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tv   2016 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books  CSPAN  April 11, 2016 1:01am-4:00am EDT

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>> welcome back to southern california. day two of "the los angeles
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times" festival of books and book tv inside. we are on the campus of the university of southern california with a full day of author panels and colin programs. you'll have the chance to talk with several authors including area in a huffington radio talkshow host dennis prager. for a complete schedule, follow us on twitter@otb on facebook, >> i >> booktv john c-span2 live that the festival of books. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> thank you for coming. nice crowd. first of all, i have to deal with the title of this panel, which really, through history, laws of nature, laws of man.
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the title is a little difficult for me as a political reporter, i write about the laws of man and i never think about the laws of nature unless i'm covering a natural disaster, like our 1994 earthquake. our panelists have two tasks, most important for them is to talk about their books in such a compelling manner that you will all brush out afterward, by copies and have the authors assign them. the book signing is in signing area number one. this is noted on the festival math in the center of the program or one of the volunteers in the room will help direct you
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i have been thinking. the laws of nature explains like the formation of the great coral reef, once thought of as permanent and now, we know they're not. we hope the laws of man can save them from global warming. these of books deal with these two conflicting forces, i guess, in a engaging way with really gripping writing. in reading them, i wondered how all of this history that we will be talking about today affects us. i thought that all of three books are essential to our understanding of today's world. michael schuman is the author of confusion in the world he created and he has been correspondent for time and the "wall street journal" covering
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asia and the global economy. he lives in beijing, and is also the author of: the miracle, the epic story of asia's quest for. in the latest book he tells how confucius attempted to bring a system of order, respect and responsibility to his unruly world in effort to communist government is continuing today. marries a book is: spqr: a history of ancient rome and is a professor and confronting the classics. which was nominated for the national book critics circle award and a she also writes a very delightful blog. she tells how these enterprising
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and effect energetic, aggressive and the thing i always think about is cruel romans employ their idea of the laws of man on their diversity in part. mark is an associate professor of history at seat hall university specializing in intellectual, cultural and political history of modern era and his book in the science-- in the age of science and reason-- region tells about something we all know too well, no matter how good our leaders are or how complex our government structure is, an earthquake can wipe us all out. my name is bill boyarsky. i'm a journalist. i was with the los angeles times for 30 years and now right for a number of web publications.
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so, michael, i was thinking of you this morning when i was watching cnn and they were telling about how the government is cracking down on these earth sets western villages that are-- developments that are being built in china, wanting to restore the old value. you said in an e-mail to me you said confucius was focused entirely on human affairs. he is blamed for the decline of chinese technology and innovation. now, china is working to reverse that. talk about that a little bit. how is the teachings-- how are the teachings of confucius shaping today's chinese society? >> thanks, bill.
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that's a great place to start a history panel because it gets out what makes history somewhat fun and so important because if you believe what some scholars would argue about this is, confucius, this chinese guy who live 2500 years ago and said a bunch of stuff had so much influence because i did kind of ripple down the centuries and completely altered world history and here we are today in the 21st century and his ideas are still influencing world affairs. on this front, we deal with science and technology. confucius has been considered over the years has basically anti- science. he sent his time mainly talking about good government and human relations and he believed that's it everyone cultivated their own moral qualities to try to do the right thing that, that would
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lead to a peaceful prosperous strong society. more practical learning, well, that wasn't is so important. there's a passage in one of the old text that recounts a conversation that confucius had with one of his students and this student told confucius that he felt he wanted to learn more about animal husbandry and confucius waited until he left the room and then confucius kind of mocked him and called him a small man. he was not talking about his height. he said the essence of his argument was that if you know about righteousness, what needs do you have for agriculture or animal husbandry, so what some scholars think happened was that as confucius had these ideas and became so important in chinese society confucius kind of this anti- science kind of elements of confucius thinking made china anti- science.
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that the really smart people were supposed to be sitting at universities writing poetry or managing a government and not tinkering around in some lab. so, following this line of thinking, confucius gets a blamed for one of the great turning points in world history, which is that the shifts of power from east to west for much the last 2000 years china was actually a far more advanced society technologically and economically than western europe. but, the great scientific resolution-- revolution, the industrial revolution happened in europe and not china that led to the great decline of china on the world the stage. some scholars and reformers look at confucius and his sake that is confucius fall for making china anti- technology. and that's still relevant today because as the chinese economy is stumbling, leadership
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realizes that the country needs to become more and more innovative and will take the next step and really compete in the future. so, you can argue that confucius is still a problem for china even today. what's even more just and right now is that as the government is pushing for innovation, it's also reducing confucian ideas and values to a degree that the chinese government hasn't-- hasn't it more than a hundred years, so the government today wants china to become more innovative and more technical logical eight advance and more confusion, so that i get that the original, can you have a society that has both confucian and innovative and the answer to that will be incredibly important for the future. if china does he come innovative it means it will become a more
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powerful economy and will become more powerful relative to the united states, but if confucius is there and his ideas continue to hold china back, well, maybe china has a different future. >> thank you. you know, mary, as a tourist i travel around. my wife and i travel around the old roman empire from spain through the mediterranean up to the uk and see all of these things, france. we see a lot of the structure, i mean, older stadiums, old baths, a lot of ruins. and-- but, such a long occupation of these very plans.
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and how does it affect what we see today along the mediterranean, in europe and all that. >> that's interesting and, of course, in many different ways, but can i-- i just want to say one thing in response to michael, first. i was listening with absolute fascination to that neat seven up confucianism and all kinds of things similar with the roman elite except they love agriculture. [laughter] >> when they went and smashed, literally destroyed the place. one thing they rescued was a multivolume encyclopedia on animal husbandry and agriculture. [laughter]
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>> just shows one of the things are different, but i think it's quite interesting particularly as someone who lives in the uk to reflect on how rome in the roman empire as it were shaped the world and, i mean, i think there is something which is very very in your face about the romans in britain, you know. you say you go out and you see bits of rome still there. you go round the country and you see loads of pounds in britain or chester, buildings, that means the romans were there because that is the roman word for camp. you can see the social geography of britain is still configured in a roman way. why is london in such a stupid
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place, actually for capital city y, the bloody romans put it there because it was convenient for them. you are kind of living in a world which still has its parameters formed by rome, but it gets more complicated in this for two ways, really. one way is, of course and i'm talking about britain, but we could do the same about germany. of course, our identity is not formed by that kind of sense of roman infrastructure. it's a formed by our view of conflict between us and the romans. one of the most interesting things about how rome works in the head of any western european is that we are always on the roman side and against them. are we actually thinking that we are the inheritance of the rome or are we inheritors of the rebels they zero press, that
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populist? that's an edgy sort of stand out there in when we are thinking about our own cultural identity and there's no better place to see that than just outside the house of parliament, on the banks there is a fantastic bronze statue of leading british rebels, the warrior queen boudicca in her chariot with her daughters, flowing hair. she massacred thousands and thousands of roman soldiers 20 years after the conquest. she is in all sorts of ways, but she's a rebel, the terrorist, she's the independent freak. only base of the statue-- on the
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base of the statute this kind of paradox about our relationship with rome comes out clearly because what it says in the quotation from slightly earlier poem and basically says, don't worry boudicca because she did come to a nasty and, don't worry because your descendents will rule more of the world than the romans ever did. [laughter] >> so, you turn the independent freedom fighter into the ancestor of the british empire by an appalling sleight-of-hand, actually. but, i think for me though, it's not infrastructure that's important that first got me into the romans. i think that's where rome has formed, western identity and you know better than me i think in this country, is not so much in
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infrastructure, it's in the conversation that we still have with the romans the how politics and civic values work. i think it's interesting in the states because american audience is much more receptive to this than british ones. british ones always tend to think about aqueducts and american audiences think about the capital and the idea of how you create community. in many ways i think, what we are really are the air of is roman debates-- look, we are not simple kind of dupes who were taken by the romans, but we are that errors about roman debate on what it is to be a citizen, what rights a citizen has, what liberty is and to an extent, this is where * the book away, to write or justifiable or
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necessary to suspend the liberty of the citizen in the interest of protecting the states and homeland security. we are still talking about that in ways that the romans have focused to talk about and i think that is the direction i dove. >> mark, in your book of this terrible earthquake which occurred in november 1, 1775,-- >> 55. >> 55, and sort of got overlooked in the history of the world because it was followed by the seven-year war, which got most of the ink. with mary just brought up about the conflict, order and civic life was certainly after this
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terrible earthquake was certainly an issue in lisbon when lisbon was destroyed by the earthquake and a very powerful first minister assumed all power. ruthlessly suspended rights, to property away, actually he sort of took apart and dismantle the inquisition for his own inquisition. so, there were no civil rights because of the need to protect society from this devastation. can you talk about that a little bit? >> well, the lisbon earthquake disaster, which is the subject of my book-- i mean, you may have heard of it. it's a cameo role in voltaire's candied, but most educated people i would say nine out of
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10 walking down the street have -- it just would not-- is not part of their mental universe, yet it was one of the greatest natural disasters in the last i would say 10000 years. it was certainly the largest earthquake to affect europe in five to make 10000 years. its epicenter was off the atlantic, by your bering coast and cause a tsunami, which is very rare in the atlantic ocean. into was between 8.5 and 9.2 and the moment magnitude scale. it was felt as far away as norway, northern italy, casanova who was imprisoned in the doges palace for a sexual indiscretion , that morning felt his jail cell's shake and he prayed that the wall would fall
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and he could just skedaddle out. it did not happen, but months later he learned that was the morning of the lisbon earthquake and he wrote about it in his autobiography, so this earthquake and i'm nowhere. most people in lisbon had never felt an earthquake. it began about 9:45 a.m., during that 9:00 a.m. mass. picture frames on the walls of started to shake and then after three tremors, the center of the city was for the most part destroyed. the low lying area of the city was built on landfill. then, about half hour later, thus tsunami hit and came up the targus river, smashed into the river bank and pulled at thousands of people who were there escaping the destruction from the city and then a firestorm begins because of the candles that are in the churches , the housewives and
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slaves are cooking the feast day meals and so the city of about 200,000 people, which is much larger population because of the feast day is hit by three blows. many people think it's the last day that this is what is written in revelations and the secretary of state, this man that bill has alluded to is i think one of the most interesting and important statesmen and most people can have never heard of. his house was on the out side of the area that was destroyed by the earthquake. he immediately jumped on a horse, galloped a few miles to the palace where the king was and the king was so shall shocked that he essentially gave the defect of power over to him who was ferociously ambitious man. a man from the lower gentry where many of these people
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come-- come from in this period and from that moment on he built essentially a sort of took over the country because the other ministers in lisbon were at their villas several miles outside the city. tomball, again immediately called in the soldiers into the city, martial law was declared, people were executed and from that point on it was earthquake politics and as bill alluded to they were pretty brutal and he started to take revenge on his enemies in that upper note-- nobility in the church, the tickly chuzzlewit and essentially was a terror of state for the next 20 years and what i say in the book in some ways this natural disaster did in a few minutes what took the french revolutionary several years to do. it essentially got rid of the
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infrastructure of the regime of all the great villas and great families, the churches which were the power centers of the pool balls enemies where many of them or most of them were destroyed and this allowed-- he essentially created a power back to it-- vacuum and so the story is, the city, and it's what ultimately happens to the portuguese empire, which i believe is the beginning of the downswing and i just want to say that in the first-- 50 years before the lisbon earthquake that portuguese found with the spanish had found centuries before, which was gold in great quantities and 20 years later they found diamonds and emeralds and rubies.
