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tv   Book Discussion on Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates  CSPAN  February 13, 2016 8:00am-9:01am EST

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[inaudible conversations] .. >> plus, abc journalists john donovan and karen zucker,
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salon's jacob weisberg, and we take a look at the life of florence kennedy. and finally, david reef questions if ending extreme poverty and hunger around the world is possible. those are some of the highlights for this weekend. for a complete television schedule, go to booktv.org. booktv, this weekend 72 hours of nonfiction books and authors. television for serious readers. and now we're kicking off the weekend with brian kilmeade and dan yeager. their book, "thomas jefferson and the tripoli pirates." [inaudible conversations]
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>> here we go. [inaudible conversations] [laughter] >> like we're coming to court. you afraid of the audience, brian? >> i wanted to have a dramatic entrance. >> oh, all right. [laughter] actually, he doesn't want to be seen on the same stage with me. he's already found out i'm a little too smart alecky. >> which he is, by the way. >> five minutes, see what you learn? good afternoon, welcome to the heritage foundation. we, of course, welcome those who join us on our heritage.org web site on all of these occasions. would ask our friends if you'll be so kind to which can that cell phones have been movemented, a wonderful courtesy for our speakers. and, of course, our interwith net viewers are welcome at any time to send their questions or
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comments simply e-mailing speaker@heritage.org. if you're not on brian's mailing list for his e-mails, we have cards for you out in front that you can sign up and join for the kill immediate connection -- kilmeade connection. please add your names to that list, and we'll be glad to forward them on to you. hosting our discussion today is genevieve woods, senior contribute earn to the daily -- contributor to the daily signal. please join me in welcoming general vive. [applause] >> thank you, john, very much. welcome, everyone, to heritage. on behalf of jim demint, my 250 some odd colleagues, we are glad and delighted to have you with us for this event. brian kilmeade is no stranger, i'm sure, to many of you. he is co-host of "fox & friends," number one program in
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the morning. brian's known for being able to interview just about any type of person, politicians, entertainers, sports celebrities. some of his past victims are folks such as president george w. bush, michael jordan and, of course, "american idol"'s simon cowell as well. apparently, being be on television three hours a day is not enough for brian kilmeade, because when that show's over, brian enters the radio studio where he hosts a show for another three hours each day, monday through friday. it's a program on over 140 stations across the country, so brian is very prolific when it comes to talking, but also when it comes to writing. he is now the author of four books. two of his first three books ended up on "the new york times" bestseller list. one of them was george washington's secret six. and since the success of that book, he and his i co-author, dan yeager, teamed up to bring us another interest story, and
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that's the book he's going to talk about today which is, "thomas jefferson and the tripoli pirates," which is a forgotten war that changed american history. as i think you'll learn from brian's remarks, there is a lot we can learn from history, a lot of things that today's leaders such as president obama might be able to learn from history and from people like thomas jefferson, and we welcome brian now to share with us that story. brian kilmeade. [applause] >> genevieve wood, thank you very much. you obviously could give the speech yours, and you are now eligible for a true hardback copy, and jon, thank you very much. it took me nine seconds to realize how funny and sarcastic jon can be. but i'm privileged to be in front of you. it's also good luck. because the first event i had for george washington's secret six was also at heritage, and that ended up being a bestseller
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for 19 weeks. it was an unbelievable run that shocked everybody. and it's not because i'm cute, because i am a -- [laughter] i think fundamentally america's a very patriotic place. some people wearing the uniform, obviously, they're patriotic. obviously, if you're running for office, you believe in the country. but for the average truck driver, for the teacher, for the landscaper to be picking up this book, george washington's secret six, and talking to me about the spies. and the reason why it resonated, in my humble opinion, is because we know how great george washington is, all our founding fathers. we read great biographies, what they did is extraordinary. but what most of you know and i think we're beginning to realize is we have no country without the so-called everyday americans doing extraordinary things to keep the country going, the spirit alive, fighting the wars, getting the economy going from the ground up. so i was able to talk about a
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bartender, i can relate to that, a longshoreman? oh, yeah, that makes sense. i could tell you about a newspaper guy, a farmer, i can relate to that. and the next thing you know, they did extraordinary things with the leadership of george washington. so that book had some success. i had that idea in 1989 as they exposed this to me, being a long island resident, i was able to see, feel and touch this story and thought why couldn't i with all my ridiculous field trips to go see a big garden in eastern new york or a winery, which is great for kids to see, in grammar school, why couldn't they bring me along to the spy trail? and then later don yeager says to me let's do a book. he says, no, let's do a book. i go, well, if we approach it like an investigative project and we bring something new to the story, i'll do it. we did it, and it worked. and then i got exposed to the
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barbary wars. found out a little bit about it in college, and after 9/11 when you heard about the islamic threat and the islamic extremists, i'd see great columnists look back and try to retrieve this information. and i thought, wait a second, what are you talking about? islamic extremism, i thought they were pirates. oh, yeah, they had pirate activity, but they were motivated and pushed and used as an excuse the quran and islam to attacking us. and we had no axe to grind. after all, my book picks up, our book picks up in 1784 and 1785. we just got rid of the british rule, but we also lost british protection. and we're out in temperature -- out in the open seas. we gotta get our economy going because we've got ingenuity, hard work and tremendous natural resources. we're going to have to use the mediterranean, and we're going to have to use the southern half
