tv 2016 National Book Festival CSPAN September 24, 2016 12:00pm-2:01pm EDT
festival where the 16th time. this event would not be possible without the friends that we have supporting us, generously supporting like wells fargo and we are very appreciative of that. more important, we would not be here, but for readers like all of you who support the authors, are interested in them and come out, so we are extremely excited. thank you so much for being here today. [applause]. >> this year's festival is inspired by journeys. the idea that a book is a voyage unto itself, taking us to places that we might not be able to see in person, but we can visit by reading about it. it to gives us the opportunity to better understand our world and in particular why we are here today celebrating histories and biography, so reading to us is that ideal form of travel and
it is really the best way for us to develop and encourage and grow our mind. in addition to the author presentations that we hear-- have here on this stage for you today we have other events and i hope you will take the opportunity to visit the lower level of the convention center where we have as a family activities that. we have sponsors, aarp, wells fargo and also have the library of congress pavilion where i encourage you to visit us and learn more about your national library. learn all about the wonderful things that we're doing at the library of congress to make our treasures available to you whether you visit us in person or online. so, we have a great lineup. i don't want to take up too much time, so i hope you will welcome our first presenter who will kick things off before us, mr. carlos lozada, the associate editor and non- fiction book critic for the net-- washington
post. thank you very much and enjoy your day. [applause]. >> good afternoon. welcome to the 2016 national book festival. i review nonfiction for the "washington post", which is a charter sponsor of the festival. thanks again to the library of congress, which has hosted the festival for 16 years as well as festival cochair and many sponsors that make the events possible-- possible. i've never met sarah bell personally until right now, but maybe like a lot of you i feel like i have known her forever, whether her work, her delightful books into the side alleys of american history and in the role that most excites my moody six-year-old daughter as the voice and soul of violets from
incredible's. sarah can basically do anything and make it seem effortless and funny and profound all at once. if you have not read her obituary of john ritter and tom landry, you're missing out. we are here to talk about her book. she has written a history of hawaii and the puritans of presidential assassination sites and most recently a book on america's revolutionary. in her 2015 book, lafayette in the somewhat united states. there will be time for question after sarah speaks and c-span is covering that history and biography session, so be on your best behavior. sarah will sign books at 1:30 p.m., so please got one. it is my huge fan boy pleasure to introduce sarah. [applause].
>> hello. hello, book lovers, people of c-span. i travel around the country so much and i only need to people who read books and i don't know if you have watched the news like the last year or so, but i would like to say that i'm cool with that. i like my little vision of america that i get from eating all of you. so, i'm feeling good today. if you are watching this on television we are here in washington dc and for me, i arrived in this city precisely half my life go, 23 years ago. i will wait for a second for you
to do the math. i know that is not your strong suit. [laughter] or mine. you have other nice qualities. 23 years ago i arrived in this city onto the train from montana. my parents drove me up to shall be, montana, where i cut the amtrak into the cross north dakota. that took a while, changed trains in chicago, saw the buildings of louis sullivan and that i would live in here someday and i ended up doing that. when across pennsylvania. i remember the conductor, we were passing the river and he said get a load of this scenic wonderland and i arrived here in dc for my smithsonian internship and i think it was the next day yasser arafat shook revealed his hand on the white house lawn and it was a hopeful time in america
the library of congress is sponsoring this event, you know, when i was an intern at the smithsonian the first work i worked on that had the number of the library of congress catalog number two things like art philadelphia in the archives of american art tort-- that was the main one. italian american art history and i was seen earlier that for me as an author, every time i get one of my books and it comes in the mail the first time the person i do is that catalog number because, as we all know life is short and the library of congress is forever. [applause]. >> so, take that, great britain, anyway being here thinking about when i was leaving home to come
here i realize that is the story that i have been writing all of these years through so many books. it's always the story of the misfit leaving home and that is the story of our country. i think earlier this year they said this is the story the united states, a kid walks away from home with a song and nothing else and covers the world, so for me that is always the story i am writing whether it's theodore roosevelt leaving new york city to mourn his wife and mother and head out to north dakota, to be a cow man and as one of the biographers said he was the only president who ever read and occur in and while on a three-day search for cattle. or our friend abraham lincoln, who when he left springfield to come here as president and took the train to philadelphia to independence hall and he said
that the political sentiments i entertain have been drawn from the sentiments, which were given to the world from this hall and he said that the goal of his presidency was to save the country invented there and he added ominously, i would rather be assassinated on this spot than surrender it. obviously, the person who did assassinate him is another misfit who left home from baltimore. [laughter] >> and then i have written about new england missionaries who come to hawaii, like so many church folk of the early 19th century who saw the new map from expeditions like that up captain cook and resolved to spread the gospel to all of the places where cook sailors had spread the clap. [laughter]
>> or to their forebears, the new england puritans such as the massachusetts who unlike those hippies from plymouth were trying to prevent english government that they were not separating from the english and that they were going to america where they would remain as english as beheadings and even wrote a letter to charles the first in 1630, called a humble request in which they said they just wanted to remind the king that we shall be in our poor cottages in the wilderness whereas in private john winthrop , their leader, would tell them the opposite. we shall be at the city upon a hill. so, misfits leaving home. my latest misfit leaving home as a french teenager, marquis de lafayette and of this book tells
the story of him leaving home and his pregnant teenage wife to come to america to throw in with george washington's continental army and so i will read for a bit and then i will take questions and he wanted to read the section of his voyage to america and his early time and then i will read a little tangent about a whole wrote bookseller to pander to the subject the proceedings. [laughter] >> 1777, lafayette has absconded to america, but his own ship to come here. the king of france is trying to keep him at home. his wife's family is trying to keep him at home because as i mentioned she is pregnant and once he makes it onto the ship he has purchased across the atlantic he starts sending his wife-- writing his wife adria these letters to try to explain
why he has abandoned her. her and their forthcoming child. i believe i say in the book that while history might be full of great fathers recorded history is not where to find them. [laughter] >> addressee, lafayette unveiled the grandeur of his mission to his wife audrey and to include her in it he wrote: i hope as a favor to me you will become a good american. sheet is a teenage french aristocrat from one of the most illustrious families in france. she lives in a mansion in paris when she is not living at the mansion inverse side, so asking her to become a good american is sort of baffling. he really was in a position to ask her any favors. [laughter] >> nevertheless, he proclaims to his wife the welfare of america is intimately bound up with the
happiness of humanity. she is going to become but deserving and sure refuge of virtue, of honesty, but tolerance, of equality and of a tranquil liberty. to establish such a forthright dreamland of decency, who would not sign up to shoot a few thousand englishmen as long as mr. bean was not one of them. alas, from my end of history, from our end of history there is a big file cabinet blocking the view of the sweet natured republic lafayette, we are told, and it is where the government keep the folders full of indian treaties, the chinese exclusion act and nsa monitored electronic messages pertinent to national security, which is apparently all of them including the one in which i asked my mom for advice on how to get a red stain out of couch upholstery. lafayette confided to offer my
services to this entry republic i bring to it only my frankness and my goodwill, no ambition, no self-interest in working for my glory. i work for their happiness. disregarding the inherent contradictions of proclaiming his ambition of self interest in the same sentence he reveals that obtaining glory was one of his two stated goals. he was an only child. [laughter] >> the phrase coming as a friend close on the page because it turned out to be the truth. it's appropriate to deem lafayette for the casual cruelty with which he abandoned his family, rolled the eyes a bit at his retro quest for fame or envy his outlandish optimism, but none of that negates the fact he turned out to be the best friend america ever had and i'm not
only referring to his youthful battlefield of another eastern seaboard. i'm also referring to any number of his kindness is later on in assisting thomas jefferson, the united states mr. to france in opening up french markets to american goods. lafayette's lobbying secured nantucket well years the contract to supply the whale oil that lit the streetlights of paris. because of lafayette, the city of lights glowed by new england boiled blubber and forgetting him-- and to say thanks for getting them all nantucket rallied its milk cows to send him a giant wheel of cheese. that's gratitude. [applause]. >> so american, let's send cheese to france.
