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tv   Panel Discussion on Biographies  CSPAN  May 14, 2016 3:30pm-4:31pm EDT

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she called it preventing -- yes. success, yes. i would like to think about that later. >> anyone? >> we have anything? [applause] >> thank you. thank you for coming out. if you have some time to line up that would be great. [applause]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> when i tune in on the weekend usually it is authors sharing their new releases. >> watching nonfiction authors on booktv is the best television for serious readers. >> they can have a longer conversation and delve into their subjects. >> booktv weekends, they bring you off thereafter other after arthur, not like the work of fascinating people. >> i love booktv and i am a
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c-span fan. >> we are about to convene our session. i have what i presume will be the very easy task of shepherding three distinguished biographers through what i'm sure will be scintillating conversation because they are so practiced and accomplished. i am very proud to be among them, this moderator. do i have to say, i am a james atlas. two of our i was about to say contestants, two of our panelists were nominated, were finalists for the la times book award last night, terry alford for john wilkes booth, charlotte decroes jacobs for joan assault,
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kirstin downey has been nominated before, they are prepared and worth listening to. i made an executive decision that we would dispense with describing all their books and titles and distinctions because we want to find colleges and you have great sats like everybody in the audience, to get to the matter at hand. also this famous and infamous title gave us a little title because all the characters, like everybody else, in some degree or another is famous or infamous and so we are going to explore that a little in terms of how the biographer summons empathy toward the infamous without
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being judgmental but i want to begin and turn the floor over to them. with some things they wrote to me in emails when we were thinking how this panel should go. also this will come up later i want to point out kristin spent 25 years on "isabella: the warrior queen" which defeats many biographers i have known, like 14, morgan with 16 and charlotte devoted a decade to your book. you write very fast i guess. and terry alford made the quarter-century market. they wrote for me and since they are very succinct instead of
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introducing their books myself i will allow them to introduce them if i can find where these pages are. terry alford writes about john wilkes booth. how could you write about somebody who really did deserve the term infamous? preconceptions aside, booth has some good qualities. if he had been irredeemably evil i would not have been interested in spending a biographer's share of time with him. when he lost his balance at the end and committed murder he lost everything. kirstin downey, you should be the moderator of this. it is impossible to understand isabella without understanding europe was at war with aggressive islamic fundamentalism in the form of
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the ottoman turks, caliphate that employs slavery and sex slavery on a large scale, subdued neighboring nations. the turks had the biggest armory in the world and repeatedly demanded that they would seize all of europe. the turks invaded and seized most of southeastern europe, western europe was flooded with refugees. that sounds familiar, doesn't it? charlotte has written on april 12, 1955, the jonas salk vaccine could prevent polio, celebration erupted worldwide and joan assault became a hero overnight. in the wake of his achievements, he received a staggering number of gifts from the public and awards from heads of state around the world. his name brings with gandhi and
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churchill, yet he was ostracized by the scientific community whose adulation he craved. with that set up i felt i would ask each of you to talk about how you began your books, how you chose this subject, how you got into this, give us a sense. you want to begin? >> hello, everybody. i am glad to be in california. always delighted to be here and isabella would consider this one of her most important global capitals if she was still alive. she did claim the world for herself and that included the americas, and memories of her all over the state. if y think of san francisco, san diego, los angeles and sacramento, these are all spanish words and they are spanish because of the control
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she managed to exert through the spanish empire. this is how i came to write the book, i love california and always fascinated by the spanish names in california in spanish and mexican history of california. it goes back further in my childhood where a large part of my childhood was spent in the panama canal zone which was then part of the us empire. i go out on a seawall overlooking the atlantic ocean and dangled my feet over the edge of the seawall and look at the place where christopher columbus sailed on his fourth trip. we all know about christopher columbus visiting, a common topic in history. there is always a brief little mention about the person who sent him, queen isabella. i became fascinated as a little girl thinking there was a woman, who had been a little girl like
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me, and she had this huge impact on the globe who said sailors and explorers around the world. and continue to have such a big impact on our lives today and even now, spanish is the second most common language after mandarin chinese, because of the influence of queen isabella. that is the thing that initially got me curious about it. i have always been interested in the role women play in history. often the underappreciated role women play in history and 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. >> when i was a child growing
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up, polio was very much in the news, newsreels, newspapers, magazines showed pictures of children struggling with crunches or tuned in iron lungs. what made things worse was no one could predict which town or which child would be the cripple are's next victim. fear pervaded the country. in 1954, my home town of kingsport, tennessee, was selected as one of the sites for the trial of the polio vaccine which was made by jonas salk and was being tested by the national foundation for in tile -- infantile paralysis through the march of dimes. i was an original pioneer of polio. later it was announced the vaccine had been a success. polio could be prevented. joan assault became one of the greatest heroes of my generation. over the years i often wondered what happened to jonas salk? having reached the claim at age 40 what did he do for an encore?
