tv 2014 Gaithersburg Book Festival CSPAN May 18, 2014 12:00am-6:46am EDT
became easier just to be decent to treat people may be like you wanted to all along. and if you are respectful to the african-american person new kid get yourself in trouble. it was that hard. . . first, steve vogel, the author of "though the perilous fight," he talks about his book live from the 2014 gaithersburg book
>> please direct your attention up there and for those in the back if you would like to move forward you are also welcome to do so if you would like. welcome to the fifth annual gaithersburg book festival. my name is garrett peck and i am a lover of local history and beer and trains. actually we will wait for just a second. one of the wonderful things about being in gaithersburg we are in old an old town square and there's a real town that is here and the railroad station is right behind us which is a wonderful historic place to go to. gaithersburg is a vibrant diversity that celebrates and supports the arts and humanities. we are pleased to bring you this festival and event thanks to the generous support of our sponsors and volunteers so please visit
them today and say thanks especially the volunteers who are here today. a few announcements before we start. for the consideration of everyone please silence all of your devices. this is being recorded by c-span booktv and unless you want yourself to be a permanent part of history i would ask that you silence right now. in order to keep improving his event we need your feedback. we have surveys here that are at the back of the tent and on our web site. by submitting a survey you will be entered into our drawing for a cool new -- our guest today is steve vogel. he will be signing books immediately afterwards directly behind us in the politics and prose tent and that's where you can buy a book and then we have an author signing area right over to the right and steve will be glad to sign your book. he has already signed mine. it's a fabulous read by the way. a quick word here about the
books here today. this event is largely supported by the fact that we do have people that are willing to buy the books are today so i know there are other places in other choices you have for buying books but if you are able to buy a book here today and if the author signs you will be supporting the festival and politics and prose in the local economy so please do keep that in mind today. your dollars really do count for events like this. introducing steve vogel. our author and guest today is steve vogel the author of "through the perilous fight" six weeks this saved the nation and the also wrote a book called the pentagon. he has written extensively about military affairs and the treatment of veterans from the wars in afghanistan and iraq. his reporting about the war in afghanisafghanis tan was part of a package of "washington post" stories selected as a finalist for the 2002 pulitzer prize. he covered the september 2011 terrorist attack on the pentagon
and the subsequent reconstruction. he also covered the first gulf war as well as the war in iraq. in addition to the us military operations in the balkans rwanda and somalia. please welcome steve vogel. [applause] >> thank you very much. we are going to make us more instead of a lecture we are going to make it eight cover station about steve's book so first off you might notice the subtitle is 66 weeks to save the nation. i wanted to ask steve hout did this six week save the nation. >> it's a good question and you have to start with you have to imagine the scene that president james madison confronted on the morning of august 26, 1814 when he comes back to washington and you have every federal building save one that has been destroyed in the great landmarks of this country the capital, the white
house and with it the supreme court library of congress they have been gutted. you have an american army that has been vanquished and is on the run. you have a british force that is just left the capital by land but then you look at the second british force moving up the potomac river and still threatening the nation's capital in alexandria. the united states treasury at this point two years into the war of 1812 is broke. we don't have money to pay for this war. congress hasn't approved money to pay for it. you have parts of new england that are talking about secession it's really hard to imagine a more decrepit moment in american history and yet within the span of a few weeks that i talk about in this book the united states through quite a bit of luck but
also a lot of courage and just the right things being done at the right moment by the right people is able to turn the situation around and we emerged with a victory of baltimore together with another victory for the north plattsburgh new york that completely changes the direction that the war is going and allows the united states to escape this largely disastrous war on terms much greater and much better than anyone could have imagined just a few weeks earlier. the united states is put on a course that really for the first time establishes their unchallenged sovereignty over much of north america. >> i read the book over the past few weeks and if you will remember the book from the 1980s the hunt for red october is how this book read.
i will read one more chapter in one more section. it goes very vibrantly in the shorter sections and you spend almost equal time as the american side as the british side. how did you come about writing in this style? >> part of it is having worked as a journalist and sometimes what the editors tell you is we want to tick tock. what i was trying to do is everybody has heard about the burning of washington and the battle for fort mchenry that very few people could put the whole story together and tell you the chain of events that led to this moment. it really hadn't been done as a narrative history so what i wanted to do was really gathered every document every interview, every ship's log, every letter that had dates and times and by that put together a very
chronological day-by-day hour-by-hour and sometimes minute by minute account introducing techniques that james swanson has used very effectively in his stories about the lincoln assassination for example. it's an attempt to put the reader at the scene and knowing really only what is known at that point by the characters that you are writing about. >> we all i think approach the war of 1812 as a mysterious war and not certain what the wars about but i think we all have a lot of myths about the war in her head and f sometimes are true and sometimes they are not. what were some of the rate myths are legends that you had to confront when you wrote the book? >> in some ways it's not even a myth now but there's a misperception in the united states that people have tended to forgotten that we once
declared war on great britain. sometimes people say great britain was trying to take back the colonies and that is what this was about right? in fact it was united states that declared war on great britain. this conflict has to be seen in the context of this amazing struggle that had been going on in europe for 20 years between england and france and for the last decade with napoleon on the scene. the british had come to see this fight is a struggle for civilization and in that line much as the united states post-9/11 had a uart either with us or against us attitude great written had that attitude and they didn't hesitate to trample on american sovereignty to further their ends and that included stopping our ships at sea to take sailors to put them on royal navy ships or blocking our trade with europe. president madison came to believe that though the united states had won its freedom a
generation earlier in the revolution of hadn't truly one its independence. they decided we might as well remain -- with the state of affairs would have continued so that's an important fundamental understanding we have about this. >> there is i guess a low point in the book where the british occupy washington d.c. after the battle and they start torching the different buildings. there's this myth that address in the book and an op-ed in the "washington post" about we have this myth in our head that it's a retaliatory raid. what did you really discover about this? >> that is basically a pr campaign waged by the british after-the-fact. we have to go back to the beginnings of this story and the arrival of a man who really changed the entire nature of the war in the chesapeake admiral george coburn.
the british squadron commander who decided he was going to bring the war to the american people in much the same way that william tecumseh sherman would have 50 years later and the civil war. he launched a campaign of torching towns and raiding plantations in the chesapeake bay and a lot of these actions had taken place well before anything was going on in new york. and so york and canada this was something that the british brought up as justification after-the-fact when other capitals in europe or saying hey the polling didn't burn any capitals in newark why are you burning the capital in north america? really what the attack on washington was about was coburn saw an opportunity to put this war to an end. he thought that i attacking the
nation seems so humiliating that the government of james madison so disgrace that he could perhaps force it to collapse and at least force the united states to make peace in british terms and he very nearly succeeded. see why did the british got to baltimore? they attacked d.c. first in three weeks later they went to baltimore. why baltimore and what were they going to do to the city? >> you know baltimore they dislike washington but they really hated ultimo or. we have to look back at the cities at the time. washington at the time of the burning of the city was pretty small almost a village. it was some 8000 people that were living in the capital. it was almost like a collection of these fantastic buildings that had newly been completed bike the white house and the u.s. capital.
other than that it was mostly little hobbles and a few mansions here and there. it was more woods and fields that a real city. baltimore on the other hand was a city of 40,000 people. the third-largest in the u.s. and it was a real center of support for the war and a real center of privateering acts against the british. this involved private ships that were armed and attacking british ships with the approval of the american government and the british really disliked baltimore for a number of those reasons. >> you now you mentioned admiral coburn and it struck me in the book really the importance of leadership. the british have great leaders. they have general ross admiral
coburn. i guess coburn's bosses in such a great leader but on the american side they fell apart until the moment of ultima or when the crisis really hit. how important was the leadership in this? >> of play such an important role. just having different people in charge at the time of this crisis made an enormous difference. in the case of the british they had been fighting france for two decades said they had time to really develop a very impressive cadre of officers. coburn had served with nelson in the mediterranean and general ross was sent over to lead the army troops that fought under wellington. the united states had been the minutemen of the american revolution. that era had pretty much passed and we didn't have a very effective army or militia.
a very small officer corps and the ones we had were not of the best quality. general winder who was put in charge of the defenses of washington is basically a political choice. his uncle is the governor of maryland and president madison is hoping that we'll get more militia troops to help the defenses here to appoint his nephew and it just didn't work out that way. a lot of the blame for washington used to fall on the madison administration in particular his secretary of war john armstrong, can't do was utterly dismissive of the i.d. of the british attacking and capturing washington. he felt they would never bother. it was too small and it wasn't important enough and despite urgings from president madison himself and many of the citizens in town and others armstrong really devotes nothing in the way of resources to support general winder or the militia troops upon whom the defense of
washington is going to fall. this would have catastrophic results. madison didn't do enough to ensure that his instructions were carried out so he bears some responsibility as well. but the lessons that were learned in the burning of washington were applied within three weeks in baltimore and this includes a new show of strength by madison and some more effective commanders who are on the field on the scene in baltimore. >> this being a war narrative of course there's a great deal of characters that you read about in the books tonight quite as many as emma thrums but there is a lot to cover. there is one character in particular who keeps coming up sort of like a piece of thread sewn throughout the narrative that is francis scott key. do you want to tell us more about him? he was actually washingtonian. >> fascinating figure.
you he would sometimes think that he was beamed down from outer space for the enterprise or something and just ended up at fort mchenry to watch the bombardment by he really represents a think the fears and the conflicted feelings of many americans during this conflict. he was actually fort maryland originally not that far from here really in gaithersburg. it is more up in what is now carol county but he practiced law in georgetown. he was vehemently opposed to this war like many americans of the day and he thought it was a terrible mistake to declare war on great britain. he actually cheers when one of our many invasions of canada fails and he says he writes to john randolph of virginia, this may be treason but if so i embrace the name. and yet when washington and maryland are being attacked he
rises to the defense and he gets involved with the militia. he's involved in the debacle of bladensburg and then he gets more or less volunteers for this mission to try to gain freedom for american doctor who was taken prisoner by the british as they leave washington. this puts him in a position to witness a very pivotal moment in american history. >> cool. and that moment, what was that moment and what did it ultimately lead to? >> it's interesting because the british after leaving washington washington -- they don't stay very long. people wonder they captured the story -- why didn't they just keep the? 4000 men in the army force are in the midst of a larger country and even though the american militia had not fought very well there was still plenty more of them that were starting to
gather and move towards the region. the british were pretty lightly equipped and they wanted to get back to their ship so they could move onto some of their other targets which included baltimore new orleans was their ultimate goal. key alliances this mission -- key launches this mission and the mission itself is fascinating. it's an important one. he has to give the blessing to the madison administration to do it because the americans are upset that this doctor has been taken prisoner they believe in violation of rules of the taking of prisoners. they don't want to have to swamp a genuine prisoner for this doctor because it would set a bad example and encourage the british to take more americans as prisoner. he is an effective negotiator but the smartest thing he does is he takes letters from british
prisoners attesting to the good care they're getting in washington and together with the rest of the delegation they end up intercepting the british fleet just as the commander alexander cochrane has been waffling on whether or not to attack baltimore right away. he makes a last-minute decision to attack baltimore. he shows up right at that moment. it seems again and again he is showing up at these critical moments so he gains freedom for the british doctor. that was the good news and the bad news was the british said you were all coming with us because you know too much. we are on our way to baltimore. key hears in the coming days there plans were really devastating baltimore and aware that washington had not. washington had been given kids glove treatment other than federal buildings. there wasn't too much damage done at all to private property
and now is because of the general ross. but that was going to change for baltimore which the british disliked a lot more and for keith who was he now an opponent of the war. he was someone who thought the british would behave as a gentleman. he was quite disillusioned by what he was hearing and the rights to john randolph that he has heard them talking about plunder and destruction of baltimore. there are women and children involved and he is quite fearful. when he is watching the bombardment over the course of 24 hours he believes that many lives were at stake and not just in baltimore. there is a fear that of also more false three weeks after washington then you will have this chain reaction. philadelphia and new york couldn't be too much further behind. the union seem to be holding together by a precarious threat at this moment and for kiki was
watching this. the the song that he writes that we all sing at ballgames is you always have to remember there is a question mark at the end of the first verse because when key is witnessing this he is not at all sure that baltimore or the country itself is going to survive this moment. >> in the book you have this great balance between the british side in the american side and you had to go overseas quite a bit to research the british side. how many trips to do have to take? >> guest: i lumped it largely into one trip boat to england to go to the national archives and then down to portsmouth the royal marine museum and the navy museum greenwich in london the national maritime museum. there are wonderful facilities there and a lot of the letters and diaries and official papers of the british officers read i didn't want to just have this
written as the american account of what happened in washington and baltimore. i was trying to present both sides in a fair manner. the british have their grievances too and they also turn out to be some i think of the most fascinating characters. admiral coburn very jovial and very brutal effective foe and general ross quite a gentleman. ross in his paper like a lot of the army that ends up attacking washington they came from northern ireland. his papers are up there in belfast and that was a real treat. the great irony was some of the best stuff even for the british side you know where admiral coburn's papers are held today? the library of congress. one of those great ironies. he may have burned down the library of congress but today they hold his papers and just
some wonderful facilities around here at the national archives and the maryland historical society in baltimore also has tremendous archives. there are number of smaller local archives in this region. they are also visiting the sites themselves is always instructive. >> we have the bicentennial of the burning of washington coming up in just over three months so how will you be commemorating the burning of washington? >> there's a lot going on this summer. there is the key's manuscript is going to be reunited for the first time with the "star spangled banner" at the smithsonsmithson ian washington starting on flag day. they will bring them down and have a joint display for several weeks. they are also going to sponsor some sort of anthem for america encouraging people to sing the song and think about what the words actually mean. for the burning of washington itself there is going to be a
day of activities in bladensburg where they are dedicating a memorial to joshua vardy who was one of the real american heroes of that day and almost single-handedly turned around the battle. we didn't get much of a chance to talk about that so far but bladensburg was a pretty dramatic day and barney with his man almost changed the flow of what was going on. there will be a number of activities in bladensburg and the washington navy yard on sunday. they are going to be holding a couple of events and also in leesburg where the valuable of eric and papers such as the declaration of independence and some government clerks the sorts of people that are often reviled these days took it upon themselves. it wasn't the members of congress that saved these precious american documents.
it was the clerks who took it upon themselves to save this material. they are holding an event up there and then in brooksville maryland which is where madison president madison goes on a three-day journey there was no air force one to whisk them from place to place when the british captured washington. he was fleeing for his life on a horse and by himself for the first day no militia guarding him until the following day. he ends up in brooksville maryland and in a quaker village for a respite on his final night when he begins together his government together and takes the steps that ensure the capture washington would not turn into the disaster and the fall of the united states. of course the stuff in baltimore over the star-spangled banter the first two weeks of september should be tremendous too read. >> that's awesome.
we have about five more minutes and we would like to hear from the audience so if you would like to ask a question we have a microphone right there by the center post and if you would please stand up and speaking to the microphone. that way we can get it recorded here for c-span. yes sir read. >> a question regarding the president. had the british troops captured him do you think they would have killed him? i mean was it that kind of wore? >> i think they would have been very happy to take them prisoner. i don't believe they would have killed him. >> that was not their objective. >> very very much in fact admiral coburn when is coming through washington says where's your president? we want to take him back as an oddity to bring back to london. [laughter] they really despise madison. there was some disappointment that he got away and in fact madison was that the battle of bladensburg.
we sometimes say lincoln was the only president that came out to the battle but madison was there late and spurred. he had rockets fired over his head and he almost tumbles into british lines at one point. he came close to being captured and some of the british officers say they saw him leaving the field. and if they had captured madison i'm sure they would have kept him as a prisoner and probably taken him to halifax are back to london. that too could very much have changed the dynamic of what happened in the coming weeks. >> thank you. >> you are welcome. thank you. >> if you would go to the microphone if you would. >> you was there ever concerned that you might not get the whole story when you have these sources that there might be some showstopper part of the story? >> the question is as i do research and my concerned about
finding something that really contradicts everything you know? that is always in reporting and historical research anything like that is always a possibility. it's your obligation as an honest writer to not cover up or dismiss facts that contradict what you are saying. you want to incorporate it and at least address it. if you have reasons to question its validity because people a lot of times you look at who said it and when they said it and who they said it to. that gives you a better means by judging its validity. generally really almost anytime the closer something is to any event the more likely it's true. sometimes you have people writing 30 years later approaching in their last years and their recollections a they
might do little bit faded and b they might be sprucing things up a little bit but generally it's more accurate the closer. the things i relied on for things like ships laws which is god bless the british they kept great ship blogs and lots of times you could just pinpoint with certainty what actions to place. things like the storm that hits washington. lots of people say a tornado that hits washington? you can't make that stuff up but there it is in the middle of the capture of washington. you look at the ship's blogs you can see the storm approaching and overturning ships in the river a very forceful storm and the letters and accounts of witnesses verifies it. so yeah exact way. even if it hurts but i didn't find anything that upset any but i tried not to go in with
preconceptions to start with and that always helps. >> we are actually out of time everyone but i want to thank steve vogel for your time today. [applause] i realize there are a whole line of people that would like to ask questions of steve's a great place to ask additional questions will be at the author table where he will be signing books so go to the politics and prose store and get the book and he will be at a table writer madeline bright down there. you can ask any questions that you would like. >> thank you. that was steve vogel and live at the 2014 gaithersburg book festival. we will be back in a few minutes with more from this annual maryland event.
and when i went to germany and then went through a lot of the archives i was fascinated reading some of these original transcripts of the scientists and these were 70 page document which show in a very subtle way how this program began so you have these military intelligence officers learning about hitler's nerve agent programs that we did not know about learning about hitler's biological weapons programs that we did not know about interviewing the scientists in trying to find out all that we can but also you see decisions being made and that real decision comes down to this. should the scientists be hanged or should the scientists be
hired? >> the truth is this. for conservatives to win the right to govern three core groups of the conservative movement foreign-policy conservatives the social conservative and economic conservatives will have to work together to elect candidates. and for the foreseeable future the conservative movement will have to use a republican party that gets candidates elected or we lose. but there will continue to be many freak show moments where the interest of these different groups collide. in pt barnum's circus the freak
show was a hugely popular attraction. it was so popular in fact that pt barnum couldn't get his patrons through the sideshow as fast as he would have liked. some would linger there for hours. so he solve the problem by posting a huge sign over the door that read to the egress. curious patrons went through that door and found themselves outside learning what you already know that egress means exit. yes conservative leaders a simple way to show there are troubles to the egress but the conservatives leaders can't agree to themselves which group should be cast out of the movement. the conservative movement remains a movement of ideas. but ideological purity may be
>> what you find from the larger larger -- other things that would appeal to the audience or the things that are generally perceived as the most profitablprofitabl e and the most profitable being the key thing. what i've discovered is the status and the stuff that actually feeds us. it's not the stuff that is going to uplift us so if we are going
to be able to share and permission about things that really enrich us all if you are going to have to help do that he caused the large corporations simply will not do it. it's not in their interest to do it and they don't have the propensity to do it at one of the things i feel is lacking lately is our willingness to promote our stuff and we are losing, we are hemorrhaging platforms. there is a good side in a bad side to the story. i brought up lists of the bookstores that are closed not since i started my web site but since i started keeping track of them. the list actually if you would do me a favor and pull this. this is a list of bookstores that have closed. >> are those black bookstores or just generally? >> independent look stores
across the nation. >> what is the count? do you know approximately? >> over 100. honestly i lost count. >> 300? >> oh well this is how many i left in this discounting the schomberg and counting the studio museum's bookstore. this is counting howard university pub. if we were to look at the number of lack owned independent bookstores in this country it's less than 50 and when we talk about the number of bookstores for black first and in this country we are looking at numbers like 800,000 to one. states like alabama does not have one. the last one closed i think last year the cradle of the civil rights movement? i get upset just thinking about it and i don't feel this anger
and prose bookstore. gaithersburg is a diverse -- we are pleased to bring this event thanks to the support of sponsors and volunteers. a couple of quick announcements. the consideration of everyone here please silence or cell phones. and hard to keep improving this event we need your feedback. surveys are available at the tenth and on our web site. everyone who turns in a survey of will be entered into a drawing to receive a -- john ross and wil hylton will be signing books after this presentation and copies of the books are available at the politics and prose tent right behind you. a quick word about buying books. even though this is a free event and we want to keep it that way it does help the book festival if you buy a book. the more books we sell at our events the more publishers will want to send their authors to speak with us. purchasing books from our politics and prose does benefit the local economy and supports local jobs,, my job and supports
our book festival so if you enjoy this program please buy the books. we will have time if and to ask questions that we would ask that you use the microphone that you see right there in the middle of the tent. we are going to hear about two great new books that share a central theme of military aviation "enduring courage" ace pilot betty rickenbacker in the dawn of the age of speed and john ross tells the story of the united world war i flying ace and his tough children in columbus ohio his education as a mechanic and going on to become a trailblazing racecar driver. rickenbacker had to overcome the precious to be allowed to fly and exemplified courage and leadership. in "vanished" the sixty-year search for the missing men of world war ii "the new york times
magazine" writer wil hylton tells the story of a scientist archaeologist divers families determined to -- what happened to a b-52 bomber and their crew. it was shot down over the pacific islands in 1944. hylton tells the determination of one man they refuse to let go of the mystery. it's a pleasure i get to introduce john ross and wil hylton. let me begin by talking about one of the things both of these books share and that is people flying in wartime. john i wonder if you could go first and tell me a little bit about what it was like to fly in a world war i era plane. >> thanks for that introduction and good morning everybody. one of the things which was really interesting about this book was trying to re-create what it was like to get into a
world war i biplane in the beginning of world war i. we were just down hill moments it seems from kitty hawk. they used airplanes. they called them chicken coops at first because you could stick a chicken in the seat. there were so many wires. these were rudimentary planes to say the least. biplanes. they didn't weigh very much. when these guys betty rickenbacker and these young men the u.s. nascent air force the army at the time went out they went quickly above 10000 feet which is today the faa doesn't let you fly above 10000 feet without supplemental oxygen because you start getting a little loopy at that point. these guys would take it to 1718 1718 -- 17, 18 and later 20,000 feet. these were open cockpits. they were teddy bear suits but
at the end of the day they often manually had to peel their fingers off the joystick it was so cold. you have to also remember these early planes for early new ports they were flying were spitting out there oil which was castro oil at gallon of it to two gallons per hour was exuded by the whirling rotary plane. most of it back in their face so those wonderful scars that made them look so dashing they were wiping their goggles off. they were inhaling that stuff which made their insides go nuts. they would often take files of library brandy to settle their stomach. these are just some of the problems. they also didn't wear parachutes because the higher-ups the powers that be felt that power chutes would be defeatist and
that the first hint of any problem they would jump out of the airplane. i'm sorry no airplanes. this ticked off at the rickenbach or something terrible. you also have to realize in the history of warfare they were into something very new but nobody had come across. a that they were flying what in essence was a tire. the inside of the airplane was all would. have cannabis and the heavy shellacking. it was entirely a single spark would set that baby aflame. if you can imagine you are three miles up and your airplane catches fire either through a spark from the rear engine or the incendiary bullets from someone who is trying to shoot you down and your plane is on fire and the wind is just throwing in minutes they could be up there sitting on a platform that is all -- and just burning terribly.
