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tv   Book TV After Words  CSPAN  November 25, 2010 5:00pm-6:00pm EST

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that's a false characterization of his true nature. certainly, he felt that disagreements were more motivated by personal disloyalty, or disloyalty in the cause than lincoln felt when he had disagreements with his people. davis could be prickly. marina davis could admit that. perhaps he wasn't suited to be president. perhaps he was suited to be a great general, instead of the president. that might be one difference in the leadership style. :
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his view was you gave all that you had. the southern people to not let me down. we lost because we were overwhelmed. and then david did a few things early on during his capture and release that inspired the south. when he was taken in 1865 coming was transported to munro. and there he was abused verbally. he was shackled, arms and legs. word of that spread in the south become outraged. many of the north became outraged. the shackles were removed and he was only shackled for several days. but that began the myth that led
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to this reason the south, he suffered for us. he became the south's representative man. and when the software and that he did not ask for mercy, that he defied his captors, he did not behave in a cowardly way, they began to honor him. and that happened in a relatively modest weight immediately after the capture. he conducted himself in with the south considered honorable after he was released in 1867. he refused to accept charity. he said the whole nation has been punished. many people wanted to give him money, given homes. he wandered. he went to europe a number of times, to canada appeared his children lived in separate places. the family was not often together. but he decided early on that his calling was to be the memory keeper of the south, that his calling was to honor the
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confederate dead. davis said we may have lost, but we were not wrong. and if we were right then, we write today. and so people thought of in that way. his great triumph came near the end after he had written his memoirs, which were not successful because they were complicated history, legal history of succession in american history. and he was prepared to spend the rest of the days at his estate at both were common near the gold coast. and then he received an invitation in 1886 to come and dedicate a monument to the word that an alabama. i think i'm just going to give a talk. he arrived. thousands of people we'd met the train station. it was the 25th anniversary of when he become the confederate president. and then he gave a tremendous speech, where he said -- and i'm
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paraphrasing, he talked about the seed corn in the south and emit the young boys who had been lost in the war. he said they can almost see them now. they weighed less than their packs, but they are not dead. i really became his ultra- message for the rest of his life. they are not dead. we remember them, they live. he devoted himself to remembering the lost cause. he became the symbol of the lost cause. vat at the south may have lost, but we were wrong. we lost, but where ray. ours is a superior civilization. he became the living embodiment and people showed his love for him. thousands of people came to see him. veterans, the accolades he received in the last couple years was tremendous. it was like a triumphant tour of the south. and when he died, in new orleans, he was buried there, but it was temporary. he was taken on a grand funeral train journey back to richmond a
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few liters when he decided to be buried in the confederate capital. so just like abraham lincoln, the train took his body from city to city. the text of some of the signs was the same as for lincoln. it was essentially re-creation of lincoln's own funeral. >> host: unfortunately, we're out of time. there's so many more questions i want to ask, but the title of the book is "bloody crimes," a chase to jefferson davis and a passions for lincoln's corpse. thank you so much for being here. >> guest: my pleasure. >> coming up next, booktv presents "after words," an hour-long program where we invited guest host to interview authors. this week, u.s. presidential biographer, nigel hamilton
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discusses his new book, "american caesars" about the 12 u.s. presidents since world war ii. the award-winning author of jfk, reckless years and a two volume biography, bill clinton, examines each man passed to the white house and has particular strengths and weaknesses. he also takes a close look at the more challenging issues of each administration and the fashion in which the president tackled them. he speaks a fellow historian and author, richard norton smith. >> host: nigel hamilton, author of "american caesars," you have spent a lifetime thinking about and practicing the art of biography. this book is, among other things, a group biography of the last 12 american presidents. what do you think i biographer of his subject? >> guest: i think the first thing he does is truth.