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of the mediterranean to get to the southern half of europe. as we go through those waterways, we have a problem. there are these pirates who see us as a soft touch, and they began to take our ships from the dolphin to the maria, to the betsy, they take our guys, and they make them slaves. they take the ships, they take the cargo. they plunder them. and when we try to make heads or tails of it, the explanation is you're infidels, we have the right to do that, unless, of course, you want to pay us a certain amount of money. really? is that in the quran? yeah, it's in the quran. we don't know much about it, so we decide to send our a-team out there. in london we have john adams, in france we have this other gentleman named thomas jefferson. we decide the best way to approach this is to begin talking to them and try to find out what their rationale is for taking our stuff, taking our guys hostage and imprisoning
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them. we are not spain, we're not for instance, we're brand new. your problem's with them. they go into london and set up a meeting with the leader of tripoli, now libya. so they go in and meet the ambassador. the guy seems amiable, approachable, he seems like somebody we can deal with until, of course, it came down to decision time at which time he talked about the rationale for capturing our guys and taking our stuff and citing the quran. jefferson read the quran. he says, it's not in there for you to do this. having said that, they said, there's only one way out. you've got to pay the money. we don't have any money. we find out what spain and france and sweden were paying, and we are actually getting charged more than that, and we don't have the revenue. and both john adams and thomas jefferson are horrified and angered, but they have different marching orders from here on in. john adams, to paraphrase,
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essentially said, look, we can't fight these guys unless we want to fight them forever. man, is that right. and america doesn't have the stomach for a long war. man, is that till true. thomasjefferson says, listen, i'm looking in their eye. the message i get from this meeting is the price is only going to go up, and sooner or later the attacks are going to begin again. i say we fight them. we don't have a government, a constitution, a president, but the recommendation back is we're going to go with adams, and we're going to borrow the money and make the payments. but like marco rubio, our payments are a little bit later. only kidding. [laughter] oh, i'm in trouble now. only kidding, senator. our payments are a little bit later, and they're not right, and they want jewel, and we're not able to keep up and, man, jefferson was 100 percent correct. they're going to be implacable, and i'm talking about morocco, tripoli, algiers, tunis,
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tunisia. we've got four separate countries to cut deals with, all in competition with each other, all who have their economy depending on feast on people who are productive economies. so soon or later george washington takes power, and he asks the secretary of state, thomas jefferson, to write a report, and he does. essentially, if you read these reports, and we did, they essentially say we've got to stand up for ourselves. it's the wrong message to say to the rest of the world, and they use phrases in this report like aren't we americans? since when are we victims? so washington looks around and says my only thing missing is a navy. [laughter] so i think i have an idea. let's essentially, my word, split the baby. i'm going to make the payments which, get this, are 20% of our economy at the time. but i'm also going to commission the building of a navy, and we'll see where it goes. because america early on was existence a standing army, a standing navy, because they were
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afraid the military would become too strong and overwhelm the people. this is a general thing. so they understand what he's doing. so we commission, we sped up the contracts, we build six ships. by the time washington's done, adams takes power, we're ready. we decide to stick up for what we believe in existence the french and what they call a quasi-war. when adams is confronted to stand up to the islamic extremists, he goes, no. as you know, everybody in this room especially, within four years he loses power to jefferson, his vice president, he takes over. they don't speak anymore. adams tried to dismantle 30 ships in his navy. jefferson knows exactly what he's doing. if i stop the payments, they're going to declare war. he stops the payment, and sure enough the first foreign power to declare war on america, ironically, is tripoli, now nobody as lib -- now known as
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libya. and they do it trying to chop down our flag pole. they struggled with it. they couldn't get the flag pole down. the thing wouldn't fall, finally, night fell, and they pulled it down. we don't ian know it, but jefferson knows i'm going to send those ships out to start providing security. talk about a modern issue, his one issue is we don't have congressional approval yet. how does he know? he basically helped form the country. [laughter] i'm pretty sure i didn't give myself approval -- [laughter] it helps when you write the rules. [laughter] so he says, i have an idea. they'll see the size of our ships, how sturdy they're built, we're going to show some power. not necessarily use the power, we're going to brocade. we're going to smother the tripoli economy. then we find out later they declared war on us. it was before instagram but not
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before snapchat. and they couldn't really know. we just knew we were going to blockade anyway. we're terrible at it. the communications between our ships are bad, then it's freezing, and guess what? these pirates, they're coy, they're cunning, and they know the area. they know the water. they're getting in and out. so jefferson's blockade and show of power to finally get them to the table falls apart. and guess what also happens? pressure from washington to declare a war or not and to go ahead and rationalize what we're doing over there. because we're still terrorized because we, just like -- and this was celebrated in iran, but just as we were upset with the 444 days it took us to get our 52 hostages back from iran, we felt the same way, the same empathy we felt there every day that the betsy, the dolphin and the mario crew was being held and enslaved. the name of the papers at the time, we suffered.