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why did his life seems thrown with controversy? he seemed like such a nice man. i could find no biography to enlighten me so i set out to write one myself. >> thank you. the john wilkes booth book, i always liked stories about unusual people, true stories particularly when they get in a jam and you get to see when pressure is put on what is inside. the first book i wrote was titled prince among slaves, the true story of a west african prince who was enslaved in the 1780s and brought to mississippi and enslave their for 40 years. i was interested in his case and what sustained him as a person. he was a muslim and his faith was integral to his survival as a slave and that is how i went back to africa, unusual for a person in his condition. the booth book came about, one
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of the big stories in the history of washington dc, the assassination of abraham lincoln. once i looked into what i realized there were a lot of books on the assassination. a lot of them. many video murder -- mediocre quality but there were not a lot, there wasn't a single book on booth himself. he was a very celebrated actor in his time, very successful. lincoln actually went to see him plan, lincoln applauded him. booth was very generous to lincoln's son tad, gave him flowers on one occasion when he came to the theater. this is an unusual person, an unusual story. not like most of the assassins we are familiar with, people you would never have heard of before they did the terrible thing they did. here was somebody with something to lose, not a born loser. i wanted to see what the story was, to recover the childhood, the theatrical career which was
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very very successful and that is where fortunes full was. >> one thing we were talking about before that fascinates me is he was a very accomplished actor, not just some amateur wandering from town to town. he did richard iii in an electrifying way. what interested you was this dichotomy between the dastardly apps for which he is remembered and this whole other complex side of him that you referred to. >> it is interesting. he was highly successful as an actor. there were people that loved him, people that were okay, some that didn't like him just like there are actors we like and others we don't care much for. he was defined in his generation is a great actor and the
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definition was by a critic, i mentioned in the book, he was able to play -- a great actor was someone who could play three leading roles better than anybody else in the country, not just one because you can have a role that is so perfect you never need to do another thing. think of sylvester stallone and the rocky character, a perfect marriage of an actor, booth could do richard iii, he could do romeo and be very tender. and very unusual. the trouble -- the troubling thing was he had intense southern feelings. he stayed out of the civil war because of a promise to his mother. she already lost four children due to childhood diseases and said that is it. i am not losing another family member like this. i can't do this. she had always been his
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protector when growing up, had been the one who offered him the odd and unstable father that he had. they were very very close and he agreed to stay out of the war, out of the confederate army which looking back with a big mistake because his sympathies were unlisted and he had the temperament for action, the temperament for doing things, should have gone into the war and been a confederate soldier and shot about halfway through the war and we never would have heard from him. but that wasn't to be. >> if everyone who had problems with their mothers became a presidential assassin -- we wouldn't have a lot of leaders left. i am interested in the way the perception of one's object
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changes over time. we are talking about that before, you begin with one idea, usually a very flawed idea about who your subject is and after a quarter of a century you must end up somewhere else. you would have ended up somewhere else. what about that? >> what did i know about jonas salk except he was a big hero and beloved? but that wouldn't have been a very exciting biography to write about someone who had one surface to him but i knew nothing else. as i began my journey of doing research on him and interviewing people and learning what i could about him, i found he was a very
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enigmatic man who loved the public but celebrity was like an albatross around his neck. he shunned controversy. he was a very mild-mannered man but controversy followed in the wake of every one of his discoveries. he was a man who almost every woman in the united states was in love with on april 12, 1955, and yet he had a very plain wife who was a little bit cynical about him at times. there were so many ups and downs in my search, who was jonas salk? that is the greatest challenge of a biographer, to create your character or your subject as they truly were or the best
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likeness you can of that person so when i started i felt i walked into the studio and someone had put a huge pile of clay on a table and said sculpt the absolute accurate jonas salk and any time i did a new interview i might change the shape of the eyebrow or change the shape of the cheek. at the end i felt i knew jonas salk and he wasn't just a 1-sided american saints as the public thought him, nor was he a self-absorbed man who connived to assure himself a starring role in medical history which the scientific community believed about him. >> it changes almost without your will. what you discover. what about you?