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also, i think he owes it -- or she, a degree of curiosity. i think it's fatal for the biographer to go into a project with a set opinion. i think a biographer needs to have an open mind and clearly you need some driving interest and curiosity, but i think you've got to be willing to change her mind if the facts in the documents or interviews u2 lead you to a different view of the character and that happened several times in "american caesars." >> host: does a biographer also zero his subject and if it? and i mean by that comes afterward that's become almost a majority in this town lately. i mean that a biographer is engaged in the almost godlike presumptuous act of re-creating life. and if you're going to ask lane
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another human being, a character and his motivation as well as his action, presumably you need to try to step into his shoes, perhaps even inside his skin. is that something that you think is -- is necessary? >> guest: i don't know that i would say necessary because it depends on what can i biographer you want to write. personally, as always, until now, have waited writing biographies about people i don't like. as you say, it's difficult to empathize with them. and you may end up charging them unfairly and not be a little put yourself in their shoes. but if you do have to write about people you don't necessarily care for, and in this book, among the 12 presidents come and there were several i basically didn't like. i think you outwit them -- i don't know whether empathy is
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the right word, which you ought to than to try and keep an open mind. and be intellectually project onto them. and of course the big challenge with "american caesars" is to see them not necessarily domestic residents, but as users, as the most powerful men in the world and how they responded to that challenge, which never existed before the second world war. >> host: let's back up of the debate. we we have very literate audience here at c-span. tell us he was a tony and the inspiration in terms of classical literature for this book. >> guest: tranter luckless saddam this was an historian at the time had to do who was working in the realm in this
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either archives and you got this idea that is like to write the lives of the great romantic taters are caesar's from julius caesar on words. and he chose the first 12 from julius caesar through to diminish, many of them assassinated and some of them terrible tyrants and dictators. some of them great men like caesar augustus. and that book that he wrote became famous and since printing began has never been out of print. it is basically our source material, not only for the lives of those great roman emperors, but for the care nurse, the personalities because being in rome he was able to do interviews of people who'd actually lived through some of the lives of those that caesar's. and by telling not only the public lives, but their private
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lives, he gave this unforgettable insight, this window onto the world of room at the height of the roman empire. >> host: so when he is often credited families the father of the psychological character driven biography, in fact he had a classical precedent. >> guest: yes, that's true. but the big difference i think is that the toniest did something that has never been done censers stars i known as a biographical history. and i don't know if my book is the first time it's been tried since roman times. ascertaining if decided to write about the same province. first, in terms of how they became president cesar and how they operated. and only then to look at their private lives. so he separated the public from
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the private. now, over the last few centuries, we become more and more interested in the psychology of human beings. so certainly every biography of return, whether jfk or clinton or claire marshall montgomery, i've always tried to listen to an understanding of the understanding, but the upbringing. and when i was asked if i would like to write a new version of the roman caesars, i looked back to sir toniest and i tried to analyze how you structured his life. and i really liked that template, that idea that you first look at the public life so that you can actually see clearly the political challenges
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and the administrative challenges, the leadership challenges that both men face in a time when they were cesar. and only then look at their private lives. and so i wrote her an initial chapter i'm harry truman and showed it to my editor. he said this works marvelously. you first see him as president. you first see him in the way that he had to deal with this extraordinary responsibilities on the death and how he dealt with them. and on the time to stop and look at him in terms of his personality. >> that is counterintuitive. you do in fact deprived the rebirth of the sun's other life being lived, evolving, growing, reacting. and all that pre-story, if you will, shaping the individual who comes into office. >> guest: it's an anti-psychological approach in
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the early part of the life. but the advantage, as i say, if your looking and are interested in the history of the united states is an empire since world war ii, when it abandoned isolationism, that figure to clarify the issues with which these great president had to deal. >> host: there is a statistic that is jaw-dropping in the book. i think i've got this right. in 1938, the united states was responsible for 14 overseas military installations. today that number exceeds 1000. how did we get from -- how did we get from 14? >> guest: that is the story of the american empire and the united states i think was like 17th in terms of the military rankings before world war ii. the army was desperately
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understaffed. >> guest: cosco how much of that was disillusionment following world war i, that world war i has been sold in the american people as they proceed. >> guest: absolutely. in fact, john f. kennedy wrote his thesis was made into a book. he didn't want to know anymore about the armaments in the tragedy of world war i. >> host: once the japanese attacked pearl harbor, the whole scenario changed. and what i found so fascinating, looking back at fdr was the way that the united states geared self up so incredibly quickly to fighting not only a world war, but a world war onto vastly separated friends in the pacific and in europe.