[laughter] >> finally, after his two-month voyage on his ship, the victory, which he called floating on this dreary plain, they came ashore in charleston, around midnight june 13, 1777. waking up the households of major benjamin cukor of the south carolina militia and that's where they stayed and lafayette wrote later, i retired to rest that night rejoicing that i had at last attained the haven of my dream. he went on to gush the next morning was beautiful work everything around me was new to me, been room, the bed draped in delicate mosquito curtains, the black asserted to came to me quietly to asked my command, the strange new beauty of the landscape outside my window, the luxury and vegetation all combined to produce a magical effect.
in other words, it was a buggy swamp chock full of slaves. life that was in love. so, he and his men basically start out in characters and in upon horses and by the end they are basically like walking to philadelphia, where he is going to what became independence hall and, you know, to announce here i am. you know, he expected a warm welcome. the moment lafayette recalled was peculiarly unfavorable to strangers. don't get that at all. the americans were displeased with the pretensions and disgusted with the conduct of many frenchmen. consequently he wrote the congress finally adopted the plan of not listening to any stranger. when lafayette and his friends
called the statehouse, they should them away snarling its themes french officers have a great fancy to enter our service without being invited. most of them, including lafayette had been invited by american agents in france hence the thrones of perks of frenchmen who have been washed ashore for months expecting to be welcomed with rankin riches. also i should mention europe is uncharacteristically at peace and so all of these european officers especially frenchmen come over in droves wanting a job and washington who was always in need of men wasn't excited about these particular men because he said they have no attachment nor ties to the country and he bemoans their ignorance of our language and he pointed out that american
officers would be disgusted if foreigners were put over their heads and so that's exactly what happened right before lafayette arrived was another french guy and he was a french veteran of the seven years or that he showed up in philadelphia month before lafayette did saying here i am. i'm, you know, a bigwig-- i'm paraphrasing, a bigwig of louis the 16th court and on the greatest renowned authority on artillery in france and what he was was a wine merchant's son who had maybe seen a few canons, but he shows up and said i deserve to be your artillery chief. so, it turns out that replacing the cotton of all armies beloved chief artillery officer was not as easy and arbitrary as bewitched casting a second darren because henry knox was
the revolution. born in boston, in 1759, two irish immigrants knox dropped out of school to support his mother and siblings after his father's death. he eventually opened his own bookstore, the london bookstore. after the course of action of 1774, this is really hard on pretty much all the colonists, but especially its merchants and especially knox, the bookseller. they closed the port and he could not get any of the books he was selling from england and of the colonists were boycotting stuff from england anyway, so those acts, the intolerant acts were supposed to serve as a warning to all of the other colonies and meant to slap massachusetts submission, but what happened was it further radicalized on already
radicalized massachusetts and rallied the other colonies to comes to its material and political aide. so, henry knox, meanwhile, he had glued the royal governor's daughter lucy flager, great name and had joined a local militia and shots were fired in lexington and concord in 1775, so knox lease is feeling bookstore and has his brother. throws in with the malicious and then when washington is appointed the new commander-in-chief of the cottonelle army and he shows up and he is telling the shoulders we should have no more sectional rivalries and we are all one country when privately he is writing to his crony back in virginia, these people are stupid especially the massachusetts men. it's still a work in progress. but, then-- and at that time,
you know, boston was under siege the british had occupied the peninsula of the austin and their navy controlled the harbor in their-- they were resupplied the city with provision ship down from canada. this is the map i am drawing in my mind. i just assume you can see them. so, the patriots had been surrounded, but to break this stalemate they needed weapons and then they got the good news that ethan allen and benedict arnold and their people had captured the fort where there were all of this artillery comic canyon-- canons and mortars and 300 miles away. henry knox, the bookseller is like 26 i think at this point goes up to washington and said how about i go get all of them weapons.
300 miles away. washington is like yeah, sure, go ahead. bookstore owner. and he did it. hayne's brother, henry knox and his brother set off for new york in november, think it was, and the night i think january that had returned with 43 canons, 43 mortars drag across frozen rivers and over this-- over the snowy mountains by oxen. this is the old yankee proverb that if you can sell a book you can move 60 tons of weaponry, 300 miles in winter. [laughter] >> then, washington like has all of this artillery on the hill and the british wake up and see all of these canons pointing down at them and they probably
hightail it to canada and that's how henry knox became the chief artillery officer of the cottonelle army. he got the actual canon-- he actually at the artillery and then he trained and recruited all of the other artillery officers, so everyone liked him. they thought he was doing a pretty good job and so when this french guy shows up and said i'm your new artillery chief, there was a big flip out amongst the men and officers of the cottonelle army that is sort of the continental-- that is sort of environment that lafayette walked into. luckily, the french i had the decency to-- crossing the delaware river and he drowned. the horse lived, so everything
was fine and then-- it was a win-win. [laughter] >> so that's what lafayette walked into. the reason that the colonists especially their leadership to congress and washington in his highest ranking officers are in this weird position with the french and these french nobleman, lafayette included is all they wanted to because they basically want what any self-respecting terrorist wants. they went to become a state-sponsored terrorists and they are just waiting for the king of france to give them money and guns and support and his army and navy and that's how they won the war eventually. so, they take lafayette on because then franklin sends this letter like again i am paraphrasing, this kid is a big deal, be nice to him. i haven't finished shrinking down the french government and
so they make lafayette a major general, that's what he's called. he's basically a glorified intern. until he proves himself and then so finally he gets his commission and a few days later he meets george washington and, you know, washington was six for -- six feet 4 inches tall and makes a big impression on lafayette. lafayette was so starstruck when he meets washington, he wrote: it was impossible to mistake for a moment his majestic figure in department, nor was he less distinguished of the noble stability of his manner, which is a sweet memory, but does get on my nerves how he needed tall people to make a good first impression.
