tv Today in Washington CSPAN November 3, 2010 2:00am-5:59am EDT
you get that through the beautiful body of letters that we have of them. but, yes, go ahead. >> yes, what was the themes of the book? ma -- that madison was much more disinstructful, and if you wanted to elaborate on that difference and some of the differences between madison and jefferson? >> well, they knew collaborative tension. we know collaborative tension. but it's a good thing. madison was less easily upset than jefferson was. jefferson you see the emotionality in his correspondence. sometimes madison had to quiet him down.
madison had one particular dislike, that was john adams. he detested adams for years and years. and this was the one cantankerous member of the founding foundation that jefferson was always ready to make amends with. there's another interesting triangular relationship there. >> yeah, i think in terms of madison's view towards the people, this is one the things we had trouble understanding. he wasn't anticipating democracy. and, you know, one the debates that he carries on in the federalist papers has to -- as an unanimous writer in new york and believes they have to be closely influenced. madison was uncomfortable with that. based on his observations of what had gone on in virginia. he basically felt that have there -- what he really wanted,
the constitution to do and the new government to do was to create a system that would filter legislation. remove impurities, remove the mistakes, and when he writes about the states in anticipation of the constitutional convention, he sees them almost as if they are a rambunctious group of children that need to be disciplined. this is an important difference. often if you follow one line of arguments which comes from hamilton that somehow jefferson seduced madison away from hamilton and hamilton can't understand why it is that, you know, madison seems to be his opponent. well, part of it is the way they thought about government was different. madison really wanted a government that would be more disciplined, you know, that would engage in discipline, would get rid of what he saw the excess of government, or excess
of a concentration of powers. hamilton really wanted an energetic government which would augment power. so their views and their thinking about the kind of government that they envisioned was different. it's not particularly surprising that they would part ways in the 1790s. the other thing that's really important that's different from madison and jefferson is that jefferson we know his illusions to the farmer. he tended to romanticize the people. jefferson basically believed in the will of the majority. he believed that could be, you know, the ruling principal across the board. as you also discover about jefferson, occasionally he
realized majority work didn't work when majority will seemed to be opposed to the policy he was backing. he do have abstract and look at the federal government in different ways. they don't completely lose that. one the interesting things about madison writing for the press, he beginning to value the importance of what is called popular public opinion. that public opinion was known in the 18th century. which was educated public opinion. he thought it was a good idea for educated people to write for the press. and how larger people should respond to certain issues. we have to take into account that madison and jefferson don't remain constant over times. there are fundamental differents that remain in their thinking. we don't want to lose sight. this is one the problems, we tend to trap the founders of one period of time. this is encapsulating all of
their thinking. that's not true. people evolve, people change their views, you know, change in person directions. you know, as they respond to political situations. >> a good example of this is during the war of 1812. jefferson is an ex-president, he was coaching madison privately writing letters suggesting how to prosecute the war of 1812. madison ultimately found that the best means was deficit spending and to go back to a ham iltonian view of the bank. which jefferson opposed in the 1890s. jefferson found himself, his idead over turned by madison at some critical moments. so to look upon these partners as two who saw eye to eye all the time, is incorrect. and that's what makes the friendship, that half century of friendship so powerful and
intriguing. because they did dispute one another from time to time. not just style, but substance. >> you were talking about dirty politics in the 1790s. we're currently in the midterm elections in 2010. what are the similarities that you see and differences that you see -- of course, we are a lot better wiring than those guys were. have they been through the -- >> the questions asked us to compare the 1790s to politics in 2010. there was no corporate finance. [laughter] >> the personal attacks are what's unchanged. and what we ordinarily don't associate with the pathological
decade of the 1790s. but, you know, it's hard for historians to -- i mean what we do is we read 18th century newspapers. we don't try to find parallels to what's going on today. so probably we won't be able to give you a really colorful answer to that. >> well, i think just one point that you can add to that is you have to remember the contentious political style, satire, the nastiness of the press, we inherited from great britain. and that is not our own unique creation. although i think democracy fuels it. but clearly this -- this idea of attacking the enemy became much more poa lil -- poa lit sized through the newspapers.
>> do you have any particular reaction to any of the varied ways that jefferson in particular used -- >> well, how madison and jefferson are quoted in the press and in the senate chamber today. well, one of the things that encouraged us to write this book and to do the research deeply is that madson is generally known only as, you know, the so-called father of the constitution and a co-author of the federalist papers which nancy mentioned earlier the federalist papers didn't really become important national documents until the modern age, so when madison is
oversimplified and looked upon just as the egghead of the founders who wrote the constitution and thought about in a language and perhaps spoke in a language that would be hard for us to understand you know, you miss humanity, but what we've done is to present madison as a partisan and just as bitter as jefferson in going up against hamilton and the federalists, so you know, jefferson is always intriguing, and we haven't written the last book on jefferson, his personality, his political views, but hopefully we've jump started a conversation. >> yeah, i add whenever
jefferson or madison are quoted by politicians or journalists, it's completely out of context and even books that collect their quotes, if you just read the quotes, you won't understand. jefferson's case wrote one thing to one person in a letter. you have to understand letters were politicized. they were not shares -- sharing in confidence. they had to write in cipher if they wanted it to be secret. your mail could be opened and secrets could be revealed. it was jefferson who got into trouble that way. i think part of the problem is it's difficult for americans to understand the issues of the 18th century and it's difficult to understand what are the things that wild people in the
18th century about power? if you only cite references to tyranny, you won't understand. jefferson and madison were against a big army. is anyone today going to defend the dismantling of the military? no. >> what matters is context, understanding context so when you see the qowtble jefferson or madison, you can't take them out of context. you have to understand them within the moral boundary, within the emotional boundaries and intellectual boundaries in which they lived. i understand we're nearing the end of the hour, and i believe you all will be treated to mr. jefferson's favorite wine
from 1786. [laughter] oh, i'm sorry -- [laughter] it turns out we're having a recent vine taj. thank you all for coming. [laughter] [applause] >> they'll be a book signing and a reception upstairs. my desire to reverse the name order of the book ought to represent the extent which madison has been obscured and andy and nancy have very properly attempted to resurrect madison in this relationship so thank you again for extremely accessible and readable book. thank you. [applause]
seller. >> guest: thank you. >> host: now, tell us briefly, just give us a brief overview of the particular work. >> guest: well, this is about what happened in america while the hunt for john wilkes booth was taking place. i couldn't tell the entire story of the spring and summer of that time. there's two great things that with happening. two men went on two of the greatest journeys in american history, and i think these two journeys of lincoln and davis are as important as the journey of louis and clark or even the journey to the moon because the jowrnny of lincoln and davis one a hero and one a lost man influence how we think about about race, politics, and the meaning of the civil war, and that's what captured me in telling the rest of the story.
>> host: why the title bloody crimes? you indicate it's a prof my, a promise, and an ill lo ji. can you explain that? >> host: the title comes from the bible. before the civil war, he launched a ferry and when he was captured and sentenced to the executed, he leafed through the bible and folded over pages, underliped words and sentences. in one particular line he underline is make a chain for the land is full of bloody crimes and the city is full of violence. on the day he was executed, he handed a note that said i prophesied the crimes of this bloody land are only purged by blood. after the lincoln assess nation there was envelopes, receipts,
flags people would wear, and one photographer in boston came out with an image of a woman dressed as liberty guarding a picture of lincoln, and there was an eagle perched on the picture. it was make a chain for the land of bloody crimes. certainly in the north and south believe it was the climax of an era and the north believe southerners murdered men on the battlefield and the union lost men and the conditions in the prison camps were horrific, and of course the climax of these crimes were the murder of the president himself, and so the north thought the south was guilty of countless crimes of blood, and then the south thought that lincoln was the criminal rav vishing towns, destroying crops, invading
plantations and killing 240,000 of their men. each side agreed on one thing that april and may of 1865 was a great climax of bloody crimes and that prophesy was in the civil war. that's how i titled the book. >> host: because of all of those things and because southerners and northerners looked at the war differently, we know the view of the north was tarnishes and his image has been softened over the years, he does not guard the attention that abraham lincoln does. we tend to look at the differences between the two men more than the similarities, but you have done something extraordinary. you have been able to point out the of similarities and the no-so-obvious similarities between the two. can you give us information
about that? >> guest: yes, when i started the book i knew more about abraham lincoln than jefferson davis. that's been the focus of most of my writing. i was intrigued by davis and that began in a cemetery in washington, d.c. in georgetown at oakland cemetery. he was buried temporarily in a tomb, a space for lincoln. one day when i was visiting willie lincoln's old tomb, jefferson davis also buried a son of his inspect same cemetery. we all know the differences between them. what do they have in common? both were born in kentucky, a year apart, 100 miles apart, born not under grand and wealthy circumstances. they were prankers and jokers.
