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tv   Book Discussion on The Men Who United the States  CSPAN  December 21, 2014 8:00am-9:06am EST

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now on naturalized u.s. citizen, mr. winchester was born in and first visited america in the 1960s. recorded at the boswell book company in he discusses the process of writing the book and his love for the country. well, thank you very much indeed. first of all, to sort of it's slightly weird to be writing a book called the united the states when it was disunited for a long, long time.
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people turn off their cell phones. i can't, i'll play you a short the end.usic at i hope no one telephones me. r i'll feel like rudolph giuliani. i'm addressing a huge political now.ign right hope that doesn't happen. what we're trying to do is tell this book kground of which is a big sort of plum pudding of an affair. how it all came into being, sort of pluck one or wo of the plums from the pudding and try to illustrate what the book is all about. but first, the background. come into being. it's quite a complex story. able to tell,t be am english. ut i fell in love with this country quite literally when i 1962 as a ved here in student hitchhiking. basically met at a science
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fair in london. delegate to a school boy child's science fair. met a young canadian woman. i was 17, she was 16. fell in love or whatever one does at those kinds of ages. taking a year off from high school and went off to oxford so could go visit her. i worked oddly enough in a port in north england consulting p a bodies for a bonus to earn enough money to cross the atlantic and go and see her. o i arrived in montreal in arly 1962 and saw, carol her name was. and i decided there was a huge be on and i'd o go and see it. when they ts' dismay learned about it, i set off hitchhiking to vancouver. that took not a long time.
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were nice. i got to vancouver in quite a dispatch. go and haveided i'd a look at america. fascinated by, who isn't any child raised on things like "the cisco kid" and "champion" and wonder horse" and all those programs from back then. i ntered the united states, remember vividly that the time of blame in washington state. and the first welcome into the united states, its's illegal to hitchhikers pick up which i thought was slightly disagreeable. a young man in an english picked mee sports car up and said would you like to come to seattle. a that's the beginning of series of unbelievable i visited every single state in the union,
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alaska and hawaii. verywhere in the continental u.s. i travelled 3800 miles totally. without exception was kind and hospitable and generous. occasion i was in just south of san francisco and it was quite late at night and i to get a ride on the 101 south to go los angeles. couldn't get a ride all night. standing there, raining slightly. morning, the san mateo sheriff's police car was i having id, trouble? and i said yes. he said, so, have you invited me the squad car, took me to the police station and introduced me to the desk sergeant. fingerprints and then i worked -- saying why not wear these charming little metal bracelets. but he didn't. these are just for souvenir purposes. it was at the , end of his shift. i had a shower, had breakfast.
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me in his squad car to a truck stop and ordered the to santa take me down barbara. it was so nice. and then i think probably the the next ride was a chat who worked for nbc television burbank. connected with the film industry. and he took me to see the of -- to meet john frankenheimer, the director may. days in i got to meet burt lancaster and douglas, the next day had dinner with johnny carson. it's unbelievable, raeblly. it went on and on, this kindness. entered -- i was short of $200 crispntered with american bills. left i had $182 left. the entire trip cost $18 because flowing year i went back and that was more specific. this was at oxford and
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during my summer vacation and i was a keen climber and going off to do some es climbing. and much the same thing happened hitchhiking. but that year they picked me up for a different series of reasons. a union jack on the back of my rubbing sack. audience e year the will remember of the scandal and screech to a halt did i the track and say know christine keeler personally. then the great train robbery. to know if i neuron nooe biggs and knew how to rob a train. this. nothing of on the poignant side of things, lock to the opening of a seaway and was forward to shake hands with president kennedy. later on he was assassinated.
