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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 24, 2013 9:00pm-10:46pm EST

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writing plays as well as novels. now i just have more space between offense. i'm still writing and i have more space and more time to spend with my kids and my grandkids. i know that's a cliché but in my case it really is true. so i am the happiest nonretired retiree that i know. >> jim lehrer's most recent novel is top-down, a novel of the kennedy assassination. this is booktv booktv on c-span2. ..
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my definition of a historical novel one that makes literary history. it's quite contemporary. and i always operate under the admonition of the poet who said, make anu. that's what i try to do. >> are you exoited to be here tonight? >> it's fun. it's great fun. >> have you attended this dinner before. >> yes. i have won a national book award. >> for which book? >> "world fair." it was about 25 years ago. anyway. >> some people may not know
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after you you are named after edgar allen poe. i think it's probably true. my father liked him. >> thank you for spending a few minutes on booktv. >> my pleasure. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> nice to meet you.3 [inaudible conversations] >> nice to meet you. >> i spent an hour with bryan in washington. >> yes, on q & a. we are covering you down in miami this coming weekend. you'll be live on booktv this weekend. but you're one of the finalist in the non-fiction category. is this a first time you have been nominated? >> yes, it is.
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>> it's exciting. it's tremendous. it's an honor. >> the readings were last night, we all listened to each other from across the four category. the quality was just incredibly high. everyone had about three or four minutes. you didn't have much time to get across the feel of your work, but it was incredibly impressive. i felt honored to be in that company. >> which story did you tell from "the unwinding." i read a passage where one of the main characteristic is thinking about the -- -- he's sit on the front porch at night will being to the jack danielles listening to the trucks go by and knows some of them are full of chickens that head down to slaughter houses. he begins to think about with the chicken goes and how they come back to the bo gang les he
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owns. he sells the meat to his customers. it's an elaborate and kind of dark picture of an economy of fast food and imported oil and people getting poor in his part of the country. >> george, do you see what is going on in the country today economically as different from other tran formations that we've had? in our nation? >> yes. with an exception. i think the analogy would be to the early 1900s. when we had vast inequality of wealth. we a handful of robber barons at the top. and we a lot of new immigrants struggling to survive. 50 years of what i call the roosevelt republic, in which middle class people began to get ahead, started to come undone in
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the late '70s. and now we're back to something like that vast inequal equality of the early 20th century without some of the protections and some of the basis for equal opportunity we put in place. >> in a way it's a repetition. it feels new in that there's not the energy and the vision of tran for-- transformation that lead to the progressive movement and the new deal. back then. now everyone feels sort of isolated in their own trouble and trying to find solutions for themselves. but there is a national movement. it makes it a more troubling time, i think. >> three out of the five non-fiction finalist. >> pretty good. and i think david is probably feeling happy tonight and incredibly impartial. it's a tribute to what he's done
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as magazine and what kind of talent across the board. not just the three of us but across the board. [inaudible conversations] now joining us is another finalist in the non-fiction category inspect is whitney. a professor of history. >> correct. >> in california. and the author of "hitler's furies." where did you get the idea about writing women in the third reich? >> i got the idea in archives. i didn't go on a specific search. i found some documentation on them. it was the beginning of the book in the summer of 1992. i ended up over the course of, you know, twenty years or so working in holocaust research collecting more documentation from all over europe and israel and north america and washington, d.c.
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i had enough to complete this. 13 biographies of women from all different walks of life that found themselves in the horrific settings and responded in a variety of ways. >> were you surprised at what you found. >> over time as i collected stories especially getting to the war crimes investigation of the killers shocked what they did. and they did them on the own without following official orders. that, to me, was quite astounding and disturbing, yes. >> how do you find out you were nominated. >> i'm sorry? >> how did you find out you were nominated? >> well, i got a phone call. i had just come back from my -- a book tour and got a phone call from my editor and my agent. when it was announced on "morning joe," i was in los angeles. it was like 5:00 in the morning my time. so i didn't know, you know. it was just really such incredible news.
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really, i'm still kind of high, if i can say it. i feel incredible excitement about this. about being part of this and being with the authors. people whose work i admire so deeply. and that i am here with them tonight at the event. it's a privilege and honor. i'm grateful to the national book foundation for recognizing my work and putting me in touch with the incredible writers. >> you are renting the west coast tonight. >> i guess so. that's right. well, george packer i think spent some time on the west coast and grew up there. right. i flew in yesterday and still standing. app limb jet lagged but still standing with the excitement. >> wendy lewis. one of the five finalists for the non-fiction book awards this evening. can you hold up the medal for us so question see it up close a little bit? >> yes. i received it last night. we a ceremony where we received the medal and received lovely gift bags. they wrote a beautiful citation,
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the judges crafted a beautiful citation and certificate. so i'm going proudly display that in my office when i get back to the college. >> wendy, thank you for spending a few minutes with us on booktv. and good luck tonight. >> thank you very much. >> all right. thank you, madam. >> thank you for joining us on booktv. "going clear ." where did you get the title? >> well, it's a term from scientology. the founder of scientology came up with the concept that if you can purge your one side of your mind of all the neuroses and fear through scientology you become clear. in other words you would be a superhuman. you would no long gert cold. your intelligence would be higher, and, you know, live forever. an interesting concept but there
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weren't any actually clear he can produce to prove his case. >> how much time did you spend on the book. what was it like researching the church of scientology? >> you know, just as a rep territorial task, it was difficult because they were a lot of people were quite frightened, and they were afraid of punishment by the church or losing family members who would never talk to them again. and also, something i never really run in to like this before. so many key people signed nondisclosure agreement with the church who were legally obligated not to talk -- millions and millions of dollars to talk to me. some actually did. and many people who had never spoken before actually confided their stories to me. i was really grateful for that. but it was wrenching. >> why is it that the church of scientology has such a foot followed ?oold. >> it was set up in hollywood.