so these poor young guys talked among themselves. i found these great letters of references to this. what would they do if this happened? with a jump? would they take matters into their own hands and just jump for what they tried to write it down put the fire out and agonizing or the third option was a lot of them took their service revolvers up and had a third option. anyway the courage that these guys had when they went up with this rudimentary technology is really something amazing. >> i wish i could say in the 30 years after world war i a lot of those problems that john mentions have been resolved by the time to get on there be 24 but unfortunately they be 24 liberator for a change a lot of those issues. it was not made of wood but it was known to catch on fire it easily at the first incoming
round. the wings had have a tendency to fold right up and then off the plane which made it awfully difficult to fly. the guys getting on board had a little more protection from the wind but the cracks and gaps whistled with cold air coming through. they dehydrated very quick we and the cabin was not yet pressurized. so there was the same issue of low acts of gin content as they flew. the b-20 for remains the most produced multiengine aircraft in history so over the course of just three or four years of heavy use in world war ii thousands and thousands of these planes were taking off and these guys were getting on board these long flights. the plane was designed specifically to cross extraordinary distances. sometimes they would go over a thousand miles one way to get to their target.
they are spending hours and hours in these conditions and by the time they arrived above the enemy site to make contact and hopefully take out some of the infrastructure with their bomb loads they were pretty tired and they were pretty be out. what you find among these guys is this sense of family formed on the screws. they stayed together for long periods of time not only in the air but over the course of months they flew with the same crew again and again. when i began working on this but i thought if it is a story about a different kind of family the families left behind when one of these planes goes missing and nobody knows what happened to it. there are 73,000 m.i.a.s still missing from world war ii and more than half of them over the pacific. a lot of times it was on these planes that went down over water nobody quite knew where. i also found aside reported on the men who were on those planes
that there was another kind of family that formed for them in the air and on the ground in these often very shabby camps that were set up during the island hopping campaign. they had to sort of crouched together under the starry night and find a way to boost their own morale before the morning mission. so i think there is a tremendous amount of courage that these guys exhibited and also anyway learned. they had to sort of find a way to bring forth their courage in an environment that nobody had quite experienced before. landings by the heroic marines on some of these islands which maybe has something in common with the landing in normandy and coming onto the speeches with amphibious vehicles and knowing there is going to be intensive oncoming fire and having to surge forward and hope that you and your buddies weren't among the few who survived.
the experience of these airmen often starting their day way, way into the rear of the formation in a safe part of allied territory but then having to cross again and again and again day after day after day into the shells explosive ordinance is coming down on them and then returning back and having set somehow in their campsite having to prepare themselves psychologically for that reversal for months on and. i think it's a different kind of courage in a sense and one that we maybe haven't spent a lot of time thinking about but i hope in the future we can continue what we have seen in the last few years which is greater attention both on the air war in world war ii and on the pacific theater. it's a fascinating place with a
lot of differences from what we think of as world war ii. we so often think about the european form. >> i wanted to explore the determination that both books show and john wonder if you would tell a little about eddie rickenbacker and the story of his exploits on the raft in world war two when he was sent on a mission. >> that is one of the most hair-raising stories i think in american history. eddie rickenbacker was an ace of world war i. f. scott fitzgerald says there are no second acts in america. eddie reinvented himself after that and founded eastern airlines. world war ii rolls around an ace in his early 50s. the military wants to give eddie
back his uniform. he says no and he goes around the country around the world talks to americans and get some focus. then the president is very irritated with general macarthur in the south pacific in general macarthur as you know that this corn cob pipe has been mouthing off about the president in bad ways and all sorts of things. they need to send somebody down to calm him down a little bit. who else but somebody like eddie rickenbach are could go down? he takes secret orders on a b-17 with seven others and they fly from hawaii to the south pacific they missed very brief feeling stop in the middle of the central pacific ocean. they're basically 2000 miles from any major landform. they are addressed in three routes. the rafts are about the size of
this table about a bathtub size with three guys in each one. they mostly ditched most of their clothing because they thought they would be swimming when the sun comes out and it's just a terrible awful thing. they start sun burning and the saltwater comes over and they have terrible saltwater stored stored -- saltwater source. there's no food or water. they began to hallucinate. there are sharks that are flipping the rafts with their tails. it's pretty much day eight. day eight eddie is sitting there quietly with his fedora on his head in this eagle lands on his head. out of the blue eddie is watching these other guys open like this and he reaches up and he reaches up and he snags that
bird. they chew on some of the attendants. it's julie and kind of like chewing on barbed wire somebody said that it takes some of the intestines and they are able to fish. that pushes them over a little bit and they get a rain squall. some fish start jumping up but it's still really bad. a week later one guy jumps over the side to commit suicide. he can't take it anymore. the pain is too bad and eddie grabs him by the arm and they pull him back in and the next morning that guy snags his hand. he sticks his hand over and says eddie i'm sorry. i don't know what i was thinking and eddie says i'm not shaking your hand. you are a coward. and then excoriates them with things that i cannot say about what a coward he was and all this stuff. then from any moment there on when anybody started praying to commit suicide or death or
something to take them away he would jump down their throats and say all kinds of awful words until they started hating him. they were going to throw him over the side. they were going to do everything. they wanted to get rid of this guy but what he had done time and again in his life is an unorthodox solution. he got them to hate him. >> officers? >> most of them are officers and hated him more than they hated death and started thinking about death. years later all of these guys still hated eddie but they also said without him they wouldn't have gotten through. so 23 days later they come out. it's on the front of "life" magazine and in all the newspapers. it's this hero and what eddie did and he went on to macarthur and loss 180 pounds to 120 pounds. he was a mess. he kept on this trip but he showed america in 1940 3a very tough time when we were really
struggling with digging the japanese out of these island strongholds. we showed america that we had what it takes to keep persevering and to keep in there that we were survivors. it's quite a story. it was in sermons. it was on the news. everybody talked about eddie rickenbacker and what he had done. anyway a terrific story. >> it's a great story and one of a a lot of great stories in that biography. the courage of that tea 24 going on however many missions is unquestioned but i wonder if you could talk a little bit about the courage and determination of this investigator and what he went through trying to find the b-24 that he was looking for. >> it's a really good point. a lot of my book deals with a guy named pat skin and who has no connection or had no official connection to the pacific
theater of world war ii or any particular b-24 bomber and somehow found himself on a vacation of sorts in the pacific islands scuba diving and came upon the wing of a b-24. he described the sensation he felt in on obama to me as coldness that crept from his ankles to his scalp. andy knew in that moment that he needed to find out where the rest of this american aircraft was and just as importantly where the remains of the men who had been aboard and about. that was in 1993. about three weeks ago pat gannon returned from his most recent trip to the islands in the middle of the central pacific. he goes every year. he spends four to six weeks. he has assembled a team of other volunteers. .. ake
about an eighth of a mile an hour you are doing well. you have to have machetes and die encountering something called poisoned tree which i hope none of you have experienced before. it is like the nastiest poison ivy you have ever seen. and so to make this commitment out of some abstract sense of duty, and the duty turns into over the course of the book a kind of obsession. constantly focused on finding out are, and information about where american planes may have gone down. and he is interviewing here man who survive these battles, these air battles and trying to sort of match their memories to photographs and maps. then he returns with his new
information to the islands and scrambles around in the jungle and goes and interviews tribal chiefs and elders. he does great searches of a scuba equipment under water. there is this constant level of commitment, and sometimes outright risk. of course when you are under water there's always a certain risk. when you're in a jungle he is told me about times that he will get up there. sometimes on his own command and he realizes that medal in the ground is interfering with his compass and he has to sort of guess which way is out. of course if you go the wrong way you wind up somewhere that you are very unlikely to survive you end up on some obscure ridge line overlooking the water with that same jungle between new and that direction you and hope to have gone. so for someone who finds
themselves just possessed of this sort of inexplicable kurds to track down this information and the families really do continue to grieve because they have no answers, of very specific kind of loss that is known by a psychologist, similar to a lost that appearance of a small child my field. and the loss get passed down from generation to generation. so this fundamental level cannot bring a sword of justice to the man who vanished but also to bring answers to the families left behind. i found one of the most powerful parts of the story, the parallel between the courage and commitment that he exhibits in the field and that haze of its. >> you are obviously -- you must have really come to love this
character you wrote about. i wonder if you could talk a little bit about where your attraction to the story came from and what was useful, where did you find the most material? >> good question. thanks, mark. you know, got interested in this -- and i think all your ideas take a hold of you and do not let you go. i'll never forget when i was about ten years old letter read fighting the flying service -- circus, his autobiography. i loved all the color and excitement. as a kid reading it at night to mean no, i was supposed to be in bed asleep with my flashlight and all that. but as i got older something really continue to resonate. it gave me kind of a vehicle to look at courage and how speed
affected america at the turn of the century, how that really came on full burst and how this guy was really creating new icons. and one of the big problems i had with it is that he is such a big hero that he comes. i felt sometimes like he was reaching out through the pages, debt for 50 years car reaching and grabbing me by the collar and saying, you know, toughen up command man. toughen up. what are you made? and communal, biographers and general have been pulled over. it just go on and on and on. and he contributed to this hero status. he deflected things very, very carefully about who he was. he did not have a lot of close
friends. he really browbeat his ghostwriter so that they euro was, you know, you would willfully disregard things. his father was murdered in an altercation that he provoked with an african-american labor. it went to trial. it was a terrible thing. in his autobiography, he was the foreman on a construction thing an accident happened. it was not anything like that of all. my big question, it was almost like that to take, you know, jack cameron really get down. how did i do that? here is a seventh grade dropout. he did not write much himself, but he did become -- he dictated he never did anything halfway. he sat down with his of biographer and they spend a year of worrell interviews back and
forth and questions and answers sought. it's about 7,000 transcribed pages. i got that, i got my son and scanning can get these big notebooks of these things. i don't care who you are, but if you go back over your own story and have this narrative dimaggio over it for 7,000 pages, holes opened up, contradictions begin to happen. and this was this wonderful source. it is all meditated, and next, going back and forth. okay. little was this guy. you will see? and this really full dimensional picture of who he was as a survivor. he really looked on his legacy as part of his survival. he had a really hard go of it. yet he ended up seventh grade dropout being the ace of aces,
running eastern airlines. the motivation, fear, being anonymous, but i really felt that i was being able, contrast to a lot of past biographers to get the marrow of who this guy was and what motivated him. but that was -- and then i just have a ball with getting to know the and men in world war one who went up there, i good amount of them died. there are letters, private collections, publish letters, journals, hard scrabble written little things, experiences, and it really began -- i felt after a while like i was one of them, in there. the son of teddy roosevelt would be at parties. these were young men. his parlor trick was of somebody
would buy the champagne he would take a bottle, hold his head back and drain the entire champagne bottle in one swallow. and he was really game to do it twice in an evening. these guys were kids camino, they were struggling with the stresses and strains of being out there, doing this. of course he died tragically. something his father never got over from the death of this really, really lovely young man. died six months after, but when you dive into this you get a sense of the environment, what these kids were going through, how they were coping with new technology more. these things coming at them. it is pretty remarkable on that front. >> you had at different task because you're telling a historical story. i imagine your research was
multi fold. can you talk a little bit about it? >> it was. there are 2252 periods on folding, each with its own history in a sense. the mystery from world war ii was this particular plan had been shot down on september 1st, 1944. yet nobody could figure out where it landed. the reports were different depending on where you looked. there was after action report for pointing to this narrow shallow channel. after the war when members of the grave registration service one to track down the plant they did not find it. they -- there were reports that at least two and maybe three
parachutes had come off of the plane during the crash. there was no sign of what had happened to the guys on board. the more the military records were looked at the more confusing it became because a lot of the things did not have been true across the board. contradicted each other in the blair in ways that raise questions about whether something else was out. a lot of the family members to come to believe that there was something suspicious going on. in a few cases they believe that their relative, fathers and husbands and brothers had actually survived and that they may have been held captive by the japanese and that the
military, u.s. military had been reluctant to acknowledge that part of the story. there were other families that have different kinds of questions about whether there had been a cover-up for some kind of error, a pilot change at the last minute that no one to talk about. and so reporting that historical piece involves driving the pen to the archival records at the national archives nearby in college park. but then there was also this modern story that involved the personal journey to track down these answers and the legacy of the loss and the families. became interested in that. if you talk to the families to have someone missing from world war ii were from the vietnam war , you will find that this grief persisted in some cases and a gross and so it has a life
of its own. it is powerful stuff. i went out to west texas and met with a guy named tommy used that was one of the gunners on the speech you for that everyone has been looking for for so long. and tommy is this sort of classic picture of a west texas football coach. he is this big, strapping guy, used to be a football star, a sort of shaper of man. the coach taylor type of figured and he is known for being out on the field teaching his players about integrity and commitment and, you know, playing three of pain and things like that. i started talking to tommy about his dad's loss 60 years later he was trying with in the first couple of minutes. it was a very, very deeply personal thing. he felt that his mother's life had been forever damaged by it. he had grown up without a dad because of his mother's
uncertainty, and because of the families suspicion that his father may even have been alive for decades after words. never remarried but would never talk about his dad with him. there was a story the circulated among his uncles that his dad had made it back to the united states and remarried. uncle said they had been out to california to visit. there was this very vibrant and apparently substantial story that haunted the sky. the more these families you talk to, and maybe someone in the audience are from families who have this part of history, but this is a common thing. you go to reunions are gatherings of people are connected to man this phenomenon of wondering what really happened and wondering if there is anyway the person survived is the ever-present.
so reporting on that got to be very sensitive and very -- it seems to me like an important story is still on one that i have not heard enough about. when you're talking about 73,000, you're talking about a number just in the pacific rumply comparable to combat casualties. we know pretty well how damaging and dramatic the vietnam war was an american life. we hear about the issue from world war ii, and i thought it was time to bring in florida and have a little parity. >> i cannot let this session and without asking john the tell us just how likely it was that eddie rickenbacker was ever even allowed to be a pilot. a seventh grade dropout, midwest and race car driver.
>> it is incredible. one thing that really just kind of doing research at me across the face with that was, here is a kid, seventh grade, had to quit school to support his family. later on when he was a young man a burning sender from a passing railroad, a locomotive, hit him in the eye and caused a big dark spot in his eye that really threw off his depth perception. he did not tell anybody about it , what he was determined to be a fire. he was a big deal car racer, city ended up driving for billy mitchell over and world war one but managed to finagled his way over to -- that he was such a great mechanic that he got himself assigned to be head of the mechanics.
he basically got their plans out for nobody to see him and practiced on his own. a single seaters without many lessons of all. and this was a time -- and this is a stunning story in this book oreos out. no one knew yet airplane flying was so new, what is ben was. these are, again, when you go into a spin it is -- but as private and my book, but it is pretty much a tumble to the air. the faa used to require jeter lessons, your pilot license. they don't to last of your 30 years because some many people died. this is when they knew what has been wise and it was clear what you had to do yet of it. these guys, this ban was something that they were staying away from. when they were in battle there were finding that it was useful
if you could pull it out. so you went out there just, you know, to go out there and threw his plane out over a field where no one could see in. first time he went out he could not do it. then the next time daddy did and figure out what to do with. fast forward out, we are flying french airplanes because we're late in the war. americans don't have time to build airplanes, so we have to buy french airplanes. the french gave us an airplane that is not bad, but it all has not been worked out. one little glitch. when you throw it and come up with it, the material on the top end of the plan flaps off like a flag and throws you answer this chair will spend. eddy found himself in this
terrible spin. it is an incredible thing. he was going around like this. the earth is coming down. i'm not sure that there is more of a disorienting situation to be in. you are plummeting, going around and around and around and spinning also, spinning like this but also spinning very, and a court to weigh and going down. and in the middle of that somehow he thought of himself visiting his mother in columbus, ohio, to say goodbye. somehow he saw some clarity in the middle of this to do what you would not expect to do, which you would not kind of think about, which is to turn his engines back on and full throttle it so that he could get enough lift. most people, he pulls out of the last minute. the next day he is back up to in again. and just incredible.
one thing that amazed me about him was that he not only was a pretty good -- and probably not even the best pilot out there, but he became the squadron had command a lot of the 904th -- and he brought the squadron to be the best american squadron in all war in just a matter of six weeks. a final kind of weeks of war when things were really on the line, the germans are pushing everything they had. and eddie, you just really find this cost up from being a great fighter, jock, to being a commander of men. here was a seventh grade dropout to get into the servers to be a pilot your endeavor graduated from college. these were ivy league boys' compressing, harvard, cornell kamal them. here was this guy rough around the edges.
and this was the beginning of a new meritocracy. here was this midwest guy, ulysses s. grant kind of thing, midwest kind of guy you wish showing the way ford. it was beginning. right now, right here was this midwestern practical risk assessor. he was not doing it for glory. he was not doing it because camino, he was going to be the big flyboy, the big playboy flyboy. he was a pro. he was not only showing us the way ford that building new icons that we would see today and business leaders and explorers. it was all new relationship to risk. here was a guy who was making it up by the seat of his pants on the fly.
you would like to see this and lauenburg. it was an incredible amount of stuff. and this was a guy, of course, his german name got him thrown in by scotland yard into prison, they drag turn down a one. , stripped of his close to appeal the heels of the issues to look for secret documents and read this whole body over with lemon juice to look for a secure messages. i mean, this was staggeringly, piano, the hyper anti german sentiment that was happening. through all of this stuff the menace to persevere. that is why that named the book enduring courage. >> i wonder if you could tell us a little bit. he emerges as a fascinating character in the book. his obsession.
what does he do after? still looking for missing plans are does he find something else? >> in them last month he finds to more american aircraft's. the group that is formed around and includes a lot of volunteers sues connection to the issue is not discernible at first. there are people who share with scant and a sense that someone should be doing this. i guess i will leave that the american military agency that is responsible for doing it for many complicated reasons can do it, just can't get the job done. there are too many guys out there, too many missing planes. it is -- the process of searching is too time-consuming into expensive, and so -- and there are -- there are structural flaws with the agency , with some of you may have read about. there has been all lot written about it.
so there is need for people to account for and get the job done it's felt pretty strongly, both within the military and with them a group that has been formed. they go back every year, and i would encourage people who are interested in this kind of work to go. it is amazing to look at these photographs from the jungle and from underwater, aircraft that are perfectly preserved, especially in the water. the plane gets shot down, but it hits the water mostly intact. you can go back there today and slammed down into the cockpit message behind the coke and pretend to shoot down a passing
phase. it is just a stunning thing to see. >> about five minutes left, and we would like to open up the floor for questions or daughters if you would please step to the microphone if you want to ask a question. >> good afternoon. great stuff, gentlemen. questions for both of you really . >> not that i know of. one of the -- you imagine, here is guy who -- skip floridian of the chin years and he is fighting in the skies above. finally he was not open to jets coming in. you doubt that there were going to be -- technology was not
proven and the number of things. he was not a great advocate. that was one of his swan song as a gun and moved out. >> when you said that consolidated liberty, is that fighter and bomber or just part? >> fighter and bomber and commercial. yap. so there is something like it depends how you count because there are different variations. but most people estimate that total number produced was 18 or 19,000. dramatically greater than any other. the next thing is the b17, about 13,000. a big difference. >> he said he found two other aircraft. can you tell us what? >> i believe that japan. what that two other aircraft were, people were sensitive about revealing too much information whenever start to
the himalayas, and i'm having difficulty in describing a c-130 plane -- [inaudible] going over one of the highest peaks and then dropping into the valley. and the mountains on either side and the pilot has to land by doing a spiral force and then stall it in time to touch down without overshooting the runway. i'm having difficulties how much a reader will get interested in it. how do you do it in a way that it will balance the -- [inaudible] can you advise something? >> well, you know, that's a very good question, is establishing -- and this is the job of the writer, you know, to kind of figure out who you're writing, what your audience is. i was writing for anybody who wanted to pick up the book.
so i often end up reminding people about things that some people know about and some people don't. so you have to give the right amount of information, in my estimation. not too much, but enough to let you understand what was involved with that very, very, you know, nerve-wracking in terms of what are the technical skills, what are the capabilities of the airplane and then also what, you know, what the altitude does to landing, to what light air does. so i look for metaphors, i look for places of commonality that i can establish things that to make something that is very, can be extremely technical understandable, to draw a bridge to that moment. >> what happened, the dilemma there is that i was looking at research on airlift coming over from the -- >> over the hump, yeah.