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it felt poignant. my love affair of this country is based on fairly solid foundations. i didn't come back for quite a while. became a and geologist and went off to uganda practice geology. but for a series of reasons that are not relevant, sadly. up not as a geologist but as a journalist. guardian and was sent to northern ireland for hree years and was sort of the beginning of troubles and i think because i survived them as a reward for not getting myself killed or blown up, the paper then sent me to wa. professionally to the united states. and in 1972, the story, the watergate. and so i was mostly stuck in at the committee or rodino, the judiciary committee, in the white house when nixon resigned. i, however, was occasionally
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allowed to go and look at america itself. and sometimes that somewhat the 8th of on september, 1974, the date that erald ford pardoned richard nixon. i should, of course, had i known it was going to happen, have washington. but i was in fact in idaho knievel's attempt canyon.over the when i phoned in to the desk story, they said wirese they'd seen on the they said it's scandalous that you're in washington where the decency dn't have the to kill himself which would be on the front page. buried on page 0 and you should be have been covering the pardoning of nixon. t moved from adulation to professional adulation and i decided to write a book about america.
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i i had this idea that imagine you hear in chicago, sueded that the of america. the essentialness lay not on the or west coast but in the middle. i went up and down and up and interstate 35 which goes from international falls to duluth down to the middle of the country from laredo to texas. i read a book called american heart beat. published in the by centennial year in 1976. already written a book on northern ireland which i had done relatively well. i was infected with arrogance and ubris that it was going be a success. i got it, it showed the book
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copies.y 12 it was not a commercial triumph means. received a ago, i letter saying he didn't think it book and bought a copy recently bringing my total sales up to 13. exactly a money maker. so anyway, then i sort of resumed. journalism, ack to realizing authorship was not the i went arn a living and off to various places. i lived in india for three london briefly, came back to new york for a little while and sent out for a 12, 13 years to china. nd in 1997 when hong kong reverted to chinese rule, i had a fork in the road moments be go to london and establish myself there where i was born or go to new york?
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it wasn't a flip of the coin. it was a deliberate thought that would actually go to new york for all sorts of reasons. i thought my career might take ff a little bit more enthusiastically if i went to america. i settled down in new york. there, few years realizing i was now paying taxes in america. citizenship.ican i'll apply for a green card which i haven't gotten. ou'll have to wait for five years once you got the green card and begin the mechanics for citizenship. i did that in 2010 and 2011. interview.ed for my they ask you ten questions, they'd ask you all sorts of a ngs, you have to write sentence in english, make sure you speak it and write it. me ten general knowledge questions about america. the first of which i managed to screw up royally.
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they said what is the american national anthem. without thinking about i want, i "america the beautiful" and the immigration officer said we all, i think, in country which it was not what it is, which is the "star banner." there's one wrong. you have nine more chances. possibility tinct that we might deny you a position. i managed to get the other nine right. complicated story how it came about. allow 20 people to take the oath on a wonderful sailing warship of the world. have the victory. but that's moored in concrete, it doesn't float. one does. so the oath was performed on 2011, seringlyay, hot day. t was just magical and incredibly moving, i have to say. i don't know if any of you have ceremony.migration
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i was with a somali and a gabonese and pakistani all they ly free do what wished. they could vote and no fear of arells and all the rest of it. it's wonderful. the judge who swore me in is a remarkable woman who's a great personal friend. indeed, i had lunch with her in boston on tuesday. marian bola. the moment judge at charged with the boston mare on the bombing case. so the young man who had been and accused of committing the offense woke up, she was in said, bedside and essentially, where do you live? united states federal judge. this gentleman here is the prosecuting attorney for the outh district of boston and you're in a great deal of trouble. one of the extraordinary things
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said is you'd be surprised in, many immigrants i swear about 100 a year, four or five to me in r appear court in trouble. i want to say to them, why, i chance, but it's a weird statistic she minds drol to say the least. got my voter's registration card the next day so i could throw the rascals out it were, or try to. and ot my passport travelled over -- i got it in a week and travelled to london. moved, it sounds sentimental. t's all "we can drink to you" but when i returned to kennedy and handed my passport to the mmigration officer, he smiled, looked at it and he said, welcome home. that was a great feeling to feel of this extraordinary country that i'd become so fond of. and that i think at that moment decided that i would like to have another go at writing a book.
