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tv   Interview with David Rubenstein on the National Book Festival  CSPAN  August 31, 2019 9:36am-10:01am EDT

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>> watch book tv for live coverage of the national book festival. today starting at 10:00 a.m. eastern, our coverage includes author interviews with justice ruth bader ginsburg on her book my own words. david sawyer, his book is the heartbeat of wounded me. sheriff robinson talks about her book, child of the dream. rick atkinson author of the british are coming in thomas malone, founding director of the mit center for collective intelligence discusses his book super mice. the national book festival, life today at tenney and eastern on book tv on c-span2. >> david rubenstein, how did you get involved in the national book festival? >> it came about through serendipity. i had been involved in the madison council which is the support arm of the labor of congress a number of years ago led by jim billington.
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i said for 28 years for the library congress and retired a couple years ago. he told me that the national book festival was something he needed help with and had been started in 2001 as an idea that came from laura bush, laura bush asked jim billington around the time of the inauguration in 2001 whether not there was a national book festival comparable to the one she started in the texas, the texas book festival he said there is not yet but there will be. he came up with the idea of how to put together national book festival, the idea was to do it in the mall in a series of tents that were set up for the first year end then it turned out getting sponsorships were more difficult than they thought it would be. so he asked me if i get involved and i told him i would do so and i began to be a sponsor and a co-chair of the event, i've done that for ten years or so. it is very important to me that the festival goes well and i
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enjoyed a great deal is a great gift for the country to have a national but stressful we get about 200,000 people coming on the day of the festival every year end this year in a be labor day weekend on that saturday. >> first double what is the madison council that you reference? >> the library congress gets most of the money from the federal government. however, like many organizations the missoni and, kennedy center, national archives, the money that comes from the federal government is not adequate to deal with the needs of the organization involved so these organizations have to build support arms dismiss money and has him, national archive has him and the national park service has him, all these organizations which is the supplement that the government gives them. madison was to be an effect of the labor of congress so started off by large gift from john many years ago and no other people
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are involved in supporting it with gifts. the last number of years i've served as a madison council. >> do fundraising, do give gifts yourself ? >> i do and i also fundraiser in the madison council meets twice a year end we have a number of people from over the country who donate and sometimes they give their partner collections and also give money and we try to raise money for various things the congress is doing. for example, the library congress is considering making the building that is known as jefferson the main building or user-friendly and try to get money from congress for that in the private sector as well. it's easier to get money from congress if you can get some support for the private sector as well for exhibit the smithsonian, the african-american history and culture museum that was built a
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number of years ago came about because congress put up $270 million in the public put up $270 million now the air and space museum is being redone because the walls are currently in a bit and as a result congress has agreed to put more money so the putting up $650 million in the private sector will raise to a $50 million. this formula giving additional money to an organization if they can get money from the private sector as a formula that seems to work somewhat well for congress and somewhat for the private sector for example the kennedy center were building a new edition there, a new wing called the reach and all the money is coming from the private sector that the federal government will help with upkeep of the addition called the reach. roughly about $250 million is raised from the private sector from the. >> you called your donations patriotic fully entropy. >> i said when i give gifts to the smithsonian, kennedy center, monticello and washington
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monument, what i tried to do is remind people of the history and heritage of our country but also about the good things our country stands for. and also some of the things that are not so wonderful reminding people good and bad when i do that i regarded as patriotic >> what is the role of the. co-chair of the national book festival? >> it is probably less impressive than the title was seen. i have put up for the last ten years roughly a million dollars a year to support the national book festival. in the national book festival cost $2 million or so a year, maybe a little bit more. so this is enabling to do some of the things that i would otherwise not be able to do. we get 200,000 people coming to
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the book festival the last couple of years and we originally held at the mall and the mall is a great site but the national park service thinks is not so wonderful for the grass to have that event and also does have weather problems we had rain storms and other things when we had it there. a few years ago we moved it to the convention center in washington and is a great facility. although we did not intend it to be a permanent move, we like it much better because we don't have to worry about whether and the facilities are good and as a result we draw 200,000 people who come for free income for mostly the washington metro area. but they come from all over, they get to hear the authors be interviewed, authors make speeches, author signing books, authors do many different things they otherwise would not be able to do with people or the readers. it's really a great thing to see people of all ages go there and learn from the authors how the books came about and what the
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authors were trained to do. we have about 140 authors coming this year. >> and you do several of the interviews customer. >> i do about five year. i interview people that i know something about their book and am interested in them and maybe some case have already interviewed them print but i enjoy the interviews and it's something i don't regard as a chore i regard as a pleasure. >> you get to choose which ones you want to interview? >> the authors are invited by former editor of the book world which is the washington post book review magazine or section and she helps elect author. she really helps with invitations and then she sits down with me and says who would you like to interview of the people that are coming and sometimes i know people well because i've interviewed them or