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>> host: it's interesting because, first of all, would you acknowledge if there would be candidates were cesar before fdr and for teddy roosevelt to be -- with woodrow wilson? 's >> guest: certainly there were characters who are would be caesar's and i think often they work -- were fair to cesar. the very quickly that notion and the united states becoming a monarchy or empire was abandoned. and it is only worth world war ii that the united states forever abandons isolation. and the real reason is the atomic bomb. you know, wants the united states developed the atomic weapon. i mean, people talked about disarmament, but before you could disarm someone else's bomb , so really out of necessity, the united states
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became not any competent in world war ii, but the great democratic economy hegemony of the world war. postcode you are a new disparate companies does that give you insight into the imperial mindsets and with that one of the factors of the american century postwar? the relative withdrawal of britain from that role. >> guest: absolutely. i don't think i could've written a book. a search they wouldn't have the arrogance to undertake it because a lot of people said this is rather ambitious to capture the american presidents. i'd written quite deeply about two american presidents, jfk and bill clinton. >> host: is make sure our viewers know you've written about young jfk, a book is certainly stirred a fair amount of controversy and a two volume
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biography of bill clinton, including the clinton presidency. of course inner multivolume biography, you certainly met up with dwight eisenhower. so you brought all of that into this enterprise. >> host: i felt i had it sorted and old, but to see the real advantage i felt i had in relation to my colleagues in the united states who teach history, was that i actually grown up in a decaying british empire. i was born in 1944. churchill was still dreaming of holding onto india, the african colonies. one of the most fascinating things about fdr in my chapter is the way that fdr basically tells churchill the sunoco. >> host: it's interesting, others have hinted this, but you portray churchill with all of
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his heroic qualities, larger-than-life qualities, as essentially a man looking over your shoulder. and fdr is someone with a sure grasp of the future that is yet to unfold. >> guest: i think fdr was a real visionary, domestically but also globally. he's definitely the hero of this book. postcode that bring something up because we've got 12 and it's interesting that the first four, roosevelt, truman, eisenhower and kennedy, in your view, exactly, and of course that raises the question, what happened post-kennedy two -- has it all been downhill? is that in the nature of the empire of the imperial exercise itself. with that individual presidents,
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coincidence, bad luck? were combined to trace this project very from fdr through the present? >> guest: the short answer would be all of the above. but i do think the big turning point was lyndon johnson and the vietnam war. and in a sense, that is the most tragic chapter in the book. >> guest: you see johnson is a tragic figure? absolutely. he was the man who was raised in the south and texas that hadn't shown any particular enthusiasm for civil rights, but to then took up that mantle of civil rights reform. and basically ran it down the throats of congress and certainly several politicians and who knew that they might be fiddle for democratic residents in the future. i think he showed enormous courage and not.
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and there is a wonderful moment, which i hadn't come across before, went in 1964, when he was still an unelected president, he simply assumed the assassination of jfk, there's a moment when he drafts a letter of resignation to say that he would not stand for the president be at the national convention. and people were so worried about senator gold worth and the republican right, that he was almost pressed into service. postcode you think that's what he had in mind? >> guest: yes, i think he may have had it in mind. i think it's interesting that in a way if you do decide to me would've had to be in this book is the fifth great president. because what he achieved with civil rights and he was extraordinary. and he inherited kennedy's
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involvement in vietnam. it wasn't a war at that stage. and i think in many ways, although a great man, johnson was not equipped to be a cesar. you know, he had traveled somewhat around the world as vice president. but essentially, his realm with the united states. israel brown was texas. [inaudible] >> guest: yes, exactly. i don't think he had the confidence in the same way as jfk developed, even though he was such a young man. i don't think he had the confidence to overrule his advisers and to say well, they may still be pushing from the right, but when the election and we are not going to war there. postcode and the larger sense, we all have sort of a set of
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criteria for the ideal president. presumably we all want our president or the sense of history and the news that that brings. is it also possible though for them to become prisoners of history? clearly lyndon johnson's generation was printed by a munich. and the munich analogy kept surfacing, appropriate or otherwise. in johnson's case, he also is haunted by the fact that the right wing had exploited that china is going communists in 1949. you know, he recognized that inciting the civil rights bill he was probably signing away the south. i mean, you just wonder whether all of this came together to influence in any way. >> guest: i disagree with my fellow historians who tend to believe in movements and patterns that can't be changed.