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so first attempt to fail dramatically that i could write another book and if the lesson i earned was simply that it should not be in any way, shape, or form like the book inpublish chance, you might have a of doing a little better. i then came what should write about? huge country full of complexities. the first thought, and i put all of these ideas -- you don't just tter the idea, you have to write a 30-page proposal. sort of a 10,000 word essay on i wanted to write it in this way. no mean effort. the first is i should write a country and tell the story in some detail about fallen in love with with it in such a dramatic way. very good asn't a idea at all. too sentimental. because i love railway trains, i realize it's possible entire united states on class 3 freight railways. you can go all the way to east
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little town to a in far northern california. and i had gotten a ready-made book, which is the 5:45 to paradise. that was back for in -- i think it was the late early '80s, on my second interim visit to america as a i had been t, looking up -- i think the time the film called "paris, texas" appeared. i was looking up where paris, atlas -- i the at oticed -- this was a page therefore with a list of towns that began with pa. i saw 18 towns called paradise. 8 cities, little village, town in america called paradise. why were they called paradise? called they still paradise. i rang an editor in london, at a magazines and sh newspaper editors spent money i said nken sailors and
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could i go visit all of the towns called paradise. they said, yeah, no problem at all. so i set off and the first one as paradise to florida, a retirement community, a gateway paradise. paradise, pennsylvania right down the course from intercourse, pennsylvania which excites everybody. hen paradise, arkansas, paradise, montana. all had been ruined in some modern american society, except for one, kansas near salinas kansas, near the geographical of the continental u.s. i went there, what was my outine, i went to the post office and there was a lady, the postmaster. i'm sure you know whether men or women and the postmasters in this country. and i said i'm writing from
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england. writing a piece called all the towns called paradise. she said here, it's a town of you've got to stay patriarchs of the bill laj and they're called john and the angels of paradise. and mary angel driving to the wings, i suppose. went to the bottom of the garden baked med cherries and a cherry pie. if anything estly, about this country was eating by the angels d in paradise. union pacificbe a train that left to go from and come o salinas back at 4:30 in the afternoon. back to would get farms and cook dinner for their
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the farm.nd worked on and that was at 5:45. o the title of the book was "5:45 to paradise." about s going be a book trains, not america. had to write another 30-page proposal. this is even more lunatic and juvenile. there was a series of books very successful in britain by a man called anthony sumps. didn't i ght, why write the anatomy of america but structure of grey's anatomy. television program but the book. i got an old copy and yes, it andorganized with the brain the nervous system and the cardiovascular system. and i thought, this could work, know? the universities are the brain. he communications system are the nerves. the highways are the arteries. skeleton is all the bridgework and the -- they didn't like that idea either.
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really stumped until one day a couple of years ago, i thought i wanted to write a book this country. the united states of america. the word "united." america managed to keep itself, with the exception, of course, of those miserable years 1860s, keep itself united? no other large entity on the has been able to keep one in a coherent way. russia, since the soviet union, it's dissolved into a dozen little states. -- i mean wonderful though it is, we all love great there's this disgruntled francophone chunk in the middle of it. closer to the canadian border, the audiences will get have to go s, i'll to toronto. i think i'll tone that bit down.
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where i come rope from. after all, we tried desperately very since the end of the second world war to unify europe, but it's manifestly not we, for instance, in britain don't use the euro. f you try to plug in your shaver in stockholm, you need a plug from the one that you use in madrid. hey all speak different languages. they all sort of glare at each other. so that hasn't achieved unity. place, which is, after ll, a mongrel nation full of very color and creed and persuasion, race. an alkonkian indian person in and a jewish person in morning or a latina store holder fisherman ine or a oregon can all feel somehow some sort of mystical concord, they americans. how did this happen?