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it was designed to be a church for celebrities who, in turn, would sell the dhowrnlg other people. and they sought out celebrities early on. they a list of mar -- walt disney. some of the most famous people in the world. they did get some movie stars and people like that in to the church. and they use them as pitchers for the religion. the same way that white -- wheaties puts sports stars on the box. >> did you fear for your safety work of course the book? >>. i don't like to think about those things. my last book was about al qaeda. but i think if al qaeda ever got lawyers it would be a dangerous organization. >> lawrence wright another staff writer for the new yorker. three of the five in the category. >> it's a testament to the fact that the magazine still has the resources and the courage to give write ears --
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writers a chance. >> congratulations. >> thanks, again. [inaudible conversations] >> and joining us now on booktv is a very familiar face, maya ang lou. what do you think of getting the lifetime achievement award. >> it's a wonderful treat. it's a blessing. i'm grateful for it. and this important thing is to -- and add to the gratitude. i'm grateful that writers also think i'm worthy of it. >> how often do you get letters from people around the country who just want to write to you and talk to you? >> i realize that now i have a -- some -- what do they call it -- a group of people like me a lot. >> groupies. >> yes. i do.
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i have -- i'm now -- i have a lot of people who thought -- i have -- what you called it. a fan club and fans. i was told once if i could get a million people in a facebook it would be a lot. i now have 4, 700, ,000. people who follow you on facebook. >> it's a blessing. >> congratulations. >> are you still working? are you still writing? >> of course. i don't know what else to do. [laughter] i would like to -- i mean, if i knew anything else, i would do it. but i'm a writer. i'm a teacher who can write. >> you said it. the room is starting to fill up a little bit. we have another finalist here that we want to talk to in the non-fiction category. non-fiction category.
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and representing the common wealth of virginia and university of virginia is allen taylor. first of all, congratulations. >> thank you very much. >> on your nomination for the "internal enemy ." where did you come up with the name. >> the virginia begans used to describe the slaves. particularly when felt threaten by a foreign innovation as they did during the american revolution and the war of 1812. they would comment on they faced two great dangers. an external enemy and internal enemy. it was a different way of thinking about slavery than we are used to encountering. we were used to thinking of southerners thought it as a positive good. in the early republic, they knew the slaves didn't want to be slaves. that i wanted to be free. they feared there would be a day when they rise up in rebellion and kill the masters to claim the freedom. >> if the subtitle, you are specific about the years you're covering. first of all, what are the years. why are you so specific?
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>> 1772 to 1832. there are two important events that bracket that. at the start of 1772 is the somerset a decision. a decision in england that declared that slavery was not supported by law in england. it alarmed many americans. so many people who owned slaves feared if they remain within the british empire they would be ruled by people not sympathetic to the slaves system. in 1832 because that's when we had national security nat turner's rebellion. there's an important debate in the virginia hall of delegates about whether or not to adopt a program of gradual emancipation. after a thorough debate it was shot down and never again would virginia debate whether or whether or not to have a program for e mans nateing their slaves. instead there would be a civil
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war over the issue. >> who is your publishers. did you know they had submitted your book for national book awards? >> and company. i know, they nominated me. the first i knew of it when i found out i made the long list. which is ten for non-fiction. i was pleasantly surprised when i meat -- made it to the next cut. >> who called you. >> i got an e-mail. several e-mails principally from my editor. >> have you enjoyed the festivities in new york this week. >> it's great thrill. i've never been involved with the national book awards before. it's wonderful. and exciting to be a part of it. >> good luck tonight. >> thank you very much. [inaudible conversations] i think this is the fourth finalist in the non-fiction category we want to talk to. if you are watching booktv last weekend, you saw jill
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lepore in philadelphia e moding about jane frack lynn. did you stumble on jane frack lynn? >> i did. well, i was reading ben franklin's published paper which are bound in 40 something volumes. you go any library and pull them off the shelves. one after another. it's such good company. he's so sneaky and charming. but every other letter he wrote was to his sister, jane. and i never heard of her. i was just mystified. how can anybody possibly understand this man who ran away from home when she he was young. the last letter he wrote on his death bed was to his sister. she's clearly important to his life. when i first read about her i was interested in understanding him. then i realized she's far more interesting. we know so little about the lives ever ordinary people. >> how ordinary was her life?
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>> franklin story. he -- her life was rags to rags nap is an allegory too for everybody's else life. it was unusual to climb up the social ladder the way frack lynn -- franklin did. >> flrp any portraits of jane franklin. did she get any of her brother's money. did anything come her way? >> he had many kinds of joy in her life. she was never wealthy. franklin took good care of her. in this incredibly weak way when
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they were old. he arranged to have firewood sent to every. think about if you are poor living in the 18th century in boston. how hard it is. the biggest thing you suffer is the cold in the winter. she sent him cod. new england cod. but what she cherished was books. she read all her life. she was a voracious reader. she read the newspaper every day. she read 18th century magazine. she read everything. what an education it would have been to read franklin. >> in a different time, would -- could she have -- let me rephrase this. did she have the -- silver in the mind. you can't know. it's not been mined. they were not taught to write.
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it was unusual far girl to know how to write. she only learned to write because her brother taught her. that's the reason we know so much about her life. she didn't write with the facility he wrote with. so you really can't know. how do you measure the size of a mind that is trapped in illiteracy, really. it's a great question. it's -- >> jill lepore from harvard and new yorker. the third new yorker staff writer to be nominated this year on the non-fiction category. thank you for joining us. >> thank you very much. >> congratulations to you. those are the five finalist in the non-fiction category.