[laughter] >> unfortunately, because of a scheduling mishap we can't be at kareem abdul-jabbar's presentation next door, so i will go out on a limb and say everyone loves kareem abdul jabbar. i do love kareem abdul-jabbar. so anyway, he joins up. washington, he fully grows on washington because he is so gung ho. the whole work, all of his men are deserting in droves and here's this french kid who is like put me in coach. when washington says okay you can join my military family, which was lingo of the day to basically washington is saying you can become one of my minions like the way alexander hamilton was described as a member of washington's military family, but remember lafayette was an
orphan and when washington said family he meant minyan, but what lafayette heard was son. then, hijinks ensued. so, i guess i will take some questions if you have them. there are these microphones set up here. yeah, let's get cracking. >> hello. i was wondering when i read the book if you have seen the show hamilton and what you thought of the portrayal of lafayette? >> if you did not hear that the question was about hamilton. [laughter] >> i seen hamilton and what i think of the patrol of lafayette i have seen hamilton.
i obviously love hamilton, even there-- even though there is so much hamilton in hamilton and you know who would love the lafayette in hamilton's lafayette who was just a publicity whore and the fact that he so comes up so charming and chivalrous and such a good dancer with such wonderful hair. lafayette was already going bald at 19. the last time i saw it there was an empty seat in front of me and for some reason i just kept picturing lafayette in it and he would just have been swooning the whole time. it's interesting, though, like when the about the show especially because of the casting-- this wasn't your question, but i was thinking about it later lately because people have some qualms about
the founding fathers especially the ones who owned other people and there are some people lately who want to disregard all of their comp insurance and i can understand that, but one way you get past that is make washington black, which i am definitely doing next time. [laughter] >> such a good idea. we should have done that-- that should have been our original cast. washington should have been black. >> in today's i guess mass recording that goes on in everyone's life is so archived, how do you think that will affect our look at today's events as a historian? how do you think that will change? >> everyone's life today is so archived? >> right, just like with television, social media, everything is out there and like
very intermittent thoughts are posted for everyone to see. how do you think that will affect your job as a historian looking back? >> i mean, i guess the nsa is archiving a lot of stuff; right? i mean, my bread and butter in a lot of these books is letters like letters on paper that you have to put on white gloves to look at. i think if things are being saved and that is good and one thing that has started is that for better or worse people nowadays are pretty forthcoming about everything. like sometimes it's really hard to figure out like what washington was thinking. i mean, his wife burned up almost all of their letters upon his death and they are a little cagey and tactful and they leave out private things because those are private.
ike guess one-- i guess one advantage of this world we live in, how people are documenting every omelettes and aspect of their day. i'm guessing. i'm not on social media, but i hear the jokes about it. i guess that would be helpful especially if you were some kind of social historian where your job was to figure out what people ate. just like look at all of these food blogs and twitter and everything and you can see, you know, like oh, people like goat cheese. i don't know, but i think because computer case-- communication is so constant maybe there is less of that grandeur, you know. like george washington was painfully aware that everything was doing was basically especially as president that he was inventing a presidency, so
he wrote these letters with such care to-- he was ready to the person, but also writing to us for prosperity and i don't really do that when i am e-mailing my friend. i think like with the letters because they were more formal, but also you have the best of these people and maybe we are not always at our best in our electronic medications. i'm not. yes. >> hello, sarah. i'm with the american friends of lafayette. we are 400 strong. >> oh, you people. >> yeah, thank you for bringing our hero to the forefront. >> that's why i did it. i would have done it for free. [laughter] >> we bought your book. so, lafayette is criticized for doing things for the glory of it, not for the their reason,
the purest reasons, but back in the 18th century was that such a bad thing doing it just for the glory? >> no, i don't think so. i mean, if we are going to condemn all historical figures who accomplished there, schmitz because what they wanted was glory, that wipes out everyone, maybe mother teresa, but she got a lot of press, also. i mean, if you are doing good things i don't really care what your motives are that much. i mean, there is something about lafayette. he is such a boy. he is 19 and, i mean, it is kind of bad form to abandon your pregnant teenage wife. >> there is that. >> so, i cannot overlook those things. i mean, his glory, the quest for glory was part of what fueled his account for schmitz and one of the reasons he was so valuable to washington and the american cause was that he was so gung ho, he was so brave.
he didn't care about his own personal safety. with he was wounded at the battle of brandywine he was supposed to be recuperating, but he gets up, wrapped his bum leg in a blanket and writes back to the front. i mean, it kind of reminds you of what lincoln said about grant for washington like he needed him. so, all of that glory whoring had a very very practical outcome. it wasn't just that he wanted the glory and he certainly loved it and when he came back as an old man in 1824, i mean, he just loved, it was a love fest for over a year of people talking about how much they loved him and so happy he was back, so he want to glory, but you know, as they say in "hamilton" immigrants to get things done. like he got things done.
his glory was based on achievement, based on spilled blood and sweat and the old college try. it wasn't like getting glory for i don't know-- what do people get glory for now? it has to do with twitter, i think. not that that isn't an accomplishment, but you know what, i mean,. >> i do. thank you very much. >> hello. >> you have written a lot about the historical folk heroes and also american rogues and it seems like you tend to enjoy the life of the robe more. >> the like-- life of the what to make rogue. >> rogue? >> yes the one going out on their own. history's bad boy or girl. i was wondering if you had a favorite. >> a favorite about anyone i've written about? i mean, i do write about the
missed it-- misfits. i have this soft spot for a lot of them even unlikable once maybe especially that unlikable ones. i subscribed to the digital "washington post" and i'm sure if you do you have woken up to an e-mail from them as we do every morning that has said the headline was is she likable. i'm not sure who they were talking about. [laughter] >> in my opinion, likable can be overrated and one of my favorite people to write about was roger williams who was a puritan theologian, likable already; right? and he comes to boston to the massachusetts bay colony and they offer him the job of being the minister in boston, which has puritan jobs ago, that's when he want and he turned them
down because basically he found them not puritanical enough and they kicked him out of massachusetts, basically because they just wanted him to calm down about religion. the puritans wanted him to calm down about religion. and he is just this annoying person who is constantly harangue them as so they booted him out and another misfit leaving home he goes to rhode island, and founded rhode island and for a lot of non- hippie reasons basically establishes freedom of religion in rhode island. not because he thinks everyone believes are valid, but he believes pretty much everyone except for his wife is going to hell for what they believe and maybe that should be punishment enough and so rhode island becomes this sebastian of misfits, jews, baptists,
quakers, you know. like roger williams .-dot quakers had to write to live there. one time he spent three days debating them to the extent that i think they wanted to kill themselves, but meanwhile, back home in massachusetts, quakers are actually being hanged. so, he is a very weird unlikable annoying person, but i found him sometimes hard to like, but easy to love. people can do great things and maybe you don't want to have lunch with them. [laughter] [applause]. >> i love that reading the books for the history and i love also the side jon's you take places like bruce springsteen's voice at home and what you learned in all you delve into and i was