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>> i thought initially it was a book about spain and the americans. and the americas. as i started to look at isabel's letters it wasn't just about spain or the americas, really a global book. very influenced when she commissioned a history of the world. she had pages about the fall of constantinople which she perceived as a terrible thing and she feared, meant 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.
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because of that my spanish was good but i had to use forces in many different languages to tell the story of isabella's life. there were native american sources, a lot of arabic and turk forces, hebrew sources, french, a lot of scholarship and thoughtful commentary that day, there were a lot of latin sources, italians, there was a spanish pope on the throne, there are italian sources and some of the greatest observers of the maritime economy were in venice. to be able to give everyone's own perspective on these stories, i couldn't just rely on the spanish perspective. i had to incorporate everyone to tell the story well and i think i was very foolish and not understanding how hard that was going to be.
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i had great difficulty finding documents, finding good translations of documents, setting myself up to do feeble transitions of documents i could take 2 people who translated documents and pay for translations and that was the only way i could tell what i found in the story. >> you mentioned that in your preface. you learn some of those languages? >> the spanish i was extremely fortunate in the time period of isabel's life. in the 1400s people were writing with hand manuscript and today it is impossible for us to read manuscripts from the 1400s, they are impenetrable. it was a dying specialty and i
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was fortunate and isabella's success as a powerbroker, she succeeded in making spain enormously wealthy in the years ahead. 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 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 manuscript and letters and publishing them in books so there are books written in the early 1500s that are transcription of her letters and correspondence and we are enormously lucky in the united states because we have the library of congress in the united states which is one of the 7 wonders of the world. >> let's talk about that a little bit. this experience of discovery which is so fascinating for the
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biographer. when you pry loose from some obdurate family the letters they don't want you to read or come across documents, manuscripts in the library, that is the kind of experience i don't think many other professions that i know of have. it is a profound moment when you realize you are the first person to have seen these materials but you were telling us about your efforts to penetrate the walls of the family. i am not giving anything away, am i? >> you are dead in the water if you can't get into archives. for jonas salk, archives of the university of california san diego, absolutely extensive. he kept everything and lived to be 80 years old. he would keep things such as a
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draft of all of his letters. jonas had great equanimity but you would see him angry and very inflammatory language, got to his 10th draft of it, very short and kind. i originally did not get access to these archives without them i could never have written the book. although they are in a library in san diego they were under lock and key. 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 i was serious even though i had academic credentials and had
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already published a biography, and i had to go and interview with them and all of that would give me six months or less and i would have to start the whole process over. they wanted to see samples of my writing when i was working on the biography which is really kind of 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 says the truth. i said -- >> that is what they all say. >> i finally figured out what it was and that is they were very protective of their father's image and their father had a certain image. as one of the sons finally said to me we don't want to see a people magazine biography of our father. i did have to gain their trust
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and maneuver around in order to get into those archives. a few months after my book was published the archives were sold to san diego and open to the entire public. >> really annoying. could you talk a little bit about process? between 2 of you have five children apiece. that will definitely affect how you write a book. i didn't ask you this question, what is it like to actually produce amazing artifacts like this that you know.by in amazon.