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this all flowed into lisbon and 50 years before the earthquake was the second golden age completely destroyed by the earthquake and a new portugal was born and it was in some cases a horrible place, certainly for two decades. >> what i'm going to bring up is not really a central point to these folks, but it is something i'm interested in because i in in the communications business. mark, it took forever to get word out about this earthquake before cnn. [laughter] >> mary, you talked a bit about -- i wondered how christianity could furnish and you talked about how in the roman empire there was such a
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great communication and of course in confucius day his teachings, no one who wrote about him had ever seen the man. it was all by word-of-mouth, so could you tell them a little bit about, i mean, this is a huge earthquake and people in europe did not know about it for months. >> as i mentioned, the ripples of it were felt in many areas of europe. thus tsunami actually hit four continents, so by the end of the day on november 1 people had drowned in north america, south america, europe and africa, but pool ball close off so no ships could leave because he was worried the use would fill a ships up with things they has stolen from the rubble of that
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churches and villas and so the first writer, one writer who was paid by the secretary of debt and bastard to spain who died in the earthquake left lisbon the morning of november 4, so three days later. it took him about four days to get to madrid and then several writers left madrid for paris and verse i. writers went north, crossing the english channel and i guess sort of november 20, or so the news arrived in london. the stock exchange immediately closed down. at there was among the merchants and then the ripples moved down to rome and eventually they make it to st. petersburg and one of the-- i don't read russian, but i assumed anyone to find out how
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long ultimately it took and so i found copies of the st. petersburg, the only newspaper published in russia at the time, stanford had copies of this it was sent to my university and i trained myself to identify what lisbon looks like in russian cyrillic script and portugal and when i saw on article on one of those two things i made a copy and gave it to my two colleagues to translate and it's fascinating, the russians were absolutely transfixed as most europeans were at the time. you would think that it would be the same article over and over again. no, i found fascinating things in the russian newspapers. for example, the morning of the earthquake november 1, around 10:00 a.m. mount the cbs actually smoked. i never heard that before. i'd never seen that, but it's
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from a neapolitan news article and apparently everyone thought there was going to be an earthquake and ran into the churches. no earthquake was felt in naples and everyone was happy home not knowing, of course, there was great destruction other parts of europe. >> i still think that seems terribly modern from a roman point of view because qu├ębec to 7980, i mean, 300 miles away from there it-- no one knew about it. so, i'm quite keen of the connective vacation of the roman empire, that we need to be realistic. it's a world of pockets of information, quite different from the only modern world where things might be slow, but you did get the news.
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i think that for me, again, i could i-- i feel conflicted about the romans because on the one hand everything is slow. news is an travel you know, if you want-- suppose you want the very very quickest way of getting from rome to london. you will never get there in less than five weeks, really. so, when people have this image of the roman empire and a roman empire sitting in the middle of the roman empire issuing orders, you can't get the word out even if he wanted to. but, i think it still is interesting that romans, monty python life of sobriety and what did the romans ever do for us-- [laughter] >> in some ways that's true, but i think there is something
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absolutely extraordinarily revolutionary about the idea that however long it took you, you could and 50 a.d. get on a road in rome and you could follow it and you would end up in athens. you were just that with it or in spain. heaven knows what he was like when the peasants woke up one morning to discover and southern france that there were a load of bulldozers that had moved in carving a road through their own property. i suspect they wouldn't be so please, but you do have a kind of servants that the roman empire sees itself in terms of its connections common terms of how they were joined up by roads. that, as bill suggests, is an
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interesting background to christianity because the standard view that we all learned through largely christian sources is such that somehow the kind of battle between the romans and christians, standoff. the christians are the counterculture and the romans constantly the enemy. we see it in those two terms. that seems to me really really misleading way of cnet, for all kinds of ways. for start that christians were romans anyway. their work romans over here and christians over here. there were christian romans and not christian romans. the really striking thing and actually we overlook this when we just look at the title of the new testament and paulson and corinthians letter to babylonians is that christianity and always kind of opposition to roman political power was the
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first religion in the roman world that saw that that sort of connectivity could be exploited. the christians used the structures of the connective empire to make a world religion. later on, of course, it is re- presented as a kind of standoff that's the most roman imperial religion of all is christianity. christianity would have been impossible to grow without a roman road. >> you know,-- go ahead clec thinks. i take it a different direction because one of the issues i had to deal with when writing about confucius is that there is a lot of modern scholarship that shows that the rollup confucius has been basically inflated over time, that he really was not as important as people think he is
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an even more than that he's a bit of a figment of people's imagination. that he is an effort by the west to understand china and east asian society that when the jesuits first down their way to china and trying to figure out what was going on they created a much mark ^-caret philosophy and put this kind of guy in charge of it and their ideas kind of influence the ideas of the chinese themselves about what confucius will was and so that you ended up creating a confucius that necessarily was not even there and this was a difficult subject-- idea for me writing a book about confucius. okay, what does that do with mary was talking about, it has to do with records and how ideas are disseminated. one historian said to me, the reason why we note confucius was so important is because people
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wrote down what he had to say. 2500 years ago, not everyone-- books were rare things and people didn't keep records of what everyone was saying and doing and just the mere fact that a bunch of people thought it was important to write down what confucius said and passed along shows how important he was at the time and then of course, these records both oral and written warehouse his ideas became spread and sprayed and spread not only across china, but through all of east asia, so the whole facts that looking back at deep antiquity in china is that there is a written record that-- got passed around at all shows the importance of what this person did and said and at the time and how it carried down through history. >> when does confucius become known as a presence outside asia
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when do the people of the west become aware of confucius? >> the west became more aware of confucius when the first jesuit missionaries ended up in china in the 16th century. they were trying to figure out how to convert chinese to christianity. they struggled with that for a while and their eventual solution was let's meld ourselves into chinese society and we have to learn a lot more about it. they were the first ones actually to go about translating text that are considered confucius text into european language. >> romans got to china pending they got quite a long way with what i was brought up to call the far east. but, the cultural impact seems-- the traces in chinese writing of romans turning up. there is a wonderful copy of a
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copy of a copy of a roman map, which actually extends as far as india and there are all kinds of this event in a kind of dump like pompeii there are all kinds of indian bric-a-brac, which has come back, iv-- ivory statuettes. heaven knows how they got there, but it doesn't seem to be any kind of interesting culture in play. just little bits of stuff, slight sense of that exotic. >> you know, the earthquake touched off what you call the great earthquake debate. did god cause this earthquake, punishment for our sins or did
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it come from natural forces that were hardly understood. although, we were just at the beginning of the discovery of science and all of those things that led to the industrial revolution. right at the beginning and so there was this huge debates. >> the lisbon earthquake happened at a fascinating moment and europeans history. scientific revolution had occurred, but the phenomenon of what causes earthquakes was amount. there was a great debate. i would say most people believed that god has caused the earthquake. but, many were trying desperately to find out what caused it, what natural forces had essentially brought it about there were all kinds of theories
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mainly based on aristotle's idea of cowbirds under the ground and when going through them. 18th century site is added fire and chemicals and so forth. there was even a series that the new lightning rods might have brought-- and many of them were fascinating, inventive comedy series, but they were wrong. in fact, we didn't really figure out what caused earthquakes until the 1950s and 1960s when plate tectonics was accepted by the scientific community. this gave an extra opening to the religious areas and sectors of society paired people like john wesley, for example, said to his congregation and he wasn't alone-- well, he knew that educated pastors and priests of your appeal the theories about what caused earthquakes and it put these
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into their sermons. well, look the scientists say that a ground fires, exploding gases and today of all kinds of theories, but they have no idea what causes earthquakes. looking out into the congregation, but we all know what causes earthquakes. we have read the bible this is god and god is sending us a message. and the religious figures in europe were particularly excited because they did not have a problem with science. they believed in science for the most part. but, they could train their argument against people they really hated, the deists, those who believe that god had greeted the universe like a watchmaker and then stepped back. this clearly showed the lisbon earthquake, that god was not a indifferent sovereign. he was playing a role in nature, in our lives. he is sending us messages and so there is this extraordinary
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overlap and debate between people that are accepting people-- things from both sides and the fascinating-- in england , which is potentially the center of the european enlightenment and of course the industrial revolution begins in the middle of the 18th century the king george the second called for a national past day several months later, i think february 6. every member of the church of england was to go into the churches and pray. that what had happened to lisbon didn't happen to the british empire and in fact, the churches were filled. not only the protestant churches, also the catholic churches, the jews went to temple. only the quakers did not go to services and not only that, the quakers opened their shops that day and this apparently led to
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writing. the quakers were attacked for this. this is again in the middle of the 18th century enlightenment >> there's another debate which comes out of that, which he touched on a bit ago which is a historical debate, which is about how the earthquake managed to speed up what took the french revolution years to achieve or not achieve. that question is, if it we are standing back and thinking about this from a historical point of view is do these natural disasters really show us anything? do they speed up something that might have happened or are they terribly convenience something we cling onto later?
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there are back-- very many explanations of the fall of the roman empire, which somewhat makes it a natural disaster. it was the plague in the late century. declined birthrate. what's you then do is it becomes off the peg explanation which in many ways you are looking at or discourages you from looking at all of the other things that were actually working at that time anyway and i wondered where you stood, actually, on the lisbon earthquake. did this do in the regime or did it fast forward? >> excellent question. alexia, the great sociologist historian of american democracy also wrote a book and his argument was precisely that, that the french revolution simply sped up the
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centralization of the state in france. it was going on before 1789, and therefore we should not really look at what happened between 1789 and 1799, but look at what was going on before and what comes later and his argument was centralization of the state. when i started writing this book, i had a subtitle: forging of the modern world. the lisbon earthquake changed everything. i, of course, went into the sources and realized it's not quite true. unfortunately. the story is somewhat more interesting. i think in terms of portugal, it did speed up these forces of secularization, centralization of the states, the decline again of the church. thank god, pombal was sent into exile, ultimately. but, as bill pointed out this earthquake happened right at the beginning of what we call the
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french and indian war, europeans called the seven-year war and so after about five or six months reports about the earthquake and how the portuguese are doing is kind of pushed off the front pages and europeans still completely forget about the earthquake. but, within a few years they do because more important and pressing things are going on, battles are being fought in the new world etc. so, though this earthquake debate is fascinating. my sense is that many people really didn't change their opinions about the world. they used the earthquake as a springboard to solidify and sort of make their arguments. i mean, their old ideas. i cannot fascinating. so, i would agree with you there
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soon so, what you are really saying is that if a natural disaster is going to change anything it has to happen at the right time. [laughter] >> i have one more question and then we will go to questions from the audience. this is for you, michael. they have been talking about things that compared to china happened at warped speed. i mean, even though it took a long time, china has been slow to change as low to evolve, but right now we are able to see through the miracle of the internet, television, we are able to see this society transforming itself immediately. right now and lifetime. as we watch this again, and briefly, where do we put confucius and what we see and
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what we read about? >> you know, i get asked a lot about why i wrote a book on confucius and actually all the time. it actually happened when i was on my way to the room this morning. [laughter] >> and you get especially not just from people kind of in the us in the west kind of like, why do we care about this old guy, but you get a lot from asians as well actually have come to have somewhat of a negative opinion towards confucius and blame him for all kinds about step from the second class status of women to governments and all of these other bad things and the reason i did it is that after living in asia, 420 years-- four, 20 years and asia operates differently than we do in west and why is
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that, and in the end i think it is because all societies are ultimately based on ideas. i think when we are talking about like earthquakes and natural catastrophes, they happen everywhere and can't change the course of events, but ultimately how i think that ideas a man in some ways are more powerful and live longer and you can see that in china today. even though this is a country that's remarkably different than it was 2500 years ago and in recent times has gone through fantastic political and cultural change, economic change that people now are actually rather than moving farther away from their traditions and traditional ideas are actually moving closer to them. that is the government is promulgating confucius ideas again for its own purposes, but
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ordinary people are also after not really looking very much at their own history and their own traditions for about a hundred years are actually going back and reading this stuff again and learning from and the people who are doing that are saying we are looking for answers to our own problems today. and, maybe we confined them in what our ancient philosophers that all these years ago. so, poor me from a historical-- from history standpoint it's remarkable how powerful an idea, you know, can be. something that started so long ago and so resonate the role of these different political, social economic changes that are kind of still around and still influence out people to do what they do and how the world works. >> now, we would like to have-- sheer from you folks.
