tv David Rubenstein The American Story CSPAN November 16, 2019 9:00am-10:10am EST
the guns and ships and factories that defended us and built this great economy. [crowd boos] join us today at noon eastern booktv and sunday at 2:00 p.m. on american history tv as a c-span city tour looks at the history and literary life of charleston west virginia. . . . it is a pleasure to introduce david tonight who needs no introduction but we will do this anyway. the last time we introduced the speaker the economic club, in 2004.
senator george mitchell was president of the club and we had 288 members. they were all the rage. and the world war ii memorial dedicated, and major league baseball returned to washington as though washington nationals. for 15 years -- and david rubenstein is back. david as we all know is cofounder and co-executive chairman of the karloff group and chairman of the board.
and the performing arts, a strong institution at the council on foreign relations. and engaged in many many other philanthropic activities. the patriotic philanthropy, generous financing, great historical landmarks, including the washington monument, the lincoln memorial. the us marine corps. and monticello, and the arlington house. and purchased rare copies of historic documents like the declaration of independence, the emancipation proclamation, and magna carta to ensure they are publicly displayed at the smithsonian and national archives.
at the economic club, the insightful revealing and entertaining interview were, at signature events and since 2016 and bloomberg television, the david rubenstein show, and quite the television star. a lifelong enthusiast following the first with master historian, and to the nation, donate book royalties to the library of congress literacy awards. [applause] >> in his 12 year, economic club president, david has
completed 133 interviews for a club that has 900 members. we would say without exaggeration the economic club would not be what it is without david at the helm. with a hearty round of well-deserved recognition and applause let's welcome david to the stage as our extraordinary leader. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. thank you. thank you. thank you very much for the standing ovation. carla is going to interview me in a few moments.
i thank everybody for coming this evening and i am not as famous as the people we brought in for interviews and thank you for giving us your evening. my experience with the club, i was asked by and dexter who worked with me in the white house if i would speak and i said okay but i don't know what it is. at the time it was small, for how many years was it? thank you, i have wondered it myself many times. like many elections, that are smoke-filled. what actually happened, when i come and see them in new york,
i will lock the door, make use it here until you are the president of economic level washington. it is not a problem. he is a very persuasive person and you know these people and, you will say yes. i said yes. and takes care of everything. and she does. [applause] >> what actually happened, he said all you have to do is get
one businessperson a quarter, you invite them, you know them, let them come in and come up with members and read the cards, the questions and that is it. i started doing that and realized most business people i knew were relatively boring speakers and people were falling asleep, looking at their watches and slipping out when nobody was looking and the question came up, these are old members and the questions weren't very good so i pretended i was reading the questions that i was making them up as i was going along and they were funnier so i went to the interview format and had a lot of them. let me talk about 3 strands, when is interviewing, second is my interest in philanthropy which i want to talk about tonight and third is my interest in history so first on interviewing. i had a little background in it. i'm not a professional interviewer. andrea mitchell is a professional interviewer among other things and thank you for coming, andrea.