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[inaudible conversations] somebody et. cetera we want to introduce you to this evening. the national book awards. david, what is the national book foundation? what is the association with the nba? >> right response the mission is to encourage the reading of great books. and increase the impact of great book on the culture. the biggest thing we do are the national book awards themselves. it's the 64th annual national book awards. bigger than better than ever this year. >> what's the day job. ceo of the books group which is an independent book publishers. >> do you have have any finalists tonight. >> we don't. i'm just as excited as if we did. you know, the books are exciting, and it's an exciting evening. >> the numbers just came down on publishing. they are down just a bit. e-books have dropped quite a bit this year. >> right. there's a big change this year. which is that we've seen the flattening of e-books and really seeing a market in which people
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are making a choice. some are reading in digitally and some are reading in print. some are reading both. it's very clear that print books are going to be here for a long, long time. they still represent the vast majority of book purchases. >> david, if you're a finalist for national book award. does it pump sales? >> it's a very big deal. yay, i mean, philip roth won the national book award for the "goodbye columbus ." we know what happened after that. >> i see thomas is nominate forked the newest fiction. it any chance he's here tonight? why right. if you see him, let me know. the thick that is interesting if he wins it will be the second time. he won for "gravity rainbow." about 40 years ago. you're in a select group.
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m thank you so much. thank you very much. what do you think about them? >> i'm excited. and my assistant emily cans i did is a budding writer. author want to be. she's so excited and nearly fainted when i found out she was introducing tony morrison. >> what are you most excited about? >> so the event as a whole. i come here a few times with my co-host. it's so exciting to see books celebrated and all kinds of books. e-books and every time of book. the way they make them now and see the industry still flour riching in a tough market is great. my co-host is a lookout right now. >> hi. and right path. we've been on book tours for the past two weeks. so i'm in the mood.
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>> you're an author too. so you been on booktv as well. >> i have. got three books out now. and you know what? i'm talking with david about a companion book to "knowing your value" which is my second book. which is great for women. we're looking far "knowing your value "edition. hopefully i'll be back next year. ladies and gentlemen, mika. ♪ ♪ good evening. somehow everyone tonight? beautiful! i'm mika. co-host of "morning joe." i'm deeply honored to be here tonight. i'm also very excited to say this to you uninterrupted.
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welcome to the 64th national book awards! i got through it! it's the oscars of the book world, or as fran once called them, the oscars without money. but we'll take them! so i have a very close connection to this even's awardses. just last month, we had the honor of having the chairman of the national book foundation on our show, on "morning joe," to announce the national book foundation finalists. as a three-time author myself, i know firsthand what an incredible undertaking it is to write a book and the nightmare scenario it poses on members of the family. i'm so impressed by all tonight's honorees. -- nominees. so on "morning joe" we're very proud to give authors the platform to discuss their works and the "morning joe" book balance. which is fantastic on amazon.
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we started a book club for non-fiction read. we hope to have a lot of finalist on the show very soon. as we gather this year, there's a lot of news and speculation in the book world. random house and penguin merged this year. when they did, there was a lot of hope, especially in the alternative rock world that the new company would be called "random penguins." they decided to call it penguin random house. looking around the room, i've seen a lot of writers stuffed in these tuxedos, and they maybe should have called it ran don penguins. just saying. you look handsome. the giants of the digital book industry are here tonight. barnes & noble, amazon, apple, and it's been another ban are in year for digital books with the pension of any e-book that had to be downloaded by --
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from health [laughter] low blow. in fact, while i'm at it, i just heard it president obama was shopping a new book call "how to work with congress." it will be eligible for next year's fiction category. it hurts so badly. but we're here tonight to celebrate writers and readers and every one of you in the industry who bring them together. and the excellent work that you all do. as a reader and a writer, i applaud all of your hard work, whether it's books on paper or pixel or anything else. books, still make the world interesting and exciting and wonderful and where would our world by without them? so since this is an awards program celebrating the best books of the year, let's move right in to it.
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i come from the world of "morning joe," but "morning joe" is not here. so we're going to be on time tonight. we're not going to be interrupted and we're not going to go long. we're going keep our awards program running on time. i have to be up at 3:00 a.m. i'll be at the forefront of this. let's begin. so to present the literary award for outstanding service to the american literary community, we have tonight tony morrison. [cheering and applause] [cheering and applause] tony morrison needs no introduction. i'll try this. one of the gratest novelist in american history. winners of the nobel prize in literature. recipient of the prcial medal of freedom, medal for distinguished contribution to american letters, and host of over honors, it givers me great
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pleasure to welcome tony morrison. [cheering and applause] ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> thank you.
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[applause] >> did you see me walk? you don't appreciate it because you haven't been in a wheelchair like i have for a long time. [laughter] but this is important to me. i really am delighted. it's great and it's a personal pleasure to honor a friend and artist, and -- when i sat down to gather my thoughts about what i could say about maya angelou, the first was the fact that inspite of her truly outrageous -- [inaudible] she doesn't -- in the routine jealous and put down that artists and -- as famous as she are accustom
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to. .. with debt unmistakable voice. i can't omit the pleasure of her company, with so much toxicity
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around in this world, the celebratory social life she offers her friends and colleagues is a blessing. and trust me, maya can cook. [laughter] i knew her at random house, where she published her first book, "i know why the caged bird sings." the autobiography was immensely popular course but more than that, it had breadth and meaning and i don't recall any woman writer more insightful or more courageous describing her life. and equally important it gave license to a host of other african-american writers. it opened the door to our
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inside, our interior, minus the white sanction. interestingly, its publication in 1969 neither begin nor completed her work. just think of this as a curriculum. journalists. writing for the arab observer and the b'nai in times in 1960, 1961. playwright, screenwriter, film director, 1960, 1966, 1967, 197. activist, coordinator at the request of martin luther king for sclc.