they were both wrestlers, both suffered great tragedies in their youths. we know the story of lincoln and anne rutledge. for years some historians have argued that there was no romance between them. it's been made up. the evidence says and the great lincoln scholars have now concluded and i'm sure they're right that there was love between lincoln and anne and she died suddenly of illness. it devastated him and he became a different man. some of his friends thought he might commit suicide. davis fell in love with tennessee 18 -- an 18-year-old named sarah cox. he quit the army to marry her. he married, they took her home
to the mississippi river to his sister's plantation, and then they were struck down by a form of malaria. he recovered and she died in his arms. they were married for 12 weeks. davis said that was the time of his great so collusion. he vanished from life for years. they studied through the night, read books, studied politic, and he was a lost man. lincoln and davis both suffered tragic losses of their first loves and they became different men. lincoln certainly death in his family and death of anne, he, too, had a different view of nature and the meaning of life. both had that and that's just one of the similarities. they had a similar physical
appearance. they weral and lean with a look about them. they both loved books and learning. they were not men who sought luxuries of the world. neither one cared about expensive furniture or world travel or goods or superficial things. they were both deep thinkers and compelling speakers. when davis resigned from the u.s. senate and gave his last speech, people cried. he was known for having a beautiful persuasive or tore kl voice. leaning had a different -- lincoln had a different voice. both were incredible speakers and sought to master their passions. they were both opposed to succession. he traveled to the south and they were men of reason and not
unrestrained passion and suffered terribly in the war. lincoln's son, willie, died. davis lost a son. they suffered the death of freppedz, family members, people they knew. there was one great difference between them, and this must not be overlooked. lincoln said if slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. now, there's been controversy about what did lincoln believe about slavery and race at different points in his life. what does he say in northern illinois and southern illinois? we know one thing about lincoln. he always thought slavery was a great moral wrong. if -- and so davis did not agree. davis believed in white racial superiority throughout his life. davis believed that slavery was good, that is it actually helped people become civilized after
being brought here from africa. i wondered if african-american lincoln and davis ever met. they're in washington at the same time at various times, but we know they never met. i think they would have got along in many ways talking about the greatness of america, both lincoln and davis were nationalists and they believed in american american exceptionalism. lincoln believed all men deserved to be free and the constitution guaranteed that. davis believed the opposite. he said the founders had slavery, why not us? he believed people always were meant to the slaves. it's tragic because they could have been friends possibly. possibly they could have avoided a civil war if they knew each other and were close friends before the war, but that great gulf between them on the nature
of man divided them forever. >> i guess that's my basic question. how is it one is a slave holder, and the other could become an advocate for the freedom of all people if not for the equality of all people, certainly the freedom of all people if they were similar in terms of background. was davis' background that similar to lincoln's or was there just a bit more wealth on his side? >> guest: there was, there was more wealth. lincoln grew up in circumstances unbelievably poor. lincoln had a hard childhood. his father worked him like a slave would have worked. at age 9, he had an ax in his hand. lincoln worked incredibly hard. davis got privilege early on. lincoln had a year and a half of
schooling at most. he's a graduate of the first or second grade. davis went to private academies and a college and was appointed to the united states military academy at west point. his older brother sponsored him, took care of him, gave him land for plantations, and his brother gave him his first slaves. the gulf began early in terms of experiences and wealth. davis made use of his skills by becoming senator and congressman. the difference began early in life. >> host: okay. you point out in the book as well that despite all that the north had suffered during the four years of war, lincoln was not inclined to punish the southern people or their leaders for that matter, and so he tells his generals to let them up easy, and there's an indication there that he really was more
than willing to let davis escape, and in fact, he seemed to have preferred that happen, and i assume that's because he didn't want the country thrown into even more chaos because you put this man on trial and all of that, but given what the northern people had suffered, was he being just a tad naive or just wishful thinking, or what was going on in lincoln's head? >> guest: i think a few things were going on in lincoln's mind. first, he was an incredibly generous person. he was a kind person. he was not -- lincoln once said i shall do nothing through mailness. what i do is too vast for malicious dealing. he believed the wounds would be healed as quickly as possible. he was opposed to putting the confederate leaders on trial, just let the men go home.
even davis because lincoln thought if davis is tried and executed, the south might revolt again or some of the south might fight a guerrilla war or resist reconstruction and be dragged kicking and screaming into the union. the constitution says treason trials take place at the place. in davis had been tried and in the of treason, a court would have validated secession and say the south is not wrong to leave. nobody wanted that, and if davis was guilty and was executed, lincoln feared there would be an upheaval and cause bitterness. some said do not execute jefferson davis. there was a newspaper in
massachusetts that said let him live because if we hang him, a million southern women will dip their hander chiefs in his blood and hold a grudge for a century. it would have been bad to execute davis because it would cause a riff. two, what if we did try him and he was found in the and secession would be justified under the holding of the davis court. it's difficult to overestimate lincoln's great pes. when he went to richmond, the city was burning and there was smoke. the freed slaves met him at the dock and escorted him through the city. that was the height of his presidency. he was moved. when the former slaves bowed to me, he said don't bow to me, kneel only to god.
he didn't exalt. long -- lincoln sat there, didn't speak, and asked for a glass of water. it's taken years to end the civil war, lincoln could have ended as a king. he walked as a plain man with 12 guards through the enemy capitol. that's the most volatile situation that an american president has ever placed himself in. he didn't go in triumph but are humility and gratitude that the bloodshed was over. he couldn't not have ordered punishments and hangings. it was not in his nature. he transcended bitterness and politics of the time which is why he was one the greatest of all americans. >> host: at the same time, he was willing to accept his generals using the hard hand
war. how do you reconcile those two lincolns? >> guest: it's unusual because he was this kind man, but he also knew that he had to preserve the union. lincoln had two great public political passions. one, that slavery was a terrible wrong and could never be justified. there's other great political passions that's the union. it must not be destroyed, and he felt for the greater good of the nation even if he had to fight the civil war, it was worth paying the price to make america better and preserve the union and ultimately to end slavery. lincoln said he couldn't kill a chicken. you know, as the war progressed, he took on a more mysterious
view that a divine hand was intervening, and he was an actor or agent of this devine hand. lincoln was surrounded by death through the the civil war. friends were killed, certainly colonel baker was killed and wrote a letter and tells a girl i more than any know this. the terrible episode in 1864 when those poor young girls are blown to bits when the washington arsenal explodes, 20 dead girls as young as 13 died. lincoln presides over their funeral. it's an odd thing to think of lincoln dealing with death every day knowing he is sending men to die, friends are dying, family is dying. he was willing to do it. lincoln, and i don't mean this in a bad way, but lincoln is one
of the greatest killers in american history because of his decision, because of his will, hundreds of thousands of americans died, but he thought the price of the civil war was worth paying to preserve america as a great institutionings to preserve liberty, ultimately free the slaves and preserve the constitution. there was two lincolns wrestling with each other. he was a tortured soul in his presidency. he was stricken by the deaths and suffering going on in the civil war, but he thought the price was worth paying. >> host: okay, going back to the richmond visit, i agree that was an enormous thing to do, but lincoln seemed not to aware of the danger he was in or was indifferent to the danger really and you see a similar thing be
jefferson davis. he's not anxious to leave richmond even though he was told by lee there's no way the army can protect richard monday any longer, and when he does leave, he go to danville and stays awhile and moves on, but he's not in any great hurry to get out of harm's way. you have both men who are very indifferent to the danger to their own lives, so what's happening there? is that just a characteristic of great men, or are they just simply out of their mind? >> guest: well, lincoln didn't believe in pomp and circumstance. he really believed he was a plain man, a citizen temporarily elevated to this great and high office. he didn't like having an entourage of guards or like having that protection. he thought it seemed impeer yule or --
imperial or kingly, unfortunately that's the way he thought. during the civil war washington, d.c. was a zest pool of disloyalty and agents and spies and multiple plots. at that point in time, anybody could have done to the white house and say i want to see the president, what's your business, i want to see him about this, wait on a bench, and it's a miracle that during the civil war someone etc didn't make an appointment to shoot him. i think it's a miracle no one assassinated him before john did. he was unprotected the night he was shot. he didn't care about that security. he owed it not nation and his family to protect himself better. i hate to say that, but he should have been more careful and thought about the consequences of his death, not only for his family, but the country.