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so the blockade doesn't work. we finally get congressional approval. do you know what the problem with the blockade was? rules of engagement. oh, the rules of engagement were bad. we could not engage the enemy unless they engaged us, unless we felt threatened. man, does that sound familiar. talk to a few navy seals, and they'll tell you the same story. so the rules of engagement gradually changed. why? because they were not working. why? because it was costing us a lot of money. we had captain morris for a while. this guy was traveling with his wife, he thought he'd be wine asked be dined. our ships sat there, and while the tripoli pirates made fun of us because every day just like isis and al-qaeda that you don't wipe hem out is a victory. when saddam hussein stayed in power even though you would think he's humiliated, it's a victory. i survived america. every day that the jv team, isis, stays in power even though they're diminished and pressured, it's a victory
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against america. it's the same mentality back then. little by little, we do what america always does, we get it right. we tart pushing. we finally get the right guy in charge, his name is edward preble, and they start pounding. they start grabbing those ships, pressuring them. instead of taking them hostage, we would take out their mast, push them out to sea. the message was sent. we're starting to send some power. we'd go inside and talk to the bashar of tripoli, you ready now? no. why? because they don't care about their people. they would care that they're being she would on a daily basis, and they can't even go shopping or work in the market because they don't know if they're going to get hit by an american cannon. they don't care. then finally, jefferson makes the ultimate decision, i think. that idea that was farfetched three years before this conflict started, this guy, william eaton, who's one of the
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renaissance men of his generation. if i can encourage anyone in this room to do one thing, it's googlewomen yam eaton -- william eaton. my goal is not to sell you on jefferson, you're already sold. my goal is the same one that i had with the washington story. jefferson gets you to buy the book and gets you interested in the story, but you leave thinking about william eaton, edward preble as well as stephen decatur. and you realize how many great americans lived and died, they were lauded, and the war college that you go and visit once in a while and take a seminar in, they are forgotten. my goal is, son, daughter -- which, by the way, is how i refer to my children finish. [laughter] you've got to read about these guys. so william eaton was a counselor. now we call him an ambassador. over in tunisia. he's a pretty extraordinary guy. he's 15 years old, you know what, dad? i think i'm going to join the army. his dad says, no, i'm not.
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he gets sick, goes home, goes back and fights again. would later trade urn mad anthony but between that would get boo dartmouth and go to school. seems to be somewhat of a genius as well as an incredible war fighter and very smart in battle. he would learn indian and arab dialects, and we were impressed even the crazy n a good way, mad anthony, the general. so he really impressed senator pickering. he says i need somebody to go over and be our ambassador over to i tunisia. i'll do it. never been out of america, i'll try it. he goes over there, and he observes the culture, and as much as he likes the people, he can't believe they would subject themselves to these terrible rulers. he would encourage jefferson and everyone else, fight these guys, they're nothing. we've got to take them on. we act like they're 10 feet tall, we should fight them. so all of a sudden james --
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[inaudible] goes up to him and says, william, got an idea. there's a deposed ruler of tripoli. if the brother, this crazy little brother killed the other one and forced out the middle one and they kept this family hostage to make sure he's away, he wants to come back. why don't you ask jefferson if you can go get him out of egypt and come back and put him in power. the only thing we want is to be friends with us and establish relations. we don't want to dominate, we just want to have peace with this country. so in the beginning jefferson and the treasury secretary said, you're craze i. after three years of almost a standoff, we're winning but it doesn't matter because the guy's still in power,rierson goes, you know that idea you had? we're going to do it. but i don't want fingerprints on it. he say go and get yourself a thousand muskets, $20,000, we'll give you a few marines, make it happen. at the very least he didn't think it would work, we were
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going to start our first land war against a muslim power who are islamic extremists. so against impossible odds, the argus drops him off in egypt. they go and hunt this guy down. again, they only had snapchat. [laughter] so he had to go in through the city, find him in alexandria, introduce himself, convince him to go along, martial his men, hire sommers theirs, only had -- some mercenaries, only -- grabbed some horses, some splice, paid off and buys some military, some mercenaries, and they were going to march. the problem? no maps, no real direction, no roads, but they did have gps. only kidding. they start in egypt without any maps. hamid says i'm going to give it a shot. he doesn't have the valor and the strength and the spike of
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his -- spine of his brother. and you have william eaton almost training him to be a leader through this journey. all the uprisings through this trek that took about five and a half weeks and got you just outside this place called benghazi and very close to a place called tripoli. so he marches over 500 miles, probably longer because it wasn't direct because they were literally trying to find their way but talking to bedouins and doing whatever directions they can have using the stars. and they found themselves outside durna which had walls to protect, and they were outnumbered two to one. what does william eaton do? what all marines -- even though he was army, but what all marines do can, when outnumbered, you charge. among the people astounded when this was reported was a guy named thomas jefferson. oh, my goodness, did he just take a major city? we just wanted him to scare 'em. they take the city in two and a
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half hours, the people come up and say, you're in charge. eaton says, i'm not in charge. this is your city. we're not looking to oppress. it reminds me after shock and awe in iraq. if you talked to any of the army or marines first into baghdad, the first thing they said, what do i do? the first thing we said, whatever you want. they didn't understand they had a degree of freedom. we started taking control. eaton, with his brilliant leadership skills, starts making sure everybody gets fed, they start handling the daily duties, because the governor fled. all of a sudden, they did the inevitable, they prepared for a counterattack. hamid had learned to fight. his bunch of mercenaries were motivated. the people of durna were happy. but when this started happening, the word got back to the bashar, he's in charge. they're coming for benghazi, and they're coming for you. how do we know the reaction? the prisoners saw him. 303 american prisons, many of which made up of the
