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tv   The Polygamist King  CSPAN  December 31, 2016 11:45am-12:01pm EST

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on this cell phone that bob thinks is such a mundane invention here not only that i i can make phone calls and communicate, i can play any mozart all-caps\all caps that it want in 15 different performances. mozart couldn't do that. nor can anyone do this 20 years ago. leisure ain't what it used to be. not all of this is something that an intellectual feels very happy about. one of the interesting papers that came out in the last few months is work by error occurs and others in university of chicago who pointed out participation that bob is worried about is happening because people who should be in the labor force are staying home and playing video games. [laughter] so you think, is this the good news or the bad news? >> now wait a minute. >> i can tell you -- >> i know error occurs. i know the paper. the question is which is the
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causation? >> i'm going to come to that. i don't know. >> you have been talking long enough. [laughter] >> you can watch this and other programs online at >> said john miller, what did you do here? >> guest: i'm the director of the journalism program which means i oversee a program that includes a campus newspaper and a radio station and a bunch of scholarships and i keep some classes. >> host: what dow? >> the dow is the dow, great michigan, a business name from midland, michigan,. >> host: and that contributed to hillsdale? >> guest: the program is named after herbert h. dow, an individual gift but he's of that family. >> host: what do you do at national review? >> guest: i'm a writer for national review. i've been on the staff for 18 years. it was a full-time job for a long time. i lived in washington, d.c. and
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worked out of the washington bureau. five years ago i got recruited to come to hillsdale and i remain on the staff of the national review but it's become very much a part-time thing. >> host: you are from michigan originally? >> guest: detroit, born and raised in and around the city and went university of michigan and upon graduation went out to washington and unexpectedly had a chance to come back home five years ago. >> host: what was an experience like? >> guest: that was great. i like living in washington, d.c. i was not looking to leave my wife and i just thought we would spend maybe the rest of our days of there. we sometimes talk maybe we would retire to michigan, but then i was fortunate enough to get a phone call and get the job year and we kept talking about we are moving home, we are moving home there and that's what it is self like. >> host: are you glad you didn't? >> guest: yes. i don't miss washington.
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i'd like to living there, but i don't don't miss it. i prefer it in michigan. it does feel like home, and hillsdale is a great place to live and work. i like the small town. that was new for me and my wife, a bit of a culture shock, the small rural aspect of it, but hillsdale college is just a great place to work. the students are excellent. they are smart and hard-working which is true of a lot, selective colleges but they are really good people. i enjoy being around them. they make me feel young. >> host: john miller, after four years of studying journalism at hillsdale, what do you hope your students leave with? >> guest: i hope they leave with a major in a different subject for one thing. journalism is a minor at hillsdale college. we don't think it should be a major rethink students should major in one traditional academic discipline. the best training you can have for being a journalist is not to major in journalism.
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it's to major in biology, economics or history. one of our great professors in the subjects fill your head with real knowledge you can bring to work. so they leave with that, leave with a traditional liberal arts education, the best thing hillsdale can do for them. it is a minor. we do a few things in the classroom that you learn journalism by doing journalism. at the center of program we had the campus newspaper, the campus radio station and students actually running these things and learning how to be a print journalist or broadcast journalist doing internships. by the time they are for years or over, they they are pretty good and they get jobs if they want them in the media. >> host: you are a writer and you just written a new e-book that is available. who is james strang? >> guest: james strang, it's like string or strong but the bowel is a period james strang.
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the book is called "the polygamist king: a true story of murder, lust, and exotic faith in america." it tells the story of this remarkable man james strang who, in short, try to form a theocracy on an island in lake michigan called beaver island in the 19th century. things didn't go so well for him there, but it's a fascinating story about a colorful man who tried, who tried to do this amazing thing. >> host: how did you discover this story? >> guest: growing up in michigan i learn a little bit about michigan history. when i was a kid i was in tears of other states. i thought interesting things happen elsewhere. all the great civil war battlefields were out east and nothing happened in michigan, was something i was concerned about. there were no battles in
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michigan, no forks to speak of. there's a couple but nothing significant. at some point along the way i learned, i'm not quite sure where but if you make an effort to study michigan history, read up on it and the explorers who came here come the original people who liv lived here, the things that did happen, you eventually stumbled upon this footnote in michigan history, this guy james strang who attempted this remarkable project on beaver island. >> host: what was his relationship to brigham young? >> guest: so james strang was a mormon. he was born in upstate new york around the area canal time. corrupt an atheist. he didn't believe in god at all, but eventually came to a church. he either changed his mind restarted faking it. but eventually he moved out west with his wife into wisconsin with some of her relatives, and they were mormon. eventually he decided to become