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i think a good example of rejecting this notion that you are imprisoned when they say that history, music and appeasement of appeasing a thick tatar or threat is the way that president eisenhower, the third great caesar, in my view, the way they teeth out with the sewage crisis in 1996 because the british in the french and the israelis went in to take back the suez canal and they assumed the united states, even though that the most powerful country in the world would simply stand back and say tata and allow it to happen. and eisenhower did not. he is the president of the united states and he's the commander-in-chief of the american armed forces. and he said no and he basically bankrupted the british by saint were not going to support the pound sterling. i mean, the president is in an
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extraordinary way to change history if he or she one day is interesting because it was on the 56 election and so from his perspective at the political risk on his part. >> guest: and courage. and i think looking across these 12 lies, one of the common >> host: i was going to ask you, are there things that run throughout this. some of these lives? deems essential to leadership under all circumstances? i mean, what do you learn
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>> guest: the things he learned the first years in office are very difficult. [inaudible] >> guest: exactly. if you think of the difficulty, almost every one of these presidents had come to what you're talking about reagan in the first years in office, it is a huge learning curve. and in that sense, you think, surely there has to be a better political system, that trains people in advance for this. but i don't know that there is. i mean, i was interested when i was writing about bill clinton in a multivolume book, that bill clinton says i'm sure that the cleverest, intellectually the smartest, the highest i.q. of any president has ever occupied the white house, he just has an
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extraordinary able mind. but in a way, he was the worst president in terms of the caesars, in terms of taking over the reins of power once he reached washington. he was obsessed with public approval and you can psychologizing. but the fact was-- post a win in the wasn't enough? >> guest: now, you have to understand you have to have a terrific chief of staff. i spent years as a military historian studying world war ii and i knew monty. i knew him as a student. he would always say, dr. hamilton, a good chief of staff you work into and he goes not with all the work, you talked about and take on another one. you know, seriously you say because the two presidents --
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the situation arises again in the ford white house, where ford wheel, which clearly does not but that doesn't keep jimmy from employing in his presidency. and as you write to his dutcher meant. >> guest: and clinton. it's like, let's hope future presidents read this book, at least on some of the lessons because they're so obvious. it's not as though -- yes, that was going to be a learning curve to it but there's some things we can learn from history. and i think the ability to be a good administrating -- administrative chief, once you enter the white house is absolutely crucial. presidency.
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harry truman's notion about the media, that actually making the white house, country function are often overlooked. >> guest: well again, one of my changes of mind is a biographical story was ronald reagan in this book because i had been brought up in the united kingdom, where i was there when reagan was president. and reagan was considered by my colleagues to be a joke. i mean, they really didn't know much about him as governor of california. and nobody had any idea that his political convictions went so deep and so far back into
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history or. and i ended up having -- didn't always agree with him, but i ended up having enormous admiration first of all for the deaths of his assurance, that communism could be confronted from an economic point of view and the soviet union could finally be brought down by economic competition. but the other thing i admired him for was his temperament. we haven't talked about that. but i think one of the teams that runs through the book is that there can presidents did to be a caesar. >> host: let me ask you because on the surface, if were just talking about self-confidence, conviction, however you want to call it, jimmy carter has no lack of self-confidence.