what happened was drawing people to our events i wanted to have big-name speakers, nobody wanted to hear david rubenstein speak a long time ago, maybe not even now. i would get former secretaries of state, former president of the united states, they would come and we pay them big fees, $250,000 to speak as they were not that great, people were falling asleep. eventually i said what about if i just interview them and make it easier and livelier and wouldn't be people falling asleep? i would go and say why don't i just interview them and the agent would say at the same fee? i would say yes. same fee, we don't care. i would interview them and it would be livelier and so forth. when i got to the economic club of washington a year or 2 or tweet later i felt comfortable doing some of the interviews and it is fun to do and try to make it with some humor and so
forth and it is the kind of thing that led to the bloomberg show. some of you may have seen it, somebody was a member of the club said to me why don't you do this on television for bloomberg. he's in charge of the bloomberg thing, justin smith. i talked to them and they said we are going to put it on and it is not 60 minutes, it doesn't have that big of viewing but they do replay it 20 times a week. it is everywhere all over the world. what is the name of the show? they said we will call it the david rubenstein show. i don't know if age long jewish name is going to work and michael bloomberg said it is not a problem. it will work out. that is what we do. i started doing this and began doing these interviews. i enjoy it and it is fun and
people ask how i do it. i do read a lot and prepare and i write down the questions and i don't use notes. i don't use them because i feel when i do it it is better to do it without notes but a lot of great interviewers do it with notes so no problem. it worked out pretty well. that is how i came to be interviewer. mostly carlisle and then here and other places and when i go around the world people come up to me and they only know me for interviewing, some children or college kids are business kids they see me and only think i do interviews. let me talk about philanthropy. i started carlisle with a couple other people in 1987 and
it turned out we got lucky and i will tell you what happened. we were not qualified to start the firm. we didn't have a background in this area but i was propelled to do it. i read about two things that propels me to do it. i read a man named bill simon, secretary of the treasury in the ford administration, he left when carter became president. he did something called a leveraged buyout and he bought a company called gibson greeting cards, put $1 million in and two years later he made $80 million and i read about that and said that is better than practicing law which i was doing. i went down the street to bill miller who was secretary of the treasury in the carter years and said your predecessor did a leveraged buyout of $80 million and you must know what they are, i will do legal work for you and start a leveraged buyout firm in washington. he said no. i asked a couple other people, we got it together and raised $5 million starting in 1987. i was thrilled to do it then
because i read an average entrepreneur would start his first company between the age of 28, and 37. i read that at 37. if i don't do it now my chances are limited. we started the firm and made a lot of mistakes in the beginning but we grew to be one of the largest in the world because we had a good track record but it was really this. we came up with an idea that changed private equity. the reason we are one of the largest private equity firms with this idea we had. private equity was a mom and pop business. the rjr deal only had 7 people in the firm, we are very small firms because you spend 100% of your time managing a fund you might have raised, you spend all your time on that so we raise a $100 million fund, i told my partners you do this, you manage that fund and i will do something else. i will not ask my investors for permission to do this, we will ask forgiveness later on.
it is easier to get forgiveness than permission. i will spend 100% of my time on that fund and create with my partners a fidelity of private equity which is to say the buyout funds, the growth capital funds, venture fund the real estate fund and take the brand name and fill a large organization in different areas and go overseas and have european and asian, that was the novelty that enable us to grow so that is how we grew the firm and the magazine article about my partner pointing out our net worth which was pre-by everybody's standards except bill gates and jeff bezos. when you have a lot of money what are you going to do with it? i give you $100 billion tomorrow you will laugh for a moment and you have $100 billion was in his you have $100 billion you are going to buy a plane, a boat, a couple houses and artwork and have 99 and left. what are you going to do? that is the problem bill gates
had and others. what are you going to do with this amount of money? when you have this amount of money you can only do a limited number of things with it. i don't have as much is bill gates but the same dilemma. you can basically do what the pharaohs did, you could be buried with it, take your wealth and be buried with your wealth but that's not a great idea. second thing is you give it to your children which is what most people historically have done. one of my children saying that is a good idea. there is no evidence that a child inheriting $1 billion goes on to win a nobel prize but maybe they do, you never know. you can give it away or you can give it away later on. i am in a place with what the executor is doing. i would give it away relatively soon and bill gates called one day and that he didn't know me then, can i come to your office
and he came and we had lunch and he said he would start giving the pledge and i will be happy to one of the first people joining 40 of us at the beginning and historically what you do when you have money, most people give it away to educational institutions for medical research and cultural institutions and i have done that. one thing happened by happenstance. they are the best things. if i hired mackenzie and said what do i do with my money other than educational institutions, and what happened by happenstance, here's what happened. as you heard, i was flying back from london to new york and i saw i was invited to a viewing of the magna carta. the magna carta must be in london, what is he doing in new york. i got there to go to the
viewing of it and there were 17 next and copies of the magna carta, the first ones were done in 1215 is a couple other versions, 1297. of the 17 next and copies one is in the australian parliament and 15 in but institutions were british government and one was bought by ross perot in the 1980s for british family that had in its possession roughly 500 years. they give up their land or give up the magna carta, ross perot send his lawyer, he bought it from million dollars or something, he rolled it up and goes back through and the customization says what is in that? the magna carta, go ahead through. they didn't get an export license but that happened and in the archives, ross perot decided to sell it and i was told that day by the curator it probably sold through somebody that was from overseas and the
magna carta was the inspiration for the declaration of independence. the magna carta had so many things that led to the declaration of independence, no taxation without representation which led to the british. one of these copies in the united states, i went back and resolved, i would buy it the next night and it is presumptuous to that will by the magna carta the next night and not tell anybody. i went back, wasn't really a person who did that. they put you in a little room and said okay, you come here and in a telephone and start bidding. if you have ever been to an auction you get carried away and i started bidding and eventually they said sold. the head of celebes said who are you? we have never seen you before. you just bought the magna carta, do you have the money for this? you can slip out the side door and nobody will know, you tell
these reporters, i don't mind, i went out and say i came from maddest circumstances, my parents didn't graduate college icicle, my father worked in the post office his entire life, a lowly paid worker and i got lucky in my business career, as a down payment on my obligation to give back to the country. i did that and that night went to dinner and said - had to buy the magna carta. i am sorry i didn't take you seriously, no one has ever come to my house before. and what happened was this.