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philadelphia that was grounded itself and was taken, those 303 saw how nervous he was. he thought it was over. enter tobias lear. he's on edward preble's boat, and he's in charge of negotiation. he's a relatively shady character who was the chief assistant to george washington. and for some reason thomas jefferson always had him in the eye of the storm too. and there's a belief, not to get sidetracked too much, that george washington and thomas jefferson had a spat in writing. and jefferson knew that washington was also a historic figure and didn't want historians how bad this got and how angry washington got at him. so who would be in control of washington's letters at his death? who was the last one to see him? tobias lear. and if those letters were to disappear, who would be responsible? who would owe who a fair? tobias lear. so he's going to go in and negotiate the first american victory in war. and without telling eaton, who had plans to take tripoli and give these people the liberation
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they deserved and take out the leaders who we observed. without any notice he cuts a deal, actually even cuts a payments. we didn't even free hamid's family. we cut a premature deal. next thing you know our guys are out, everybody's celebrating, word gets to eaton, you're done. he's got to go explain to hamid, we've got to go. eaton comes back, he's hailed as a hero, but he becomes an alcoholic because he could not rationalize the fact that his ultimate deaths any would not be -- destiny would not be fulfilled. so he would die in the year 1809. in 1815 his bio would be reelited because he had all these -- released. i bought his biography, which there was only a happenedful --
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handful made on amazon for $112. i'd been trying to get it, and i got it. that should be worth, and i'm not just looking to send my son to college, which he'd like to go -- [laughter] but when you look at his biography, his background, that should be worth a million bad lucks. you should be knowing him as well as you to know macarthur and patton because those are the types of people that made up america. now, when you look at impact, you look at steven decatur. what happens is one major setback under edward preble was the grounding of the uss philadelphia. in an effort to hunt down one of those small little ships, the uss philadelphia went into very surprisingly shallow water. it was amazing they caught any fish because people are basically cheating now if you look at the fishermen, they basically have fish jumping into the boat anymore.
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they're going to make that the flagship of the new navy. the problem was steven detoday you are the was on-- decatur is onboard, and he's commissioned to go take that ship and blow it up. so impressive was steven decatur's navy seal-like mission, i thought i'd read you this. essentially, lord nelson said, lord nelson says the american commander with the small force in a very short time has done more for the cause of -- this is actually pope pius -- but admiral horatio nelson called it the most bold and daring act of this age. that's how impressive steven decatur is. our country's 15 years old to. no one thought we'd be successful, let alone become a naval power quickly, have the
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integrity and values to stand up for what we wanted to do. after all, everyone else is writing checks. oh, man, those guys are crazy. here, just leave us alone. america, really? you're going to stand up to us? yeah. you know what wells we hearned? -- else we learned? how to build a ship. "fox & friends" allowed me to do a nice little feature about the book. our boats are made out of a special oak, and with that oak was layered in a special sandwich that allowed the uss constitution to get the nickname old ironsides. there was no iron, there was copper on the bottom, but that's how thick these trees were located only in america, built correctly. we went to school on the british, on the french. we saw what worked, what didn't work, and we made it better. 1812, there's a whole other conversation, then we can talk about how great we were in naval warfare. when it was all said and done. we went to war in 1812 and then guess what happened? while we were fighting the british, the british with their
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instigation started attacking our guys, started capturing our guys again. after madison fought to a tie which could have been a victory against the british after a terrible start, he said decatur, do me a favor. william bane bridge, if you don't mind, let's send a navy while we're still dressed over to the barbary powers, and let's send a message. we essentially showed up with our navy, got our guys back. and not only did we get our guys back, we made them pay for our inconvenience. cut peace with all of them, they were silent really into the 1970s, 1980s after that, and america sent a message. and this is what i prematurely read before which i'll edit out for c-span, if you don't mind. the american commander has done more for the cause of christianity, because they looked at this as a religious war, than the most powerful nations of christiandom have done for ages. so i leave you with a few thoughts. we keep on debating whether
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america's exceptional or not. do we just think we're special because we're here, and everyone wants to think they're special? everyone wants the mets to win the world series and the royals to be special, and if they have any faux pass, problems, it doesn't matter, my guys are the best. but when i research george washington's secret six and see the steel this which i saw this network set up, so-called everyday americans asked to fight for the cause of the country which hasn't been formed yet, when i see everyone said it's folly to take on these ruthless terrorist pirates, and i see what they're doing, and i see the way the rest of the world is responding to us now, and i see the way the rest of the world responds to us now. afterral, people aren't sneaking out, they're sneaking in. and there's a reason. we were born with -- we were born in the best place at the best time with the best country. it turned out the most formidable military in the history of the world with the strongest economy that corrects