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yes, right over there. do we have a microphone? [inaudible] [inaudible] ceric let's be repeat that in case you could hear. what would be a nuance to the question of why rome fell. [inaudible] >> i think the newest answer splits the east from the west and said, look, actually if you go to the eastern part of the roman empire, it didn't fall until 4053.
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they called themselves romans. they said they were the roman empire and so if you look at it from the point of view of them than the fall of the roman empire doesn't resonate. i think in the west, obviously, things are different. there's a breakdown of the political of any kind of political aggregation of the political unity. not as total as we think. we have a-- [inaudible] >> the names of the people who take over for the romans. being seen as nasty characters who came with this senseless violence on great roman civilizations. in fact, they were latching
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loving law-abiding christians, for the most part. which you get in this does go back to the communications problem that's it does prove difficult in a sense to manage this epidemic violence going on within the empire to some extent. you get a split of the western empire certainly slits. in many ways it splits into a series of micro roams. lots of many roams everywhere. is not very nice, but to be honest they are more likely to be restoring their ancient roman buildings meant to be taking pot shots at them. but, they do lose partly from pressure from the outside and partly from the inability to have any centralized form of command within that part of the empire.
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they lose political unity, but in many ways they remain culturally roman, for the most part. i'm not talking about peasants, hear. peasants, poor old guys living in the country probably were never romans and people say a good joke again in roman, when did the iron age and in britain, probably about 1500. the romans made no dense anyway in much of rural peasant life. you get desegregation, not revolution. you don't get such good sanitation. otherwise, quite roman. >> i would like to thank all of you for not exposing all of my ignorance during one hour. but, you have a fair amount of it.
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market, a question for you. when thomas jefferson was the ambassador to france, he was warned about the brazilians, to steer clear of them. do you think there was any reverberation in brazil from the earthquake in lisbon? >> absolutely. they, of course, received the news after a month or so. in fact, i think they got it before north america, before can to boston. of course, it was the cash cow of the portuguese empire. they were extraordinarily concerned about whether lisbon was completely destroyed, whether they should send ships filled with gold to lisbon and what with a sending those ships to. what's interesting, i read a letter that pombal sent to brazil and he sent these letters throughout, in fact, the western world downplaying the
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destruction of the city. he did not want to scare people. he did not want the trade to be dampened. but, the brazilians and i call them sort of brazilians, but there is also portuguese concerr cities and they are asked by pombal to pay a 4% tariff to rebuild the city and at first they are very excited about this and the merchant community all come together and they are going to send enormous amounts of money for the rebuilding of the city. they feel so terrible. but, by the end of the 18th century they are still asked to pay that for percent, and i have seen letters from the brazilians saying when is this going to end the city is almost rebuilt, so yes, absolutely they were concerned.
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there is all these many stories they are, but no newspapers to read because the first printing press i came to brazil came in the early 19th century when that king left after the napoleonic invasion. >> over here. >> question for mark. if climate change is sort of the lisbon earthquake on the installment plan, how similar or dissimilar is the debate today regarding climate change, similar to the after affects of the lisbon earthquake as far as the reaction to why it happened and what to do about it? >> that's a complicated question. of course, one thing, i mean, we can't stop or at least we don't know how to stop earthquakes from happening, so there was no question about prevention of earthquakes. again, they did actually one of the things that all of the earthquake commentators or many of them noted was the
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temperature, the barometer, at the time. thinking there was actually some connection there. they were shocked, at least in lisbon to discover that the earthquake happened and the tsunami came on a day that was rather beautiful end of the sun was out and it was shining and why are these waves smashing into our coast and wise the ground rattling. in a some ways that, i think, is sort of very different because science-- i wouldn't necessarily completely settle, but science is generally on the same page about what causes climate change, but in my period as i've said that science was not settled at all. all the kinds of theories about what caused earthquakes were out there and so the skeptics had a point.
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the skepticism, i think, resonated more. the fact that either god caused it or there was some other cause rather than the theories that were there at the time, so i think it was a very different time in a very different debate. >> this is for mr. shuman. is there a saying of confucius that you feel is particularly pithy and relevant to our current state of affairs? >> [laughter] >> actually, what's interesting about that is that confucius himself got a similar question. [laughter] >> that was from one of his students which was something to the affect of, is there one word that can guide you your entire life or something to that effect. his answer was actually pretty interesting.
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his answer was, reciprocity. he went on to say, basically very similar to what the golden rule is in the reverse, which is don't do unto others that you don't want them to yourself and it to a great degree that is basically-- that basically sums up confucius there. you don't need to know he feels. that's it. [laughter] >> no, there are libraries and library's that confucius, but that really was what confucius was about, that's-- that he believed that morality had ultimate power, that if you try to do the right thing and you try to make yourself a better and better person and that was a lifelong question for confucius.
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and life's loss of men. could you comment to each one of these? >> what is the source of nature? [inaudible] >> well, i don't know if i can explain the title but i do know in terms of my subject that this was, again, the middle of the enlightenment. a great deal of confidence that nature was good.
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natural rights, natural law, et cetera, and here you have this enormous catastrophe and natural disaster in which tens of thousands of innocent people die. oh do we square this with our confidence that nature is good? and i aged earlier there were all kinds of responses. care was very upset about the universe that god crated. railed against it in can deed in the poem he wrote, but people -- like -- wrote a response to voltaire in which he report the earthquake went that bad. the reason the people died is nice were living in big cities in four-story buildings. if they lived in little hut close to nature they would have surveyed.
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so, -- i take the point of view of the historian and say, at the risk of bag bit provocative, i'm not very interested in the laws of nature because i don't income there are any laws of nature that are not made, rpi invent. interpret be by -- let make i general -- free -- by men and women. so i'med? how men and women make laws of culture and decide what they think the laws of nature are. [applause] >> well, i want to -- thank you. i thought this was a terrific panel, and -- [applause]
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>> all of you go out there and buy a book. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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>> into tv is live at the los angeles festival of books, held on the campus of the university of southern california and it's a much prettier day today than it was yesterday. we have a full day of live coverage ahead. the next author panel begins in half hour and that's a panel on biographies. in the meantime, reza aslan is joining us. his most recent book isset" lot. the life and times of jesus of nazareth." the last time we saw you on the show, we have a new pope, a rise in isis, and more people are identifying as athiests than ever before. what is your take on this topic? >> guest: well first of all, big fan of the pope. i'm a product of a jesuit
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education, and the minute that i newell we were going to have a jesuit pope i knew things were going to be different. if anybody is familiar with the history of the catholic church and the thorn in the side of the jesuits have been in that church for centuries. think you knew that this is going to be a revolutionary moment, and he has not failed to really live up to the expectations a lot had of him. what i would say very quickly about this pope is that he has learned a very valuable lesson from his predecessor, pope benedict, and that is that you can't really reform the vatican. the vatican is too unwieldy for it to be reformed. but you can reform the church. and i think that the -- pope francis learned if you just simply stop with the bureaucracy, and instead begin to appeal to the world's billion
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or so catholics through action, through faith, particularly this' amortis leticia. profound statement of transforming priests from, as he kind of put it, from arbiters of morality, those who are there to signal out your errors, into actual pastors, people who there are and have the freedom to actually approach situations in an individualistic basis, with sympathy, not looking for some kind of hard and fast rule. think that what is happening in the catholic church under pope francis will be revolutionary. >> host: isis. >> guest: isis, of course, is phenomenon we're trying to figure out. >> host: is it a religious movement?
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>> guest: well, insofar as as anyone who calls themselves muslim is a muslim, yes, isis is a muslim this tee bait whether it is or is not muslim is kind of silly. if you say you're acting in the name of islam, we should probably just take your word for it. but to think that in and of itself creates some sort of generalization i think is quite silly. the fact of the matter is that isis may be muslim but so are the vast majority of its victims. by the tens of thousands. isis may be muslim but so are the people who are fighting against isis. people on the ground who are risking their lives battling this cancer. they're monday him, too, so if isis is muslim and their victims are muslim and the people fighting them are muslims, this done really say anything all that generalizing about islam itself. >> host: more good more people are identifying as athiests.
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>> guest: it's true, more people are nying is a athiest. in fact there's been a doubling of athiest numbers, but let's just be clear. that's now two and a half percent of the united states. so, yes there has been a surge of people identifying as athiests but it's still in ridiculously small amounts. when it comes to the united states of america, which is a country that form a -- is 71% christian. so we're still deeply influenced by christianity in this country. no way to get around that. >> host: reza aslan is our guest help has appeared on booktv's in-depth program where we spent three hours talking with him and taking your phone calls, talking bit his books, his most recent book is "the life and times of jesus of nazareth."
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zealot it's called. 202-748-8 01 in the mountain and pacific time zones. we'll begin taking the calls in just a minute. reza aslan is a creative writing professor at the university of california riverside. where were you on that day of the shooting in san bernardino? >> guest: i was actually in haiti. i was shooting an episode of my new cnn show, "believer," a spiritual adventure series where i go around and take part in religious rituals in various communities that lends to opening up different worlds, different beliefs and it was obviously quite a shock it was so close to the home and the place where i work. we need to get to a point where we recognize that the united states is not immune to the appeal of these organizations,
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like al qaeda and assist, but there are muslims in the u.s. in absolutely infinite -- a small percentage of them but they do exist who feel at though their identity is under a certain sense of crisis and who are looking to these groups who are expressing their grievances sometimes in horrifically violent way. we're nowhere near to problem europe has. let's be clear. we have had 3,000 or so europeans who have left to join isis, and almost zero -- very close to zero of them in america, and i will also say that this overwhelming focus that we have on islamic terrorism -- and islamic extremism in the united states
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is absurdly exaggerated and more dangerously, think, hides the truth. the department of homeland security, the fbi, and 74% of every single law enforcement agency in the united states all say that the greatest threat to americans is right-wing extremism, right-wing terrorists. they have killed far, far more than americans since the attack's of 9/11 than islamic terrorists have. you're more likely in this donee to be shot by a todd than to be killed by an islamic terrorist at awful as the san bernardino shootings were, as horrific as that experience was, that was 355th mass shooting in america in 2015, and that year, last year, ended with 372 mass shootings. so, yes, we are under threat of terrorism is in done toronto, this is not islamic terror simple. >> host: your new series,
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believer, and when does it premiere? >> guest: on cnn in 2017. >> host: bob is calling in from overland park, kansas. bob go ahead with your question or comment. >> greetings, people. you're a national treasure. my question is, and it centers around my perception of the dawn of the millennium we were very worried about the y2k virus in our computers. would assert that the true y2k virus was religion and the form of virus that infects the human operating system. so, one of the things i've always been interested in is the political assertions that were made at the council when they made the determination that christ had been physically reborn and had come back from the dead.