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and the footnotes and bibliographies, these are beautiful things. this is how we go into this weird labor-intensive, time absurd profession of hours. how do we get into this? >> i can speak for some biographers and say you would run in terror. you have no idea it is as big as it will be, and who is this person? they are saying this but can this source be trusted? then you see if they are a reliable source and like you said gets deeper and deeper and
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deeper. i had a little problem. i didn't have -- ideal with it in the john wilkes booth story he died in 1865 two weeks after lincoln did. he didn't have any descendents. he was a very verbal person. he wasn't a writer. there are several dozen letters he wrote and most are short business notes arranging theatrical engagements. not very insightful into his personality. i was going to have to know him through other people. that is a bit of a challenge because they could tell me what he did, they may not tell me why he did it or what was in the back of his head and there was a conspiracy against president lincoln so conspiracies cast a fog over everything, people who live and didn't know booth or have anything to do with it. weirdly people stepping forward
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to claim responsibility, they want their little moment of fame when they didn't have anything to do, it is quite a challenge, if i knew how long it finally took me to do it i would have run for the project in terror. >> when you start to write a book like this it is an obsession and fills your waking and sleeping hours and pretty soon you are even dreaming about the person you are 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.
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there's -- you make tradeoffs, personal tradeoffs -- >> corruption? >> a famous story about a man there is, you know, you make trade-offs got personal trade-offs. there is a famous story about a public official who is being bribed. they said to him, where did you get the money.money. came from the matchbox under the bed. we oftene say, where is the magic box. you know, from my children that meant that they could do one activity at a time, to have one sport or one music they love. we all make compromises. they were loved it. they became somewhat jealous of the people writing about, you get so much time and attention in your life, and one of the finest things my son ever said was, mom, why
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can't you do fiction. [laughter] you can do that for free. >> just to leap into ann instant, when i was writing biography, he had so many girlfriends i could take our children on vacation anywhere and expensive because there was a girlfriend i could interview including the dirt road across from my daughter's writing camp in vermont. so that is another way.e to say give you a tip. >> well, i have to say, without sounding pollyanna -ish, i loved every moment of it. maybe because it was really my 2nd job and i still had another full-time job that was very consuming,, plus i
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am one of five children people appear.alive, o it was really fantastic. there were a lot of peoplesa alive or are the new jonas salk.h the ar i did hundreds of interviewste d , and although the archives gave me this enormous amount of material and i read all the scientific articles that he and everyone else wrote about polio and aids in thee other diseases, the interviews were absolutely fascinating.t and those were aware a lot of the aloha moments wouldti come. sometimes there were like really? i was interviewing a journalist who covered all of the aids side of.
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and he said to me, by the way, how are you going to deal with genesis skirt chasing.'t kno and so he said, never mind. setr so he didn't know any of the women. suddenly it popped up. it was a thing about a woman saying jonas salk ruined my life.s life, not that i wanted it to dominate his biography, but it was part of his life. that all discovery during the writing of the biography is absolutely fascinating. but i too, my children were very much engaged. son leane i 1st biography, i was nearing the end of it and my
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something because the table one night and said, mom, how will you feel if no one publishes your biography. i said to him, well, really it was all about the journey, and that is how i truly feel. there is not a single day i didn't wake up trying to find time to work on my biography. >> you did not have a contract. >> we were talking about if you're writing fiction and have a proposal and get aa contract and have so much time to write your book. if you have a book the textre and the 25 years to write, not many people will be interested in giving you a contract. with my 1st biography i did not seek an agent or publisher until i completed the book. i was well when to my biography before we started
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seeking a publisher. i don't know how the two of you dealt with that. about wha >> did you have a contract beforehand? >> yes, i did. >> after 20 years he was not furious?ne did, >> he had passed away. [laughter] >> am not surprised. probably the 2nd one did, too. time to set these things up and get them accomplished. you mentioned fiction, which we certainly would be shocked. how do we -- how are these narratives written so that the subject in the background and the history come alive at the same time?