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interested in learning more about the person so if i'm interviewed i have to read the book so that's a way to force me too read a book i might not otherwise read. >> what do you think your interview style is? >> is not as experienced as yours, you've a pretty good interview style, i think you've done this before. i try to read the book and make sure i know it reasonably well. i then tend to write out the questions and longhand and then i get them typed up and then i try to memorize the questions about and have a conversation with the person not like were having were i'm not using notes. when you do an interview, if you have notes in front of you, your eye inevitably will look down, as soon as you look down you've lost the eye contact with the person you're talking to. it's better to have a conversation than an interview. if i prepare 40 questions and remember 37, nobody will know but me. i think it's important to listen to what the person is saying and don't just go done your list of
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questions but divert if necessary. i tried to do the interview where i asked a little bit how the author came about to write this book, how long it took, how does the author enjoy writing, how do they praise these kinds of things when he or she is writing a book on how to put the words out and get the message out. but then i try to think the person through the project tree of the book, usually a beginning, middle and end and i take the person to that and try to ask questions and i think a normal person would ask who might not have read the book. >> is at the same style you use on bloomberg? >> is somewhat similar. on the show i have i try not to use notes in an interview people that are usually no reasonably well and i tend to focus on what made the person a leader. i'm usually not talking about book the summary has written that what made that person a leader i am interviewing and try to take them through the trajectory of their life and find out what complications they
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might've had or hardships in getting to the point where they are a leader. almost everybody had a hardship, setbacks and heavy people talk about that is what people find interesting. >> david rubenstein, who are the summsome of the figure intervies question works. i have so many it's like asking which of your children do like the most, and very hesitant to say who i like the most. of the interviews i've done on my show i think oprah winfrey is a tilted person and i sent her a day she does have a good future in television and she wants to pursue that. interviewing bill gates, warm buffet, jeff bezos i interviewed people i've known for quite some time like jim baker and former president bush, former president clinton, i've interviewed them for the show they've all been very good with sometimes a person who's not well-known might be even more interesting interview. authors i've interviewed a number of people at the congress
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for program that i started my own book coming out. and this is a book which is called the macon story, i'm not promoting it now, it might be out in october after the book festival. about five or six years ago i decided it be a good idea to educate numbers of congress about market history. i decided then to have a program where i would sponsor the labor congress with members of congress only to come so they can bring a guest and we would have them go to the reception for democrats and republicans talk together and go down have a nice dinner and i would interviewed author about a very important book in american history. we have non outdone 45 of them. the first book i have coming out about that, the american story published by simon schuster will contain interviews of some of the people in the best interviews i've done so far, david mccullough, john meacham, robert caro among other authors.
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>> i have an advance copy of the market story and i want to ask you, you look at the list of the historians, 99% white male does not affect how were telling our market story? >> no doubt because we try to we do have some women were authors like roberts who is an author in this book. and we also have other ones that are not in this book, african-american authors as well. i interviewed lottie bunche and african culture museum. and authors that write about black related subjects the civil rights movement in the author that interviewed was actually white. but is written a book on the. >> we try always to get more women and minority authors and we are thriving to do a better job but there is no doubt that
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many of the best historians to date have been white males. doris kearns goodman, not a white male is in this book and did a good job and we talked about several of her books. >> she appeared at the national book festival as well. david rubenstein, there's an award named after you, what is that. >> is a literacy work, here's what it is. as a young boy who went to the library in baltimore to take out your first set of books when you're six result i got my library card and you take up 12 books and that's i can do side read them first day and go back the next week to take up 12 more. i love reading and came from a blue-collar background and my parents were not high school or college educated but i was able through them to get the level books and books have been very important to me. sadly, not that many people in the united states really can read as much as i think should be the case. 14% of adults, roughly
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32 million americans cannot read past the tenth grade level. if you can't read it all you have a pretty good chance of being in the federal system. two thirds of the prisoners are functionally illiterate the camp read past the fourth grade level. 80% of those in the juvenile to link with the system are functionally illiterate. if your functional illiterate you will not get a great job and probably involved in some things that are not wonderful so i thought it was important that we do more to promote literacy. there's a great organization doing this in the united states so i thought the library of congress should do something in that regard as well. so i put up money to enable the labor congress to select award winners each year for literacy and the organization has and wonderful things and we try to get some attention and give them some money but is a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed. in fact all the proceeds from my book will go to the literacy
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fund. >> who are some of the past winners? >> i'll give you one. the organization that is been around for a long time and started by the wife and its atrophic organization that gets books in hands of people otherwise would not get them. there are many good organizations around the world we have honored as well and one organization for example is something i thought was unique, we give them an award a couple of years ago, if you learn how to read very often children learn by a parent teaching them and reading to them at the age of three or four. if you're in the military and the united states sometimes you won't be home to reach her child. this organization had a very clever idea which is a video screen and having the father or the mother who might be stationed overseas reading a book to the child and the child is now able to hear from the parent how to read this book. that's an example of the things that we try to support and give