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and, well, you know, it's -- say that the to abstract things like language, language, belief in democracy or human rights or that would help the unity. my thought is actually the fitz of man were the real things that had molded this country to one. easy enough if you're all andegians and are all blond behave in a certain matter. my wife is japanese. t's easy for japan to unite itself. but america, much more difficult. came up with this idea that inventions and creations nd ideas are what molded the country to one. i sat down and started making a list of all of the people i had think of that somehow helped to weld this country into ne nation and kept it so
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annealled. and this list got longer and longer. first of all, many people like jefferson and lewis and clark forth. but a lot more very obscure people. i mentioned it to my wife one day. and said, oh, you're creating a list of the man who united the states? god, that's the title. i looked it up on amazon and aliberus and all of the book catalogs. used the title. the title that gets me to a lot of trouble. i find a very good way of to earth ourself down or taking yourself down a peg or two is to look at amazon's one-star reviews. one star reviews when they say this is the most boring book read in my life. there's one one-star review at the moment from a woman who says
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an unabashed militant feminist and i'm appalled, so the men by the title of who united the states that i'm not even going to pick it up and read it. one-star review without even being read. is one that i anticipated. why is it all men. thatact is, the reality is in the physical uniting of the america, it has been the entirely of men. there's only one woman who appears in this story. that sakajawea in the lewis saga.lark women have a role in the other aspect of america. but not in the physical union of nation. so i started establishing this list which got too -- i should 100 people onabout t which maybe 75 i'd never heard of. but nonetheless who i was convinced to play the very
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important part. and then you come to the tricky part. it. do you organize and that's -- i -- i once taught at the university of chicago for semester and then again in the university of california system writing.on fiction i always thought there were three key elements to the writing of a book, a nonfiction is.k, that one is the idea. the idea is king. you have to have a terrific idea to write the book. the writing has to be good. the second most important thing. the second most important thing is the structure of the book. lyrically about a wonderful idea. but if the structure is all over going to lose people's attention. o how do you look at these letter, 100 people who played such an important role, how do you organize it in a way that is readable? you can organize them alphabetically. ut that would be an
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encyclopedic book. you can arrange then chronologically, but if you look that's similarly troubled. so i was puzzled for two or three weeks. day, i was writing a letter to a friend of mine in for hai, i live in china quite a long while. and suddenly remembered nearly eastern philosophical systems. there are -- there are what are the classical elements that underpin almost all aspects of life. from india, where there were four of these classical element ms. china and t to ndochina and korea and japan, some all of them have variation, some tinkering, but ll have five elements that underpin their lives. wood, earth, water, fire, and
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metal. i thought, it might work that i ould corral all of the people and their achievements under the headings of the five classical elements. tryingarted first of all it out. wood.ght, well, how about think of lewis and clark. hink of jefferson, thomas jefferson sitting on the terrace in month cello. here's a man obsessed by trees. month cello, many of you have, you look at the gardens, they're dominated by he planted because he regarded them as his pets. he loved sitting under them, he loved the look of them. loved the simple majesty of them. his terrace with a secretary. reading a book, 1802, maybe late 1803 which had just been sent to him from london written by a man mckenzie.xander
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deans man about the ever and how he had succeeded in canada the entirety of and described his success in so doing on a rock off of the town as belaculaow known in british, columbia. e wrote the achievement which was a stellar achievement. was ap mrektic. he said a scotsman crossed canada? this cannot be allowed to stand. you must cross our country. forget the achievements of the canadian and no one remembers alexander mckenzie, everyone remembers lewis, lewis & clark. now, to get to the starting real of the -- the starting point of the expedition, st. charles on the louis, north of st. they had to hack their way or somehow drive their way through of 1,000 miles
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of virgin old eastern forest. canoes, they den forth,fires with wood, so you could tell the story of up general on under the heading of wood. would this continue? earth. emember i said i used to be -- understanding of geology. seemed what was next happened in the american story geology. because once you come to understand the extent from that you knew now the extent of lewis & clark. you knew where the rocky were, the sierra were, you knew where the ocean began.