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we have, upon discoveries of the libraries in 1935, conflicting accounts of that, when their recollections of the resurrect was more in the form of persons' dreams, recollections of christ's teachings as opposed to a physical, it was more of a memory. >> host: let's hear from our guest. >> guest: great question. you're a national treasure. i wouldn't necessarily call religion a virus since it's been around since the dawn of human evolution. we can go back, with material evidence, at least 100,000 years ago, but now a new group of scientists who call themselves cognitive anthropologists say we could go back as late as 400,000 years ago and see signs, very clear expressions of religious impulse in human beings. so, if it's a virus, it's one
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that has been there from the dawn of our evolution. secondly, i think you're absolutely right about the creed and the way that it calcified a particular kind of theology when it -- or christology when it comes to christian beliefs, but -- even the gospels themselves indicate a wide variety of beliefs about what the resurrection meant, how it was to be understood. remember next gospel of mark, the very first gospel there, is no resolution, the tomb is simply empty, and the gospel which end's chapter 15, verse 8, says a young man in white told the women to tell the disciples that jesus would meet them in jerusalem and that's the end. bit the time you gut to math hutu and luke you have the community trying to say what
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does the resurrection mean? was jesus a ghost? we have a story in which jesus eats fish and bread. so he can't be a ghost. but was he physically -- did he have a physical body? we have a story in which the disciples are sitting around in a room and jesus suddenly pops in as though he is a ghost. so even in those gospels of the earliest moment of the formation of christianity, seems to be an enormous diversity of belief about what the resurrection actually meant. but you're right it wasn't until around the nicine period that became calcified. >> host: jacob, you're next. go ahead. >> caller: hi. good afternoon. my question for you is: what were the beliefs and traditions that affected jesus and his preaching and actions. thank you?
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>> guest: wow, i love that question. i never get to talk about that. it is a religion that was born in ancient persia, before it was even persia. probably i would say around 1100bc. that's give or take. so before abraham, i would say. the prophet is wildly rather as the first mon ethe is particularly created prophet. created the concept of heaven and hell and the concept of angels and demons. these things did not really exist before he began to speak about them and he talk about how human morality is what decides where you go in your afterlife. if you have good thoughts good, words -- deeds, that's the formula, then you will go to a good place in your afterlife,
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heaven. if you have bad thoughts, bad words, bad deeds, then you go to a bad place. this was revolutionary. now, the reason it is so important is because it backs the religion of the empire. cyrus the great was the persian king who defeated the babylonian empire and set the jews free from their babylonian captivity. sent them back to the holy land, gave them the money to rebuild their temple. and so the jews post the babylonian compile, post 6th 6th century bc -- were heavily influenced by this. that how they accommodate these notions. for instance, the best example of this is the concept of the devil or satan. you read the hebrew verses
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saidan is nothings an evil character, no. the adversary of man himself part of god's court and is know at the satan with a lower case s. but he is one of god's messengers. god send him out to do his bidding. by the time you get to the new testament this is a completely different satan. a satan with a capital s. this is not man's adversary, he is an evil being. that shows you the influence of -- if were to be glib i would say christianity is what happens when you combine soastrium and judaism. >> george is next. we're listening. >> caller: i have a couple of questions regarding how
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christianity reconciles jesus as god. one point in the gospels jesus says, the father knows the time of the final judgment, the final coming, but i don't. and then, again, -- i went to church today -- in the gospel today, several times after the resurrection, jesus appears to the disciples and others but they don't recognize him. i've never heard, well, what did he look like? what form did he take? >> guest: well, that's actually very much connected to the first conversation we had, that, yes, post resurrection, are certain resurrection narratives in which jesus appears kind of ghostly. the disciples don't recognize i him. he changes the way he locks. suddenly breaks the bread and they do recognize him. just as there were an enormous amount of ideas and controversy among the early clips about what the resurrection actually meant
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there, was an equal amount about whether jesus himself was god or what his relationship was with the father. you see this again in the gospels. on again, the gospel of mark. at no point in the gospel of mark does jesus eve identify himself is a god in matthew and luke there are verses that can be interpret as though jesus perhaps is equating himself with god, because of the powers that he possesses. he acts by the finger of god, he says, and if he has the finger of god, maybe he is saying he himself is god in some form, and then you get to the gospel of john, the last of the gospels, and jesus is barely human. he is pure god. he says, i am the -- i and the father are one. this slow evolution is a perfect example of this conversation that was taking place in the early christian community over what the relationship between jesus and god was.
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again, as with the resurrection, that conversation came to an end at nycia when the doctrine of the trinity, father, son, and holy spirit, one substance, three forms, became the creed of christianity, and all those other creeds, including the aryan movement, which believed that jesus was just a man. the gnosty cs who say jesus has no human attributes and what you saw was an illusion to a human being but he was pure god. those views were violently suppressed and what we now forward as the trinity became the founding dock christian of christianity. >> host: ten minutes left. jim in mercer island, washington, you're on the air go ahead. >> caller: thank you, peter good to talk to you again, reza. i called in a couple years ago
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on your program. it was wonderful. one question i have is i know when you came to the u.s.a. you became a christian, in fact i think you became a fundamentalist christian if i recall. >> guest: that's right. >> host: then went back to islam. i'm wondering why? what was the motivation to go back to islam and do you prefer -- i guess you do prefer islam over christianity and why? and i'll hang up and listen to your question. >> guest: thank you for the question. yes, it's true. so, i was born and raised a muslim but really a cultural muslim mitchell family was not very religious at all. my father was a hard core marxist athiest who hated everything about religion. when we came to the united states, this was a time of severe anti-muslim settlement, the early 80s, the height of the iran hostage crisis, and we kind of scrubbed our lives of any kind of outward signs of
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religiosity but i've always been deeply fascinated by religion and a deeply spiritual kid. has to too with my child images of revolutionary iran. i was seven years old and i experienced what it meant to have an entire country transformed in the name of religion, and that never left me. and so i had an abiding interest in religion and spirituality but no way to kind of live that out, at least not in my family. when i was 15 i went with some friends to an evangelical youth camp in northern california. heard the gospel story for in the first time. never heard anything like this before. it was a transformative experience for me medley converted to a particularly conservative brand of chinnity. then when i went to the university i decided to study the new test. for a living, and it was there under the tattoolage of my jesuit professors i discovered
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the historical jesus, the jesus that becomes the central figure in "sell -- zealot" and that transform the with a i thought about christianout but was still desirous for some kind of spiritual edification, and i started learning more and more about what religion truly is. i think this is the core of your question, and i'm -- that's why i'm so glad you asked it. i think we have to understand that religion is not faith. these are two different things. faith is subjective, is individualistic, it's mysterious, it's impossible to express. religion, how too you expect it? that's it. religion is a language. a language made up of symbols and metaphors but a language that lets people express to themselves and the other people the experience of faith, of transscene dense, --
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transcendence so to me it doesn't matter what language you choose, whether you're speaking french or german your saying the same thing. english or mandarin you're saying the same thing, so i choose whether you choose the symbols of christianity or buddhism or islam, you're still expressing the same sentiment, just in a different language. and so i think it's important to choose a language. that's all. i am a muslim because i think there are symbols and metaphorses of islam make more sense to me. i'm not a muslim because i think it's more right that kinect or more correct thaninnity. don't think that way. i just think that the language that it uses to describe the experience of the divine, the relationship between creator and creation, that language works for me. the buddha once said if you want to draw water, you don't dig six one-foot wells you.
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dig one six-foot well. islam is my six-foot well but i also recognize, as the buddha did, the water i'm drawing from is the water that everybody is drawing from. >> host: a couple of viewers our discussion with rezas a lan online. just two quick quotes from "zealot. "." the common depiction of jesus has a peacemaker who loved his enemies and turned the other cheek has been built mostly on his portrayal as an apolitical preacher with interest in or for that matter knowledge of the politically turbulent world in which he lived. that picture of jesus has already been shown to be a complete fabrication that jesus
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of history had a far more complex attitude toward violence. kim in pennsylvania, please go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: hi. well, you sort of answered -- i wanted to know a brief summary of what your book was about, but if he could goo into more detail why your book is different from other scholarly books on jesus. >> guest: sure. sure. >> host: can you, tim. >> guest: my book is' the world in which jesus lived. this incredibly turbulent, apocalyptic era in the first century, an era in which the jus were living under the boost of an imperial roman occupation that controlled every aspect of their lives, including their religion, and the way in which he jews over that first century repeatedly rebelled against the roman rule, and how jesus fits
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into it. the quote peter read is a perfect example. jesus lived in an era in which it would have been impossible not to be aware of what was going on. the political and religious and economic turmoil that had affected the life of every jew in judea and -- and to stand up and say a. the messiah, the ancestors or king david people and here to re-establish the kingdom of david on earth, that's a political statement. this book is not about who jesus was, whether he was god or the son of god or the messiah. just makes a very simple argument that whatever else jesus was, whatever else he was, he was also man, and as a man he lived in a specific time and place. his teachings were addressed to very specific social ills. his actions were in response to very specific religious and
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political leaders that whatever else he was, he was a product of his world. and so if you really want to know who jesus was, and how to understand his message, you've got to begin by understanding his world. >> host: joe in phoenix, arizona, one minute left go ahead. >> caller: quickly. i applaud your comments on the pope-especially amortis lucretia, being a divorce evidence catholic. it's astounding mitchell question is regarding president obama. should he be labeled correctly that he is not calling the terrorists islamic terrorists? >> guest: i like what seth myer said about this. this isn't hogwarts and president obama is not harry potter. simply calling it islamic terrorism doesn't magically make it go away. the president's argument is that
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isis sees itself as the representation of all muslims which is absurd, and by calling them islamic terrorists, we are just feeding that isis narrative. that's a pretty good argument. however, as i said earlier in this conversation, isis is muslim for the simple fact they call themselves muslims. just because isis is muslim doesn't mean that islam is isis. that's where we get tripped up. to say that these actions, which are so beyond the pale of anything that could conceivably be called normative islam, they have anything to do with representing the ideas, view us, actions and thoughts of the world's 1.6 billion muslims, that i think is just ridiculous. >> host: reza aslan you're speaking at the "los angeles times" festival of books but your wife is also speaking. >> guest: jess car cofound over kiva, the world's first peer to per platform. check it out.
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and lets you loan $25 to a person in africa. 9 .5 payback rate. fastest growing nonprofit in the world. she is my hero. >> host: she has written a book. >> guest: her book is called cleric water, brick. and it's -- clay, water, brick. no just about the experience of creating kiva. it's about how to think about poverty, how to think about the poor, not as the poor burt as entrepreneurs who don't have the opportunities and who just need that. >> host: we protect you being on booktv, our live coverage of the "los angeles times" book festival continues. we're going back into newman hall, this instance an author panel, biographers and you'll hear about john weather boot, sis bale la, the warrior queen, and jonas saul ' -- salk.