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its mistakes when they do it, and when we do make mistakes, at least we can say we intended to do the correct thing. sometimes the execution was a little off. how many nations can say that? absolutely not. in fact, in my humble opinion, we're seeing what happens when america pulls back. it's chaos, and the bad guys step forward, and we realize that. another thing i'd like to say is in looking and researching this which is absolutely fantastic and so much fun, you find out they were worried in 1800 that we were losing the spirit of '73. we always hear about that every election cycle. they were worried then. and as long as we're worried about it, we're never going to lose it. so my hope is, and the reason why i think this has jumped out to quick sales and it's done extremely well and maybe it's going to be as successful as george washington's secret six, i think it's because america wants to learn about americans, and one of the biggest mistakes in our current school system is they're not allowing people to
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focus on social studies. for those who say, well, i'm better at math and science than i am at social studies. do you like stories? what did doesn't like a story? what if i let you feel and see these stories? washington, you've got the capitol building here, the smithsonian, you go down the coast and you've got yorktown and jamestown, you know, they're privileged. all they have to do is go on a field trip around the block. with me on long island, i'm lucky. but if you could tell these stories and these kids get interested, then i think they're going to care. and the thing that makes me feel the best is when i get from a parent who says i gave it to my son or daughter, and it's the first book i didn't push them to read, they read it on their own. and when i get these teenagers who write me letters, it's really heartening. we sold two or two million -- i prefer the two million, but if we tell the stories of everyday americans, it's not just about jemp soften, hamilton and
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washington, i think i did my job. that's why i couldn't wait to come here and talk about this, spread the word about this, and i'm so glad that c-span's here with their cameras because at fox news we have a wide audience, but i'd love to expand it too. so i'll be at book signings around the country, i'll have an opportunity to talk with you, interact with you, but that is the story of thomas jefferson and the tripoli pirates. i'd also like to give you an opportunity as i welcome genevieve back up here to ask a few questions, about three or four questions. if you have personal questions, i blush, so i might back off. [laughter] that's okay. if you have questions about the story, i also know this: i don't
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>> so would you like to start? genevieve, do you want to come up? >> first of all, brian, thank you very much. [applause] i got an early copy of this book, and i was coming back from new york yesterday on the train and reading it. other people were asking, oh, i haven't seen that yet, i want to get it. i've been reading it. i don't like to do this with authors that i haven't read the book, this is really good. >> thank you. [laughter] >> this is really good. >> here is the other thing, there are no pictures -- [laughter] >> and i told brian that two of the people i want to give this to are my two olders nephews, and i see a young man in the front row who will probably love it. we have microphones. if you'll raise your hand, we'll bring the microphone down to you. we'll start in the front and then we'll come back to the back. >> thank you very much for your presentation. mark leonard.
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talk to me a little about jefferson. he's been portrayed in the adams series and also now on broadway as a very weak individual. is that how you saw him in your book? >> no. he's a complex guy. but for me to comment on jefferson is like me telling michael jordan how to play basketball. does he have a few weaknesses? yeah. you're not going to hear it from me. do i judge him on his personal life? does he have some issues? absolutely. should he have gotten the militia together to fight the british? probably, all right? did he do some things politically to keep himself aboveboard, you know, to keep himself relevant? absolutely. but he's such an extraordinary american, he's such a deep thinker, he was so curious. he was somebody that brought so much. and one of the great things i had about this book is going to monticello. and when you go there and you realize you're just scratching the surface of what he achieved in his life, i'm not to going to
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judge him. i'm just glad he's on our team. i mean, i wrote one term he was called the pacifist president. he was the unlikely guy to stand up to the barbary pirates who were brutal and ruthless because he allowed madison, for example, in lynne cheney's book, she said she concluded that maybe madison saw the grief that jefferson took for not getting a militia together when he was asked to stand up and fight the british. and he was fearing he'd be viewed that way if he ran from the fight as the british were burning down washington. so you knew it was in the fore front of the news. i after at people -- i laugh at people that want to judge thomas jefferson. he's not perfect, but i have yet to meet the perfect person. he had a big upside, and he made some big mistakes. but, man, are we lucky to have had him on our team. it's about time we've had a rap musical about our founding fathers. [laughter] way overdue. they beat me to the bunch. i hear he looks potential that,
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and that bothers me just like i know people who saw the jfk movie who say, wait a second, there's a lot of people who think all these pierce things actually -- conspiracy things actually happened. i'm not going to judge him. everything's out there. i mean, i met a guy on my crew who says he is related to thomas jefferson because he has a hemings in his background. that's his last name. okay. he's black, and i guess we found out a few years ago that was true. listen, whatever happened happened. i just think we, it's our responsibility to learn about him, not judge him, and thank goodness we have this collection of extraordinary people in their 30s and 40s that were looking to stand up and form this country. >> thank you for your talk today. it was really good. >> thank you. >> can you talk to us about stephen decatur? there seems to be a decatur in every state -- >> and a decatur house, right? the way i understand it, there
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was a real belief that he was going to be president. i mean, that's how heroic he was. so stephen decatur, if you think of the barbary wars in 1812 where the wins just kept coming, and this fearlessness, his fearlessness was legendary. i'll give you the story, and i have the picture in this book. you wouldn't know that, genevieve -- [laughter] of a painting. what happened was they go on a mission, and this is how extraordinary he was. if you want to talk about leadership, and they're sitting around talking like a bunch of guys who just had a successful mission, and it turns out his brother james is not coming back. james has been wounded, maybe mortally. you're kidding me? it was one of these pirate ships that they boarded, and they ran boo -- into a man with a sword, and he mortally wounded him. james is fighting for his life, and steven looks at him and says let's revenge in this. that night they board the ship and rye to find the mammoth guy