>> -- the second world war. i was aphrase i might -- afraid i might wind up plagiarizing somewhere. i couldn't do it in balancing act. that's why i asked the question. >> yeah. >> tricky. >> very tricky, yeah. >> this question's for you, mr. ross. with respect to getting at the marrow, how did you decide that you had something new to say that other biographers didn't? >> well, that is always the, you know, challenge of the biography , the biographer. i think that, also, the challenge of the historian is to -- this is not the last word on ricken backer, certainly. he's a very compelling character, as i think you've got an idea about. i hope that i actually am on the line that somebody else will pick up this book in 10 or 15 years and write another book on it. these are enduring characters who need to be continually
re-examined. in answer to your question why did i, you know, i felt that i had a real ability to get, there was some really worked on, fine work done by an academic biographer who had really got into some new ground. but i felt that he really hadn't taken the next step which was, okay, what do we do with all this day by day, moment by moment? he was a wonderful, very, very fin nick key -- finicky, accurate, detailed look. but i felt that he had kind of lost or really didn't have, it hadn't taken the next step to say, okay, well, who was this guy, what was his motivation? so i felt that i could really make some answers in that. i found a lot of stuff that people haven't reported on, too, in addition. there's no great, huge smoking gun, but i think that the totality of the package is something very fresh, and i think, i hope it will, you know, stimulate new works about him,
new thoughts about this time period too. especially as we're at the centennial of the world war i. >> thank you, john ross and wil hylton. big round of applause for our authors. [applause] >> thank you, mark. >> thank you. [inaudible conversations] >> we'll be back with more live coverage from the gaithersburg book festival in a few minutes. >> c-span2, providing live coverage of the u.s. senate floor proceedings and key public policy events. and every weekend, booktv. now for 15 years the only television network devoted to nonfiction books and authors.
c-span2, created by the cable tv industry and brought to you as a public service by your local cable or satellite provider. watch us in hd, like us on facebook and follow us on twitter. >> here's a look at some of the best selling nonfiction books according to "the chicago tribune." at the top of the list is "good morning america" anchor robin roberts with her memoir, "everybody's got something." in second, "capital in the 21st century." the french economist focuses on wealth and income equality in the united states since the 18th century. massachusetts senator elizabeth warren comes in third with "a fighting chance." she recounts her upbringing and argues that the federal government needs to do more for middle class families. we covered senator warren's talk in washington, d.c. earlier this month. check our web site for specific air times. in fourth is michael lewis' book
"flash boys," a look at high frequency trading. booktv hosted a viewer call-in program with mr. lewis last month that can be viewed anytime at booktv.org. and wrapping up the list is "let's just say it wasn't pretty" by academy award-winning actress diane keaton. these are some of the current best selling nonfiction books according to "the chicago tribune". >> right after the parliamentary election, the russian protest movement that i'm surevery >> plath the participated in another protest art group, she was asked to speak at a conference of opposition activists. and mostly this was because there were so few opposition
activists that when one of the opposition activists noticed somebody else who was kind of charismatic and participating in these tiny little opposition events that were happening, they would sort of sometimes try to draw them in. so nadia was asked to give a presentation. she decided she was going to give a presentation on feminist art, and because she was very taken with it, she was reading about all this radical feminist art in the west, and so she put together what could really be a freshman course on feminist art. but freshmen courses on feminist art are not taught in russia, so she sort of put it together in an hour-and-a-half-long presentation. but there was a problem with the presentation which was that there were no russian artists. there was one, but one was not enough, and she was very commercial, and she'd been working for a long time. and nadia felt she needed to finish with a russian artist, otherwise it was kind of wrong to talk about western artists all the time. so she made one up. [laughter]
she made up a group called -- [inaudible] >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. [inaudible conversations] >> the gaithersburg book festival on the city hall grounds in maryland will continue in a couple of minutes. >> booktv is on facebook. like us to interact with booktv guests and viewers, watch videos and get up-to-date information on events. facebook.com/booktv. >> here's a look at some upcoming book fairs and festivals happening around the country. this saturday booktv is live from the gait thers burg book
festival in maryland. our coverage of the festival, now in its fifth year, includes talks by "the washington post"'s dan balz and mark be leibovich, author of "this town," as well as a panel on the book industry. also this weekend is the south carolina book festival in columbia, south carolina. congressman james clyburn will be in attendance to discuss his book with, "blessed experiences." may 29th through the 31st, booktv will be talking to authors and publishing executives at the publishing industry's annual trade show, bookexpo america, in new york city. on june 7th and 8th, we are live from "the chicago tribune"'s printers row lit fest. then on saturday, june 21st, the franklin d. roosevelt presidential library will hold their 11th annual roosevelt reading festival which features numerous talks on the president. let us know about book fairs and festivals in your area and we'll add them to our list, e-mail us
at booktv at firstname.lastname@example.org. >> the simple thesis and i think the russian invasion of crimea just highted this and. >> the simple thesis the russian invasion of crimea highlighted this the current international of collective security has failed of the one that centers around the united nation in its u.s. securities counsel, the prairie rule of the use of force is illegal even criminal unless this self-defense are authorized by the u.s. security council. historically that rule and its reliance on the just war theory is correctr[é?2qóy?vñxdiy this is the work of woodrow wilson the at this criminalization of for harkens back to build on the just word tradition running from cicero to a great
medieval thinkers. if you look at the just for a tradition in north very -- in theory0i actually is much more nuanced and talks about things like humanitarian intervention, a preventive and preemptive for errant the simple idea it is illegal. also institutionally it just does not matter to follow the idea of a just war other than self-defense. institutionally there have been plenty of forcing and we are not in self-defense
and the invasion of the ukraine is one example also if you require full agreement of the security council to authorize measures against any kind of aggression in china and russia sits on the security council they will veto or in the military cajuns that arise from the south china sea or asia. >> c-span's newest book, "sundays at eight," including david mccullough. >> we're sitting here today in a city designed by frenchmen. french engine and >> we're sitting in a city designed by frenchman. the great symbolic works of
sculpture is the gateway to the country the statue of liberty to york was from a french sculptor. the town's universities rivers colleges have french names. we don't pronounce the of the way they do but the influence of france on this country is far greater than most americans appreciate. q&a presentations in c-span's "sundays at eight," now available at your favorite bookseller. >> next, from the mitscher tent on the gaithersburg city hall grounds in maryland, mark leibovich describes d.c. politics. [inaudible conversations]
>> well, good afternoon, everyone. thank you for being here, and welcome to the fifth annual gaithersburg book festival. my name is sidney cats, and i have the honor of being the mayor. gaithersburg is a vibrant city that celebrates and supports the arts and humanities. we are pleased to bring you this fabulous event thanks to the generous support of our and volunteers, so please visit them today and say thanks. a few announcements. for the consideration of everyone, please silence all devices. in order to keep improving this event, we need your feedback. surveys are available here at the tent and on our web site. by submitting a survey, you'll be entered into a drawing for a cool new kobe e-reader.
mark leibovich will be signing books immediately after this presentation. copies of this book are on sale at the politics & prose tent. a quick word about buying books. even though this is a free event and we want to keep it that way, it does help the book festival if you buy a book. the more books we sell at our events, the more publishers will want to send their authors here to speak with us, and purchasing books from our partner, politics & prose, does benefit the local economy, it supports local jobs and supports our book festival. so if you enjoy this program and you're in a position to do so, please, do buy a book. for those of us who think of politics as a form of entertainment, mark leibovich wrote this book, "this town," and mark leibovich, obviously, is the chief national correspondent for "the new york times" magazine paced in washington, d.c -- based in washington d.c. and this book really is a must-read book. and once you start reading it,
you're going to immediately know why it is subtitled, "two parties and a funeral plus plenty of valet parking," and this is a copy of the book. it's funny, it's serious, it's irreverent, it names names, and above all, it tells the truth as only he can tell it. it talks about people whose names we all know, and it speaks about them in ways that i would venture to guess that some would enjoy reading about themselves and others certainly are most annoyed when they read what he said about them. as an example, mr. leibovich wrote about senate minority leader harry reid who he described as having all of the magnetism of a dried snail. [laughter] and who he described a couple payments later a -- pages later as, and i quote: bespeckled and slight, reid is frequently described in terms of something
else. he looks like a civics teacher. it is similar to how, say, the size of hail is never described on its own merits. only in terms of other things; marble size, golf ball size. reid could also pass for an oddball taxidermist who keeps a closet full of stuffed pigeons or maybe the harried proprietor of the pet store that has just been robbed for the third time this month, or in his case, hit by ben nelson of nebraska for some provincial goody in the stimulus bill. what reid does not look like is the amateur boxer and habitual street fighter he was in his youth, or more to the point, one of the most poe tent, odd -- to tented, odd, overlooked phenomena of this town. but you didn't come here to hear me speak about what the author said, you came to hear directly from him. please join me in giving a great gaithersburg book festival welcome to mark leibovich. [applause]
>> thank you, mayor. before i start, harry reid was still the senate majority leader in the book, and we don't want to demote him just yet. you know, that's november. we'll see what happens. i appreciate your having me. it's great to be in gaithersburg. and because i live in d.c., i, you know, i'm obviously familiar with gaithersburg, at least the part you can see from 270. [laughter] but it's actually been great. i was actually just walking around the fair, and by all accounts, it's a phenomenal fair, and i'm thrilled to be here. and especially to get the mayoral introduction which is a big horn here. honor here. i wanted -- so i've written this book called "the this town" about sort of filled with palace intrigue, tales of fragile egos, perceived dysfunction. and, you know, so that -- i'll
take your questions about anything that's gone on at "the new york times" recently that you might be curious about asking. [laughter] it's been quite a week. but one of the interesting things about having written this book is that it's given me in a weird way since it's come out -- and i've actually talked to people outside of washington and talked to audiences, you know, i was just in, on the west coast, you know, doing a paperback rollout, and now i'm back in faithers burg which is washington --ish -- is i have a great new appreciation for as a political reporter you see politicians give the same speech over can and over and over again, repeat the same lines over and over is and over again, often in the space of the same day. and as a reporter it's always a little demoralizing. you're like, wow, you know, they just repeat the same lines over and over and over again. and i have a new appreciation for why they do it, because you obviously, you know, know what lines are going to be effective. but i also as i've done this
more, i am feeling increasingly responsible for actually saying something new every time. and with that in mind now that i've just come off this little tour, i want to actually do something a little different which is to talk about sort of this book, "this town," which is basically about disconnect. it's about the disconnect between how washington sees the world and the rest of the country sees the world or sees itself. it's how washington sees itself and the rest of the country sees itself. it's about the disconnect between the incredible wealth that has grown up in washington, d.c. in the last few decades and, you know, the very real economic struggles that have gone on in the country. so it's disconnect in many, many ways, not to mention the incredible self-fascination that the washington political class has with each other, itself and its institutions. and the disconnect between how the country perceives the capital.
so one of the data points that i've actually seen in making these points and sort of drawing these disconnects in the book is how the book itself has been perceived. and i have a couple of stories. the first story, and now that i've actually spoken about this a little bit, i have a sense of what people keep quoting back to me and what, actually, people want to know. and in that vein, i'm going the take your questions because that's a great way, one, to see what you guys care about, but also to get a sense of, you know, to get a much more interactive conversation which is what i wanted to do here. essentially, the most quoted line in the book over and over and over again is as follows, and it goes to the larger disconnect point i'm trying to make. one of the chapters in the book takes place, is a deconstruction of the white house correspondents' dinner. and the white house correspondents' dinner as many of you know was once a sleepy banquet held in d.c. that the
president has spoken at for the last century or so. and in the last couple of decades, it has really metastasized into this five or six-day extravaganza of about 20 preparties, after-parties, brunches in which people continue to praise each oh, and the washington media gives each other awards and media organizations who are closing bureaus and cutting back, you know, continue to spend, you know, tens of millions of dollars on entertainment and food and just this big mardi gras in which the political class -- which includes the media -- celebrates itself. and so i really kind of deconstruct this in one of the chapters, and i take readers through the experience of the 2010 white house correspondents' dinner which happened to coincide, as it often does, with major news event. in this case, the bp oil spill which happened a few days before the 2010 correspondents' din kerr.
but -- dinner. but also the attempted bombing of times square which actually happened that night. and i was struck by how, you know, there was real news going on. bp at that moment was just really rushing to buy up the best democratic and republican talent this it could find to hep with its public relations strategy, to help lobby the government to get their punishment, you know, as little as possible. and then you had this attempted bombing that night which did not interrupt anybody's good time. the first report of the attempted bombing, at least on nbc, was, like, six hours later given though -- even though it took place a few blocks away from nbc headquarters, you know, a lot of people were celebrating. and i sort of draw out what that means. the following year, and this gets to the line, this weekend of 2011 coincided with the planned raid of bin laden's compound in pakistan.
or where he was believed to be hiding. and a a couple of days before the very, very few people who knew about this raid were meeting in the white house situation room and discussing exactly when that weekend the raid would take place. because they knew that because of thewet forecast and -- the weather forecast and because of logistical maneuvers and because of various consultations, the optimal time would be many that two-day period. and the real optimal time would have been that saturday night, washington time. and the principals were talking, and someone said but the president is supposed to speak that night at the white house with correspondents' dinner, and even if he's distracted, if there's anything going on, there's rawls media there -- there's always media there, they will know. it could tip off the raid, it might not be a good idea to do it then. and because c-span's here, i'm going to clean up this quote. but hillary clinton, who was one of the participants in the meeting, at that point looked up
and said, [bleep] the white house correspondents' dinner. and i thought that was actually a very good moment for hillary clinton. and that's been confirmed by the fact that more people have quoted that line back to me without the bleep. and also not so much because it's a good line, but also because it talks about this disconnect. now, luckily, luckily, luckily the raid was the next night, and even, you know, as a side note bin laden was actually killed, so the world was safer. but more importantly, everyone had a really, really good time. [laughter] so in rolling out the paperback of this, we decided to do it as a coincidence or just to do it at the same time as the white house correspondents' dinner. and national public radio, bob garfield who hosts a show called "on the media" decided that he would host a colloquy on media ethics in conjunction with the white house correspondents'
dinner. and he would get a suite at the hilton while everyone is walking in in their tuxedos and gowns, and me and bob and jeff goldberg of bloomberg would hold a colloquy on media ethics. and bob bravely took a sandwich board with all of our names on it and said, please, come to our colloquy, and he stood in the lobby. and at one point wolf blitzer was walking by on the red carpet, there's literally a red carpet, and bob said, wolf, you look lovely tonight, what are you wearing? [laughter] and wolf blitzer said, armani. without any sense of irony. [laughter] and then bob said, well, what are you working on? wolf said, i'm just here to have fun. so not to pick on wolf blitzer, but it was a good moment. so anyway, we had our colloquy on the third floor. bob advertised doughnuts. we had beer, we had soda, we had four great panelists, and we were in this hotel room and no
one showed up. but, you know, the dinner went on. and, actually, the gag was sort of that no one was going to show up because that was -- and we actually, bob built a whole npr on the media show around it last week. it's online, it's really funny. but, essential hi, this all does go -- essentially, this all does go to the disconnect that we're talking about, the sense that so much is being sl baited, so much -- celebrated, so much money is being spent, so much money is being made and so many parties are going on. and you have to ask yourself what exactly are we celebrating. and so this book as i was writing it, and it was -- people ask me all the time what made you decide to write this book? this book is, essentially, it's an exercise in me as a washington insider, and i am attached to a major news organization, i am invited to these parties, i'm invited to these press conferences, i know
these people, they know me, they call me back, they still call me back. and people were wondering, what is this guy doing? is he actually going to be a traitor to his class? the class being an insider. someone who, you know, is benefiting from this world, someone who is actually, has access to this world. and yet why is he going to sort of speak out of school like this? and no one really knew what i was doing, including me. but i knew that there was a book to write when i was sitting in tim russert's memorial service in 2008 at the kennedy center and was watching the thing degenerate into a cocktail party and watching all of the mafia families, the clintons, the obamas, the mccains, the democrats, the lobbyists, everyone, sort of coming in to pay respects but ultimately watching from the aisles of the kennedy center people throwing business cards around, people trying to book the clintons on their msnbc shows that night,
people angling for the next big job. it became a very, very self-conscious spectacle. and at that moment, i knew that we had reached a tipping point. we in washington had reached a tipping point of the kind of maybe self-regard, self-celebration that has grown up here versus, you know, what was actually a very, very solemn ceremony for a beloved newsman. and from that point on, i started taking notes and doing a bunch of interviews and scaring a lot of people. and there were a couple of points along the way that people actually learned that i was unpleasant because i wasn't finished yet. and this was a very hard book to write. speaking as a journalist everyone says, oh, yeah, it's really fun, there's a lot of funny stuff in there. i mean, look, these things are hard. there's a lot of facts you can get wrong, there's a lot that can go very, very wrong in 300 and however many pages. and i also, i don't have the bandwidth for this much
information. i have newspaper-length story head. i have newspaper, magazine story head. and then you say have you written that yet, didn't you say that already? so one of the things we decided to do was not include an index in the book. now, there's this thing -- anyone know what the washington read is? okay. most people, the farther out you get from washington, fewer people know what the washington read is. but the washington read is the tradition of a number of prominent washington figures walking into a bookstore, seeing a book, pulling it out of the shelf and immediately turning to the most important part which is the index. to see if they are mentioned. [laughter] and usually if they're mentioned just in passing or not at all, they will shove the book back onto the shelf unpurchased. and richard ben kramer who is one of my heroes who died about a year and a half ago, he wrote "what it takes," he did not have an index in "what it takes." he died at the very end of my
writing this, and partly as a tribute the him i decided that i wanted people to read the damn book too, because that's what he said about what it takes. that's where the comparisons end, but he was very -- i was inspired by that. but i also thought it would be kind of a good idea. so we don't have an index, we have a little mourning box on the back that said those who want to see how they come off in this thing will have to buy the book and read it. [laughter] and sure enough, sure enough within a day of the book leaking two weeks early because someone at the newark airport put a couple of copies on sale early, and a reporter from buzz feed bought it and spent his fourth of july weekend in 2013 tweeting every little nugget, there was some buzz around the book when that happened. the next day "the washington post" got their hands on a copy and did their own online index. so all 340 -- 740, however many people, entities, institutions
that are mentioned in these pages were indexed in in "the washington post" online within 24 hours which set off this whole sub-freakout via twitter in which people were saying, hey, according to "the washington post," i'm mentioned in chapter five. can someone please tweet what he said about me? [laughter] if it's bad, can you please direct, you know, dm it to me because i don't want people to know. so, i mean, in some ways this was humorous. politico wrote a story or two in anticipation wondering what i was up to, who i was going after. and in some way this was a data point. this was all very premise-affirming. this was all very, okay, this sort of proves that, you know, washington is going to be, you know, just sort of completely turned in on itself, and that was in some ways helpful. but it also was my greatest fear which is, one, the fear of immediate scrutiny which is what authors are in for and, obviously, it's a luxury if you've written a book that
people care enough to scrutinize and then to put online index out for. but it also scared me and was my worst nightmare because i was afraid this book was not going to penetrate beyond the very, very small and rarefied bubble that we exist in. you know, the kind of bubble that gathers for the correspondents' dinner which is sort of merged with the big bubble world of hollywood. but i really did worry that this book was just going to be a point of gossip, a point of who wins, who loses, intrigue and that the larger messages here about what's happened to the capital, what's happened to our politics would be lost, you know, beyond the beltway. and, places like gaithersburg. we're beyond the beltway, right? feels so populist right now. [laughter] so what was really gratifying, actually, was to see that actually not only did the book resonate outside of washington,
but it also resonated in a far more thoughtful way. and the people i have met and talked to and been interviewed by along the way here have asked the -- there are a couple of questions i get all the time. one i'll just preempt because one of you might ask it is, is "house of cards" realistic? [laughter] sort of, i don't know. it's entertaining. i watch it. i'm very, very entertained by it. if you want me to get into that more, you can ask. but, no, the bigger question and more serious question is, so, i was entertained, i was despairing when i read that, but what can we do? you know, what is the answer here? how do we sort of get our leaders off of this sort of path to decadence and sort of arrogance in which, you know, the country becomes more and more demoralized and more and more disenchanted by politics and yet, you know, the kings keep fiddling and having these
parties and stuff? at a certain point, i mean, i have this great sort of journalist stiff arm in which i sort of say, hey, i'm just a journalist. i hold the mirror to a culture. i don't have any answers, i don't do solutions, that's up to the politicians or the think tanks or whatever. and i realize that i need a better answer. i'm still working on it, but i do think that, look, i've come out of this experience with a greater appreciation for being outside of washington as a political reporter but also grassroots movements generally. whether it's, you know, the movement in 2008 that got the president elected, the tea party movement of 2010, i mean, obviously, radically different parts of the electorate and of the population. but there's a level of caring out there that i think is very strong. and, again, when you come at this as a cynical reporter -- and i fully anytime -- admit to
being cynical and anyone who reads this book will see it as a cynical read, you sort of learn to roll your eyes a little bit. but i also learned a lot of the cynicism that i have acquired in covering this for a long time is a form of idealism inside out and turned inside out. and the fact that, you know, i choose to cover this stuff. i still love politics. i actually in a weird way love politics and love the country as much as i ever have, and that sounds way more, you know, patriotic and almost schmaltzy than i usually get. i've chosen to raise my family in d.c., i want to the talk them to school watching these motorcades go by and visiting these monuments and just sort of seeing the awe that very much, you know, is the sort of experience of the kid whose nose is pressed against the glass which as a journalist is kind of, in some ways our experience, and it's the experience of many people who come to washington as a young staffer, as an intern, you know, as a journalist or
what have you. so, but that, i mean, but the sense of caring, of wanting to talk about solutions, wanting to engage more, actually wanting to come to washington to either, i mean, either sort of help change the game a little bit but also, you know, use this book as a how-to guide and say, all right, how do i get in on this gravy train? whatever, it's been a fascinating thing to watch. another thing you should know about journalists is words like "speech," "lecture," those kinds of things are terribly scary to us. so i want to make sure i get time for your questions and actually can address anything that you guys want me to talk about, because it is all over the map. and thanks. yeah. >> do you find that you became a celebrity with the tea party -- [inaudible] as a result of your book? >> hmm. there's some scary words for you. of. [laughter] just celebrity, nothing against
the tea party. but, no, it's been amazing. i was telling the mayor before one of the amazing things about this book is so many people inside washington think it's about someone else, so they're like, ooh, thank god someone has finally written this book. i've been saying this racquet has gotten out of control for years, i'm like, senator, former senator, who do you think i'm talking about? [laughter] i don't actually say that. but, no, it -- celebrity, i mean, i don't see myself as a celebrity. i'm a print reporter, but -- >> [inaudible] >> they, the right has embraced this book far more than i thought they would. look, as a new york times reporter, there's a lot of people who will immediately dismiss me as, oh, he's just liberal media, and i get red in the face trying to say, you know, the editorial page is liberal, but i don't work for the editorial. people are going to believe what they're going to believe, and it's really very unfortunate there's so little kind of consensus, center in the media these days for whatever reason.