i got one too. i got lots of calls but there was no other one. i started being asked to buy other rare copies, the declaration of independence, emancipation proclamation and i realized if you put these on display the human brain is not yet so involved that it won't look at these things differently than it looks on a computer slide. you see a copy of the magna carta on a computer slide you might just go to the next slide but if you go and visit the real magna carta you are probably going to be propelled to spend some time preparing for it by learning more about it and after you see you might be propelled to learn more about it. by having historic documents on display i thought it would be a good idea to do this because people would learn more about history and similarly what happened was the earthquake we had affected the washington monument, the head of the park service, i asked how much it would cost to fix it and how
long it would take, it would take a long time to get money from congress. don't worry about the bureaucrats, and he called me back and said congress, a share of credit. we fixed it and it is now open and i realized the same is true with historic monuments. the washington monument or the lincoln memorial or other things as they fall and need some repair. if they are in better shape more people will go to see them and prepare by learning more about that or more "after words" and why is this important. this is the sad situation. we stopped teaching children civic very much and stopped teaching them history. we don't teach them as much.
and we don't have history courses as much as we used to and you can graduate any college in the united states today without taking an american history course, you can graduate from any college in the united states as a history major without having taken american history course and the results are these. right now three quarters of americans cannot name the 3 branches of government. one third of americans cannot name one branch of government. amazingly, 20% of americans think larry summers was the first treasury secretary. 10% of american college graduates think judge judy is a member of the supreme court which is not the case. a survey, any naturalized americans in his audience? if you're a naturalized american you take a citizenship test, you live in this country for 5 years and then take a test. the test is 100 questions, you pass 60 of them your naturalized american citizen and get sworn in.
91% of people that take the test today past, the same test was given by woodrow wilson foundation to the citizens who are native born in all 50 states recently. in 49 of 50 states a majority of nativeborn americans who took the test failed. only one state, vermont, past, which shows you people don't know as much about history and so forth and they don't know much about history, you run into the problem that if you don't know as much about history or about your past you might be likely to repeat the mistakes of the past. one thing i do is educate people a little more about history, do this through my philanthropy, and the library of congress, if she would come up and talk about how this led to the book because a combination of interest and interviewing and interest in history and philanthropy that led to what we are going to talk about and that is in the book.
[applause] >> let me add to that by saying carla was born in florida and later became a librarian in the city of chicago and became the chief librarian of my hometown library which he was for 22 years and when president obama was looking for somebody to replace jim billington, selected car landed a spectacular job as librarian of congress. [applause] >> okay? >> first you tell everyone that one of the secrets and you are a superstar. i have the article, superstar.
