Skip to main content

tv   Book TV  CSPAN  August 7, 2011 9:00pm-10:00pm EDT

9:00 pm
lot of language in the book where the work of critiquing this original 60's design going on about how ugly and elevated and terrible it is so that kind of represents just the retail and the changes that need to be made and kind of what's in fashion now will not be in fashion to marlo but may be in fashion again ten or 20 years from now. thank you very much for your time. ..
9:01 pm
♪ >> host: i'm happy to be speaking today with amanda foreman, the author of the new book "a world on fire: britain's crucial role in the american-civil war," and we're going to have a good conversation. hello, amanda. >> guest: hello, eric. >> host: there's several books on the american civil war. when and why did you come to the conclusion you had something new to say about it? how did you get interested in the book, and why did you write it? >> guest: well, my first book was an 18th century duchess, and because of that, the first question i get when on tour is surely you're a tourist in the
9:02 pm
civil war, how did you end up here? the answer is that although i found english, i'm actually american. my father was blacklisted during the mccarthy period and he moved to london, remarried, had a second family, and i'm the youngest product of that. a few years on, the film industry died in england, and my father moved back to l.a.. from l.a., i went to school in england and that's why i sound english. >> host: setting us straight, okay. >> guest: the reason that's important is because of my undergraduate i went to lawrence college in new york, and having a privileged boarding school education, i was really on the outside of many of the fundamental concerns that were exercising campusing across the united states in the late 1980s, and actually there was a sit in at lawrence that almost closed the college for about half a
9:03 pm
semester. on the one hand -- >> host: to do with what as a matter of curiosity. >> guest: protesting a number of things, mostly with the lack of diversity. they wanted a diverse curriculum, a diverse faculty, and among the students, and these are concerns that had never crossed my mind before at all actually, and the more i thought about it, the more i wanted to understand what's going on. there were two protests going on. there were two protests, and whether it was grounded in reality or the realms of possibility was one of them, which i didn't know, but the second protest was really a protest set in the past, and that every argument always ended up back in history, and it was essentially the slavery debate, civil war, and reconstruction going back and forth on its head in 1989, so that although all my
9:04 pm
classmates went on to be gainfully employed and be doctors or lawyers or whatever they did, i never moved from that spot. i went to oxford to study that question. it had a profound effect on me. i did research on the politics and slave trade, and a paper on attitude and the race and researched charles grey who proposed the notion to abolish the slave trade. i came across his mistress and then i was sidetracked and that came a new paper, book, and then a movie. i always wanted to go back. >> host: you went back to your earlier incarnation with slavery? >> guest: that's right, and then i also knew that after such a long break, i was not picking up the old dissertation. i moved on. i found a new topic while
9:05 pm
researching the duchess. i was given permission to look at all the archives of all the dukes, and she had married the 5th duke. i went from the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th, but the 8th duke, when he was a young man, he went out to america to join the civil war. now, the reason he went out was actually to escape his mistress. >> host: i see. >> guest: he couldn't afford her anymore. he ran off to new york thinking she wouldn't find him. two weeks into staying at the 5th avenue hotel and discovering the delights of american room service, there was a knock on the door, and it was her. he then ran to washington, d.c. thinking that, you know, it's a one-horse town, never follow him there. a week later, she turned up. he thought there's one place he was certain she would not get to and that's the south because it's 1862, the war is on, they
9:06 pm
got in a canoe and paddled down the potomac and she did not follow him. he was then seduced by southern charm and became so enamored he attached himself to robert e. lee and even made eggnog on christmas day. when he returns to london in the spring of 1873, he was -- 1863, he was an unofficial spokesman for the cause, and his brother who shared his political opinions, both members of the liberal party, both liberal in terms of their attitudes to modern life was pro-north, and so he had a microcosm, the macrocome of that. >> host: one of the interesting things in your book which i was unaware of is the number of british people who fought in the american civil war
9:07 pm
on both sides, sometimes the same person fought on two sides, but generally not, i guess, but why did britains enlist in the american civil war? >> guest: well, it's one of those answers that run the gamet. first and i think most interestingly, you had those led by ideology, and we have instances of young men who joined the north because they wanted to help free the slaves. actuallythere were those who saw slavery as the issue. more interestingly and counterintuitively to today, there were young men who joined the southern cause and rarely endured great amount of difficulty to get there, get on a boat and then enlist, and so they often are the most ease centric or interesting characters to be honest. >> host: you know, i was living in london for a couple
9:08 pm
months this spring, and i think you've done this too. i went on a walking tour of civil war london and particularly confederate london, and i was surprised, even though i study the the period a -- studied the period a great deal and how many people empathize with the confederacy. you talk about this in the book, members of parliament, church leaders, scholars, people invested in cotton bonds, but why was there so much sympathy for the confederacy in britain given they already abolished slavery years before, anti-slavery was basically now part of british culture in a significant way. why did so many people sympathize with the confederacy? >> guest: there's no easy answer, but you can piece together answers.
