packs of teenaged boys clinging to each seat. the hive of gray hangars, giants, culvert-like, immense half moon that once provided cover for u.s. helicopters. patient travelers at the cheng points inside. more soldiers, stone-cold serious, born after the war was over, a clatterring expectancy of people. waiting outside, fingers gripping the chain-link fence,
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heads straining for the first grissom of arriving relatives, bringing appliances and cardboard boxes full of other material wonders from the world beyond. then into the sunlight into a surprising jolt of ex-ill racing in the steamy saigon heat. >> guest: i did not fight in vamp i decide not cover the vietnam war. i got there very late in 2002. partly because of that my senses were completely alive. i would say that those two weeks in vietnam, as some later trips for other books to exotic places, -- i felt every sense more alive than i ever have in my whole life, the whole time. i was aware of everything. sometimes you go two weeks and months of your life and it's a blur, and then there are moments when everything is -- just comes
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in technicolor and has a deeper meaning. >> host: you had another life with the "washington post." how didout get connected with them? >> guest: sheer luck. i grew up after detroit, moved to madison, wisconsin, and an idyllic city. my father was the city editor of the cap caltime in madison. met my wife there we had our two children there andrew and sarah. and i realized that -- so in 1974, i set off to the east coast to apply for a newspaper job. >> host: after graduating university of wisconsin. >> guest: i did not graduate at that point, but after i was a journalist in wisconsin, i was actually working for wibe radio, writing my own newscast,
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i 19th 2 would rid -- 1972 i would cake -- my father's newspaper would one woodward and besteen on the front pain and i had my own 15-minute newscast, and i would take that story from the day and get some actuality, as they call it in radio, some sound bites from the republican national committee, and put them together and rewrite woodward and bernstein. i always joked to bob i've been rewriting him long before i knew him. that is what i was doing in madison, but i wanted to be a newspaper guy. went out to east coast, applied for jobs um and down the east coast, from providence and boston and hartford and then went to coney island where hi aunt lived, and went to nathan's famous hot dog stand and left my clip there i'd 'done some movie
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reviews and high school sports for the cap times in madison. down to trenton, new jersey, and it had just been purchased by the "washington post" and they sent up this man named dick harwood to be the editor. so i walked in and was at a loss. i said to him i left my clip at nathan's famous hotdog stand but if you hire me i'll be your best reporter in six months. and i went back to madison, and i knew on chimes leave, 10:00, the phone rings, ho-ho-ho, this is dick harwood. i can't pay your way out here, but i'll give you a shot for six months and if you're no good, you're gone. so, i packed up linda and i packed up andrew was four and sarah was not yet one, and we drove a little blue vega out to new jersey and that's where it all started, and after a short period of time, harwood decided
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i was his best reporter, and when he went back to the "washington post" he took me with him. >> host: that was 1977? >> guest: 19977 i get to washington. >> you're described at pulitzer prize winning david maraniss. >> guest: i am? >> host: one of the titles -- grabbed hold. what did you win it for. >> guest: for my coverage of bill clinton in 1992 for the "washington post." i was then the bureau chief for the paper. we were living in austin, texas. arkansas was part of my territory. i was by that point basically living in austin but covering national politics and sociology and other things. and before -- 1991 i wrote a memo to my editors, bob keiser in particular, the managing editor, and i said i think bill clinton is going to be the next president of the united states. and i want to spend an entire
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year just looking into various aspects of his life and the forces that shaped him so that when -- when he is president, people have a deeper understanding of this very complex person. and they let me goo d we do it. there were a few points where ross perot was making noise and they wanted to take me off -- some people wanted to take me off the story, but kaiser kept supporting me. i ran stories about bill clinton, everything range from clinton in the poultry industry to clinton and ethics to clinton and economics, all of these different aspects of his life. clinton faith. and those are the stories that won the pulitzer prize, and then the day after the election, i woke up in a -- what describe as
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a hellhole motel room on the outskirts of little rock. i was -- this ills '92. i was 43 years old. and woke up at 5:30 in the morning and said, i've got write this book. i think i know clinton better than anyone else. i would regret it if someone else does it. it's a story that means something to me, both because of the drama of his life and the fact he was the first member of my generation to become president. and so that's my first book. >> host: and first in his class is the name of the book, and to quote from that book: the notion that bill clinton began his political career as a radical and moved rightward over the decades is misleading. he was a cautious defender of the establishment during his student politics days at georgetown, and his oxford and yale years he was in the moderate wing of the antiwar movement, and from the beginning of his ascent in arkansas he would attack organized labor and
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court corporate interests when it served his political purpose. >> guest: you know, it seems kind of preposterous now in a sense, but that's the modern american politics. when he was running, the right wing was trying to portray him as some kind of radical. bill clinton was never a radical. he did oppose the war. but it's a misperception -- there are many ways to criticize president clinton, and others, but you got to get it right, and there's always the attempt to demonize somebody and then you miss the real failings or their strengths. my main thesis about bill clinton was not so much political as predictive, in the sense that i could see in his life this repetitive cycle of loss and recovery, and that's really what drew me to an understanding of him from the
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earliest days to the dives his presidency, that when he was down, he would figure a way to recover. and when he was on top, he would sew the seeds of his own destruction, and that repetitive cycle described bill clinton, long with his practicing mat fix policies. >> host: came out in 1995. dared maraniss, something that is appropriate to talk about today. rodham sued the college years at the time when she could try out different personalities and lifestyles. he explained in a letter to don jones, her youth pastor, but it is an important aspect of her personality that even then there was a self-aware, moderate aspect to her experimentation. in another letter to jones she talked about intentionally playing different roles at different times. now the social activist, now sticking to the books, and occasionally, adopting a kind of party mode. she claimed that she even got
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outrageous at times, but meetly modified the assessment, as outrageous as a moral methodist can get in her search for identity she thought of herself now as a progressive an ethical christian and political activist, for those judging her behavior for later in life when she seems to play contrasting roles at different times, here asserting her maiden name there relinquishinger. here deferring to her husband, there instructing him what to do, here posing for the cover of a women's magazine, there, emphasizing substance over style. here, searching for the moral meaning of life. there playing the commodities market to make a quick buck. here gaming, cookie-baking housewives, there, pedaling her chocolate chip recipe. it's instructive to know she was self-consciously ever present. >> guest: if wrote that in 1995. i think it still holds up
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probably with one one thing to add, which ills that my -- which is that my larger take on hillary rodham clinton is that she has been affected more by her husband's behavior and ups and downs than anyone necessary the world -- anyone else in the world so over the course of their presidency, which many of the major troubles took place after the book was written -- you can still see that in bill clinton but the defensiveness that was not there at the beginning -- she what experimental or trying to be in modest ways and never quite sure of herself in the same way that clinton was. i often -- i don't want people to take this the wrong way. but i've often said that bill clinton is an authentic phony, in that whatever he is doing at the time, he believes in and can make you believe in.
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and hillary, to her credit, is a phony phony. she is not at good at it. when you see her trying to be all these different parts, chev ills not quite comfortable with any of them in the same way that her husband can appear to be comfortable, whatever he is doing. and i think that is not served her well, even though i find her to be an incredibly competent person. think -- there's always this sense of, who is she? >> host: good afternoon. welcome to booktv on c-span2. this our mobilly in depth "program, we invine antibiotic author on and this month is "washington post" associate editor and author, david maraniss. he has been writing books zillion 95. here's a quick list: first in his class, biography of bill clinton. then the next. >> tell newt to shut up, came out.
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the clinton enigma came out in 1998. when pride still mattered, life of vince lombardi, 1999, and the prince of tennessee, al gore meets his fate, came out in 2000. they marched into sunlight, war and peace, vietnam in america, october 1967. that came out in 2003. clemente, the passion and grate of baseball's last hero, 2006. rome, 1960. the summer olympics that stirred the world, 2008. into the story, a writer's journey through life, politics, sports, and loss, came out in 2010. broke -- barack obama, the story, 2012, and once in a great city, detroit story, came out this year. now, this is an interactive program and we have spent 45 minutes or so talking. we want to get you involved as well. we'll put the phone lines up on the screen. if you want to talk to david maraniss, there's a lot of topics that can be talked about
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today. 202-748-8200 for those in the east and central time zone. 748-8201 if you live in the mountain and pacific time zone. if you can't get through on the phone lines and want to make a comment, try social media. let's begin with facebook. you'll see right at the top, some video of mr. maraniss. you can post a comment underneath it. you can also e-mail them,@book tv at c-span organize organize. @book tv is our twitter handle. you i can make a comment comment, and finally text in a message. this is not for calling but this is for texts: 202-717-9684. is our text number. and if you would, just include your first name and your town so we can at least know that much about you before we get started.
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>> david maraniss in your book, barack obama, the story, you write, and i hope i can find my quote right away here -- no life could have been more the product of ranness than that of barack obama. >> guest: eave life is random. his is maybe more random. a chance meeting of an african student at the university of hawai'i with a young woman who moved there because of her father, in a russian language class. all of it just -- there's so many different aspects of what got those people to that place that seem random. and the fact that it really was a romance or whatever that didn't last, and that he came out of that is extraordinary. the point of that -- this book, the story, is really to show how much a product of the entire
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world barack obama is, and yet how american that story. >> host: how well did he know his father? >> guest: he didn't know his father well at all. he met him once in hi life when the father came to honolulu when barack was in maybe third grade and spent about ten days there with the family, and it was a pretty tense ten days or so, and that is the only time he ever saw him in his whole life. aside from when he was too young to remember. the father was there for the first few months of obama's life, until the mother and her young baby moved back to seattle; from whence she was in high school. >> host: what was she like. >> she was a fabulous character.