>> it doesn't work -- the best interviewers have notes. how about that? >> thank you because we have worked together. i don't know if many people know when you were in baltimore. i was the director and i heard jim had some difficulty as a child waiting to check out books. >> my parents weren't able to go by a bunch of books. and a mile and a half from my house, when you're 6 years old you could go and get a library card. you could take out 12 books a week and i would take out the 12 books and read them that day and i had to wait a week to go
back, i didn't know how to game the system so i would read 12 books a week and then i would have to wait the next week to get more books. >> you are still legendary for that. >> i don't know but i read a lot of books. >> your interest in literacy. what you have done at the library of congress, you sponsored the literacy award and that was mentioned, to help adults read but you feel strongly about the economic impact. >> one of the great pleasures of my life is reading and reading books, i came from modest circumstances and many of you have as well. you can be exposed to so many things. the reading exposed me to so many things and reading books concentrate the mind in ways that reading tweets or newspapers or magazines, it is
good to read anything but this focus is your brain a bit but here's the problem we have in this country. of this is hard to believe but 14% of adults in this country are functionally illiterate meaning they can't read past the fourth grade level. if you are functionally illiterate you have a good chance of being part of the criminal justice system. 80% of our juvenile delinquents are functionally illiterate. two thirds of people in the federal prison system are functionally illiterate. if you have a 1,750,000 kids dropping out of high school every year a large part of them are going to be -- never going to recover. we have gigantic income inequality and social ability problem and lots of reasons we are not going to solve that. one reason is people at the bottom of the economic strata just can't read. i encourage people to read and i also encourage people to do something else. illiteracy, you can't read. illiteracy means you choose not to read.
it is hard to believe 30% of college graduates in this country never read another book after they graduate from college because they might read a newspaper but they don't read books. although a lot of people no doubt read books, it is sad that so penny people in the country don't read books and those people who can read books choose to do other things and then the problem is people don't read at all. we have to solve that problem. it is a serious problem. >> i understand that you read hundreds of books a year? >> i tried to read 100 books a year and it is not that complicated. i am not reading physics textbooks. i'm not meeting, 3 books. i have lots of flaws and what is i don't read novels. i read books i know something about. i read history books, business books, biography books and books about government and politics. i can read those books pretty quickly that i have a background in. i would probably read one book a year but couldn't get through it.
and when you interview and offer it is discourteous if you don't read the book. i like to read the book and if you read the book it takes time. recently my book is a light walk-through us history and you can read it, i had to interview a woman who wrote a book called these truths, 900 pages. is a serious book in american history. a conference of american history book written by a woman it turns out. it takes a lot of time and you have to retain it. one of my tricks is by doing a lot of interviewing of authors it forces me to read the book. that way i have to read the book. >> i have to ask you.
this is the literary equivalent of boxers or briefs. paper or hardback? >> i would say i like to buy hardback books, i can carry them around and they won't get crumpled up as much. i am not, the kindle versus -- i am very technologically unsophisticated, as my office would now. if i got a kindle it wouldn't work and it would break right away. so i buy the books and i like to go to bookstores except there are no bookstores left or amazon and get them ordered in
and carry books around and i am old so that is what i do. >> with your schedule? >> the planes are not that big a problem but i like to carry books around, the principal problem i have is the secretary of the smithsonian, i had to interview him, the history of the american culture museum, unbelievable what he did but the book has smaller prints. when you get older, in the next edition can you have bigger print? make sure the print is big enough, not gigantic size but you may have seen these things. i don't know if your eyes get worse as you get older but the print a smaller on some of these but of the book has decent size print as mine does
-- >> your personal librarian? >> what i have done, i love books and all the books i ever read, i have a rare book collection. i have been buying rare books for a while and i have owned more copies of the federalist papers, and i bought the first book ever printed in the united states, some of you may have heard of it, based on this book. what actually happened is when this country was started there were no printing presses, we brought books over. people who came over in massachusetts, the puritans, they were reading prayer books they brought over and said we don't want to see the members of the anglican church, puritans were different. they didn't know how to get
one, there was no printing press in the united states so they ordered one and it came over in 1635 lose the man who brought it over, his wife inherited it and he will print the first book in this country which was a prayer book. there are 7 of those left now. one church in boston had two of them. they were financially in trouble and put one up for sale. i paid the highest price ever paid for a book which i didn't realize at the time was true. the woman who was selling it said we never thought we would get one half as much is that. i realized i overpaid but that is something, all the things i have i like to put on display, books are an important part of
my life and that helps me get where i am. >> i have been on a lot of university boards, i serve on my alma mater, i was chair of the board for a number of years, in the harvard corporation and i am the only person of those boards that has never written a book so i said this is embarrassing. how can i be on all these university boards and i recently got on the board of the american academy of arts and sciences and haven't written a book. it is just embarrassing to have no book written and i didn't know how to do it so eventually i better get this book done and my brain isn't working. i thought i would do this series if you want to know how it came about. >> it includes so many things. this is an extension of what
the library of congress does. everybody heard about congressional research and dedicated specialists and researchers that combine nonpartisan objectives research for congress. this series is a way of engaging members of congress in a different way. >> those who don't know, the library of congress is a misnomer. when john adams was president of the united states he signed legislation authorizing the creation of the library of congress just as the government was moving from washington to philadelphia. it was $5000 to buy something like 300 books and a small assemblage of books, it was in the capital. and then in 1814 the canadians invaded our country.
