of going to talk for 25 minutes. everybody is busy. they have complicated lives. we will get at the fear. this was the most enjoyable book i have ever written to write. i had fun. , fun is not the right word. at the velvet and try to write this book in no way that had not been true for the other eight before it. that sounds like a lot. i think it is partly because i have never ridden a love story before. ..
with a partner traveling the same trail know what unconditional commitment means and why especially today it is the exception rather than the rule. abigail and john traveled down that trail about 200 years before us today remaned lovers and friends throughout, and together had a hand -- significant hand -- in leading the foundation of what is now the oldest enduring in public history. no small matter. and they left a written record of all of the twitches, traumas,
if robins and tribulations along the way. no one else has ever done that. and as suggested, one of the reasons for writing this book was -- hey gail, how you doing -- is to figure out how they did it. and i really mean that. how many of you have ever seen a movie -- this is a talk that probably strikes in certain age group in a different way than another -- that's entertaining -- remember the movie called "that's entertaining" in the late 60's it is a collection of mgm musicals, which my favorite is julie garland in the santa fe, but there is a scene in the movie in which three still in his prime, fred astaire, in his
mid-30s, is -- does a two minute 482nd sequence, a dance sequence with eleanor powell. eleanor powell mixed ginger rogers look like clumsy. [laughter] and they do this piece, and then frank sinatra comes on, and sinatra looks at the audience and says you know, you can sit around and wait, but you're never going to see that again. you can sit around and wait, you ain't never going to see that again, okay? they are cingular and a story that i feel privileged to be able to tell. i want to depue in a few moments
-- dip you in a few moments and then let you ask some questions. let me give you a bit of the letters themselves are so potent. there are about 1200 of them. why are there so many blacks because they are a part a lot. john is in philadelphia, she is in the continental congress and the revolution upcoming, run-up to the revolution. there is my son, how you doing? [laughter] and then he's in paris and amsterdam while she is back in quincy, so that like you would think maybe some of madison's, you know, dalia and james madison would create a equivalent correspondence, but they don't because they are always together. and maybe washington -- martha
and george -- but george requests and martha concurs that upon his death they will destroy all of their correspondence. only three letters survived. so part of this -- part of the story is available to us because its volume of the letters. the volume is important but quality is more important. even if james and dolley road and even if they didn't destroy their own of letters, they wouldn't match the correspondence. it is the literary quality and it is the level of emotional honesty and candor that they sustain for 59 years. and allows us to understand what
love means a free lifetime, not just romeo and juliet romantic love adolescence, but as it seasons and changes and as you suffer together. abigail was asked in her old age whether she would do it all over again and she said i cannot imagine suffering the same amount of anyone else. [laughter] by mean they lost three kids, they watched him go down in the elections, and in some ways suffering together is the most ultimate expression of love. it's particularly new england idea. [laughter] all of us red sox fans understand it. [laughter] let me read a brief passage that gets at this when they are courting and it talks of the correspondence. just before they get married,
which is almost now it's october october 25th, 1764. abigail was apparently more than half serious when a few months before their wedding she asked john to deliver on his promise and tell me all my faults, both of omission and commission, and all of the evil you know either of think of me. tell me what you really think. john responded with a mock catalog of your faults, imperfections, deficits or whatever you please to call them. she was, he observed, negligent at playing cards, couldn't sing a note, hung her head like a bulrush, sat with her legs crossed, was pigeon code, and to cap it all she did too much. abigail responded many of these defects were probably in
trouble, especially the readings, so he would have to learn to live with that. the leggitt crossing charge struck her as all cord, since as she put it, a gentleman has no business to concern himself with the legs of a leedy. [laughter] the letters exchanged during the courtship provide the first and full list and to the chemistry of the relationship, but it would probably be wrong to presume that the correspondence accurately reflected the way they talk to each other when they were together. letter writing in the 18th century was a more deliberative and self-conscious lee artful exercise than those of us in the present with our cell phones, e-mail and text messaging can fully fathom. it's a psychologically different world. the letters of course are all we have to recover the texture of