the country needed him at the end of the civil war. he would have been the south's best friend. everyone would have been better off in lincoln had lived. that's the great tragedy of the assassination. in the case of jefferson davis; davis was wounded in a mexican war and led troops forward in combat and defeated a charge by mexican lancers closing in on his troops. he was brave, hardy, he endured long journeys during his youth across the country. when he was a little boy at 7 years old, he road on a pony and met andrew jackson and then went to school. he was used to the hardships of life. he had many illnesses and almost died. he didn't view the civil war with ending when richmond fell
in 1865. that's really one of the core stories of the book. dave didn't want to give up. he didn't view fleeing richmond as an escape to save his life or his family. he wasn't trying to escape to a foreign land. he believed he was carrying on the confederate cause, and his escape in his mind was an ordered retreat from place to place with a body of armed troops, with documents, papers, way wagons to keep the government going. he stayed in danville for a week to operate the federal government and awaiting news with general lee. lee had not surrendered yet. he wanted to go deeper south, then west, across the mississippi and form a new western confederacy.
first, he wasn't trying to save himself but the country and continue the war. he believed he could do it and believed in lessons he could make the retreat, reestablish the heart of the confederacy elsewhere. secondly, he didn't really care about himself. he said that he was willing to die to save his people, and he believed that after he was captured. he said that if it will make the life of the people of the south better after the war, i'm happy to be the sacrifice. if the north wants to kill me, so be it, put me on trial. i can help my people. at the end of his life when he went on a grand tour of the south, davis had never been the number one hero in the south of the civil war. davis, i believe, was more popular near the end of his life than at the height of his power
in the civil war. true also of lincoln. it's interesting how both men after the fall became bigger heros. he was shocked at how he was celebrated. tens of thousands of people with great acclaim, women passed out by his feet. veterans trembled uncontrol belie by him. davis' wife said you cannot meet anymore veterans, this is going to kill you. you will not survive. davis said i can think of no greater honor than to die in the presence of the confederate army and my men. he believed that during the escape. it was not a cowardly thing to flee and hide from history. in fact, i would say i don't think he ever wanted to escape. i think he wanted to be on stage at the end for the final curtain.
he could have escaped. he could have fled the country. other members of the cabinet fled to foreign lands and prospered there. he could have done the same. his view was as long as my soldiers are fighting, i can't abandon them or abandon the country, and so like abraham lincoln, he didn't care in the end what would happen to him. >> host: but he does not give up until he's captured even those his generals are telling him the game is up. there's no way they're going to prevail, even if they make it west of the mississippi, they're not going to be successful. there's not enough troops there. he continues, and so one wonders is this a flaw of leadership? is it a character flaw or what? you think if he cares so much about his soldiers, then he would have given up so then that they would have an opportunity to live. i mean, that's what lee does.
nobody understands there's nothing else he can do and instead of sacrificing the rest of his men that remain he decide the best thing for them is to vender. davis does not do that. >> guest: it's true. dais didn't want to surrender. he felt he had to to save what's left. davis at a certain point was told by almost everyone it's over. early on people thought, well, let's give it a try, maybe we won't lose and we can prolong the war. at the certain point, yes, the military leaders were with him saying we have to give up. there's nothing more we can do. lee surrenders. he has joe left. he surrenders and loses the army in the north carolina and lost the two principle armies east of the mississippi river. now what? now he's going from virginia to south carolina to south carolina
to georgia. some men say it's finished. go to florida and run away or go to mexico. davis says, well, if it causes loss, why are you still with me? they say not to fight, but to save you. that's the only reason we are here because we can't allow you to fall into union hands. we will die to save you and your family, but we are not dying to save the confederacy. they have lost. it's an interesting thing psychologically. he was the reluck at that particular time secessionist and didn't lead of the south of the union. even when he agreed to be president, he looked like he had news of a great death. once he was president of the confederacy, he gave it his all, a total commitment, and i think he did not want history to say of him he quit, he gave up. i think he wanted history so say he did everything last thing he
could before he gave up. i think that's why, yes, if he was concerned more about the lives of the soldiers, the remaining soldiers, perhaps he could have given up earlier and not waited for capture or surrendered. i know the reason he didn't was not merely to save his life. he believed there was a chance. one could say he was di lewded at the end and had too much confidence in his own ability to inspire the people west of the mississippi. if you read his letters though and one the great things about the davis escape is a wonderful exchange of love letters and urgent letters between he and his wife. she didn't travel with him during the escape. they were on parallel paths heading south. he thought that was safer. their correspondence and later correspondence while he was in prison reminds me of the one of john adams, a lifelong love, a
support for each other, one could do a book about the correspondence of jefferson and his wife. >> host: we're going to take a brief break, and when we come back, i'd like to talk about how davis' image changes overtime because he was not popular at the end of the war with certain segments of his own country, those people in the confederacy at least, and i'd like to talk also in great detail about what you call the death pageant that you where egg gauntly about -- elegantly about, so we'll be back shortly.
northern cities, and we understand that there had to be something extraordinary for this man because he had just saved the union. he had just won the war, but it seems that there was -- it's very much over the top. it was an extremely expensive funeral and return home, and there was some rituals that were agented out, -- acted out, i think, that gave me pause. if you could explain a bit about what's happening in terms of practices in the 19th century, how would his funeral reflected those practices? >> guest: yes. it was the biggest funeral in american history perhaps rivaled by the funeral of john f. kennedy or not because it was missing that pageant of going across the nation. of course when lincoln was
killed, everyone knew there was going to be a great funeral. no president had a funeral like lincoln. this was going to be something special. the pageant really began what lincoln's body was taken from the peterson house to the white house, and that was one of the most dramatic moments in the white house, the morning of april 15, several hours after the president died, an army took him to the white house and took him to the guestroom and laid him out on boards upon two trestles, and then there was an autopsy. people don't remember that lincoln's body was autopsied in the white house, and there was the president of the united states laying naked on these boards when the army surgeons came and cut open longes' head,
removed his brain. the bullet fell from the brain into a container and echoed in the room. locks of hair were taken and then after the autopsy, the embalmers came. now, they didn't know at that moment it was going to be a funeral pageant. this was shaping up in short notice. they had to have the funeral in washington by the same embalmers who covered body of his son. for the next few days lincoln's body was in seclusion while things were planned. there was decided to be a viewing in the east room and he was carried down the stairs for this viewing that began on april 18th and then it was to be the funeral in the white house. it was the most coveted ticket.
then a procession took him down pennsylvania avenue and then the capitol dome and people viewed him there. his final procession took him from the dome to the railroad station. by then the nation was getting calls to send lincoln back to the people. secretary stanton was related to all things related to the lincoln fiewn -- funeral. telegrams started coming in, send him to philadelphia, we must see him in new york. the president was lincoln's great train journey east in february 1861 after being elected president. this was his inaugural journey in reverse. they sent him north first and then the great turn west to
ohio, indiana, cleveland, chicago, and then south to springfield. mary lincoln gave permission for this. it wasn't known whether she would allow it to happen or if she allowed this plan, an open coffin all the way. 1 million people viewed the corpse of lincoln. children, several million people saw the train. there were exotic rituals along the way, thousands of flowers, women came on board at each stop of the trap and weeped at the tomb, left notes. little children sent a wreath for willie lincoln. lincoln, of course, planned himself to take willie home at the end of his second term in 1869, and they traveled together
back to springfield. in new york city, a photographer captured photographs of lincoln dead in his coffin and it caused a national sen sensation. it caused an outrage. for one soul surviving print that ended up in the papers and was ultimately discovered. lincoln in philadelphia was laid at the foot of the liberty bell. in 1861 in philadelphia when he came east as president elect, he said that rather than give up on the promises of the delar ration of independence, he said i would rather be assassinated on the spot. there he was by the liberty bell now. then it was an iconic object than it is today. it was incredible symbolism. 36 girls dressed in white
symbolizing the 36 stars on the flag leading parades in honor of lincoln. people stood with torchlights in rains, darkness, fires, bands, cannons, nothing like it had happened before in america. it was unbelievable, and it was that journey that transformed ab lincoln from a man into america's secular saint. it was not just lincoln coming home on that train. i'm convinced that the american people viewed that train as something bringing home every husband, every brother, every lover, every father who had been killed in that war. they were all coming home on that train, all 340,000 of them. that was the great emotional train. not for you, but for you alone, and his poem was not just about lincoln.