wondering if you are like writing people like lafayette and winthrop, do you know what their theme song would be like you get that in your mind. >> what their theme song would be. >> if you could give them a theme song. >> i don't know about that, but generally the books has theme songs for me. like, this one for some reason i always wanted to put on pete seeger's version of shenandoah. like just adheres to that passage i read, what lafayette thinks america will be like and there is something in the way he sees that song. that's the one i would like to have been. when i was writing about the puritans i had three sons i would always put on because they were leaving home and they had these ideals and one of them was
the-- what was it, the mormon tabernacle choir version of sound for the promised land. you know, there was chuck berry's promised land and springsteen's promised land because it was all that promise and the future and it had this kind of biblical overtone. >> hello. i love the dude of history especially george washington. >> the dirt? is that which he said? >> yes. george washington was over a marginal general. his men hated him. so, what influence did lafayette have on him? >> what influence did lafayette have on washington? >> yes. >> i mean, i think-- for one
thing lafayette just bucked up washington for most of the war. washington was about to get fired and sometimes for cost. lafayette was always on his side and whenever these conspiracies arose to get rid of washington washington-- lafayette was the one thing that these people are idiots. your one for the ages, so there is that. i think it was keeping washington going and like washington keeping going was kind of the key to that war. like this is endurance and putting up with it, sticking it out and so i think there was that influence and also lafayette was a pretty fervent abolition. he couldn't influence washington's decision for washington to have some of his own slaves freed upon his death. i would save most it was moral support. i don't know if you have a
friend like that who whatever when you are down they are the ones who bucks you up, and i think that's who he was for washington. i only have time for one question because someone else is coming in here next. u2, which wendy zink has the better question? [laughter] >> he says you have the better question and that makes me want to hear his question, but ask me a question after. i just have to physically remove itself from this podium. yes? >> he talked about lafayette coming back to america in 1824, can you tell a little bit about the reason why almost every city in america at that time name something after lafayette? what impacted he have on america that did that imac in fact, great question to end on. i made the right choice. thank you. yes, when lafayette québec in
1824 and 25, that 13 month victory lap around the country where he went to all of the states is the origin for how all of these states and not states, but cities and counties and warships and horses and babies and streets and parks got named after lafayette. and i think washington dc it's worth remembering that the most meaningful of any of these, no offense to lafayette ronald hubbard is lafayette park across from the white house because this is kind of our capital a protest. this is where we had-- as a people go to yell at our present i mean, i was kidding about lafayette being an only child, but one of the most only at child things he said was, he said i did not hesitate to be disagreeable to preserve my independence.
and so i think lafayette park or lafayette square as it's also called embodies that spirits and even though we beat ourselves up in this country for how much bickering there it-- this is and how we cannot get along, i think that is annoying and time-consuming, but also the source of our greatness and at the fact that we have this place across the street from our head of government's house where people as george hw bush said, they would beat those damn drums when i was trying to have dinner , i think this is something that we as a people and you and your city should be enormously proud of and i think the fact that it is named after lafayette, i think, that would probably be to him his greatest honor. i think it is, also. good night. [applause].
>> this is but to the c-span twos live coverage of the 16th annual national book festival in washington dc. you have been listening to sarah vowell talk about her newest book, "lafayette in the somewhat united states". coming up in about 15 minutes or so is the storing kansas mylar talk about her greatest book, hero of the empire. we are live at the washington convention center here in washington and joining us on book tv set in the lobby is the author of this book, "disrupt aging", joanne jenkins who also
serves as ceo of aarp. ms. jenkin, 60 is the new 40, right québec that is not true. 50 is the new 50 and it looks good and that is part of what this "disrupt aging" is all about. the way we are aging is changing and that 50 is not to the new 30 and 60 is not the new 40. 50 is the new 50 and it's okay and we ought to be comfortable with what age we are. middle-age is really extending well beyond 60 and 65 with this increased longevity. people are living some 20 or 30 years longer than they probably ever anticipated. >> what does that mean publicly pop-- public policy wise? >> huge application, not only for here in the us, but around the world. when social security was originally put in place some 80 years ago, life expectancy, work expectancy was around 62.
you would work till you were 62 and then you are likely to die when you're 67 or 68, so today, the fastest growing age group is -- in this country is people over the age of 85 and the second is over the age of 100, so we are living really 20, 30 years longer than our parents or grandparents did, so as we think about public policies, about not only social security and medicare, but mobility and this whole wealth of brainpower that is just sitting there in their 60s and 70s and 80s. how can we as a society engage the 50 plus generation in helping us to solve some of our ills in this country? host: why is it that we are living longer? guest: i think it is a lot to do with our advances we have made in medicine and technology. we are also hopefully eating healthier and
exercising. we know that people who have a better eating habits and are both physically and mentally active, that they tend to live longer and if you feel good about what you are doing our latest research says you will live another six or seven years longer if you have real meaning and purpose in your life , so i think all of those things add up to this increased longevity that we are all experiencing. host: from your book, over half of all households nearing retirement have absolutely no retirement savings and to social security provides most of the retirement income for about half of the household 65 and older. guest: huge implications. in my hometown and state of alabama, over 50% of those folks who rely on social security, their social security payments are less than $13000 a year. i don't know anyone that can live in $13000 a year, so it's an
opportunity for us to rethink these policies, to look at what increases longevity and what it will mean for social support system and the way we are building up communities. i think about the large mansions that the building industry has built over the last 10, 15 years and so many of us went to downsize or relocate because the house week grew up in is too big for us and it needs to be retrofit, so part of what we talked about in "disrupt aging" is how do we build a housing community that lives with us through our life stages so that we don't necessarily have to move, that we can anticipate that and we know that what is good for the old is usually good for the young. when we were doing research about how do we build safe sidewalks, our biggest partner were mothers with strollers. that access to what was good for the elderly or good for people with disabilities had also
the same effect on young mothers who were trying to use their strollers, so i like to call it creating an ageless society, so we are grading long-term solutions that help all of us as we age. host: is there a policy that aarp would like to see done with social security? guest: well, we have been very engaged with our take a stand campaign, take a stand is around getting the presidential candidates to focus on telling us how they are going to make sure that social security is, not only there, but adequate and so we have been following both candidates around her trying to make sure they tell us what their plans are. we will be at the debates monday to see if we can get a social security question asked at the presidential debate, but i think it is important for our social support system in this country for us to, not but these problems linger. i think we all know that