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awards and attention. >> what are your current reading habits? >> i love reading and i try to read 100 books a year, that's an obsessive amount, i recognize that. but i'm not reading books. >> to a week. >> i am not reading physics textbooks, i'm not reading books that are outside of my area of expertise. and therefore tend to read biographies, history, business books and clinical books. those are something i know something about so i could go through them reasonably well and have a mechanism that forced me too read books, have a lot of programs where i'm interviewing people, if you're interviewing yet to read the book. so the national book festival off to prepare, i have another program at the new york historical society where interview authors and that's when they require me too read the books. if you're interviewing somebody about a book you should give them the courtesy of having read
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the book. i do read the books. some of them are not easy, i have an autho interview soon bus a must 1000 pages, i'm about halfway through it and rushing to get through it before have to interview her in a couple weeks. >> who are you interviewing at the national book festival? >> i will interview people live interviewed before and unfamiliar with their books. doug brinkley who wrote a book called moonshot that president kennedy launched and is not about the apollo 11 the gunnison but what led to the effort to the effort to the moon in the 1960s. also interviewing michael on his book presidents of war, that is a book i interviewed about before but i think it's quite a good book and i look forward to doing that as well with michael. i'm also interviewing the second mountain and have not
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interviewed him before on the book, that the book i'm looking forward to doing and integrating and roberts about his book on churchill which is a definitive one volume book on churchill. i interviewed him before but have a chance again to do it here and i'm interviewing a few other people about economics related things with asia and the u.s. economy so i'm looking forward to doing that. >> you have interviewed several supreme court justices over the years about their books. do you find there is a uniqueness to the group? >> i have interviewed the chief justice, not about his book but his life and i interviewed just as mayor, justice ginsburg and will do so again in new york, i interviewed justice breyer at one point, not about a book but generally. and then recently thomas the supreme court historical society
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event. these are all intelligent people who love the law and the law and they really are quite articulate and quite good interview subjects. i also interviewed buses kagan for an event at the library of congress so for my book, the market story i interviewed the chief justice and let me describe that, i got to know him reasonably well because i served as a smithsonian institution, the chancellor is the chief justice. i get a chance to interact from time to time. i thought it would be a good idea for the program i have at the library congress interview somebody who is not an author but someone who can be an interesting person for members of congress. i have done that twice in the series, one with bill gates who interviewed and one with the chief justice. the chief justice was a person -- i went through his life in a story which is recounted in the book, i said
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did you always want to be chief justice of the united states and he said no and i said did you want to be justice of the united states of supreme court? no did you want to be a judge know, did 1b lawyer, no. i wanted to be historian. i really love english and american history, i told my father that's what i wanted to do and he said okay but it's not something that'll make you prosperous person and not a lot of money to be historian. but he said i don't really care i want to do this because i love history. sure enough he's good student went to harvard and majored in history. as is coming back from his sophomore year in indiana he landed in the logan airport in boston and got into a cab and said to the cab driver can you take me to cambridge massachusetts. and he said are you going to harvard, are you student?
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yes, i'm sitting history. in the cab driver said that's what i studied when i went to harvard. so john roberts said maybe this is not a lucrative profession as a thought. he did not change his major he majored in history but took courses that might prepare for law school. >> how have you reading habits in the book that you have read contributed to your personal success? >> i think by reading a lot you learn more than you would not if you do not read a lot. i've been privileged to read quickly and absorb relatively well what i read, i don't have a photographic memory but i wish you did. i love reading books and i tell people, i make speeches about reading that it is important to read and i read a lot of newspapers, magazines but books absorb the mind and focus the mind much more, is much more important to read a book they go through the beginning, middle and end and take that with you for some time angel get more out
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of that then reading a newspaper or magazine because you focus your brain for longer period of time and i think it is made me a better person by having the knowledge i get from books in a much more informed about the world than it was when i was much younger. i worry as some point i'll say is hard to read all these books and i'll take life easier but i don't want to do that, want to read more books not fewer. and i love talking to authors and interviewing them and how they came about to write the books. >> david rubenstein, co-chair of the national book festival, we will see him on labor day weekend. >> thank you very much. >> here is a look at book to be live coverage of the 19th annual national book festival held here at the convention center in downtown washington, d.c. you will hear from authors such as supreme court ruth bader ginsburg, historian david mccullough and many others. you will get the chance to talk to several authors including
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sharon robinson, the daughter of jackie robinson and pulitzer prize winning historian rick atkinson. check your program guide for complete schedule. now it is time for the first author program of the day in just a minute investigative journalist david epstein will discuss his new book range, being a journalist in the specialized world. this is live coverage of the national book festival on book tv on c-span2. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> good morning and welcome to the 19th annual national book festival brought to you by the library of congress. [applause] this festival is free of charge thanks to the generosity of donors large and small. he . . .

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