their overlapping personalities, and while they constitute a long stream like emotional and intellectual pearls unmasked in the literature of the era, they were also self-conscious performances, cause less theatrical presentations, more stylized and orchestrated than real conversations. there are some things in a short that we can never know for sure about their deepest thoughts and feelings, though they are among the most fully revealed couples in american history, and given the likely depth of letters in the present and future, i don't think we will know as much about any prominent american political leaders in the future as we know about them. two essential ingredients in their lifetime literally dialogue were clear from the start. abigail, despite the lack of any formal education, she was home-schooled by her father and her grandmother could match john
with a pen which was saying quite a lot since he proved to be one of the master letter writers in an age not lacking in serious contenders like thomas jefferson and benjamin franklin. second, there was a presumed sense of psychological equal the between them that abigail presumed and john founder intoxicating. she was marrying a man who loved the fact that she was, as he put it, saucy, and he was marrying a woman who was simultaneously capable of unconditional love and personal independence. they recognized from the beginning that they were a rare match. grandmother tried to talk her out of its to. she thought that abigail was miriam down. she said i have found my man,
and i intend to keep him. there were so many topics they could talk about easily come and just as many that they didn't have to talk about at all. the wedding occurred on october 25th as i said, 1764 in the same parlor of her father's house, her father was a minister and we met massachusetts just outside of boston where initially found themselves totally uninterested. in her last letter to john before the wedding abigail asked him to take all her belongings, which she was forwarding to their new home in braintree, then she said and then, sir, if you please, you may take me. [laughter] that gives you a bit of the sense of the correspondence. i want to dip you, as i said, in to moments. i thought of the thing you in
the summer of 77. it's got a mill the dramatic quality to it. alagiah's to pregnant. in 13 years she's pregnant six times. that is normal for new england woman. the least two out of three kids out of 12. she writes him, he's in philadelphia. it's a very pivotal moment in the war. general powell is sailing out and got no where he is going. they think he might be going up the hudson to capture philadelphia. he's going all around to the south side of chesapeake to come up to philadelphia from south. sean says he's going to california. [laughter] is politically a significant moment and in that decision is a fatal decision because it means the army of berlin and new york
and they are entirely to the battle of saratoga captured. but the movements of the british army -- but they are the movements inside abigail, the uterus of the deal. she's pregnant. they can't write directly about the 18th century precluded, but he's worried and then she writes him in june and says i felt something and i don't like. i think something's wrong. and there is a to a kindness between when she writes and when he gets the letter and vice versa, and so this is what makes distance so difficult. and he is writing her about the politics and by the time he gets
it, it's already happened. the child has been born. stillborn. it is a girl named elizabeth, probably strangulation of the umbilical cord. but she's writing him between the contractions for the first. later on when he leaves the presidency for seven months to be with her when she said everybody says how can you possibly leave presence this is the reason she thinks she might be don young and he's never going to make the same of being away from her again. but i won't tell you that story. [laughter] this is the most famous letter probably in the entire correspondence from abigail, march 31st, 7076. it is the remember the ladies. everybody is laughing and taking
a women's history course. deily age of breast cancer in 1811. it is an unhappy life, but abigail isn't really a feminist in anything like the modern sense of the term. she is a cingular woman, an independent woman who recognizes the implications of liberal argument but it's an interesting dilemma. what do you do when your 200 years ahead of your time? which is what she really was. and the decision she was most unhappy when john was away. she was clinically depressed between 1781 and 85. i don't think that's bad. i think that is the way it was. the clark feminist, i would call her pro feminist, and that is you get the point.
second dipping moment, john presidency, again, what i find so stunning is the overlapping regulation between the private and the public story. john is elected president in 1796. it's a close e. election, 72 to 69. very sectional vote. adams comes to the presidency almost the worse than obama in terms of what he inherits. i mean obama has got a good case and john comes after george washington. how jeal like that? the greatest hero of the age and probably in american history.