we have to make some adjustments to social security in order for it to be there not only for our kids, but our kids kids. host: joanne jenkins, how is aarp set up? there's an insurance aspect, is a not-for-profit, for-profit, how is it? guest: it is a for nonprofit and we also have aarp foundation, which is our charitable arms that focuses solely on serving the needs of vulnerable people across the country and we haven't come because asi services, which is our for-profit company which provides product and services, insurance being one of them. i always like to remind people that our founder was the first female principle in the state of california. she went to visit a friend who she heard was ill and found her living in a chicken coop in someone's backyard and that began aarp's association with
insurance. she went to 42 insurance companies try to get them to provide an insurance plan for retired teachers, so 58 years ago this woman started the american association of retired teachers and aarp and so here i am, 58, following in her footsteps. the first permit women to be in that job since our founder. host: from your book, today it is socially unacceptable to ignore ridicule or stereotype someone based on their gender, race or sexual orientation. so, why is it still acceptable to do this to people based on their age? guest: i think that is so profound because we still allow communities-- comedians, we make jokes about our own age whether it's around your birthday, over the hill and so my thought is why do we still allow this? why do we still judge people by how old they
are rather than what they bring to the table? so, "disrupt aging" is really trying to get us to focus on that positive aspects of aging and that 50 today is very different that it was 10, 20 years ago. i know that becoming into this role as ceo, one of the reasons why i wrote the book was because i was living a very different 57, 58, then what people would say, you should be retired, home of vacationing, doing whatever and it's about letting people decide how they want to age, whether they want to stay active, whether they want to retire. aarp dropped american association of retired persons some 12, 13 years ago because a lot of our members are not retiring. they want to stay engaged, stay active whether it's full-time or part-time or whether it's volunteering and i think that is what disrupt a gene is all about, letting people
decide how they want to live their lives and for me, try to figure out how we can engage the 50 plus community in the volunteering, in providing support services in our schools, in our healthcare area, caregiving. there is such a great need out there to do that. host: joined jenkins, how has the workforce changed as we age as a society and stay healthier? guest: i will take you that some companies today have five generations work in the workforce at one time. that's very different and very unique and what we are finding is in our marketing research is that people who are in their 50s and older, the boomers have more things like with millennial's than they do with any other generation. that 85% of millennial's when asked, who was your best friend, 85% of them cite one of their parents. we know that they are influencing each other's
purchasing power and decisions that they make in life and so in the workforce we know that the economy is changing very differently and that people used to have one or two different places they worked. now, they will have 10 to 15 different places they work in two or three different careers and this whole idea of permanent employment at work, i think, in the next five or 10 years will go away and people will be doing more self-employed project -based, which actually bodes very well for millennial's as well as people who are 50 and older who may not want to work a full-time gig, but released engaged and do projects, management and do projects based employment to be able to do that, so i think it will have huge implications for the workforce of the future and how we engage five generations in the workplace at the same time. i like to think it's the
next phase of diversity and gender, changes going on in the workplace. the women's issues as well as gay, lesbian issues and now the aging issue in the workplace and how do we make sure we are getting the best out of our-- all of our employees regardless of how old they are. host: what is your connection here to the national book festival? guest: i'm excited because in 2001, when laura bush became the first lady she was the first library into ever be in the white house and so we went to her. i happen to be the chief operating officer at the library of congress at the time to talk about what project might we do with her as the national library here in this town and it was to establish the next national book festival, so here we are 16 years later. our goal in 2001, was to have 5000 people pick last year i think they had over 100,000 people
and i think from what we see here on these three floors, fully expect that they will exceed that target again this year, but i think it's an exciting time for book lovers and people who enjoy reading, whether a paperback or online and i am pleads-- please to come full circle from helping twos been an author this afternoon. host: joanne jenkins, he worked at the department press rotation i department, chief operating officer, how did you get to washington from alabama? guest: i actually threw a smalltime mobile alabama, political science major, had to doing internship. came to washington, interned in washington, went home, graduated and came back to work for the reagan campaign and i have actually been here in this town since 1980 and very fortunate to be working with a number of people in this town.
.. if you are in the area come on down and see us, we are passing on our annual booktv bag and the day is just beginning, we have hours of live coverage coming up. he will talk with bob woodward, representative john lewis and ken burns throughout the day and you will hear from many authors including john meacham whose most recent book is a biography of president george hw bush.
>> good? i am not going to be you the rules and regulations, and i have forgotten, my name is jonathan woodward and i am here ostensibly from the washington post though i left a long time ago. 18 years ago my wife and i were living on capitol hill with my stepdaughter at the national geographic and we went to dinner, and that is a technical problem, someone else will have 2 cope with. my stepdaughter was working at the national geographic and the next day at dinner time, this lovely young woman shows up, my
wife and i immediately chatted with her and she is still lovely and young but now she is one of the most effective, accomplished and successful writers of serious nonfiction, good to see you again. >> very good to see you, thank you. [applause] >> could i say briefly what an incredible honor it is to sit here with jonathan yardley who is a huge figure in the world of journalism and the world of books and buy some crazy chance if you don't know his work i urge you to find it. he is absolutely brilliant so it is humbling to me. i should be interviewing him because he is a more interesting
figure than i am. >> host: flattery will get you everywhere. let's get to winston churchill, a couple questions how you got to this point in your life. you are at national geographic how many years? >> guest: six years. >> host: a reputation -- you were a writer. what influence on your own evolution as a writer? >> guest: my real education happened at national geographic. i learned so much about storytelling, the fact that the world is full of fascinating people, fascinating events and stories. most of all i learned about research and learned that you need to dig deeply, take time to understand it and find the
people who really know the subject you are going to look into. at national geographic, you are working on something and a river, another day, it fluctuated. but the one consistent thing is there is always somebody who knows the subject, knows it really well and spend most of his or her life studying it and you need to find that person and making your friend. >> host: how did it come to you to write about the river of doubt? you were not a trained historian the subject involve travel to a dangerous place, feelings of your than your own. tell us about the challenges and apprehensions? >> guest: i was having a story with my friend james chase, an
extraordinary man, an extraordinary election where roosevelt tried to regain the presidency and lost, have you heard about this in the amazon after that election? i had read about theodore roosevelt but because it was after his active political career, i started researching it, went back to national geographic, a great library there, the library of congress, i was stunned because there is murder, drowning, the rain forest, roosevelt nearly took his own life, the amazon is the richest ecosystem on earth, something i would love to write about so i was hooked right away but it is daunting to take on theodore roosevelt. >> host: take on a book.