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very strong-minded, independent, smart. sort of went her own way. very committed to social justice. and had a troubled marital life. first with barack obama senior and then with lolo, a indonesian. she pents much of her adult life overseas. she raised two children who loved her, but particularly her son, barack, felt at times if not abandoned by her, she wasn't around, he lived much of his high school years with his grandparents. the donehams in hop lieu lieu while she was still? indonesia. -- in hon lieu louvre while -- hon lieu louvre while she was in indonesia. she was in the micromanagement
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movement, worked for the ford foundation and other enterprises trying to help and empower women around the world, particularly in indonesia, and in the asian subcontinent, and she died very young. sadly, when barack was in this 20s. >> host: he is 54 today, the president is 54. what was it like for him in hawai'i, being raised by two white grandparents? >> guest: um, well, it wasn't a dysfunctional situation in any way. i think that he had lot to overcome, both because of the fact that his mother wasn't there, that he was struggling to figure out who he was. hawai'i was a very -- culture but there weren't that many african-americans. the few that were there were
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mostly affiliated with the military because of the military bases in honolulu. but he was -- it's interesting. i don't in any way discount historyings that young barry obama, as he was called then, endured at the private school he went to, but he -- because he was trying to find his identity as an african-american and a place where there weren't many, but it was -- everybody was dealing with that to some degree or another. a lot of people thought obama, which they didn't -- if they've didn't see him, though would think he was japanese. it's a japanese name, too. there were many, many japanese americans in honolulu, and you couldn't tell -- i called him -- there were so men okayeds who were half anglo and half
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something else, half portuguese and half native hawaiian, or all of these different mixes, and he was just part of that. and i think that had a very profound positive affect on him. as much as he had to struggle to find his identity as a black man, which he didn't do until many years later. growing up in hawai'i really introduced him to this multicultural world that aid loued him to have a universal sensibility which is one of his many strengths. >> host: you describe his grandfather as a character, kind of a lost character. >> guest: oh, yeah. >> host: a willy lohman. >> guest: yet, stanley dunham, he -- where to start with him. at one point he thought he was a writer, and he went out to california for a while and came back, and was trying to impress
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the woman who would be his wife, madeline, with his -- the fact he met john steinbeck out there and was hanging out with different writers and madeline's brother went to the trunk where stanley claimed he had all these write examination there was nothing in there. the suitcase was empty. he was all looking -- searching for something. so, the family really started this long search with him looking for a place where he would feel comfortable, you know, traveling to oklahoma and texas and then going further west to seattle, where he was a furniture salesman, and then out to hawai'i, as far west as you can go. thiscuú westward movement, migration, search for something. he was very -- he was a good talker, a good salesman but
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there wasn't that much behind it. one of the more moving scenes in president obama's memoirs, is watching his grandfather get up the courage to make the call as an insurance salesman, on a sunday night, all these cold calls and all of that aspect with his willy loehmann sort of the sadness behind this. >> host: you reveal in the story that his grandmother was an alcoholic. >> guest: yes. and i knew that, but it hadn't been reported, but president obama in my interview with him, acknowledged it in the oval office. >> host: and an active alcoholic, drinking. >> guest: she was still drinking. she never stopped that i know of. but i have to say that i didn't
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do extensive reporting on that but there was enough to see -- there wasn't -- i'm not an expert on alcoholism, but she was -- never affected her professional career, that i could tell. she was a very well-regarded person in the banking industry in honolulu. she was the rock of the family. she was the run who really brought home the money and was very practical and pragmatic in helping her two grandchildren, barack, barry, and miya, sort of raising -- helping raise both of them, and so it really didn't show. she would come home and drink. a private home drinker, alcoholic. >> host: david maraniss, what was it like for a these two wheat people from kansas to raise a black grandson? >> guest: well, family would go
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around telling people in hawai'i that his grandson was hawaiian prince or a descend accident of a hivessan -- descendent of a hawaiian prince. he could look hawaiian sometimes and that is when he was younger. when parry -- he was called barry until he went to college sew i'll call him that in this period. when barry was in high school, the family tried to introduce him to some african-americans in honolulu, and he was conscious of that part of his -- the need for it. madeline, growing up in kansas, -- actually that part of kansas where they were from, near wichita, el dorado and augusta, there were african-americans in those towns in kansas. it was a free state. and every town had a black
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community in it. so it wasn't completely alien to them, but nonetheless it had to have been a challenge for them to figure out how to raise this young man, and they did it essentially without focusing too much on race, and again, there's a scene in -- that i deal with in my book that barry, barack, president obama mentions in miss memoir of his mother -- his grandmother waiting for a bus at a bus stop near their apartment in honolulu, and coming back and complaining there's a strange looking african-american man out there who is bothering her, and barack trying to deal with his mixed feelings how his grandmother was reacting. >> host: presidentbarack obama d in honolulu. >> guest: uh-huh. >> host: you also traveled to
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africa for this story. want to show some video and have you describe it. -- >> traveled around this part of western kenya, based in the capital of this part of the country, and it's informally called luo-land because it's the main tribe out here are the lulo and that's the tribe from which which barack obama's family came. we drove from down to a little town where we interviewed barack obama's only living paternal aunt. the sister of barack obama, sr., living in a small mud-floored,
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one-room house, back in the back streets of this tiny village, with only a couple of couches there, and about five pictures and a few calendars on the wall, and most of them related to the president of the united states. the reality behind so many sort of things you think you know but don't really know, and it's when guy out and really see vibrant life and things i never could see in my lifetime any other way than because of what i do, that i just think, wow, i am so lucky. >> host: the only surviving blood aunt. >> guest: one of the sort of revelations of that trip to western kenya was to see the contrast between the people --
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the relatives, quote-unquote, that president obama wrote about in his memoir, versus other relatives who were largely forgotten who are closer blood relatives. so in his memoirs, the main character of his visit to kenya is a mama sarah, or grandma sarah, who lived north of where we just were showing, and when we got to her house, it was surrounded by fences, there were guards there, all sorts of protections. there were trinkets salesmen outside of she had become sort of the queen of the -- the kane mother of kenya because of her
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fame, because of his memoir and the fact he was now presidentment she was not related to him. she was married to president obama's grandfather much after president obama's father was born. he had a mother who left, escaped from the grandfather with the kids, and as a matter of fact, barack obama, sr. really despised her, did not like her and jet she becomes a major figure and that's who obama -- president obama sees in africa while alma, who was president obama's father's sister, his real aunt, is essentially neglected in the story. and it's a very complicated -- i'm not trying to criticize the
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president for that. it's a very complicated family in kenya. it still is. there are a lot of relatives. there's relatives floating around in different ways, and like a lot of families, it's kind of a mess. but it's real life. that's what i was trying to find. >> host: david maraniss, you go to the place where barack obama, sr. was killed in a drunk driving accident. you also interviewed his last wife. ...
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>> guest: he had left and gone to kenya to have this baby, barack, he never would have gotten back into the country. that's not even worth talking about. but in any case, ruth was the wife after anne dunham, and she went back to kenya with him and had a very, very difficult marriage. and it was during my interviews with her that i really started to understand the abuses of the alcoholism that the father suffered from and the, you know, the way that he was physically abuse i of his -- abusive of his wife. >> host: where does this bookend? >> guest: it ends, you know, really early. [laughter] it ends with barack obama goes
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back to chicago after being in new york city going to columbia, graduating from columbia, working there for a couple of years. he goes back to chicago as a community organizer and really finds himself, finds his identity in chicago on the south side with the black community there. and it ends with him realizing sort of having an illuminating situation where he realizes what power really means and the -- how to get power, real power. you know, he really learned a lot from community organizing but decided that he needed something beyond that to try to change the world. so he applies to law school, gets accepted at harvard, and it ends with him driving his car up to harvard to start his real power, search for power. >> host: is there a second volume? >> guest: there definitely will be a second volume.
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i have too many diverse interests to devote my life to one thing, so i'm going to wait, and i hope that everything turns out so that i can write this book about phi or six years -- five or six years after he's out of the presidency. i don't like writing books that become irrelevant too soon. i try to write for history. and, or you know, i'll wait for his memoir to come out. you know, there are going to be thousands of books written about barack obama over the next hundred years if we still have books. [laughter] so i'm not laying claim to anything special, but i do have an interest in writing about him. i'm sure, i know there are other books that will come out that will have things i don't have, but i want to write one more book about him, and i'm going to wait five or six years. >> host: one more story before we go to calls and, callers, you've been very patient, i apologize to you. who is janet cook, and what's your connection? >> guest: oh, man.
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[laughter] i don't really like talking about that story, but, of course, i have to, it's part of my life. janet cook was a reporter at the washington post in the, right around 1979-'81 period. and in 1981 she wrote a story called "jimmy's world" about a, what was it, a 7 or 8-year-old heroin addict in washington, d.c. and she won the pulitzer prize for that story. and it was a complete fabrication. and i had a, sort of a complex, difficult situation with that. i didn't trust the story from the beginning. i was the deputy metro editor of "the washington post." bob woodward was the metro editor. and there were several people, myself among them, who are suspicious of this story.
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cortland malloy, a great friend of mine and a brilliant columnist at the paper, didn't believe it, african-american who knew washington well. a couple of investigative reporters were leery of it. my question about it -- i had two things that made it, one, come for -- complex and one reay minor but set it up. i was editing another great writer then, neil henry, who wrote a series called "down and out in baltimore and washington." he went out into the streets as a hobo, basically, and lived for several months. and that was where my commitment was. and i was upset that the post nominated janet cook for the pulitzer instead of neil which i thought, considered a travesty. so i had a certain bias, and i was always conscious of that in terms of how i should speak out against janet cook. but the reason i didn't believe her story is because she said jimmy was a baltimore orioles
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fan. an 8-year-old kid in that era in southwest -- southeast washington would have been a redskins fan. football, not baseball. and not baltimore. it just didn't ring true in any possible way to my cut. and so -- to my gut. so that little thing was what set me thinking. but in any case, so it won the pulitzer prize and immediately started to unravel. didn't surprise me. it upset me, of course. but it had this, it became this sort of lynch mob mentality immediately which also turns me off. i mean, as much as i take pride in my profession of journalism and detest anything that harms it in the lack of truth and of fabrication, i have an equally strong feeling about lynch mop mentalities.