his cabinet is loyal to hamilton. he doesn't think he can reappoint them. it is unprecedented. there's never been a change of administrations and he keeps these people and literally the secretary of treasury war and state all are loyal to hamilton and they -- i mean by leal, hamilton thinks he was really the president. he really does. once washington leaves the stage, hamilton goes nuts. hamilton has been living under the aegis as he called it off washington, and some of the things hamilton does in 1796, 97, 98, are incredible. there is a war going on with france and declared and vice president mr. ferguson is the guy that ran against him for the
presidency. jefferson, in his capacity as leader of the opposition, is leaking all information to the french counseling philadelphia and telling the government of france in paris not to pay any attention to anything the president of the united states has to say. he doesn't speak for the american people, even though believe elected. this is a pretty big thing to deal with here. you have to read the book to get the full context, but abigail is extremely influential want john. before there was eleanor roosevelt, before there was hillary clinton, before there was maybe michelle obama, there was abigail, and at this stage abigail's influence proves catastrophic because abigail was going to tell him in a moment of
serious doubt on his part to sign the alien and sedition act. the biggest blunder of his presidency. the tin can that will be tight to his reputation and rattled through the ages and pages of the history books. why? well, does this sound familiar to you? george washington, upon retirement, as adams takes the presidency, the fox news of its day since we have absolutely clear and convincing evidence during the entire war for independence, george washington is secretly a spy for the british. [laughter] it's actually a series of the forged documents the british released trying to undermine washington's's authority.
upon his retirement, we seriously questioned whether you have any honor, whether you ever had any honor or whether you simply lost it. or this one, we devoutly pray for your eminent death. this is washington. okay? that's the world that's created here. so adams comes in and they launched on him. john adams intends to make himself king and to appoint himself john quincy s successor for life. if reelected it is known that he has a boatload of 24 prostitutes in london he intends to bring to the presidential mansion. [laughter] and reliable witnesses of his behavior on the cabinet can testify that he is certifiably insane.
remember eagleton and 72? that's what the political culture of the moment is like. and in that moment, abigail is a lioness protecting her lare. she cannot believe what is being said about her husband and her son. there is a funny moment when the publisher newspaperman in new jersey, publisher of the newspaper called "the boss," great tidal, accuses adams of having a big ass. [laughter] and one of the naturally wonderful features of the alien and sedition act, and most people don't know this, is the alien and sedition act is when british and american law makes true a defense. if you say the king of england has a big ass, and he does,
that's worse. okay? you go to jail forever were they cut your head off. in the alien and sedition act, if it's true, you can't be prosecuted. so abigail says well we can't go after that guy because i know you do have a big ass. [laughter] but how did he know? but she does persuade him to assign this piece of legislation which is -- it only has a two year statute of limitation, but it is too bad. when they retire, adams says i feel i have made a great change, great exchange. i have changed honors for maneuver. he's got his barn full of seaweed and he can't wait to get back to quincy. the retirement years themselves
are interesting and i try to write about them. john is always worried about what he calls donnymac the top. meaning dementia and alzheimer's as we would call at. and just the opposite happens to him. his body goes, becomes a kind of weak envelope, but his mind keeps regionally in a sagacious fashion, and the gilbert stuart portrait of 1824 sorted captures that. abigail has suffered for some time with rheumatoid arthritis and is incapacitated for a long period of time. there are these moments when she and john get to ride out through the fields in their carriage. they go to boston three times, and it's like they go to harvard
and it's like these are people out of the past, you know, they are people from a distant era, he -- heros. it's hard to know how to talk to them. abigail lies in 1818 of typhoid and with a stroke, too. john goes to bed and flees down beside her and says i just want to lie down and die with her. he thinks he's going to go soon. heaven come for him, he thinks the vision is boring as hell, and has been for him is going to make love with abigail and argue for with jefferson and franklin. this is negative evin, you know, and he is not sure there is a half-inch. he has a great line.
