Skip to main content

tv   QA Ron Chernow  CSPAN  November 5, 2017 8:00pm-9:01pm EST

8:00 pm
pulitzer prize winner ron followed by british prime minister theresa may taking questions from members of the house of commons. ♪ this week -- >> this week on q&a, ron chernow discusses his biography of ulysses s. grant. ron chernow, author of u.s. new biography. even as they rush to publish their memoirs and cashing in on their celebrity, u.s. grant refused to trumpet his
8:01 pm
accomplishments in print. when did you decide to start that way in your book? mr. chernow: when i started working on the book i read it to her friend who said, how can you write a great biography of someone who rate -- wrote a great autobiography? that stop me in my tracks and i thought about that comment for many days. it actuallyzed that helped to define the direction of my book because i realized as awhat my job was to do biographer was to zero in on the silences and the invasions -- even asians -- evasions. it is not really a biography. it covers the mexican war and the civil war. his two-term presidency and the remaining events in his life. in on thoseeroing things that grant did not want
8:02 pm
talk -- did not want to talk about, particularly his lifelong struggle with alcoholism and his repeated his his failures. host: i want to start out concentrating on the end of his life. i believe it was 1883 he was a and hem president slipped on the ice. you also tell that story. what is it? a cascading story of crisis that happen to him in 1883. he was about 61 years old. he and his wife julia were living in manhattan in a town east on east 60 six st on avenue. he comes home and it was christmas eve. he turns on the icy pavement to give the driver a christmas tip and he trips and either tore a muscle in his by, he may have dislocated his hip, but he is never quite the same again. for weeks or maybe months afterwards he is hobbling around
8:03 pm
on crutches. one terrible thing after another happens to him. word?what was grant and mr. chernow: he entered into a partnership with a young man named ferdinand ward. he was only 29 years old but he was already a legendary character on wall street. he was the young napoleon of finance. he had already entered into a business partnership with grants youngest son but. throughout his life was in incurably naive person, particularly when it came to business dealings. it seemed like every confidence man in the universe had x-ray vision when it came to identifying u.s. grant. the name on the shingle is grant who isd, but the person not only doing all of the
8:04 pm
business transactions, but who alone has the power to sign checks and has access to the lts isand has -- vau ferdinand ward. a lot of people invest in grant and ward because that is the name of the great unit in general and former president. sadly, grant was so trusting and so enamored of young ward that grant invested his life savings in the company. his three sons invested their life savings. numerous cousins, sisters and friends of confederate veterans invested their life savings. .rant went to work every day he went to wall street and reported their regularly and very proud. this firm seems to be the most successful on wall street. he should have been more skeptical because ferdinand ward was promising people rewards of
8:05 pm
15%-20% per month, not per year, so this was clearly a warning flag. to be a massive ponzi scheme. ferdinand ward turnout to be the bernie made off. up one morning to discover that all the profits were fictitious and he was worth exactly $80. host: you say that he went to vanderbilt for money? mr. chernow: for happen right before the firm went bust, ferdinand came to him in a panic and said he needed to brawl $150,000 -- needed to borrow $150,000. he said the money was to bailout the marine national bank, which was the main bank of the firm. in fact, it was to bail out
8:06 pm
grant and ward. grant grabs his crutches and goes off to see vanderbilt who does give him a check. grant assures him that he will or 48 hours.hin 28 only to find out that the firm went bust. grant was so innocent that he later said that, even on the night before grant and ward went last and this whole sham was expose, had no inkling that there was anything wrong. he said he had such implicit that it ferdinand ward took him a day to believe in the reality of what had happened. he kept imagining, as did his son, that ferdinand would materialize and explain the whole thing. ofs was an interesting site a man who, during the civil war, could be social rude inset -- fellowin sizing up his
8:07 pm
generals and the opposing generals. it is something of a mystery of a man who can be so perceptive about other people in certain , but in business situations seem to lose all sense of skepticism or reality. when did he discover he had cancer? mr. chernow: it was about a year before he died. it was really just a few months after the whole grant and ward debacle. in the beginning, there was something about writing memoirs. all of the civil war generals had rush to publish their .emoirs, two recent one to cash in on it and to put in their preferred version of history. those two events being wiped out financially and then being thenosed with cancer of
8:08 pm
thrill and tongue. very excruciating n-terminal. -- and terminal. it made grant think that when he really died that his wife julia would be left in destitute. it was at that point that he decided to write his memoirs. i don't think he initially the commercial potential of what that was. the first publisher he spoke to from the century magazine who proposed writing his memoirs said, you think anyone would be interested? the publisher said, are you kidding, general? do you not think people would be interested in napoleon's battles. but itjumping ahead, ended up earning $450,000, which would be 10 or $20 million today. probably the greatest
8:09 pm
of the 19th century. the only one that might've rivaled in totaled sales what a been uncle tom's cabin. moreld more copies, quickly than any other book in the 19th century. slightly underestimated the commercial potential of the book. host: how did he discover that he had cancer. mr. chernow: he and julia had a cottage in long branch, new jersey. in june 1884, they were sitting out on the pr is a test they were sitting out on the porch and he bit into a peach and he said it stung me. she thought maybe there was an insect or something that kind in it and literally stung him. it was the first that he relies to had the cancer. he tried to, at that moment, rent out his mouth.