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so everybody was going after janet cook at this point. and i was part of the group of editors that were getting her to retract or tell the truth about what happened. first, someone called ben bradley, the editor, and said that part of her resumé was concocted and not true. she didn't get a degree from the sarbonnes or whatever. so then we started looking into it a little more. many people were involved, and eventually five editors took her into a room at "the washington post" and started grilling her. and i started feeling sorry for her. not because i liked what she did in any sense, but she's a human being, and i just could identify with what the horror that must have been going through her head when she won that prize and then to see it all, you know, it couldn't have been a moment of joy for her when she won. she must have been thinking, i'm going to be found out. and so that's the way i think
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and that's the way i was thinking about her. and so eventually bob woodward was being real tough with her and a few other editors, and then they all left, and i was alone with her. and i knew immediately she would fess up to me. because i wasn't threatening to her, she could sense that i identified on some human level with what she was enduring just as a person struggling in that moment of horror. and so she did. so i'm the one that she confessed to. i'm not, i'm neither proud, nor embarrassed about it, it's just the way it happened. and i'm certainly, i certainly regret that it ever happened, i mean, that she wrote that story and that it blemished the post. i didn't believe then and i don't believe now that it had -- i think it was illuminating in the sense this could happen. it's certainly happened at other
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newspapers and at other times. it happens in every industry, and in newspapers it's more harmful because everything we do has to be based on trust and truth. i think that, unfortunately, lies are probably published in newspapers every day of some sort based on just reporting what politicians or government officials are saying. of course, that's different, but nonetheless, some part of the context of what we do. and, you know, everything has moved on, but janet cook's life was gone from that point. so i identify in that sense. >> host: david maraniss is our guest, and now it's your turn here on booktv. jim in ohio, thanks for holding on. you're first up with david maraniss. >> caller: you're certainly welcome, peter. these shows are the reason i keep cable television, and you always get it right and so does
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mr. maraniss. it's an honor to talk with you, sir. >> guest: thank you. >> caller: most of my comments are apropos of your most recent book. i grew up in akron, ohio, you know, the old rust belt thing. my dad was a car salesman, had the first ear 63 -- '63 riviera that landed in akron. i saw goodyear tire go downhill in the mid '70s. i guess at a certain age, you and i are about the same age, at a certain age you get a little more nostalgic. i still go to akron to get custard at strickland's by the airport and just last summer got to ride down derby downs hill after living beside it for years as a small boy. you'll be glad to know, i ordered your book on detroit. i wanted to commend to you a book by another newspaper guy in our area who used to write for the beacon journal. it's called "the hard way on purpose:" essays by a young man
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who's now teaching at akron. one sentence from that book which leads to me question says, "we could embrace impossible hope or impossible hopelessness, but each of us had to choose." and with regard to detroit, do you want to give us your crystal ball for maybe ten years from now and twenty years -- twenty-five years from now, because we know they're trying to reinvent themselves up there. so having studied it in depth like you always do, what would be your guess? >> host: that's jim in macelin, ohio. >> guest: yes, thank you for all of that, jim. as an author and journalist, my basic disposition is to be optimistic but skeptical. so that's about where i am on detroit. i think that you see it moving in the last, really last year or two from becoming a symbol of a city of ruin to a symbol of a
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city of hope. i've been there five times in the last couple of months because of my book and book tour, and every time i see a little more buzz about the place. and now i even notice that on some lists it's, like, one of the 25 place -- cities to travel to in the united states which you couldn't have imagined ten years ago. but the downtown is starting to boom. the midtown area near wayne state university and the detroit institute of arts, a world class arts center, is filling up with young people. i tell kids, you know, if you want to start your life, move to detroit. it's cheap, there's a lot more activity going on there, sort of a momentum of techies and foodies and musicians and artists, a really nice feel to that. on the other hand, there are wide swaths of detroit that feel still left behind and forgotten. the working class that built detroit, black and white, needs to be restored for it to have a
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real renaissance. but i am hopeful. >> host: alicia is calling in from laguna nigel, california. hi there, alicia. >> caller: hi there. how are you gentlemen today? first of all, peter, thank you for taking the call and, mr. maraniss, thank you as well. i have a very quick question. i'm a published author myself but also a former politician for u.s. congress. but you, what you were talking about with regard to the clintons, it really kind of struck me as something i think that's very important for the american public. you made a statement regarding hillary's roles that she chooses and has chosen throughout her life and her career. and what i was wondering is, and i wanted to see if you had any thought on this, what do you think that her role of wife to former president bill clinton, how it will affect her role as
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presidential hopeful? and that's truly all i want to say. >> guest: yes, thank you. you know, i think, honestly, that it affects her role in the campaign and the election more than it would if she became president. although with the caveat that it's still kind of hard to imagine the big dog, as clinton is called, in the white house if she's the president and he's the first man. what in the world are they going to do with him, or what's he going to do with himself? i don't know that. but i think that once she gets there with that aside, i think that she'll be liberated to a certain extent from many, much of the baggage that she's had to carry over a long period of time because of that very complex relationship with her husband. it has served her for better, certainly. i don't know that she would have gotten as far as she has without him or certainly not, he
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wouldn't have gotten as far as he did without her, but it has hurt her in two different ways. one is the negative that she's had to sort of be defensive and protective because of his activities over a long period of time and has built up sort of an encrusted sensibility in her that she wouldn't have had if she had been involved with someone else. the second one is just a simple matter of comparing her campaign abilities with his. it's unfair really to compare anybody with bill clinton over the last quarter century because of his enormous political campaign talents. and she can't compare with him in terms of speaking abilities, abilities to connect at that, what i call that authentic phoniness of his. and, again, i'm not -- i'm using "phony" in a somewhat light harte -- lighthearted way. he can adapt to a situation
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unlike any politician i've ever seen before. and just to compare her with that is difficult as well. so in those two ways she has to carry the burdens of bill clinton's pluses and minuses with her through the campaign. i don't think it'll be the same if she's elected president. >> host: the long haul, you write in first in his class, the view toward the future in history was evident in the clinton and rodham partnership from its formation. for clinton, perpetually infatuated with a shining new idea or a fresh face, hillary was the rare constant. her intellect, resilience and ambition always there, equal to his. when he had thought about marrying her, it was not so much the sight of the young woman that overwhelmed him as an image of an older version. hillary, he told friends, was the one woman with whom he could imagine growing old and not getting bored. >> guest: you know, i'm uncomfortable talking about marital relationships because nobody, except the two people involved, really know the truth.
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and, you know, the whole world knows this, but they don't accept it. except in their own lives. but nonetheless, i would say that isn't it ironic, or maybe ironic's the wrong word, odd that who would have guessed the gores would be separated and the clintons would still be together after they went through what they went through in the 1990s? but that just shows you, you never know. i think that the clintons have a very complicated, symbiotic relationship, but that it is deeper than just sort of a convenience, that there's much more to it than that. and that, in fact, that statement of him seeing he could grow old with her, i mean, i can't predict what's going to happen in four years with them, but they have grown old together. >> host: have you thought about writing a book about hillary clinton? >> guest: well, no. i write extensively about her in that book.
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i'm thinking that i'll write another book about the clintons. again, that's for me to do in my 70s, if i'm healthy. [laughter] with obama i might go back to those two stories one more time. but i can't write about her now. i want to write for history, and we'll have to wait and see what happens. >> host: eric in jackson, wyoming, please go ahead with your question or comment for david maraniss. >> caller: hello, mr. maraniss, it's a privilege to talk to you. i have a fantasy david maraniss book. i consider you the master of the nonfiction form. my life took me through madison, wisconsin, and i just find it still even years away a remarkable place. so many threads of american life seem to have sewer sected there politically -- intersected there politically, athletically, i don't have to tell you the father of american conservation
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and leopold on that score, you have elle roy crazy legs hirsh who was one of the nfl's big superstars -- >> host: eric, why did your life take you through madison? >> caller: college. went to college there. >> host: university of wisconsin. okay. so what is your, what is your idea for david maraniss? >> caller: the book is american crucible. i'm giving him the title. [laughter] >> guest: nobody gives me titles, but i appreciate it. [laughter] >> caller: but, but that's that idea of the script writer going home again to reveal this place that just seems to have played in so many ways at so many times in the american story in very real ways, important ways. i mean, paul -- [inaudible] who was at that riot who became a mayor, became quite a grassroots voice for many years there politically, and you have bob la follette who was the father of progressivism, you have the modern --
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>> host: eric, what do you do in jackson, wyoming? >> caller: i'm a jack of all trades. [laughter] >> host: thank you, sir, for calling in. david maraniss, a book about your hometown. >> guest: i appreciate that. i get a lot of people suggesting ideas for books for me. and they have to come organically out of my soul. madison is certainly in my soul, so there's always a possibility that something like that will come out of me. i've written a lot about madison in various ways, including they marched into sunlight. half that book is about madison. you're certainly right that it has played a very interesting role in american life for many, many decades, and so it's a possibility. absolutely. thank you for your call. >> host: and you still spend your summers in madison, correct? >> guest: yeah. still going back to 2003. linda and i left madison in 1975
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and really would come back occasionally until 2003. and then my parents, elliott and mary, were in their last years, and i realized i could go home again. they'd moved to milwaukee. i wanted to be, we wanted to be closer to them. there were no other relatives in madison which, in a way, makes it a little easier. and so i bought a house there, and we spend our summers in madison into the early fall. i love the fall in madison. and it's, it's been a really nice reconnection. not everything about the new city is, are things that i love, but for the most part, i love the three lakes, i love the university, and we have a lot of close friends there, and it's a very comfortable place to be. and especially in contrast with washington. which i also love, but there's just such a nice difference
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between the two places that i think it leads to a healthier perspective. >> host: jim is calling in from newport news, virginia. hi, jim. >> caller: hello. my questions for you are what do you think that obama's presidential legacy might be, and he's retiring from office rather young, so what do you think he might contribute to the world in his post-presidential years? >> guest: thank you for that question. legacies are always hard to predict. my own sense is that history, depending on who writes history, of course, but i think history will be much kinder to president obama than the way he's being treated during his presidency. i think he's accomplished a lot of things. i have certain aspects of his presidency that i disagree with
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in terms of civil liberties, some of his foreign policy has been difficult. but i don't -- if anybody had an answer to solving the problems of the mideast and the modern world, nobody does. you know, a lot of people pretend they do, but they don't. it's an incredibly difficult situation. i think he's made some mistakes, i think more serious mistakes were made by the president before him. so i think in foreign policy it's still up in the air what his legacy will be. i think in terms of domestic policy it's been pretty productive. and especially considering everything he's had to work against and had to deal with in what i consider to be a fairly sick modern american political culture. in terms of what he'll do next, where did i read yesterday that hillary was going to appoint him to the supreme court?