i mean, so much of the right will dismiss the non-fox, non-drudge media as the liberal mainstream media or whatever, and, you know, and then there's a lot, there's some people on the left who say the corporate media's -- i mean, that's an argument. i mean, i get tarred with that. i think we all do to a certain point. no, the right has embraced this in a weird way. and, look, i'm happy to have this book help people make their arguments if they want to do it this way. the right seems to think, whoa, this is what happens when big government grows up and there's all this, you know, waste in the capital city, and this is the kind of things that evolve. and then, you know, again on the left you can is say, oh, this is just a terrible indictment of the corporatization of washington. i mean, i think both things can be seen as true. but i've been much more, i wouldn't say embraced, but there's been a lot more interest in this book from the right than i anticipated. yeah.
>> [inaudible] people still call you -- [inaudible] i'm very surprised. >> really? i'm that mean? [laughter] no, it hasn't, i mean, the question was, you know, there was surprise that anyone still talks to me, basically. it is -- i was worried about that. i mean, look, i not only did i write this book as an insider, i wrote this book as an insider who wanted to continue to work as a, you know, for a major news organization covering politics. so, look, i mean, there's been criticism that i was too nasty, there's been criticism that i was too easy on people. i do think it really, i mean, if you want me to -- i mean, i actually was invited to more white house correspondents' parties, and i didn't go to any of them except for one. but, no, it's bizarre.
i mean, part of it is also, look, i think i was right. i mean, i also fact checked this rigorously. a lot of these people i had conversations with before publication in which we went over stuff. i mean, there was not that big an element of surprise here because, i mean, i think it's sort of the stand-up thing to do. but just for fact-checking and accuracy purposes, you know, i want to know -- i want these people to know what i'm saying about them, and i want them to tell me if stuff is wrong because it's much easier to do that before publication than after. in some ways, i mean, i think a lot of the freakout and anger was disseminated maybe before publication privately. but i'm sure there are people who don't like me now, who don't like -- i know there are people who don't like how they were portrayed, and that's fine. >> if we could ask everyone to please come to the back where the microphone -- where you're standing, please. this is being recorded for c-span. >> let me get the woman in the blue shirt.
>> she's going to need to come over to the microphone, please. leslie. thanks. >> or i can just repeat your question because i i can hear you. yeah. >> [inaudible] >> well, let's see. i mean, the question was, basically, there's a northwestern university, i think you said, study that congress listens only to the money. how do i overcome that? well, first as a print journalist, i don't actually have the problem with too much money or any money around me. [laughter] no. i mean, i will say, look, when people ask what are the biggest changes in washington and like how is this book different now than a book that might have been written about washington three
decades ago, there are two things. i mean, one just the flood of money into the political system that we have now which was just not present. not to mention into washington. i mean, washington is the wealthiest metropolitan area in the united states. it is home to seven of the ten wealthiest counties in the united states right now. i assume this is one of them. we're in montgomery, right? yeah. so, and so, i mean, a lot of that is just government contracting, it's growth of government, it's growth of media, it's growth of corporations, and, yeah. i mean, so couple that with the fact that people come to washington ostensibly as public servants, but far, far, far fewer people leave. meaning these public servants. i mean, 50% of all u.s. senators leave the senate and go on to become lobbiests. that compares to 3% -- lobbyists. that compares to 3% in 1974. you have this culture in which a
permanent social class has grown up, and you have this culture in which, look, people come to washington now to get rich. i mean, this was not supposed to be one of those cities. i mean, new york was, vegas was, maybe l.a. was. i mean, this was, i mean, never a boom town the way it has become. and, again, part of it is that many, many corporations and entities and lobbying groups and special interests have decided or have figured out that it's just so much more profitable to their bottom lines to invest tens of millions of dollars into trying to influence the government, and there's a lot of people who can benefit from that. country seems to be ripe for some kind of campaign finance. that's about as -- i mean, it's an issue that's come up everywhere i've gone. so, i mean, that's one thing. i think america's ripe for a third party candidate if there was one. you know? i mean, people mention term limits. i mean, i think, look, i don't think in a broad sense the
system that's grown up is sustainable. and you would think that, you know, something would move towards change. yeah. >> you talked about folks who work hard like the obama campaign, an organic movement or the tea party campaign to elect new officials. what tactics have you seen that seem to really work well for folks who do care about what's going on in washington and want to influence existing politicians but don't have the pacs and the -- >> right. >> -- and the lobbyists. >> i was going to say make a few million dollars finish. [laughter] no, i mean, i think that's a great point. i mean, basically, and it sounds almost simplistic, but just the grassroots activism just like the e-mail movements, the canvassing. a lot of that's very old school, very low tech -- well, lower tech than, you know, the sophisticated tv ads and the targeting and all this stuff. but, no, i mean, the obama campaign really sort of started out neighbor to neighbor.
in some ways. i mean, obviously, they were very, very savvy and, eventually, they were very, very well funded. but, i mean, it started from, you know, obviously having a very effective communicator at the head of that movement, but also just a lot of very concerned people, you know, getting, gathering into a network. so, look, i mean, e-mail campaigns, letter-writing campaigns to newspapers are actually still quite effective, more so than people might think. you know, i would say, you know, i'm a little bit cautious. i mean, things that can get you into the press. i mean that's, obviously, i'm biased. i think the press is still fairly significant. but it's, you know, press attention really moves things. i work for a news organization that people read some days, and you can sort of see how that works. but again, i say that with some
hesitation because you're sort of, i'm sort of creating a permission structure like, hey, do whatever you can to get attention, and that sort of feeds into this whole culture of celebrity and opportunism and circus that i write about in "this town." but i, you know, would not be intimidated by the, quote-unquote, newness of the technology and the sophistication and the largeness of the money. i mean, you know, some of the best funded campaigns and best and most sophisticated campaigns get defeated. i mean, you can have all the money in the world. koch brothers, you know, pac and they've still got to execute. and so that's, i mean, there are a lot of ways, you know, there's still -- not very specific, but i think that's sort of something that i've seen. >> thank you. >> thanks. yeah. >> may i ask, how does technology -- you were just referring to technology with campaigns -- but as a reporter, how does can technology impact
your keeping your finger on the pulse of the, of your subjects? >> yeah. that's a great question. i mean, i think the it's a radically, it's a yes, it's a extremely dangerous thing x it's an extremely helpful thing. can i google something and find out something in five seconds or, you know, whatever that i couldn't 20 years ago? absolutely. can i maybe reach someone more easily by facebook or by e-mail? yes. on the other hand, and, you know, also technology has been a very democratizing force on the conversation. i mean, you don't need to, you know, get a job at a major news organization. you can start a blog, you can start tweeting, you can do whatever and maybe you'll take hold, and you don't have to go to any special school for that. i think the real peril though is twofold. one as a journalist, you know,
there's a temptation not to leave your office or your bedroom or your car or wherever. i mean, it's as valuable as ever to be out there, to travel, to meet people, to talk face to face. i mean, i know, i feel that now more than ever, you know, having had the experience of a number of years now in a kind of technology-rich newsroom where it's just very easy not to do that. i mean, there are just so many reporters and bloggers who just don't leave. i mean, they just don't meet people. they don't know what you look like. so there's that, but also, i mean, look, the disjointed voices out there creates this anarchy in the peanut gallery where you have, you know, who do you take seriously? who do you listen to? is it just noise after a while? these are all very, very good questions. i think as people, as journalists but also as citizens you have to have a rigorous approach to how you receive information, you know, how you engage, and, obviously,
technology can be useful, but it's not the be all and end all. hi. >> hi. my question has to do about the relationship between the administration or the president and the press. like you read about conflict between the press and the obama administration. i guess to me what a always makes sense to court them and kind of suck up to the press. are they really doing that but it's depicted as not being that way, or could you describe, like, over the years the relationship between the president and the washington press corps? >> yeah, sure. i mean, it's obviously evolved. there's been a great deal of friction in this administration with the reporters, i mean, especially since, you know, the obama campaign came in promising to be the most transparent, transparency was a huge watch word especially during the transition of 2008. it was like we are going to just, like, let it rip. i mean, we are not afraid to sort of, like, sort of, you
know, turn on the lights here and tell you what's going on. that just hasn't happened. now, look, there's always personal friction between presidents and white house staff and reporters. i mean, we serve different purposes. you know, courting, courtship, i suppose that could be be effective -- could be effective. i have to say as a reporter, and this book has actually been kind of a lesson in this, i mean, you realize that people are not talking to me because i'm, like, so charming and so good looking and all that -- well, certainly not good looking. but they're talking to me because i'm attached to a news organization. they're talking to me because it's in their interests. they're not talking to me because i have seduced them or they have seduced me. i mean we -- this is a very transalaskaal culture, and it's -- transactional culture. it's cynical to say that, but when you go to work, a transaction. i have many, many, many washington friends, okay? a washington friend i would
classify as a sort of transactional, very professional-based friendship. i mean, there are a lot of people i've known for years because, you know, again, i see them at the same functions and dinners and parties, and i've been doing stories and is seen them on the campaigns. you know, i have a lot of real friends too in washington. i think it's important to sort of know, you know, who you are and sort of who your friends are. but i do think, though, that this whole schmoozing thing and the sort of sucking up thing is, i assume it can be effective in a pretty shallow way, but ultimately it's not what we're here for, and i don't think it makes that much difference. yeah. >> so so much of what goes on in terms of information that reporters see in washington -- [inaudible] these things that are funded by -- [inaudible] >> is right. >> it's all sexy.
and i'm a lobbyist, so i do it too. so how do you as a journalist react to that, handle that -- [inaudible] just reporting to the newspaper -- [inaudible] >> right. >> and not -- >> i think, the question is, i mean, there is so much spin in the washington conversation, how do i as a reporter deal with it, how do i react to it? keptically. i mean, i have to -- keptically. i i have to say how well is he playing the game. oh, what a masterful thing for this tactic to be used by the white house in order to get attention. karl rove said his thing about hillary clinton this week about, you know, questioning brain
damage or whatever it was he said. you know, that story, you know, was, i mean, the merits of it were almost completely ignored, whether there are any merits at all. the taste of it, you know, the efficacy of -- it was immediately, oh, what tactic was he using, you know? did they draw this up themselves? i mean, look, washington is just absolutely ripe with the language of tactics, sucking up, spin, whatever you want to call it. people can forget that this is not the way most human beings talk to each other. i mean, certainly, again, when you leave washington -- i mean, i hate being worked. i mean, i think any reporter would tell you that they hate being worked. some would find it flattering. by worked i mean you're talking utter ps to me, i -- bs to me. you know what you're doing, i know what i'm doing, that's fine. but can we stop pretending like
anything of value is being transacted here? again, that's sort of a long-winded way of me saying just skeptically, and i hope, you know, there is some kind of course correction in which people, you know, can talk to each other more candidly and actually let a more authentic view of themselves be revealed in the process of politics and, hopefully, life in general. that's pretty deep, huh? yeah. [laughter] yeah. >> go to the microphone, please. >> go to the microphone, yeah. >> in regards to changing the culture, hopefully changing the culture, is the aspect of term limits that a you alluded to earlier feasible in your estimation? and if so, would it be of much effect, and could it happen? and also in regards to "house of cards," do most of politicians watch it, and do people, actually, the politicians learn something from the show and use that tactic in your opinion? >> uh, it's funny.
i mean, well, the first question of term limits, i mean, is it feasible? i think the more relevant question is, is it constitutional. there have been various term limits movements through the years. it rarely gets -- it got some traction in the '90s, but courts strike them down. look, i think the question of how long is the appropriate amount of time for someone to serve in congress, you know, in a various office is a very real thing that should be asked. and if someone was running for congress, i would immediately ask them how long are you going to stick around? i would also ask them what they're going to do afterwards. when you're done with the four terms you promise to restrict yourself to, if that's your answer, are you going to lobby, are you going to consult? are you going to stay in washington? are you going to come home and return to your job at the medical practice, whatever. look, this is not binding, but it'd be nice to have a conversation where service were
actually a temporary state rather than a permanent lottery that people can sort of punch their card for, you know, for life and stay. "house of cards," i do think a lot of people watch it. look, it's a good show, it's well done. a lot of people have cameos. kevin spacey was asked, you know, kevin spacey did a lot of meetings with politicians in preparing for this role, and he was, you know, and people kept asking him afterwards, so what were these politicians like? how is it similar to what you do as an actor? is he said, well, they're all actors. the only difference is, they're bad actors. [laughter] i thought that was a little harsh, but i'm just quoting kevin spacey. so -- or frank -- kevin spacey. yeah. i guess we only have five minutes left. >> can i just follow up on what you said originally and "the new york times" and issues of sexism? >> oh, boy. >> what you think about it. >> okay. here's the part of the conversation where i completely
obfuscate myself and i completely -- no, it was, so for those of you who don't know, jill abramson, our executive editor, was let go fairly abruptly this week. and, you know, jill was great to me. i mean, i loved working for her. i thought our newspaper had performed really well the last few years, and dean, who's replacing her, was my boss at the washington bureau for a number of years, you know? i think he's phenomenal too. i mean, this sounds like a diplomatic answer which, i guess, in some ways it is, but it's true. i mean, i do -- i guess i probably shouldn't share this, but i exchanged an e-mail with jill in the last 24 hours, and i won't tell you what she said or i said, but last line was "keep the times strong." and i thought that was a great note to end on, and i think, look, the institution is, i think, pretty important, and it's something we all care about.
sexism. look, i -- what can i say? no, look, sexism's a real issue. it's a real issue in newsrooms, it's a real issue everywhere, politics, i mean, every realm. i think it's something we're all aware of. so much has been written and said about it this week. i would refer you to google.com -- [laughter] i was flying back from the west coast on the day this all went down, and i landed, and i turned on my phone, and there's all these e-mails. what happened? what do you think? what on earth happened here? and i'm thinking the worst, i'm thinking, youqvs0÷éúonusome kinf horrible crisis or terrible thing has happened. ..
how badly do i pinocchio's course affect people who get those scores? >> that refers to the washington post fact check column by of former colleague of mine which claims by politicians are rated by how many pinocchios there are. five is the maximum number, four. if you get pinocchio for that answer. and recent history, we will not be dictated by fact checker
groups. and very few voters, three pinocchios were given for this campaign or whatever. it is a good service that keeps going, anything that holds the journal accountable, leaders in this case, or candidates, and people pay attention to it. we are a wrap, thanks, i will be signing books. [inaudible conversations]
[inaudible conversations] >> that was mark leibovich his book "this town: 2 parties and a funeral--plus, plenty of valet parking!--in america's gilded capital". in a few minutes we will be back with more from the gaithersburg book festival. >> here is a look at some books that are being published this week. ben carson, former director of pediatric neurosurgeon at johns hopkins university argues the u.s. is in decline for a multitude of reasons including increasing debt and decline in morals in one nation. to save america's future. in the goods by the life and death of robert ames, pulitzer prize-winning biographer recounts the career of the middle east cia operative robert ames. daniel shulman, a senior editor of the washington bureau of
mother jones magazine profiles the koch brothers and provides insight into their corporate background and political influence in how the koch brothers became america's most powerful and private dynasty. in the second amendment:a biography, michael waldman, president of the brennan center for justice at new york university school of law provides a history of the right to bear arms. journalist howard french reports on china's growing presence in africa in china's second continent:how million migrants are building a new empire in africa. look for these titles in bookstores this coming week and watch for the authors in the near future on booktv and on booktv.org. >> we would like to hear from you. tweet us your feedback, twitter.com/booktv. >> in 1903, dr. hall said told us how to do a mastectomy,
breast cancer surgery removing the breast for breast cancer. he described going all the way down to the ribs and up to the third level. the woman who had a halsted mastectomy was unable to raise her harm-this for the rest of her life and always had swelling in the arm. we did the halsted mastectomy well into the 1980s, in the 1940s doctors were saying do we need to do this severe an operation blue some doctors actually lost their academic careers because they questioned the halsted mastectomy. they got fired because they wondered if the halsted mastectomy was an inappropriate operation and halsted had been dead for 20 years. quite honestly, bernie fisher
from the university of pittsburgh and another physician from c'mon did a series of clinical trials with great difficulty in the 1960s and 70s that ultimately showed the state of removal of the entire breast, and entirely morbid procedure, you could just remove the outer breast, later on they showed just remove the cancerous lump and irradiate breast and dollar equivalent in terms of outcomes. and so you see the halsted mastectomy before mammography and other things might have been a relevant operation but starting in the 1940s and beyond the halsted mastectomy was too much of an operation and we did it in the united states for 40 additional years and actually criticized anybody who actually questioned if what we would doing is the right thing. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org.