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that almost killed his brother james, and they find him. and decatur's in a heap of trouble. and they've going at each other, hand to hand combat, and just as he's about to come down with the sword, this guy, thom frazier, jumped in front of the sword and takes the blow that dun kill him, but -- doesn't kill him but would have killed him. why? he goes my unit can live without me, but it at no time live without decatur. -- can't live without decatur. can you imagine the type of leadership where you throw yourself in front of a bullet, a knife or a sword? i can't imagine that type of inspiration, but he showed it. everyone around him was pretty much in awe of him. and like you guys know, everyone in this room knows who he is. i didn't know much about him. i know he was in some children's books that i was in. i thought he was pical until you read -- fictional until you read everything he did. >> thank you for your
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contribution to learning and american history, especially that early part of american history. two parts. first of all, what did you think that the french and the english were all about? because it was during the the napoleonic wars, and i know they were distracted about that. the other was what were your thoughts about hamilton during the preceding time and then during this? >> well, i mean, it was a constant rivalry between two. one, i was heartened, because to see this verbal bloodbath that ended up sometimes being actual blood, to see these guys lock horns the way they did over politics and beliefs of big government and small government made me say, wow, we're not destroying the country in having these battles. you know, we're not doing something americans never did. i loved the fact that intensity was so strong, sometimes it ended up in a duel. i'm not sure who was right. everything hamilton tried to do jefferson tried to undo and vice versa. so i'll give you all that. what i also found staggering to find out is that, you know, you
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are for big government, small government, but most of all they were americans. and then after you were done, you were done. you didn't hate to the point where you wanted to destroy the country except for aaron burr who has a clash with william eaton who says, hey, william, i know you feel like you were dissed by thomasierson, you want to overthrow the government? eaton goes, no, not only that, but i'm telling on you. [laughter] your other question was? >> [inaudible] >> this is, this is what i would say about that. i was -- i knew, you know, just as a sports person if you lose, if you lose, get upset in the finals, like the mets beat the orioles, i think secretly the orr to untiles wanted to play the mets in 1970 because you want to get that guy back. i found out almost every one of our founding fathers knew the british was coming back for a rematch, it was just a matter of when. we're out of war debt can, we
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kept the indian, the native american population under control, solidified the country and maybe had a standing navy and army to fight 'em off. to the cause is i-war was a war against the french that we fought under john adams, and then you had the british who were fighting the french. the scariest day, i understand, for madison was when he found out the british and french made peace, because that meant the british were coming after us, and he was 100% right. so the way they looked at it, i think they looked at us as a threat. what was america? a representative government. really? we don't have that in britain. we didn't have that in france. what was america? we rotated our leaders through elections. really? we don't really have elections, and we're not going to rotate our leadership. we do this thing called die i in office, dying in office or being killed in office. that was their philosophy. so if america worked, they were threatened. the people were curious, but they were threatened. i don't believe they were ever on our side.
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and it took us fighting the british straight up after a series of losses and washington burning, and if it wasn't for my rack house weather activity, we would have lost almost all of our founding documents. i believe they were very vested in us failing. that's how i feel. >> i'm from kansas city. i appreciate your reference to the royals. >> i don't appreciate my own reference to the royals. [laughter] >> well, that's to tough. >> we're sorting that out too. >> the score stands for itself. >> yeah. >> my question really is somewhat of a personal question. what was your inspiration? did you have a teacher somewhere that inspired you to really get interested in history, or what was it that inspired you atom point? >> i'm from matt speeg el high school, the people that gave you jerry seinfeld, all the baldwins -- sorry about alec. [laughter] joey butt few coe, i can't apologize enough. brian setser, pretty good. brian setser orchestra and stray
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cats. so i just had these great teachers. i had these incredible teachers who told stories. and i still remember, how i remember world war i, world war ii, it's going to be on the test, and be all of a sudden my teacher said, okay, i need you guys on this side and you guys on this side. break this in half. everyone grab some papers out of your hand, all right? separate the desks into rows. i need you to climb up and down those desks, and i wallet you to hit as many people -- i want you to hit as many people with as many papers as you can. at that time teachers were allowed to drink in school. [laughter] and what he was teaching us was trench warfare, world war i. you went into a trench, and you had to try to get into their tricep. and i remember we had all these symbols, all these times. he also would make us say the presidents every single day. as soon as you got all the
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presidents down, you got 10 to 0 averaged into your grade. so little things like that. it was eighth grade. all i wanted was the 100. i didn't necessarily want to be an american historian. but when i left that, i couldn't wait for the next chapter. wow, we're done with the revelation, i can't wait for the civil war, i can't wait for this. so i got lucky. i don't know if you guys were lucky, but to me, if you can -- i know there's a brain that has the math, and i know there's a brain that has the creativity, and -- oh, i'm creative, i'm not good at math. i'm not good at math and science, but to you like stories? and then do do you have pride in this country? if you don't, you aren't paying attention to the stories. because nobody has the stories that we have. and when you were born in america, it was taught to me early but all they had to do was show me the stories for me to conclude it, you hit lotto. i'd rather be poor in america than rich somewhere else, because we want the opportunity to be successful. we don't want it handed to us.