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1968, cooperation with malcolm x to build the organization for african-american unity in 1964. actress, roots, 1977. poetic justice 1993, john jenae, the blacks 1960. narrator, writer of documentaries, 68, 72, 75, 76, 82, 1982. dancer, singer, dancing with elvin ailey. students 1954 and 58. yes and eight biographies, 19692 this year 2013. call it, 10 collections of poetry, 1971, 1995.
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professor, wake forest university, reynolds professor of american studies. i left out much. children's stories, essays, recordings and albums. but any one or two of these accomplishments couldn't count for the esteem in which maya angelou has held but all of theg in spite of the childhood of one's and obstacles that would break or paralyze many of us, suffering energized and strengthened her and along with good counsel, determination and persistence, her creative impulse struck like olds of
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lightning. her example is not one of surviving. it truly is one of triumph. dr. maya angelou, you improve our world by drawing from us, forcing from us our better selves. [applause] ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ [applause] old folks say it takes one to know one. [laughter] thank you. toni morrison, greet me. it's a blessing. she is a blessing and it's
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amazing. we have been sister friends all of these years and i'm grateful for it. i know that in truth it takes one to know one. and i'm grateful. i know that tony is all of that and i know that you are, all of you literary folks, amazing, i mean amazing that you have chosen to give me a gift, to honor me and i am so pleased. it's amazing. i know that you are all writers and i am delighted that you have chosen to not only honor me but to ask ms. toni morrison to honor me and honor you.
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and that is who you are. there is an old statement, an old statement that says, when it looks like the sun. ♪ will not shine anymore. ♪ god put a rainbow in a cloud. ♪ it's amazing. it's amazing. [applause] amazing. [applause] the statement was inspired by a statement in genesis that says rain had persisted so unrelentingly that people thought it would never cease, so in an attempt to put the people at ease, god put a rainbow in
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the sky. that is in genesis. but in the 20th century, i'm sorry 19th century, some african-american poet, may be a woman, i am not sure about that, but she said no, god didn't just put a rainbow in the sky. god put a rainbow in the clouds. in the clouds. we know that suns and moons and stars and illuminations are always in the sky and illumination. however, clouds can so persist that people can't see a change in the possibility in the sky, and the clouds. and here we are. here you are.
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amazing. you are rainbows in my clouds. it's a blessing that you have decided to be a rainbow in my cloud. that you have decided to, whether i deserved it or not, you have decided to honor me and i'm grateful to you. i am grateful to toni morrison. i am grateful to bob loomis, my editor. [applause] for over 40 years, over 40 years, imagine it. i have tried to tell the truth as i understand it in prose.
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amazingly, i don't know. i know that there is a difficulty in trying to write prose. i know that you know all of that and you are smarter than many of us here. i know that you know all of that however, there is a possibility that when you use a few nouns and pronouns and some incredible poetry, you know what it means. it's very hard. i think you know that easy reading is hard writing. [laughter] but you know all of that because
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you are literary folks and you know that. i have been trying to tell the truth as far as i understand it. i didn't try to tell everything i know, but i tried to tell the truth. and you have honored me this evening. i am so grateful. i am so appreciative. my sons and daughters, and some of them are black-and-white and asian and spanish speaking in native american and pretty and plain and you know and and straight. i have tried to tell the truth so you have honored me. i can't say enough to say thank you and i think you. i think toni morrison and i thank you for realizing how important she is. and how important we are to each
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other. people live in direct relation to the sheroes and heroes that they have, and i thank you for honoring me. thank you. [applause] ♪ ♪ ♪ [applause] >> wow. [applause] and now to present the medal for distinguished contribution to american letters is victor navasky. hrabowski is one of american journalism's great treasures,
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long-time editor and publisher of the nation. he is author of six books including the national book award-winning naming names. he is delacorte professor of magazines at columbia university's graduate school of journalism, director of the george t. delacorte center and chairman of the colombia journalism review. it gives me great pleasure to introduce victor navasky. [applause] ♪ ♪ >> well i am floating on maya angelou's cloud. i love that, what i just heard. and let me say when i was asked to introduce my good friend e.l. doctorow this evening i was honored to be asked and said yes because i have such admiration for his books, his plays and his
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other writings, his short stories but on reflection it has occurred to me that edgar has won more awards than our good for him. [laughter] among them the national book award, the saul bellow award for achievement and american fiction, a national humanities medal bestowed by president clinton in 1988 and the gold medal bestowed by the american academy of arts and letters. i thought that he should we home instead of spending his time going to evenings like this. he should be home writing his novels and short stories. better than be out accepting at another award this evening that would divert him from his more important work.