9:09 pm
first of all, the very beginning of the war, i think that the north was knocking at an open door. in general most countries are not that thrilled with the thought of other countries breaking up. it's contagious. >> host: right. >> guest: there was a fundamental mistake glsh >> host: the secretary of state? >> guest: by pursuing the idea if he could raise the spector if not the reality of a war with a common enemy, and no greater enemy than britain. >> host: started with spain? the first proposal was spain, and that was a non-starter so he talked in a matter about britain. >> guest: that's right. of course, all it did was annoy the british and convince him his previous statements about canada, north america, the united states, were true and so he turned britain, which had been considering allying itself
9:10 pm
with the north into an armed neutral and annoyed public. ambiguity and nuance is the enemy of journalism. it doesn't work. they understood the north is fighting for territory, the south was fighting for freedom. >> host: they saw this not as a slavery question in the beginning, but local self-determination sormt of like the greek war of independence against the ottoman empire? >> guest: that's right or italy which was in mid flow and international heros. it didn't take that much for southern propaganda to press the point and look at the north. of course, it's true until the emancipation proclamation. it was unclear to most americans let alone to anybody abroad. one man's freedom is another man's terrorist.
9:11 pm
in britain, the magic words for fighting for freedom. they had this power, the british, and they lined themselves to what was the truth. >> host: well i've wondered whether british leaders feared, i mean, you alluded to this a minute ago, that seeing the american nation break up might actually encourage what we call today separatist movements in great britain. there was the demand for home rule or irish independence, the scotts, welsh, britain itself has groups not happy being part of the united kingdom. was there a fear that the breakup of the american union would inspire efforts to have greater independence for the groups within great britain? >> guest: certainly the irish and we know the rallying cries over here for the irish to join was fight now, get training, so
9:12 pm
there was that issue, but -- >> host: obviously one felt if britain was hostile, that encourages irish-american support for the union; right? >> guest: of course. there's layerson layers here. nothing is ever that simple, but the british, though, the clever politically politicians didn't want a divided america. although, maybe fighting america within itself might have been useful, but they didn't want america to divide into two or three if the north western con confederacy. that could have happened. they felt america made a tradition to stab a person in the back, and therefore could not be trusted. if you had two americas or three americas, you could never be sure that one would cause trouble for you. >> host: antibritish sentiment
9:13 pm
was a common feature of american politics in the 19th century as they said pulling the lion's tail, when running to office denouncing great britain was a great way to get votes especially when the irish came here. i'm interested in seward who plays an important role in your book as american secretary of state. do you see him as someone who's just kind of a blusterer and really out of his element making all these threats and kind of crazy schemes, or is there a method in his madness? is he trying to be so bellicose in the language that the british are nervous? i mean, looking back at the whole four-year war, do you see seward as really a successful diplomat or secretary of state in terms of dealing with britain or really kind of out of control, a lose cannon? >> guest: i think it's both.
9:14 pm
i think he was a brilliant man, but i also feel he knew he was a brilliant man and loved his brilliance and believed he was the smartest man in the room. >> host: he thought at the beginning, of course, he should be the president. he was unhappy that lincoln got the nomination rather than him in 1860. >> guest: that's right. although he rather brilliantly presented war against britain, he's also the man whostles the most responsible -- who was the most responsible for that war almost breaking out. yes, he was a great self-correcter. >> host: people play interesting roles in this are counterintuitive like prince albert on his death bed taking steps to avoid what seems to be a growing possibility of military confrontation; right? you don't think of prince albert as a key player in terms of peace, ect.. >> guest: no. it's one that's interesting
9:15 pm
outcrops of seward's policy. if there was not such friction -- >> host: not all viewers know what the affair was. briefly, what happened with that vessel? >> guest: yes. it's one of the small diplomatic accidents that became huge. it involved one called the trent, two passengers on board who were controversial, two confederate ambassadors, one going to france, and another to britain. seward, and up deed all americans,mented those two -- wanted those two ambassadors captured preventing them to go to europe. nevertheless, he found these two -- found the trent, took off the two ambassadors. >> host: in international waters? >> guest: yes. it's the equivalent of iranian fighter jets intrempting a u.s.