[inaudible conversations] >> in a couple of minutes we continue live coverage of the 2014 gaithersburg book festival with dan balz. all this from the gaithersburg's city hall grounds in maryland. [inaudible conversations] >> booktv covers hundreds of author programs throughout the country all year long and here's a look at some of the events we are attending this week. look for these programs to air in the near future on booktv on c-span2. in monday we are at the nixon presidential library for lynn cheney's discussion of the life of james madison jo lin king conversation by former vice president dick cheney. the same night we are at another presidential library, the carter library in atlanta for the role
religion plays in president carter's presidential campaign. on wednesday historians jessica lot nan stephen jaffe discuss the rise of new york city's banking system at the columbia university club of new york in manhattan and on thursday at changing hands bookstore in tempe, ariz. todd miller reports on the operations of the u.s. border patrol. that is look at some of the other programs booktv will be covering this upcoming week. for more go to our web site booktv.org and visit upcoming programs. >> a lot of times, you would say look, this is not -- this is for background. you can attribute to a white house force or something. you can't do that with live cameras. i am just giving you this now for background but this is not for publication. >> did you actually do that, the background from the put him at
the white house? >> a whole briefing. >> let me just give you something on background. a fatal mistake that i made, this is in the weeds for our audience but interesting to some of you is i did not put the restriction we had at the state department which is it not available for live comcast. it was available for use as part of the stories you would produce because the briefing is not a news event. is part of the way in which people gather information, put their story together, test other sources, get other information, put together a comprehensive report and look to your consumers of news. >> i wanted to do 56 questions on what is universal health care? would that be 98%? what about 97%? what if one person --
>> vaguely familiar. >> 56 questions in one briefing and dave barry wrote a column saying take her out for a beer and get her to answer a question on what is universal health coverage? >> the life of a white house press secretary, thes and downs of the dog and how it changed over time sunday at 5:00 eastern on american history tv this weekend on c-span2. >> here's a look at some upcoming book fairs and festivals happening around the country. this saturday booktv is live from the gaithersburg book festival in maryland. coverage of the festival, now in its fifth year includes talks by the washington post's dan balz and mark leibovich, author of "this town: 2 parties and a funeral--plus, plenty of valet parking!--in america's gilded capital" as well as a panel on the book industry. also this weekend is the south carolina book festival in columbia, south carolina. congressman james cliburn will discuss his book blessed
experiences. may 29th through 31st booktv will be talking to lawyers and publishing executives at the publishing industry's annual trade show, book expo america in new york city. on june 7th and eighth, we are live from the chicago tribune's printers road lit fest. on saturday, june 24th said, franklin d. roosevelt presidential library will hold their eleventh annual roosevelt reading festival which features numerous author talks on the 32 president. let us know about book fares in your ariane and we will add them to our list, e-mail us at email@example.com. >> we are back live at the gaithersburg book festival. next up is dan balz, co-author of "collision 2012: obama vs. romney and the future of elections in america" about the
all hall of you're encouraged to buy books. if you buy books and authors and publishers will continue to support this wonderful event which is such a great resource and asset for our community and county and benefits the local economy. if you enjoy this program and are able to do so please by one or more books. dan balz is chief correspondent at the washington post, former national editor, political editor, white house correspondent and southwest correspondent. he is also co-author of storming the gates and the new york times best-seller the battle for america 2008.
dan balz appears on the news show meet the press from time to time and also the pbs program washington week. in april of 2011 he was honored by the white house correspondents association with the prestigious marion smith award for excellence in presidential coverage under deadline pressure. he is a graduate of the university of illinois and served in the united states army from 1968 to 1971. his latest book is called "collision 2012: obama vs. romney and the future of elections in america". when i was in high school growing up in the washington a and developing a lifelong interest in politics i read theodore white's outstanding series the making of the president about the elections of 1960, 1964, 1968, and 1972. i was fascinated by the blow by blow account and vivid descriptions of the personalities of john f. kennedy, richard nixon, lyndon johnson, barry goldwater, robert kennedy, eugene mccarthy and george mcgovern and i think the
vividness of the white's writing inspired me to devote my career to running for office and serving in elected office. the 0 white is no longer around to chronicle presidential races and it falls to dan balz and others to carry on that tradition. peggy noonan of the wall street journal said dan balz's "collision 2012: obama vs. romney and the future of elections in america" is the best presidential campaign chronicle in many years. it is a great book, in part because it isn't about what happened as much as it is about how people in the campaigns with thinking. al kamen from the washington post said the behind-the-scenes reporting makes the book i must read. it was a fascinating ride. i think the real value of this book may come not so much now, because many of us who read his reporting daily and other contemporaneously reporting may already know the fundamental
details of the 2012 race although this book provides in-depth commentary in interviews that were not reported in the day-to-day press but i think the real value of this book, like it's great predecessors by theodore white will come a decade or more from now when some future high school student with an interest in politics reads this account to inspire a lifelong involvement. i think this book is that good. i think it will survive for decades to come and i hope you will help me graciously welcome dan balz. [applause] >> hello, everyone. is a delight to be here. this festival has such a wonderful feel about it. book readers are great people. i remember when haynes johnson and i did our book in 2008, one
of the first appearance as we did after it was published, haines, who had written 14 books and five or six or seven bestsellers i had written one, kind of embrace one of our early audiences and said to see people like you who come to want to find out more about -- to read books all the time, thank you all for being here and thank you to the folks who organized this wonderful festival and thank you for that very generous introduction. george said this festival is designed to raise the intellectual level, discussion about contemporary politics qualifies for that. we will make the best of it over the next few minutes. i want to talk about this book "collision 2012," a little bit about how i put it together as a way to talk about what happened
in 2012. i co-authored a book about the 2008 campaign with the late teens johnson and when we set off to do that book, our belief was, i think was born out, is that this was going to be a historymaking a election. at the point we signed a contract, we didn't know how it was going to turn out, we knew there was a possibility of the first african-american democratic nominee, the first democratic nominee, and whoever became the democratic nominee would have an advantage heading into the general election because after eight years of the george bush administration people were ready to go a different direction. that was in so many ways a campaign that made history that was inspiring to a lot of people and i remember even on inauguration day, 2 witnesses that moment in history when
barack obama took the oath of office and people who had voted for john mccain, who would talk about it months afterwards, some of them would say i voted for john mccain. i wanted john mccain to win but i felt good about the country at that moment in 2009. that we had broken up barrier, we had done something historic. when i set off to do this book, this was some time in the middle of 2010 as i was talking to my agent and publishers about doing a second volume, everybody had the same feeling, how in the world will 2012 live up to 2008 in terms of a story? all elections are interesting, but a few are very interesting and in terms of books about them would be duds, don't get books
written about them and my publisher at that moment felt the same way, that what are we going to do with this book that would in some way or another match 2012. as we were heading into 2012, the country was in a very sour mood. president obama was in a much different place than he had been in 2007-2008. for the first few months of 2009. the country had read polarized. the economy was still struggling to and everything pointed to a sour and quite an inspiring election. as it played out, it certainly was a different election than we played through in 2008. was a much grittier election, and more negative election, and when we got through the election a lot of people were at the
point of all right, that is done, let's put it in the rearview mirror. i was left to write a book about it. as i sat down and was doing the last round of interviews which you always have to do with a book like this, the post-election interviews which are always the most revealing because that that moment people will begin to be at least a little bit more forthcoming than they were as i talk to them during the campaign, but as i went through that round of interviews and got through the process of writing the book i came to the conclusion that in many ways the 2012 election bill told us more about who we are as a people, where we are as a country, and what the nature of our politics at this moment is really like than the 2008 campaign. we now look at the 2008 campaign as an aberrational moment.
many people thought at the moment barack obama was elected perhaps we were going to turn up quarter on the kind of polarized politics that had begun during the clinton administration and intensified during president bush's administration and perhaps a new generation politician like barack obama could take as if not to this kind of gauzy post partisan world at least to a place where the country would begin to come together. that obviously didn't happen and i think as a result of that what i tried to do in this book was to give as kind of honest representation how the campaign played out and in some ways why it has contributed to the moment we are still in which is a moment of dep polarization in politics. i call this book "collision 2012" for three reasons. first was a clash of two americas, a clash between the americas that elected barack
obama in 2008 and the america that two years later turned out and put republicans in charge of the house of representatives, but republicans in charge of many governorships and state legislatures around the country and brought us to this point of even more contention and politics. [train whistle] >> the real america roaring through. the second reason i called it "collision 2012" is it was clearly a clash of two philosophy is. these two americas we are so familiar with, the we describe in red and blue america represents strikingly different philosophies about almost everything in our politics, the size and scope of government, gernment's role in the
economy, how you create jobs, how you stimulate economic growth, how you narrow the gap between the haves and have nots, whether it is abortion or same-sex marriage, issues like gun control, these two americas have dramatically different philosophies and the 2012 election was set up to be a debate about those issues. i am not sure it lend up to that. it is also set up to be perhaps an answer from the country of which direction we want to go. that was the second reason. the third reason i called it collision 2012 is a collision and a clash of two strikingly different personalities. if you think of the backgrounds of president obama and governor mitt romney they could hardly be
more different. we know now so much about obama's background but if you think about where he grew up, how he grew up and compare that to mitt romney who was raised in michigan in a house of affluence, his father was an auto executive and later became governor of michigan. barack obama spent his early life partly in indonesia, much of it in hawaii, went east to college, went through a search for his own identity which is told quite eloquently in dreams from my father, he learned politics as a community organizer on the south side of chicago working with people who had been displaced from steel mills in the south side of chicago. mitt romney learned his politics mostly through the business world, through the eyes of people who run companies.
as he calls them the job creators. they looked at the world quite differently. i think they had respect for one another in this way. each thought the other was a fundamentally good person who had married well, who had a good family, who was a good husband and in many other ways each headed deep disrespect for the other's philosophy. mitt romney, i know, did not believe president obama was capable of doing for the economy what romney thought it needed, and the president felt if governor romney and the republicans took control of the federal government that things would go in a very negative direction and so you had these three big clashes in the 2012 campaign. as george suggested, when you sit down to try to write about a
presidential campaign in real time and to publish it in less than a year after the results. the biggest single challenge is to tell people something that they didn't know. because my day job at the washington post, working with colleagues at the post and every other news organization with now compete with we are telling the story not just in daily and weekly bites, we're telling it in our early bytes and now through twitter and minute bites and by the second, there is acute amount of information that by the time you get through a campaign everybody feels they know. certainly everybody knows the broad outlines of what happened and many people feel they know basically all they want to know about what happened and the challenge when we write a book like this is how do i find out
things that none of us knew at the time and try to get the participants to be more forthcoming about those moments. i tried to do it in two ways. the first is to do interviews during the course of the election with the main players. starting with the candidates to the extent that they are willing to participate. that is a large caveat because while they suggest to you at the beginning of a project like this, and their aides, to interview our candidate. the conditions are always such that if i interview somebody, a candidate for example, it was on the understanding that the contents of that interview would not be revealed until the book came out so they could feel free to talk about settled events in the past.
was the way we tried to do it. in this book, for example, newt gingrich was one of the few people who was willing to sit down through the course of the campaign to talk about it. i remember running into him, i had talked to his staff very early in 2011 about doing this and i ran into him one evening in washington and he said to me i am ready to do this, ready to sit down with you, i have got it all figured out. that is great. he said not just a campaign that the next eight years. i have got the whole thing figured out. i will say he was a willing participant and always a lively interview. his campaign never got to where he thought or hoped it might but nonetheless there is some material in the book from newt gingrich everybody would find interesting. the other is to try to talk to the campaign managers, senior
strategists and the staff, with the mitt romney campaign, the obama campaign made a decision in 2011 that they were no longer going to cooperate with authors under those terms. something had happened in the course of a private meeting that my friends had gotten wind of and it freak everybody out in the white house including apparently the president and they said we are not going to sit down whiff authors on an embargo basis so i was obviously able to talk to the obama people through the course of the campaign in my own reporting as well as the mitt romney team. and after the election you go back and do another round of reporting and at that point people for the most part are on the record and more free to talk. after the election i wanted to sit down with both the president and governor romney. the president's team decided
that they were not going to do any post-election interviews either. he had done a very interesting interview after the 2008 election in the 2008 book and some of that i reused in the book because i thought it was insightful analysis on his part of his own leadership style. but i went to mitt romney's team and said would governor romney sit down to an interview and two of the people i talk to who were among his most senior advisers both said i don't think he will do that. i said will you just ask if you wants to do it? that would be great. they asked him and to their surprise he was quite willing to do it. he said of course i will sit down with them. he later sat down with john and mark for their book and so i did the interview with him and late january of 2013, it was striking
and i want to talk about it because i thought it was revealing. losing candidate doesn't like to have a reporter come by a couple months after an election with questions that mostly start out like this. why in the world did you do x? or what in world were you thinking when a, b or c happened? often when you do these interviews, the interviewee is there with a press person or an aide to to make sure things go well. in this case i went to see governor romney at his home outside of boston. i knocked on the board and he opened it. there was nobody else there. just the two of us. i had the only reporters. i only use two recorders when i do these books interviews because i have had a couple failures in the past and i never
trust one recorder. i put the recorders down and we talked and we ended up talking for 90 minutes which was half an hour longer than he had originally agreed to do. he was quite gracious in many ways not all defensive, he was open about some of the things he thought had gone wrong and forthcoming about things but what was interesting to me was when i talked to him about his own doubts about running, his son had told me about this month's prior to the election, that his father had some questions and qualms about whether he should run. tag romney told me about a moment in late 2010 when the family gathered for the christmas holidays and they sat down and talked about running in 2012. they had done the same thing four years earlier when he was getting ready to run in 2008 and at the end of this discussion they take of the of the family
so it was governor romney, and romney, five sons and five daughters in law so it is a 12 vote sample and in 2006 when they did this, all 12 people said go, run, you should run. so fast forward to this campaign and this moment, they are in hawaii, sitting there, take the vote, 10 votes no and two votes yes and one of the ten votes no was mitt romney. i asked him about this. i will be honest with you. i don't think despite that vote that there was ever any it doubt that mitt romney was going to run in 2012 but what i wanted to understand was why he had cast that descending those at that moment. his answer was i thought quite interesting. he said early on, one of the questions i had was would i be the strongest person to run in the general election against
president obama? he said i wasn't sure i was. if someone like jeb bush had decided to run in 2012 he said i might not have run. i think as he watched people like jeb bush and healy barbara and mitch daniels and mike huckabee all step back and he looked at the field of candidates that was finally assembled light think it was not a difficult decision in his mind to say i am the best of that group. this was not the most stellar field republicans had ever put up in a presidential campaign. rick perry, who was up, across the horizon for a brief moment in the 2012 campaign signed up best after he was long out of the campaign. he spoke at the gridiron dinner in the spring of 2012 and he concluded by saying i ran against the weakest republican field ever and they kicked my
behind. i think mitt romney could see that he was the person to run but he had another question and that was, was he the right person for the republican party at that moment? in the spring of 2011 a month before his formal announcement was scheduled to be held the wall street journal did an editorial about health care and what he had done in massachusetts and was a blistering editorial and it concluded by saying essentially unless he recants what he did in massachusetts mitt romney would be better off trying to become barack obama's vice president in 2012 and becoming the republican nominee. mitt romney called his son tad early that morning and said i am not going to run. if i can't convince the conservative editorial page of the wall street journal the i am where the of being the nominee an won't do it. i don't think there was any
likelihood that he wasn't but what this said to me was we think of our politicians particularly people who run for president as kind of extraordinary, different than the rest of us. in some ways they have to be, as most of them to you, you have to be a little bit nutty to run for president because it is a brittle complex but the other thing you think about these folks is to do this you have to have ambition, you have to have an enormous amount of self-confidence and when you talk to somebody as i did with mitt romney you realize they have all that because they can't get through that process without having that but they are also like all of you which is no matter what you are doing there are moments when you have doubts about it. there are moments when you doubt if you can get through this day or that project or whatever. even somebody who ultimately becomes the nominee of a major party to run for president has these moments and i thought it
was particularly revealing. the other revealing moment was when we talked about the infamous 47% video which came out in the fall, september of 2012 and was clearly a devastating moment for him because it crystallized so much of the argument the obama campaign had made against him, so much of the stereotype of mitt romney as a wealthy plutocrat out of touch with ordinary people and when we talked about this i asked him something about it. i said that a point in that fund raiser reduce debt of this group of people they will never take control of their own lives, never take personal control of their own lives and he stopped me and said i didn't say that. he got up from where we were sitting and he walked over, his ipad was charging and the kitchen counter, he unplugged the ipad and pulled it over and said i knew we would talk about
this and i wanted to go through some notes. so he went through some notes, trying to in one way or another convince me, but i think convince himself that he hadn't really said it. he knew politically how bad that moment had been for him but even several months after it had been revealed, he did not want everyone to believe what came out of his mouth reflected what he really felt. and i thought here is a guy who has been through a very difficult campaign whose on election morning he was going to be the president of the united states, whose staff most of whom believed the same thing, and he could not accept that he had said exactly what he said. and it was a moment that said to me it takes a long time for a losing candidate to process. there's a great line, walter mondale when he lost the 1984
campaign, george mcgovern who had lost in a landslide in '72 and said how long does it take to get over this? and mcgovern said when i get over mine i will let you know. romney said one other thing when we talked about the 47%. he said i had a lousy september but i had a great october. what he was talking about was the debate. this was another moment in the campaign which in a sense you all watched it, and i am sure through the rest of that campaign, that all this in denver had was what in the world happened to president obama. that was one of those things i wanted to explore more fully in this book, to try to reveal information that wasn't generally known at the time of the election. as i went back and talked to
people on the obama team a couple things were clear. one was the challenge of the first debate for an incumbent president is not a new challenge. the first briefing the obama team did with president obama back in the summer of 2012 included a power point presentation, that had a slide on it that essentially said incumbent presidents often lose the first debate in their reelection campaign and obama's reaction was let's try to change history. and so they set out and did a lot of mock debates. these mock debates did not go well at all. when they would critique the president after it these mock debate he said i get it, i understand, okay, i will do better and he would going to the next mock debate and it was like nothing had ever happened. the best way to say it was all
but mock debates between -- face started in late august or early september and through just before they went to denver at the beginning of october, his mock debate performances were between mediocre and pretty terrible. why is that? one reason is the incumbent president is rusty. the challenger is not. mitt romney had done 20 debate to win the nomination. he understood the rhythm of the debate and he was fresh and he knew what worked and he knew how to succinctly talk about what you wants to talk about. incumbent presidents of not debated for four years and president obama by his own admission in the 2008 campaign was not a stellar debater. he always felt the formats were difficult, he was a more long form person rather than of short
form person and he was never fully comfortable. that is one reason. the second reason is if you are the president of the united states, you have spent four years or at this .3-1/2 years surrounded by people who may disagree with you or debate with you about policy but they do it in the most respectful way. it is always mr. president, if i may, or mr. president, sir if i could, they are treated the way people expect presidents to be treated, with respect. you get into a presidential debate at your opponent is not going to treat you that way. he may call you mr. president but he is there for a battle. the incumbent often is not quite ready for that and the obama team was conflicted about the right strategy when they started the debate prep, they said you have to be aggressive, let's go after mitt romney, make this a
real fight. just before the debate they switched signals in part because of what happened after the 47% video. they said stay above, don't get down in the gutter with matt romney, he is damaged goods at this point, make people like you and you will be fine and the president's reaction to that i am told is are you sure this is the right thing to do? i'm not sure it is and they said yes. i think he went into that uncertain about the right strategy. a day or so before the debate mitt romney got a call from george w. bush and he said, i am sure he called him myth or maybe he has a nickname for him, who knows? but he said you are going to be fine in this debate. i know from my own experience the president is not going to be prepared in the way you are going to be prepared so you go in and do your own thing.