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a full afternoon of coverage on booktv television for serious readers. >> i have the easy task of shepherd organize three distinguished biographer through what if think will be scintillating conversation because they're so practiced and so accomplished. i'm very proud to be among them as moderator. and -- do i have to say -- i'm jim, and two of our -- i was
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about to say contestants -- two of our panelist were nominated -- finalists for the national -- for "the los angeles times" book award last night. terry alford, john john wilkes booth, and charlotte jacobs for jonas salk, and christian donny has been nominated before. the year before. right? so they're all prepared, worth listening to i made an executive decision we would dispense with describing all their books and titles and distinctions. okay? because we -- you all went to fine colleges. and you all had great s.a.t.s, like everybody in the audience, so it's easier to get to the matter at hand, and also, this
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famous and infamous title gave us a little trouble because all of the characters, like everybody else, is in some degree or another famous or infamous, and so we're going just explore that a little in terms of how the biographer summons empathy toward the infamous without being judgmental. i want to begin and then i will turn the floor over to them -- with some things they wrote to me in e-mails when we were thinking about how this panel should go. also, i fess this will come up later but i want to point out that kirsten spend 25 years -- right -- on isabella, which defeats many of the biographer is know who only get 14, and
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morgan, with 16. and charlotte devoted a decade to your book. right? and you write fast, i guess. and terry also made the quarter century mark. but they wrote to me and since they're very succinct and articulate, instead of introducing their books myself, i'll allow them to intrados them. 'er writes about john wilkes booth. hi asked him how could he write about somebody who really did deserve the term infamous? and he wrote that preconceptions aside, booth does have some good qualities. if he had been evil, i wouldn't have been interested in spending
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a biographer's share of time with him. when he lost his balance at the end and committed murder, he lost everything. and kirsten has written -- you should be the moderator of this. it's impossible to understand isabella without understanding that europe was at war with aggressive islamic fundmentammism in the form of the otto man turks, caliphate that employed slavery and sex slavery on a large scale to subdue neighboring nations. the turks had the biggest army in the world and repeatedly demand they would seize all of europe. the turks invaded and seize most of southeastern europe during sis pel la's lifetime and western europe was flood with refugees.
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sounds very familiar. so, charlotte has written to me when on april 12, 1955, waiting -- the jonas salk vaccine could prevent polio, celebration was worldwide and he became a hero overnight inch the wake of his achievement he received a staggering number of gifts from the public and awards from heats of state. his name averaged riff gandhi and churchillhill on the list of most people. yet he was ostracized by the scientific community. the one group whosed a layings he craved. so, with that set up, i thought i would ask each of you to chalk about how you began your books, how you chose the subject, how you got into all this -- and just give us a sense -- you want to begin, kristin? >> okay. well, hello, everybody. i'm glad to be in california. always delighted to be here.
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and of course, isabella would consider this one of her most important capitals if she were alive. she claimed the world for herself and that included the americas, and memories of her all over the state, if you think of san francisco, san diego, los angeles, and sacramento, these are all spanish words and they're spanish because of the control that she managed to exert through the spanish empire. that's kind of how i came to write the book. life california and fascinated by all the spanish names and spanish and mexican history of california, and that guess back even further in my childhood where a large 0 part of childhood was spent on the panama canalson, part of the u.s. empire. and i'd go out on the sea wall over looking the atlantic ocean
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and dangle my feet over the edge of the sea wall and look at the police where christopher columbus sailed and we all know about christopher columbus visiting the common topic, and n history, and there's always just a brief little mention about the person who sent him, which was queen isabella, and i became fascinate as a little girl thinking there was a woman who had once been a little girl like me and she had had this huge impact on the globe, and had sent sailors and explorers so very far around the world, and that continued to have such a big impact on our lives today. and even now, of course, spanish us the second most common language in the world, after mandarin chinese. this is because of the influence of queen isabella. so i take up the thing that initially got me curious about it, i've always been interested in the role that women play in history. often the underappreciated role
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that women play in history. and in telling the story of isabella, i tried to tell the story of the expansion and growth of the spanish empire and how she made that happen. charlotte. >> when i was a child growing up, poleover was in news. news reels, newspapers, magazines, showed pictures of children struggling with crutches or entombed in iron lungs. what made things worse is no one could predict which town or which child would be the crippler's next victim. fear pervaded the country. in 1954 my home up to of kingsport, tennessee, was selected as one of the sites for the trial of the polio vaccine, which had been made by jonas salk and was being tested -- the national foundation for infan
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tile paralysis through the march of dimes so i was an original polio pioneer. when a year later it was announced his vaccine had been a success, that polio could be prevent, jonas salk became one of the greatest heros of my generation. over the years i often wondered, what happened to jonas salk, having reached a claim at age 40, what did he do for an encore? i also wondered why did his life seem strewn with controversy. seemed like such a nice man. so i could find no biography to enlighten me, so i set out to write one myself. >> thank you. the john wilkes both book, i'm always liked stories about unusual people. true stories, particularly when they get in a jam and then you get to see when the pressure is put on, what is inside. the first book i wrote was title prince among slaves. a true story of a west african
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prince who was enslaved and brought to mississippi as a slave there for 40 years, and i was just interested in his case and what had sustained him as a person, and he was a muslim and his faith was very integral to his survival as a slave, and oddly enough that fellow got freed late in life and went back to africa. very unusual for a person in his condition. the booth book came about -- i live in the washington area and always been -- that's one over the big stories in the history of washington, dc, the assassination of abraham lincoln, and once i looked into it i realize third were a lot of books on the assassination, a lot of them. many of mediocre quality but not a -- there wasn't a single -- just a become on booth himself. he was a very celebrated actor in his time. very successful, lincoln actually went to see him play. lincoln applauded him. booth is very generous to lincoln's son, tad, gave him
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flowers on one occasion when he came to the teeter. so i realized this is an unusual person, an unusual story. this was not like most of the assassins we're phenomenon women if people you never would have heard of before. here's somebody with something to lose, not a born loser so i wanted to see what the story was there to recover the childhood, the theatrical career which was very successful, and that's what fortune's fool was. >> terry, one thing we talk about before the -- is that was a very accomplished actor. he wasn't just some amateur wandering from town to town help did richard iii in an electrifying way, and i'm sure that part of what interested you was this dichotomy between the dastardly acts which -- for
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which he is remembered and this other complex side of him that you referred to. >> yes. it interesting he was highly successful as an actor, and i sort of -- there were people that loved him, people that were okay, some that didn't like him. just like they're actors that we like today and then others we don't care that much for, but he was defined in his own generation as a greatact actor, and the definition was by a critic, a good one -- that he was able to play a great actor, this critic said, was one who could play three leading roles better than anybody necessary the country. not just one because you can have a role that is so perfect for you, grew never need to do another thing. you think of sylvester stallone and the rocky character. the perfect marge of an actor and ale rompes he could do richard iii and the next night do romeo and be very tender and engaging on stage. so he was very special in that
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regard. very unusual. and the troubling thing was he had really intense southern feelings. he had stayed out of the war, the civil war, because of a promise to his mother. she had already lost four children from childhood diseases and things like that, and she told him basically, that's it. i'm not losing another family member like this. can't do this. she had always been his protecter when he was growing up. she had when one that had buffered him from the odd and unstable father he had. so there were very, very close, and he agreed to stay y out of e war, stay out of the confederate army, which look can back was a big mistake because his sympathies were enlist thread and the had the termerment for action, for doing things and should have gob into the war and been a confederate shoulder and would have been shot halfway through the war and never would have heard from him.
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that wasn't to be, was it? >> also, if everyone had problems with their mothers became a presidential assassin, we would -- we wouldn't have a lot of leaders. but i'm interested in the way one's perception of one's subject changes over time. so we're talking about that before, that you begin with one idea, usually a very flawed and tentative idea about who your subject is, and after your quarter century you must end up somewhere else. in your case, ten years. in 25 you would have ended up still somewhere else. what about that? >> well, as i mentioned, when -- what did know about jonas salk except he was this big hero and
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really beloved, and that wouldn't have been a very exciting biography to just write about someone who was just one surface to him. but i knew nothing else and so as i began my journey of doing research on him and interviewing people and learning what i could about him, i found that he was a very enigmatic man, who he loved the public, but he -- celebrity was like an albatross around his neck. he shunned controversy. he was a very mild-mannered man and yet controversy followed in the wake of every one of his discoveries. he was a man who i think almost every woman in n the united states was in love with on april 12, 1955.
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and yet he had a very plain wife who was a little bit cynical about him at times. so, there were so many ups and downs in my search who was jonas salk. after all that's the greatest challenge of a biographer, is to date your character or your subject as they were or the best likeness that you can of that person. so, when i started i almost felt like i had walked into my studio and someone had plopped this huge pile of clay on a table and said, okay, sculpt the absolute accurate jonas salk, and every time that i did a new interview or saw a new video of him i might change the shape of the eyebrow or change the shape of his cheek. and so at the very end, i really felt that i knew jonas salk. and that he wasn't just a
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one-sided american saint, as the public thought him, nor was he a self-absorbed man who con knifed to assure himself a historian role in medical history which is what the scientific community believed about him. >> so, so changes almost without your will. just what your discover. >> the thought the book was bat spain or the america or the iberian peninsula and the americas, and astart look at her letter end it wasn't just about spain and the americas. it was really a global book. is bale -- isabella, when she commissioned a history of the world, she had one page about her birth but she had three pages about the fall of constant nopele.
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which she perceived as a terrifying thing and which meant that all of christian europe was going to fall as well. so a lot of her life was really designed in opposition to what she saw as this threat. because of that, my spanish was good, but i had to learn and use many different languages to tell the story of isabella's life. there were native american sources, there are a lot of arabic and turk sources. there are hebrew sources, french, a lot of the scholarship and thoughtful commentary in that day was published in latin so a lot of lat yip sources. italian sources. we need to remember there was a spanish pope on the thrown. borge so there's the italian
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sources and the greatest observers of the maritime economy were in venice, so i had to use chancellorresque venetian. so be able to give everyone's own perspective on the stories i couldn't just rely on the spanish perspective. i needed to incorporate everyone's to be able to tell the story well, and i think i was very foolish in not understanding how hard that would be. i had great difficulty finding documents, finding good translations of documents, setting myself up to do feeble transitions of documents i could take to people who were good translators of documents, and i i had to pay for translations, and that was the only way i could tell what i really found in this global story. >> that is extraordinary. you mention that in your preface. so, you learned some of those languages and others --
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>> well, the spanish i was really -- i was extremely fortunate in the time period of isabella's life. in the 1400's people were still writing with hand manuscripts and today it's almost impossible for us to read hand-written manuscripts from the 1400s. they're impenetrable. it's a specialist and actually a dying specialty. but i was very fortunate in that is is because of is bell are las sees as power broker, she citiedded in making spain wealthy in the years ahead and that was about the time the printing press began to be present, and people recognized her at the time as such a pivotal world figure. in fact, the game of chess changed after her lifetime and the queen figure appeared on the board. as a person who dominates the chessboard. people began finding her manuscripts and her letters, and
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publishing them in books. so, there are books written in the early 1500s that are transcriptions of her letters and correspondence, and we're enormously lucky in the united states because we have the library of congress in the united states, which is one of the seven wonders of the world. >> let's talk about that. this experience of discovery which is so fascinating for the biographyer when you finally pry loose from some family the letters they don't want you to read, or come across documents, manuscripts in the library. that's really the kind of experience that i don't think many other professions i know of have, and it's really a profound moment when you realize you're the first foreign have seen these materials, but you were telling us, charlotte, about
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your effort to penetrate the wall of family. i'm not giving away secrets, am i? >> the archives -- you're dead in the water if you can't get into archives. and for jonas salk, his archives are at the university of california san diego. they're absolutely extensive. he kept everything and lived to be 80 years old. he would keep things such as a draft of all of his letters. so jonas had great -- in the first travel you's see him angry and using some very inflammatory language and by the time he got to his tenth draft of it, it was a very short and kind. but i originally did not get access to those archives, and without them i never could have written the book. although they are in a library, at uc san diego, they were under
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lock and key. and one only had access through the family. the three sons. and they made it difficult -- i had to convince them that i could write. i had to convince them that i was serious, even though i had academic credentials and already published a biography. and i had to go and interview with them and all of that would give me sixths or less and then i'd have to start the whole process over. they wanted to see samples of my writing when i was working, which is a no-no for biographers to share with family members. and i couldn't quite understand why. i kept saying to them, your father, when asked what do you want your biographer to write about you, he said, the truth. some.