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so that was my second thought after the first thought of being honored to introduce him. then i remembered that nothing diverts him from his work. once my wife annie and i took a vacation with edgar and hell in the love of his life whom he calls captain tidy because she keeps cleaning up after him. we went to some island in the caribbean. those were the days before computers came along, so at 6:00 in the morning we would hear it edgars tie fighter clacking away i knew from the days when he worked as an editor in chief at dial press for his writers included among others norman mailer, james baldwin and william kennedy, that one should never call his home in new rochelle before 6:00 a.m., not because he would wake up edgar or helen are one of the three extraordinary children, but
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because he would disturb him in the middle of his work because he put in two hours a day writing his novel before he got on the commuter train to new york. for his day job. and it's not nearly that as a writer he will always manage to find time to write, but that rather than put these awards in a fancy display case when he does take time off from his own writing as often as not he uses his present prestigious celebrity to advance the cause of the artist in society. for example when he testified before congress on behalf of the national endowment for the arts, he eloquently told congress why it would be a big mistake to condition it grants on writers
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behaving themselves politically, which congress was then this host to do. here is just some of what he had to say and this is a quote from edgar testifying before congress. any legislative condition put on an artist's speech no matter how intemperate or moderate, no matter how intemperate or moderate and i matter how vague or specific means you published a dictionary with certain words deleted from the language. it means to layout a palette with certain colors struck from the spectrum. do you really want to do this because congress in its wisdom really believe that keeping words and blocking them out and erasing portions of the tape is what is needed to save this
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republic is that not only for artists but it's bad for us all. now you don't need me to talk to you about his extraordinary books and why they deserve this honor that he is receiving this evening, the book of danielle, ragtime, billy bathgate, and his other works, each of which is different from the last not to mention the next book andrew's brain which will if you will excuse the expression blow your mind but i will mention his first published fiction. it was called the beetle. i'm not sure how old he was when he wrote it. it was inspired not by ringto starr, and/or paul mccartney but rather by koskinen's metamorphosis. i mention it only because when he was asked about it many years
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later he described it to an interviewer with typical modesty and wry wit as an active etymological self defamation. etymological self defamation, the beetle, costco. you got it. [laughter] although this evening we celebrate edgars fiction and the stories and plays you should know that he went through kenyan college where he majored in philosophy and studied with john crow the poet and new critic. this experience has not been lost on edgar. don't take my word for it, but do read the essay he wrote for the nation called a citizen reads the constitution in which he considers his countries fundamental document as a critic
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would a literary text. in this case, what he calls the sacred text of secular humanism, the constitution being the literary text of secular humanism, a people's text. i don't know what if anything edgar will have to say this morning that i want to share with you the fact that some years ago, when he was asked if he would introduce -- just a minute. i want to say to you that some years ago when he was asked by george plimpton who interviewed him for one of paris review's famous interviews, he was asked asked -- you told the story about a befuddled woman interviewed at the 92nd st. y. i and a befuddled woman got up
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there during the question period her first question for doctorow from the floor was what made you write about the firestorm of dresden? doctorow politely informed her that she probably had kurt vonnegut's slaughterhouse five in mind and that justin firestorm had been done so beautifully there was little reason for anyone else to try. the point here is doctorow's attitude. it leaves one only original territory to explore, which is what he has done with all of his work. he has been asked if he has a reader in mind when he sits down to write and he has replied no, it's just a matter of language, of living in sentences. there is no room for a reader in
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your mind. you don't think of anything but the language you are in. well, edgar i have news for you. you may not have us in mind that you are in a roomful of your grateful readers. [applause] ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ [applause]
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>> before coming here this evening, i thought to say something about what was lately on my mind and what is on all of our minds whether we know it or not. something that has swept through our lives and taken us up in ways that are useful and even spent secular but also worrisome and so ubiquitous and looming lee present in everything we do. the way we communicate and take care of ourselves and find things out and looked to be entertained. well that would have to be the internet. so to begin i want to congratulate the shortlisted content providers here this evening. [laughter]
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the world wide web was conceived as a somewhat academic thing some years ago but its years of realization and development since the 80s have seemed to me the work of the moment. coming into being as an astronomical event a virtual world as a companion planet in orbital swing with their own. and it's substance not mountains and seas in deserts and melting icebergs that information, data, knowledge in every form of every kind transmitted for every purpose for governmental commercial educational and political. it is a companion world to create wealth, to educate, to bring news, to spy, to save lives, to make war. my odd sense of it is something exploded into being has to do
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with the population putting itself eagerly into its arcane service as immigrants swearing fealty to a new world. the techies, the programmers, the webmasters, the security experts, the hackers. almost as if it appeared, as it appeared in a it created the people necessary to maintain it. and you wonder, or i wonder what if there was no internet. what would these people have done with their lives? it was as if they were born for the virtual so promptly and efficiently that they bond with it, work out its and deduce its possibilities. this world of theirs is a world of simulation. clearly evidenced by its language. nevermind that text is now a verb. more radically a search engine
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is not an engine. a plot for them is not a plat form. it looked mark is knotted bookmark because an e-book is not a book. and a cookie is not a chocolate chip cookie. [laughter] a cloud of something that maybe somewhere in the sky although not there to produce whether and surfing is an activity with neither a surfboard norway gets to ride. language has been stolen or more charitably metamorphosis i is anyway in this room especially have to appreciate that a four. we are the descendents of writers who saw the son of zeus' chariot riding across the sky. yet, when was the last time on hearing the word mouse that you thought of a small rodent? or heard the word web and
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thought of a spider? ralph waldo emerson said all that can be thought can be written. man is the reporting in the university has the possibility of being reported. amerson would appreciate the internet. the universe is the possibility of being reported suggest endless subscription and infinite surprise. and he might amerson after drinker to think of global internet activity is a kind of oversoul. on my part i think less mystically of an over brain. ..
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we're in everything we do. our predilections, our relations with others, our physical qualities, psychic conditions, what we buy, what movies we watch, political beliefs, what books we read, if any. anything and everything about us broken down into data, the life substance of the companion world in cyberspace. mind and invasive expect digses
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-- expeditions. you can call it quantification in the '60s we recalled it re -- a kind of dehumanizing, and it turns out the prophetic story for all of this is oddly enough the eviction story from the bronze age telling of the consequences coming from eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. so, like all worlds, the virtual comes with instant heaven and its hell. what does mean for all of us in this room? we writers and our publishers. we don't want to give up the presumably inconvenient thing we do. something as old as written narrative. we don't want to lose heart as did frank norris, from the late
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19th century, the octopus, mcteague. norris disspared of the western union telegram. ten words and stop. the twitter of the day. he feared it was the end of literary discourse, that people could express themselves completely in ten words, the human mind would eventually be inaccessible to works of 100,000 words, and so the end of literary discourse, that was norris' idea. but he also believed the typewriter was an enemy of creativity and how much was imparted to a sentence written by a hand rather than a machine. we don't want to be today's norris. silly fellow, he was. as there are those today who think writing on a computer is the death of great fiction. writers thrive oned adversity, d ever since god stopped writing and humans took over the task.