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i can't imagine that. because he wouldn't want to be pinned down like that. i think he'll, you know, it depends on where bill clinton, the other former presidents are in terms of their international travels. i would imagine that he won't move back to chicago, more likely to new york, although he'll be in chicago a lot because that's where his library will be. and i think he could do some teaching. i know that he's going to write another book which will get more money than any book in the history of american presidents, and maybe peter slen will interview him on booktv for that book. [laughter] i'm sure it will be a well written book and interesting and something that i'll study deeply when i'm writing my next book about president obama. you know, he is a good writer, and i could see him writing more than one book.
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and beyond that i don't know. >> host: how strong is his connection to hawaii? he goes there every christmas, but do you think he has a strong connection? >> guest: i do. i think he has a very strong feeling about hawaii. i think he feels very comfortable there. and, yeah, it's his, or you know, madison is to me what hawaii is to him, although he doesn't go there as often. i'm sure that he will never live there, go there every christmas and maybe a little more than that as he gets older. and i think that hawaii shaped him as much as any place. i think that chicago made him into political figure that he is, but hawaii made him the person he is. >> host: rose asks via twitter, which candidate in the presidential race in 2016 interests you most as a person with an intriguing, complex
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truth? [laughter] >> guest: well, i've written about hillary. there's not too much more about her that i really feel a compulsion to explore. i'm not in the least bit interested in donald trump except as sort of a vehicle for other expressions of the modern american situation. although i must say that today my buddy, jason horowitz, of "the new york times" who i edit, enjoyed editing when he was at the post for a while, wrote a really fascinating piece about donald trump's older brother freddie can and their relationship. and there's certain aspects of that that are interesting, but essentially, i'm not interested in him. i've written about a couple of the other candidates. in one of the books that peter
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mentioned, "tell newt to shut up," which, by the way, was a quote from john boehner -- [laughter] or to john boehner from his constituency in 1995 when he went home on spring break and gingrich was driving the republican party crazy with some of his whining. but in any case, one of the larger characters in that book is john kasich who was then the chairman of the house budget committee. and i found kasich interesting in several ways. one is that he wasn't afraid to take on certain aspects of traditional republican politics, you know? he was, he went after the pentagon budget and the b-2 bomber and was a little bit of a maverick in many ways. he was very open to the press, and yet i think that he's got certain conflicts still that he's trying to resolve in terms
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of surviving in this republican party as it exists today. and, of course, he's struggling as a candidate. but i find him an interesting political character. so i guess that's where i would -- >> host: greg is in ohio. greg, you're on booktv with author david maraniss. >> caller: hello, david. >> guest: hello. >> caller: let's talk baseball on a cold january amp. >> guest: all right. let's go. >> caller: let's talk about roberto clemente and his relationship with branch ricky and how branch and why branch brought him to the pittsburgh pirates. >> guest: yes, thank you for asking. well, as anybody who knows baseball knows, branch ricky is one of the larger characters in the history of baseball who when he ran the brooklyn dodgers integrated baseball, broke the color barrier by bringing in jackie robinson. and then he had his
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disagreements with walter o'malley, the owner of the dodgers, and left the dodgers and went to the lowly pittsburgh pirates who were, you know, at the dregs of the national league for a long time and started to rebuild the pirates. but long before that as the head of the dodgers, ricky had scouted roberto clementi when he played in puerto rico for -- [speaking in native tongue] in the puerto rican league. and did scouting reports on clemente and signed him to a dodgers contract. he was, he played for the dodgers in montreal for one year. they tried to hide him so that he couldn't be stolen by another team because he wasn't on the 40-man roster of the dodgers. so he didn't play that much in montreal, and he was kind of seething there.
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but by the time, by time that season was over, ricky -- with the pirates -- took clemente from the dodgers in what was called the rule five draft where you're allowed to take somebody who's not on the protected roster. and so it was ricky who brought robinson to the dodgers and then clemente to the pirates. he came to the pirates in 955 -- 1955, really did not excel for the next four years which is important to remember. he struggled for the first several years of his career with the pirates. and then finally blossomed in 1960, his first great season when he helped lead the pirates to the national league championship and the world series' seven-game victory over the yankees. when he got a hit in every game and thought that he should have been the mvp of the team that
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year, but it went to the shortstop. anyway, that was the beginning of clemente's incredible 1990s span -- 1960s span when he was the best pure hitter in baseball as well as being a brilliant right fielder. branch ricky is the one who got him to pittsburgh, and he deserves enormous credit for that. >> host: and the subtitle is the passion and grace of baseball's last hero. nice front-page blurb there by george will, a well known baseball fan, about that book. [laughter] but here is some video from october 17, 1971. >> guest: oh, wow. >> here with me right now, the greatest right fielder in the game of baseball, roberto clemente. congratulations on a great world series. >> thank you, bob. i say, i would like to say especially for my mother and father in spanish -- [speaking spanish]
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>> we love him too. >> guest: i consider that one of the most moving moments in baseball history because it, what clemente did was thank his parents in spanish. it took a lot of guts in 1971 for him to do that. and that was an incredible statement of his pride in who he was and where he was from. clemente loved puerto rico, and he really, you know, he over the years has become sort of the patron saint of not just puerto rico, but of latin american baseball. and that moment, i can't tell you how many people i interviewed who either were of latino origin living in new york or new jersey or florida or puerto rico or nicaragua or vens venezuela who say they heard
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that and that their father was crying when he listened to it on the radio, that expression of pride of who he was. >> host: was his body ever found? >> guest: no. the plane crashed, just for those who don't know, he was delivering humanitarian aid to nicaragua after the earthquake there in 1972, and the aid was being diverted by the strongman. clemente said if i go, it'll get to the people. he boarded a plane that he shouldn't have been on. it was yo loaded -- overloaded by more than 4,000 pounds. it was being flown by a pilot who hadn't slept in 20-some hours and had many citations against him. -owned by a near -- it was owned by a ne'er-do-well owner of the plane, arturo rivera, who bought it out of an area of miami
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international airport called cockroach corner, a dc-3 that was in terrible condition. everything about it said don't get on this plane, and clemente got on the plane. it crashed shortly after takeoff into the sea, the atlantic ocean. for weeks, for a couple weeks people were, divers were finding different parts of the plane, and the other bodies, and the book ends with all they found of clemente was one red sock. vera, his wife, knew it was his. >> host: and you met vera, didn't you, when you went down to puerto ricosome. >> guest: oh, yes, many times. she's a wonderful woman. never remarried. their house is still sort of a shrine to roberto clemente. and she carries his memory in every possible way as do her
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sons. yeah. >> host: did any of the three boys get into baseball? >> guest: yeah. two out of the three played. and roberto jr. was also the spanish-language announcer for the yankees for a while. like most sons of great athletes, they couldn't match their father. a few exceed their fathers' talents, you know, ken griffey jr. and barry bonds, but most can never live up to it, mikkel mantle jr., roberto clemente jr. it's a very difficult thing to do. >> host: pete in upper sandusky, ohio, texts in to you, clemente was one of my childhood favorites. not having read your book on him yet, what was your take on him in contrast to today's stars? >> guest: you know, it's hard to find a player today who matches clemente as a player and a human being. clemente was that rare athlete
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who was growing as a human being as his skills were -- well, as he was getting older. his skills never really diminished. but he was outspoken in a way that some athletes are starting to be again, but there's a long period through the michael jordan era when the commercialism dominated and the politics was repressed. clemente was never afraid to speak out about any issue. he was particularly strong about his pride of place and language, and when he got to pittsburgh, the sports writers would quote him in pigeon english. you know, even in the headlines, "i got heat" for hit. he knew english better than they knew spanish, and he really rebelled against that, against the notion that -- he was a
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hypoconnedly yak, and i know when i see one, because i'm one too. he played more games than any pirate in history, he mayed hard, and he wasn't -- he had to combat that often stereotype of the lazy puerto rican which, you know, is hideous and insidious. and he did overcome that. he's beloved in pittsburgh and some of the other places today, but it wasn't quite like that when he was playing. there was a lot more tension to some of it. this terms of his skills, he had the most beautiful right arm of any right fielder in history. there have been many, you know? dwight evans, rocky calavito, dave parker. clemente's was the standard by which they're all judged. i've often said that, you know, you can see a home run hitter, and they hit a home run, and you go home and forget it. you see a throw from right field to third base on a rope that gets a player out, you never
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forget it. >> host: when asked to list as heros, you write clemente would place martin luther king jr. at the top of the list. he supported integration and believed in king's philosophy of nonviolence. yet, many some ways his sensibilities brought him closer to malcolm x. he detested any response to jim crow segregation that made him seem to beg. jackson in norcross, georgia, you've been very patient. you're on with david maraniss on booktv. >> caller: hello, how are you. thank you for taking my question. my question is regarding president obama's time at columbia. i wanted to know how did genevieve cook describe barack obama during the time they spent together in new york city, and that's basically the question i have for you, david. thank you. >> guest: thank you. >> host: he's read your book, it sounds like. >> guest: i guess he has. genevieve cook was barack obama's girlfriend after columbia in the two years he was there after he'd graduated from
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columbia. and she was very insightful in terms of -- she was a white woman. you know, in obama's, president obama's memoir, "dreams from my father," there's a very provocative couple of pages where he says i was in love with a girl in new york, and she was white. and from the moment that he sort of burst onto the political scene, every political reporter in the world wanted to find out who this woman was. and with the help of julie tate who is a wonderful researcher at the washington post and gabriel banks who was my assistant researcher on book and myself, the three of us over the course of more than a year followed the pursuit of trying to find out who this woman was.