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>> that's what they saul say. >> so i finally figure out what it was and that was they were very protective of their father's image. their father did have a certain image, and as one of the sons finally said to me is we don't want to see a people magazine biography of our father. and so i really did have to glare trust and maneuver around -- gain their trust and maneuver around in order to get into the archives, which i would say a few months after me book was published, the archives were sold to uc san diego and now are open to the entire public. >> so annoying when that happens. >> could you talk about about process? i know that two of you, at least, have five children apiece. that would definitely affect how you write a book. but i didn't ask you this
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question. but what is it like to actually produce an amazing artifact like this? one that we no doubt buy on amazon these days, but sometimes they're still books like this one, and you look at them and the footnotes and the bibliography, it's he's are beautiful things and this is why we go into this weird ill-paid labor intensive time, absurd profession of ours. how do we -- when you get into this gig? >> well, i think i can speak for some biographygraphers and say
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if you saw the finish product you would run in terror ump. you have no idea it's going to be as big as it will be and be as involved and take as long because you think, okay,'ll look something up. when you do that leads to another question. you think, gee, who is this person? or they're saying this but can this person be trusted? then you have to vet them. and see if they're a reliable source. and it just gets deeper and deeper and deeper. and then i had a little problem. i didn't have any -- i deal with -- in john wilkes booth's story he dies in 1865, two weeks after lincoln did so he never had any descendents. he was an actor so a very verbal person. he really wasn't a writer. several dozen letter he wrote and most of them are short business notes and arranging theatrical engagement so anywhere not inciteful into this personality.
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would have to know him from other people, and they -- that's a little bit of a challenge because they can nell what he did. they may not be able to tell me why he did it or what was in the back of his head, and then there was a conspiracy against president lincoln so conspiracies cast a fog over everything, there are people who lie and they didn't know booth and can't have anything to do with it or -- oddly, weirdly, people stepping forward to claim responsibility. i mean, they want their little moment of fame when they didn't have anything to do with it. so it's quite a challenge, and i don't think -- if i knew how long it would have -- it finally took me to do it i would have run from the project in terror. >> no, no. >> i think when you start to write a book like this, it really -- it's an obsession. and it fills your waking and sleeping hours.
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pretty soon you're even dreaming about the person you're writing about. and your family makes sacrifices for that. for us, part of it was the financial sacrifices that we had to make. for me to do the book well. paying for translations -- the money jun just dom. throw magic box under the bed. and the famous corruption story. there's -- you make tradeoffs, personal tradeoffs -- >> corruption? >> a famous story about a man who -- a public official who was being bribed and they said where did you get the money? and on the stand he said it came from magic box under the bed. >> wish i'd known about that. >> we have said, wares -- where is the magic box? and for my children it meant they could do one activity at a time. afford for them to have one
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sport or one music thing they loved. and we all made compromises. my children were involved. they loved it. they were fascinated by and it became somewhat jealous of the people i'm writing about theosophy get so much time and attention in your life, and i think probably one of the funniest things my son ever said was, mom, why can't you do fiction? you can do that for free. it comes out of your head. so i think actually he was raiding a really good point. >> when -- just to -- when i was writing -- he had so many girlfriends i could take my children anywhere because there was a girlfriend there to interview. including the dirt road across my daughter's writing camp in vermont. that's another way to save.
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give you a tip. >> so, i have to say, without sounding polly annish, i loved every moment. maybe because it was my second job and i still had another full-time job was very consuming, plus i'm one of five children people up here, but it was really fantastic. there were a lot of people alive, or are, who knew jonas salk so i did over 100 interview starting we people in this grad school class who were still alive, and although the archives gave me this enormous amount of material, and i read all of the scientific articles he wrote and everyone else wrote about polio and aids and influenza and all the other diseases he was involved in. wasn't just involved in polio. the interviews were absolutely
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fascinating, and those were where a lot of the ah-ha moments would come, was in interviewing people. sometimes there were like really? so i was interviewing john cullin, a journalist who covered the aids saga, and the which jonas salk was very much involved help actually made one of the first aids vaccines. and he said to me, bill the way, how are you going to deal with jonas' skirt chasing if said, what? i was almost through with the biography and no one mentioned skirt-chasing. and so he said, well, never mind, never mind. so, -- but he didn't know any of the women. then i had my google set for jonas salk's name and suddenly popped up and it was a thing about a woman saying, jonas salk ruined my life. so i called her and it led from one to another to another to another. not that i wanted that to dominate his biography but it was a part of his life, and that
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whole discovery during the writing of the biography is absolutely fascinating. but i, too -- my children were very much engaged with my first biography i was nearing the end of it, also into ten years, and my son leaned across the table one night at dinner and said, mom, how are you going to feel after all this time if no one publishes your biography? and i said to him, well, really, it was all about the journey, and that's how i truly feel. for me there wasn't a single day i didn't wake up trying to figure out where in that day could i find time to work on my biography of jonas salk. it was just an incredible journey. >> you didn't have a contract, right? >> so, we were talking about how do you -- if you're writing fiction and you have a proposal get a contract and then you have so much time write your book. well, if you have a book that
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takes ten to 25 years to write, not many people are going to be interested in giving you a contract. so with my first biography i didn't even seek an agent or a publisher until i had completed the book, and i was well into my salk biography before, again, we started seeking a publisher. so, i don't know how the two of you dealt with it. >> what about that? did you have a contract before hand? >> yes, i did. >> the publisher after 20 years wasn't serious about what was -- >> he had passed away. >> not surprised. [laughter] >> probable the second one did, too. [laughter] >> it's hard to sum these things up and get them accomplished.
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you mentioned fiction, which we certainly would be shocked if any of us wrote, but how do we -- how are these narratives made, written so that the subject and the background and the history come alive while at the same time you're adhering to the facts? you have scenes that are just -- well, you all do but when isabella and her brother seem to be getting along fine, except she is being poisoned and so on. how do you -- and terry when there's a woman looking out the window, as booth departs the theater in greatest, having assassinated lincoln. looked to the footnotes where did you get all this? how do you do this sort of reconstruction? how do you make -- which i was
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supposed to say at the beginning -- i don't have instructions but wanted to say at the begin that the books so beautifully written. so powerful as narrative that this is a cliche but i'll use it anyway, they read like fiction and yet i'm assuming on good faith that is the reader they're not. so, how do you do that? how do you write it in that way? >> well, i didn't -- wasn't born a natural buy biographer, so i took a lot of courses on writing craft if studied narrative nontsk but a it is about the narrative. the facts would make a pretty boring book. i think -- i saw this wonderful example written by enid taylor, a writer and just use it as an example. you all know about the death of
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mr. dumpy, humpty dumpty sat on a wall, humpty dumpty had a great cal all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't be humpty together again. for jonas salk the only thing in his obituary was he died in 1995 from heart failure and i could jest haute but that in a book but as a biographyer and wanting to have a narrative drive, i began to seek questions about it. so, taylor asked the question, well, what was mr. dumpty doing sitting on the wall? why did he fall? was he pushed? what were the kings men doing to? was he royalty or some revolutionary? and how hard did they really try to put mr. dumpty together again. so, with that same kind of idea in mind, i didn't take it face al view that salk just died of heart failure, and that was that. so, i found and interviewed
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everybody that had seen him in the whole week leading up to his death, including finding the young physician in residency training who took care of him and actually befriended him, leading up to his death. and had -- so i could put in lots of conversations. i could actually see the room and intent saw where it was -- and went and saw where it was that he died, and could i craft it all into a dramatic scene so that his death just wasn't a one-liner in an obituary. so i think that's what all of us try to do in aiding -- adding the narrative to our books. >> i was fortunate to come to adulthood during a golden era in journalism win there were a lot of strong competing newspapers around the country, and i hadi misch primary career has been a
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journalist up spent 20 years at the "washington post," a number of long form journalism stories so what i'm doing with wright history now is applying journalism to history. and so what i tried to do to show a whole scene, a reporter is flawed if the reporter has only one witness. what a reporter needs to do is try to color the whole scene, get as many people to comment on a situation as possible so that you get a sense of how the scene looked from a lot of different points of view, and that's the thing i've tried to do with my books. that's why i needed all the different languages, because when the french and the spaniards were at war, you need to look at it from the french perspective, from the spanish perspective, someone in barcelona would see it differently. somebody venice would see it differently and they might have key perspectives and they might also each have a specific great
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detail about what happened, the conflict, the crash, what happened, who saw it, and that's how -- good journalism is very deeply researched, very deeply reported. and of course that's one of the thing that is tragedy now, that we're lose ago much of that deep reporting, but i'm glad to say that it think a lot of it is going into book writing. >> maybe. not here. but also, it's journalism but it has visual intensity, too. that one of the thing that was so impressive about all these books you could really see the figures -- i'm tempted to call them, which buzz that historical figures -- imbedded in this web of detail that was very -- made them come alive. what about, terry, trying to
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find sources that you didn't really -- you didn't invent scenes, i assume, but you came very close in your -- this is not an accusation. i'm just inquiring. we're all on good terms. but when you have people speaking and having dialogues with each other, how does that work? and i know with charlotte i was very touched by all your interviews with the jewish boys in new york. interviewed a lot of the same people for the my bog ofgrapher, and you have them talking. how does that work? >> for mine, many of them were still alive so everyone i quoted was alive or i got jonas salk's yearbooks and there were quotes from people in the yearbook. >> i noticed. terry, what about -- how did that work? >> the assassination of lincoln
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is one of the most documented moments of the 19th century. there are hundreds of people in the theater and many dozens, hundreds of them, left accounts. you have to be careful because it's funny about -- one lesson i learn about this is eye witness testimony -- i don't know how worthwhile some of that stuff is. can get people who were there and -- 0 on the same day they see totally different things. so you have to use your judgment about what works. but there's so many accounts there you have to really rich palate and you can put together almost second to second account of what happened in the assassination. for other parts it's more challenging. and i'm lucky booth -- i'm not lucky because i wouldn't have doesn't it -- it's fortunate booth was an actor and a really good one because there are lot of actor and actress reminisces.
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the stuff at harvard theater, library where i spent many weeks researching the stage and the characters there, and just like today, entertainers have always drawn the interest of people so we have these wonderful accounts of 19th 19th century actors. they were actually stage newspapers. like variety, and the 18th 18th 60s that covered the stage, who was where. what war they doing, how were plays succeeding or failing? so surprising amount of good stuff out there that i was able to tap into. >> if you look for it. so, now you have spent all these years and decades on your books. do you feel that you a -- how close did you come to your original conception of the snook you have to feel that -- maybe you don't -- but that something is wrong with it or that you didn't accomplish everything that you set out to accomplish?