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but there are internet dynamics that do challenge us. in fact, concerns in their interactivity one of the web world's waving flags that techies don't want to know that reading a book is the essence of interactivity, where the reader's life flows through the sentences and through an electric circuit, animating sentences and bringing them to life in the mind so that it is only when a book is read that it is completed. nothing else is like that and a book is written in silence and read in silence. another advantage in our noisy world. and integrity of the mine is maintained and the ability to live in an extended discourse. so, that isn't the problem nor is the major problem the digital undercutting of office copyright and pie rotting of texts, equivalent to what happened to
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musicians, although that is a problem. you may hey read the results of a survey not only that american writes worry about being a target of government surveillance but that a significant portion of writers are engaging in self-censor china by avoiding research on controversial subjects, choosing not tone gauge in censored conversations and declining particular topics and stories when doing so might lead to scrutiny by the u.s. government. so, it's begun. that slowly gathering ghostly darkness, coming off the other world technology. a kind of chinese-like darkness maybe. or squall it the -- call it the first stem down the stairs to the internet world's hell. hard to believe as we gather here this evening, flourishing,
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a flourishing example of western democracy, but the struggle has begun as to whom will rule the webby of the world. government dat miners and the corporations in league with them or everybody else. we'll have to take a deep breath, gather ourselves, and reluctantly or not, join that struggle. i don't have to remind us that everyone in this room is in the free speech business. thank you for your kind attention and my congratulations again to the wonderful short list of writers here this evening. thank you. [applause]
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that was beautiful, thank you, sir. i'm almost frightened to ask this question. how many of you hear tweet? anybody? too distinguished an audience -- i got one. any others? there's a hash tag -- okay, mb awards and i'm a professional al selfies if you want to call me over. we now invite you to enjoy dinner and we will return, of course, for continuation of the national book awards ceremony. ♪ >> good evening. other on behalf of the board of direct clothes national book foundation, it's my privilege to welcome you to the 64th annual
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national book award. it's been my privilege to do this for the last seven years, but i've never done it with such large crowd. more than 700 people here. i thank each of you for being here for this special event. [applause] >> one of the things that makes this evening so special is that tonight our literary stars come out we have incredible writers, some of our greatest writers here. i'm going to mention a few of them. i'm going to ask you to hold your applause to get through the list. it's animationsing list. we have winners of the national book award. edward ball. e.d. doctorow, marked toy, micky finny, georgia glass, gordon reed, marion hoperman, jane kramer, victor novasky, ronald steele, and jasmine ward.
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pulitzer prize winners michael cunningham, lahiri, alan taylor and lawrence writhe, mcarthur fellow, george saunders, winner of the circle award, d.a. powell and leann shaftton,ing me rosoff, new bury award winner, cynthia, and calvin, and the recipient of the presidential medal of freedom, tony moreson and miya angelou. please recognize these great writers with me. [applause] >> i'd like to thank our financial supporters. let me get through this list. please hold your applause.
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barnes & noble, pen wing. leadership, david drummond, and a division of central national, and sponsors amazon, google, harper collins, mcmillan, and debra whiley, thank you for your support. couldn't do it without now. [applause] i'd like to acknowledge in our audience is something special. the winners of our fifth annual innovations reading prize funded be the -- our organization is about recognizing great writing and encouraging the reading of great books. these organizations help make it happen. reading is the way up, project of city national bank of los angeles has provided books to more than 100,000 children. little free library in wisconsin has established book exchanges in over thousand locations --
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7,000 locations around the world. i think we have an example in the book. also, we have an example from the uni project in new york to turn public spaces into reading rooms. and this one based in vancouver, washington, challenges young under privileged teens to get to read by providing them banned books. some of our greatest books, authors like mark twain, curth vonnegut, and ernest hemingway, and then the association in seattle that provides books to children in subsaharaan africa. and 10,000 children are reading now better than ever before. i'll ask the winners of the innovation and reading prize to stand and be recognized. let's give them some recognition for this great work.
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[applause] >> now, a few years ago, people didn't think we were serious when the national book award added an afterparty, and as many of you know now, it's become this really hot ticket. in the fact the first time we did it, it was oversubscribed so i couldn't tell anyone where it was. i said if you want to good you have to hunt down -- and get him to tell you. we figured out now we need a lot of space. we do it right near, upstairs, and i have to thank our afterparty sponsor, cobo, our aftermatter -- afterparty committee, rachel, paul, steph, and jim.