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ronald reagan had no lack of self-assurance, but two very different presidencies. >> guest: writes, i don't think self-confidence is the right, necessarily the right requirements. i'm talking about temperament, such as jfk showed. the ability to distance yourself a little bit, to stand back, looking at the way jfk handled the cuban missile crisis, to listen to the advice you're getting from your cat meant and your national security advisers, but to be able to filter that through your own mind as an independent mind and to remember that you are like to buy the people of the united states, not by these people sitting around the table. and you owe your loyalty to them
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i think that is terribly important. and i'm not sure jimmy carter really had that. yet this absolute sincerity and a visionary quality. i mean, that he saw a big challenges -- it wasn't a lack of feature to them, at least in the national interest. on the contrary, he believed that so deeply. but the problem was he believed it so deeply that he wasn't listening to the other people. >> host: you quote him early on as telling someone he hope to have a relationship -- established relationship with the soviet union akin to the relationship of great britain. >> guest: yeah, you would come out with remarkably naïve notions, which in a way were very christian, very charitable. they lack a certain realism if you're going to be emperor of the united states. i keep saying empire because americans here do not like to
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consider themselves an empire. we got rid of the british -- we don't want to go back there. >> host: certainly we don't see ourselves as a colonial power. but abroad that is exactly how to united states is seen. if anybody travels outside the united states, the very quickly become aware of that. as you said earlier on, the number of military braces, well over a thousand, means that the united states is operating at a military level that is never existed in the history of humanity. i mean, not even the romans were as powerful as that of their time. so you know, it's a huge challenge. >> host: there's so many interesting and infamous for. anything is fair to say and a number of respects, for example, running one of the threat, the
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story of the last thread of years is america in the middle east and the relationship with israel. and most of the buyers with point to camp david accords as perhaps the highlight of carter's presidency. and you present that in a very different light. >> guest: yes, i present it in jimmy carter's retrospective light. at the time he was very proud of it. after all, he brought the sworn enemies from egypt to israel together and they would come to a peace agreement and the israelis were going to withdraw from some of the occupied territories. but over the years, he felt that at the poor and the state that the israelis had really run rings around him and the israelis had got really everything they wanted. mps, which is what he really wanted in the middle east would
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probably not happen, certainly in this administration, but even after that. and i know certainly most of mine jewish friends and colleagues think rather badly of jimmy carter for that. and i'm sad about that because he's certainly not anti-semitic and he's a brave man who constantly goes over and he is truly interested in priests. i think i quoted an indian city was in the candy of modern times. >> host: one has a sense, not least of all, for writing your portrait, but in some ways he's a better former president then perhaps it was a president. >> guest: he would go with that actually. a great man, but not a great caesar. to stop the pass, but it raises to me a fascinating question was
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someone of the next presidency. it may very well be that the part of his legacy is to redefine this nebulous office, which has pluses and minuses. clinton center, it is as ambitious in its outreach in various humanitarian effort, but correct me if i'm wrong, there's not often irrational diplomatic operating as a kind of freelancer. >> guest: exactly. and it can be very embarrassing to the incumbent president if he feels he's been overshadowed, if a former president is traveling. i think it was when richard nixon, during president ford's time, when richard nixon and what is going.
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i mean, poor joe ford had good reason to feel wow, i give this man a pascal which is sort of almost the centerpiece of that chapter. i think that was a terrible mistake. i think it's probably safe to say in a c-span audience knows i was close to the president. that was one of the libraries i ran away to personal relationship. but i think it safe to say, if you live long enough to have the satisfaction of knowing that most americans had come to the point of view do what he did was necessary and indeed inactive political courage when the kennedy library given the profiles in courage aboard. did you question the consensus. you still think that it was a mistake. >> guest: yes, i think it's a terrible mistake.
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i think richard nixon was still one of the most dangerous president we've ever had. and i think he was truly close to being a mad man. >> host: you compared both johnson and nixon to caligula. >> guest: johnson in terms of his private life -- and mean, we haven't mentioned that, the chief of these this president has a private life or love life if you'd like to call it. and often they are at complete odds with the public figure. and you have to ask yourself, well, is that the private life actually impacted -- >> guest: erases that question. in his private life, but during a time of the cuban missile crisis it was the opposite of reckless. so, what is the connection?
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>> guest: i don't think -- if i was a psychologist or sociologist, i might try and draw some statistical inference, but i don't think it would be worth a really. i think the fact that all these users were individuals. you need a hell of a lot of individuality and ambition to get from the white house. they were extraordinary care bears and going through extraordinary tension, just to get to the white house, let alone the responsibilities they carried. and how they managed their private lives differed from one to the other. i mean, harry truman is the perfect example of devoted has been. i love that story when he's in berlin, he's about to drop the atomic -- or decide whether to drop the atomic tom. and if put in a villa by the russians. and they see american infantry
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officers say mr. president, is there anything you need? i get you anything, anything you'd like. women. and truman says to them, signed, don't ever mention that again. i married my sweetheart. i am devoted. we're loyal to each other. don't ever ask me about that again. i mean, he was a truly honorable husband. >> host: that tells us something important about harry truman. but is there risk, particularly in the modern culture, celebrity commander-in-chief is celebrity begin with jfk that we spend too much time on private lives? >> guest: there's a risk that we do. but i'm afraid it's a lost cause. i mean, try and stop the media, i'm sure includes c-span of course. tell the media not to concentrate on the personality and the private life in the particular scandals.