9:16 pm
passenger plane and taking off two iranian disdense and taking them back. you just can't do that. at the mere hint that america wasn't going to do that and suggestions that america wasn't and indeed, congress voted to give a medal of honor and sent over thousands of troupes, and 13,000 troops a week away from landing in canada for preparation to invade maine when they were persuaded that the two terrible men had to be set free. >> host: prince albert had a letter that was going to be sent over demanding, you know, very bellicose letter almost threat ping war; right? and prince albert toned it down before it was sent. >> guest: russell, himself, was a great man, but a terrible
9:17 pm
communicator in many way, and the letter written was so bellicose it didn't allow the united states to save face, and prince albert read the letter and realized russell put his foot in his mouth. as he was dying from cola, changed the wording and everybody agreed. >> host: gave lincoln the option and saying it was just a lone captain. so, yes, that was a very interesting incident of which there are many, many in the book. let's talk for a minute about slavery and the war. at one point you say, i jotted this down, slavery was the insurmountable stumbling block to britain actually taking the side of the confederacy. of course, britain did not take the side, it was neutral claiming neutrality at the
9:18 pm
beginning and some americans felt britain was tilting towards the confederacy as you know, but one of the things i find interesting and if you go back before the civil war, southerners had been very hostile to britain after britain aboll ired slavery in the 1830s. like the whole texas battle in the 1840s, john ccalhoun, ect., thought they were conspiring to get texas to abolish slavery on its own. southern pro-slavery people were quite annoyed at what they felt was britain's meddling with slavery in the new world. it was not at all clear southerners see britain as being a likely ally. on the other hand, as you know, of course, britain depended on southern cotton for its textiles. we'll get to that in a minute, but you seem to think it was a big mistake of seward and lincoln, i guess, not to emphasize slavery at the beginning. at the beginning of the war, the
9:19 pm
administration said this is a war about union, not nighting to abolish slavery or emancipating slaves. i feel you get the impression that made it impossible for the union to really get the support in britain in the beginning that it might have. >> guest: i really do believe that. it wouldn't have taken that much for se to provide a letter that charles adams, the u.s. ambassadors, could have shown lord john russell in private saying we can only talk about the war in terms of the union, but, no, as you and i know, this is a war ultimately about slavery. >> host: which they do say, but it takes awhile. >> guest: two year, and that's a long time in the war. >> host: absolutely. on the other hand, lincoln sent anti-slavery consuls to england. one of the leading abolitionists of illinois was sent over to bristol, i think, and lincoln, a
9:20 pm
shrewd guy, saw that sending an abolitionist as a consul, not ambassador, would help appeal to british public opinion. there was sort of strange cross-currents going on with some people talking about slavery and others not talking about slavery, but one of the very interesting things in your book is tracing out how british sympathizers of the confederacy kept saying, oh, you know, if the confederacy wins, they abolish slavery. no one was willing to defend slavery. in fact, if the confederacy is independent, britain will then pressure them to abolish slavery. >> guest: yes. that was a prevalent opinion. in fact, the leading british supporter of the south, a man named james spence, was fired by
9:21 pm
the secretary of state because of his anti-slavery sentiments. >> host: which publicly said this that, you know, we know the confederacy is abolishing slavery, and they said, no, we're not at all. you mentioned at the end of the book briefly a plan or proposal that was carried to london from jefferson daifers in early -- davis in early 1865 to the end of the war in exchange for british recognition, the confederacy promised to abolish slavery. was that a specific plan? >> guest: it's very specific and a fascinating mission named after the man who carried it. himself, the largest slave holder in the con confederate congress. the fact he agreed to undertake the mission went a long way to persuading confederate members of congress they had to go along with the plan. it was a lost hitch plan, but when the british confederates