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what you now needed to know is what america is made of, not was. where it and so you sent out the surveyors and the geologists. the first one, slightly more embarrassing for me, i have 2001 aboutbook called the map that changed the world about william smith and his extraordinarynder circumstances of the first ever geological map ever made. england, britain, wales, scot larngsd published in london in 1815. thought that was the first. it turns out the first was a man in america by mcclure, a am scotsman, who did a beautiful, totally inaccurate of the the appalachians in 1809. tongue shers in london in cheek saying perhaps we ought book.nd the title of my it's got to be the second map that changed the world.
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have mcclure doing the survey. geologists working in the west that discovered things that lured out people in the the to come out for pioneers and steer the wagons and the other wagons. farm d the gold, the lanld, the coal, or diamonds or found.r the geologists then the four great surveys that resident lincoln, you'd think he'd have his mind on other things ordered out of the ountry in the 1860s, which really finally told america what america was made of. so earth seemed to work quite well. water. early nce again, the american settlers on the east the largely got in to interior of the country by going up the rivers, the james and the rapohanoc and the hudson. inland, they all of them found rapids and waterfalls and they therefore
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there in the towns that the settlements and places like fredericksburg and washington, d.c. albany and once they'd established their settlements circumvent them to take trade goods or bring trade goods down from the mountains, canals so the early they perfected the business of to ding canals and started build commercial canals not simply around rapids so the sex canal in new hampshire which effectively created boston as a city of a port for all of new england, the most important canals, the erie albany om buffalo to making new york the center of commerce that it is today. hen the canals that link chicago though the mississippi river river, the illinois and michigan
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canal. important in allowing the great lakes commerce to go down to new orleans. the control and taming of this sort of untameable mississippi river. part of the story fit neatly into the chapter of water. do you remember that boats going n these canals of necessity moved slowly. about the time the canals had completed, james watts mentioned was perfected and it apparent to early americans that employing steam, they could create devices that across america rapidly. the railway train and the transcontinental railroad. the motor car, the building of the state highway system which go into some detail and the invention of the arab plane and the first transcontinental journeys, all of these in devices that were powered in their heart by fire. so that worked quite neatly. is lly, the fifth, which
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metal -- all seeming to work in chronological sense because wood predated earth predated water which predated fire which all of which predated metal because that's metal conductor of the telegraph wire, the telephone, of the distribution electricity and then radio and television and cable television and the internet. it all seemed to work moderately well. to the the idea publishers and they thought this will work. this idea, we'll accept. you go and write such a book. so that worked. and the question now early on in the publication is will see it ritics that way. the two major reviews that will book in the he first few days of the publication have been entirely they continue er to be or not, i don't know. its crudest, in
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because one worries when one has ome up with a slightly eccentric idea, to put it in the crudest, i think i hope that i've gotten away with it. and the -- i don't want you to think this is a cynical approach writing. but you're nervous. you think to look at america through the hospitalic of classical elements is something that some people might find offensive or eccentric. we'll see. thus far, the reviews are fairly good. felt i'd do, i mentioned in the beginning, this is a big pudding of a book is take a couple of the plums from a ouple of the categories that i mentioned and things that i didn't know about when i wrote the book. and i'd be very interested to what you know of them. i'm going to select one place and one person and then a couple other events. the first place, which i didn't know anything about, said any of you hame if didn't know anything about it, i
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like to ask if you'd be identified on television raise lly if you don't your hands, who knows about east liverpool, ohio. i'd love it if no one knows it and no one does know it. this is great. i would argue that east liverpool, ohio is one of the most important towns in america. of the y in the story making of america. got something l in your house that was made in east liverpool because until recently, it was the crockery capital of the country. the sources and cups and teapots probably were made in east liverpool. so killed -- r they are reduced to two. broken downtown on the right bank, the west bank river.ohio up north where ohio and