this happened. the other thing that happened in this debate, the subtitle of this book is obama versus romney and the future of elections in america, one of the things this told us about the future is the role of twitter. there were 10 million tweets sent out about the debate during the debate. 10 million tweets and we were able to harvest a lot of those through the good work of some people i work with who are much younger and understand how to do all this and we called out maybe 6 or 8,000 tweets from people with large followings or whose tweets got reid pleaded a lot. you could see the conventional wisdom on that debate crystallize with in the first 20 minutes that these two people were on the stage which it used to be there was something called spin alley, there still is where after the debate between 2 rival camps fled this area and tell us
how we should write our stories basically. and spin alley was a relic that night in denver. stephanie cutter was the deputy campaign manager, in the obama war room watching this and 15 minutes into the debate she yelled out we are getting killed on twitter. four years earlier no one would have known what that meant and yet she was absolutely right. the tweets that were going out had an influence on how people wrote the stories, perceive what happened and it intensified in the days after the debate. i think president obama did not know how badly he had done or how badly he was perceived to have done when he came off the stage and mitt romney wasn't sure he had done, he knew he had done well but i don't think he knew that the kind of margin of victory was judged to be as big
as it was. david axelrod finally caught up with the president after the president had heard from several other aides that it had not gone well and the president said to axelrod, so i take that i didn't do that well tonight. and axelrod responded yes, sir, i think that seems to be the consensus. but the president still wasn't sure and he asked another person the next morning what did you think? and she said it was not good. he said why? you should watch, have you seen it? he said no. you should watch the video of it. he got a copy of the video and he later called and said i get it. i now get it and i am going to be ready in the next debate. we are not going to let this happen again. he had to wait, i forget what it was, 10 or 12 days for the second debate. in the interim was the
vice-presidential debate and one of the things the obama team took away from the first debate, this is important to understand about where we are politically, i think people used to think of these debates as the moment, the one moment other than the convention when you get to speak to the whole country and try to make a final argument to persuade the people who are still making up their mind. the obama team rightly i think came to the conclusion that in 2012 and perhaps as we go forward the purpose of these debates is as much to energize your base as it is to worry about the people who are undecided and what they had to do in that second debate is to prove to people the president was in this and he would make a very tough argument about met romney. that falls to vice president joe
biden, to reassure nervous democrats that they are in this, and he arrived in kentucky on the afternoon of the debate. as he was getting ready to head into town he finished the phone call and walked over to one of his advisers and he said now i know we are really in trouble and his advisers said what do you mean? what are you talking about? i just got off the phone with the president and he said to me tonight, just be yourself. and he said four years, he has never said that. if you remember is that debate it was a debate of exaggerated gestures, almost looked like he was mocking paul ryan and drew criticism from young commentators about how he
handled himself. he had done what he needed to do because it energize the democratic base and it put the campaign back where it had been which was the president in a pretty good position. george read a blurb alluding to the chris christie chapter. and won't spend much time on it, and the republican nomination as a way to raise the question if others had run in the same way mitt romney had raised it, if others had run with republican race had been different? among the people wanted to talk to was chris christie and was part of a larger captive that included the other people i mentioned earlier. i went to see him in fall of 2012, we had a lengthy interview. i had the interview transcribed,
and i can't stuff is in the piece of the chapter, it is too rich. he is quite a story teller. he has a very good recall of the events, and he was eager to tell the story of the court ship, why he never changed his mind about running. there are some hilarious moments. he was invited to breakfast in new york in summer of 2011. he thought it would be a fairly small intimate gathering. the chairs were lined up like this, there was a table in the front, and some other wealthy folks who couldn't make it but called on the speakerphone all imploring him to think about
running in 2012 and the last speaker was henry kissinger who he had talked to before and henry kissinger had always been very encouraging. he said, this is chris christie's story, he said henry kissinger walked up to the front, stood in front, made his shield, very brief and ended by saying the presidency is about two things. it is about courage and it is about conviction and he said you have both and i think he should run. i said to chris christie, what was your reaction at that moment? he said, take this with a grain of salt, he said i was almost speechless. chris christie is never really speechless as we have all seen but nonetheless he said it forced him to think about whether he should run in 2012 even though he had long been convinced he shouldn't so he said to this group by 0 to all of you to make a serious
decision, to think about it and he did. he talks, he reached out to a number of people who were involved in republican politics, he got a call from george w. bush, not a call of encouragement to run but a call that simply said let's talk it through. if you have questions about what this involves let's talk it through. his wife got a call from barbara bush. ultimately didn't run but the story is a very rich moment in the book. i want to close simply by making one other point. this book is telling the story from the inside out. the other thing i want to do is tell the story from the outside in because as much as we make of campaign managers and strategists and decisions they make and these are tough decisions they do have to make, a lot about our politics today
in every presidential campaign but very much so today is as a result of outside forces. the role of the economy in this campaign was very important and was just good enough for president obama to be able to be reelected. the changing demographics of this country were and continue to be a very important factor in shaping of the way this country votes. we came out of this election redder and bluer than we went into it, red states got redder and blue states got bluer and we are still there. the third is crawling out of that, the hardening of the polarized lines in this country, the degree to which each side now sees the other in almost terms of armageddon if they take power. i could see this in the interviews i did with people along the way and i could see this as i was going through the
election results and the one takeaway i would say as to why i think this book has some lasting value in telling us where we are about our politics is if you think about what happened after the election, we had what was a relatively decisive election and yet it didn't change anything. the country read polarized immediately after the president's inauguration if not before, we got back into the same fights we had and we continue to be at that place as we look for the 2014 election and the 2016 election. we are in a period of polarized politics. is not clear that there is a decisive moment coming. usually we get through these moments but sometimes, not for many years. the question we all have at this point is are we in for a series of these elections that will be incredibly hard fought, relatively closely decided but
that ultimately don't bring the country together? as i look forward to work for the 2016 campaign to me that is the largest question. will this be an election in which we began to change the kinds of politics we have had over the last decade or decade and a half and move to another place or are we still in this for a lengthy time? thank you very much. you have been a great audience. i appreciate it very much. [applause] >> i would be happy to take some questions. yes, sir. >> go to microphone. >> it would be best if questionnaires with reference to the microphone in the back. >> i have a question. >> form a line, those who want to ask questions, we have a few minutes left in this session. >> my question is you mentioned the polarization. do you think that is race-based?
how do you explain that? >> i think it is much broader than that. we will never escape the issue of race in our politics and certainly you could argue as president obama did when i talked to him after the 2008 election that his race in that election, there were some people who didn't vote for him because he was african-american and some people who might not otherwise have voted for him because he was african-american. there is some evidence that there is a piece of the opposition, part of the opposition to president obama that has racial overtones to it but i think the polarization is beyond that. i think one question is will things change once president obama is out of office? will that somehow change the equation? i frankly have given everything else i see am dubious. if you look at what we are already seeing in terms of the polarization that is beginning
to form around secretary clinton and her prospective candidacy i think it would say to you the polarization goes beyond the issue of race, it has a lot to do with where we are as i country, some unease in one part of the country about where we are heading, fears about whether we will go forward or backward or whether we need to go somewhat backward or forward, i think there's a lot at stake on the issue of polarization. >> much of the coverage of the 2012 election focused on how close it was. on the other hand, the new york times analyst kept saying it was a sure thing, and that was pretty much what happened. how will this influence coverage of future elections? i noticed the washington post is doing similar analysis. >> what nate silvered did, you
are talking about nate silver at 5:38 in the campaign. it had an effect on the coverage of campaigns and as you rightly say, we have a broad monkey cage at the washington post, john sides is a bright political scientist at george washington university of receive it and he has created a similar modeling and predictive modeling that made silver does, the new york times has its new entity under -- it is called up shot -- under david lionheart, they're doing the same thing. i think it adds one more element to how people will look at campaigns. i think it is a useful element but predictions are sometimes wrong. probability samples are sometimes wrong. there are any number of political scientists who have modeled presidential elections
and they don't always agree on their outcome or the probability of one side or the other winning. part of it depends on the quality of the information they are using. a lot of it is current polling. if polling is good they are more likely to have good models. it is not, they won't. if pulling is sparse is more difficult. .. by that what i mean is if you look at the polls in the final
stretch almost all of them show the president had. some of them, many of them showed the president dead within the margin of error, and so of some caution you have to say, you know, this is a close race, but if this were truly at that point a tossup race you would have seen governor romney had an almost as many polls as the president. if one candidate is ahead on almost all the polls, even if it is only a few points, that candid it likely has the advantage. i will say one other thing about the kinds of things about 538 does, it is really valuable and interesting, but my one question about it is, i think campaigns are about more than simply probability samples. campaigns are about debates about real issues, and the degree to which this forces coverage into simply who is ahead and who is winning and ignores all of the other factors
that we know ought to be revealed in coverage about who these candidates are, what they believe, what they would do, what they have done, the degree to which that gets washed away or drowned out are overshadowed, i think, is a disservice journalistically to the country to read through every cycle i have been through in campaigns we have come out of it probably adding some new elements our coverage, and this is one of the new things we will have in 2016 in a much more fulsome way, what i don't think it relieves us of the responsibility to do the kind of journalism or book writing, if you will, that we need in order to have an informed electorate. yes, sir. >> really quick, as you mentioned and other people have said, on election morning the romney campaign talk that they were going to win. and then just now you said, and all of the polling president obama was the head or in most of the polling. i have never really understood why the romney campaign and so
many people on the conservative side of that they would win and were shocked when they did not. >> one measure of how confident they were on the afternoon of the election, you know, 3:00, 4:00, paul ryan had a conversation with one of his advisers in which she says, i'm going to resign as chairman of the budget committee in order to devote myself to becoming -- you know, preparing to be vice-president. i think the reason is twofold. one is that the polls in some ways were close, and i think they felt that there was a kind of a turnout operation or a surge of energy around his candidacy that would overcome what the polls seem to show. there was going to be a big turnout for him. they could see it in their crowds in the last few weeks after the debate.
things changed materially. as he said, it went from being clinical too emotional. people at kind of finally embraced him. it is easy, if you are candid camera to misread that. even losing kendis to our getting be badly have great crowds at the end and enthusiastic crowds. but they did misread them. the other thing of the rodney team did was anticipated a different electorate. they thought the electorate would be somewhat wider than it turned out to be, against historical trends, and they thought that the balance between republicans and democrats would be a little bit closer to parity than it turned out to be, and those two miscalculations can make a big difference. i am told we are out of time. so thank you very much. i am sorry we could not take all the questions. [applause]
[inaudible conversations] >> book tv coverage of the 2014 gaithersburg book festival will continue in just a few minutes. book tv, television for serious readers. [inaudible conversations] >> book tv is on facebook. like us to interact with book tv gas and viewers, watch videos, get up-to-date information on events. facebook.com/booktv. >> well, there is verse in ecclesiastes in the old testament that says there is nothing new under the sun. everything you think has been bought before, everything you do
has been done before. i'm talking about looking to the past to see what how, updating in as necessary and moving forward. if you go to another country for the first time you usually get a guidebook or find out where the best hotels, restaurants, places to be avoided. these are people who have gone before us does go out these cities and to recommend the best place for us. we have the founders of our country who understood human nature at least as well as the preachers of their day. they created a constitution that establishes boundaries for government but on limited life, liberty for its citizens. i believe that has gotten out of whack. we have exceeded those boundaries and is why we have so many of the problems and challenges we have today. >> in previous books you have to remind readers that you're not saying disengage from public life, but people might get that perception given your emphasis
on simply focus on the individual capacity and individual responsibility, look away from government. don't look to government to meet your needs. look to the individual and look to god. >> well, that is where it all began. the founders certainly saw power delegated from the people to the government, not government overpowering ask, and that is why government has grown so big and dysfunctional. i don't think there is anybody, including the bay as liberal it thinks that everything is working well, and we ought to just keep pouring more money into it and growing government ever bigger. thomas will come of a great writer and a friend as written, i have this little car that i carry around like bob dole carries the tenth amendment. much of the social history of the western world over the past three decades has involve replacing what worked with what sounded good. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org.
>> if you go back and look, he was a conservative hero, and his tax rate was a gold standard tax rate that we saw in the video, 25 percent was what he got, the top rate. he fought like crazy. it started, remember, with wilson in the 70's. that was an epic battle. when you look at what the socialite's said about coolidge and washington, how cold it was, would not be with anyone, there were probably also from families that endorsed different policies . essentially a father had a different model. let's get them, go active bully pulpit presidents. here was coolidge, prissy and cold and not giving out favors. he looked as though he had been weaned on a pickle. coolidge was cultural, from new england. farmers do not talk a lot or wave their arms about because the cow might take them.
but temperamental, a shy person, but he also had a political purpose. he knew that if he did not talk a lot people stop talking. president or political leader is constantly bombarded with requests sports. he articulated that quite explicitly. >> author and columnist will take calls, e-mails got tweeds, taxes, depression era presidents and current fiscal policies. in-depth live for three hours sunday june 1st at noon eastern on c-span2 book tv. [inaudible conversations] >> and a couple of minutes more from the 2014 gaithersburg book festival. [inaudible conversations]
>> here is a look at some of the best-selling nonfiction books according to the chicago tribune that's double the list is good morning america anchor robin roberts with our more everybody's got something. in second, a 21st century by thomas beckham t, the french economist focusing on wealth and income inequality in europe and the united states says the 18th-century. massachusetts senator elizabeth warren comes in third with a fighting chance.
>> we would like to hear from you. tweet us your feedback. >> when the islamic revolution at their work cut off from the west, in part because of religious reasons. the chiron has some problems with using the body's. and because the west surely there ever -- surely there after imposed sanctions and they did not have the resources, technology, or infrastructure to really continue. so they decided to focus on living donations. so the simpler sort of old-fashioned way of dealing with the transplant shortage. and this was not as irrational as you may think because
801090 percent of people who need organs need kidneys. so they focus on the largest part of the population that needed help, while we focus on everybody of the same time and focused on finding that technologies that we could to keep organs liable and transport them quickly and do everything that we could to get them from cadavers. getting them from cadavers made sense because why should we put a living person at risk for kidney if we can get it from a cadaver? the important point is we went into different directions. around spent 30 years improving its living donor program while we spent 30 years concentrating on our deceased or and program. now, if you look at today there is insight that you can get from the results. in need of heart or liver, you better live here. if you need a kidney, be an iranian. why?
because if you medically qualified to get a kidney good one. in the united states out of the 120,000 people in need organs, 100,000 of them need kidneys. fifteen to a 20 americans die every day because they can't get a kidney. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> here's a look as an upcoming book fairs and festivals happening around the country. this saturday book tv is live from the gaithersburg but festival in maryland. coverage of the festival now in its fifth year includes talks by the "washington post" and balls and mark leibowitz, author of this town as well as a panel on the book industry. also this weekend is the south carolina book festival and a columbia, south carolina. in attendance said discuss his
>> can you remember who first influence you to think about issues, think about the government? >> my father and mother. i was so impressed that i put it in a book called 17 traditions, how they raised the four children, two boys and two girls it was conversation around the dinner table. there is now looking at tv or listening to radio or looking like this. we talked. they challenged us and a nice way and ask his questions. the list, joke with us. the bottom line is free and requires a responsibility. you can't just say, i want freedom. because most people think they're free because they are personally free. they can buy their aren't close to make their own friends, your read want to listen to whatever music, eat whenever they want. that does not mean that their cervical free. that is what they emphasize. you have to engage in democracy.
>> good afternoon. welcome to the fifth annual gaithersburg book festival. i am the director of planning and co administration for the city of gaithersburg. gaithersburg is a vibrant, diversity that celebrates a supports the arts and humanities , please to bring you this fantastic event next to the generous support of our sponsors and their volunteers. please visit the sponsors today and pay thanks. i just have a few announcements. for the consideration of everyone here copley's silence all of your devices. in order to keep improving this event when is of the back.
the politics and prose tent right behind you. a quick word about buying box. even though this is of remand and we want to keep it that way it does help the book festival if you purchase a book and our chance. the more books with so at our event the more publishers will want to send their authors hear this because. purchasing marks from our partners also benefits the local economy and supports local jobs and supports our book festival itself. if you enjoy the program and are in a position to do so, please do buy a book. i am honored this after an anti introduced co-author of empty mansions, the mysterious life of hugo clark m. the spending of a great american fortune. to say this book is fascinating is a serious understatement. clear proof that truth is in the stranger than fiction. the story begins with the father .
the most important bill that age industrialist and politician the most people never heard of. the turn of the last century, copper brown car with the economy is born in 1870. the subject of this bug lived until talks 11. one of two daughters with w. h. clark much younger second wife and it was for this family of four that mr. park built the largest french and ever constructed in new york city. built in 1911.
this story is wonderfully relevant today as one of the anti mansions. connecticut estate lebow said so was the sole, once of the transition with uncertainty. in addition to being the co-author the received the pulitzer prize in 1989 for investigative reporting for the color of money, a series of articles in the atlanta journal constitution are racial discrimination by mortgage lenders. one does not often get the chance to introduce a bill a surprise winner. [applause]
>> thank you. my son was disappointed on that day. he was live and but the first the we had one of publishers clearing house sweepstakes. might have been better. i would like to thank the volunteers and workers, sponsors , everyone here at the gaithersburg book festival. very excited to be here to talk to your butt into mansions. i will show you of you slide shows, pictures, and give you a little bit of a thorough tour my work as the golan. i got a lot of my prized as rory were shopping for a house. my wife and i had moved from the boston area to connecticut. had chosen to ramps.
you have houses on the brain. how many veterans to need? how many square feet are enough? well our girls be allowed to ride bicycles and the driver? far more houses than needed. i was looking at the listings of the top of the charts in connecticut, the house is really cannot afford just enjoying seeing his own them. don imus as having joel selling a house, phil donahue. the most expensive house in connecticut was the $25 million. it was a steal. had been marked down from 34 on 52 acres, 14,000 scurfy a little
french charmer. i expected the german energy might on this house, but i went to the town website. it said he is clark. i looked a little more. it said in his own record by the way this house has been unoccupied since this on robotic it said that this summer but it in 1951. well, how is that possible? no robo, no buzzer, no name, just a street number and too little your car is next to of faded red brick wall. i reached over and robbed on the window and the air conditioner of the load cottage. a little man came out in his mid-80s like out of a fairy tale
on the comes up and says this is mrs. clark souse. i have not met any clark's. i just get paid every month by her attorney for new yorker since jack. the jaguar and mirage was his, the caretakers. so as i was leaving -- he had no other affirmation. as i was leaving he had a question for me. he said, do you suppose that maybe she has been dead all these years? wow, i had no idea. i went back, and looked on line answers for name in town and she had a nicer home in california in santa barbara, 23 acres, private come up on a mesa, over the beach, looking at the
pacific. a french town, or two dozen square feet built in 1933. and though legend in santa barbara was that no one had been to the carcass state, as they called it, no one had been there since the 1950's. the gardners are still at work and that the cars from the 1930's are 40's were still and the grosz. i did not believe any of that because you can't believe what you read in the internet. we have pictures of those cars in the book with license plates the same 1949. well, about i found her in new york city. i owned three apartments at 72nd and fifth avenue, three separate got disconnected apartments in the same building with a view that every new yorker wants, looking down at the conservatory pond where stored liberal race sailboats
after she bought the apartment and movie and she could have seen that george washington bridge rebuild. she could have seen the empire state building be built from the suburban. the doorman said, no, i have not seen mrs. clark in about 20 years. the elevator does not even stop on our floor. well, i was at this point heart. i called my editor and said, i don't think this is what you're paying me to do, but let me tell you about these houses. to their credit the editor said we would read that. you should go finder. it turns out born in 1906 in paris, the daughter of a man who in the early 1900's was very well-known, on the covers of all the magazines. in 1907 the new york times says we do not know of the richest man in america is immobile we're sure that it is either
rockefeller or w. a. clarke of montana. he was born in a log cabin in pennsylvania, went west. at the beginning of the solo work, and at that point had to say, wait a minute, how could his daughter still be around? think about it. born in 1839 during the martin van buren administration, our eighth president. you knew that. he was 22 when the civil war began, and he went out for. she was born in 1906 in paris while her father was serving in the u.s. senate fighting teddy roosevelt's an enormous reforms. twenty-six presidents. and here she was alive and to the force second presidency, still alive during the obama administration. was hard to believe. well, where was she? it turns out that she was in a
hospital in new york city living at beth israel medical center, had been first and one osbourne, then another, living in a single room, i standard, ordinary, symbol of the room with your chief paneling and a trillion know, bathroom and television. and by that time she died in 2011 she had lived in the hospital for 7,364 nights, 20 years in two months. while her monet painting, waterlilies and three when renoir and tear stradivarius violins were over in the fifth avenue apartment she was living in acquire hospital number. maybe you can see, this is the view from our room. the air-conditioning unit is outside. there's the view this should give up and the view that she
got. so all of this raise a lot of questions for me. now, we did a story and nbc news website which was then called m.s. in the c dot com. we did a report about why aren't these empty mansion sent to? what happened to the owners? and we were astonished by the response. i got a couple thousand e-mails from readers. we passed 110 million page views people were captured, i think, by the idea that someone from the gilded age would still be alive. and the incongruity of not using the great wealth while the rest of the country was in the recession. then there were complications. first it turned out that her nurse, one of the private duty nurses serving her and nostril had received $31 million in debts over the 20 years she had worked for men and clark.
if you have not seen a personal check for $5 million, there is one in every copy of the book. unfortunately the account has been closed. this nurse is of filipino immigrant car registered nurse randomly assigned file mouth as a c to work for this woman seven days a week, three under 65 days a year for many years and then worked a more regular shift for the rest of the 20 years she served. she has to be the wealthiest registered nurse in the world. if you are aware of another nurse with seven homes and driving a bentley, please see me after the show. then there is her accountant's bill read it turned out that the account for mrs. clark was of phelan, a registered sex offender. let's see if i can summarize.
there are no 13 year old girls on aol who want today 60 year-old accountants going by the name error of 1040. what there are or undercover police officers pretending to be 13 year old girls. that is how the count got into trouble. her lawyer, surprise on the street corner by a new york post freelance photographer. the attorney and the accountant or both and mrs. parks well for half a million dollars each which your have to recognize is a small proportion of a $300 million. and when mrs. clark died geode, at that point, a lot of money in gift taxes to the address. been so generous that they had not been able to keep up for had not filed. there were seven years in which they did not file. and at her desk in the -- death mrs. clark of in taxes and
interest and penalties $82 million, a bill that was rising $9,000 a day. i spoke with one of misses clark's bankers use of the following to spur me on to my guess. he said, though story is utterly mysterious but equally frightening. all the markings of massive fraud. poor ms. clark sounds like one and a long list of risk-little ladies taken advantage of by supposedly trustworthy analyzers well, a post script if, in fact, that is what happened to. along the way i was introduced to the cousin who had turned out to be a much better investigative reporter and i because he had the presence of mind to look for her name in the santa barbara telephone directly to sub directory.
there were two listings. and back and the 1990's he had called, reached the stage manager california, written to a lawyer in new york, sent a letter. she called him back. they spoke on the phone over nine years. he had heard of his reclusive cousin and was interviewing of the elderly relatives who -- he had no idea that anyone would turn out to be interested in are ultimately. his name is paul clark poole jr. his father was the first cousin. if we can i am going to try to play you a bit of audio. we will see if this works. we will play at loud if we have to. it is closed-captioned if you can see the screen.
memory as and how lucid she is. her lucidity became an issue after she died, and we will get to that in a minute. she described how she and her older sister and mother and father had tickets on a new ship in 1912. their father has shown in the state rooms that they were to be an. and of course that should was the titanic. there were not able to make it back on their journey. as she put it quite matter-of-factly, we had to take another boat. and she remembered the name of that other ship, the george washington. we will get back the questions of the city, but i would like to make a comment. paul and i got together, a journalist and family member to read about. i think it would be natural for people to wonder, well, how
exactly would that work? would he, as a family member, try to up protect people's reputation and keep, you know, the best parts out of the book? of want to commend him because he stood up for the truth. he would say, let's make sure that is right. that was what he stuck up for throughout. and that was quite unusual, i think. our book is really about if we add to an emery themes, celebrity in the price of privacy. the cost of attaining great wealth, the disabilities of inheriting a fortune or to put it another way, why your children do not want you to when the powerful. it says something about economic and political responsibility as we get to.