9:22 pm
and especially the confederate ambassador received the plan and heard about it, he was appalled. in fact, he almost refused to deliver the message. >> host: right. he wouldn't let him see the secretary about it. >> guest: he was out of the south so long, that he doesn't believe it and did everything he could to sabotage the message until the last second where he hinted about it to the prime minister. you could see it coming a mile away this was the proposal, and they said, oh, no, no, it's not about slavery just to shut him up. >> host: interesting moment. one other slavery question or incident interesting in your book is in 1862 well before the emancipation proclamation, the u.s. did sign a treaty with britain to suppress the african slave trade; right? the lincoln administration agreed, and this was taken as a
9:23 pm
straw in the wind; right? that emancipation was coming because the previous administrations, even though the slave trade was illegal in britain and the united states, that had rarely been enforced by previous american administrations, and lincoln executed a slave trader, gordon, the first time that happened, and then he signed this treaty with the british that, i mean, which was i guess, do you see that as an effort to get british support for the union cause? >> guest: well, i do partly, although i also believe that seward had done it because he believed in it. >> host: oh, he did, of course he was anti-slavery. >> guest: i don't think that was from washington's side, by they were not begin the recognition deserved in britain. it's actually one of my favorite moments in the book because of the elaborate schemes that had to be gone through in order for
9:24 pm
seward to get the bill passed in congress. >> host: right, right, right. that is very interesting. yet, one of the things about the treaty that struck me as oddly interesting is it allowed british warships to board american vessels off the coast of africa if they suspected they were carrying slaves. now, go back 50 years, that was one the causes of 1812, british ships stops american ships and boarding them, and now you can to see if it's the slave trade. >> guest: yes, and that's why america refused to join the alliance because of the policy put together to stop the slave trade in the first place for the last 20 years putting together the alliances, and now the slave trade was continued almost solely by the united states because they all flew the american flag. >> guest: -- >> host: this book has got a
9:25 pm
huge kaleidoscope of characters from every level of society, from the queen, prince albert, the british government, american government, down to ordinary soldiers, people in both societies, and one of the interesting groups -- it's an amazing piece of research. i commend you for that and somehow keeping track of it and putting them together in a good story. the narrative is fascinating. one of the groups in here, little known, i suppose, to most readers is the british correspondents or journalists who were reporting the war. i guess the first question is today we have the internet, everything is instan tape yows. something happens in the world, within ten minutes, everybody knows. how long did it take news from the civil war in america to get to great britain? >> guest: in general, it took about two weeks. >> host: two weeks. it was not instantaneous at all.
9:26 pm
>> guest: no, it wasn't. in an emergency london get get a message to washington by 10 and a half days. >> host: by a fast ship. >> guest: a ship to canada and telegram to canada to washington. >> host: no cable yet, but a cable to noaf -- nova scotia and then to washington. >> guest: yes. it made the writing of the book tricky for that reason. every reaction is two weeks later, and so it's how much you jump around. >> host: right, rights. tell us about one or two of the reporters, william howard russell? interesting characters. >> guest: yes, i do love the journalists because they are. >> host: because you live in america, but the british press lately is guilty of certain procedures, i guess.