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>> guest: i mean, i try to be accepting tacitus got the patterns and i've tried to be truthful about the private lives. and i try to be a judgmental about those private lives, but they are in succession, pretty extraordinary. the one that most fascinated me actually was gloomy gus, richard nixon when he was a young man. >> host: is he the hardest to know of these 12 figures? >> guest: i think so because he was quite a brilliant man, but he was so dark and had these different sides to him. i mean, he was part liberal and part right-wing conservative. we now know from his psychiatrist, we have the notes in his psychiatrist and i quote him saying he was an enigma to
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himself and to me. he was a psychiatrist. even nixon's first girlfriend he pursued for five years, making sure the democrats -- our father but she sat after five years he sympathetic biography at the cluded? complex that no one will ever completely. and it just said now you're getting somewhere. >> host: which goes to your point that he understood himself. >> guest: he would like into the mirror and at one point when he was suffering a lot of depression. and i think he was back to the president and he would look in the mirror.
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president is not how it ended, but that it happened at all. >> guest: yes. as i say in the book, i'm not the first to say it. he wrote a wonderful book on this, but a sickly i think he was guilty of high treason and sabotaging johnson's peace negotiations with north vietnam. >> host: but given his personality -- he set himself on an introvert and extrovert. there's those who regard him as a closet intellectual. you know, it wasn't cool, you know, in a circle for that to be done. but he was not in that borough in the democratic vote. doorknocking process. and yet he -- an anti-reach the top of the poll. >> guest: but you know the secret of that, that he studied
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acting at college. he was recognized as a great shakespearean and potentially great shakespearean actor. and you see that as the archival films of this extraordinary, like the checkers speech and it talks about the silent majority. it talks about -- >> host: was that in some ways the silent majority. who has been exploited, not listen to, punished -- >> guest: but in fdr's choice
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it was idealist. i mean again, that's why so admired him. there is a man born to an aristocrat you could see beyond his own circle the true populism of the united states. but in richard nixon's case, i think it was actually -- some of that was really genuine, when you go to his little house at the nixon library. >> guest: resentment is terribly important. he grew up for and there was this terrible temper and be fearful of the father and so determined to do well. used to carry issues around in a paperback so they wouldn't get dirty. i mean, i think what would
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happen in those great moments of crises, when he was accused of corruption and electors of president eisenhower eisenhower would drop-in as nominee in 1952, that it looked as though nixon would have to retire or resign from the vice presidential nomination. and he goes in front of the public and gives that speech. but i think that's the moment when he reaches back into himself. and it's not just resentment. it's that moment when he put the way his political ambitions and >> guest: it is moving, but at presidents in american history have ever had. he drops beer i've noticed that turn on richard nixon.
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guess watching. they are -- nixon sensibly praising general eisenhower and going up to admiral stephen and carrying him everyone to really say. he knows exactly he do exactly what was being done to him. he could turn that kind of potential defeat into potential but jury by being able to see other people's weaknesses. >> host: would you agree with the fact that nixon was in fact less than medial president? >> guest: to some extent i
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would. he did believe in health reform. major public initiative. article can sense this? e. security. accommodating himself to the prevailing consensus? >> guest: richard, i would say it goes deeper than that. i mean, again, what is moved me with nixon is absolute adulation of his mother was a very very religious woman. and she never beat the children, but they were terrified of her calling them out for doing something simple or whatever.
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and i think again he would reach into himself for a notion of responsibility for society for the less well-off. his mother was a true christian and so, yes, i don't think it was -- >> host: today would he be a man without a party? >> guest: yes, definitely. he wouldn't think fit into the republican parties. i mean, you see in almost every case and they are fighting tea party style elements within the side -- >> guest: that's an interesting observation because i'm wondering if that's actually applicable on both sides of the aisle. you know, fdr has to put up with huey long and others on the left. people who thought he wasn't
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decisive enough. this was an opportunity, not we've restructured if not harry truman has talked about liberals. john kennedy had criticism from the left. but is it fair to say that all these presidents -- >> host: >> guest: they are forced into the middle. basically they are the extremes on the left in the right. and in the end, they're forced. and what's interesting is you exclude to a large extent the domestic policies, you see the miracle the domestic polities and how they still have the reserves they need and the insights they need to recognize a more global perspective in both american interest in global
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peace. >> host: i think -- is it safe to say that reality intrudes and ideology receives? >> guest: definitely. i think a lot of them have to take a very deep rut and basically forget politics for at least ideological politics and look at the reality of the situation. >> guest: it's interesting that john kennedy is the fourth of your great caesar. i'm wondering, my sense is that nixon famously said would take 50 years before people could write objectively about him. the irony is i would think of 50 years, and kennedy's case, that the deification that followed the assassination ensure that the pendulum would swing to the other extreme. and only now, in some ways, that the kennedy presidency -- for a long time we heard he didn't get such legislation passed, style
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of substance. there is a potential to minimize. but in fact, if you look at the two overriding issues at the age, the cold war and civil rights, he demonstrably sees that favored term in office. in fact, before his death had embraced the politically difficult to position on both. >> guest: as eisenhower had adopted a more progressive position on the right and the previous administration, has he opposed to enforcing the court >> guest: he was very much a graduate to understood the south southerners would be as they could in fact be educated in a reasonably short period of time to renew racial order.