in their duties to later generations. but mostly we thought of it as a personal story about a woman who had certain disabilities and advantages and have those played out in the choices remain alive. let me tell you just a few facts first. born in 1839. went out west of colorado and then up to montana. he got rich in merchandising and discovered the selling things to minors was a sure round of success. he became a banker, the owner of copper mines, easily the richest man west of the mississippi and 1870's and 80's. but what he really wanted first was our.
he traveled europe collecting great paintings, and most of all , he wanted the title united states senator. he ran repeatedly for the senate, repeatedly rejected by the voters of montell of the legislative and shows senators. i was entertained by some of the historical records. the folks at ancestry were very useful, what we could find online and researchers that they helped us to. you build a family tree. they were helpful in having as find the old records. one example, wa clock was at most 56. if you look at the passport applications which are now public, the old ones, you can see that he became 58 when he filled up his passport applications. after he was elected to the u.s.
senate and gained in stature he was 510. we have a picture here. i would like to read a. >> section of the book. an american character. when the slightly built man stepped briskly down new york's fifth avenue on the users on the parade of 1914 the gawkers recognized him instantly. his bristly beard and mustache may have turned from auburn to great, but at 75 years of age he was a picture of sartorial eminence. the problem and was accompanied by three discrete touches of male vanity, a gold watch chain hanging from his dapper white waistcoats, a polka dotted silk cravat held tightly to his high, buy at pearl stickpin and his
36-year-old wife. i would like to take a couple of minutes to focus on bill you a clark and his career. carried on at a pace that today seemed impossible. travel was by steamship and rorer and communication by letter and telegram. during the first decade of the 1900's, for example, he maintained homes in paris and montana, built and furnished the most expensive, new york city, constructed out of his own pocket a major railroad connecting los angeles harbor to sell lake city and that east, subdivided and marketed lots for a city that became less vigorous
oversaw the operation of copper mines in western states, ran streetcar and electric power companies, grew sugar beets, on the bank with a good national reputation, was forced to resign from the u.s. senate and was then reelected and serve six more years. fought off a paternity suit the democratic national convention, some things never change, traveled through europe collecting art, maintained good relations with his older children, married a young wife and sired two daughters, all while in his 60's. wa clock was a public person, the s-wa clock was a public per, the sort to lead a constitutional convention and then leave the assembly in the singing of the national anthem.
he is known today mostly for the corruption of money and politics . he was elected to the u.s. senate, was seated in 1899, but was challenged immediately because there was clear evidence that he had paid the legislators and montana to send in the the senate. legislators have begun their session with a debt and had ended it with money in a pocket. so the trial was held in the u.s. senate. and he was convicted by the committee and about to be thrown out. i would like to take a moment is gets quickly one of the greatest american political shenanigans which is what happened when wa
clark resigned from the senate very quickly. the governor of montana was not on his side. village that governor was. they said the lieutenant governor out of the state to a political convention allen that the lieutenant governor was gone the governor felt safe leaving the state when clark's man hired him to go to california to assess the property on real estate team. clark's son then sent a telegram to the lieutenant governor at a state. it said weather fine cattle doing well. the signal to come home. lt. governor came back, and in their resignation letter. to his excellency, the governor of montana. luncheonette governor receive the legislation from a seed in the united states send the and
appointed a successor. you get three guesses to his successor was as one of them is bigger headline said til you a card was ridiculed the rest of his life on the covers of magazines. his greatest political legacy really is the 17th amendment which restores the vote for senators the historians write that w. de klerk scandal in montana was the most prominent of a series of scandals that led to that constitutional amendment . his legacy perhaps was put best by mark twain. we describe some of his complex
in the book. for fun now would like to read a bit. he is said to have bought legislators and judges as of them and buy food. his example, so excused and sweetened corruption that in montana no longer has an offensive small. just getting started. his history is known to everybody he is ashamed to the american nation, and no one has helped send in to the senate the penitentiary with the chain and bonn is like mark twain was the one with economic conflicts in this regard. as you probably know, frequently in bankruptcy. rescued by his good friend henry
rogers he was the number two man at standard oil which happens to be try at that moment to take over the copper business around the world, including buying wa clark's businesses in montana. and it was twain cannot clark, who profited from the amalgamated scam which was the enron of the state, perhaps. stockholders were fleeced and the insiders who got in first profit. those included samuel clemens. we talk a little bit about that in the buck. nevertheless those words have stuck and often have been repeated. then we get is in his daughter from a second marriage born in 1906 in paris building in the great house in new york 121
she was married in 1928, came out as a debutante, then was married, and the marriage did not last long. she put it to earners years later, on the honeymoon i had to go home. who has not had that feeling? after the marriage then moved in the apartments down the streets the house was torn down, then on and move into an apartment on fifth avenue. she lived the rest of her life as a quiet artists and collectors are and collector dolls, collector doll houses, designer japanese castles,
steven to japanese history, and to her art whereas the great house she grew up and had been thrown open every saturday afternoon from three to five. she and her mother did not have many visitors, and she lived die as her mother did, very quiet life. mother died the 60's. we know the time when she went out in the 50's to buy dollar closed the shop that christian dior, closed for dolls. we know the time in the 60's when she went out to have the best ever stradivarius violins three strong, but is instead she was mostly reclusive for up. of many decades. here are of you photos. this is a self portrait, up painting of the view from her fifth avenue window with a japanese lampang. some of her paintings of
japanese women, she was very careful to get all of the details right, the hair pieces, boxes and boxes of kimonos and footwear. these are some of the great things that she owned. a degas painting, rwanda, monet waterlily, cezanne. couple of the dolls that she purchased a much about these for $14,000 apiece. some of for antique japanese dolls. i would like to take a moment to describe a bit about her character. that really was an issue, taken advantage of, being controlled, and was seleucid feet? had told you that she plays with dolls, and i have not even
mentioned that she liked kirsten -- cartoons cobblestones -- i guess the flintstones. this marks i cannot quite understand. you may have gotten an impression of her that may not be quite. i would like to read you a page about her enthusiasms and generosity. crew up in the biggest house in new york was meticulous. tabletop models. childhood stories, perry tales. she commissioned many of these from germany and one of the fund documents that we ran across, a
cable that she wrote in 1964 to the designer of for dollhouses in germany. i am imagining being the telegraph company cable operator taking this order over the phone rumpelstiltskin house just arrived. beautifully painted but unfortunately not same size of last porridge house received. instead of front of house being 19 and three-quarters of an inch it is only 15 and a half. low also like shutters on all the windows. also like another rumpelstiltskin house with same thing with scene where gold added as well as before a is turned but with a wider front and also would shutters and everyone know with many thanks for all your troubles and kindest regards. the man who fixture bosses and his wife made the curtains, a
cabinetmaker. she was quite generous to his family. at christmas time she would take three weeks to send out her dozens of christmas cards carefully redrafting each one until its suitor. one of many to receiver small gifts to my check for $20,000. later they grew to 30,000, than 40,000. when rudolph died in 2000 she kept sending the checks to his widow and her name. when his widow died the checks kept arriving in the names of the children. all the grandchildren of rudolph and and i went to good colleges paid for by clark and her little people. i was struck by the generosity. a donor all through the years anonymously.
the family had left a camp in new york state and honor of the sister who had died. the first national girl scout camp. they gave a ranch to the boy scouts in california. and when she died she left the largest part of her estate to a new foundation to be set up in california called the bell scored a foundation named for all. well, will will did not get accepted as written. nineteen relatives, descendants from her father's first marriage can afford to challenge the will making the claim that she was incompetent, played with dolls, was not using air houses and must have been and balanced by this nurse who had gotten so many gifts, the attorney, the accountant. the trial was scheduled last
september. there was one day of jury deliberations and a settlement that happened in the middle of the night before the trial could really get going. i would like to describe quickly how that ended. the nurse who was in the well for about another 30 million got nothing more. she will be okay. she's fine. she had to give 5 million of the 31 million back. the attorney general of new york which supervised the settlement was very keen nation that did more as a care giver. the attorney and accountant or in the well would get nothing in the settlement. they don't get to the trustees to my executors', got no regrets. the corcoran is, very strangely, left the painting, on monday were 24 million, it was a beneficiary who challenged the well sanction must of been incompetent. and then in settlement negotiations they said, we
should yell the value of the painting. everyone else around the table laughed. in the end the at $10 million in the settlement out of the idea of the $24 million painting, but it was in cash which might be more value in the current situation. a god daughter and others got money. and the home in california did, in fact, go with very little cash attached. it does go to a foundation for the arts with 85 to $100 million. that foundation will be sort of cash poor, have about $5 million to start. the approach then we took in this book was to stick to what we knew to be true. we really wanted this to be on nonfiction book, and i am not a big fan of books that say nonfiction on them but have a lot of speculation about the person was feeling a thinking of leaving. it is popular in journalism the tell you what people believe, which the reporter cannot know.
confusional state, delirious, agitated. she was hearing piano music in the hospital. a stroke was possible. her doctor called for a specialist. dr. louise had heard of the little old lady who live inside the hospital. now -- lived in the hospital. now she was meeting her. the neurologist nudged 99-year-old huguette awake from her morning nap. the patient opened her blew-steeled eyes seeing an unfamiliar face. leave me alone, she said in her high french accent and closed her eyes. the doctor studied the chart and looked closely at the white-haired woman. weighing barely 85 pounds, she was dressed in a house coat and three white cashmere sweaters, her only touch of luxury in the hospital. skilled attica johling older patients, she gently persuaded her to wake up and play along
with her mental status exams; close your eyes, wiggle your fingers. huguette complied. the doctor moved up to more complex commands. clap your hands three times, she told the senator's daughter, and stick out your tongue. leave me alone! she shouted, pulling the coffers over her head -- covers over her head. this turtle wasn't coming out of her shell. the doctor said she'd come back tomorrow. the next morning huguette brightened up immediately when she recognized the smiling doctor. she sat up in bed and stepped through the tests with ease. she knew who she was and where she was and when it was. she was hard of hearing, but she was attentive. and i just lost my place. wait, wait, wait. well, i'll just carry on.
she -- the doctor said that she just had an electrolyte imbalance from having a cold, and her fluids were down. but once she got her fluids back, she was normal. it was quite common. the women went on and talked for about 20 minutes, and huguette gave the neurologist a tour. she showed her her tabletop model castles from japan, her family photo albums with pictures from the great house in new york, the copper king's mansion in montana, the golden room, her mother, her father, all of her dear memories. and the doctor wasn't sure what any of this said about the patient's neurological status. what did it indicate? that this patient was telling her this story about the greatest house in new york and an unused mansion for 60 years and castles of copper and gold? so the neurologist turned to the nurse, and she said is any of
this true? and the nurse said, oh, yes. it's all true. our experience was one of constantly being surprised at what we ran into continued to be a true story. and we tried to tell it straight, and is we have been overwhelmed with the reaction that we've gotten. we have a couple minutes for questions, and i'll be glad to take those. we'll repeat them so the audience can hear. yes, ma'am. >> [inaudible] >> thank you. >> [inaudible] there's a microphone for you. >> i've read the book, and -- [inaudible] did keep it from being slanted. but it's very obvious that it's fairly scathing against the hospital authorities who shunned her off into the side room when she refuses to donate money. but i never got the impression, do you think that perry deserved $31 million?
>> no. i think you can get a bar fight started on the question of whether or not the nurse should have gotten $30 million. the hospital got an awful lot of bad publicity, a front page story in "the new york times," describing its constant efforts to get money from huguette through the years. the president of the hospital went and sat with her, and his mother came and sat with her. and it is clear that tacky as one may think it is for the hospital to ask her for gifts, we called it a shakedown. at one point they said you'll have to move if you don't give us $125 million. and she said, well, that's a lot of money, and she asked her attorney, can i afford it, and he said, well, yes, you could, but it's not a good idea. and then she asked the hospital for a copy of their financial statement. [laughter] she was no pushover. and i think it's fine to talk about the hospital's efforts as long as one remembers how unsuccessful those efforts were at twisting huguette's arm. she, let's put it this way, the
hospital had to be the most disappointed beneficiary of $1 million in history. they got one out of more than 300 million in the will. so they didn't influence the will. the nurse, no evidence that she influenced the will either. huguette clearly adored the nurse and wanted to give her things. we have that in her own voice repeatedly, the notes. she had promised the nurse another $15 million from the sale of a painting. she wanted her to have the money. now, you can say, i think, it's perfectly fair if one wants to take the position that the nurse should have said, no, madame, i can't take any more. or even should have given the checks to the lawyer and say she keeps giving me these, i'm giving them to you. but it's easy for us to say that someone else should turn down $31 million from their employer. i think one has to point out that she worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week. she saw her more than she saw her children for many years.
as she puts it, i gave my life to madame. it's an open question, and we tried to leave room in the book for you to take any position that you wanted. someone else had a question? yes. can you go to the microphone in the back? >> [inaudible] >> no, you need to go to the microphone for the help of c-span and people at home. thank you, ma'am. if you're going to ask -- we'll take one more, let's say go ahead and line up behind her if you don't mind. go ahead, ma'am. >> okay. i'm in the middle of the book, and it's fascinating. but i'm wondering since i haven't finished, maybe i don't know this. she had a relationship with her step-siblings early on. i think they vacationed together. why were they not involved in all this wealth in these later years? why did the father not leave anything to them? >> they did. they did. when the father died at 25, his
will essentially divided his wealth into fifths, and the four surviving children from the first marriage got four-fifths, and huguette got one-fifth. as her best friend, huguette always thought they were trying to get her money. and it turned out she was right. but the relatives, you know, they didn't have -- i imagine a jury would have been very conflicted, because they -- these relatives last saw her in 1957, and most of them had never met her. but some had connections. a few had sent presents, or she had received a wedding gift. when new york city was blacked out for three days, did any of them walk across central park and check on their dear aunt huguette? no, they did not. so the case was presented to three mock juries by the presenters of the will, and one jury found for the relatives, one jury found for the beneficiaries, and one jury said
we'll find for the beneficiaries if we can give nothing more to the nurse, which would have been an option. this is, as lawyers will all tell you, a case that should settle, as it did. why do cases settle? it's the only way to be sure that all the lawyers get paid. [laughter] >> oh, and did the boy scouts and the girl scouts ever get their -- >> they had previously gotten their gifts from the clarks, yes. so -- and we'll have to see what happens. i was able the take a tour of her house in california -- to take a tour of her house in california last week. we have an awful lot of pictures up online. the web site is emptymansionsbook.com, and we've put up the pictures of the inside of all of her houses, paintings, pictures of her family. and it is astonishing, the house in california, one could easily take the cloth off the dining room table and serve dinner in that room this evening if you wanted to. it's in pristine condition. yes, sir, last question.
>> you mentioned the -- [inaudible] unfolding its tent in october when it will become part of the national gallery in george washington university. i wonder if you could say a little bit more about the corcoran and if they were waiting on some of the -- they sold waterloads without ever showing it, and if you could say a few words about that relationship, please. >> well, i'll just say that the lawyers on both sides of the case said to me that they could not figure out the corcorans' position. that it was, it was bizarre to say that she had been, to side with her relatives and file papers saying she must have been incompetent, but nevertheless, keep the gifts that the corcorans had received all through those years. i think a key part of it has to be that a museum going under doesn't need a monet painting. the rules of accreditation for museums prevent you from selling a painting or a piece of art from your collection to fund
operating expenses. you could use that bequest to buy more art. but they didn't need more art, they needed cash. and it may be that they decided putting in with the relatives would get them a better deal, and they ended up getting $10 million from the sale of a $24 million painting. and that painting's now been sold to a buyer in asia, and it was exhibited at christie's, and we won't see it again. christie's is selling in mid june about 400 items from mrs. clark's estate, and there will be three days of tours in new york -- it's four days, june 14-17, and one can see her paintings and furniture and all the rest at rockefeller center. we have more pictures on the web site, and i'll be here for an hour signing books, and i'll be glad to take any questions off the stage. thank you all for your attention. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
>> more from gaithersburg, maryland, shortly. >> c-span2, providing live coverage of the senate floor proceedings and key public policy events. and every weekend, booktv. now for 15 years the only television network devoted to nonfiction books and authors. c-span2, created by the cable tv industry and brought to you as a public service by your local cable or satellite provider. watch us in hd, like us on facebook and follow us on twitter. >> you know, many of you have heard of the terrible municipal bankruptcy in detroit which is the largest bankruptcy that's occurred in the nation. that bankruptcy was predictable, but it happened over a period of time, and it happened because of circumstances very similar to
california. liberal democrats were in control for a long period of time. they didn't use spending constraint. public employee unions controlled who got elected to the various offices, the place was rank with corruption. they got a lot of welfare into the city, and they ended up paying very high public employee salaries and had very high commitments to the public employee union pension funds. and what happened? the city went completely bankrupt, and it's the largest municipal bankruptcy in the country. but california led the way there because prior to detroit, the largest municipal bankruptcy in the country was stockton here in california. stockton went into bankruptcy for exactly the same reason, for paying its public employees too much, for developing huge obligations to its public employee pension funds and for doing incredibly stupid things like using public funds to build a hockey stadium for a hockey team that didn't exist. it was a government version of
building a baseball field and hoping they'd come. but, you know, it's not like stockton ices over, you know? it's, hockey is a wonderful sport, i support the los angeles kings, but building a hockey stadium clearly without a hockey team precipitated the fact that the banks actually repossessed the city hall the day before they filed for bankruptcy. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> if you go back and look at coolidge, he was a conservative hero, and his tax rate was a gold standard tax rate that we saw in the video, 25% was what he got, the top rate down to. he fought like crazy. it started, remember, with wilson in the '70s. so that was an epic battle. and if you go look at what the socialites said about coolidge in washington, how cold he was, you want to remember they were
probably also from families that endorsed different policies, especially alice longworth who's father had a different model of president. t.r. was a bully pulpit president, and here was coolidge, prissy and cold. and so she said he looked as though he'd been weaned on a pickle. coolidge's science was cultural, he was from new england. farmers don't talk a lot or wave as you know if you've lived -- and it was temperamental, of temperament. he was a shy person. but it also had a political purpose.
supports the arts and humanities. we are pleased to bring you this fabulous, free event thanks to the support of our generous sponsors and volunteers. so please visit them today and say thank you. we'd also like to say thank you to our friends at c-span's booktv who are back again this year to offer live coverage of the fest festival. i'd strongly urge you to visit the politics & prose book tent. it supports local jobs and, in turn, supports our festival. a couple quick announcements, then we'll get going. in order to keep improving this event, we need your feedback. surveys available over here or on our web site, gaithersburgbookfestival.org. you'll be entered into a drawing for a brand new e-reader. and last but not least, silence your electronic devices for the audience and for our friends at home. today's panel is called connecting authors and readers. we'll be discussing how publishers, writers, the media and booksellers help readers
discover new books and authors. without further ado, i'll introduce our panel and then let them tell you a little bit about what they do. to my right is tarin rhodeer, the associate director of -- [inaudible] she manages a boston-based team. her best selling authors include paul tuft, temple grandin and justin torres. she was previously based in washington, d.c. at island press, and she has an mfa in greater writing from the university of northern maryland. next to her is susan call. susan is the events and programs director at politics & prose. she's the author of four novels including acceptance. her fifth novel will be published in july by sarah cryington weeks finish cryington books. next to her is the social media
director for the washington independent review of books, a web site run by a dedicated team of volunteers that publishes new reviews every weekday and covers all things book-related. please check it out at www.wirobooks.com. she also works as a copy editor for the hill newspaper and can be found reading and cheering on various sports teams at night. last but not heath is beth ann patrick. her book reviews appeared in publications such as the washington post, people and o magazine. she's blogged about books for places like publishers weekly, aol and barnes & noble.com. beth ann is an active social media presence, you can find her @the book maven on twitter. she's the author of two nonfiction books from national geographic and is currently working on a novel. now i'm going to ask the panelists to take a minute to sort of very briefly explain what it is they do, tell you
what their job title is and sort of explain how they connect authors to readers quickly. and succinctly. >> succinctly. i'm always succinct. a publicist's job. when i was trying to find my way in publishing, when i was trying to find my way in publishing, i sort of didn't know what i wanted to do, and then i realized there was this role where i could be working with authors and journalists and talking about books all the time, and i was, like, oh, i want to do that. i want to talk about their books all the time, i want to get their books out there on the, you know, to readers. i want to connect their book withs to the real people who are buying the books. so publicity was the really perfect place for me. i get to do a all that, i get to work with the authors before their books come out, try and figure out how is the best way to roll out their book. talk to media and, of course, i love journalists of all colors and stripes. >> [inaudible] [laughter] >> read a lot and send these authors around the country and figure out how to get their book out there. >> and like taryn, i think i
always dreamed of having a job that would be, have something to do with books. be careful what you wish for, now i have a job where my desk is just buried in advance copies of books, and there is just more out there than we're able to fit into the bookstore or our programs department at politics & prose which is a great problem to have. my job is overseeing everything programs related at the store which means classes, trips, trying to fined ways to -- find ways to use authors who we can't fit into our events program, trying to even grow our events program beyond what you see in the store where we have just a complete calendar with events seven days a week. so we're looking for ways to expand that, and that's what i do. >> i'm katie, i'm the social media director for the washington independent review of books. we were founded in 2011 as a site dedicated to writing book reviews and features.