the sprig of lilac was not for lincoln alone, and just as witman's poem was for all fallen men, that journey where millions viewed the train and the corpse, people stood in line for five or six hours, thousands of people passing in an hour by the coffin. they were not just mourning lincoln, of course they were, but mourning everybody lost in that war. it's the most powerful journey in american history, and in fact a century later after that bad day in dallas in 1963 when president kennedy's body was flown to washington, his funeral was modeled after lincolns. lincoln's funeral was researched
and kennedy's funeral was based from lincoln's funeral. it influences how we think about it today. that funeral journey affected how we remember lincoln today and how people mourned him at the time of the civil war. it's the most underrated, forgotten, important journey in american history, those days from april 21st to may 4 from washington to springfield. it's an incredible journey. >> host: who's making the decisions for this pomp or pa gent -- pageantry? >> guest: his wife remains in seclusion. the death of her husband affected her mind. mary lincoln is a curious figure before i lincoln assassination. i think she made lincoln's life difficult.
i like to say mary lincoln was no davis who was a wonderful woman and great support to her husband and a great figure in her own right. mary lincoln was so troubled. several of her children died, she was temperamental, jealous, benjamin brown french, the commissioner of public buildings in washington who is a great figure that i discovered while working on the book, his diary is one of the great american journals and says so much about all the events, he's really the person who i might have wanted to be at the time observing these events because he preserved these things wonderfulfully. he accused her of outright theft and stealing public funds. he wrote in his diaries, there are things i know about her i dare not mention here. mary lincoln was in no shape for the journey. she was in mourning, seclusion and would not let tad lincoln
go. she should have. tad would have enjoyed see the nation's tributes to longes lincoln, but he was locked in the mourning chamber, and that was not good for him either. in each city, local officials were in charge of the arrangements. they built structures. in philadelphia there was no building large noser, so they built a chinese type building in an open park and people waited outside. it was the local committees in the cities that put on the arrangements and decide how the room would look like and lights and flags. each city tried to outdo the other, so of course, new york city tried to outdo washington, d.c. in terms of the
extravagance and the display. new yorkersmented to outdo every city and chicagomented to outdosh chicago wanted to outdo new york. springfield with the display and pomp even made a special hearse. others made hearses so big and so fancy, they were bigger than the log cabin that lincoln was born in. they looked like little traveling houses being drawn by as many as 16 horses, plumed horses. lincoln elevated on a platform so everyone saw the coffin. the displays were as you say, they were over the top, unbelievable. no one who saw that funeral train ever forgot it. that's one thing i try to do is give a flavor of what it was
like to be in each city and witness these displays. the newspapers were so obsessive with describing what everything looked like and who road in which carriage and what the ceremonies were simply based on verbal descriptions of newspapers, you could reconstruct the whole thing today without photographs. many were made, but if you read the newspapers from each city, every dignitary is named, every flower is named, the sayings on the wreaths are described. it's one the most well and overdescribed events in history and also very dramatic. one thing i found to be quite interesting is beyond the major events in the cities along the entire route millions of people turned out just to watch the train go by even when the train didn't stop. people held up infants so they
could tell their children they saw the coffin pass by. it was the most emotionally profound event in 19th century america. >> host: it is not that stanton had an image of what he wanted when he started, but it got out of hand because each city could do it how they wanted. >> guest: yes, the funeral train took on a life of its own. it wasn't planned. it was spontaneous. no one ordered people to turn up by the millions at the trackside and have torches # and build fires, the people did it. they hand painted signs and nailed them to their barns or houses. it was a spontaneous congressmen ration by the american people along the way. the train resinated. it was like a tuning fork of american emotion, and that emotion got more and more intense as the journey progressed, and the major parts
were planned it's stopping in this city on this day and his body is on displace and you can see it, but all the other things were spoon spontaneous. that's a great thing about it and that's why i think very much it's the american people remembering not only lincoln, but remembers what they lost and who they knew who was lost in the war. it was a kind of mast cay thor sis. >> host: if we go back to mary for just a moment. >> guest: okay. >> host: she does not, she doesn't look great between the covers of your book. you do indicate that she's -- that davis' wife is everything mary is not and mary is everything she is not. both ladies were southern bells. >> guest: yes. >> host: women of privilege. >> guest: yes. >> host: grown up with great wealth surrounderred by slaved labors and both married well as
it turned out, but both were from different generations. davis' wife was younger than her husband. >> guest: yes. >> host: while president lincoln and mary were closer in age. i've always been struck by how strong-willed mary was, but also by the fact she was, i think, part of her problem might have been that she recognized her own abilities and understood that the conventions of the day prevented her from being all that she could be. she was a woman who was not satisfied with just being the little lady. >> guest: yes. >> host: while davis' wife was, and so could the difference not be not just madness on the part of mary, although there must have been something going on, and there was something going on with the president as well.
he was no picnic and had his issues, but could it be just a generational difference and an understanding on the part of mary she was never going to be able to be the person she knew she could be because that was not allowed during that era? >> host: very much could be part of it because especially in lincoln's early career, i do think mary was almost indispensable. lincoln was rough beyond rough. he didn't know how to dress or comb his hair or clean his clothes. lincoln was simply a mess. if you look at the photographs of him, you see how unruly his hair is, his collars don't fit, the clothes are wrinkled. he didn't know how present himself. mary was a highly sought after woman in illinois. many men sought to court her. she saw something in lincoln
that others didn't see. she was ambitious. she wanted to marry someone who was going to go places. she looked at this uncouth rough character and thought there was something about him and chose him. she was very intelligent, well-educated, a great reader, loved to talk about politics, loved to be part of the political mix in springfield, and she was a very cape l person and certainly strong-willed, but, of course, at this time there was no role for a woman in public life with those interests, so she channeled that in supporting lincoln and taking care of the family. beyond that though there was something wrong with her, some people think there was a history of madness in her family. some people thought she was unstable because of her family situation in kentucky where a stepmother came in, but if you
look at all the things mary lincoln did, if you look at the vicious, cruel, monstrous letter she wrote to her son robert -- >> host: who had her locked up. >> guest: well if those letters were written to you, you would have had her locked up. i don't think we can explain mary lincoln away as someone who didn't have the opportunities that women had today and she was ahead of her time. many, that was the case with davis' wife. she was intelligent and literary woman. she was a beloved host of the political salon in washington. the political leaders of dc admired and respected her and found out how affective she could be later and she was a champion and saved her husband's life releasing him from prison.
she didn't give up using every connection she had. as soon as davis was arrested she wrote to montgomery blair saying help me. she called on the men she knew in the past to get jefferson davis free from prison. mary lincoln is a subject of great contention among lincoln historians. some are very much partisans and believe she's a victim not only of lincoln, but of modern historians. others, perhaps air too far and demonize her. i could have treated her worse. she had a great heart, did great work for wounded soldiers, christmas dinners she prepared for soldiers, visiting the hospitals, she was moved deeply by the cause and by the car. she was certainlily loyal to the
union, but there was something about her that triggered bad reactions in other people, officials in washington didn't like her and viewed her as a western person to take over the white house. it's a sad and tragic story. i agree with you. we can't dismiss her as a mad woman and write her out of history. her story is complex and difficult. she was talented, intelligent, helped prepare lincoln for greatness and suffered great tragedy in her life with deaths of her son, her husband murdered, 18 inches from her. >> host: blood splattered on her. >> guest: yes, she suffered great tragedies, and because the book isn't about mary lincoln, i couldn't get into the details of her, but certainly after the assassination, she did become
indiana, ohio, their conspiracies. defense, too was besieged. lincoln wanted to preserve the union, and to do that he had to use central federal authority to win that war. davis had to do something contrary to secession, contrary to state rights. the only way the confederacy could win the civil war would be with a strong central leader who could organize the state's, who could tell alabama send the troops north to gettysburg, who could tell north carolina those uniforms have to be sent to the army of northern virginia or they're going to leave the state to read the guns from the arsenal have to be shipped to mississippi. they are not north carolina's property, so davis was constantly at war with governors, military leaders across purposes with the office. they felt they were the kings of
their states and they resist it davis's centralizing authority. the was the contradiction of the confederacy. it was based on states' rights, and yet to win the war de but have to centralize all under one leader. davis had a terrible relationship with general john johnson and he tried to undermine defense. in fact after the war, johnston accused davis of stealing the confederate gold, which was of course utterly false. davis profited in no way from his service and he didn't take any of the confederate gold for his own use. so both men were beleaguered by certain generals who were always at odds with them, always after their own careers and their own plans so that's something both leaders had and, as to the common. now davis was more tolerant than lincoln was. lincoln accepted human nature but was willing to work with it.