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first, we found out someone had a letter that said barack broke up with genevieve. that was our first hint, so we had a first name. then over the course of many, many months putting all of this into the computer in variations found a wedding announcement in new york that eventually took me to a name that i checked in the records in connecticut and found another name and eventually found genevieve cook. and she struck up a conversation with me over the course of many, many weeks. at one point she wrote to me, an e-mail that i'll never forget saying, dear david, i've been reading about how you wrote your book on vietnam, and i saw how important it was for you to have contemporaneous documents. by the way, i kept a diary. [laughter]
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so i got her diary. and in that diary she writes about what -- the central thread of that is she knew that barack obama was in this search and that he would end up marrying a black woman. and that was very important. but she, to him -- and she understood that. but she also saw what she called the veil, that there was an aspect to barack obama which was hard to penetrate, a certain, you know, now it's called aloofness in his presidency, but there was always sort of a distance between what was inside him and what he was projecting to the world. and i think in that sense she understood his personality pretty perceptively at a very early age. >> host: david maraniss' first book, "first in his class: a biography of bill clinton," came out in '95. tell mute to shut up came out the follow -- tell newt to shut up came out the following year and the clinton enigma came out
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in 1998. the bio on vince lombardi in '99, the prince of tennessee: al gore meets his fate, march of 2000. they marched into sunlight, 2003. clemente, that we've talked about, 2006. rome: 1960, the summer olympics that stirred the world," which we haven't talked about yet, 2008. "into the story: a writer's journey through life, politics, sports and loss," 2010. "barack obama: the story," 2012, and "once in a great city: detroit's story," came out in 2015. whenever we have a writer on "in depth" we ask him or her about their influences, what they're reading, those types of questions. here's what david maraniss had to say.
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> of this year's presidential candidates have written books to introduce themselves to voters
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and to promote their views on issues. here's a look at some of the candidates' books. in his newest book, "reply all," jeb bush catalogs his e-mail correspondence during his time as the florida governor. presidential candidate and former neurosurgeon ben carson argues that a better understanding of the constitution is necessary to solve america's most pressing issues in his latest book, "a more perfect union." and former secretary of state hillary clinton looks back on her time serving in the obama administration in "hard choices." in "a time for truth," texas senator ted cruz recounts his journey from a cuban immigrant's son to the u.s. senate. carly fiorina, former ceo of hewlett-packard, is another declared candidate for president. in "rising to the challenge," she shares lessons she's learned from her difficulties and triumphs. former arkansas governor mike huckabee gives his take on politics and culture in "god,
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guns, grits and grave -- gravy." ohio governor john kasich calls for a return to traditional american values in "stand for something." and kentucky senator rand paul calls for smaller government and more bipartisanship in his latest book, "taking a stand." more presidential hopefuls with books include florida republican senator marco rubio. in "american dreams" he outlines his plans to advance economic opportunity. independent vermont senator bernie sanders is another candidate for the democratic nomination for president. his 1997 autobiography now titled "outsider in the white house" was updated to to include his time in the senate and the launch of his presidential campaign. and in "blue collar conservatives," presidential candidate rick santorum argues the republican party must focus on the working class in order to retake the white house. donald trump has written several bestsellers. in his newest book, "crippled
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america," he outlines his political platform. and finally, governor christie and former governors martin o'malley and jim gilmore have announced their candidacies but haven't released books. >> host: david maraniss, you've mentioned her at least seven times throughout the show, and you list her as one of your influences. who is linda? >> guest: who is linda. she is my wife of 46 years. we got married when we were barely 20 years old and have had an incredible 46-year marriage. >> host: does she participate many your books? >> guest: i call her the quirky snake in one of my acknowledgments. she participates in every one of my books. it's been -- i don't know, i couldn't have done any of them without her really. i mean, she's traveled with me, she makes friends wherever we go in ways that i can't. she reads my books.
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you know, when my parents were alive, they were my first editors and wonderful, and they're gone, and now linda's my first editor. and we have sort of a ca wookie theater -- kabooky theater ritual where she'll read something i've written and say she doesn't understand immaterial, and i will disparage her for that in a very sexist way and then go back and change everything to exactly what she suggested because she's right. [laughter] >> host: she takes a lot of your photographs too. >> guest: she does. i think she's had a photo in almost every one of my books. and she's traveled with me to vietnam, she moved, you know, it started when i uttered the immortal loving words, how would you like to move to green bay for the winter? and her response was, brrr. [laughter] but we did. i'll never forget, we lived up on green bay, the literal bay, in a, quote-unquote, cottage in
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brussels, wisconsin. and the bay froze. we watched it freeze. and for our christmas cards that year, we were standing by the frozen bay in the snow, and i had a cheesehead on, packer cheesehead, and linda had a sign that said "help." [laughter] she'd been trapped up there. but she was fabulous. and it's really been an important part of every book i've written. >> host: 202 is the area code. 748-8200 if you live in the east and central time zones and have a question or comment for david maraniss. 202-748-8201 for those of you in the mountain and pacific time zones. several ways to get through on social media too if the phone lines are jammed. go to facebook and make a comment there, you can make a comment on twitter @booktv is our twitter handle, you can send an e-mail to, and finally, you can send a text
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message to 202-717-9604. those are for text messages only. don't call that number. would be nice, any advice -- and this is from marshall via twitter -- any advice for authors and a word about your writing process. >> guest: advice for authors, that's a pretty general question. i mean, advice for authors is write and read. my writing process i can describe. i talk about what i call the four legs of the table for my writing process. and the first leg of the table i've described is go there. wherever "there" is, to absorb the culture and geography and sociology of a place. the second leg of the table is acquire archival documents. they can be officially archival
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or not. my first book on bill clinton, i went to hope, arkansas, checked into i think it was the motel 8 on the edge of town. it turns out that the woman, the night clerk there said she was billy clinton's great aunt. i said sort of half jokingly that half the people many hope claim they're related to bill clinton, and the other half probably really were. but in any case, she took a liking to me and putty more me -- pity for me because this was the springtime, and the mimosa trees were blooming in southwest arkansas, and i'm an incredibly allergic, asthmatic person, and my nose was all stuffed up. so the great aunt said, you know, david, if you come over to my house, i've got a magic potion that'll cure your allergies. so i went to her house, and she gave me this potion, and it made me sicker. but while we were there, she said, you know, david, i have -- up in the attic i have box of
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all of billy clinton's mama's effects. and mama in southern means grandmother. so my heart started beating louder, and she took down this big cardboard box, and the first thing i saw in it was stationery that said georgetown university. and there was a big stash of billy clinton's letters home to his mama from his years at georgetown. and they were, you know, they were sort of prosaic in some ways and incredibly illuminating in others. but they showed the early germination of bill clinton's political infatuation. and in ways that you can't get through interviews. it's contemporaneous documents that are so important. every one of my books i've, you know, the last book i went to 13 archives around the country, in this case, more formal archives ranging from the benson ford research center out in dearborn where i did a lot of the ford work, duke university has the
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greatest advertising archive in the world, and that's where i got the papers for the j. walter thompson ad campaign for the mustang. and the walter luther library, an archive at wayne state university, had all of the documents, the archives for mayor jerome kavanaugh who's a major character in my book, for the police commissioner then, george edwards, another major character as well as for the walk to freedom, that event where martin luther king delivered the "i have a dream" speech. all was in that archive. that's the second leg, get the archival. third one is interviews. for each one of my books, i've done ranging from 100 to 400 interviews with people. part of that is going to the places to find them wherever that is around the world. interviewing people who are important many more times than once. the first interview is often the
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least important except to set a tone. and the fourth leg of my table is to look for what's not there, to try to break through the mythology that's encrusted around most stories and find other realities. >> host: larry's in washington, and you are on with author david maraniss. please go ahead, larry. >> caller: yes, good morning. or, good afternoon. going back to your book on -- [inaudible] i notice in the uprisings from the students in madison that dick cheney was also there. [laughter] but he kept his head down very low. he didn't want to, the draft board to notice him, i think. but i was wondering how he as a person went from more or less anti-war in vietnam with his five deferments, but pro-war for iraq? could money have anything to do with it? thank you. >> guest: thank you for that question. dick cheney and his wife lynne
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were at the university of wisconsin in the fall of 1967. he was getting his ph.d -- or he was in graduate school in the political science department. and lynne was studying english. they were living in eagle heights, student housing for graduate students. you're right, he was in a sense dodging the draft or getting as many deferments as he can to not serve in vietnam. but he wasn't against the war. he supported the war. he was what, you know, they now call the chickenhawk who didn't fight in any war, but nonetheless are supportive of wars. and that period in madison was fairly instrumental in shaping, as a matter of fact, especially lynne cheney's hostility towards the left in american life. and really pushed them further to the right in reaction to the
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demonstrations. so that's the reality of the cheneys in wisconsin. he was avoiding the draft, supporting the war, working on his political science degree. >> host: robert's calling in from chevy chase, maryland. hi, robert. >> caller: hi. mr. maraniss, i want to thank you so much for once in a great city which i just completed. it was a page-turner for me. i was born in detroit, went to high school in detroit, and my father and uncle operated a grocery store in detroit. in the time period you focused on, it just happened to be when i was a junior and senior in high school, so there are memories of it that i specifically have which you evoked including the introduction of the mustang when i was a senior. i attended a couple of motown reviews, and i had great admiration for walter ruther. and i really appreciate what you did with him in the book.