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are you fortunate enough that you did feel that way? >> um, i'm glad it's done. i found that ultimately really sad. every aspect of is -- isabella's life theres winners and losers and there's a lot of losers. if you were a faithful jew or muslim, her advent to power was bad, very bad. if you were a christian who was afraid of islam taking over europe, you might be grateful that she was as fierce as she was, and i guess one of the thing that is horrifying perk
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shent -- the name of the book is "isabella the warrior queen" because she spent her whole life at war. war is a sad and tragic thing, and i was relieved to have -- to not live it anymore. >> but i can understand that. a lot of poisoning and killing. did you accomplish -- is the book in its final -- did you fulfill your original conception? i guess is what i'm -- >> well, think the thing that -- as i end enup in a lot of ways no and know a lot more about isabella and her times and more about the world than when it started, and here we had a lot of award-wins last night announces and so many of them are spanish speakers, and we all are mullly lingual, spanish, english states here, and that is
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due to the fact that isabella existed. spanish is a beautiful language and i think we all enjoy -- many aspects of spanish culture that were introduced because ofes bella. so i think i came back to the beginning but the thing about dog a biography, you live someone else's life you see the things they do well and the damage they do, and it's kind of like a speeded-up experience of life to the melancholy end. >> a very curious experience to enter into your subject so deeply that you become in a sense your subject, and since your subject usually has a few problems, it can be very painful. was thinking of this definition of a novel which is describe as a long prose narrative that has something wrong with it, and
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that's how i feel about a biography. it's not a self-criticism. just that you see you've only got son far in depicting this elaborate and difficult figure. what about you? >> well, i started with really no preconception about him except that what i knew from the media at that time, and so i felt that it had been this incredible eye-opening showing all sides of him, but i think his story had to be told. no one had written his biography. here he has made such a major, major impact on the health of the public and it was going to be lost. now, did that sound dramatic? well, i often would good to writers residencies and spend a month where i could write uninterrupted, and the first
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night you sit around the table with the other writers and talk about what you're going to write about, and usually i'm considerably older than many of them at this stage, and so one night we were all talking, and i said, well, i'm writing about jonas salk and saw this kind of, look, and i said, you know, polio? oh, yeah. so i realize, my gosh, no one wonder there's so many antivaccine people, for example, because people don't know what it was like to live in this country when polio was killing and crippling children. i mean, up until 1988, a thousand children contracted polio aday worldwide. i thought was story that had to be told and i started the book with an epidemic of polio in new york city, the first large polio
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epidemic. so what do you really want out of a biography? you want the reader to experience a life or understand a life or a subject that us unlike their own or you hope that it serves the subject serves as a beacon for others. jonas salk's favorite book what louis pasture, and pasture was a beacon to him. there's a history month and have had teens calling me to interview me because they're so fascinated by joe nance salk and that's a great reward. >> terry? >> well, i gave it the best shot i could. i don't know what else i could have done to improve it. i did try to pace it out so that the whole book wasn't about the
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moment of the assassination. that's a separate book. they can be written. but about his childhood and his relations with his siblings and with this fellow actors and how he performed as a person, and then his political extremism, which ultimately got the better of him. didn't say this in so many words the book built think the assassination was out of his nature. i think he lost his footing at the end of the war because of his emotional attachments to the rebels and he -- if you look at the accounts left, he really almost had to talk himself into doing what he did to lincoln, but i will say one thing i learn about the book, -- it's not totally responsive but might be interesting if thing that most impressed me was abraham lincoln. just had the standard regard for him. never made a particular study of lincoln's life, but once i get in deal egg with booth and all
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the extremist politics around his views, i began to see more fully the problems that lincoln had to deal with. sometimes i think we can isolate lynn in the 21st century, lincoln and race or this but that wasn't the choice in 1860 it was lincoln or stephen douglas, which one are you going to vote for? lincoln or general m[l1clelland. those are the choices people had. not between lincoln and perfect. so, i would have a toe say may respect for lincoln went way, way up on working on the person who murdered him, oddly enough. >> the fact you can write about subjects who have been written about before in neways. just heard a lecture by charles dozier last week in new york about lincoln and his friend, joshua speed. is that his name? >> yes. >> he was his incredibly intimate male friend for many
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years, and i thought, this is just incredible that you can hear new perspectives on a subject that's been so written about. it was exciting. so, i'm going to ask one more question, and then we will open proceedings to the floor. the question is, always the one that the biographer doesn't want to hear, which is why i'm going to ask that because that's my nature. what is next? what are you going to do next? did you say less than your -- >> we don't do that. didn't anybody tell you that? >> they're pretty prickly. not that great a place to lay down. i think i've got a couple different things in mind that i'm thinking.writing something about why -- >> what about you?
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>> because i'm a physician by my career, and so obviously it would -- i'd want to write something in medicine or science, and i have a list about this long right now. i'm waiting for the one that's going to strike my heart but i was telling the group when we were having a talk ahead of time, that stacy shipp who won the pulitzer prize for crow -- she wrote cleopatra and won the pulitzer for another book -- said the ideal subject lived a very brief life, left no archives, and had no living family members. so may try to take over that. >> right. >> just described john wilkes booth so maybe i'm lucky. >> took you 25 years. >> you guys are very hearty souls because most biographers say i'm never doing this again.
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>> if you want to know what my next one is going to be, one of the thing is found in researching fortune's fool is that the lincoln particularly mrs. lincoln was very into seances and spiritualism during the civil war. she lost a son in '62. died in the white house, and so she let some people come into the white house that were really pret good marginal characters, concerned her husband, but in john wilkes booth sister-in-law died in the milled of the civil war so the booth family got into spiritualism also and had a medium in common, he name was charles kolechester. i did an article in last month lazy smithsonian and it's online, and i think i'm going to -- i know -- in fact i'm well into the research on the booth, the lincolns and spiritualism. i just want to look at that, hough it operated in the civil
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war, when there was so much suffering and dying, people dying left and right, and a great revival of interest in these seances and the marginal characters who provedor these -- performed these services. >> sounds great, there's a book on mourning and lincoln. so, we're open for questions now. make sure their questions,. yes. >> just want to say that -- [inaudible] -- so grateful you bring this man to life, and -- always just that shadowy figure who pulled at the trigger on the stage, broke his leg and got shot in a barn.
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>> is somebody distributing the mic sneer. >> did jedwin booth -- william winter ever write about john wilkes booth? >> just in few 70s his oak on ed win. >> first, quick thank you four locker room tis is a fascinating -- something you've mentioned when you were talking about the skirt-chasing. did the family, since you said they didn't sound like they were exactly able to censor what you wrote but they wanted to hear what you were writing. did they know about the situation and did they put -- try to put a kibosh of any kind on it? >> so, once i had an editor who advised me not to discuss thing with the family. none of them mentioned it, which made me a little nervous.
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was it really women who were kind of self-aggrandizing by chasing after him and pretending there were affairs? but as more and more came out and they would then tell me others, and in fact at one point there was a foundation, salk foundation dinner long after his death and a gruesome of women were sitting at the table and one by one they all realize they'd not only had had affair with jonas but they were all at the same time. which i thought is -- >> literally the same time? >> pretty much the same time period, let's say. so, it became -- for me i had to continue to ask myself -- i had to first make sure that what i was reporting was accurate, and, two to ask myself why was aadding some salacious side bar about jonas salk but as you're trying to create the full picture of someone it shows that he was human.
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and jonas salk himself told one of the women, i learned a long time ago that everybody puts their pants on one leg at a time, i think that exemplifies it. so i was a little worried when i gave a talk, went to a book club in san diego, it seemed common knowledge among all these people that he was a skirt-chaser. these were all leaders in san diego. and then one of his sons did write and say, i'm sorry i never mentioned it to you. but we were aware of it. >> good moderating, james. seriously. good moderating job. >> thank you very much. i'm impressed with the skirt-chasing. haven't heard that are -- >> that was the term used. >> this is for terry. on the assassination, my understanding was that the plots
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was to kidnap lincoln and exchange him for confederate prisoners and when it turned into a murder, a number of conspirators wanted know part of it. >> that's right. >> i wondered evidence you could talk about. >> one of pooling -- he was a southerner in spirit but did not enlist in the southern army there is would a real guilt thing going on there i bring that out in the book. he did field guilty. he is an actor, he is playing a hero on stage but is not one. his co hort, generational co horts are writing the history of the united states on battlefields and he is just a phony, and that began to eat into him. so he ban to think about the idea of abducting lincoln and hauling him off down souther and turning him over to the confederate government, and then the southerners could use him -- lincoln as a bargaining chip to get southerners out glaus were tens of thousands of rebel soldiers in northern prisons.
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>> while we're at this could you talk about the boothies? so i i can can ask a question myself. who are they? >> i will but just to finish out. at some point when the south began to totally collapse and richmond was capture thread wasn't anyplace to take lincoln even if they could have grabbed him, and there were several serious attempts where booth was e ready to go. ...
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>> there are people connected with all these houses, you know, some are descendants, some are just fans and buffs and nuts concern. [laughter] but invariably an interesting collection of people. and there's another group centered around the booth family home which is north of baltimore. it'sen owned by harvard county, maryland. so it's the house where john wilkes booth was a teenager. they're homes where you can go, right? and step into places where these events occurred. in the d.c. area. >> thank you all.
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it's, i have to say it's a great honor to have people come and listen to biographers talk about their craft and be interested in it, and it means a great deal to all of us who work in seclusion all these years. so we appreciate your being here. [applause] >> host: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> host: and booktv's live coverage of the los angeles times festival of books contues. we are on the campus of the university of southern california. now, for the past four or five years this university has hosted the l.a. times festival. for many years prior to that it was at ucla. now coming up this afternoon, several more author panels including a panel on infrastructure, a panel on publishing. you're going to have the chance to talk with radio talk show host dennis prager, you're also going to have the chance to talk with baz who has written about incarceration here in the united states. and in just a minute author and huff post founder, aryan a that huffington, will be -- arianna huffington will be joining us. her most recent book -- and she's written about 15 books or
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so -- "the sleep revolution: transforming your life one night at a time." she can also talk about politics, etc. 202 is the area cold, 748-8200 in the east and central time zones, 202 >> host: and we are back live at the los angeles times festival of books. author arianna huffington is our guest. her most recent book, here it is. "the sleep revolution: transforming your life one night at a time." are we a sleep-deprived nation? >> guest: we are. there's a real crisis of sleep deprivation, and it's affecting every aspect of our lives. it's affecting our health, first of all, with an incredible can cost in terms of health care provision but also in terms of how we feel about our life. because we now know through this amazing new finding of sleep
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science that literally sleep deprivation is affecting every aspect of our health from obesity and diabetes to cancer and heart disease and now we find out alzheimer's. because what we've learned in the recent years is that contrary to what was believed, sleep is a time of frenetic activity for the brain. that's when all the toxins accumulated in the day get washed out and cleaned up. and if that doesn't happen, the consequences are dire. so my hope with this book is to help shift the culture and give ourselves permission to do what nature intended, which is for the majority of us according to all scientists to get 7-9 hours of sleep. there's a tiny percentage who are known as short sleepers who can get by perfectly with very little sleep. but it's a genetic mutation.