9:27 pm
it goes back a long way. >> guest: oh, sure, takes one to know one. william is an interesting character because he was famous for reporting on the war, and he brought florence nightengale to the world. when he arrived in 1861, he arrived as a very, very famous journalist, and with his reputation in tact, but part of that reputation was for telling the truth and for being neutral, and so this is exactly what he did. he reported on the war without vanishing either side, and the reports on the battle of bull run and the rather unfortunate defeat of the federal army that results in a huge route was so unvarnished that it infuriated northern readers who were not just used to that kind of
9:28 pm
reporting, and he was hounded out of the country. the tragedy is that from then on, there were no pro-northern reporters from euroand -- europe and britain in particular. there were two, one reporting for the london times and the other for the london news. they became so enamored of the south, seduced by southern charm and his reports were becoming biased that when the south fell in 1865, times readers were surprised. that's not how they thought the war was going. >> host: they thought the south was winning. >> guest: they were shocked. >> host: didn't some of the british press virtually apologized for their coverage, well, especially after lincoln's assassination, some published things that said they were unfair to lincoln, we misunderstood him. the times, some of the journals
9:29 pm
were pro-southern. >> host: which is mages. i never saw that since, that open apology. it goes to show that reporting becomes a morality play. a good guy and a bad guy, and once the south managed to seize the moral high ground because they were fighting for freedom, and there was nothing anyone could say, even john stuart mill tried to point out that the south is fighting for the freedom to take away the freedom of others. it fell on deaf ears, and the north just couldn't get any fair play. everything it did was given a slam, and i mean, it's fascinating comparing that to modern reporting today. >> host: i wonder how much modern reporting today is slanted or not. some still seems to be obviously. what about the index? there was this british newspaper, a newspaper published in britain with pro-southern
9:30 pm
backing or maybe even financing which spread the confederate message in london? >> guest: yes. it's absolutely fascinating. the man who started it was a southern journalist from mobile, alabama. a young man had had a career in the diplomats already, spoke several languages, had swiss parents, and he was able to understand the european mentality. his message should really be studied. he was a genius actually and did several things. he started a magazine to be a general news magazine, but with a subtle southern slant. ..
9:31 pm
if you are well educated and belonged to the chattering classes, you would read the index and not realize you are subtly pulled to the other side. postcode now, i wanted to go back and ask you about cotton. there is a narrative containing previous literature on britain and the american civil war, which sorted talks about the airways to of cotton workers, you know, the so-called cotton famine of 1862 with cotton supplies no longer available from the south, mills closed
9:32 pm
down and many people thrown out of work for the time being. nonetheless, according to previous literature anyway, you know, the working class remain loyal to the union. is that the story you found to be correct or was the truth or complicated? a lot of this book is in london, but what goes on in manchester in these manufacturing districts vis-à-vis the list were. >> since then, since the original stories came out that there was a whole wave with revisionism. half of them are actually suffered and of course nothing was the totality of the argument. 500,000 cotton workers didn't go in london. so clearly something happened. so why did they? first of all, it's just a
9:33 pm
classic working-class understanding of owning the fruits of your labor and that is a fundamental difference. so i think there is a genuine class consciousness, which is an company even the people understood arguments about wage slavery and people back from america. nevertheless, this may be different from slavery. the second reason is also the expansive and best organized campaign in british history to that point was organized by the error derby and others to provide hope to costume workers, including journalists, for example, harriet montano who were involved in helping children, wives, families who are out of work, restarting of educational programs, alternative works programs and it really went to the wrong way to assuaging the dire
9:34 pm
consequence is of unemployment. postcode as you well know, karl marx was sitting in london at this time and was writing dispatches now and then for the new york tribune were commenting on the american civil war. did you find any of his writings of particular interest about these questions? >> guest: hegde first of all because he was on the faster you to make slavery point and it was also nice to see where he criticized north korea did from time to time. he definitely felt that this was really a result of the secretary of state for leadership. and sometimes he would you way off base because he wasn't always in touch in the political order the opinion of staying in london. >> what about abraham lincoln? he plays a subordinate role in this book. a much more prominent figure
9:35 pm
from the american administration. did they leave foreign policy to seward? the money of other things to worry about obviously. what is your assessment of lincoln and his surrogates take on diplomatic affairs or did he really just say look, this is seward spellman i'm leaving it to him? >> guest: i really think that is the case. there were a couple of times when he did interfere. the first time was when he was guided by the senator from massachusetts to try to turn down one of william seward's most bellicose dispatches. that wasn't lincoln. that was because sumner told him to. there was a minute that lincoln said we must only have one war at a time. but he never found a contemporary account of that. postcode or many quotations from lincoln floating around, which never originated with lincoln.