was it the canadians? know, joke. it was the british. i thought it was the canadians. the british invaded our country, burned the white house and burned down congress and burned all the books. thomas jefferson, who was close to bankruptcy needed some money so he would sell his collection which he did and it was controversial. many did not want to take the collection because he was not considered a real question. he was considered deist meaning he believed in god but not so much as the son of god so they had to go through every one of his titles and make sure there was nothing in the collection that would be improper. ultimately congress bought it for i think $20,000 and that became the collection of the library of congress. the library of congress became the library of the united states and the building that was built in 1897, under
budget. >> and on time. >> the library of congress is three big buildings here, the main building, the one behind me and the official monument to the madison building and members of congress love the library of congress because the research service did a lot of research but here's the idea that led to the book. i like history and i like doing interviewing and i like the library of congress and was involved in the national book festival for a while for a number of years. i don't know if anyone has been to it but the idea came from laura bush. she was here at an inaugural party in 2001, do you have a national book festival here like the texas book festival we have in boston? and he said we don't yet, but
we will. they started that year and some of you may recall, they moved into the convention center and we got 150,000 coming on one day, 140 authors coming, it is spectacular and is a great way to incite people about books. one of the things we could do was help educate members of congress about history. members of congress already know a lot about history and a member of congress here - right here. we have a member of congress, a member of the smithsonian board, please stand up. thank you. [applause] >> thank you very much for
coming, a great supporter of the smithsonian, thank you for coming as well, former chair of the smithsonian. the idea was this, that i would try to find an appropriate person to interview about american history and invite members of congress and ask them to bring one of their guests if they wanted to so we have been doing this for -- since 2013. once a month when congress is in session, we have a dinner at the library of congress, a reception where members can come and this is an interesting thing about it. members of congress do not generally socialize that much with people at the office party, not something they do as much as they used to but this is a chance where they can mingle with the opposite party in the opposite house and because they don't have as much
legislation, we don't have conference committees, there's not as much interchange between the two bodies, they look at documents that relate to the interview, lincoln-related things, artifacts that we get and we come down and have a dinner, members are encouraged to sit with the opposite party and opposite house and interview one of the authors and so forth so we had doris kearns goodwin and people like that and 40 of them, we -- last week had devon thomas on sandra day o'connor, some of you may have read this book, a terrific book and in that book this is an aside, sandra day o'connor turned over her family papers to evan thomas and he went through them and discovered a marriage proposal from william
one quest to sandra day o'connor. the marriage proposal was different in those days, said something like he was in the supreme court, she was in sanford and something like dear sandy, how about getting married this year, or something like that and she said no. >> you actually said that, it might start out with those types of questions. your first interview was with don meacham. >> that is right, john meacham was the first one and he had written a book on jefferson and john is a terrific scholar, the head of the thomas jefferson foundation. what i tried to do his interview these people about american history, and other questions as well. john roberts is not as well known to members of congress as
i think he should be, justices don't spend that much time with members of congress even though their offices are a couple hundred yards apart, they don't spend much time together. doris kearns goodwin or david mccullough or john meacham or robert caro, i interviewed john roberts. in the interview in the beginning, i said did you always want to be chief justice of the united states? and he said no. when i was little i had no interest in that. do you want to be a justice of the united states supreme court? know. did you want to be a lawyer? what did you want to be? i wanted to be a historian but all i can about was american history and that is what i wanted to be. i told my father that, he said it is a nice profession and how do you support your family?