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[laughter] you can't train yourself to become a short sleeper. you either have it or you don't. and you can -- [inaudible] so when i look around after my own experience of collapsing from sleep deprivation, i saw how burn-out is a condition of modern civilization, and over 40% of people are sleepwalking through life. and it's something which affects not just our health, but our cognitive ability. it's actually pretty absurd that we congratulate people for working 24/7, because that's the cognitive equivalent of coming to work drunk. and it also affects our happiness. i know for myself when i'm sleep-deprived, i get more anxious, i take things more personally. you know, all the things that
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make life harder than it needs to be. >> host: arianna huffington, two people who have said out loud and are well known for sleeping short periods, president bill clinton and donald trump. are they mutations? >> no. president bill clinton actually did say that all the important mistakes he made, he made when he was tired. which is a really interesting statement from a leader. because sleep deprivation dramatically affects impulse control and our decision making. and donald trump displays all the symptoms of what the american academy of sleep medicine has described as symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation; inability to process even simple information, mood swings, outbursts of anger,
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paranoid tendencies, instability. all these things become cumulatively worse, and we saw how in the last week his campaign went off the rails with statements he had to retract about women who get abortions, etc., etc. so maybe he'll be exhibit a of a cautionary tale -- [laughter] of what happens when you deprive yourself of something incredibly important. and, you know, i kind of in the book as well as having all the new science, i looked at the history of when was it that we started devaluing sleep. because after all, it was something venerated. in ancient greece and ancient rome. and the change started happening during the first industrial revolution. when we started treating human beings like machines, and we thought the goal was to minimize down time.
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and then with the third industrial revolution, the digital revolution, of course, we all have become a little addicted to our devices, and it becomes harder and harder to disconnect. and be able to sleep. that's why in the second part of the book i give all the recommendations of what to do to actually get the full night's sleep that we need so we're fully recharged for the next day. and the first and most important thing is to create a transition to sleep. you know, those of us who are parents know that when we have children, we don't just drop them in bed, right? we give them a bath, we put them in their pjs, we sing them a lullaby. we need to have a transition for ourselves, and the most important part is to pick a time. for me it's 30 minutes, but you start with 5 before you're going to turn off the lights when you
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turn off all your devices and gently escort them out of your bedroom. no phones charging by your bed. that is key. because i'm sure it's happened to you like it's happened to me and to all of us. if it's, if the phone is on our nightstand, when we wake up if we wake up during the night, we are going to be tempted to go check e-mails and texts and social media. and that's the end of a restorative night's sleep. >> host: you have a reputation as a workaholic. and what happened to you that you came to this revolution? >> guest: in fact, yes, i display all the worst aspects of our civilization. and that's why it took a very painful wake-up call for me, which was collapsing, hitting my head on the way down, breaking my cheekbone. and that was what started me on this journey to reevaluate my
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life, to reevaluate the importance of sleep in our life and to launch this campaign through the book, through our college outreach to change cultural norms around sleep. and it's beginning to happen. we now have companies like aetna, the third largest health insurance company, who are -- the ceo has announced a program just now that if employees can prove through wearing a wearable device that they haven't gotten seven hours' sleep -- have gotten seven hours' sleep the night before, they get a reward. that is really a game-changer in the culture. because we go from wearing sleep deprivation like a badge of honor to valuing sleep as something that makes us more productive and helps the company reduce health care costs.
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>> host: arianna huffington is our guest. we're going to show you the coffer of the book, and as we take this first call from marjorie in pratt, west virginia. marjorie, you're on booktv, and we are listening. >> caller: thank you. thank you, arianna, for bringing this topic to light. i'm one of those sleep-deprived people. but my question for you has to do with politics. i'm particularly interested in the sanders campaign and how his advisers are complaining about hillary's negative attacks on him. and i'm wondering if he -- it appears to me that cnn, msnbc don't bring out things that hillary really could attack him on such as his sympathies for the castros as was brought out in the univision debate. if bernie were to get the nomination, i do believe the republicans will have a field
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day on him about his socialist views. and i'm just concern. >> host: all right, marjorie, i think we got the point. let's get a response mr. arianna huffington. >> guest: so i think what is interesting is, obviously, that last week the campaign between sanders and hillary clinton became particularly negative. but compared to what is going on on the republican side, it's really like an afternoon tea party. i mean, on the republican side it's really become a circus that parents with young children don't want them to watch. the comparisons of people's hand size, the comparisons of people's wives' look. i think this has been a low moment in american politics, and it's important more us to correct. >> host: are hillary clinton and
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donald trump both friends of yours? >> guest: i wouldn't say friends you know, obviously, i know them. >> host: have you endorsed anyone? >> guest: no, we can't endorse anyone as journalists. you know, we are covering everyone. but we are also trying to cover them in different ways. for example, when hillary clinton resigned, left her post as secretary of state, she gave some really interesting statements to bill collins of "the new york times." when she was asked what she wanted to do, she said what i most want to do is be untired. and, again, i think it's really interesting to see how exhausted our political leaders are. and this is something that needs to change, because i think it reduces the level of the decisions they make. and it also affects the level of the political discourse. and in the book i've included an example of fdr in 1940.
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as you know, there was tremendous pressure for him to enter the war. and yet the american public was very much against it. so he had not found how to square the circle. so what he did is he took ten days off and went on a naval ship. as he put it and as eleanor put it to him in letters, to sleep and -- [inaudible] and at the end of it, he came up with a political master piece, the lend-lease program, which allows him to enter the war. so politics and solving problems requires a level of wisdom that is mounting when you're running on empty and running on fumes. so we need to recognize that we owe it to the country as well as to ourselves and our families to really -- to show change.
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>> host: and, arianna huffington, you tell both the lend-lease story and the hillary clinton untired story in "the sleep revolution." columbus, ohio, please go ahead. >> caller: hi, arianna, how are you? >> guest: hi, jacob. good. >> caller: i'd like to, first, i'd like to make a quick statement, then a question. i used to be a ups driver for 31 years, and the best of that job job -- [inaudible] [audio difficulty] hard to get a good night's sleep, and that a affected production. >> host: jacob, i am so sorry, but we're going to have to lose that call. he was coming in and out. did you get anything? >> guest: yes.
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i kind of got the idea. jacob was a ups driver, and i write a lot in the book about the problems of a truck driver. it's really one of the most dangerous occupations with dozens of deaths and hundreds of accidents. and this is one of the reasons why we've also launched this week, together with uber, a campaign against drowsy driving. because what has happened, the growing awareness around drunk driving has meant that drunk driving numbers are going down, and drowsy driving numbers are going up. and last year we had 1,200,000 crashes and 8,000 deaths. so we're asking people to go to change.org and take a pledge not to drive drowsy and not to let friends drive drowsy. and, you know, it's easier to
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know when you're drunk than it is to know when you're exhausted. and often especially you -- not you personally, but other members of your sex -- get behind the wheel or get a coffee or a coke, and i'll power through. and it takes literally a second or two of microsleep as they call it for a crash to happen. >> host: and men are more guilty of that than women? >> guest: men --11% more guilty. >> host: helen, lewisburg, west virginia. please go ahead, helen. >> caller: hello. i wanted to ask you, i had heard you talk about your book with charlie rose x there was one topic which wasn't mentioned, and you'll understand why i'm asking this question when i say i was a practicing pediatrician or 40 years. unusually every second or third night.
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so i lost a lot of sleep, and this was also kind of admired, as you mentioned. and i wondered if you had any thoughts about the effects of sleep deprivation in the medical profession. >> guest: absolutely. very important question, thank you for raising it. i have a whole section about that in the book. because, in fact, a lot of what i've known in your profession is adverse affects which include accidents and even death in hospitals. they happen because doctors and nurses are is so exhausted. it's incontrovertible that after a certain amount of hours you are not operating at your best
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anymore. in fact, the latest steadies show that after 17-19 hours -- which is a normal day's work for many in your profession -- your cognitive abilities are degraded to the point of being 0-5% drunk. so we need to actually look at the data and change the way we approach the hours that doctors and nurses are expected to work. and also another thing is hospitals. probably the worst place to sleep in. and yet every doctor will tell you that sleep is a very important vehicle for healing. but hospitals are noisy, you're constantly having people interrupt your sleep to check your vitals.
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so there are hospitals now that are prioritizing some fundamental changes to make sleep and, therefore, the healing that comes through sleep easier for patients. >> host: from "the sleep revolution," in 2014 people around the world spent a staggering $58 billion on sleep aid products, and then you quote jerome siegel of ucla center for sleep research. quote, in 20 years people will look back on the sleeping pill era as we now look back at the acceptance of cigarette smoking. >> guest: yes. it's actually amazing that the united states and new zealand are the only countries in the world that are allowed television advertising of sleeping pills. and when you see these ads of happy people frog licking through fields -- frolicking through fields and then you have 92 side effects that include
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suicide and getting in a car and without knowing that you are driving and maybe killing somebody along the way which has happened, you realize that it's really dangerous that we look at sleeping pills as a chronic solution. something maybe occasionally, and we go through because of a traumatic experience in our lives or because of some unusual circumstance. but they're being advertised as a nightly solution. and as a result, we ignore an enormous amount of natural alternatives. i cover them all in the book from very simple things like having a transition to sleep which in my case includes a very hot bath or a shower, whatever you prefer, but something that actually washes the day away and prepares you for sleep and for
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recharging to cognitive behavioral therapy if you have a real insomnia problem. and it has been proven to help as effective a result as any sleeping bill without any adverse effects. so it's kind of a shame that we immediately gravitate to a pill with huge adverse consequences when there's so many natural alternatives. >> host: lee in new york city, we have one minute left with arianna huffington. go ahead. >> caller: yes, ms. huffington. >> guest: hi. >> caller: are you aware of the old to russian fairy tale about ?reep i read it about 85 years ago, and it's very, very simple. a peasant goes up into the mountains because he's looking for something or other, and he loses his way x the spirit comes out and says to him, what is the most precious thing in life? and what is the dearest thing in your life? and the man says, well, my wife,
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of course. and the spirit says, no, you anyoneny, it's sleep. [laughter] >> guest: i didn't know that. if i knew, i would have included it in my book, but thank you. >> host: and one of the other stories in the sleep revolution by arianna huffington is the story of how google came about in a dream. arianna huffington's most recent book, "the sleep revolution: transforming your life one night at a time." what's your current role with the huff post? >> guest: i'm the pred, editor-in-chief, and we have a dedicationed section on sleep -- dedicated section on sleep. so anybody who wants to write anything including the russian fairy tale, please send it to us, arianna@huffingtonpost.com is my e-mail. and we also have two nap rooms, so if our reporters or engineers
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get tired in the afternoon, they can have a nap instead of having a fifth cup of coffee or a third doughnut to keep them going. >> host: arianna huffingtop, thanks for being with us on booktv. >> guest: thank you so much. >> host: booktv's live coverage from the l.a. festival of books continues now. another author panel is coming up, and this is a panel on infrastructure. we're going to be talking about rust and roads, etc., etc. this is booktvive coverage from los angeles. >> welcome to this panel of the l.a. times festival of books on "everything connects: the building blocks of daily life." i'm john wiener, i write for "the nation" magazine, and i also host the weekly podcast called "start making sense." you guys have been here before, you know the rules; silence cell
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phones, no personal recordings. you can watch us on c-span when this is over if you want to relive those unforgettable moments. [laughter] we will have time for questions at the end. we will have a book signing afterwards. the signing area for this session is signing area one. two of our authors appearing today are are prolific, old pros. ed humes has written 14 books, brian fagin has written more than 40. so let's start with jonathan waldman. this is his first book. jonathan waldman -- [applause] [laughter] jonathan studied writing at dartmouth and at boston university's knight center for science journalism. he's written for outside, the washington post, "the new york times," mcsweenys, the utney reader. he has worked as a forklift driver -- i want to get this

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