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littlevania in that tiny sliver of west virginia all meet. and it's important for no you us reasons except when drive from east liverpool you go pastu notice in a heart beat, an on lisk aside the road. that obelisk is hugely important jefferson and as he passed before he became president in the making america, the land ordinance 5. 17 of it was point all the british isles. the land belonged to the king, aristocracy, the church. ordinary people had no right to own land. jefferson thought it was entirely wrong. prosper, ountry to
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everyone should have the right to buy and to own land. after all would give them good to trade. give them to grow crops on. they could build on, they could develop on it. do all sorts of things with this land. the governor could levy taxes on it and allow them new country. the at the time they had debts to pay because of the revolutionary war. seemed an idea that everyone is a winner. passed in congress and as the consequence of it, it was land, to be able to buy letters, find out where the land is. surveying it. arrange it in townships and sections. when you fly over the united today or nebraska or kansas or arizona, i always as
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also you're bored you look add the lines running north-south and count them to is how fast the airplane going. you know they're a mile apart. they're all pointed north and an east know there's and west. the country is divided to huge which we have 40 acres and a mule and all of the other passed ents that have into linguistic law. begin se lines had to somewhere. and this man called thomas hutchins was ape pointed the of the er geographer united states. he decreed that the point of as it was called, would be built in east liver on the ohio river at he junction of pennsylvania, ohio, and west virginia. so you'll see it today, if you hurry past it, there's the point beginning and from it, right up to the north pole goes meridian land and the and east and west a baseline,
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west all the and way up to the pacific ocean. he point of the beginning is a tremendously important symbol of the development of modern america. covered with graffiti. there's liberal all over the place, no place to park. my view, if this book does anything, it would encourage some people in the state of ohio to build a massive car park. and bring every school child in the region to see how america is thanks to d laid out the wisdom of thomas jefferson. so that's one thing i wanted to mention. figure who i think is heroic and yet his personal life was extraordinary. a fellow called clarence king. great one of the four geological survey explorers in '70s. slightly the four of a
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dull man named wheeler who surveyed nebraska and the plains.n hayden who discovered and mapped yellow stone. wesley powell who you will know had his arm shot off in the battle of shiloh. visibility, managed to get all the way down the grand canyon and mapped it and explored it. them, i think incidentally hayden and powell in their pinning graves if they had seen what was for some n washington trivial reason in congress the national parks they discovered be shut down. but the fourth man is called king.nce he's an absolutely fascinating character. educated, highly loquacious, amusing. a m newport, rhode island, classic american wasp from a very good wasp family. he went to -- he went -- to
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a phd. at harvard. at the age of 27, all of the sacramento and the west in the east and 100 miles north. the 40th parallel survey. took in seven years. he books, the maps, the reports, it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars today if you can get them there. beautifully accomplished. and he had all sorts of amazing doing the while survey. survey. them a reward for doing so well, they did the geological survey, it exists today, it maps its entirety. he moved to new york to the headquarters of the usgs, he was director. the second was john wesley powell as it happened. but his personal life is what i to mention briefly because i was astonished when i stumbled across it.
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energetic young man and he did not like white women one bit. he loved native american women and he loved black women. well on in was years, something like 60 but till clearly, you know, had any a cialis moment, i think, he saw coming toward him a black was sort of -- for this is the creature of my dreams. and what he should have done, i we all think nowadays is to go up to her and say, good king, , i'm clarence director of the united states geological survey. and would you care to have dinner. but for some extraordinary masogenation wasn't welcome in those dais days. his feet, nking on good evening, my name is james todd. white, i am y look in fact black and i'm a reporter with the pullman company, which
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know, was a job reserved for black people. will you have dinner with me. she was from a slaving family in chat hoochie in georgia. hey had dinner, fell in love, married. had five children. ended up being the last 20 years of his life. two entirely separate lives. ever telling either side about the other. example, he ou an settled down with mrs. todd and the little todds in queens, new york. he would say to his ada, well, my darling, i would go off nd catch the 20th century limited or the california zephyr and i'll see you in two weeks andhe would leave the house walk through queens across the ewly built brooklyn bridge to lower manhattan where his offices were. fellow hello, geologists, i've just been on the field trip.