8:10 pm
he thought that would remove the sensation. this is a very, very excruciating form of cancer. he made the statement that swallowing a glass of water was so painful that it was like swallowing lead. anything that he ate or drank was difficult to swallow and digest. he was on the shore in new jersey. had axt door neighbor doctor visiting and he examined him and told grant that he said consult his physician at home. sont's doctor was traveling he did not go to his doctor for four months. it is really rather amazing. i wonder in the book and to you right now, was this a case of
8:11 pm
stoicism? able to indooras and a norm us amount of pain throughout his life without complaining. childlikeore of a fear of been news and escaping from it, we will never know. given the fact that the were rather severe symptoms and he had a nagging cough that do not go away. it was understandable. cough that goes on for several months we would all be curious of what's going on, particularly if there are accompanied by very painful swallowing. it just got worse and worse. host: how many cigars did he smoked a day? mr. chernow: during the civil war, probably his first great victory. he surrounded fort donaldson and the surround her confederate armies surrounded 14,000 troops. accounts of that battle,
8:12 pm
grant had a cigar stub, which he had gotten from an admiral at breakfast that morning and was riding around the battlefield with this cigar stub. it was featured in different journalistic accounts of the battle. it was the first union victory celebrated and all of the northern cities. people out of the blue began to send him cigars. in fact, find cigars. they sent him 10,000 cigars. smoker,s more of a pipe that he had oral cravings throughout his life. smoke, so he you began to smoke 20 cigars a day. at the end of the civil war, with a great feeling of virtue, cutting downhe was his consumption to 10 cigars a day. he was pretty much smoking the entire day. the last year of his life, he gave up the cigars and said it
8:13 pm
is very difficult to say goodbye things thatgrant have been a solace and comfort to me throughout the years. he really loved smoking, but i don't think there is any question that it was a cigar consumption that led to the cancer. of his doctors was convinced that it was the cigars and told him to cut out the cigars. host: once he was diagnosed with lung cancer, what could they do for him? mr. chernow: in terms of treatment, very little. there was no treatment, they would keep swabbing out his mouth and trying to remove debris and cancerous tissue. there were a lot of different things that they could do in terms of pain relief. wasused cocaine because it numb the area. it went on and he used opiates.
8:14 pm
one of the interesting things was that he started writing the memoir and found that as soon as he a or drink anything he would be in agony. agony, he he was in would have to start taking morphine and other opiates. that would cloud his brain. habit ofot into the doing, with great current and fortitude, he would go with four or five hours without eating or tricking anything. -- eating or treating anything. that was to avoid the pain and not having to take any pain killers that might interfere with his mental clarity. i don't know if any book has ever been composed under such horrific circumstances. it is a masterpiece. the styletwain said of flow no man can improve upon
8:15 pm
it. it was a memoir that deserve to stand alongside caesar's commentary. many commentators and readers since then have agreed. you saidback to when he was 61 and he slipped and fell and had to go on crutches and died two years later. moneye loses all of that -- $80 inn $80 and his account. he was in a house on 60 six st in new york. what did he do any had no money? mr. chernow: they close up the street andst 66 fired the servants. he did get a $1000 gift from a veteran in upstate new york. is for this $1000 services rendered for april 18, 1860 five. he was a veteran who wanted to thank rent.