9:36 pm
>> guest: she might have thought it and i would've thought at the time if anyone asked my opinion. but i don't think he said that. postcode i haven't seen it specifically quoted directly at the time. that lincoln didn't seem -- he had a cabinet which he allowed a great deal of leeway in the financial issues to secretary of the treasury chase and my foreign relations to seward. he kept military affairs under his direct control and the slavery issue under his direct toe with subordinates started making policy about slavery, lincoln with up-and-down of the talk about general fremont issuing an order or general hunter. lincoln said in making policy about slavery, but it does seem like seward was in charge of that. you know, i am interested to
9:37 pm
maybe go to a whole other area. your book -- you're not a professional academic in the sense that you don't teach him the university. this is not a criticism in any way. obviously you know history and have a phd degree from oxford as you said, so you're obviously a scholar. this book is what you might call popular history and i don't say that as anything but praise. in other words extremely well written, heavily footnoted in based on a lot of scholarship, but it is history that tells stories along the way. too often many academics don't write that way and don't therefore get -- it's narrative-based i guess. and i just wonder as a writer when you think about that when you're writing this book? of course you wrote your first biography, which was slightly different because you have the
9:38 pm
life laid out for you, when it begins and when it ends. but in terms of the narrative of this book, do you think of yourself as writing something different from kind of academic history or is that really not a distinction that makes any sense to you? >> well, i know exactly what you're saying. my decision not to cheech was a very personal one i go in a research fellow at queen mary college at university of london. i have five very small children. was i going to be more of a hands-on mother and have as many children as they wanted or a full-time academic teaching. one was going to limit the other for me. and so i made that sacrifice and it's something i live with and i'm happy with. now in terms of academic writing, there are two kinds of writing, one for trade, one for the mass market although hamas that is is another croatian and
9:39 pm
one for the lease. i feel that they not only work in parallel, but feed off each other. i really wanted to do something specific i guess because they trained as a biographer in oxford and that was my supervisor, for example, was one of charles barkley is. so that was the historical writing nike mottos and i wanted to write a history. i guess being on the outside. postcode history and around the menu look at all different is that the same time? >> guest: that's right. it's not the bottom up or top down. also across his countries. it is a kind of rating. you can do it at all times. i think you have to have a rather specific moment we can capture the 360-degree angle.
9:40 pm
and it's also heavily psychological. i really believe in these sorts of circumstances the psychology of effort people's concerns are vital. why is it that john russell, for example, doesn't know thinks about supporting the south. is it because he simply an economic determination? is it because he is suddenly become immune to slavery arguments? or is it because he's actually quite a vain man and shows himself as an angel of her scene was hijacked by the humanitarian argument. you could only know these things if you made a very solid study of batman's entire background starting from childhood. what sort of man as he? >> host: in a way, it's novelistic not in the way of inventing things, which novelist has the ability to do, but in focusing on character and development is carried yours and
9:41 pm
it's filled with all sorts of interesting carrot nurse of every kind. you do have a wonderful way of figuring out what makes these people tick. i guess not even the down side, but what makes it different is larger social forces do not come into play the way they might in a more academically oriented book. so you know, there's room for every kind is history. reading it i kept thinking because it is funny about some of several four, which really are not scholarly at all and they're just a fantasy. so it does come at the research, familiar with literature, it better. the scholarly apparatus is bare, but the mode of writing seems to be marked or are based than many other kinds of history out there. >> guest: i took the camera normally on high and moved it to
9:42 pm
sea level. they think her many books out there. my father's house. postcode there's no one way to write history. >> guest: i just thought it was agitated. coming from an entertainment tonight. postcode of course sometimes one might feel in a sense there's so many perspectives and also one of the points you make is there's a lot of misunderstanding. it's not like everyone is rationally assessing the issue nation as it develops. a lot of people are confused and don't know what's going on. a lot of people are either vain or misinterpreted events or prejudice in one way. there's a lot of confusion throughout this period, right-click >> guest: there's 197 characters, but actually 198. with the reader has his full knowledge and background knowledge and they want the reader to make these judgments while the carrot tears are
9:43 pm
simultaneously make misjudgments. i think it serves a rather pleasing place to be human when you know what someone that was again by someone else is making a to act. >> host: that is one of the very appealing things about the civil war makes it easy in the sense that everyone who reads this will now have the civil war ended. you don't have to tell them not at the beginning. and they see people saying the confederacy is definitely going to win, and they know the person is making a mistake, but that's the history is full of. the tg worry about it being very loud clicks it's a long book. teacher publishers say -- to 30 been very successful companies are publishers a better cut this down, too long, too many quotations? >> guest: all of the above. yes, absolutely. and in many ways it was an