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a mormon himself and he traveled to illinois. there was a town on the mississippi river where he met joseph smith who is of the founder of mormonism, the guy who wrote the book of mormon or as a mormon might say translate it into english. he is essentially the author of the book of mormon. the only creator of a major religion since mohammed in islam, joseph smith was. so we met joseph smith, became a mormon under joseph smith. when joseph when joseph smith was murdered, when you died, james strang said i am the successor to joseph smith. i will now lead the flock. he claims to have a letter, an appointment from joseph smith. it's a forgery. people knew it almost immediately forged a letter claiming it was time smith naming him his successor. but he wanted to succeed smith. his great rival was brigham young, and brigham young as we all know one out in this match
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and took the mormons to utah and the rest is history. these guys were locked in a power struggle. it quickly became apparent that reagan was the favorite of mormons. most mormons decided they would follow brigham young and he was the successor to joseph smith. but strang became a dissident mormon leader. he said i'm against polygamy, for one thing. he said i'm going to take my people and we will for our own norman colony. they eventually wound up on beaver island. >> host: was he a monogamous? >> guest: he was originally, and one of the reasons why a lot of mormons at the time were attracted to him is because he rejected polygamy. brigham young and joseph smith practiced polygamy but in secret. it became official later on. james strang rejected it at a lot of people liked it, they were drawn to him for that reason. eventually he did get to beaver island. hundreds, possibly more than
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1000 people followed him there. as he became a king, he was was a political leader but he had a coronation ceremony. he called himself thinking, thinking of beaver island. and power maybe went to his head, he decided, he rethought the whole polygamy thing. he had a wife, a woman he moved out west with but many decide to take a second wife, and then a third and a fourth and fifth eventually he had five eyes, children with all of them and use of practicing like a mist by the time he was on beaver island. >> host: how well-known was a bistro at the time? >> guest: at the time it was recently well-known. this guy was in the newspapers quite a bit. the modern figure that we might compare him with is david koresh. think back to about two decades ago and the branch davidians in waco, texas. he was kind of like that, a religious leader who wanted to have his own colony. at a certain level just be left
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alone, but also having provocations and so forth. he was a figure of interest, and became increasing interest as a clashed with locals on beaver island because there was a fishing colony there people who did not belong to his sect that also people in the region. eventually it came to more and more attention. eventually to the attention of the federal government and their planes of theft and piracy and so on. he was, he's ever gotten thicker nap in a lot of ways but he was certainly a person of interest back in the 1850s. >> host: do you write this book as an adventure tale or do you write it as a lesson? >> guest: first of all it's just a story. if it's in a genre, i call it a historical narrative nonfiction. i just try until a great story. as a writer i'm always looking
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for great stories to tell. preferably stores that haven't been told before, at least not told in exactly the way i think it ought to be told. i knew the contours of the case. a number of years ago, it always occurred to me there is a great book be done on this figure. the opportunity e-book about open to because i thought this story is not worth the full book. it's not worth 60 or 80,000 words. it's worth worth something less than that i think. sort of a page turner of a story that gives us the basic facts. you can read i in a city or two. you can do it in 90 minutes, say. it's like a really long magazine article but it's longer than any magazine could hold. the e-book opens up this space in -- from a long magazine article to a short book, it can occupy the space. i thought this was a good story to tell. >> host: if people were
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interested in purchasing this as an e-book, two box? >> guest: it's $2.99, available only on kindle. you have to buy from amazon. amazon is actually my publisher. in addition, they don't only sell the book but they are my publisher in the way doubleday or harpercollins have published other books of mine. amazon is my publisher and you have to read it on the kindle platform. >> host: did you have an editor? >> guest: i did. it's a brand or product called a kindle single. there are a of these, of these e-books in the 10,000 10,000, 20 word range and had an editor and i got a copy editor and they made i a very attractive cover e book that i've nothing to do with except to nod my head and say i like that one. bubut i did have an editor. >> host: did you get an advance?
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>> guest: it wasn't an advance. i got a very small amount of money that is basically almost an entirely royalty free deal. >> host: how was this process to the right a more traditional book? >> guest: it's faster for one thing. it was then much more quickly in terms of finishing the manuscript and actually seeing the product become available to readers. we don't have to print thousands of copies of a book when you just need you uploaded basically. it can be almost instantaneous. the real work was the research and the actual writing. i went through a few rounds of editing, but when i was then it was almost push a button and it's alive. >> host: have you thought about a next book? >> guest: i have. i'm trying to decide what i want to do another e-book or do another full-length book. i've written a novel previously someone think about another novel, but i'm not at work on
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anything at the moment. >> host: john miller, director of the journalism program at hillsdale, national correspondent for the national review, and author of the e-book available on kindle. "the polygamist king." this is booktv on c-span2. >> this is a booktv on c-span2, television for serious readers. here's our primetime lineup.
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>> and i'm very pleased to introduce chandra manning of the radcliffe institute for study at harvard university and not their what this cold war was over. a calf a wholly original play but it was like to escape slavery, how emancipation happened and how citizenship in the united states was citizenship in the united states was transformed. in the wall street journal mike smith says the refuges striking, a highly engaged narrative from the uplifting story of the journey toward freedom. we learn something about the fragile picture of the coming of the dignity and courage of the


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