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>> host: i think you're put your finger on it would need years in short order. because a lot of the presidents if you put them together in a room, we have very similar approaches to my very similar divisions and social responsibilities. they would differ in terms of when can they have been? when is the american public willing to accept this? and eisenhower's case, obviously felt it was enforced by the supreme court in terms of schooling i think that is a salient moment in american history. he was concerned that he should get a second term in office.
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so he was constantly trying to put things off to second term. you know, martin luther king and millions of people were not willing to wait for that. excepting that of >> host: downshifting television -- jfk is the first television president, some in his mastery of the medium and conferences contributed, but it was the pictures, not on the being set upon with fire poses on the lake, which in fact to some degree for suzanne. >> guest: it definitely changed history in that bag. i mean, eisenhower accepted he had to have training. i think that training.
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>> host: robert on primary -- >> guest: i think they recognize, like we were saying earlier, the bully pulpit and to that's a fascinating that you mentioned. i think richard nixon in the numbers. that's not really possible for president today, is that? >> guest: , no, the diffusion of two medications means that you don't have that sort of nation and those are competing voices. i think were going to see different kinds of american caesars in the future.
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>> host: that obviously you never want to go. first of all, one of the lessons in this book of barack obama come as you know, were taking, prior to the conventional narratives that there is a considerable body of disillusionment on the last with this president to really makes predecessor. where does he fit at this point in urinary kids? >> guest: well, the obvious parallel is with bill clinton in 1994, who was stunned when he lost both houses, not just one, and it's a remarkable. i think i caught the moment when bill clinton after losing -- well, bill clinton is the image. or talk about photojournalism. his image was morphed onto candidate during midterm
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election. >> host: that was so polarizing. >> guest: well, for a number of reasons. because to now, when talks about the possible racism involved in a polarity, but in bill clinton's space you could say was because he was white. >> guest: i think it was deadly of the counterculture thing laid successfully vat at the sky that had it too soft and had avoided service same vietnam and they were all pot smokers or whatever. so there were some of that. a lot of that was the first two terms learning experiences and you need this terrible mistake in taking an old kindergarten friend as his chief of staff. secrets in terms of his private life, that he wanted a chief of staff who would respect those. and it was a terrible but they
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because, you know, he has a brilliant mind, but it's not a good administrative mind. you know, he needs somebody just like eisenhower during world war ii a general per delle smith as they say kick to. but you have to have someone who is the backup to your good cop. so, i think bill clinton is a wonderful example of how a president can lose the midterm election. and yet, as a set of bill clinton, once he got there his friends, cit is not a member of congress. president of the united states, as commander-in-chief. and the whole world looks to him. it's not just the elect are it or electing senators and congress. the whole world, especially the democratic world, looks are him as global ships. as we look at bill clinton, the
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way he brought peace to bosnia. but even in domestic terms, how he dealt with the oklahoma city bombing, the fact there was terrorism coming from within the united states. it wasn't only those people out there. >> host: clinton brilliantly still a bond of republican quotes. he basically corrected the center. weather was welfare reform are balancing the budget or santa government is over. does that exist for this president and this incredibly polarized ideologically driven climate. even if you are so inclined? >> guest: i don't know. i do know that i would have to guess. >> host: is that carter? >> guest: i think -- i respect resident giovanna eagerness he, not only for his intellect, but i think he does have a great temperament. h


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