lincolnwood and hold the great opinion of yourself against you if he could use you for his higher purpose and he was very forgiving, sometimes too forgiving. on the other hand, jefferson davis had committed so much to the cause he believed sometimes if you disagreed with him you were being unpatriotic or willfully committing to the time is. so davis could be more prone to anchor for to suspicion. some of the was justified because the generals were working against him but davis perhaps was less tolerant and that has led to the myth of asger for cold, arrogant, prideful, intolerant man and that is a false characterization of his true nature. but certainly, he felt the disagreements were more motivated by personal disloyalty and ridges loyalty to the cause
the clinton felt when he faced his people. davis could become no one denied that. marina davis said perhaps he wasn't suited to the president, a great general instead of the president. that might be one difference in their leadership style that davis would more often question the motives of those who disagree with him. lincoln knew these men were out for themselves what was willing to work with them or forgive it. i think davis was less forgiving of disagreement. >> host: and by the end of the war coleman-davis's standing in certain areas of this house have suffered tremendously. what before his death he was revered throughout the south. what happened in the interim to change of the opinion of him in certain circles? >> well, his opinion of the south helped win the south over the. his view was you gave all the
you have. the other people did not let me down. we lost because we were overwhelmed. and then davis did a few things early on during his capture after the release that inspired the south. when he was taken in 1865 tavis transported to the fortress monroe, and there she was abused verbally and shackled, arms and legs. the word of that spread into the south became outraged. the shackles were removed and he was only shackled for several days, but that began the myth that led to the south. he suffered for us. he became the south's representative man and when this house learned he did not ask for mercy, that he defied his captors, he didn't believe an accord leeway, they began to
honor him and that happened in a relatively modest way immediately after the capture. then he conducted himself in a way the south considered honorable after he was released and 1860's seven. he refused to take charity. he said my whole nation has been impoverished by will accept nothing. many people wanted to give him things, give him money, homes. he wondered. he went to europe, canada, his children lived in separate places, the family was involved in together but he decided early on his calling his calling was to honor the consider it debt and davis says we may have lost, but we were not wrong and if we were right then we were right today. people thought of him that we but his greatest triumph came in the end after he had written his memoirs which were not successful because they were a complicated history, legal
history, a succession of american history. he didn't unburden his heart in that book and he was prepared to spend the rest of his days at a beauford at the gulf coast and then he received an invitation in 1886 to come to dedicate a monument to the war in alabama and thought i'm just going to give a talk. he arrived and thousands of people were waiting. was the 25th anniversary when he had become the consider the president. then he gave a tremendous speech when he said, and i'm paraphrasing, he talked about the seed corn of the south lost in the war. he said i can almost see them now. the weight of less than their packs and rifles and that became his ultra of message for the rest. they are not dead, we remember
them and he devoted himself and remember the lost cause, he began a similar lost cause and the idea this house we have lost where we went wrong. we lost what were right, ours is a superior civilization. he became the physical living embodiment and people show their love for him. thousands of children came to see him. the veterans of the confederate women, the accolades he received over the last couple of years of his life were tremendous. it was like a triumphant tour of the south and then when he died in new orleans, he was buried there but was temporary. he was taken on a grand funeral train journey to richmond when marina decided he would be good. in the consider it capitals just like for abraham lincoln the train took his body from city to city. the text of some of the signs was the same as for lincoln. a creation of the own funeral.
nonfiction authors recently discussed medical mysteries. molly caldwell crosby is the author of "asleep" about a global epidemic of sleeping sickness. rebecca skloot has written "the immortal life of henrietta lacks" about the woman who unwittingly supplied dna for over 60,000 medical studies. from the texas book festival, this is an hour. >> thanks for introducing us anr welcome, everybody. this session is called back to life, humanizing medical mysteries, and the authors sar molly caldwell crosby and rebecca skloot.the i want to remind you thatlu following this session about 15
minutes after it, the authors will sign their books of the llowing book signing tent on theth congress avenue between tenthy and 11th sign their books between tenth, and eleventh street. have been involved for many years and ten years ago by was taking an author to the airport and mentioned by was a scientist and the author was a history rider and he said who are your favorite science writers and i'm struck dumbfounded and i said carl sagan, i really didn't -- nothing came to me. the truth was i wasn't gripped by science and writing at that time. but since then, writers like mali and rebecca have not called got my attention but the attention of the world and this is in large part because they're so skilled at bringing difficult and complex subject to a life. if i were back in that car today
i would have molly caldwell coming off of my tongue. it is an honor to introduce them to you. molly is a master of arts degree in nonfiction and science writing at johns hopkins university who spent several years working for national geographic and her writing has been in newsweek and u.s. aid today among others. molly also served as a disease professor in nonfiction at the university of memphis. and forgotten epidemics remain one of medicine's greatest mysteries. second book--her first is american plagues, the untold story of yellow favor, the epidemic that shaped our history. rebecca is a science writer who has written over 200 articles that have been in the new york times, discover and many others. she spent eight years on the board of directors of the
national book critics her circles. she has a bs in biological science and creative nonfiction. henry and that is her first book and has become a new york times best-seller. i wanted to kind of get started with what resonated with me so much, science writing is so gripping now. in large part that is because writers like you use narratives to pull the reader in. i wonder if you could talk about a roll of narrative as a means for communicating science. >> can everybody hear in the back? thank you. wonderful. i have had the same reaction. i'm constantly being asked to my favorite science writers are and i have a few answers i give. narrative science writing is pretty rare.
i have to say how cool it is that you have to treat the women talking about it. [applause] the one thing that is more rare than narrative science writing is women narrative science writing. it is great we are here to talk about this. i think in some ways it is everything in the kind of writing that we do. science is something that affects everybody's life. is so important for the general public to understand science and to see the way science interact with daily life and it is important for scientists to learn the stories of the people behind the science that they are doing and to think of science in a narrative way. a lot of people don't. what you get in science writing is the facts and those facts are often intimidating to the general public. one thing i hear over and over again from people when you hear
about my book is, tactically it is the story of the first human cells are grown in culture and when you say that to people they go you wrote a book about cells? but it is not. it is a story about a family and what happens -- about ethics in science and the use of people in research without their consent. it is about class and race and so many things and science is that. science does not exist in a vacuum and i hear over and over again from readers to send me e-mails saying i hit science. last time i took a science class was in middle school and avoided the rest of my educational career. i almost didn't read your book because there were cells on the cover but then i did and i couldn't put it down and i got to the end and realize accidentally learned a lot about cells. i don't exactly remember when i'd did it. that is the highest compliment i could get.