he says if it can ever be said conclusively that there is no hereafter, my advice to every man, woman and child on the planet is take opium. [laughter] but this is how he goes. he knew his powers of speech for permanently diminished so when the delegation from quincy this it hit him on june 30 of come 1826 requesting some statement from the patriarch for the looming independence day celebration, he refused to cooperate. i will give you independence forever, he declared. asked if he might like to elaborate, he declined. not a word. he had finally learned at the very end the gift of silence. something he never learned. at the deal would have approved. physicians and other visitors came from his bedside convinced
that the end was near. he was 91. on the morning of july 4th, john motley in his red the breathing with difficulty apparently unable to speak, but when the price it was the fourth and the 50th anniversary of independence, he lifted his head and with obvious effort declared it is a great day. it is a good day. late in the afternoon, he stirred in response to severe thunderstorms subsequently described in eulogies as the artillery of negative and was heard to whisper thomas jefferson survives by several bedside. some historians since questioned whether this happened. it's happened. it's in the record in the historical society. but by a coincidence that despite the probability of history and even the parameters of the fiction, jefferson had died earlier that same afternoon. both patriarchs, each possessed
of indomitable will pair were seemed determined to donley on schedule. mabus in die on the third. monroe died on the second. they are all trying to buy on the fourth. [laughter] john and drew his last breath shortly after 6:00. witnesses reported a final clough funder sounded at his passing and in a bright sun broke through the clouds, an estimated for those of the people attended a funeral of the first congregational church three days later as his body was laid to rest alongside of the deal. they have remained together ever since. thank you. [applause] >> they moved across the street the unitarian church because john quincy bought two cribs for them and then he and his own
wife who is catherine were buried next to them, john that the stage. unitarianism and then want to believe anything to be. [laughter] have a prompt and any questions? comments? there is a mic right there. you have to go to spc mic because c-span's covering this event. people have to speak. >> yes, sir. >> this is filled the time until a better question, but i have heard of the equipment that the children and grandchildren are leased by abigail grew up to have to portable lives. the children raised by john adams play of the family members growth to have a great life, john quincy was raised abroad mostly and other grand children away from abigail so i wonder if you could comment on that and what you have to say to that.
>> some talk about the child-rearing issues, and as a parent, one of my children is right here, who, you do your best and then who knows how it turns out. what you said is partially true and partially misleading. abigail herself worries that all the children up to a certain stage are raised without a father around a lot. she talks about that. they developed an impression of their father as a result that wouldn't sexist if he was there mainly as some extraordinarily heroic almost beyond human figure. as a bumbling idiot about certain things and then he takes
john quincy to paris and the second to paris and amsterdam, he takes charles the second time, to matt. of the four, adams children it is really disorienting when you are writing about them because as you are reading about abigail and john's concern about the children and infants you know what's going to happen to them and it is not a happy story. john quincy does succeed. john quincy from the time he exit the program to become a major public figure in american history and when john quincy is probably the most intellectually prepared person ever to be elected to the presidency of the am i did states when he was set to the investor of st. petersburg there was a debate in the senate and is this man qualified. does anyone else read and speak latin, greek, french, dutch,
russian and german? [laughter] if there's anyone else who does we would like to entertain them. he is not a happy man, however, he doesn't have a heavy life and he is a one-term president as john knew he would but nevertheless he is a significant figure. a great secretary of state and then a great opponent of slavery as he is a member of the house of representatives as many of you know. in fact, there is a great you got me on this there's a great book to be written about this and it's called the missing link john quincy is the missing link between the founders and lincoln. john quincy delight is in the will of the senate in 1848. i think i got this right and present to watch him call is when -- lincoln and the missing
link. somebody can take this idea and run with it. [laughter] abby mary's this guy who's a former officer and the continental army who ends up losing everything and a variety of poor investments. charles becomes an alcoholic and drug addict. he dies at 40 in new york even though as a child he's the most beguiling. all three of the boys, but become a graduate from harvard. does this sound familiar? when they are in europe should use worrying we're spending all this money on elaborate dinners. we are not going to be able to afford college tuition for our children. tommy, the youngest and the most invisible, sales as a lawyer in philadelphia and eventually comes back to live with his parents in quincy and mary's a local girl and has eight kids but he's alcoholic. so the pattern in the adams