9:44 pm
anti-commercial decision to keep it at the link but it is. i just thought that i couldn't -- and literally couldn't say it any shorter. not artistically anyway. >> host: it doesn't amount to me, but i'm used to reading very long books. >> guest: at islam, but in the kind of 19th century sense. i modeled it on a 19th century model, even though i actually hate novelistic devices in history books. i really can't stand it. >> host: without the dialogue directly out of sources? you have conversations. >> guest: if the speech -- >> host: you didn't make up any dialogue? >> guest: i didn't make it out. i can't bear it. also someone wrote in the letter it was a dark and stormy night. >> host: your first book as you mentioned was made into a
9:45 pm
movie. the duchess? is that what it was called? i get the impression from reading articles that she worked 100% happy with the end result of that or maybe it's just a film in the book are a little bit different genres. how did you feel seeing your first -- your biography up on the screen? >> guest: on an emotional level it felt terrific to have that accolade and in some weird way in the entertainment history not real until your book is intended to sell. then you must be a good writer because it's been turned into some. so just that alone was he so interested. what pains me about the film, which in many ways is beautiful and had great. too it was i felt that it was fundamentally is and maybe it's a harsh thing to say, but i felt a man had written the streets, directed the film and neither
9:46 pm
could imagine a world or universe in which a woman was interesting for herself and not because she was a track it to a man are because how she'd meet the man feel about themselves, but that the woman can genuinely be an agent of change. >> host: which is quite clear in your book that she was. she simply in brussels around her. i did find that absolutely infuriating. >> guest: as you think somewhere coming assault to write some learned what it means to sell the rights to your book. >> host: >> guest: that's right. i sold my book. >> host: they can do anything they want. i hope i don't offend anyone out there, but i am not a big fan of history films. there were a few good ones, but most of them take such liberties with the truth and of course then when students come to class
9:47 pm
because they know about history and what they've seen on the film and you have to disabuse them frequently other misconceptions they've gotten from hollywood movies. >> guest: i know, it's awful. i wanted to make it as entertaining as possible so that it would give people that sensation that they can get film. >> host: what they make a film out of this? it has more characters. >> guest: it will be a miniseries. it's going to be a tv miniseries , six parts that will allow the space for the story to breathe. >> host: is that he? >> guest: bbc and hbo together are developing what it takes many green lights to one up on the screen, but the train has certainly left the station. >> host: good, that sounds interesting. although i'm also not a big fan of history on tv, but there are exceptions.
9:48 pm
>> guest: exactly. and sometimes the best is the enemy of the good. >> host: that's exactly the attitude you have. on the other hand, it will bring awareness for neglected piece of history to allow people if it becomes a series that will be be a plus. >> guest: there are questions relevant today. questions for example what is the efficacy. the south tried to force recognition by instituting a cotton embargo. >> host: the north tried to blockade the south in the south and barcode itself. >> guest: it did. and neither of these things really worked on their own. we can think of many times in the last 50 years opec, where the embargo has been used as a tool. >> host: american embargo on cuba has been going on for 50 years, but they still seem to be in power dynamic. >> guest: the second question
9:49 pm
is when it appears in the effects of another country. we have those questions right now and it was the question that was really on the minds of the british then and sometimes there is no right answer. >> host: of course i'm in no answer is true for everest should ration. circuiting terzian of their conversation, let me go back to your dsl, your previous life and ask you what role as an aid to you think racism played in british attitudes one way or the other? did people talk about it during the civil war, whether their attitude toward slavery overlaid with racist assumptions about black people or how we're back people portrayed in the british press? did race come in at the fact, racial attitudes in the debates over the american civil war? >> guest: they began to be raised in a significant way by
9:50 pm
henry hot in the mid-1863 and there was the ethnological society split in half over the question of race and what it meant. a month died due to more of an american cast of what race meant. and the other side didn't. and so, britain was waking up to the racial debate. before then we had very interesting accounts by men like frank gehry douglas who in his autobiography noted when he went to london and was aghast at the the duchess of sutherland, but after races you know in england, americans who would refuse to shake his hand and americana would ask him for an injured into the duchess. >> host: right. douglass and others as you space on racism not nearly as pervasive in britain as in the united states, including the northern united states.