it is like giving the medicine when it tastes really good. i think is really important to use these stories to put the science in and telling human stories about science and let them learn about science and a way that isn't here is the science part you are learning now. take out your highlighters and get the text books so narrative let you do that. it lets people go through science because they want to see what happens next. >> i agree. i am proud to be one of the women sitting on the panel today. i had very little interest in science at school. i was not drawn to it because it is so impersonal. my first real interest was in college. i went to a liberal arts school and english riding major. i was forced to take a science course and so i took the chemistry of aids. it was the first time i had seen
-- learned science applied to a particular disease. to a virus. from that point on i was hooked. i loved it. i do think science can be intimidating. is very impersonal and a lot of ways so as a science writer your dog is to make the impersonal personal. illness is one of the universal things we all have in common. it connects us all and transcends time periods. my books take place in different time periods. whether 1870s or 1920s. we can still understand and relate with epidemics. also a future lesson as well. the role of narrative in science as you said, it is absolutely important to get the story across and i like the point you made that it is important that the doctors and researchers understand the personal stories of the patients because especially with my second book,
that is about being a really important element of the book. this was an epidemic that spans 20 research the years with long-term effects and the doctors develop long-term relationships with the patients. they exchanged letters and christmas cards and visited one another and vacation homes. that was interesting for me because i don't think we have relationships like that today. that was part of bringing the impersonal story to life. >> we blurred the lines between science writing and medical writing. i wonder if we want to address that a little bit. what do you see as the goals and responsibilities of medical riding compared to science writing or in general? >> responsibility is getting the information correct. the fact. i always try to have experts whether it be microbiology or epidemiology read parts of the
book or the old look and make sure i am translating it correctly. i try to take the scientific information and make it more readable and bridge that gap. i want to make sure it is done correctly. >> accuracy and the writing is important but in science writing is so easy to make a little tiny mistake and state something as definitive instead of possibly definitive. there are a lot of subtleties. for me, i thought a lot about my responsibility and my role as a writer. a lot of what i read about our places where every day life in science intersects. often that can get messy sometimes so i write about this story, my book is so much about cells taken from this woman without her knowledge in the 50s and went on to become one of the most important things that happened to madison.
she never knew about it and died very young and her family lived in poverty. to this day they can't afford to go to the doctor because they don't have enough money yet their mother's cells contributed to all medicine out there. there is not a person here who didn't benefit medically in some way from these cells. the scientists were white and the -- there are a lot of loaded issues in this book. i come at science writing as a scientist. i became a writer later. for me one of the big responsibilities is asking tough questions. one of the things that is true about science writing is it is cheerleading. there are not a lot of journalists who has a lot of tough questions. a lot of headlines are about this science advance and that is not usually in a much later that people start asking questions about things that happened long ago. is important to ask the questions about ethics and how science is impacting people's
lives and also not demonize science. this was important to me, the people behind the science showing human beings behind scientists and sometimes very well intentioned scientists accidentally have negative affect on people. it was important to present these issues but not scare people away from the science. in my case so much of the story is about african-americans who have a history of being afraid to go to the doctor because there is a long history of research. i don't want to make that problem worse. you have to think about the responsibility in any science. science scares people whether you talk about nanotechnology, little molecule you can see being created a use for things, we don't know what is going on with them. we are cloning. it is easy to sensationalize scientists and scare people. i think a lot about that when i
write. how to well-balanced these things? i am asking tough questions but making it clear the science is good and i don't want to scare people from going to the doctor. that is a big personal responsibility. people often say i went to the doctor. i'm supposed to go next week. should i be worried? we spend a lot of time talking about no, you should not be worried. you should go to the doctor. read the forms they said you. i spent a lot of time translating that for people. >> the deck about demonizing is a great one. that is something i had to deal with, human experimentation. you look at that and think how can you experiment on humans with or without their consent? as a writer my responsibility is to recreate what was like in those epidemics that would make
people so desperate when you are losing tens of your population. doctors would in fact that patients, knowingly or unknowingly. looking at it from a different perspective in history. there's a lot of responsibility there cannot demonize. >> context is everything. putting people in the mindset of this is what it was like in the 1910s 1850s and why people were doing what they were doing and here's how it was different from today. when people pick up a book and start reading about some research that was done on people without consent they are reading it from today's perspective that you can get in trouble when you look at the far past or even the near past for the eyes of what we know today. context is important. >> one thing we all share is ellis and that is another thing. but another thing, collateral damage is the effect on our
families. both of you write about those affecting your books and not wonder if you can talk about it? collateral damage to families. >> my second book deals with the sleeping sickness epidemic from the 1920s. it was a very personal story for me. it is known as the forgotten epidemic. i could not find one book on the subject when i began researching it. my grandmother had been a survivor. she was living in dallas, texas. she came down with a case of sleeping sickness and slept for 180 days. she was never able to finish school. she had a slow recovery. she had a relatively normal life, but i knew all my childhood something was not quite right. any time asked the family about it she said she had been that way since the sleeping epidemic.
that made me want to cover this and even more so when i realized nothing had been written on this and surprisingly as much as it has been forgotten, when i talk in my interviews i am often contacted by people who say my great-grandmother had that or my great grandparents. we always wondered there are a lot of elements involved in this disease. people wary that it was genetic and now they know that it is related to this or the epidemic percolating at the time. it was sternly a personal story for me that inspired me to write it. >> that is one of the things. science is personal for everybody. affect everyone's live. that is something you don't think about. it is personal for the scientists. and this is how it is personal
for you. it is interesting, my book is about many things. it is about the effect that losing a mother, on the family. they dealt with so many things. and five kids, the youngest kid, the oldest was 16. and read the story and connect on that level. people almost lost a parent, the most emotional e-mails, my mother or father or great-grandmother or someone important my life got cancer
when i was young or recently and they are still here. a didn't go through that. they were used to develop a drug. that is an incredible personal connection. a lot of what brings us to our stories is some sort of personal connection. i learned about these cells when i was 16 in a basic biology class. the story that is in the book my teacher said what most biology teachers say which is there are these incredible cells that have been around since 1951 even though the woman they came from god. she never knew they were taken but they became incredibly important. i became completely obsessed
with these cells. it took me however long it is, a decade to write this book. a lot of the reason i latched onto the story, my father was very sick and he had gotten a viral infection that caused severe brain damage. he went from being my marathon running dad to being this guy who couldn't get off the couch. he had lost a lot of his money. he couldn't drive. one of my jobs as a teenager was drive dad to the hospital for a drug infusion and sit while he got treated. i was in a big room with lots of other patients who were being treated. i did my homework there and hung out in this room. a lot of fear comes with that. they didn't know if it was going to help or hurt. we really hoped this would help fix him and bring him back and there was a lot of
disappointment that it didn't help. i was wrestling with a range of the motion that come with research subjects or family member of a research subject when i heard about these cells which is why my first question was what did they think of it? going to something that felt similar to what her family -- what i imagine her family went through. john mcphee, incredible narrative, he has written a zillion books. they have a very personal connection and that is true for all science writers. i often tell students if they go back to earlier and think what you have been obsess with your whole life related to science and where are the stories?
>> you talked about this a little bit but there are mysteries surrounding both of your topics. nobody knows why and rihanna cells grow the way they do and no one knows what caused encephalitis of the delmack encephalitis to this day, how frustrating is it to write a book review can't give the answers? >> it literally means selling your brain that makes use leave the. what caused that remains a mystery. one of the physicians i interviewed in writing this was a pediatric neurologist. he has seen 25 cases among kids. it is a horrible experience for children. it is a disease of the brain that alters their mind. some of these kids become
extremely obsessive compulsive. some become violently ill. many are institutionalized. also for the physicians, they are still working on it today. they can't answer why this occurred. it is not a contagious disease. like the 1918 flow, what about the cases today? will we see this come back. this is connected to the flu. are we likely to see another sleeping sickness epidemic? some physicians are doing research to make that connection between the flu and sleeping sickness. i go on line. doctors are trying to connect sleeping sickness with stress. they overreact to infection and
sleeping sickness results. for me is interesting to keep watching. i didn't know how it was going to an end. i came to see if it was going in. >> that is one of those things about nonfiction. i could have kept researching this story forever. the family is still alive and doing things. at some point you have to say the story is over and we will see about a follow-up. there are so many things you can't answer and in a lot of ways and rihanna herself who died in 1951 didn't read or write so there were no letters, i had to recreate a person from other people's memories and little documentation and that was one of the most challenging and frustrating experiences of answering the question of who she was.