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it is -- you have things that are just -- well, you all do. they seem to be getting along fine. being poisoned and so on. >> and when there is a woman looking out the window, parts of the theater in great haste. i look for the footnotes. how do you do this sort of reconstruction?begi how do you make it reach?lly wrt i was supposed to say at the beginning -- well, i don't have instructions, but the books are so beautifully written, powerful with narrative that they this is a cliché but i will use it anyway, they read like fiction and yet i am assuming that they are not. how do you do that?
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how delighted in that way?r, soi >> i was not born an actual biographer.ses on w i took a lot of courses. i studied narrativet nonfiction a lot because it b really is about the narrative. just the facts would make a boring book. i think i saw this wonderful example written by a writer, and to five so-- so i will just use this as an example. you all know about the death of mr. dump g, humpty dumpty sat on the wall call the king's horsesking's horses and all the kings men couldn't put humpty together again. well, the only thing in his obituary was he died on june 31t failure.aphyer i could have put that in my book, but as a biographer
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and wanting narrative, i began to seek questions about it. in a taylora taylor asked the question, what was he doing sitting on the wall? why did he fall? was he pushed?hey re and what were the kings men doing they're? was you royalty or some revolutionary? and how hard they really try? so with that same kind of idea in mind i didn't take at face value that he died of heart failure. i found an interviewed everyone that had seen him in the week leading up to his death including finding the young physician in residency training who took care of him and befriended him leading up to his death. and that way i can put in lots of conversation,
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actually see the room and went and saw where was, and i could crafted all in to ae- dramatic scene so that his death wasn't just a one-liner in an obituary. that is what we try to do in adding the narrative jar book. >> i was fortunate. there were a lot of strong, competing newspapers around the country, and my primary career has been a journalist so really what i am doing writing history now is applying journalism to history. so what i try to do to show a scene, a reporter is flawed the furs only one witness.
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with the need to do is, the whole scene and get as many people to comment as possible so that you get a sense of how it looks from many different points of view which is what i have tried with my book why needed all the different languages. when the french and the spaniards were at war. to look at it from the french perspective, from the spanish perspective. and they all might have key perspectives and also each have a specific great detail about what happened, the conflict, who saw it, and good journalism is very deeply researched and reported. of course that is one of the things that his strategy now comeau we are losing so much of that deep reporting. i think it's going in the
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book writing. >> also, it is journalism, but it has visual and scott city. we really can see the figures embedded within thiss web of detail that is made them come alive. what about trying to findes, i s sources you did not really -- well, he did not invent things, i assume, but she came very close. this is not an accusation. we are on good terms.
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when you have people speaking and having dialogue with each other, how does that work? i was touched by your interviews, the jewish poison new york, i interviewed a lot of the same people. got j but you have been talking. >> many of them still were alive. >> i noticed.ntury. >> the assassination of lincoln is one of the most documented moments of the 19th century. there are hundreds in the theater and hundreds left accounts. you have to be careful because it is funny comeau one lesson i learned about this is that eyewitness testimony, i don't know how worthwhile some of that
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stuff is. get people who were thereks. and on the same day see totally different things. you have to use your judgment about what works. there are so many accounts that you have a rich palette and can put together, a 2nd the 2nd account of what happened in the assassination. for other parts it is more challenging. i'm lucky -- well, i am not lucky because i would not have done it if he wasn'ter really was. there are a lot of actor and actress reminisces to my pile of stuff at harvard theater library. all of the characters and just like today entertainers have always drawn the interest of people. we have these wonderful accounts of 19th century actors. there were stage newspapers
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that covered the stage, who was where, doing what,er succeeding are failing. a surprising amount of good stuff is 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 youdo you feel that you inve -- how close of you come to your original conception of the book? i mean,, you have to feelro that -- maybe you don't, something is wrong with that he did not accomplish everything you set out to accomplish, or are you fortunate enough that you do feel that way?und that >> i am glad it is done. [laughter] >> i found it ultimately really sad. every aspect, there are winners and losers, and there are a lot of losers.