8:16 pm
startedch -- before he working he did articles for the century magazine called battles and leaders of the civil war. had about four different battles. when he wrote the first one, i .hink it was on shiloh he sends it off to the editors. grant had never written professionally before. the editors are disappointed and dispatch an editor to speak with him. the editor said that grants very dry and is a bloodless one. one of his civil war military reports with no life. , kind of editor says in lyman it with your personal impressions and observations and impressions of people. grant was a very good writer.
8:17 pm
every speech he wrote as president. he prided himself on his writing. a kind of became a revelation that one could gossip a little bit and have fun a little bit, and set the scene and describe the personalities that he rewrites. he is the people of a genius. pupilrites it -- he is a of the genius. he rewrites it. moment tove the experience the joys of authorship where heat feels the and where our imaginations and emotions come into play. that happens to grant. classicnsidered a because of its literary style. it is beautiful, the descriptions are extremely clear and accurate.
8:18 pm
it is very moving. it is a very becoming modesty about it and profound. he was a mean that grant wrote the entire section in one sitting. he said grant wrote that and we are not changing anything. it was 9000 words written in one sitting. he says to his word -- his friends, even on a good day at cannot write 5000 words. grant is just an amazing person. it is character revealed under the pressure of circumstance. grant said at the end of his life just how improbable it was. he said he never imagine that i would get any high grade and he ends up a general of the army.
8:19 pm
would goinggined he to politics and became a two-term president. he said he never imagine he would be an author and now his book is going off to the press. under the pressure of circumstances, he was extraordinary in many ways. something would happen that would force him to do something completely new and unaccustomed. it is anat inspirational story for all of us, that we really do not know our own potential until we are tested. granted not know his own potential. i tell the story in the book that when he left west point he graduated in the middle of his class. his highest ambition was to be an assistant math professor. not a full mattress -- full math
8:20 pm
professor, but an assistant math professor. he ended up having one million soldiers under his command who ended up being the only two-term president between jackson and wilson who would write one of the most famous memoirs of the english language. i don't think anyone could have been more surprised by grants life than grant. host: you mentioned a woman by the name of michelle in the manuscript division at the library of congress. we grabbed a camera and went over to meet her. i want to run a couple of things that she had to say so we can see with the actual manuscript look like. family gavegrant in 1930, hes grant and his mother gave to us the handwritten manuscript that grant wrote himself. as he was writing his memoirs, he started writing them himself. he had cancerause
8:21 pm
and his tongue and throw, it became difficult for him to write because he was getting tired. so he would did date. -- dictate. when he became too much to do that he went back to handwriting. host: when did you look at the actual manuscript? mr. chernow: when i first started writing the book, i was amazed at how many people said to me, did mark twain ghost write the memoir? host: he was his publisher. mr. chernow: yes, he was his publisher. i don't think twain was any more capable of imitating grant then grant imitating that style. withtyle was consistent what he had written his entire life. on q&a, i went down to the library of congress and i said to michelle and the other cheer raters that i would like to examine the original manuscript. they were a little bit
8:22 pm
reluctance, -- reluctant as it was one of their treasures. i said this is very important. they brought it out and i looked through every page. it was the single most poignant stage of my research. firm handes in a writing. as time goes by and with pain of the cancer and the affect of the narcotics he was taking for the pain -- by the end, his hand writer is beginning to slant and wobble as if he is standing on the deck. you really feel as you go through this that you are living through the final year of his life. it was all in grants handwriting. , his sonhe very end fred and hissed amaga for her, grant reached a point where it ,as -- and his stenographer
8:23 pm
grant reached a point where it was hard for him. -- hesaid that his own was a publisher more than an editor -- he said that his own involvement was restricted to trivial matters of grammar and punctuation. sudden and suspicious interjection of mark twain, which is going to be disappointed. where did he physically write it and with what? mr. chernow: he wrote with a pen . it was written after town house .n east 66 street he had the sun, his stenographer and his military secretary doing the research. they were doing an enormous number of maps and battle orders.