>> guest: exactly. i was really excited about it. there was so much to work with and my years at national geographic, i knew how to do research, the only thing i was confident about. >> host: you watched the young one. >> guest: i went to this river which is incredibly remote, did some research in rio, northwestern brazil, rented a plane, hired a pilot, and flew for hours over and broken rain forest and -- >> host: this raises the question where did you get the money to do that? >> guest: did it in advance, from doubleday, got an agent and
james j's sent my proposal, very generous man, he passed away right before the book came out, really difficult for me, doubleday gave me this great advance, a three part, one part when you sell it, one part when you turn in the manuscript, i had that money and that is how i use it. >> host: i would have thought you were on the plane yourself. >> guest: no. >> host: in river of doubt and your other books, you seem to deal with a great many people and travel to a great many places, afraid of nothing. >> host: that is not true. >> guest: i have a lot of fears. my fear is overshadowed by my interest. >> host: did you go to south africa? >> guest: i went to where the
mine was. the whole where it was. >> host: you have written about teddy roosevelt, james garfield, what drew you to their stories? >> guest: i love to read biographies but as a writer, i like to tell a tighter story, more personal story where i can spend 5 years focusing and digging in, and what i hope is eliminating, the time in which we live, and often when we look at history, we are drawn to a big public moment, and infamy, what interests me are the more private moments of struggle when
someone like james garfield or terrified, instant churchill, and in those moments it is true for all of us that we all share, and your true nature is revealed. >> host: specifically what drew you to winston churchill? >> guest: he actually began history in south africa covering the national congress, and 25 years ago mentioned to me do you know that winston churchill is a prisoner of war in south africa,
i thought you were -- how do i not know this, stayed with me all these years and after i turned in the manuscript for my second book, do you have any ideas for the next book? winston churchill -- yes. >> host: reading your book, nearly disastrous war, and you were writing that. >> guest: nothing was in the back of my head. i could see the connection. and kansas city, and day today
life like laundry and dinner plans and an office outside, when i go into the office, and it is a time machine, going back in time and immerse myself in documents that i gathered from pictures and maps, i am only thinking about this moment in history. wikipedia you are drawn to the 19th and early 20th centuries. >> i did not think this is what i want to write about. it is evocative. of this time period, and what interests me is there are so
many primary source material, enormous wealth, and newspaper articles, the kind of writing i do, narrative nonfiction, you have to have that, and not a model a huge amount, there are times i am working on a book and research takes me, and never get through all this. >> i have a project more ambitious than yours. wikipedia >> guest: you have to with letdown and have to be tough about it. i hope the reader in the book, you have to truly understand
before you can begin writing about it, whether it makes it into the book, the sense that i understand it is much better. >> host: what about the 19th and early 20th centuries, it is a lost world, a period when the world began to change in a dramatic way. more than it is now. >> guest: what interests me, the world was changing so quickly, every conceivable way but also our knowledge of the world, this is the gilded age of exploration and that is fascinating. churchill was right in the middle of that, right on the cusp of this incredible change
and it is fascinating to see it through his eyes. >> host: you wrote, he faced the prisoner of war camp and face dangerous challenges, grand adventure, the notion of british ideas of war as romance, strong undercurrent in your book that we in manchester in the introduction to churchill's moire takes experiences in india and south africa, glorification of war. do you agree with that judgment? >> guest: i do. at that time the british empire was huge. it ruled 450 million people, they were spread all over the world and spread very thin. constantly putting down -- these colonial wars, all about
gallantry and they hated losing, they thought the khakis made them look like bus drivers and the boer war when it began they were still fighting. >> host: the boer war was a prelude to world war i. >> guest: it was the beginning of modern warfare, not that many americans know much about the boer war but it was the first guerrilla fighting, concentration camps, modernization of weapons. it was different from the british army, prepared for world war i. >> host: most of us know very little about them. is their presence in south africa still very strong? >> guest: fortunately ing's are changing a lot.
the boars were interesting people, very independent, very religious and unabashedly racist. you may have heard of the great tracking 1835, hundreds of miles into the interior, set off primarily by the fact that two years earlier the british empire abolished slavery and even though the british empire promised people, native africans and indian population that they won the war, it would be better for them as we all know, much longer than anyone would have hoped. of course there is still a presence but nelson mandela was a huge breaking point and things have changed quite a bit.
>> host: tell us about churchill, he did change, the experience in south africa changed, it would be naked ambition. >> guest: absolutely. he was a bundle, the one description -- >> feelings about his father? >> guest: some of it. >> host: naked ambition is prominent, not really all that common in that particular class. >> guest: looked down upon and i thought that was the american in him, the beautiful socialite was american. and he told his mother this is a pushing agent we must push with the best and was very connected,
all these powerful men, adored her and always having her, have this get into an assignment, he thought that was the best way to win fame and propel myself to political power, the glittering gateway to distinction. >> his first love, pamela, and rival them. what was wrong or what was right? >> guest: not only ambitious but incredibly arrogant. i found it again and again, and different newspaper articles,
winston churchill, cannot stand the kid. he drives me crazy. >> host: in prison in south africa. he went to south africa with what? cases of champagne? >> guest: and his valet and a 10-year-old. he is willing to risk his life but doesn't want to be uncivilized while he is at it but what was interesting about him at this point in his life, if you look at pictures of him you almost don't recognize him. when we think of winston churchill we think of the older winston churchill, overweight and older and a cigar, he is young with red hair and energetic and he is the one
throwing himself, and not the winston churchill, it is fascinating to read the letters at that time, he wrote to pamela cloud, he ran for parliament before the boer war and lost but during the election, loving all these opportunities to be on stage and he writes to her, i don't know what will happen with the election or what the outcome will be, and growing powers. >> host: what happened between him and pamela? >> guest: he was in love with her. he met her in india, and british india, toast of london when she
went back, and wanted to marry her, and didn't think that churchill would amount to anything. [inaudible] >> host: the wall street journal described this quote, popular historian, that is a compliment. a phrase in popular history has always been slightly pejorative and condescending even though the best history written these days is by non-academic, david mccullough or your self. i am sure you are pleased to be put in that company. >> guest: i feel incredibly fortunate to do what i do.
every day i go to work, my job is read, to deal -- delve into fascinating stories, i know a lot of historians, read a lot of academic history, not what i do. i hope that is a collaborative thing. i say i thought i hated history. was never interested in history and read something, i was hooked and a lot of times they say it made me want to know more. and it is a conduit for people who don't like history. and fascinating stories they absolutely love. >> host: popular historian
stepped in, left by the decline of history in the academic club. as the academic historian digs more deeply into specialized areas and patents, the field is left open. >> guest: that is what i want to do. >> host: microphones in the middle of each aisle. >> part of the time i teach history. i appreciate your books, history to me is very exciting. you take colorful figures that you have written about, dealing with churchill and the boer war,
the primary sources, a lot of what churchill wrote, and put himself in the best light. how do you deal with that? >> guest: most of the time he wasn't alone, the way he was captured for those who don't know he went to the boer war to cover the journalists, he was on soon after he arrived on an armored train that was attacked by the boars so his good friend invited him along, and he was there and many other men, i have their accounts of it as well. the same when he was in the pow camp. when he was on the run heated in a coal mine shaft, the men wrote
about it and the only thing i found that he got wrong and he was very insistent about this, organize the attack on this train named louis bowtie, became the first prime minister of south africa, he was a young, charismatic, exciting general, they became friends later in life and churchill always insisted those who captured him, later churchill's son started researching the biography of his father and he said i have done the research and don't think it could have been -- personally captured you. churchill said it was, end of discussion. but it wasn't.