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i just wanted to ask you what most surprised you about detroit then and now? something you sort of referred to, one of the readers you find things that may not have been on the surface. what in the -- did you do in all this exhaustive research that surprised you about the citiesome. >> guest: well, thank you for asking. i often say that i try to approach a book where everything surprises me, where i get rid of all of my presuppositions, so everything seems fresh and new. i'll talk about one. you know, i was fascinated in the motown section of the book by the question of why. why did it happen there? why was this creative burst of music and energy coming out of detroit at that time and place? and the obvious answers are that the skill of berry gordy, the
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founder of motown, and his sisters in developing this record industry, his ability to find talent, the accidental happenstance of smoky robinson living near aretha franklin, of the temptations and supremes all being part of the same group of friends, all of that sort of bubbling of people then. the great migration of african-americans from the south to industrial cities in the north, chicago certainly, cleveland and especially detroit bringing with them the oral traditions of song and blues and jazz. but there are two other things that surprised me that helped explain it. and one was the presence in detroit of a very popular piano
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company, grinnell brothers pianos. and the fact that because of the geography of detroit, the vast swath of single-family homes and the affordability of these pianos and the disposable income that the working class had because of the jobs in the auto industry, that almost every family talked about -- every musician i interviewed talked about the piano they had that helped hem develop their -- them develop their music, mostly from grinnell brothers. and the second surprise to me was -- it shouldn't have been, but it hit me -- was the impact of public school music teachers. detroit had a great public school system in the 1950s into the early '60s, and virtually every musician i interviewed could remember their grade school music teacher and their high school music teacher and talked about the influence that they had on the development of their skills. >> host: literally a couple hundred comments on facebook,
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the majority say this type of thing. this is bob. people move from detroit because of unsafe neighborhoods, poor city services, high taxes, terrible school system, poor leadership, not in any particular order. gary says it's because of the democratic party, and so there's a lot of, a lot of those same comments about detroit. >> guest: sure. well, that's, that's the traditional response to detroit's demise, that it's its own fault. st because of the corruption -- it's because of the corruption of some recent mayors, it was because of democratic leadership. that's the traditional conservative reaction or response to detroit's fall, sort of blaming everything from the great society to the democratic control of cities to their own demise. and, you know, you can argue that forever, and i don't --
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what i would like to say is that one of the points of my book is to show that the structural problems in detroit were there before that. .. >> leaving the manufacturing -- leaving it to other places both nationally and internationally. abandoning the heart of what made it the industry in the first place. in the middle of my book, in the
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spring of 63 there are some sociologists who said detroit would lose 500,000 people by the end of the 1960s and that would continue. they were exactly right. that was before these other things were predicted. it was because of the urban renewal and detroit that destroyed the african-americans, the freeways making it easier for people to get out of the city. the ring of shopping centers around the cities. all of that was going on as well. it is easy to make these political attributions of the city's demise, there is lot more work than that. >> host: david, we talked with berry gordy, martha reeves, who is an interview you did not get.
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>> guest: i did not get aretha. her father was a very prominent figure in the book. he died after being shot by intruders in his house and went into a coma. he organized the march and walk to freedom with doctor king. he was a very flamboyant preacher in detroit, sort of a preacher of the streets. he was the most popular in the city. aretha came up through that, she and her two sisters were travel with her dad. it was kind of a circuit wire preacher and would go during the week to different cities in the south and fill arenas with music and his own incredible sermons. they were so good they were recorded.
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people would call out what sermon they wanted to hear from them just like they were at a rock concert. that is the roots of aretha franklin, from her father. she is at once, in my opinion, the most soulful singer i have heard of my life in a very difficult personality. i was not not surprised that i did not get to interview her. i do not consider it crucial. i write about her but especially about her father. >> host: harriet post on her facebook page, was your father in the newspaper business? in detroit i worked my way through school and my dad worked out what was then debbie wj. on another interview you mentioned your house was demolished. i grew up in the same neighborhood. >> guest: yes, my father was a newspaper man.
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he was one of the editors of the michigan daily. he went went to the university of michigan, came out of brooklyn in ann arbor. then he got a job at the detroit times, which eventually folded. we moved on from there to other places and ended up in madison. one of the places we lived in detroit was on dexter, when i first started my book to her i came to the trait to interview and suggested we meet at our old house, or flat on dexter and it just been torn down. i did go to winter holder school in first grade, unforgettable. i can't tell you how many people went up to me.
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many people came up to me and said they went to winter holder during that same period and we were probably in the same class. >> host: i think we cover most of what harriet had to say. this is david david martin in madison, wisconsin via e-mail. as a former print journalists, what are are your feelings on the state of american journalism , specifically as a former times reporter. what are your thoughts on our local, daily newspaper #. >> guest: in any case, starting with madison, the paper i grew up with, the capital times, still exists barely. but in an interesting way, it it is a weekly now. it is very oriented towards politics and social issues,
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columns, and still an important voice in the city. not nearly what it was in its heyday. it was founded by the progressives, the founder was a friend of my father. he made one crucial bad choice early on and that was to become an afternoon paper instead of a morning paper. eventually that was part of the demise of it. so it's online and once a week. i think madison, like many political, intelligent cities could use better coverage. in terms of the industry at large, i still have one apron string attached to the washington post, i love the
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newspaper, i think it is having a renaissance now. i think marty baron is one of the great editors of this era. it sort of liberated it in the sense of not having the financial concerns that it had, although dan was the best owner and friend i could ever have. he read everything in the newspaper. he would write what we would call graham grams, telling you what you thought of what he wrote. that's all gone. davis doesn't know anybody there that may be a few. so the wonderful aspects of the post, the journalism from mrs. graham to don graham gone. i miss that terribly. that is part of the transit
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transformation of the whole thing. i'm not going to talk too much about davis, i have mixed feelings about that. it's all good for the newspaper itself. the industry is transforming, it is not dying, but it is changing. my largest thought is that the two key aspects to what is going on, and to what i have done my whole life, one is that storytelling is how humans understand their existence in the world. that storytelling will continue no matter what. different formats, it does not matter, whether it is documentaries are snapchat. you're telling stories. that is an important part of what we do.
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what you do and i do, and anybody that is communicating, to try to explain the world. the second one is more vulnerable and that is to search the truth. you have to have people going out there looking for the documents, going places, not staying home just on computers and blogging away about what they think. so for all of the wonders that the universe has created in the freedoms on the responsibility that you have now, it's it's harder to get away with things because everybody has access. there's also much more misinformation, disinformation, and pure garbage out there that you have to sort through which creates problems unless there really people who are still going out to find the reality of the truth. >> host: lee calling in from milwaukee. >> caller: hello. i'm the first time caller and
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cannot resist this. we're just talking about journalism so put it as a first question. david's father was an editor of the capital times which had a stored history, the got the paper. ted cruz is likened, i'm too young for that but after my other question you might go into what the capital times did during the mccarthy. and it really was digging up a lot of things. it was a great history. my other question question is, which i hope you would address first is there's a book about the clintons, i voted for bill clinton twice, but i'm very worried about the constant scandals and why from the very beginning of the primaries they are surrounded by the scandals. what schweitzer wrote about if you look at it from good
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government is disturbing, bill clinton on an airplane going to a former soviet republic and his fellow passenger getting contract. and going on and on, he to think of former years of this. >> host: he was referring back to peter schweitzer who is a conservative author and written a few books about the clintons. >> guest: i did not read the book. i did did not talk intelligently about that. people know i feel about the clintons but i should should not talk about that book, in terms of mccarthy i have many thoughts. one of which was i was just reading about mccarthy in the press. my mother, who is a book
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editor edited a book called mccarthy the press. i read that. i also read the book the 50s which deals with mccarthy to an extent. one of the things in that book that jumped out at me was the way the press dealt with mccarthy, much of the press, just as a story. it is a way for them to get on page one. they were not really looking into much, just propagating whatever mccarthy said and sort of the provocative nature of that energy interest from editors and readers so that the press was just compelled to keep writing the stories. with exception, at the washington post they were looking into mccarthy, people at the capital times in madison and a couple in milwaukee, but for the most part the press was just repeating what mccarthy said.
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reminds me a little about donald trump this year, not the trump that is mccarthy, but he is such an allure that you get on page one, you get all the time on television, they show everything he says. yes there are people pointing out the contradictions and so on, but that temptation is somewhat similar to the culture of mccarthy. spee1. >> host: is it seductive as a journalist? >> guest: not to me. >> host: to a lot of journalist or some? >> guest: certainly it is. certainly on television where they are getting the ratings from it. absolutely. the capital times had a long history of fighting joe mccarthy which is part of why i am part of where i come from. >> host: from into the story, i remember c-span book about more than a decade ago what i was on a panel with christopher hitchens, whose distinct taste included a profound aversion, bill clinton a biographical
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subject. when brian lamb, the moderator asked me if i liked i liked or disliked click, i stammered for a moment and hitch in swiftly cleared the boy. and my first it thought was if i could only face the word with so much certainty. it took me a moment to regain my equilibrium and remained that my hesitation had a reason behind it. my view of the world was not uncertain nor is my perspective on clinton. it was just that to reduce him to alike or disliked choice was to negate the value of biography. buck from arizona, you're on. >> caller: a most interesting show. here's where i'm going, citizen united, okay. has it set the stage for a new
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emerging or intubation of a new sort of magna carta? is this a moment in modern america given the emerging of the new political reality of chasing the big money, keeping the big picture but losing the big picture and maintaining america's middle class, not that we have always been perfect but we have always pushed forward. his citizens united a way of perhaps further implementing a way of equalizing opportunity? >> host: okay let's get his thoughts on citizens united.
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>> guest: first of all, i think if you look at american history you'll see that it has been dominated by the wealthy from the beginning. i do not think there's anything new about that. there is always a tendency to say that this moment is transformative and worse than ever, and the inequities are worse than ever. it has never been very good. america has a lot of wonderful qualities and opportunities for people but the basic disparate between who controls things and the working people in this country has always been there. between every possible realm, not just just politics but culture, salaries, gender, race, we are still overcoming a lot of that is. it is a long difficult process. citizens united is a blip in
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that, it is is a very important -- at this moment but it is much more structural than a supreme court decision that we have to deal with and overcome in this country. >> host: frank in cambridge, massachusetts. >> caller: hello. thank thank you for taking the call. i appreciate this program. i heard of david before but i have never read his books. after reading a few xers of him, i'm going to. it to. it sounded really great. my question is, it came to me when he was talking mostly about the clintons about bill clinton in a phony and hillary be in a phony, phony. i'm nonpartisan in the sense. it seems to me that all of these people very high achievers, well-educated, went to the best schools, like barack obama,
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clinton, and if you look at ted cruz and donald trump, it seems like it when i listen to them now with an older ear, i more perceptive now. i i sense that these people are not like us. like fitzgerald and hemingway said the rich are not like us, they just have more money. i get the sense that these people really do not have -- there something basically about the five of them that is not right with most of the people. there are exceptional in achieving their goals but they are making these worldwide decisions about life and death on a worldwide trail and just because they have had this history of high achievement. >> host: frank, let's get an
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answer for what you have talked about. >> guest: that's an interesting question. my fundamental belief is that they are like us, they are just exaggerations. you look at your old self and everyone around you and you will see and balances in your life, and balances and to get to where they are they leave other things behind. over the course of decades of doing that the the imbalance increases. also to succeed in the political system requires unless compromises of your integrity. it is just a fact of life. every day a politician politician has to say something to not upset someone but in fact he may feel something else.