8:24 pm
different things to help him refresh his memory because he before.ing 20 years his townhoused was kind of full of all the documentation. his memory was quite extraordinary. there was a wonderful story about how good grants memory was. reveredin always ulysses s. grant. a senator from nevada dragged mark twain into grants office as president, it was not the oval office yet. twain was really nervous about meeting grant and grant was sitting there writing something and he sits up and duane says -- twain says to him, i am as it -- i am a little embarrassed by you. sohink for about 15 years or
8:25 pm
, they ran into each other at a army reunion in chicago. grant looked at twain and without missing a beat said, i am not embarrassed mr. twain, are you? stories, 20lot of years after the civil war of andt running into someone saying, jones, i remember you from the second day in shiloh. a photographic memory for people's faces and names. maybe it is one reason why he was a good politician. host: i want to go back to michelle who has been at the library for 17 years. the remember when you went there to see the manuscript? was it early in your research? mr. chernow: it was later in the research. probably three years ago. host: let's hear her describe
8:26 pm
some more about what it looks like. >> it almost looks like legal paper here. probably in a thought process in writing. page, you seethe it is a different piece of paper. grant, this is where he said i have our ease -- i have always regretted that it was made. by having it on a different paper, you can also see that he has made notes to his assistance, put this in after cold harbor after the army reaches the river, probably would be best. afterthought.n he is struggling with admitting that this is a very bad assaults , or one he regretted. as he is writing a long heat
8:27 pm
thinks of this and says put that in later. host: will you write about that in your book? grant said this single greatest regret of his civil war decision was the assault on cold harbor where 7000 of the soldiers could have minute maybe a 60 period. there were a kind of instructions to put it in. it was something that grant obviously had wrestled with in that he should not have ordered that. all of those years later, he was so haunted by the battle of cold harbor, which would haunt his reputation, even today. -- it right outside of
8:28 pm
was the end of the so-called overland campaign. the army is kind of moving south. ofht before the siege richmond and petersburg, it is that final clash where he tries to break through the lines of a brutal frontal assault. -- lee had a lot of respect for grant, but that was one move where he was completely perplexed and what grant was doing. it was a catastrophic mistake. host: you tell a story in there about charles good to know -- charles who assassinated garfield. there is a lot about him mention -- about the convention. what is the story about him trying to go after grant at some point? mr. chernow: in the book i reveal that grant was stuck by
8:29 pm
him before he killed garfield and john wilkes booth before he killed lincoln. he was constantly approaching grant. he was always described as this office seeker. he was mentally disturbed. confront grant. and grant was warned about him. that this was someone who was disturbed and should have nothing to do with him. he actually came up to grants hotel room. host: was the president at the time? mr. chernow: this was after. this was not long before garfield. he uses false pretenses to force
8:30 pm
his way into grants october of. grant says what are you doing here, i told you to leave me alone. want nothing from you but your signature, recommendation, or something. grant recognized that he was a disturbed individual you knew that he was disturbed but he did not know how to start until he turned out to be the ssassin of a garfield. grant had criticized garfield publicly after he became president, and then he was shot and grant felt terrible. he had been criticizing this fallen leader. incidentally, garfield's wife was staying in long branch, so grant was one of the first maybe
8:31 pm
the first across the street and offer his sympathy. that he would not die but he would linger on afterwards. had cases, including one described in the book, in the mexican war, grant have seen people in the war who were shot where they couldn't find the bullet, which was the problem they had with garfield. what grant remembered is that people who had bullets they couldn't find seemed to be fine for a while, and then would take a turn for the worse and die, which is exactly what happened. alexander graham bell, all of these people trying to use different devices to locate the bullet. it was so easy today, but a complete mystery of the time. host: i want to go back to the writing of the memoir. what was the length of time between when he started writing it and he finished this memoir?
8:32 pm
it was a period of about a year. at first, he was writing for articles for the "century" magazine. that would be incorporated into the memoirs, it was kind of a rolling process. he starts writing the "century" articles. it is a period about a year. no question that great literally will himself to stay alive to finish the when -- the memoirs. about sixwn his pen or seven days before he died. the doctor suggested he go to a place called mount mcgregor in upstate new york, the cottage is still there for people who want to visit. they thought if he was in pine scented mountain air, it might have a good affect on his
8:33 pm
health. the last month or two of his life come it is right outside saratoga springs. a beautiful, scenic spot in the mountains. he would sit on the porch writing. the funny thing was, it was just a little from a hotel called the l, and hel -- balmora begins something of a tourist attraction for the residents of the hotel found that as they were wondering up and down the path, they can watch the former president of the united states dying of cancer and composing his memoir. grant looked very dramatic sitting there on the porch. host: i want to show a photograph, and you have in your book, it has been shown for years and years, grant sitting on the porch at mel mcgregor. -- mount mcgregor.