dynasty is one child succeeds enormously, and all of the rest of the more horrible failures. is this the fault of of the deal and john? there are some letters of appeal rights to john quincy couple scare the hell of a few and more than john. abigail was tougher as a parent and john. abigail says the ship they sailed on almost sunk, the ship john and she says she's glad it didn't but it turned out to be an immoral man i would rather you die right now. whereas this is john's different. john quincy are together in the netherlands, and john quincy says i would like to buy a pair
of ice skates. very indulgent. so john first says no, you can't have any ice skates. and then john thinks well, one of the things i don't have is grace, and maybe if i buy you ice skates -- he writes this to him, okay? you will learn to dance, and therefore this is an investment in you. [laughter] okay, and your overall maturity. so i will buy you ice skates on one condition we buy them in a size large so we don't have to buy new ones. the was john's way of being a more indulgent parent and his mother, than john quincy's mother. it's written there's a book called -- exhibit about the items dynasty dim sum at the deal as a mother and i don't think that's fair. i think it is imposing the 20th
and 21st century standards and when abby's children come to live with her in quincy, abigail says mauney standards are different than yours. they are more austere and severe but i have to recognize that that is a different kind of thing. and most of the grand children end of the coley portable -- equally horrible. the grand children from john quincy commit suicide. the other kid dies useful. and so, it's not a romance, and it's not -- it's got all kinds of horrible things in it. on know people want to get out of here and maybe buy a book. and so, if -- >> i was going to tell you if you want to answer all these questions give shorter answers. [laughter]
>> absolutely right. you get me going -- this too many things -- we will take one more question and then handle questions as we -- yes, sir. >> i've just been reading it [inaudible] and i am struck by the fact that it seems to me you do not like thomas jefferson and regard his reputation as undeserved and largely based on his writing one document in 1776 and i wonder whether you see any parallel -- >> it's too strong. >> i know but i had to get you going to read d.c. meek parallel center and president who has been regarded as giving one speech or to and become president? >> no. >> great. [laughter] >> no, i & what you're saying. let me put it this way: when i'm
stuck in the election of 1800, the traditional interpretation of that election of 1800 is the jeffersonian interpretation that the federalists had captured the american revolution and carried a in this monarchical correction, and jefferson is elected and recover the original spirit of the revolution. it's the second american revolution. what it really is is the victory of states' rights and slavery. that is what it really is, and that is what adams thinking is. it's not democracy versus aristocracy it is states' rights versus a natural vision, and jefferson is committed to -- servers and would have been considered znet 61 clearly. i'm not so sure about madison and that is the reason along with the hypocrisy of the racial issue because one of the course
jefferson was we can't afford to free the slaves because then they will enter mary with lights and corrupt the anglo-saxon race. meanwhile he is fathering children by selling hemingses. it's pretty bad. and this from a guy who is a virginian who went to the same school this jefferson, william and mary and remains as the same color of jefferson. so i am not totally alienated but i do think that jefferson is the most resonant and contradictory figure in american history. he brought the magic words in american history which are extraordinary. we hold these truths, and he is simultaneously the symbol of the central dilemma of american history slavery and grace he stands astride both of those issues.
i will try to be brief now you got going. i know you are an expert in everything letters written in those days in the course of writing this book and i'm sort of -- a >> if i'm not i'm in big trouble. [laughter] >> i am intrigued on how one wrote a letter in those days. you have -- you were conscious of when you were writing did you do all the drafts in your head? >> they didn't do draft. abigail were in the evening after the children were in bed at the kitchen table in a foreign house you can't believe how small what is john roe in the morning before he went off to do morning ride the original letters reflect and cross out -- sean especially is hard to read
his hand especially as a young man is not good. abigail was easier to read. but one of the reasons why remain an end to the living and in terms of the writing of the book is i actually read all of my books by hand on the back of xerox paper that blanket, and i believe there's a connection between the muscles in my hand and my head. now why don't recommend that for anybody and certainly the next generation is gone in a totally different to addiction. but it works for me. and there is a deliberative quality in the letter writing in the 18th century that we need to understand that there is nothing interacting about communication. and so you are having to be more
thoughtful and the way that you are expressing yourself is not just like it is a conversation to read your reporting on your fault process at that moment. there is more investing in it. abigail has a wonderful line early in her life she says my pen is freer than my tongue. i can write to you things i cannot speak to you which is a good. she also talks about john when he is wounded by lead. one more and then we have to go. we have to people. we are going to try to deal with them, we are going to try to be brief. >> to be extended is possible to answer the question, what do you think adams would need of the living document theory of the constitution that is the idea that meeting of the words and the text change over time.