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i think that, or on the other scale skill you have donald trump. i don't think he believes anything he is saying but he is saying that because it is working. you can go either way on that, either you're trimming yourself to try to succeed or your be an outrageous to communicate and it's an exaggeration of the real person that has increased over a period of time. i think that human nature does not really change and that every politician is in that realm of human nature but they also become heavier because of their pursuit of political goal. >> host: david, we have talked about your wife, we talked a little about your parents, who is wendy? >> guest: wendy was my little sister, the youngest of four.
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she was the most talented of us all. she was a free-spirited, introverted, brilliant girl. she played with a passion, she was not a perfect pianist but she was a beautiful musician. when she was 42 she died in a traffic accident in new york state. it tore family family apart. >> host: in 1997. you're right about her and, into the story in a chapter called losing wendy. it took all of my 25 years of newspaper training to report even that much of her final seconds of life.
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maybe someday i'll feel the need to learn and memorize every detail, but not now, now i feel the details do not matter, my little sister is dead. she died in an accident, accidents happen, they are random acts of physics. they are 1,000,000 if only a million if only's to every random act but not one of them changes the thing. you have a son who -- >> guest: i have a son and daughter who are both writers. andrew sort of grew up with me, we were 20 when he was born, 21. he would follow-up me around. the first picture of me as a radio reporter in madison and andrew was at my side as i was interviewing one of the berrigan brothers. when i was covering and applets for the washington post, and he would be sitting under the table
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and will be writing our stories. he was always there. he is a very good writer. he wrote in high school and one journalism scholarship to vanderbilt. he started working and decided he did not want to get trapped in that world and thought about being a general a general manager of a baseball team someday. he was assistant communication for tampa bay devil rays, after a a year he decided he did not really like dealing with these millionaire spoiled brats too much and i was not the lifer him. he moved back to nashville, he has risen in the public relations world. he is also a writer. after all of these years he spent eight years writing a book called strong inside, sort of a
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jackie robinson of the south who integrated the southeastern conference. it is a wonderful book. i'm happy about that than anything i have done my cell. he is one tool awards and has a profound effect on her he wallace, vanderbilt, and it is part of the conversation of the last year about race in america. it has been really wonderful. i'm i'm very proud of him. my daughter sarah is in equally good writer who has written a blog on parenting. she started as an actress in the theater world but is really developing herself as a writer and his writing mysteries and plays. i did not push either of them into that, i am very proud of both of them. >> host: david from reedsburg, wisconsin a text message. would
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you please tell your bill clinton story about the nice tie? it is a gem and very revealing. >> guest: the nice tie story. after my book business class came out built clinton reacted to it, he loved half of the book and would read it to a staff and hated half of the book and would deny. that's clinton, clinton, he is a complicated figure. he never talked to me after the book came out. he would send messages through different mutual friends and associates. a few years later i won the american society of newspaper editors award for her, i can remember what it was for, i was on the annual convention in washington d.c. and when we meet in washington traditionally the president speaks. president clinton was there. he had only recently fallen off
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the steps of greg norman, golfer's house in florida and he was on crutches. it is going to be the first time we met since my book came out. he came in from the other side on his crutches, delivered his speech, i was sitting on the site so we had not met yet. afterwards he relates to get to the rope line we were going to meet for the first time since my book came out. there's actually a photograph of this. anyway, so we meet, shake hands, i do not know what to say. i've been trying to ask him questions for years and he will not talk to me. i don't know what i said, something innocuous. he said the exact right thing for bill clinton to say. he said hi hi david, congratulations on your award, nice tie. my dad and linda are in the
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audience so i whisper down to them afterwards he said nice tie. so president clinton works the rope line and like three or four minutes with my dad and my wife, he won't talk to him me but he has his arm around my wife. he is talking to my dad about greg norman and all that stuff. my father's first words to him were nice tie mr. president. so a few months later i was in new york at a dinner at one of the people there was george stephanopoulos who work for clinton. we were talking about what an exhausting, exhilarating, brilliant, frustrating, brilliant, frustrating, all the other aspects of bill clinton. stephanopoulos said had he ever talk to me about my book? i said not really, we just met this one moment and all he said was nice tie. stephanopoulos said, will you
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you know what that means in's private? and i said no not really. he says it means after you. so i was was thinking my father who loves clinton said to him. >> host: the next caller comes from san diego. >> caller: wonderful to watch you again on book tv. i watch your documentary in 2003 on book tv, it was rather a healing experience for me. i was exposed to the horrors of the war in the 80s and to see the human side of recovery basically by visiting, and revisiting the war and what it had done to civilians.
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after all we are constantly under the exposure of politicians. i just wanted to thank you for that experience. the depth of your writing, not just on politics but on different issues that my son loves, for example sports it is just amazing. i i just wanted to thank you again for that. >> guest: thank you for saying that. i have to say that the effect that the written word can have on people, i don't even know all the different ways it can affect people. i do know that means more to me than anything else. >> host: go to book to be dad work and type in david in vietnam you'll be able to watch that entire documentary on mine. you can also see david's trip to
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africa on book tv's coverage of that. again, type in david's name type and book are africa and you'll be able to watch that special as well. who is paul? spee2 he was the mayor of madison, wisconsin. he was a graduate's duden at wisconsin in 1967. he was in the commerce building protesting against the chemical company in the vietnam war. he went into that protest as one person who came out of it as another, he was clubbed by the police, he had severe back problems. after that event to of the top leaders of the antiwar movement in wisconsin immediately fled, paul was one of the people who emerged as a new leader. it was the days after the protest that he started to become a public figure. shortly afterwards he was
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elected to the council and then he became the mayor of wisconsin. so it's been to the 70s, 80s, 90s, until today he has been on and off the mayor of madison. once in a a while he will get defeated but he will come back. the transformation is interesting as well. one of the times he was defeated he was concerned considered too conservative. now he is considered this ornery, old guy who is starting to go back to his roots in some sense. he is still the mayor and he has always been very focused on real city issues, he he is what you would call a true socialist. he knows about streetlights, and
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tree tree stumps and he cares about all the basic stuff of the city. >> host: this is a tweet from zebulon in sweden. what lessons do you believe could be drawn from president obama's story on how to overcome the hurdles and challenges of life? >> guest: every life is different in the way you approach it has to be your own. but what president obama did was, he went went inside himself, for several years. the heart of my book is it really about his search for identity and from the time he left hawaii until the time he left chicago for harvard, he spent basically seven years trying to figure himself out. he worked at it intellectually,
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philosophically, racially, culturally, all of these different ways. it made him the person he is today. largely for the better, he is very self-contained, confident, but it also works against him impolitic sometimes because it makes them appear aloof and not needy. he is one of the neediest people ever that makes him a very -- he doesn't have that same need but it gives him what makes him admirable. >> host: here's another facebook comment. antoinette, woodman's lombardi be be a successful and memorable coach today? >> guest: that is a great question. i've been dealing with that one a lot. i would say yes. his old players are torn on
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that, some say yes, some say no. lombardi died in 1970, right at a pivotal moment of change in professional football. players were started to assert themselves and the tradition of the old coach was fading. where players were starting to make more money than coaches, far far more and have more power. lombardi needed power and that is why he left green bay essentially to come to washington where he was offered part ownership of the redskins. he was not just the coach, he was he was general manager and part owner of the team. could lombardi exist today? i say yes, because he was far more flexible than people think. as i said earlier, human nature does not change the culture
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changes around it. his players were all different types of personalities, they did not have the money, they did not have the other allure in men, steroids or other drugs and all the other things that create problems today. but they had alcohol, women and everything else. they were loose in different ways. lombardi knew knew how to get the best out of them. one of the myths about lombardi came from a great defensive tackle that said lombardi treats us all of it, like dogs. great line, completely untrue. lombardi was a master psychologist master psychologist tune that he had to treat his intelligent, successful quarterback one way and a troublemaking and incredibly talented happen back another way.
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he could yell and it would just go off. he treated every player differently. yet he has had a certain fundamental aspect to him that was consistent. it is that complex that made him a great leader and would make him a great leader today. he would win, even if they were tough as lanes they also had love as well. lombardi was that complex mixture of love and hate. his players hated him on a daily basis but loved him overall. spee1 one pride still mattered? is that your bestseller? >> guest: yes. it created the freedom for me to write books for the rest of my life. i was not expecting that, i do not think simon & schuster was.
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we went out without a book contract, just knew that i want that is what i wanted to do. it was a bestseller and on the new york times bestsellers list for a long time. it still sells. i still get still get royalties from that book from 1999. of course it was later transformed into a runway played maybe someday a movie. >> host: j, from may be madison set i saw you at the wisconsin book fair. what can be done to make that an all book fairs betters. what did you what did you think of the broadway play, lombardi? >> guest: first of all, this is going to sound very -- but c-span came to cover that book and it made a huge difference for its own sense of pride and self.
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i think the young book lover who wrote that book festival is doing a great job and it will get better every year. they're bringing stronger people at all of the time. it's located in one central place, the public library has helped define it more strongly. so -- i love book fairs. sometimes i go to a book festival not sell any books. i still like being around other authors, the whole feel of it. i go to several, medicine is my hometown book festival but the miami book festival is fabulous, the southern festival of books in nashville is one of my favorites. there's one in nashville and one in tucson that is big and strong. they can be in all kinds of places. i think they are wonderful. the second question was about the play, what did i think of it.
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>> host: you had a pretty active role didn't you? >> guest: i did, i loved it. i love the whole experience. i cannot write the play. it's a complete different part of the brain. i would like to be able to write screenplays in place but i couldn't do it. it it. it was written by eric simonson's, friend of mine who did a great job. the play was directed by tom kale who was now the hottest thing on broadway, his the director of hamilton. i can't see he was a boy a boy genius and now he has proven it. i'm proud and happy for tom or than anything in the world. it was a great experience, largely because of the people. i think the play was really good and it hit a chord, but they had who played vince lombardi. >> host: he was the father and wonder years. >> guest: yes, the whole cast.