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couple ofe out here a weeks to write out the notes. he'd write out the notes and hotel what is now try bekka. i'm eeks, he would say going another field trip. back across the brooklyn bridge, his identity as james todd says hello, darling ada, the little s of children. two of whom were ad a's not surprise were white. but and resume his life and give he had tips that allegedly earned on the train. and this deception continued for years. and it got him in terrible financial trouble. borrow money from john hay, the secretary of state that was a friend of his. at one period d and went someone quite hard i think outside of the lion cage park zoo and had to be put into an asylum for a ouple of weeks and then eventually fell ill with tuberculosis and was sent down
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to convalesce but actually to die. and he confessed to his doctor. only person he had ever told, he didn't tell john hay, geologists, he said i think you ought to send a queens to mrs. todd in that her name is mrs. king and her husband is not even a tiny bit black. he's entirely white from a good rhode island ort, and i'm frightfully sorry for he confusion that may now attend to. died.ough he then but in a way once again that may in d sentimental, but plays the book in a way. he had the certificate of death and it asks for the race of the deceased and he scored out the words black and and simply wrote in handwriting, "american." seemed to me quite charming.
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>> the first is about electricity. of the you're aware basic ideas behind electricity, it was edison who went on to electric was the first one to distribute electricity. uilt a power station in manhattan, distributed d.c. power. d.c. has the disadvantage, the you are, the dimmer the lights, the lower the power. tesla invented a/c. bought by george edison ouse and then fought valiant effort to keep dc a/c wasg to people that very dangerous. one of the things that you did -- i don't know if you've it's a remarkable video clip that you can see on
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youtube. showed that ac was dangerous and could be used to electrocute elephants.indeed he electrocuted and filmed the assassination or the of an elephant co-ny island. in top si attacked one of her hardly surprisingly, this keeper had fed her a diet of lit cigarettes. were going to kill her and use electricity as they could. certain, 't entirely they gave her a lunch of carrots laced with cyanide and put circular boots on each of her her on to a uvered metal plate and pulled the lever. you can see the results which is distressing, the legs start to smoke. then the poor thing crashes over, 2 1/2 tons of her. but despite this, a.c. won the day. westinghouse won
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the contract for the chicago fair in the 1990s. a.c. every since. but not everyone in america had electricity. suburbs did, the but the farms did not. and so one of the things that -- farms in 800,000 america that had no electricity, which in the wintertime in is beingr when the ice melted, the cattle being milkled. and so forth hts to do it without electricity in amount of farming that was needed to satisfy the needs of retched ation, it was for american farmers. things that roosevelt did when he came into fire is to set up the rea, the electrify occasion administration. and farms were steadily illuminated. irony i wanted to mention to you is that the first farms ever the inated thanks to efforts of roosevelt's new deal nd big, big government was in
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westin, ohio, specifically a whatcalled miami, ohio, in is now the eighth congressional district of ohio. and the eighth congressional is, today, the constituency of john boehner. john boehner, the archetype of anti-big government, his benefitted hugely from the biggest government that america has ever known.
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and he came up, very technically dept man with a means of transmitting voice that the noel, a.m. andill f.m., they were his inventions. they allowed basically me to microphone like this on a a io transmitter instead of morse tapper and transmit anything this microphone would up, music or someone like me speaking or the sound of the wind or whatever. this changed everything. i thought that the way that radio united states families and very the country is emblematic of the technology of 1950s.0s and the image of the nuclear family gathered around the walnut radio set. mother, father, children, dog, and cat and so forth, gathered the radio, listening to a comedy program from los
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and the play being broadcast in new york. hat's radio at its best unifying a family and a nation. but it was conducted in voice. hat -- what -- yes, i think i9's going to work. hat he did was was worked out how to do it. built two huge aerials, one massachusetts, near plymouth rock and another scotland. guile, in and transmitted test messages. when he realized he got it all sent shortly before christmas, 1906, a theage by morse code to all ships in the western atlantic that belonged to the united that were ny and bringing bananas up from the honduras to the east coast ports of boston, new york, charleston, savannah. saying quite simply, listen out minute todcast at one
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midnight on christmas eve. happened as eve, 1906 to be a dark and stormy night. there's a blizzard blowing off cape cod, and the ships were lumbering through the ocean ports.s their ut all of them, the radio operators went on the shacks. switched on the radios through the stack. through the morse signals of to one ips talking another. they heard this.