8:34 pm
this is in the summer? mr. chernow: this would have been either june or july 1885. even in the mountains, it is extremely hot, it gives a sense of how bad his condition was. you can see his beard is grizzled. you can see he has a shawl or cloth on the right side of his face. what that was doing is he had a tumor on the side of his neck that some people setting -- people said it was as large as a baseball or two fists. i guess he felt self-conscious about the appearance of it, and there he is, composing his memoirs. it is an ordinary picture of him in terms of the seriousness, his determination, his intelligence and that he became obsessed with
8:35 pm
these memoirs, that he realized -- at first he was doing it julia from poverty after he died, but after she got into it, he almost could not wait to get back to it. he was a perfectionist, he wanted it to be as good as possible. was astonishing. i also think there are a lot of things he said, and as i'm saying, he started writing magazine articles, the first was kind of a bloodless report. then he begins to experience the joy of authorship, and the intense emotional experience of reliving experiences so emotional that we can almost not imagine them. i think what happens with any kind of writing is that when the emotion is a deep that is deep and true, suddenly beautiful
8:36 pm
-- isge is for sativus forced out of this. there is the famous passage lee at appomattox, and he talked about how sad he was at the moment, not jubilant. he said, i could not imagine over people who had fought so hard and valiantly, even though they had fought in the worst possible cause in the least possible excuse. it was phrased more beautifully than i said no. awayt takes your breath how gorgeously imperfectly he has stated something. writer, howme as a deeply he felt this, and these were words that had been german writing -- been a long time.
8:37 pm
i don't think he ever imagined he would be in a position of being able to express his very private feelings. att: one of our folks was up mount mcgregor a few weeks ago. here is a week -- here is a clip talking to a guy at the cottage. you can explain in a minute. >> a really interesting item we have this room is grant's original medicine is here, the original bottle and original substance. most people guessed that what they were using for medication is something like morphine or a heavy set it is. the only problem was grant could not take medicine like that. it was too powerful and he could not concentrate on working on his book. so the doctors settled on a
8:38 pm
fairly new substance at the time, fairly controversial, -- time, a little controversial, and that was cocaine. they would apply it topically on his throat so that he could get some relief and keep concentrating on his work. host: we also have some video showing the living room which we can roll showing how we put two chairs together. how much pain was he in from what you can tell? mr. chernow: that is significant. you would be kind of thing on one chair -- kind of sitting on one chair and have his legs raised on the other, he would create a writing desk by putting a board across. the reason these stuffed armchairs were so important to grant was because he found it very difficult if not impossible to sleep in a normal, horizontal position. terrible feeling
8:39 pm
as if he was struggling. it must have almost felt like he was being waterboarded. he would be suddenly gasping for breath. ,e would often sleep sitting up in a vertical position, it would keep the air passage open. it is amazing the amount of suffering he went through, and the last thing that the average person would want to do during that time would be a massive project. to write a long book like this, as any writer would attest, carries a very large weight on your shoulders. he was already carrying the largest weight of all in terms of mortality in worrying about providing financially for his family. it was really an amazing, amazing feat. just a few days before he died, he finished the book.
8:40 pm
what was the end of his life like? it was almost as if grant recognized at that moment that his work was done, and his life was over. they wheeled him out one day to a scenic overlook we could see a number of different mountain ranges. just that exertion of rolling him, they came back, and it had taken a terrible toll on him. luckily, he passed away very, very quietly. to julia very difficult decision in terms of deciding what to do about his earthly remains. of grants have had a kind vagabond life. fixed anot have a boat -- abode.
8:41 pm
he has been assigned to different garrisons, they had lived in washington, he was moving around missouri and tennessee and virginia, mississippi, etc. there was not a natural resting place. he had very fine feelings toward new york, he felt new york had embraced him. but it really fell to julia. there were people who wanted him buried at arlington, he would've preferred to be buried at west point, but julia could not have been buried with him at west point. , where he isois been living. julia said she made the decision to locate grants tomb on the upper west side of manhattan for a lot of reasons. a lot of people would be able to visit it. because she lived there, she can visit it.