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we don't want to inherit it. we want the opportunity to be successful. and i'll bring up donald trump. he was rich, and then he became a billionaire. that's the hunger you need. yeah, he took risks. i don't know why he doesn't bring that up more. hey, listen, i'm a millionaire, ofon't have to work rest ofest my life, i had a brother and sister that took it easy, i want to be bigger, better, more important. i think ambition is great, and i think the opportunity to fuel that fire is great, and that's really what i got from my social studies teachers. >> in doing your research, did you uncover, you know, how blessed we are and how the hands of the lord played a, you know, played a big part or the part in bringing together such a wonderful group of original towning fathers? founding fathers? >> it's unbelievable. i can't even put it into words. that's why when people say, and i've heard this over and over again, in fact, i was talking to
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larry sabato on the radio yesterday or thursday, and he says i know bringing up jefferson today is controversial. i go, really? and then he proceeded to talk about jefferson and his greatness. so i think it's incredibly misplaced to say, well, such and such was doing this during his time so, therefore, they're not great today. alexander hamilton, excuse me, you know, you can't have, you can't have -- i'm trying to think of who was -- you have jefferson who had slaves, washington had slaves, and slavery's an abhorrent thing. we can't imagine it, absolutely. i can't imagine black and white water fountains in the '60s. i'm not saying everyone who was living in the '50s and '60s was a horrible person. to me, it's unthinkable to think that blacks would have to go to the back of the bus. but i'm also going to say in 2015 i sit here at 50 years old -- 51, stop pressing me -- [laughter]
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i am not going to put myself back in the '60s and '50s. i know we go through an evolution, a process x we're always trying to get better. to me, there's two things. you know, for that storm to come ripping new washington and forcing the british out was unbelievable. when i was researching george washington's secret six and i found out that we were within a whisker of having our army wiped out and we're backed up in brooklyn heights and we have nowhere to go, so washington had to do something against all his inn stints, he had to retreat. he called in the merchant ships and whatever naval vessels we had to get the army out. well, the problem was it's too windy. we can't go until 11:00ing at night. so with the fall of darkness, we start getting the army out. well, the sun's coming out, and half our army's still there. out of nowhere you look at a biography, a man who was by washington's side during the
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entire war, that a fog rolled in so thick you could not see four feet in front of your face. he's saying this, writing in 1830, living it in 1778, and you can't see in front of your face four feet. that gave a virtual darkness allowing the rest of our military to leave, allowing us to get into manhattan and ultimately get out to fight another day. we would never have to be stupid enough to stand up face to face with the british again. we do a guerrilla warfare, we come from the outside, and we wear them out. if it wasn't for that fog, where did that fog come from? if you think it's one of those myth things, pick up a book from a guy that was written back then who told us that who didn't have any agenda except for his kids urging him to put it down on paper because no one's ever going to believe it. you'll realize when people say we're an exceptional nation and then some other people say, well, every nation thinks they're exceptional. excuse me, i don't think so. i know i'm biased because i'm an
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american, but i also know we are the human all-star team that have a chance to live elsewhere and choose to live here, people debating on different ways to get in and not to get out. no one's lacing a raft together tonight to try to get to cuba. [laughter] yes. by the way, great shirt. >> thank you. >> cassius clay. absolutely. >> i love your passion for history, the american history. >> thank you. >> so i have to -- and i haven't read this yet, and i can't wait to read -- >> okay, well, thank you. >> what's on the horizon? what are you working on next? >> i would probably work on apologizing to my wife for being away for five straight weekends. [laughter] i have a few ideas afterwards. i want to see how this goes. and my thing is, too, is i'm lucky enough to be on fox. and if i write a great book, the most important thing is authors listening right now or maybe in
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the audience is to get out there and give it exposure. if it's not a great book, it's okay, i would just like you to know about it. i don't like selling. i like talking about it. i don't want to say buy book, you've got to go buy the book. and when i'm on fox, i do want to say i'm going to be in mclean on saturday and fredericksburg on sunday and the nixon library, then santa barbara to the reagan ranch, and i want people to go. not if you don't want to. i don't want to sell. my whole thing is when i'm on fox, it's got to be about the channel and the show. so if i feel as though i am going over that line. i will not do my next project. so i want to see how it goes. hopefully, i do it in a way that is acceptable to everybody and everyone's pumped up about it at fox because we are telling a great american story. in case you know it or not, fox is the most patriotic company in the world. the only -- people say, oh, you're left, you're right. no, we're pro-american. that's who we are. we understand what i just said earlier, that we hit lotto.