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you know, if you were a faithful jew or muslim, her advent of power was 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 that is one of the things that was clarifying. the name of the book is "isabella: the warrior queen" because basically she spent her whole life at work. it is just a sad and tragic thing. i was relieved to have -- cannot live anymore. >> i can understand that. poisoning and killing, but did you accomplish -- the
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book in its final -- simplifying. did you fulfill your original conception of it?as i e >> i think the thing that, as i ended up knowing a lot more about isabella and her time and about the world l than when i started, andany of here we had a lot of award winners last night announced and so many of them are spanish speakers. and we are multilingual spanish english state, andhe fa that is due to the fact that isabella existed. spanish is a beautiful language.lla. i think we all enjoy many of the aspects of spanish culture that were introduced because of isabella. i think in some ways i came back to the beginning. butbut i think the thing about doing a lower fee is, you have someone else's life, so
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well and the damage they do, and it is kind of like a sped up experience of life to the melancholy end.ly that >> it is a curious experience to enter into your subjects so deeply that you become the subject. of since the subject usually has a few problems, it can be very painful. i was thinking about the definition of the novel by randall durell kemal long post narrative. that is how i feel about it, biography. it is not exactly a self-criticism, but you have only gotten so far in protecting this elaborate and difficult figure. what about you? >> i started with no preconception about him
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except what i knew from the media in that time.. 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. he made a major impact ont the health of the public. it was going to be lost.rrupte i often would go to writers residencies and spend a month more i could write uninterrupted, and the 1st night you sit around thehe table with the other writersly r and talk about what she willma write about.ght we w usually i'm considerablynd older.out one night we were all talking.. he saw this kind of, you know, look. she said polio.
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i realized, my gosh, no wonder there are so many anti- vaccine people because people don't know what it was like to live in this country when polio was killing and crippling children. up until 1988 1,000 children contracted polio a day worldwide. and so my thought, this was a story that had to be told. and i started the book with an epidemic of polio in new york city, the 1st large polio epidemic. but when you think aboutexpe what you really want out of a biography, you want the reader to experience a life understand a life or subject , or you hope that the subject serves as a beacon for others. jonas salk's favorite book
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was louis pasteur. one of my favorite things, there is a national history month and i had teams from all over the country calling or e-mailing to interview me because they are so fascinated. to me that is the greatest >> wrd. >> what about you? >> you know, i gave it the best shot that i could.i could. i don't know what else i could have done to improve it. i tried to pay sit out so that the whole book was not about the moment of the assassination. that is a separate book. but childhood interrelations of siblings and with his fellow actors and how he performed as a person and then his political extremism which ultimately got the better of him. i did not say this in so many words, but i think the assassination was a little
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bit out of his nature. he lost his footing at the end of the war because of his emotional attachment to the rebels. he had to talk himself in the doing what he did to lincoln. one thing i learned about the book, the thing that most impressed me was abraham lincoln.fe, bu i had the standard regard for him. i never made a study of his life, but once i goti got to dealing with booth anti- extremist politics around his views, i began to see more fully the problems he had to deal with. sometimes i think we can isolate him the 21st century. that wasn't the choice.? in 1860 was lincoln are stephen douglas.s peop sixty-four is lincoln or general mcclellan. those are the choices people
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had manometer lincoln imperfect. so i would have to say that my respect for lincoln went way up and working on the person who murdered him.ave be >> that is interesting. the fact that you can write about subjects have been written about before anyways i just her lecture by charles last week in new york about lincoln and his friend, joshua speed. an incredibly intimate male friend and i thought, this is incredible you can hearabout. new perspectives on the subject that has been so written about. it was exciting. so i will ask one more question, and then we will open to the floor. the question is always the one that the biographer does
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not want to hear, which is why will ask it because it is my nature. what next? did you say rest on your laurels? give me a break. >> we don't do that. >> they are pretty prickly. not that great a place to lay down.an by >> all right. i would want to write something to do withi' science. have a list about this long. we were having the talk ahead of time that stacy schiff to won the pulitzer
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prize for cleopatra said that the ideal subject lived a very brief life. my left no archives and headnote living family members. i may try to take her advice. >> you just described john wilkes booth. >> and it took you 25 years?hers >> most biographers answer this question -- you are very hardy souls. most say, i am never doing this again. >> my next one comeau one of the things i found in researching "fortune's fool", mrs. lincoln was in the séances and spiritualism.ple come i you may notice you lost a son 62. w so she let some people come in to the white house who were marginal characters.