he majored in history. coming back from spring break, got off the plane at logan airport, and are you a student at harvard? yes i am. majoring in history, the cab driver said i majored in that also. so maybe his father had some good ideas. >> those are the types of things that come out. >> you get funny things, george washington, it turns out could have lived a little longer. now member of his family, no male member lived past the age of 50. when he was asked to be president of the united states he was 57. i'm too old for that but he did
it after four years, he stayed for eight years. he goes back to mount vernon around the age of 64-65 and rides around his plantation every day, 8000 acres telling people what to grow and so forth and there was a tradition in those days but if you are passing through mount vernon you would stop off and pay homage to the great man even if you didn't know it. it is said that george and martha washington, all these guests come in. they had guests there all the time. it was snowing that day, he didn't know them but he didn't want to change or come down with dryer clothing. he gets swollen, can't really breathe, the doctor says there is only one solution.
cut the veins and get the bad spirits out. that doesn't work. he had two unusual provisions. of all the founding fathers, the only founding father who said i want my slaves freed upon my death but there was a proviso, upon the death of my wife. how would you like to be martha washington, sitting there, knowing that the slaves know that they will be free as soon as you die? she ultimately freed them quicker. secondly he said don't bury me for two days. why is that? is that a religious thing? the reason is he was afraid of being buried alive. the doctors were so bad in those days that very often they put you in a coffin and you weren't really dead. that is why they put bells in the coffin and you were supposed to bring it if you were still alive. that is where you hear the word
dead ringer? that is where it comes from. turns out he was dead. >> your interview brings out these types of things. thomas jefferson. >> thomas jefferson, great man, great writer. healy made one public speech as president of the united states. and those letters were asked and. it was denied for a long time by people. the evidence makes it incontrovertible, why fall in love with sally hemmings? think about this. his wife on her deathbed said i had a stepmother, do not marry again. i won't marry again. he was 39 when she died.
and lived a little longer. one of them, when he was ambassador, and after a couple years she went over there, 9 or 10, and escorted over and the person who escorted her over, and thomas jefferson saw her, she had been a slave on the plantation. she was at the time 14 or 15, the age of consent in virginia was 12, raised from 10. he saw her and when he saw her he saw his wife in many ways and this is the reason. martha where's father, thomas jefferson's -- her father was john wears, slaveowner among other things, he had impregnated a slave and that
was sally hemmings. when he saw sally hemmings as a 14 or 15-year-old, he was in his wife. she was very light-skinned not unlike his wife and whatever reason he had a relationship with her and said to her according to books that had been written, if you come back from france with me, no slavery in france, i will free all of my children and six children, four lived to adulthood and sure enough on his debt he freed all of them but didn't free her and the reason he didn't free her was if you were freed as a slave in virginia you had to get your name approved by the state legislature because they didn't want freed slaves, ex-slaves living in a state with the problems or whatever and she wanted to stay in virginia. he didn't want to free her and
deal with the rumors. he never admitted it. that is why it was a complicated thing but had a relationship for 40 years. >> some things you bring up, lindbergh. >> charles lindbergh was an interesting situation, he flew for 331/2 hours from new york to paris. what is the big deal? we do that all the time. there had been a prize awarded for person or persons, and many people died doing that. young 25-year-old pilot. and he had a job as a pilot. he decided to build his own
plane, and when he landed it was such big news all over the world, he is the most famous man who ever lived because for the first time the world was connected electronically, when he landed in paris everybody in the world knew. nobody had ever been that famous. he did this ten years of exhaustive work, he knew everything about lindbergh. his incredible life story, the most famous man in the world, briefly kidnapped and killed and so forth in a famous trial. the book comes out and wins the pulitzer prize and said you didn't write that accurate a book. because you didn't tell the full story. what do you mean? he didn't know what this wasn't agreed to meet with the person who sent the letter and the letter was from a child, young woman at the time, she said you didn't write the charles
lindbergh fathered 7 children with three german women out of wedlock, some of the women were sisters and didn't know they were having an affair with charles lindbergh, 7 children, came out in 1999. lindbergh managed to hide from his family, and these are some things you learn when you interview these people who have written incredible books. >> when you interview them, stumping or catching some of the authors, since you read the book and you do a lot of research. you have occasion to do that. >> many times i'm interviewing authors, there was one author i won't mentioned. >> please don't. >> he hadn't read his book in 20 some years.