>> adams is a clear that of the meaning that fun notion that the original intent of the framers is frozen in time in 1780 come 88 is absurd that -- and he is aware of the fact the zero original in tenders themselves don't agree and therefore, he would be more like a liberal jurisprudence person rather than a scalia or thomas. so by the way would jefferson. jefferson felt that the constitution ought to be rewritten every generation so that the original school which actually has come into existence only recently under meese in the 80's is bizarre from their point of view and most historians point of view because we all know as historians there are a lot of original intentions. the one thing we know to be intended is to have the document
changed. >> last question. >> deluded to other first ladies. i wonder in this case ruled that abigail plebeian john's tenure during his white house residence. you diluted before to the sedition act and so forth, but is there a singular moment that you think really stands out during that period in which her influence was critical? >> that's the most critical moment. abigail and john are the most seasoned diplomats in the united states. the surge in european courts in both paris and london so that as vice president and then as president she and john are a team and in diplomatic circles, though white is part of your point of view. she's used to that. it's a good deal on both sides said the old lady is the brains
in the outfit here and whenever john did something together side didn't like it because abigail wasn't there to correct him. i think that where she is with him all the way in supporting most of the federalist agenda but becomes an ultra federalist, whereas he holds to the motion we are going to avoid war with france and that is the split that i was referring to and that is the only time in there and tiger collaboration, if you will, where she feels him. spec this event was hosted by politics and prose bookstore in washington, d.c.. for more information, visit politics-prose.com. another "los angeles times" reporter from the beijing bureau has been nominated for the national book award and the non-fiction category and this is barbara, and her book "nothing to in the ordinary lives in north kurt efp quote how did you
get access to north korea? >> i spend about seven years interviewing north koreans, not in north korea but in south korea are not the chinese border. i have been to north korea quite a few times, but you can't speak to anybody in north korea. you can't even make on contact with them to say this is the most repressive regime in the world. you know, actually we can use superlatives when you work in north korea you have reminder to make sure you don't talk to anybody but i found north koreans to actually be quite talkative when the good of the country and i painstakingly pieced together on their stories, which in my mind were 1984 come true. >> the north koreans you spoke with, did they escapes from north korea, with a visiting
south korea? >> everybody had to seascape. north koreans basically live in a large prison. they are not allowed out of their country unless the darfuri elite. these are people who largely when they were starving to death across the rivers that border china and try to make new lives for themselves and the funny thing is when they were in north korea also they were starving the had been said this propaganda they live in this country in the world. that's where the title comes from. we have nothing to envy in the world and then they come out and realize by god in china people eat royce and have televisions and they can read whatever they want. >> so you found they were pretty unaware of the al-sayyid world? -- the outside world. >> one chapter is north korea is maintained by the regime almost sealed and how they keep their
power. and of course the greater the lie the greater the power. >> barbara demick, can you get a snapshot of the daily life as an urban dweller in north korea and a girl whether? >> the people i wrote about were mostly from the city, they get up. the first light of dawn and the minute the sun is up, when you do is start looking for weeds and grass the edible. you have to get out before everybody else, so at the countryside, take a knife and a basket looking for something to eat. basically people spend their whole day looking for something to eat and then they go to bed early to conserve energy. maybe they will go out for what to make fire wood and this is the situation in the 1990's during the famine it got better and unfortunately now it's gotten worse again.
>> when you travel to north korea, what was the process like getting in? >> it's really difficult as an american, and as a journalist i speak a little bit, not very much, korean. i was rejected for years for these. i don't know why they finally let me and i can honestly say, but in 2005 and i finally got in pyongyang and i think they let some of us in because they need money. there aren't a lot of people who want to visit north korea and it is a badly needed source. >> so what was your experience like? tell about your trip to frequently. >> pyongyang is a very lovely city. it is a huge village. it is one of the cleanest least polluted city to the there is no industry, very few cars. the people are friendly, they are completely brainwashed. they will only talk about their
great leader. you don't really have any kind of honest conversation. but i would say that there is a warm of the people and one of the reasons i wrote the book is i felt north koreans were so mysterious and a lot of the very negative stereotypes that americans have about the communists and all the garbage also is applied to north koreans, and i wanted to show them as real people, so why portrayed these people who are still no and they are wonderful people. >> do you find yourself being stare-down? >> no, that's what's three interesting. they are taught not to stare. they don't stare at you, which is one sign of how to control the environment is. i'm scared out in south korea and not north korea. they don't need to contact.