there's also the mystery that no one can explain why her cells grew and no other cells had. that is just the fact. i often talk in front of groups of scientists and that will come up and we say why don't we know that? we know everything else. there is now a group of scientists trying to get me a better answer to that question but it is not so frustrating to me. it is frustrating for readers sometimes. i get people to say one thing i didn't get from your book that you didn't explain clearly was y. the cells grow. that is because no one knows. i said no one knows but that part of a book, people wanted me to have figured out by the end. no one knows. the other big thing is there are a lot of unanswered questions. one of my goals was to not advocate for one position or one stance on this very large issue
of who should be using biological material or profiting off of them, should you be told your tissues are used in research? most people in the united states, how do we deal with getting consent for research without inhibiting science? we end with a lot of big questions. i often get people who stand up at my events and say what do we do? how do we fix it? scientists say what should our consent forms say? this is not my job actually. i feel my job as a journalist is to put this out there and say this is why this story is important and hear the issues that are real and present today. so starting a conversation is important. to meet the lack of answers is part of the story. if there were answers that would mean all the issues had been solved and they haven't been. there's a tendency to want to tie that up and meet these ends
and make it seem there is a nice end. >> you write in such narrative form we get a little diluted to thinking it is a story. it is reality. i want to talk about the structure of your books a little bit. one of the things you both have talked about that you covered so many things. there is ethical, historical, medical, personal stories. how did you come up the structured to wrap those things up? those many difficult topics? >> pounding by head against the wall for year. there are three separate narratives that are rated together. you jump around in time and between these stories and some were toward the end they all come together in one story. it took me so long to come up with the structure of the book, what took be the longest in
writing the book, i knew that if i told the story chronologically one of the things their writers have to do, it is one of the things that make narrative. i hard on my students about structural time. anyone who has been in class with me, structure structure structure. it is the thing that makes or breaks the narrative. a new if i started the story and told the chronologically, she was born in 19 -- why should we care? we would be going along and two thirds of the way for her family would take over and be the main characters and i was here and it wouldn't really work. all so that structure and chronology allows you to empathize certain things about the story. i felt like it was really important to learn the story of what happened to her family. at the same time you were learning the story of amazing things that happen with these cells. so you sort of flip-flop back and forth. in one chapter, this is so great
and the next half, this happened to the family and that amazing science created hard effect. the weight of the story is heavier when you know what happened to the family. so figuring out how to do that was a lot of index cards on big walls and moving around and i would stare at them for hours and move one card and said back down. for me, there aren't a lot of -- there are some models that you can read to look at this, but i read a lot of fiction. i collected -- went to the local bookseller, independent bookseller, little tiny store in west virginia where i would go to right and told her what i was trying to do and said will you find me any novel you can find set in multiple time periods, greatest chronology and have lots of characters? she would find these books and i read them all and i would take little fingers from each book.
fried green tomatoes was a very useful to me. and movies. lot of movies are structured like that. we don't think about it but so many movies jump around in time and do that sort of thing. i started watching any movie i could find that was structured in the same way. i was watching hurricane about resler hurricane carter. it is very annoying to everyone because i kept saying that is my book. i actually storyboarded it and map of the structure of the movie by playing and pausing. to look at how they did that. one thing i got was it is jerry fast. part of what wasn't working about my structure was it had the long chapters and another long chapter and i realize they have to jump around quickly to keep people moving or you lose them. narrative has a lot to learn
from these other areas. >> i find that to be one of the creative aspects of science writing. you have to apply a lot of creativity to make it interesting and readable. so structure will make or break a story like that. when i was writing my first book the american play about yellow fever i was sitting down to tackle a 100 year time frame with an ensemble cast and make a character who is an insect. trying to make that readable and personal was a challenge. i would write things out and focus on the people. with my second book it was completely different problem. this is a huge spectrum of a disease with everything from people with mild symptoms who recovered to those who became violently in sane and institutionalized. how do you find one character or
two that can represent that spectrum? so i divided the book into case studies. their eight case studies book ended by my grandmother's story and each case study deals with the part of the book where you going to the person, try to recreate your life as you photograph whatever you can and recreate what that patient experienced and woven throughout the case study, those same doctors who are treating these patientss and working with them. that was organizing a lot of very different material. and a creative enough atmosphere would make people read it. >> that is something those riders underestimate. i never tackled a large project like this. by the time i got to the point that it was time to matching the been riding of, i had this mound
of material and eventually had to stop the process and go back and catalog everything i had and start over again with my research material so make it so you could find the things you wanted to organize. one things, what suggestions do you have riders just starting out? organize everything, label, and come up with color coding system is because when you sit down to put that structure into place not only are you trying to organize on page but with raw material all over your office. >> i will ask you each the one question i have been dying to ask. your case studies are so fascinating but maybe things is not the one that most people got but jumped at me, the story of bruce. i will read a couple lines from the book. the doctor on this case was frederick killme.
he quietly pulls the girl here and says there's nothing else to be done. he reported every test. there were simply no answers. this followed from reach deeper and deeper into her own world like a wave disappearing due in beneath the surface of water. he apologized and told the parents she would never recover. when he looked at the sleeping girl, this girl is frozen, can't move but still hears the doctor say she is never going to recover. i was so struck. this was the case -- was there when you found the most moving? does one come back more than any other? >> that was one of the most moving. one of the first cases in new york in 1980 and they are
realizing this is spreading around the world rapidly. up until that point they did not realize these sleeping patients were trapped in their bodies and aware of everything happening around them. this is one of the first cases. he had no idea she could hear anything so when he turned around and saw the tears it is such a humanizing moment. and humbling for the doctor. at that point they realized this much work for the patients than they ever imagined and the family members. hers was one of the most touching cases from the book. a girl who went insane enough that her own teeth and eyes, that is what most people bring up and have questions about. the only thing that made that tolerable was the doctor said the pain mechanism in her brain had been damaged. she felt no pain.
the compulsive behavior that drew her to do this, in that case that was the only thing that i could get my mind around was writing about her, that i could sit down, it is like something you couldn't even imagine. that gets the most attention. but for me, the most humanizing moment in that was probably my favorite. >> this is one of those things that is difficult about narrative writing, when you have a story really emotional or really painful. you live it when you are recreating it on the page. this is true for fiction writers too but there's something about this actually happened. the chapter about the decline of henry adams and her death, never experienced anything more traumatizing than writing that because i had to live that moment over and over again to
really get into her head and body and imagine what it felt like and talked to another writer who wrote about difficult stuff. a lot of writers talk about it. the impact that has, the need to embody your material when your material is traumatizing. war reporters deal with this all the time. they get a post-traumatic stress disorder after reliving the experience they wrote about. there is something cathartic about having it on the page and moving on. the other difficult things that i would have to go laydown to recover. >> your characters in the book becomes so real. they are real people you completely visualize and imagine. when we brought up the responsibility of writing that is a huge responsibility. writing about real people. you want to represent them, to know that if they came back today and read this they would say this is similar to what was happening. that is a daunting prospect.
>> especially when they are still alive. they sent a box of 30 manuscripts to any scientist still alive before it went to press. that was a very long week. the scene from your book i want to talk to you about takes place a few days after her daughter debra sees her mother's sells for the first time with christopher -- sorry. and researcher at johns hopkins. when he projected herself on the monitor a few days later debra said they are beautiful. she was right. beautiful and other worldly. growing green and moving like water. small and is the real. looking like heavenly bodies might look. they could even flits through the air. i remember reading that. no way did she do this.
you made something scientific slightly spiritual. i feel like that is a big risk. did you realize it was a risk and were you nervous about including that? >> context of where that happens is the day before deborah stout saw her mother's cells was a very incredible experience for her and various other things happened that were traumatizing and she was spiraling into a dangerous place. i was talking to her cousin who is a pastor and he was holding the bottle in front of me and explaining to me why the family believed she was chosen as an angel and brought to life in these cells and as a scientist coming they this sells ourselves with a nucleus and rebozos and sells structures. is she'll live in these cells? for her family she very much is and continues to be and her soul
is in there. this is part of the theme, reading sections of the bible to me things like if the lord will grant immortal life to his believers and you never know what form people will come back in when they are chosen. she was brought back to do good in the world. this was on moment where it was very clear to me that it was much easier and clearer to think of these cells in spiritual terms than scientific terms particularly for the family. when you put biblical explanations next to the scientific explanation it is no contest. was much clearer and easier to relate to. i came to the point where the scientist in me was able to open up and understand where that came from. i was jealous. people often ask did they convert you? the answer is no.
i came into this without any religious background and not a person who practices religion but i got a completely different and more nuanced understanding of the role faith plays in people's lives and how important and healthy it can be. that is not something i often think about. i also saw the ways people talk about science versus religion and to be a lot of the book is about moments that science and religion can actually work together and lead to deeper understanding of things. hy thought was important to include it. i was never nervous about that but scientists often stand up and ask questions like did you ever strain out the family on her spirit is in there thing or do they still think she is in there? my answer is can you prove she is not? that is part of the story, that whether you or anybody is alive in their cells depends on how you define life, how you define spirit and soul and what your
dna means to you, your dna is in there. it is a sort of existential question that nobody can answer. you can save her family is wrong. a lot of scientists have said it is helpful to read that and held them connect to patients they always felt were far away from them in terms of understanding science. >> given that back and forth between science and religion that was fascinating. that neurologist you mentioned in the 1920s wrote the definitive book on evolution, one of the greatest -- since darwin. he called the brain the mechanism of salvation. to me it was fascinating to sees that at that time period, he much more had to gather this idea of science through spirituality. >> this is a question everyone wants to know. how do you right? what is your writing style?