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national s did the conversation begin. because a few days after that, a adio station opened in pasadena, california, just above a musical instrument store which exists. shortly there after, the first ever real radio station opened madison, wisconsin just up the road. and america started talking to itself. that image that i cherish so much of the family in front radio set actually truly christmas, 1986. nothing to do with america. per sha and of under the shade that was the beginning of the i think was the most unifying feature of modern america.
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so thank you all very much indeed. >> do you think you have a different perspective because you were born in another country a visitor? what you mean. i went not too long ago. every single person was
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european. nonamericans is what i'm trying to say. it seems to me that the people the most curious about this country are outsiders. americans who i love and american now, are conditioned to not be as curious about their country as perhaps they should be. it's such a remarkable country. such an extraordinary experiment. things like east liverpool, aio, there's both the lack of curiosity that i think gives an advantage to people ike me from outside because i am curious. i want to know what it's like down the mountain range and into the river. i would be more curious about france or africa or somewhere else. about this ous country. this country is full of wonders.
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>> i'm fascinated about putting your ideas together and i have the research and of course a little of your curiosity. you've written so many books. all the research yourself. are you able to rely on others that help you with the research? >> terrible thing to say. but i wouldn't rely on others. i wouldn't want to. honestly, i love doing the research. for instance, to give you an xample in this book, i was fascinated with the construction and the idea behind the nterstate highway system and eisenhower, after whommite named these days got the idea when
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autobones in germany after world war ii, but that was appointed hen he was as an observer on the transcontinental military convoy cross america o by such roads as existed in 1919. this young lieutenant -- i was left-tenant and kept the diary on a shambles. three-mile-long convoy from the south lawn of the white house took 58 days to reach in san francisco. because west of omaha, there no roads.tially the idea was the war college is how quickly could we respond if japanese invaded california? if it took them 58 days, apanese would have taken california, new mexico, arizona, probably, not too bad of a if g, forget i said that, they took texas as well.
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eisenhower kept a which is easy to do now. using the diary, i kept in a they, a place i've never been to, i always wanted to go to, which is iowa, western iowa. convoyanted to go -- the they played a football matter ith the residents of denison and were beaten by them terrificically. but i wanted to go because to me a super heated school boy, it as the birthplace of the woman that i considered the most beautiful woman in the world. in denison and became donna reid. had seen "it's a wonderful life" and thought that she was mrs. george bailey, the most beautiful creature ever. i wanted to go from she was born.
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i give a wedding present. it's huge, about as big as this table. put the same inscription -- be happy andplaces
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serene. the publishers wrote it on the back jacket on the book. now i don't have to write it at all, it just say, with love, see the back cover. love maps and i'm glad you do too. are you aware of what the university of milwaukee has? > yes, the reason i know a little bit about it is because -- you were a librarian there? >> no. no. >> because the -- there was this incredible attempt some years go to produce what was called the international to a million where the entire world would be scale in at the same the same colors and the same ruberick and so forth and made in such a way if you put them together, they would produce a sphere one millionth of the which is the rld, sites of a very small house.
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1890. they produced 1800 sheets to less the whole world sea. things like america mapped china. they didn't want countries to map themselves. italy mapped argentina. britain mapped the united think. i and eventually the maps started 1984, the , but by effort they had produced 1600. go.e was 200 to under the auspices of the united nations. bangkok, theyce in said let's abandon it, let's not continue it. the only complete collection of the maps of the world are in that map collection, yeah. a great, great library. if there's nobody else. i appreciate your time. it's been gr


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