he was there and organized it but thought everything and talked about it but that is the main thing. >> this is a general historical question, in terms of deciding what to use in your research and what you don't use when you do your research. how do historical writers avoid revising history to their own liking? how do you avoid revising history to your own personal opinions? >> guest: i do a lot of research and don't come at it with an opinion, i wrote a book about james garfield, i came to admire him, i was wanting to write about alexander graham bell, i
found out he invented something called -- and into his first term. and and he was a decent, modest human being, and that he is an extraordinary man. i took them as i found him and that is what i tried to do with all these books. >> i know what he is complaining about. in his first multivolume incomplete history of the roosevelt administration and
jack kennedy, a very distinct ideological point of view, may have been bending history to suit his ideology. >> guest: absolutely. of course it does. >> my question is about destiny of the republic. i came away can we missed out on a potentially great president. i want your thoughts on if garfield had not been assassinated what type of president do you think he would have been and would he have been different from other 19th century presidents? >> i agree. i believe he would have been one of our great presidents and i think he is an inspiration to the country because he came from such poverty and seemed to bring
the country together in a way that was in sharp contrast to what happened after lincoln's assassination divided the country even more and it is because so many admired him and placed so much hope into him. he was a progressive thinker for that time. you can imagine he didn't want to be president. was forced, shoved into this situation. because of that he was uniquely powerful because he wasn't beholden to anyone. had not made promises or sacrifices because it is not something he hungered for. used to call it presidential fever and he saw it around him. i think that would have made him a uniquely powerful president and quite a loss to the country. >> we were talking before, i came to the end of destiny of the republic preventing a sense loss for this man never had an
opportunity to be the president. >> you made a brief reference to the british policy of concentration camps before the war which is one of the more shameful episodes in the british empire's history and its impact on women and children and other noncombatants. did churchill ever acknowledged that? did that affect him in any way? >> guest: what affected him was his own imprisonment. it affected him deeply. he never forgot it. even though it was on the other end of the spectrum from the concentration camps, for those who don't know, the british had gotten into the war thinking it would last a couple months, starting in october and out by christmas and lasted three years so by the end they were
desperate to get out and did some pretty horrible things, resorted to a different policy, setting up concentration camps for women and children supporting these men who were fighting in the field, that i wouldn't have any support and it was disastrous, native africans forced into concentration camps and even more died in the boars. churchill's imprisonment of the boars were either to show the british that they were civilized. the british dismissed them as being backwards. they allowed incredible leniency but churchill couldn't stand the idea of being captured. he said he hated that period in his life more than he had ever hated any other period in his whole life and he was desperate
to get out. he remembered that so later on in public life, becoming health secretary it was one of his missions to show compassion to his prisoners, he made sure they had access to books and the outdoors and could exercise because he said whether or not they are guilty of a horrendous crime, they are still human beings. >> i would like to say your first two books are wonderful, some of the best i ever read. my question is early on in the book there is a passing reference to teddy roosevelt and the other journalists met him in cuba, i couldn't believe how close this two seemed. could you contrast teddy
roosevelt and winston churchill? >> guest: throughout the process i kept thinking how much they remind me of each other, how many similarities, young, ambitious men, very arrogant, drive everybody around them crazy, incredibly well read, very talented writers, had so much in common and that is why they didn't like each other, too similar, and definitely wasn't a love affair. >> since churchill went to south africa as a journalist, had certain preconceived notions about the british empire and after experiencing the boer war, how did his view change about the british empire? did he realize, you see evidence that he realized -- and if he
did, some of the most amazing things like the battle of london, when hitler was trying to take over england and was so stalwart that i don't ever want to be dominated again. did you see evidence of him changing his thinking towards what the british empire was and how he wanted it to fit into the world? >> guest: winston churchill was far from a perfect man. one thing about him is he was an unabashed imperialist, very proud of the british empire and its standing in the world and part of his mission to keep it intact. i don't think the boer war changed that. i think on the opposite side, no one thought harder than he did
during the war, no one was quicker to reach out the hand of friendship afterward that he was magnanimous, and during the boer war it got him in trouble with his countrymen and it was true later in his life. that was a constant, at that time and for many years, and imperialist. >> it was an extraordinary book, how much i enjoyed reading it. as i was reading it i totally marveled at the conversations the characters had, as if you had a tape recorder in your room.
i was wondering what you drew upon similar to what they were saying to each other. >> guest: my father said the same thing after he read this book, the dialogue you had is like a novel or something. very important to me that everybody knows that this is all absolutely actual, i get that dialogue from letters, accounts they wrote themselves. i was talking to churchill and he said this or that and that is where it comes from. there is a trend in narrative nonfiction that we just get, in general these were my sources, but in my book you can look it up, i use notes, you can say how does she know he said that?
turned to the notes and you can look it up yourself. that is something that is really important to me, going back to primary source material, takes a long time before i will commit to a subject even if i think it is a fantastic story that there have been stories that broke my heart because i wanted to tell them, and source material to work with to have that dialogue, have those details to bring a story alive and so unless i do i won't commit to it and i had a wealth of information to work with for this book. >> you may have touched on this earlier concerning the river of doubt. as i was reading it i was amazed, why theodore roosevelt was doing this? why do you believe -- what was
his motivation for doing it? i don't want to give my own opinion. >> host: theodore roosevelt lost the election of 1912 and goes to south america and goes down this incredibly dangerous rapid choked rivers that no one knows -- the river of doubt, because no one knew where it would take them and what was around each bend and the reason he did it was he was theodore roosevelt and winston churchill would have done it too. he had won throughout his life and he loses this contact and is a pariah for the first time in his life, put woodrow wilson, a democrat in the white house,
splits the republican vote, and he is devastated. to go on a speaking tour, incredible sentiment in many books, so he is going to take another collecting trip, he gets there and he lets this friend of his -- hired on arctic explorer to plan this trip to the amazon so they are not even prepared for a collecting trip. and map and unmapped river and theodore roosevelt is going to say no to that you and this outrageously dangerous trip. >> talk a little bit about how
you reconstructed the events after president garfield was shot, particularly the medical treatment he received? of the doctors had left him alone he might've lived. >> guest: right, he would have, for those who don't know garfield was shot in a train station where the national gallery now sits and to my outrage there is no plaque, no notice at all an american president was shot here but the bullet that hit him in the right side of his back didn't hit vital organs or his spinal cord. 's injuries were far less severe than reagan's when reagan was shot. he had 12 doctors, especially this beautifully named doctor doctor willard whose first name was doctor, repeatedly inserted fingers and instruments in his
back probing for this bullet, joseph lister of listerine discovered antiseptic 16 years or earlier and spoke to american doctors, it is sickening to watch this through the lens of 135 years happening to this extraordinary man. i went -- to the kind of research at the library of congress even though garfield was president for almost 18 years, a lot of people surrounding it. the autopsy report there, more than that i held in my gloved hand a section of garfield's spine with a red plastic pen going through where the bullet had gone through and it is stunning and also strangely they
have the assassin's drawer because they have remains -- they have the remains of john wilkes booth, in the same drawer, a femur, anchor bone, a jar with a chunk of his brain, he was insane, mentally ill, after he was executed they exhumed his body and wanted to study it. and physical signs of insanity, he cut up his brain and sent it to experts around the country and sent it back, and they still have it. >> started this program, the best status -- a 5-year project.