i need to read it again. when you ask, interview him and realize he made a mistake what do you say? you don't know what you have written or suggest it is a different fact but don't push it too hard but some of the authors haven't read the book for a while so i understand that. >> what do you think the reaction has been from congress? we have heard quite a bit. >> may be -- i don't know what the reaction is. >> they told you. >> members of congress, one of the more enjoyable things they are doing because people from the opposite party, they get to socialize and so forth and
learn about american history. sometimes they say this is the most enjoyable thing they are doing in congress which is probably not a good thing to hear. they call it date night because they bring their spouse, fly them in to do this. they enjoy a lot and the program has worked pretty well. what i tried to do in the book is excerpt the interviews, you learn affair about - one of the most famous ones is robert caro. robert caro, some of you may have heard of him, he wrote a book on a man named robert moses, really important person. that book, powerbroker, caught by time magazine, one of the
100 best books ever written, incredible book, it took 7 years to go. his editor, why don't you write a book not about local power but national power and a book on lyndon johnson that was 45 years ago. he has written four volumes on lyndon johnson and he has the fifth volume to go and the whole world is waiting for the fifth volume. is he going to produce the fifth volume so we know what he thinks about the vietnam war and so forth? so much research, members of congress who came to this, they would bring dogeared copies, one the monograph like anybody else would and when you listen to him he uncovered stuff that is staggering. in 1948 x 87 votes, called landslide lyndon.
robert caro did some research and found one of the people who managed one of the precincts where lyndon johnson, were cast alphabetically in favor of lyndon johnson. without those 202 votes cast alphabetically in favorable and in johnson he might not have won by 87 votes that he did win. a lot of interesting things about the people in the book. >> you mentioned scott burke, you mentioned in the book that he is a wonderful writer, and the most engaging people. >> some people write great books but other people may not be great writers but telling stories. some people like scott bird right incredible books, he is writing a new one, but a great -- one of the great ones
describing what he had written as david mccullough. when you look at david mccullough he is 85 or 86 years old and is incredible the way he does his books, he started as a graduate from yale running magazine articles and his first book was the johnstown flood and the brooklyn bridge and the panama can now. 60 years to his wife, his wife and he drew these books together. he will write it up in a paragraph. he writes it up and then she reads it back. they have been doing this for a long time. in this interview where he said one time she read the paragraph back to him and one -- that sentence doesn't work and read
it again. that is okay, no, she said i don't think it really works. it is okay, leave it in. she said it wasn't good, a bad sentence and so forth. the book came out with the sentence, a book written by gorbachev, this is the best book i have ever written a there is one damn sentence. [laughter] >> taylor branch, you never met -- >> taylor branch. he became a writer, a trilogy on martin luther king and the civil rights movement, martin luther king, some of you may remember the famous speech. the way it was written, martin luther king, didn't get as much attention at the time, martin
luther king stayed up the night before preparing the speech. he had a speechwriter to help him and what happened was martin luther king was the last person giving the speech on the march from washington, john kennedy was against the march on washington, father would lead to violence but didn't block it. holding onto the microphones that if somebody said something violent they were going to yank the cords. and other civil rights leaders didn't want to speak after martin luther king. they want to speak before and if they spoke earlier to be on the evening news, martin luther king might not get on the evening news. and when he gets up, a pretty
good speech but jackson is behind him and she says martin, the dream, tell him about the dream and heed the parts from the text and forgets the text and talks about i have a dream. many whites it never heard the speech before and many whites had never heard martin luther king speak before and they were mesmerized, it was incredible. black preachers preach kind of a sermon he had given many times, given that speech many times but the people around him that heard it before, the whites hadn't heard it and it was mesmerizing and when it was over, the best speech, he went to the white house. when he greeted martin luther king, if you read the new york times, didn't -- it was after martin luther king was assassinated the speech was played over and over and over again and got so much attention it was a great speech but not as big a deal as it has since become but he did it and that
speech like john kennedy's inaugural address and lincoln at gettysburg address have certain things in common, but they don't use the word i, say i am going to do anything, the end with god and they use very broad terms about the world, they don't talk about specific actions and that is what a lot of the speeches have in common. >> you mention in the book in each segment, introduce each, the one that really touched you personally was jfk. >> some of you who may be close to my age, there are few people close to my age but when i was in the sixth grade my teacher asked us to watch the inaugural address, school was closed that day, john kennedy gave a great address, he gave it on january 20, 1961. john kennedy was not a great
speechmaker. he was not a gifted speech giver and he had many coaches over the years, people criticized him because he spoke too quickly, his head was always down and you can always see a big flop apparent he was not a great speaker but in this case after he won the election he had what he called his intellectual blood bank work on a speech. .. so three days before the inauguration john kennedy is flying back from long beach.