9:51 pm
>> guest: sir parker riemann who trained to become a top tier and practice medicine in italy left the north feeling very -- really persecuted and what about the sense of persecution when she became a friend of such feminist and said she had felt around her neck in new york where she was kicked off, but not in england. >> host: on the other hand i don't think you'd say there is no racism in england. >> host: this is a different story in a way. at the same time as the american civil war may be more of a coincidence of events taking place in jamaica, which are reinforcing the kind of racist view that at the very -- right after the civil war and that they had to marantz bay rebellion in jamaica, where some
9:52 pm
sort of conflict between the former slaves and white planters there and many written see this as a sign that blacks are inherently violent and kind of savage and it actually leads to a greater repression in british policy towards the west indies. so racial ideas are flowing around. it's interesting in your book they don't seem to play a major role in the way people are thinking about the american civil war. the british government is not saying these blacks are out of control, nothing like that. >> guest: no, no. in fact, the government level that some of the greatest amount of correspondence between washington and london is over the plight of black british seamen who have been impressed in the british navy or their black british subjects who have been caught up in one some terrible way. >> guest:
9:53 pm
jalisco during the american revolution quite a few thousand slaves ran away to british line and left with the british ended up in canada and then the war of 1812 the same thing happened. britain had proved reset due to a black presence in a way that was quite unusual compared to the northern or southern united states. there was a great deal of hostility towards free blacks throughout the united states, which is one of the reasons why the whole battle over reconstruction becomes so volatile. no one knows quite what is going to be the status of these former slaves. let me ask you, perhaps it's unfair after someone just publish an 800 page but if you thought about another book or are you taking time off from writing, which would be fair enough. >> guest: i would like to do a concise history of the global aspects of the civil war.
9:54 pm
maybe just 100,000 words. >> host: so not just britain, but the global picture of the civil war. >> guest: just to bring it into focus it would be much more as a word traditionally academic work. >> host: this to be cutting-edge because a notion now of what they call globalizing american history are internationalizing american history is now what many people are trying to do. of course it's easier said than done. you have to know historiography of many, many countries and you have to have language skills, which many american historians don't have. pretty monolingual over here. but still i think the global american civil war with ian interesting subject, absolutely. in fact, i was wondering when i read your book, you could do the same book for france. you could do the same book for russia and of course breccia
9:55 pm
abolishes serfdom in 1861 and many other countries kept their eyes on the american civil war because it was such a pivotal event in 19th century history. >> guest: absolutely. look how they imitated the use of railways. i mean, they're a really profound effects. >> host: yeah, you could end up writing an look with ulysses s. grant to rid the world after he leaves the president the period 1877 embarks on the tour which takes into europe and the middle east and asia eventually and everywhere he is hailed as a hero. in other words, grant to mean something to people all of the world because of the american civil war. you know, so you've got a great subject ahead of you. anyway, we are not worried about amanda's next book. we are talking about her current recent book, "a world on fire"
9:56 pm
written as crucial war and the american civil war. so it's been a pleasure talking to you here. congratulations on the book and good luck with it in thank you for writing it. >> guest: thank you for having me. >> here's a look at some upcoming book fairs and festivals over the next 10 months. on september 2nd, decatur, georgia hosts the decatur book
9:57 pm
festival. the brooklyn book festival begins on september 15 >> warty reading this summer? booktv wants to know. >> i just finished reading decision points by president bush. it was good. i enjoyed the conversational tone that he tucked in describing his presidency and the events -- the big events like 9/11 and some other of them
9:58 pm
that were part of his eight-year presidency. i'm in the process of getting to karl rove's new book as well as paint polson's new book. i don't know that anything has had more of a lasting impact on what we are talking about today and what happened a couple years ago with regard to the mill town. i think reading secretary paulson's new autobiography would be enlightening. i've gotten pretty frustrated with him by the end of this time the secretary, but i want to give him the benefit of the doubt and see his side of the story since he was there front and center and all the discussions. i am also reading a new book that and the injuries as a local alabama author wrote called the final summit because it is an
9:59 pm
inspirational journey. he takes real people from the past, winston churchill, abraham lincoln, john navarre on the george washington carver and he leads them in a fit tisch's way, that using real-life exam does to inspire people to be better the tears and andy is a personal friend. i also just finished rereading of my favorite book of all time and that is harper lee's "to kill a mockingbird." she is not only a friend, president of my district, but is someone that has touched the world. i think it's second only to the bible in terms of the most number of copies printed in the most number of languages around the world. so every year and point she read "to kill a mockingbird."


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on