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the brilliance of it being able to tell the story of both the success of lombardi, the four young actors who took their lead from dan and judith. it was a very healthy, functional family. with tom michaelis the director. i became part of that family, we moved to new york, i was writing the obama book at that point. for two months we lived in new york and i would i would go to the play every night. everybody knew me there, it was just really fun. all of my feelings about it are slanted by just the joy of that experience. i thought it stay true to the
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book of a larger sense. of course it is fictionalized and sometimes i would say it you know it didn't really happen that way, could you take out his wallet and he would say this is my poetic license. as long as it did not do anything egregious about sam lombardi was not something he wasn't. there are moments in the play of dan, judith, and, and one confrontation that were very powerful moments. >> host: any other books been options for movies or tv series? >> guest: my standard line is that all of my book should not be made into movies. the closest right now is clemente. it has passed all of the hurdles, for a long time there is a natural conflict between my
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book and what the clemente family wanted to do, now that has been overtaken. legendary, the company that did the jackie robinson movie in 42 is doing clemente, josé rivera who wrote the screenplay for motorcycle diaries is writing a screenplay for clemente. it all started when giselle fernandez, who had been a tv newsperson bought the right. she lives in los angeles, she is latina, she left the book, she bought the rights and that was what got the ball rolling many years ago. now it's closer to fruition than ever. lombardi is also owned by a legendary and that might happen. my latest book, once in a great city, i don't know how i'm
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supposed to talk about things that have not been signed yet but it looks like anthony pertain may do a documentary with me about it. two production companies in hollywood are interested in making a possible limited tv series. all of that is happening. my favorite book has always been march into the sunlight. let's hope and that would be turned into something, that has not happened. one that bothers me but i'd rather have it not happen then be done poorly. so there's mixed feelings about that. it looks like clemente may be put up on the front burner. >> host: do you have any control of you sell the movie right? >> guest: no not really. if i see us replay that is terrible like the first lombardi one it was pathetic, i've told them. i i did like the first
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clemente screenplay either. i think that has to have a really deep puerto rican, spanish sensibility to it. i say things like that. people can listen or not listen, but they own it at that point. i'm sort of a consultant on some of it. but i know that you have to let go. >> host: about 15 minutes left with our in-depth gas this month. tom in massachusetts, thanks for holding. >> caller: i am enjoying the interview. i have two questions. i'm trying to understand more about obama, when they lived in indonesia, during that time you cannot have a dual citizenship, i tried to look it up in the indonesian constitution back
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then. you could not have dual citizenship. i was wondering, where they getting assistance from indonesia, the schools and stuff in their living there, did they have to give up their dual citizenship in order to receive assistance when they were there? i'm no i think they went to a private school. >> host: why is that important to you? >> caller: i have read so much stuff and like theirs and before you read stuff different, the internet and whatever. i'm just trying to verify. but verify. but the reason i thought it might be important is i also wondered when he went to columbia and getting assistance, if, you hear the story that
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maybe he got foreign aid assistance or whatever. >> guest: almost everything it sounds like you read on the internet well, it's completely wrong. i won't say anything stronger than that. when barry obama was in indonesia, he first went to a catholic school, is not very expensive, most of the other internationals students were going to the international school which was private and expensive. he never went there and never needed that much money to go to school. he first went to a catholic school in his neighborhood and then to a public school in another neighborhood where they moved. he never needed much assistance, his mother is working, she had money, the stepfather was working and had money to pay which was not very expensive.
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when he went to occidental, he had a partial scholarship and his grandmother had saved money for him. he also got student aid. this whole notion that he was granted special aid as a foreign student is completely bogus. >> host: to other comments and we'll try to get them together. this is an e-mail. this is from sr and willowbrook, illinois. mr. obama came into office as a man prepare to work with both sides of the political divide, within a year he was a partisan democratic, no? that is part of that person's comment. then a text message, this is from peter in carrollton, georgia. mostly from just listening to the president when he speaks i hear commonsense man from kansas
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speaking, unlike the caricature other see. >> guest: he has the face of his grandfather and a deep voice of both him and his father, barack obama senior. he has a bit of kansas and all of that as well. there's a mixture of kansas and sort of the british, both come out of barack obama. i've also called him a rational man in an irrational world, that serves him for better or worse. the first comment first comment is absolutely true as well. he burst on the scene with his famous speech in 2004 in boston, and to some extent that was rhetoric and to some extent that represented not only his beliefs but who he was.
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certainly he is a combination of different parts of america and the world. so for him to believe in anything he had to believe in that concept of the common humanity. i think he really does. i think then he faced a reality of modern american politics that was much more difficult than anything he had faced before and could have imagined. he did become -- you can characterize the reasons for it however you want based on political beliefs, but he certainly did become more partisan. my own sense of that to a large extent that was dictated by the realities of the situation where republican party was pretty much
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committed to making him a one term president from day one and was not interested in compromise. brock obama himself was not particularly good, not good at all at some of the elements of political negotiating. it is true he did not want to hang out with these guys. if you saw him outside of the political system you say that represent something healthy, he he would rather be with his family. >> host: we have not talk about 1960. here's a quote. there's a growing concern is a growing concern among american officials in rome that the u.s. was not being aggressive enough in counteracting propaganda from the soviets and was vulnerable on issues of race. the competition at summer games extended beyond the athletic arenas, and it seemed naïve not to acknowledge it.
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the limpet gathering was not just another sporting event but a rare occasion when the wide world was watching and paying attention and when it was important to deal with perception as much as reality. >> guest: the realm book the sort of lost. it is one of my favorite books. i really enjoyed writing it and i consider it the first of a trilogy of books in the 60s with the detroit book in the vietnam book. i use my -- what i use earlier i talk about setting up my oil rig and digging as deep as i could. the first televised olympics, the drug scandal, the emergence of the third world, the barefoot marathoner winning from an african country, the great e-uppercase-letter when america was proclaiming itself as the beacon of freedom around the
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world and yet the soviets were very effectively using the propaganda of crime in america as a segregated society, which it was. so there is all the attention of that being played out in rome. so i could write about of course the event and there many wonderful events. caches clay wenning, rudolph rudolph stealing the show, winning three gold medals. my favorite characters in the entire book, a small historically black school in north nashville, but their coach did not have his own office, he shared it with his wife, track was full of holes and out of that came the greatest track and field team in american history. it started in rome in 1960. all of that is in this book. >> host: david, did you mean for this to be a trilogy when you
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started march and the sunlight came first, then rome, then detroit. >> guest: know i really did think about until i started doing detroit until i realized it was spilling some of the holes that i wanted to write about through that whole decade, which is the decade of my maturation, my youth. everything that forms why am came out of the 60s in some way or another. detroit had the music complainant to a, cars which i'm not big on, but definitely part of the american culture. labor, which i have not written about before and civil rights which went throughout all my books in different ways. that look is completely what i wanted to say about that decade. >> host: tony in houston. >> caller: good afternoon. i am from detroit, calling from houston, but i was born and raised in detroit.
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i wanted to get this book right away, i agree with some of the things that many people have said about this. i was wondering what your impressions are of today and the people that you met. i still have relatives there but unfortunately the fact of the matter is that detroit has one of the highest poverty rates in the country. it was like that through the educational system, the city government has collapsed, the various neighborhoods, and i'm leaving out the downtown area, are pretty dismal. i just have her people say that it's coming back. i want to get your prescience on it. >> guest: thank you. i answered some of that earlier, but i do think in some ways it is coming back but until the school system
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and the working class, the housing are fixed in some way or another, the people of detroit are considered part of the comeback and it cannot be a true renaissance. i love the people of detroit, he to stereotype and generalize but there's a sensibility to the people there that is so deep in terms of their willingness to survive, their durability, flexibility, sense, sense of humor, sense of pride of where they are from,. >> host: we have not talked about new gingrich and the book about al gore. are they blips? >> guest: the wonderful thing about both of those is i wrote with another author, nakashima my colleague at the post and michael weiskopf, my oldest and closest from from the washington
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post did the new book with me. the difference is those two books came out of work i did at the washington post. so tell new to shut up was basically built off a series that michael and i wrote inside the revolution. for the washington post most of the material from that but came out of the newspaper story, similarly l&i did a seven or eight part series of al gore which as the basis for that book. i am very proud of both of them. they're different because they are more journalistic oriented, i was not starting over to write a full book. >> host: from the prince of tennessee right politicians diehard, politicians in american history die harder than al gore died in 2000. >> guest: i think you would agree with that. >> host: this is a tweet from and p/e, cheney a draft dodger
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but not glenn? >> guest: i spent three chapters of my book documenting how bill clinton avoided the draft. i should say both clinton and cheney that hundreds of thousands of young men who did not want to serve in vietnam, whether because like clinton they opposed the war, or like cheney they did not want that to interfere in their lives, it was numerous different ways of not serving. it is not something peculiar to either of those very different individuals, but something, to hundreds of thousands of young men. >> host: because of the area you grew up in that the fact that you did not serve in vietnam, wasn't important to you to write that you got a low number in the draft lottery in 1970 and word
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declared for after because of a chronic asthma you had as a child. is that that a guilt factor for your generation? >> guest: there is for some people, i i honestly do not feel guilty about it. i did not like that were, i did not want to fight in it. i am not pacifist, there are certain things that family would provoke me to fight, i know that. i certainly would have -- i know that about mile being but i do not believe about that. i honestly do not feel guilty. the only part i feel guilty feel guilty about is not personal but more cultural, which is the soldiers who did fight were not treated well. i think if america has learned anything from vietnam it is that you can blame the policy but not the soldier.
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that's very important. >> host: for the last three hours we have been talking with author and journalist, david marinus. >> c-span, created by americans cable television companies and brought to is a public service by your cable or satellite provider. >> host: michelle, and your new book sold out, what happened in disney. >> guest: disney workers were summoned into this meeting, a lot had just got off of a project where they forms with excellent and a lot of them assumed they were going to be rewarded somehow. it was a horse story that no hollywood writers could conjure up. in this case, the reality was so much worse than anything they could have imagined.


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