thank you very much. [applause] >> you are watching booktv on c-span2, live coverage of the 16th annual national book festival in washington dc. the next author you will speak in the history of biography room will be john meacham talking about his biography of president george hw bush. that is an hour and 15 minutes
or so. now at our set in the entrance of the convention center we are joined by arthur and associate editor of the washington post bob woodward his most recent book is at the 12 -- "the last of the president's men". who was the last of the president's men? >> butterfield, one of nixon's deputies, had the office adjacent to the oval office for a couple years, was in on the secrets, decided to disclose the existence of the secret taping system which provided the evidence that led to nixon's downfall and resignation. >> host: did he disclose it on purpose? >> guest: this is one of the stories in the book. butterfield's wife thinks he did, wanted -- betterfield denies that and acknowledges he
was quite upset about the lies and extent to which he had been drawn into this web of corruption in the nixon white house so people come out differently. the documents and extensive interviews with butterfield's story, he never told in detail, is the various steps, stations of the cross in making that decision. >> host: bob woodward is our guest, you know him from the watergate era and all the president's men and 17 other books he has written, the most recent last year in 2015. we will put the phone numbers on screen because this is your chance to talk with bob woodward. 202 is the area code, central time zone 748-8200 to dial in. the mountain and pacific time
zone, 202-748-8201. there is a third way of getting hold of us, not to phone call, just russell senate office building text messages, if you send a text message include your first name and your city so we can identify you that way. the text message number is 202-838-6251. we will get to your calls and text messages very quickly as we go through. bob woodward, 40 plus years since watergate happened, how did you find, what did you find? >> guest: i ran into him at our conference, we started talking. i went to his home in la jolla, california because i realized the personal story, the struggle, the issue of moral choice had never been laid out. when i visited butterfield i ask do you have any document?
he said yes, a view, thousands of documents i had never seen before which had not been known to the world and again, a whole additional layer of nixon's isolation, corruption, criminality and very close-up portrait, cameras right in butterfield's face peering into his soul as he described exactly what happened. >> host: how did he keep 20 boxes of watergate or nixon related material? >> guest: when he left the white house, kind of resigned, needed to get out in 1973 before everything was unraveling on the watergate story. he pulled his car and his wife
and they loaded 20 boxes from the executive office building next to the white house. again, kind of the lesson is you don't know what you can get away with unless you try. >> host: what did you find in those boxes? >> guest: butterfield told me stories, i wasn't sure where precisely accurate, there would be a document describing it. one that surprised me, shocked me in fact was a memo, top secret memo from early 1972 that kissinger sent to nixon about a routine update to the vietnam war. nixon wrote in his handwriting to kissinger, the bombing in southeast asia, vietnam, has
gone on ten years, we have achieved zilch. it has been a failure. he was touting the bombing was successful and it turns out after making this declaration, the bombing study have shown he was right. it was achieving nothing except energizing the north vietnamese. what did nixon do? this is the year of reelection, 1972. napoleon showed starkly that bombing was popular, showed he was tough so instead of stopping the bombing, killing people, he intensified the bombing in that year, 1972, ordered the dropping of 1.1 million tons of bombs. >> host: how did alexander butterfield get to the white
house? >> guest: it was an accident. he knew haldeman, nixon's top 8, chief of staff from ucla, butterfield was an air force colonel, he asked to interview haldeman and haldeman realized here is somebody out of air force central casting, somebody who would be perfect to bring in as his deputy to get that with nixon's approval but dixon didn't meet butterfield until the first weeks of the presidency and their meeting is described, it shows how nixon literally could not talk. all he did was mumble. >> host: 202-748-8200, or 8201 for those in the mountain and pacific time zone and text number for text messages,
202-838-6251. is mister butterfield still alive? >> guest: he is 90 years old, lives in california, then a couple nonprofits, just sitting there, this is one of the journalistic lessons in all of this. you have got to show up and ask people, who would have ever thought there would be another dimension to nixon, the nixon presidency, there was just sitting. >> host: do you think a lot of the documents, the attitude in the nixon white house were unique compared to some other white houses? >> i do. historical record shows there was a kind of anger, a sense that nixon had the presidency,
it is personal, not about the people, not about him, he used the presidency as an instrument of personal revenge, get the irs, cia, on enemies or perceived enemies and other presidents have been vengeful, no question about it but it was a way of life and a policy in the nixon white house. >> host: president nixon died in 1994, ever have a private conversation with him? >> guest: carl bernstein and i tried, he declined understandably. he did die in 1994. that was 20 years after he resigned in 1974.
nixon spent that 20 years giving interviews, writing books, his memoirs, to a large extent he spent that time declaring a war against history, to say what i really meant, watergate was just a blip, not as serious as people made it out to be. nixon resigned not because of the democrats or the media. he resigned because of the republican party which saw this evidence, all the testimony. exemplified by barry goldwater, conservative from arizona who took the position too many crimes, too many lies. >> host: at what point in 1972-73 did you know your life was going to change and revolve
around that? >> it was incremental, in october 1972, carl bernstein and i, people didn't believe it. it was inconceivable and carl, to his credit, realized it was likely nixon who was going to be impeached because there was so much here, so much sabotage and espionage, the democratic presidential candidate. >> host: let's begin with a call from ottawa, illinois with father bob woodward. >> caller: i am a big fan of your writing. i went to make this as concise as i can.
ever consider writing -- and the covering washington, they hate the man so deeply that he tried to sabotage it. >> host: we got the point. >> guest: thank you. i have written two books on obama. the afghan war policymaking and the second one, the price of politics about the budget negotiations, obama has a mixed record, achieved a good number of things, a lot of democrats agree with this. he did not develop personal relations with people in congress, could have done a lot more on money issues. i think on foreign policy
issues, he did some things but i remember talking to the prime minister, our closest ally, who said he liked obama, thought obama was smart, but no one was afraid of him. there is a record there. when i interviewed president obama he made clear he does not like war, sometimes it is necessary but the core of obama is war is a manifestation of human folly. i think he is right but in the world of vladimir putin, you need to be tough and he probably was not tough enough. >> host: if you go to bob woodward.com you can see the listing of his books. kathy in and in, washington, can you compare the illegal act of
nixon with what hillary clinton's secrecy, email and foundation? >> guest: the record on the tapes and the record in all the nixon investigation was a level of corruption and criminality unequaled. there are lots of questions about hillary clinton's emails and secrecy and other activities. the fbi director said recently they are not recommending prosecution of her. there is no evidence of criminality. he said, a lot of people agree with that, a lot of people disagree with that. we now have a situation where secretary clinton has said she turned over all those work-related emails, the fbi has found 14,900 emails that are work related that were not turned over that are going to the state department.