8:42 pm
riverside park was new and the mayor said they can put it there. i think for julia, he was a real love match, beginning to end. for julia, the single most important consideration was that new york city is part of the deal so that julia could be buried, adjoining sarcophagi ulysses.your leases -- tw when you visit, it is grant, but also julia grant. groucho marx began to feel sorry for the guests he would have on his show. he said, let's ask a question everyone could answer. it was about grants tomb, and to
8:43 pm
peoplezement, have the got it wrong. who is buried in grants tomb? a fellow atve been mississippi state, where the new grand library is. the great library at mississippi state? mr. chernow: it's an interesting story. it did not get as much complicity as one might imagine what happened. starting in the 1960's at southern illinois university, it began to create the first edition of grants papers. in 1967, iished think the 32nd and final volume in 2012. they are fabulous. this is a great scholarly fee. they say in the acknowledgment havee book, i wish i could
8:44 pm
fangs, -- have thanked, if i and my other biographers look good, it is because of john wayne simon. university decided to shop the papers. it is 220,000 grant related documents. one of the people on the board of the great association who , anrvises the papers emeritus professor of history at mississippi state. state madessissippi a strong bid for it. so the grant papers, lo and behold, ended up in the deep south. they just created a beautiful -- this is the first annotated edition of grants memoirs. long overdue. isn't that beautiful cover? staff, they call it the grant presidential library,
8:45 pm
have done an outstanding job. the have shown me every courtesy. everyone shows up there. i have met john and the people there, i asked them if there was a controversy when grants papers were moved to mississippi, and they said no. john could only remember one person who made an issue of it. they have done a great job. host: we asked michelle about you -- mr. chernow: ut-oh. host: no. here is her answer to working with you. you expect abroad may -- expect a broadway musical to be made of this like alexander hamilton? >> [laughter] i think you would have to ask chernow, but i think
8:46 pm
it would make sure he was in perpetuity on the $50 bill, for one thing. i don't think grant is going to end up as a musical. he does not move to hip-hop beats. i think would be a very good subject for a feature film. hamilton, aside from lin-manuel miranda's genius, hamilton was young and dashing and handsome and romantic. he was a perfect leading man for a musical. grant's life moves to a very different kind of beat. laconic, andand the charisma of ulysses s. grant was that he had no charisma. he was not dramatic. he is no less fascinating, that he is a much more, no lefty than
8:47 pm
-- heon, but kind of very reminded me more of george washington, george washington had a similar reserved, enigmatic quality to grant. host: you've been involved with alexander hamilton musical. i don't know if you are willing to tell us, how many books of insult -- have been sold? millionnow: more than a as of last year according to my publisher. wonderful for a serious biography. i feel very fortunate that i somehow got swept up in this whole "hamilton" phenomenon, it is a gift that goes on giving. my relationships with the producers, the creative team, all the various casts, there
8:48 pm
will be six different companies doing it soon. it has gone national and is about to go international. host: it is coming to washington. i want to ask you about some politics. mirandalin-manuel during the campaign last fall. there are 10 things you need to do register to vote posted hillary sign on your long terrain, watch the man timn with your kaine ♪ host: why did a broadway show get into politics? that was a fundraiser for hillary clinton. mr. chernow: that is a good
8:49 pm
question. when the show started out, we were all, we all made an agreement we would try to keep the show and the promotion and marketing completely nonpartisan. that we did not want to show to be perceived as either republican or democrat or liberal or conservative. we were hoping political figures from both sides of the aisle would come. we had many more democratic politicians the republicans, it would turn out. lin has been very active in recent weeks, with the hurricane, the poor hurricane relief and has made some strong statements about the president. has been a kind of official change, i still like to think
8:50 pm
that it is a show for all americans. i would hate for people to come or not come because they are republicans or democrats. we had this much-publicized incident when mike pence came, just a few days after the show opened. a member of the cast misstatement from the stage -- made a statement from the stage that i thought was eloquent and thoughtful. host: we have that statement, i want to run this so people can see it. five president-elect cans, we will keep and thank you for joining us. we are the diverse america who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us. [cheering] >> or defend us or uphold our unalienable rights. but we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our
8:51 pm
american values and work on behalf of all of us. all of us. [applause] host: no worry that the other side would not come to the play. mr. chernow: i did not know about this in advance, i woke up the next morning and read about it in the newspapers like everyone else. i do know -- and this is part of the whole secret source of waslton, we had a cast that overwhelmingly black, latino, biracial. members of the cast are gay. i think in addition to the people who did not vote for trump kind of worrying whether multiculturalism would be honored, it was these feelings i think were particularly acute, understandably, with these casts. i understand where they were