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jindall is watching from antarctica. that's what is going on today. okay. a few more people to thank. just want to thank our hosts for having the morning joe to announce the finalists. special thanks to our dinner co-chairs who have over the past four years truly transformed the dinner. i of you came to this dinner more than four years ago, you know what i'm talking about. morgan, debra, lynn, and shelly. thank you. thank you. and finally, need to acknowledge the national book foundation's terrific staff, our tireless director, harold algenbrown, my colleagues on the board of directors who have been terrific, and now on behalf of the organization, good luck to our finalists tonight and on to
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the awards ceremony. ♪ >> okay. are we ready? that dessert was yummy. it's now time for what we've all been waiting for. the actual national book awards ceremony. the order of the award categories well be this: young people literature, poetry, nonfiction, and then fiction. so, to present the national book award in young people's literature is e. lockhart. a finalist for the 2008 national book award in young people's literature for her novel "the disreputable history of banks" an honor book and received the
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award for best young adult novel. her most recent book, "real life boyfriend" the fourth book in the ruby oliver series, and gives me great pleasure to introduce eve lockhart. [applause] >> everyone in this room, you are here because once upon a time you fell in love with a book. if it happened at three, perhaps it was a snowy day. if at eight, perhaps harriet the spy. if at 14, perhaps "the outsider." in any case it was probably a children's book. the young people's literature category is a category of books that make readers for life. books that are read over and
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over, that are clutched to the chest and adored. i am proud to serve on the ypl committee with lisa, peter glassman, novelist and finalist deb, and cecil. we searched for books that resonated with us intellectually and emotionally, long after the first read. we chose books we felt were modern classics, that we believe readers will clutch to their chest and adore, books that will make readers for life. the final glues the young people's literature category are: the true blue scouts of sugar man swamp, but kathy uphouse. published. >> the think about luck, by cynthia, published by -- for
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young readers, a division of simon and shoe sergio, far, far away by tom mcknee. picture me gone, bying me rosoff, published by put nam, division of penguin group. boxers and saints, published by a division of macmillan. we on the committee love these five books, with the crazy passion of teenage love and the sticky open hearts of toddlers. this year's national book award for young people's literature goes to: cynthia kadahasha, for this thing about life. [applause]
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♪ >> i don't have a speech because i'm wildly superstitious and i thought it would be back luck so maybe i did the right thing. i just wanted to thank everyone at sigh minute and schuster. they have incredibly great people. my editor, kaitlin, i don't think there's a better editor in
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new york because that would just be impossible. john anderson, dustin chandler, so supportive of their team and in the writers. russell gordon, who designs gorgeous covers, and paul crichton, and who saves me from embarrassment, my fabulous agent gail, and i want to say, george, of you were here, you inspire every breath i take. thank you. [applause] >> okay. to present the national book award for poetry is nicky finney. finney is the author of four
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books of poetry, head off and split, which won the 2011 national book award in poti. -- poetry. the world is round, rice, and on wings made of gauze. recently accepted the position of john h. bennett jury chair, jr. chair at the university of south carolina. it's my pleasure to introduce nicky finney. [applause] >> good evening everybody. i stand before you on behalf of the amazing poetry judges that make up this year's panel. ada, greg, jahon, and doug. thank you, oh, great team, the world has no idea of the deep
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respect and a -- adoration i have for your curiosity to listen and make decisions in the great and sweet name of poetry. so, it is in the spirit of william carlos williams, robert penn warren, audrey rich, marian moore. lucille clifton, ruth stone, jean valentine, and terrence hays, that i share with you that in june of 2013, they began arriving at our door like eggs. 12, sometimes six, sometimes two to a cartoon in a -- carton in a box. poet, fragile, fitting in beside
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each other, so friendly, not resembling competitors but something we could pick up, take out, eat and as a result, live forever. some arrived in the old, old way as if sent from the great butcher shop on the corner, wrapped with brown butcher paper, the edges carefully taped down on their signs. one even crossed bow-tied with 2009 as if somebody was inside to spill. something more than blood and bones. most were madison avenue in full dress, and others with mylar binding, the surface of. the far from revealing their rich and wonderous water. their fully made up faces would arrive later in the summer. we opened them and soon began finding them, awful 208 of them -- all 208 of them, stacked by our beds or in the front room
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where the reading light was better, or there in the kitchen with the other food. some even slid into our work bags by mistake. we peeled back their thin shells-letting the poetry cover us, letting their world invite and instruct. we fell back especially into the eyes and arms of these five books. metaphysical dog, by frank bodart. published by farrar, strauss, and giroux. stay eluigses by lucy, poshed knopf. the big smoke.
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by adrian matika, published by penguin poets, a division of penguin group u.s.a. >> black aperture by matt rasmussen, published by louisiana state university press. incronidine, by mary, published by gray wolf press. the winner of the national book award for poetry is mary for inconadine.
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♪ ♪ ♪ >> to echo the words of miya angelou and apply them more appropriately, whether i deserve it or not.
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sometimes when i find myself in a dark place, i lose all taste for poetry. if it cannot do what i want it to do, if it cannot restore those i have lost, then why bother with it at all? there's plenty that poetry cannot do, but the miracle, of course, is how much it can do. how much it does do. so often i think i know myself, only to discover in a poem, a difference, an othersness that resonates, where i find myself as well as stephens put it, more truly and more strange. it is what some describe as sole-making. i count myself -- soulmaking. i count myself among them. i think of the words of paul connally who said, i believe it
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is not arguing well but speaking differently that changes a culture. poetry is the place where speaking differently is the most prevalent. speaking differently is what i aspire to, and what i so adamantly admire in the poetry of adrian, matt, frank, lucy; i am amazed to be in your company. thank you, alice james books for publishing my first book. thank you, gray wolf press, for publishing this one and taking some exquisite care with it. i'm so grateful to so many but i want to especially think gabrielle, who inspired so many of these poems, michelle, and my brother, mark, for helping me through them. thank you to my husband, jerry,
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the heart to whom i speak for everything. and final thanks to my family. my family. and especially to my mother, who made me. thank you. [applause] ♪ >> okay to present the national book award for fiction is charles mcgrath. mcgrath is former editor of "the new york times" book review and before that the deputy
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editor of "the new yorker." please mccharles mcgrath. stand by, charles. i have the wrong cards. [inaudible] conversation [inaudible conversations] >> that's seriously cruelty to fiction writers. i'm sorry. the national book award for nonfiction -- are we good now? -- will be presented by eric sundquist. eric sundquist it the author of, 'owake the nations, winner of the prize from the modern language association for best become published during the year, the christian award from identify beta kappa for best book in the humanities, and the choice outstanding academic book award. he is chair of the department of
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english and melon professor of humanities hat johns hopkins university. great school. gives me great pleasure to introduce eric sundquist. [applause] >> good evening. great pleasure to be here. on behalf of my fellow panelists, javari, andre, m.g., and laura, let me thank the national book foundation for the privilege of judging this year's nominations in the category of nonfiction. in a lifetime of reading i've not had a more gratifying, surprising, and educational experience. we had the pleasure of reviewing hundreds of books.