>> were you relieved when you got out? >> yes, but it's not nearly as scary as you might think because once you get out as opposed to looking across the river you are chaperoned every moment, and i knew not to say anything that would get me in trouble or the people who were guiding me. >> how long have you been working on nothing to in the? >> it's embarrassing to say but it was about seven years. i started interviewing -- i started interviewing north korea i guess in 2001, and i think because i couldn't get into north korea i became obsessed. journalists are very simplistic teachers. to tell us you can't go some place you want to go to it kind of like the cat and the string. so i was really upset about what everyday life was like and i imagine the was a little bit
like 1984, and in fact it is. >> you have already won the samuel johnson prize for nothing to envy, ordinary lives in north korea and now nominated for the national book award nonfiction category 2010. barbara demick is the author. i am for globalization. i was born at the time when large numbers of african countries had just gotten their independence, were getting their independence, or were intended for a while, and that entailed in africa in the context i was born, and later i found out places in asia that there were these coups that took over
power. very quickly. and people -- i don't want to use the word class because we had in africa the level we could call a results class. but we will say clans persecuting each other or others and those of us that felt persecuted by those in power started to move around. we left countries of origin and will went elsewhere and that was easy to do, and that means i have lived or was born into globalization without even realizing that i was a needless and world. when i hear people use the word multicultural of the school in nairobi where we came from different cultures and were all in search of better life and economic progress, but to move from a to be from country to country language to language from hemisphere to hemisphere
seemed so much easier and more -- let's say we to get more for granted the my grandmother's generation, and then i come of age in the information age, modernization that i think generations like my mother and my grandmother got a taste of it i'm not in just a child of globalization william also a child that this intellectually comes of age after 1989, after a fall of the soviet union. >> host: why was the case? how did that impact your life directly? >> guest: it impacted it if we accept the thesis is a clash of civilizations and there is a
clash between the west and islam in the sense that i was born into a muslim civilization as defined by hunton and lifted and briefed it and was committed to it and was loyal and believed in a and came to the west and did the same thing, lived it, made friends, made my future here and was able as an individual to come here not just a geographical differences and the mundane material differences, but the differences in systems and i can to appreciate and made the choice and i think that makes it -- if you are looking at what informs how i interpret events today that we are living in a free life that informs it more than anything else. but i have been exposed to both worlds, to the thinking in both
worlds and i feel that i am able to compare and on opinions are one of many, one of a thousand opinions that are subjected. it is my opinion defense that we are living history today. >> host: you would see that a number of the primary factors that influenced your thinking are derived from your being part of and being influenced by globalization, being part of a tried tribe, and also you're own background in terms of education and being exposed to multi-cultural circumstances. would you say that this sort of the foundation on which your book is derived from and you're very being? >> yes, the only thing i would add to that is i have been exposed to different types of
education. my grandmother and my mother and my koran teachers have given me a different set of education from what i would, you know, what i would call, what i would label a western education. western education was in individualism, it was and responsibility and in a sense of adventure. not just add venture in tracing of the world but into the unknown science and reason. that is what i associate with the west and my grandmother, my mother and my koran teachers and preachers educated me in loyalty to the clam and loyalty to god and the hereafter in the profit mahomet and following his example. so i was educated in both places, but the educations are radically different. stomach to watch this program in its entirety, go to booktv.org.
simply type the title or the author's name of the top left of the screen and click search. >> author and journalist tom wolfe is being awarded the 2010 medal for distinguished cultivation to american letters here at the national book award. mr. wolf, if you had to describe your contribution to american arts and letters, how would you describe it? >> i would rather not. actually most of my life i spent doing nonfiction, first 55 years of my life i think it's the most important john rot to come out of, well come out of the second half of the 20th century. right now the letters to watch are both nonfiction writers, michael lewis and mark boden.
most novelists do well to read those and they are non-fiction. >> why do you think you have become so well known for your fiction? >> well i think it turned to be dazzling. well, it's like its own because i leave the building i do reporting for an awful, as nonfiction, and i want my fiction to be intensely journalistic, intense and journalistic because unless you get out and look at what is going on you are going to miss of the things influencing yourself and everybody else like a great example is a book called
sexual revolution. that is a mild term for the carnival is actually going on, and it is such a complete turnaround from when i was growing up, and now the motto is our allies that, our lips met, our bodies met. and when i was working on im chiarelli simmons on happened to be sitting in the lounge of a dormitory where there were two sofas one to another so i was on one sofa and behind me was a couple and the girl was pleading with this guy saying please, you have to do this for me. and he said i can't. it would be like incest. no, you've got to do it for me to recant the web as a virgin any longer. please, don't trust anybody else. and he says no, it's