8:52 pm
coming from about this. in fact, it was not clear whether mike pence was in a theater or had left and was in the lobby when the statement was made. as i recall, it was on a friday sunday, he gave an interview with fox news in which he was very complementarity about the show. he said he was a great history buffs and it was a great show and he loved it. he was actually very presidential in responding to it. a 48 hour.mp over tweeted four times about the show, and one of the tweets said that he heard the show was vastly overrated. [laughter] mr. chernow: which is kind of funny. we went through a period where some from people were boycotting the show, and anti-trump people
8:53 pm
were saying please do, maybe we can get tickets if you boycott. us.pe it is behind i still fervently hope that every american will feel this is their show. host: one last piece of video, it involves you. we will watch this and ask you to describe to us what you did this. >> that comes a time when i and you can no longer remain neutral, silent. we must speak up and speak out. >> like many other historians, i have been deeply disturbed by the trump campaign. demagogues rise and sometimes rise to the heights of power. he is saying only i can solve these problems? nothing is more antithetical to america's founding. >> what is especially different about donald trump is that he is
8:54 pm
not a patriot. >> one of the things donald trump is not is a populist. >> donald trump is attuned to the white backlash against a black man in power. >> he is melville's confidence man. he is the huckster, the shark. >> i don't know as much about trumps temperament, but he seems like a narcissist. host: why did you decide as a historian to jump into this? mr. chernow: it was interesting, this project was started by ken burns and david mccullough during the campaign. speeche an extraordinary at the stanford commencement, and he said as a historian, i guess documentary film maker, he said ordinarily we try to be completely nonpartisan, and we liberal to have
8:55 pm
followers and conservator -- conservative followers. in my statement, i was picking up things i have noticed were absent in trump's words. kindness, sympathy and compassion. there was much too much of an emphasis i thought of money and power and strength. felt, it is not something i think any of us did lightly. as i said with a show, we want to show to be the show, we want people to be historians for everyone. but it was an unusual situation. with trump. hands, the october 15 "new york times" book review, and there you are leaving the whole thing, written by william jefferson clinton. how did that happen? mr. chernow: the interesting
8:56 pm
thing is, i met bill clinton a few years ago, when i was just starting work on grant, and he is a great reader of history. he said to me, who are you working on? i said, ulysses s. grant. memoirs, andrant's three biographies on grant. as we start discussing it, i could tell he really had read all four of those books, because he had different things to say about them. i've recently was interviewed about -- interviewed by the editor of the maritime book review section, and i asked her how sheappened -- happened to choose clinton, and she said because of clinton's fascination with grant. i was deeply flattered to have a former president reviewing the book, particularly one who is really a student of american
8:57 pm
history. there are deep reflections, i think not only about grant, but in terms of the continuing life, of our national a lot of issues raised by the civil war and reconstruction. i also thought for such a celebrated figure, bill clinton, it was an amazingly modest review. he really made it about grant rather than about bill clinton. he very carefully coded -- quoted the book. , notught it was a model just because it was about me, it showed his and scholarship and integrity as a student of history. host: the next book? mr. chernow: i don't know yet, brian. i'm trying to clear my head. there are 1000 pages that
8:58 pm
anyone can read that you have written. grant."e of the book is "rent always a pleasure. mr. chernow: thank you very much. ♪ >> for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at q&a.org. q&a programs are also available as c-span podcasts. ♪ >> if you enjoyed this week's q&a interview with ron chernow, here are some other programs you
8:59 pm
might like. a historian talks about his ,iography of president grant our 2016 interview with roger now talks about his bag fee of alexander hamilton was the basis of the hit broadway musical, and our 2010 interview with roger now on his battlefield george washington. library atentire the.org. journaln's "washington ," with every day with news and policy issues that impact you. morning, aonday former new york congressman, author of the book "rally point" will share his ideas on the american dream and how -- and then how politics has changed america. and a policy report from bloomberg on the congressional reauthorization of the children's health insurance
9:00 pm
program. the sure to watch "washington journal" live at 7:00 eastern monday morning, join the discussion. the house ways and means committee begins its work on the republican tax reform plan on monday before sending it to the full house for debate and vote. watch live coverage monday starting at noon eastern on c-span two and c-span.org. in listen live using the free c-span radio app. >> on with it, british prime minister theresa may condemned the recent terror attack in new york city. she also responded to allegations of sexual initial -- sexual assault in parliament, offeringk's role in assistance to robert mueller's russia investigation. this is just over 45 minutes. the scottish market. >> order. questions to the prime minister. dennis skinner. [shouting]

17 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on