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tv   Interview with Lara Heimert  CSPAN  August 20, 2016 9:50pm-10:01pm EDT

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baltimore, maryland is 11th on the list making it the second most well read city on the east coast. look for the article on to find out who all made the list. lara heimert, was coming out this fall? >> i am excited about the word detective by john simpson who is the formal editor and chief of the oxford dictionary who has been there for 40 years until retiring in 2013 and oversaw the complete transformation of dicti dictionaries. i think for anyone who read the professor and mad man you can remember the description of what it was like to assemble a dictionary in the 19th century.
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readers from all over the world submitted cards and send them to the oxford and they were put in card files. and whenever the dictionary was revised they would make it into the next round. it took an incredibly long time to update new meanings of words or etmall they discovered. now you have crowd sourcing and people reporting tweets and website. it has always led them to have to go back and relearn whole words that, you know, with all of the newspapers online you can discover usage no one ever heard of the last time the dictionary was revived. it is extraordinary revolution in language. along the way, he introduces us
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to history of words. serendipity is one of my favorite and waffle introduced it into the language. serindip is a historical name for shri lang lanka. i didn't know there was a word to describe a place on a dog's back they could not scratch. i didn't go ganja was introduced by someone. >> is mr. simpson n favor of the democrization of the langwiuagl?
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>> absolutely. he wasn't from that class or world and realized the extent to which the dictionary had been shaped by upper class readers. they have time to read and send independent words on index cards and don't send a lot of time working. the dictionary was shaped by people that read milton. it was very male and white and british. he really forces and this is long before the dictionary starts going online. he gets interested in magazines like poplar mechanics and the language of ras tufarians. he brings in a man and makes this man actually stand in front of him so he can fake notes.
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this is a language of on old gentlemen sitting in the cottage with hounds by his side. it is part of a mission for john to open the dictionary to new readers and writers and the whole world by putting it online. >> he is going on book tour? >> absolutely. he better be. he has done a lot of public speaking as editor and chief and i think we are gearing up to have him do more. >> how important is selling it book >> i think it is remains on the kind of book. for fiction it is important and certainly kinds of non-fiction. i don't think it is essential a lot of times. history is review this and there are smaller factors in the way we publish and promote books and there are other ways of
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promoting books like social media accord or people can enter into people's homes and book clubs through these programs. i think the physical traveling of an author from town to town is maybe less important than it used to be. >> what else do you have coming up this fall? >> i have a book on the history of the caliphate coming up by steve kennedy which i think is a book that is particularly important right now. i think the word caliphate isn't one we spent a lot of time talking about probably before 2011 and then it entered for all of us with al-qaeda and isis talk about restoring the calipha caliphate. and kennedy is an expert on arab history with deep command of forces at the university of london and had a number of books on middle east history. this is his effort to establish
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the caliphate both as it was and the history of an idea. i think, you know, obvious reasons why the caliphate holds enormous appeal for many young muslims particularly. it was a time when islam ruled the world. baghdad had half a million people when london and paris had maybe a few thousands. this was the muslim world at the height of its power. but i think what he is trying to show is that the caliphate, or the caliphate was this incredibly qualities and there is no one caliphate. i think people glorify the idea of the time when islam was pure and when inequality was led by worship of god. but like any structure is more complicated. there were people who were spiritual and deeply war like and you can find the justification for almost any
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form of political action in the caliphate. so i think it is a necessary corrective to this kind of rhetoric of the caliphate as a pure and better time. >> one more book you have coming up. >> there is an interesting book in political science coming up called lock said line by a law f professor which is about why we struggle in america with mas incarceration and how everything you think you know is wrong. it is not about the war on drugs or private prisons but the role of prosecutors in our criminal justice system which i think a hot of people haven't acknowledged the major factor behind the high levels of impris imprison imprisonment in the united states. he shows as the crime rate is dropping there is a surge in the number of prosecutors working for the u.s. government. as a consequence you start
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seeing around 1990 this incredible surge in prosecution deals asking for longer sentence and prosecuting at a higher level and they say that is the crucial factor in creating what we call the incarceration state. not necessarily issues of race or private prisons which i think people think of as the conventional wisdom why we are where we are now. >> what kind of books does basic publish? >> only serious non fiction by expert authors. about 90% are academics, statesman and politicians. pretty intellectually high end books. >> host: where is -- is this independent? part of a larger corporation? >> that is a great question. it was until two months ago an independent publishing company. it remains part of the book series that we have just very
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recently, about a month ago, been bought by the fourth largest publisher in the united states. >> how does that affect what you do? >> not much. i think i have to learn new computer systems but i think it is a really good fit. it is known in the united states for publishing a lot of fiction. it is all non-fiction so i think it is really good counter balance. they have been lovely. i mean they are taking a whole group and picking it up and moving it over. so i still have the same staff, and the same books and the same boss. so it is sort of minimally traumatic as a buy out to me. >> publisher of basic books, you can look for some of their titles this fall. this is booktv on c-span2. >> c-span2, created by america's cable companies and brought to you as a public service by your
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