>> i have always been drawn to creative writing. [talking over each other] >> definitely on the laptop. i find internet to be a huge source of information and research that makes my job embodies year. i have two small kids. i don't have the ability to do research for weeks at a time. that has been a great thing for me. people ask how do you not get writer's block? i don't have time for writer's block. i have four hours of quiet to sit down and write. i don't slow down at all but are also had a professor in college who gave me one of the greatest pieces of advice. there is no such thing as writers balk, just a lack of research. i spend half my time going back and forth to the library. that gives the story its
texture. >> i was going to say the same thing about writer's block. it doesn't exist. you just don't have enough material yet. you don't know your story. my writing process has a lot of writers, i struggled for a long time with figuring out went to right. i find the internet useful and incredibly distracting. i tend to -- i can sit down and write until i have my material to work with so i do my research. i take a lot of notes and i do brain dumps after i research a few things i am writing about supply get in on paper but i don't sit down with my writing until late in the game after the research is done and i have digested it. at that point have to unplug. i spent a lot of time in coffee shops. when i go somewhere to write you feel like an idiot if you have gone there to write and you
don't write. i would struggle. i had a teacher in grand school who would always say 8 to be a writer you have to write every day. wake up at 5:00 in the morning and right for four five hours and you really bother me when you say that. that is not my style. than he actually is a good friend and came to visit me and said -- what about 5:00 in the morning and i heard a rustling around and i will try this 5:00 in the morning thing. i wrote more than morning and i have written -- i hate you for this. i started waking up at 5:00 in the morning every day, rolling out of bed into my car and going to a nearby coffee shop where i would write and to like goodness it anymore and then do as long as i could. usually about 5:00 until 10:00 or 11:00 and that creative jews is gone and then the e-mail and online thing that whenever other work i have to do but i only do that when i'm writing mode. am not a morning person.
i go back and forth. i have to have it be at a time when nothing else is going on but also a great merit of nonfiction writer once said she does the same thing and a lot of it is because it tricked her brain. she is not really awake yet. she starts writing it eventually wakes up and she is writing. i might as well keep going. i definitely -- there is something to that. my brain has not kick in that early in the morning and it is easier to be creative. >> i would like to open it up to the audience for questions. there is a microphone. if you wouldn't mind coming. thank you.
i want to respond to lead up to the question that the book was a sort of frame does it wast was immoral the scientists get money and actually it is not. my -- consent didn't exist. it was standard practice. k make it clear in the it was standard practice to take cells from anybody. that was standard practice. [inaudible] >> question is, is this a really -- seems to meet the same structure that keeps you from getting health care has no problem getting consent, the price of everything goes up a little bit and it turns into the story turns into a question of monetizing everything. if i am an organ donor should i insist i be paid for my organs? >> this offer comes up. a lot of their story, people
made money off of these cells. where is our cut? these cells led to so much important medicine, why can't we go to the doctor? the question of what you monetize and who should profit off of biological materials is a big one and the discussion we are having as a culture is not just a question of should patients profit but should researchers profit and who is profiting and how do you deal with that and tell people people are profiting. there are a lot of big questions and it is the commercial of science in a bidding war moving science forward and i honestly think a lot of it in terms of other people who are very concerned about this. a lot comes down to the debate about health care. the lack of ability to go to the doctor has nothing to do with those cells. it highlights this irony that sometimes people behind the -- can't get access to care.
that is part of this discussion. should you commercialize science? the idea has always been everyone benefits from science, we owe it to do things like that. not everyone benefits. off in these samples are turned into products that go back to people that not everyone can afford. science is depending on people, should not everyone have access to that? that is part of the health-care debate. the story is about so much more than money. it is about privacy and the fact that people want to stay with their bodies. money is the center focus because it is so -- >> if any of your books by going to be made into films.
>> are any of us going to be made into films and the answer is yes. it is being made into an hbo money being produced by oprah. we are in the process of doing that right now. >> i agree narrative science writing makes it come alive. it is a great way to do it but i often wondered how you deal with the accuracy of the dialogue? you weren't there, there were no reporters running. how do you deal with it? >> those are lines that get blurred allotted narrative nonfiction writing. where do you draw the line? i am a purist about it. if it is in quotes it came directly from them, usually in that same dialect. i don't ever paraphrase for them. i take it as it is. it comes from their personal material like diaries and
letters. >> this is pretty frustrating for narrative nonfiction writers because people read narrative material and assume you were not there, you had to have made some of the up. you can reconstruct it accurately. this is why it took ten years to write the book. every narrative detail is verifiable right down to it was raining, the room looked like this. ose thingsre recreate. dialogue is more challenging. there is stuff that appears on paper and in my case medical records, journals and things like that were important. the opening scene of the book where she gets out of her car and walks up to the front counter of a hospital and says i have a knock on why will in, term medical record says patients says found tumor on cervix. she did not walk up to the desk and say i have found a tumor on my cervix because that was not who she was. i interviewed all of her living
relative is, everyone from that time and have them tell me the stories of what happened and the way they told the story is she said i got a knock >> they are direct quotes from the way were are reconstructed from the people who heard them. i fobbing to -- talk to the doctors and various people and verify them. there's moments in the story i wasn't there for all with multiple sources, and i would not say to them, did she say i have a knot on my woman. i just say tell me what happened, they all had the same toir #. when you hear the same story from five or six people, that's as accurate as you can get without any written documentation and i hired back checkers to back check the information. you know, so every single detail in the story is like that. there's an assumption if it reads like fiction, it might be made up which is unfortunate.
>> my question is mostly for molly, but i teach economics, another discipline struggling with education. what advice do you have in the educational process both in science and more general that you feel we need changes in college and high school teaching? >> actually, a lot say it's a shame that more kids aren't reading books like this in their science classes because i think especially for kids, high school age, college age, the huge stories, the connections are really what they take away from it. they remember the facts in connection with those people, and i'll often say i don't write about disease, but people who had a disease, so i think as far as education goes, kids would connect and learn better if they were given that kind of a context, # -- a story to put those facts in. >> yeah, actually my book is being widely inducted in
colleges and a lot of universities in the country and freshmen are required to read the book and medical schools and high schools required to read the book. i talk at universities and high schools now and that's exactly what the take home point from ail these kids really is, you know, this is the first science book -- i had a kid say to me last week say this is the first book i finished in my life. i hate science, but the stories got me through it. you know, in my case, the book is actually a lot is about the importance of education. i mean, her family had no access to education, and so many of the tramas that happened to them happened because they didn't understand what was going on and no one dried to ex-- tried to explain it to them. there's importance to access of education to the poor and for minorities and i'm working on a young adult version for 10 to 14 year olds. i've seen so many kids excited about the book and getting a lot
out of the science, asking important questions and i realize these are the future scientists, the ones who need to get the stories and their siblings come to my event and they want to read the book, but i'm 10, i'm rewriting it for them to get this up in schools and have the kids learn science. >> i gave a talk on yellow fever to a ceremony at the university of tennessee medical school and later a woman called and said i came in and a medical student was in the pew. we heard the story of yellow fever and the doctors who stayed in city and gave their lives in the course of medicine. that was one of the most rewarding experiences for me. >> we're being told we have to stop. >> yeah, i'm so sorry, i think, we have just like two minutes left. i wonder if you could -- >> i'm very sorry. could you just in one minute say
what's next? >> i signed on for my third book with an element of science writing in freenessic work and it's tracking down a group of jewel theef -- thief heist that took place in london. there's a lot of forensic and the psychological play between a thief and detective. to me it's still this, the story is like the film. it's taking over everything. i'm working on the young adult version and a consul at that particular -- consulting on the film. there's other things i'm working on, but i'm focusing on this and talking at different yiefortses every -- universities every day. >> i can't tell you how much fun