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500-plus to be specific, across a wide range of genres and topics, encountering contemporary american writing. ... and then down to these five finalists. " book of ages" by jill lepore published by alfred a. knopf.
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[applause] "hitler's furies" journeymen women in the nazi killing fields by wendy lower published by mifflin harcourt. [applause] "the undwinding" and inner history of the new america by george packer, published by for art strauss giroux. alan taylor slavery and war in virginia, 1772-1832 by alan taylor published by w.w. norton & company. [applause] and "going clear" scientology hollywood in the prison of belief by lawrence wright published by alfred a. knopf. this year's national book award in nonfiction goes to george
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packer. [applause] ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> this is an incredible honor. anyone who was at last nights reading knows that all of the nominees in this category did great work and i feel very he to be given this award. thank you to my friends, john galassi, alex starr, sarita
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varma jeff and the rest of the staff at strauss and giroux. you still do it the old way which is the best way. [applause] thank you to sarah of the wylie agency for your crucial intelligence and enthusiasm. thank you to daniel zaleski and david remnick and others at "the new yorker" for giving me just the right talents of freedom and editorial brilliance. thank you to my friend dexter filkins for burying their -- being there from the start. to my mother and sister, nancy and anne packer writers both, so they understand. my children charlie and julianne i won't say you made it any easier but you did make it a lot more fun. to laura, my love, thank you for sharing my life and my work.
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i can't imagine either one without you. and finally, i want to thank dean price, tammy thomas, jeff coniston and other americans who gave me the great gift of trusting me with their stories and allowing me to look at their life so i could try to eliminate some of what has gone wrong in america over the past generation and in their own lives some of what has gone right. thank you very much. [applause] ♪ ♪ >> and now i will introduce a man who really needs no introduction because i are to introduce him. charles mcgrath. ♪
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[applause] >> there were 407 nominees for the national book award this year. that's up about 100 from 2012 which suggests that the writing of fiction may actually be a growth industry in america. these books came from small publishers, from big publishers, from university publishers and from self publishers. from old masters and from first-timers and they came in the mail in a variety of formats in hardbacks and paperbacks and galleys, in loose manuscripts in loose leaf binders. one book an epic novel of hawaii came in a plastic case accompanied by what i think must have been a meta-fictional gesture, a pac of macadamia.
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[laughter] not all of these books were good [laughter] but many more than not performed that magical trick of prose, the one that never gets tired to matter how many books we read. the trick that takes you out of yourself and drops you down in another place and in another life. a great many of the books we read were not just good but very very good. the national book awards this year for the first time did the welcome thing of instituting a long list of 10 books. my fellow judges and i could easily have doubled that in the task of getting from 10 down to five down to one at times seemed arduous, unfair and even cruel, a reminder that the whole business of giving literary awards as worthy as it is also
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has the unfortunate effect of leaving out books that are almost equally deserving. eventually my fellow judges and i got to one and i thanked them for their diligence and scrupulousness, their fair-mindedness their intelligence and their hard work and those judges are charles baxter rick simonson and randy. [applause] the finalists for the national book award this year are the flamethrowers by rachel corson or published by scribner and imprint of simon & schuster. [applause] the lowland published by alfred a. knopf and penguin random house. the good lord heard by james met
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ride. published by riverhead looks and imprint of penguin random house. bleeding edge by thomas pynchon published by the penguin press, an imprint of penguin random house and tenth of december by george saunders published by random house. [applause] the winner of the national book award for 2013 is the good lord heard. [applause] ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ >> actually i didn't prepare a speech because i really didn't think i was going to -- i didn't think i was going to win today but i would like to say that i was reading today a note to myself about what happened in may 2004 on long island when e.l. doctorow gave the commencement speech at hofstra university and he spoke out against the war and the kids there booed him. i remember saying to myself, somebody really ought to say something and somebody ought to think about this man at 73 years old you know having a specter of
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his life lived through and witness to some degree the holocaust in the 50s and the 60s and his body of work in his desire to speak the truth to serve as a kind of truth for us who are wordsmiths. i really didn't do anything and when i saw him speak tonight i once again was reminded that we have a lot of work ahead of us, i'm so proud to be part of a community that at least thinks like that. rachel or thomas pynchon know or george won tonight i would not have felt that exist they are fun writers but it sure is nice to get it. [applause]
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for the first 15 years i didn't make a penny and i'm so glad. we had a bad year this year because those of you who
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♪ [applause] ♪ >> thank you. this concludes the 64th annual national book awards. thank you all for coming. please join us for the after party which will be right upstairs. thanks. goodnight. [applause] ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ >> what we know of the founders the 30-second version is the guys that were against the constitution were the religious conservatives the anti-federalists who very much and they included patrick henry at the time, wanted to have religious tests for office holding and so forth. the founders were the cosmopolitans and yet most of them were bible believing christians, but why did they
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take the approach they did? why did they ultimately come down where madison came down? they believed also no faith including their own was he on action some medicines prescription was essentially a multiplicity of sects. that is sects. >> there have been important developments in the law over the last couple of decades in terms of government funding and religious institutions and so i would say there were some real issues to work through and to figure out the rules that govern this area during the clinton years or the early clinton years were different. they changed over time and some old think that was a good thing and some people think that was a bad thing. there are some really important issues that he bullfight about and fight about with legitimate disagreement.
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from the 30th and will miami book fair on the campus of miami-dade campus a discussion with doris kearns goodwin author of "the bully pulpit" theodore roosevelt, william howard taft and the golden age of journalism and sub 15 -- a. scott berg, author of six -- "wilson." >> thank you for that great introduction and welcome to this great book fair now in its 30th year. let's hear it for at wardrobe


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