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so my next project, i will say this, not far off from this one in timeline. [inaudible conversations] with. >> [inaudible] >> right. >> your first two books. >> well, when i read bill o'reilly's youth version, i get stuck on words. [laughter] right. listen, i thought about that too. and the publisher doesn't seem to think that since this isn't written for the harvard professor to be impressed, this is written for the everyday american to be impressed, they didn't think it was economically feasible. if i was 6-7 with a deep voice and huge ratings with my own show, you know, he probably walks in and says i have an idea of doing a youth version, who's with me? get in line. i have a little different deal. but i do say this, i give all credit to bill o'reilly because i thought brian's going to go to work and do news and sports and
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then go home, and when i have freedom, i'm going to read history when i have an opportunity. i never thought the two would meet. but until bill o'reilly started doing killing lincoln, killing kennedy, who else did he kill? killed jesus, patton, killed reagan. [laughter] if we have to list everything he's accomplished, we'll never get out of here. [laughter] but until i saw the mix and the way he's able to talk and the way i saw everyday americans being lit up and excited about stuff we thought we knew about lincoln, the chase, the murder, how many other people were shot the night he was hit at ford theater, until i saw that, it gave me an opening. glenn we can on our channel -- beck on our channel would open up his show and show in black and white the depression. and he's talking about how far we've come. and i thought, man, this is death for television, we're a news show. and the ratings boomed, and he had such passion for it.
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so in the back of my mind i thought, wow, there might be a market for this, and i don't necessarily have to do something different can. i thought the news people might have a sense of perspective be they took in these historical storyings. that's my long answer to a short question. i think you can get this in seven and eighth grade. i don't think you'll have a problem with it. and if worse comes coto worse, you could read it with me, and i could -- and we have the book on tape too. [laughter] >> one more question right here. >> i want to thank you very much. i'm a retired colonel in the air force, and i want to tell you that bringing american history like this to light especially with the things going on in the world today is extraordinary, and i think you're a great patriot and thank you very much. >> oh, thank you very much for saying that. [applause] thank you very much for coming. i'll sign all your books if you want, actually i could do it right here, it'd be better -- >> yeah, i know several of you
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bought books prior to coming in, but we have them for sale right out front, so if you want to get a book signed by brian, head out, come on back, and he'll sign them. thank you. >> [inaudible] yes. >> [inaudible] >> we are right now, yes. >> we are recording? >> yes. you can come up here and say it. >> thank you all very much. [inaudible conversations] >> this presidents day weekend, booktv has three days of nonfiction books and authors on c-span2, and here are some programs to watch for. today at 9a.m., we're live from
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the ninth annual savannah book festival. sunday night at nine eastern on "after words," barry lastser tracks the surge in violent crime in america from the 1960s through the 21st century. the rise and fall of violent crime in america. he's interviewed by john roman, senior fellow for the policy advisory group at the urban institute. >> crime actually begins to fall in the early 1980, and i think that happens because the baby boom generation which was the major players here in the crime rise, began to age out. >> on monday at noon eastern, "geek herr city: rescuing cultural change." in which he argues while technology sometimes solves social and economic problems, it's not the main driver of
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progress. watch booktv all weekend, every weekend on c-span2, television for serious readers. >> of this year's presidential candidates have written books to introduce themselves to voters and to promote their views on issues. here now is a look at some of the candidates' books. in "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." former secretary of state hillary clinton looks back on her time serving in the obama administration in "hard choices." and in "a time for truth," texas senator ted cruz recounts his journey from a cuban immigrant's son to the u.s. senate. and ohio governor john kasich call cans for a return to what he sees as traditional american
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values in "stand for something." more presidential hopefuls with books include florida republican senator marco rubio. in "american dreams" he outlines his plans to advance economic opportunity. the winner of the new hampshire democratic primary, independent senator bernie sanders, recently updated his 1997 p autobiography. now titled "outsider in the white house," to include his time in the senate and the launch of his presidential campaign. and businessman donald trump, winner of the new hampshire republican primary, outlines his political platform in "crippled america." garyjohnson is a presidential candidate for the libertarian party. he discusses his political philosophy and his time as governor of new mexico. booktv has covered many of these candidates, and you can watch them on our web site, booktv.org. >> and you're watching booktv on c-span2, and today we are live from the ninth annual savannah book festival in georgia. all day several authors will
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discuss their books from the trinity united methodist church. it's located in downtown v.a. van that. -- savannah. you'll hear from war veteran and quadruple amputee travis bills, dana perino, and best selling author rinker buck. and now we're going to kick off our live coverage today with rutgers university journalism professor david greenberg. his book is called "the republic of spin: an inside history of the american presidency." this is live coverage from savannah on booktv. ..

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