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but john wilkes booth sisterd ha in law died in the middle of the civil war. the booth family got into spiritualism and séances and had a medium in common. if you're interested in this topic i did an article in last march smithsonian that is online. end i know -- in fact, i am well into the research on the booths, lincoln's, and spiritualism. i want to look at how that operated in the civil war but there was so much suffering and dying. a great revival of interest in séances and marginal characters who perform services. we were open for questions
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now. make sure they are actual questions. we would love to hear from you. >> i just want to say i am so grateful that you bring this man to life. always just that shadowy figure who pulled the trigger, jumped off the stage, broke his leg and got shot. >> is somebody circulating the microphone? >> that he have a right of john wilkes? >> just in a few sentences. in passing. >> a quick thank you for
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your scholarship.u've i will leave it, something you mentioned when you are talking about the skirty chasing. since you said -- it did not sound like they were able to censor what you wrote but wanted to hear what you are writing. do they know about the situation? to they tried to put a kibosh of any kind on it? >> once i had met in there he advised me not to discuss things with the family. none of them mentioned it, which made me a little nervous. women who were self-aggrandizing by chasing after him and pretending m that there were affairs, but as more and more came out and they would then tell me others -- at one point there was a foundation dinner and a groupa group of women were sitting at the table and onehadf by one all realize that they
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not only had had affairs with jonas but were all -- but were all at the same time. >> literally the same time. >> pretty much. same time period, let's say. i had to continue to ask myself. i had to make sure what i was reporting was accurate.acios and then to ask myself why was adding this. it really, as you are trying to create the picture of someone, it certainly showsomen that he was human. and jonas salk himself told one of the woman, i learned a long time ago everybody puts the pants on one leg at a time. i was a little worried. when i gave a talk, went to a book club in san diego it seems commonseemed common knowledge among his people that he was a skirt chaser. i'ms these world leaders in san
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diego.o. one of his sons wrote and said, i'm sorry i ever mentioned it to you, but we were aware of it. >> and good moderating.>> t >> thank you.with the yes. the skirt chasing, i have not heard that. >> that was the term.his is f clay younger than me. >> this is for terry. my understanding was one of the plots originally was to kidnap lincoln and exchange them for confederate prisoners. when it turns to murder a number of the conspirators wanted no part of it. >> booth was a southerner in spirit. there was a guilt there. i'm bring that out as
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drastically as i can in the book. he is an actor, playing here on stage but is not one.is just his generational cohorts are out there writing the history of the united states on battlefields, and he is just a phony.ederate he began to think about this idea of about lincoln and hauling them off down south and turning him over to the confederate government so that the southerners could use lincoln as a bargaining chip because there were tens of thousands of rebel soldiers in northern prisons. >> could you talk about the booth these? the who were they?ally col >> just to finish up. >> sorry. >> satisfaction of the questioner. at some.when the south began to collapse and richmond was cae was nowhere toe

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