he is called back into the cabin by president-elect kennedy and said i would like your input on the inaugural address. the guy is good to be not graded in three days. he is asking my input. what is going on here. it turned out that the speech had already been written but that john kennedy had written it out in longhand. it turned out that the speech was brilliant because it was short only 14 minutes they have a way of calling on people to do something and the most famous line of course ask
not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country and that line was a signature line. kennedy loved speeches by churchill and churchill's speeches which churchill did write always have a signature line that you were supposed to remember. kennedy wanted to have that in his speech as well. the kind of worked out and even his republican opponents would say it's a great speech. >> i'm going to go in the government of politics and go back and give to your country. the highest calling of man kind was actually private equity. i later learned that and it touched you. it was an incredible speech. he was a great speech writer. >> 's a patriotic philanthropy. with the aspects that help them understand.
we want to remind them the history and heritage of our country. i will put up the money to fix it but i want you to build out this way --dash mike the slave quarters despite many good things that he did. he wrote the sentence in the declaration of independence that is the most famous sentence in the english language. we hold the truth to be self evident that all men are created equal. how could he had written that when he had 200 slaves. he said that all white men were created equal. he didn't actually follow through and not because politically it would've been difficult. it was an attempt to give people a late walk through
u.s. history through the eyes of the historians that are the great historians. the book by joel lepore will take you weeks and weeks to get through it. this will not take you that long. hopefully it's not the type a book that ted sorensen once described of pete peterson's books. once you put pete peterson's books down you can't pick them up again. let me just conclude with one thing i would like to say to others. and it deals with reading. one man sat down to his breakfast table in the late 1880s in stockholm and he was reading the newspaper his name was alfred nobel. as he was reading he turned
the pages and read his obituary. the newspaper said he died. the inventor of dynamite is gone. thank god he's no longer with us. it was his younger brother that have died. i don't like what people are saying about me. if not i encourage everybody to think about what you might be able to do. in my own case i got lucky at
life financially said and i have the ability to do things that i think contribute in some ways. philanthropy is an ancient greek word that means loving humanity not like rich people writing checks. time is the most valuable thing you have. you can't get your time back. contributing your time is also very valuable. i know many of you i always encourage people to think about what more you could do to give back to our country or to some other part of our society but certainly our country. we will build and underground education center.
we are building that now in lincoln. hopefully when people come to washington they learn more about our presidents they will be better informed citizens. also thank you for proving why you are the master interviewer. [applause]. >> stephen one more thing. on behalf of us we have with a leather bound copy of the book. thank you very much. thank you very much a map of
the history of washington dc. thank you so much. next week an anonymous person believed to be a senior official well release the book critical of the president. it's titled a warning and published by 12 bucks. the author reflects on why he wrote the book anonymously. this debate is not about me and it is about us. it is about how we want the presidency to reflect our country and that is where the discussion should center. some will call this cow or less.
nor mi and prepared to attach my name to criticism of president trump. i may do so in due course. the author is expanding on an op ed they wrote for the new york times in september 2018 entitled i am part of the resistance inside the trump administration. the author corrects an assertion they made and their opinion in their opinion piece from last year. i was wrong about the quiet resistance inside the trump administration. cabinet appointees were never going to start seer donald trump the right direction in the long run. he is who he is. next we can book tv will host a journalist discussion on a warning and jeff mason white house bureau. in addition you will hear from joe klein who is a longtime anonymous author.
check your program guide for schedule information. i look now at some programs to watch out for this weekend on book tv. nikki haley former un ambassador chronicles her time. she offers her thoughts on contemporary feminism. the left is using political correctness to silence conservatives. the new yorkers reports on online extremism. it has the former harvard law school check your program guide for more information.