we're all volunteers, so i'm just a volunteer. i do this for fun. really everyone says there that it's a labor of love. i post on twitter and facebook to try to grow our audience, but people know that we exist and to try to connect with readers through social media. >> i'm beth ann patrick, and currently i'm the books editor at washingtonian magazine which is a wonderful dream job. i wish it could be a full-time job, but i wish it could take up 20 pages of the magazine someday when there's so much book advertising that will happen. but in the meantime, i do other things, and one of those is to maintain an active social media presence and through friday reads to connect a lot of different people with books that everyone else is reading. it's something that i'm passionate about. i'm working on a book proposal right now for a nonfiction book about women and reading, because i'm so passionate about it. and i will continue to look for
new ways to work in this world. i've done a little bit of everything, and i find that we've got so much to discuss and discover today that i'm not sure how we'll get through it, but really happy to see you all here. thank you for coming out. >> thank you all very much. so as you've seen just from the brief descriptions, we've got a good variety of people in the industry. one of the things we don't have someone representing here the advertising world, but there is some advertising in book publishing. i just want to tell a quick anecdote. my first job in book publishing i thought, you know, i don't know what i'm doing, but i fancied myself possibly an ad man, a madman. and i thought, well, all you need to do is come up with a good tagline, and you could sell a book like that. so i said to myself what's simple, straightforward, to the point, and i came up with buy this book, it won't kill you. [laughter] and i announced it at a
meeting -- >> don draper. >> it was rejected without discussion. there ended my advertising career. [laughter] but i use that as an illustration of sort of probably not a good way to sell books. [laughter] i sort of open to the panel, maybe we can start with bethanne because she's an author, she's done a book on the social media side, the old school media side, you know, what are some of the more effect ebays you've -- effective ways you've found to get readers to pick up a book? >> it really is true that word of mouth is still the most effective way to get books out, you know, at all. and so what i would say in my experience is that anything that helps replicate or expand on that word of mouth, and that's why i think social media has been so fantastic. katie can say some more on this, i'm sure. but that's the thing about the best social media experience is it feels like you're talking to someone in a meaningful way. and we can, you know, dissect whether or not, you know, certain things are meaningful or
not. but that's what happens. and so i really feel that social media has made it much easier to get information about books. i don't know -- out on the web. i don't know, though, if that translates into sales. it translates into buzz about the book, it translates into people knowing about the book. a lot of them may still borrow it from a library, get it from a friend. so trying to decide about book sales is a much tougher thing. >> yeah. i would agree with that, that it's hard to say if it does turn into sales, but social media's been great because it's free. so you can, you know, reach a huge audience and pay nothing for it. you can reach people on facebook, on twitter, you can go to lesser-known sites, google plus, instagram. you don't have to pay a dime, and if you want to, you can promote it on facebook. we've been doing that recently. and that you do have to pay for, but the expenses for doing that is really cheap.
so that's the great thing for the independents since we're a nonprofit, we're also only digital. we don't have a publication that we can hand out to people. we have to use every resource we can on the internet to get the word out, and social media's the perfect way to do that. >> susan, you come from sort of the bookseller perspective but also an author. i mean, what sort of even anecdotally have you heard from friends, readers, you know, besides -- maybe not friends, but people who have picked up your book who you've met at a book signing or people in the store. are there things that have been effective? what have you seen will drive -- what drives people into the store aside from the fact that it's a fabulous store and they love books? >> driving people to the store, i think social media definitely drives people to our events program, and it's a little bit cyclical because when people are scheduled for an event, then if you're coming -- through town, they wind up on diane rehm or
some other capacity. often that will drive "the washington post" to profile the author. so, you know, the buzz because sometimes generate actual publicity that turns people into the store. so it does, the social media does work in that respect i'd say, yeah. >> i can add word of mouth is so important, and that's why i'm always telling my authors, you know, don't be shy. you have to be your own best publicist. make a list of everybody that you would invite to your wedding, and then tell them all about your book and tell them however you want to tell them. if you want to send them e-mail, twitter, facebook, but please don't think they're going to think you're bragging because this is the best way to get the word out. i personally, and that's why the line for social media with the publicists, all my fiends talk about my kids, my life, but i think people who follow me know i'm selective. i'm talking about my best
things, and i hope that word of mouth is spreading the news. but in terms of -- because, of course, people really care about something that their friend tells them to read more than something that a review arer that they don't know tells them to read. however, that said, traditional media is still a very, very important way to get people into the store. i think, you know, reviews in "the new york times," reviews in "the new york times" book review, interviews on national public radio are key. that's sort of a book-buying audience, a audience that really cares about it, and i've seen that really move the needle on sales in terms of books. >> and those reviews in washingtonian make a huge difference. >> a huge difference. they should be 20 pages. [laughter] >> but it's true what you say, that does put a lot of pressure on the author, especially an author who does not like to go around bragging. and i remember my first publicist said tell every single person you know you wrote a book whereas my first time out i was
thinking i've just written a book, and i hope no one notices. [laughter] i've now learned that's not really the right strategy. >> that's good. very good. [laughter] i'm going to sort of put you on the spot, taryn brings up a good point, and i had it on my list of things to talk about. if i had to make you pick a thing, i get authors coming to me all the time saying, you know, what is the thing i should do, and i don't actually believe there is necessarily a thing to do. but if you had to pick one thing, what is still the best way to sell a book? if you could only get one thing, an npr interview, a review in the new york time, you know, what would you all -- i want to go down the line. if you had to pick one with thing, what would be the thing that you think would sell the most books? >> the number one thing the author should do is be nice to your publicist. [laughter] >> that aside -- [laughter] >> oh. >> a medium, what would -- i mean, our reviews still the driving force behind books? >> no. >> more than anything else? >> i've been told it's npr, that
radio is the gold standard. >> now -- >> that's what my publicists have always -- >> and do we think that's because reviews are harder to come by? >> well, there's less review space, and so people will listen to npr more than they will sit down and read a book review. however, i would say the one thing -- and i don't know if this is what you're thinking of, gene, but the one thing an author can do to sell books is to have a really good, and i'll use the word robust, e-mail list that that author can use to send out news. i'm appearing here, i'm going to be on npr, i'm selling books at this place. there's a sale on my e-book. a really good e-mail list like that that they can send things out, and they know that it's people who will pay attention and then tell two friends and so on and so forth. >> i absolutely, i couldn't agree more. i'm actually sort of really curious more about the media stuff. i realize you can't control it, but if you could pick a thing to
get, now you've stepped across the aisle, and you are now on the traditional, old school -- >> right. >> -- mainstream, whatever you want to call it, you are now that person reviewing books. how important is the book review? is it diminished? is it more important because there's less of them? >> you know, i wish i could say it's more important because there's less of them, and that's simply not true. it really depends on where it is. it does matter, i think, in magazines that like washingtonian that care about books, because you know that what we've chosen is something that we've chosen very much for our audience. we're not just throwing anything against the wall to see what sticks. and not that i'm saying that theree%e publications like that, but -- >> no. [laughter] >> you just know that we're really carefully vetting the books and bringing you the best of what's out there. that's what i think people need today. we don't have time, any of us, to read about every single book. we have to have things. another buzz word, we need to have thinged curated for us.
and so i do think reviews are still important. i do think radio interviews are important, but it's all about, you know, making sure that whatever you're consuming is the best of what -- so i don't know if that's, i'm answering. >> yeah. there's no right or wrong answer to the question, i just was always sort of curious. again, people ask me, then you try to figure it out. one thing i tell my clients often is, you know, i mean, to me you want to get print coverage of your book because the people who are reading print coverage, technically, they are readers. [laughter] but i also feel like, and our friends from c-span aside, i also sometimes feel radio is a much better vehicle. tv we know how many eyeballs are watching you. everyone wants to be on tv because it's fancy. but i would sort of put it at the bottom of the list in some ways. the best thing about tv to me is other people see it, other media see it. media follow the tv.
so i was just sort of curious about that. to move on to sort of a different piece, there's no question to me that the reading world is sort of becoming -- reading is becoming more segmented. we are living in a sort of right-now moment, you know? twitter is, it's beyond exploded. i mean, it's here, it's not going anywhere. it's 140 characters. it's the antithesis of a book. [laughter] you know, do you guys think, is it harder to sell a long form product, the book, in sort of a short attention span world? i mean, i just sort of look at it, again, talking about tv sound bites versus a long interview. less tv shows are doing long interviews. it's two minutes, five minutes on cnn as opposed to, there's less of the 30 minutes of charlie roses. i'm curious how you find that sort of working -- and i don't mean it in a derogatory way, sort of like an old school, long format world? we were working in an old school, long format thing in a short attention span world.
>> i can, i mean, sometimes, you know, i'll be working with an author, and they'll have had a book 15, 20 years ago, and they'll be telling me about the 20-minute interview they had on "today show," and i'm like, oh, that's not going to happen anymore. basically, there's just so much more media. there's more books, and there's more media. and i think one of the ways to sort of combat this short attention span is that we have to be thinking about both the quality of the media that the author's going to have -- bless you -- the quality of the media they're going to have and the quantity. you need to have your author everywhere. say yes to doing the q and as on the blogs, say yes to the interviews even if it's at, it's not national. say yes because we really need to have you everywhere. we'd like to have this campaign look like some big national hits supported by a bunch of other stuff so that everywhere people look, they're seeing you. >> well, katie, to you, i mean, sort of -- i mean, how do you work, you know, being in a
publication that is strictly online, you know, but also, again, you're in the new world, but you're dealing with the old world. i mean, how have you found it, i mean, one of the main things you've got to do are book reviews which are, by nature, fairly long. you're not quite the new york review of books where they're incredibly long, but, you know, what other stuff do you guys do? how do you cater to in the social media world, you know, bringing someone through small means to the bigger things? >> i think that, i think that while book reviews are still important, we also branch out into features as well. and a lot of times what we'll do is we'll have a review of an author's book, and we'll also have an interview with them. so you can read the interview and read the book. you're limited to the amount of characters, but you're reaching to a community that want to read. they're not the kind of perp that's going to pass over it. if they're interested in it,
they're going to follow you. if they're not, they're not. so i just feel like with social media you can reach those people who love to read and want to devour author interviews and features. and i think that's the great thing about social media and the digital age is that you can reach a specific audience. >> i think that's a really good point. you want to reach avid readers. one thing i would say to authors is you have to be an avid reader to reach an a vid reader, you know? be someone who is out there buying books and going to events and paying attention and reading reviews as well. because if you're someone who's only reading one or two books a year and then you write a book, you don't know that much about what everyone else is reading and about how they're consuming. you'll learn a lot if you become a really good reader, really good as we -- and this has gotten some criticism, but i do think literary citizenship is something that's worth thinking about and talking about regardless of what you think of
the, you know, what it should be. but i do think that authors if you want when you want authors out there like taryn does doing this, they need to know what the terrain is like. >> that's a really good point. i mean, i have a young daughter in kindergarten, and, i mean, every day they're like read, read, read, read. somewhere between kindergarten and adulthood we sort of lose that, people telling you reading's good, reading's good. i think that's an excellent point about literary citizenship. i think it's really important. i'm curious, bethanne, katie but anyone else too, i've sort of noticed the trend seems to be online, that, you know, it's catering now. it's able to cater more to the fast-paced, you know, sound bites of the world. if you look at book coverage on, you know, like the daily beast or huffington post, i think even on the washington review of books, it's not that the book review's gone away, but you see a lot more slide shows. they're huge now.
you can tell about your entire novel in five slides. am i right? >> can you put your book on pinlt rest, please? >> do you guys see that? is there a way that we can sort of use the small world of twitter to sort of get people into the book? can you get them to expand their horizons by luring them in by a slide show? >> i mean, yeah. i think, definitely. i think that's also a way to reach the younger generation. i mean, i'm a millennial, a 20-something, and i know a lot of my friends and the people i talk to online like to get that kind of information through twitter. and i just my train of thought. but -- >> actually, if you can stand it, i have something to say, maybe it'll help you pick up the train, because i know what that's like to lose the train. [laughter] it's not being a millennial, one of the things i read recently, i happened to go to my local coffeeshop, and someone had left
united rap soty magazine. and there was a piece in it about the end of brand storytelling. basically what he was saying is you can't tell the story of coke anymore. you have to let other people tell their stories about coke, okay? so is he was talking in, you know, in these terms, in advertising terms about how it's no longer don't tell us how green giant grew from a little sprout to a giant, you have to let people tell you about their experiences with green bean cat role. but in -- cat role. he said it's not beginning, middle and end anymore. people go into worlds online, and they want to live in those worlds, and they want to experience them. i remember this, this was a long time ago, playing mist, you know? thinking i don't want to win, i just want to hang out in this world for a while. and it's the same thing with all
of these online gaming experiences and worlds and places you can go into. i think the idea of what a story is, is actually cracking and changing. and that could be for good or for bad, but it does have a lot of effect on attention span and what we decide to read and consume, and, you know, how we find out about stories. so it's kind of -- i'm leaving that kind of amorphous, but i thought it was really something to pay attention to. >> no, i think it's an excellent point. susan, now you as a novelist also who has a new book coming out who is now no longer hiding it there -- [laughter] how engaged in the social media world are you? do you try to do everything? do you find something that you're most comfortable with? what are you sort of feeling like these days promoting yourself and your own book? >> yeah. that's not one of my strengths. i'm just really not that comfortable on social media. i'm trying to be a little more
aggressive about it. i'm finally -- i think two books ago the publicist set up for me a facebook page and a twitter account, and i'm only now just trying to learn how to use the twitter account and the facebook page. the one for the book i actually took down. so i really am a publicist's worst nightmare. [laughter] but i'm going to do a much better job of it with this book. but if i could just go back to what we were just talking about with short attention spans and declining readership, you know, i know politics & prose has been a really privileged position right now as a result, probably, of being in washington, d.c. and a very literate, affluent, book-buying community. but there are still people out there who are reading long form, narrative nonfiction, fiction. we have an amazing turnout for events for the wonkiest, most boring sounding books that i sometimes -- [laughter] can't believe we've actually
booked an event for. [laughter] you know, just an obscure topic, a small university press and a hundred people will turn out. so there are still readers out there. it's not all doom and gloom. >> sure. no, i, i hope so, yeah. taryn, tell us about from inside the publishing house perspective. what is the talk? what is the feeling about this as far as, i mean, are you -- i know a number of publishers, both existing publishers and new publishers, are actually trying to cater to that, producing shorter books. some just as e-books. what is the discussion that you're sort of hearing inside the house about, you know, this sort of war that's going on? war's a little strong. >> oh, about short versus long books? i don't -- i haven't been hearing that at houghton anyway. we're sort of really committed to the books that the editors want to buy and a nice selection of fiction and nonfiction and just things that are just passionate about. you know, it has to go through,
everybody -- it has to really be approved, and people have to love it. but i think that we're still publishing the stuff that we want to publish. we're not, like, cowing to that kind of pressure. >> that's good. it's good to hear encouraging stuff like that. taryn, i was also curious, i mean, when you're talking to authors, sort of prepping them, you know, i'm thinking most of the first-time authors, i mean, what are you telling them as far as social media and tough? the kind of thing that you've got to be involved to some degree, but it's also kind of a world they can be a little more involved in. they can't publish, they shouldn't call today show. >> please don't call today show. [laughter] >> more active as far as twitter feed, i mean, are you encouraging them to do as much as possible? are you sort of, are you feeling personally that you like a vehicle such as twitter or facebook or whatever? what's sort of your advice and your feelings on that? >> i mean, i think why a couple years ago it was so different, and publishing houses were
setting up these things for authors. it has to be author-driven, it has to be genuine, authentic, and that's why people want to read an author's facebook, twitter feed. they want to know why the author is changing cat food. they want to know, you know, what's going on with the author's family. they want to know this we mind-the-sanes -- behind-the-scenes stuff. i think it really has to be dynamic in that kind of way. i wouldn't -- i certainly encourage an author to be doing as much as they want to or as much as they are doing, but i'm not going to say, hey, you have a book now, and you only have 40 facebook friends and that's all you do so you've got to ramp up and do everything. because it's not going to be them. if they're really not doing anything, i might suggest they try one, really focus on that. if not going to be them, they shouldn't do it because it'll disappoint people if there's only one post. but it's a disservice to them and their book to not be connecting in a way that so many
other authors are going to be doing. >> i think that's interesting which is why i always tell authors to make the twitter account or the facebook account under their own name, not under the name of the book, because it really does have to be you. it has to be the author talking. people are interested in the author's personality and life, as you said, and not in sort of, you know, an artificial, like, bits of quotes from the book. there are a few twitter feeds i can think of that work as, you know, quotes and chunks, things like, you know, someone who tweets dorothy parker quotes, that sort of thing. but for the most part, it really has to be genuine and from the author. >> i think that makes a lot of sense. i'm, you know, by far not a social media or online guru, but every expert i talk to and listen to, i mean, it's all about a conversation. taryn was saying earlier, you talk about your kid. i mean, i think if you pound the book down people's throats, they know that you're sort of -- oh, they turn it off.
if they hear this person's shelling their book again as opposed to you want to read my book because it's part of life, it's part of the conversation. >> i think that's kind of hard, gene, though because not every author is a great personality, you know? some authors are just vibrant and witty and funny, and others are not, you know? they've put everything into their book, or maybe their book is about something completely different. so, you know, as taryn was saying, you can't force it. you can't force any author to do the social media stuff. but i think as an author a person has to be open to at least trying something that all, we need all the help we can get. [laughter] >> and i degree with that, and i think -- i agree with that, and i think as an than you have to know your audience. right now it's a little up in the air who teenagers and people in college would follow because -- >> instagram. >> they're not on twitter as much, and they're not as
interested in facebook. so, i mean, if your audience is on a certain platform, it might be better to pay more attention to that platform and reach the proper people that you want to reach. >> it is true. i would consider fairly cutting edge just by the nature of what it is, operator in this field. i mean, are there things you guys have tried that have worked well? you see a lot of things online dealing with an author now, and she's done a good job of having some different places do book giveaways. i know good reads does some giveaways. are there things you've tried that you've found have really worked? i'd actually like to know the other end of it. what are some of things to avoid? >> um, it's difficult. it's very hit or miss. we have a small audience, and we're trying to grow it. facebook ads worked really, really well, actually, and we got a lot of followers that way. especially on facebook it's harder to find stuff. they just, you know, have hashtags now which i don't think people really use because they didn't before, so you don't really search for things on
facebook. you usually find it through friend sharing. the more people who are on it sharing your content, the more people who will see it. it's a domino effect. so i think the ads worked well. we did do giveaways where people could sign up for our newsletter as well as social media. we contacted an author, and he actually retweeted a tweet that we had about the giveaway, and he has, like, millions of followers. like it's crazy how often he tweets and how many followers he has. and that was great. like, that's one instance of an author helping a small outlet like us and also, you know, giving away a copy of his book, maybe giving him more followers and just seeing him being involved was great. >> who's got a good story about something that was ineffective? come on. [laughter] you don't have to name any names. >> okay. >> come on, bethanne. [laughter] >> well, you know, one of the things that i do think is
ineffective is when you do something and people don't understand what it's all about, what the purpose is. and by found that with friday reads when i was running it as a marketing business. and people did not understand. they thought that they were being taken advantage of, that, you know, they were tweeting out of the goodness of their hearts and that-then, you know, being -- that this was then being mined and sent to publishers, and you didn't tell me. you know, i got some bad press for that. well, guess what? now there's a company called book vibe that just does that automatically. they collect everyone's tweets and facebook posts and doesn't matter whether you've told them anything or not, they're out there, and they're in silicon valley, and they do it a lot percent than i did. and so -- a lot better than i did. so it's really interesting, the shift in people thinking, well, i don't want to do this ask have someone use it to make money to everyone going online and thinking, oh, well, someone's using it to make money which is -- so that's another shift that's gone on in the past two
or three years, i think. people now just assume that when they go online, their day is being mined. -- their data is being mined. so there you go. that was something that i didn't -- it's working for someone else now. >> paved the way for someone else. good job. i want to get to the audience to some questions. i've got a little mini survey i want to do with you guys. so the last question before i sort of get to the audience, i'm just curious, you know, we're talking about connecting authors and readers, so i'm assuming everyone out here is a reader, we'll find out in a minute. i'm just wondering if you guys have any tips how readers can empower themselves. it can be simple, but what sort of tips would you say empowering readers to find the next book or author that they want to read, love and enjoy? >> well, i can give you the old school answer which is hand-selling books at the bookstore. we do have customers who come in who so trust the opinions of certain of our book item sellers that they ask -- booksellers
that they ask for them by name and will just stack up whatever books they recommend. so i think there really is still power in the old-fashioned way of selling books. >> i think it's actually a brilliant point. we don't call it hand selling, but i think everyone on panel does it. >> absolutely. >> whether taryn's hand selling a book to a producer at the today show, whether katie's hand selling it to every person on the twitter feed, it really is about hand selling because that's how you get to the buzz. someone mentioned earlier, kwr0r78 who it was now, but sometimes the free stuff is the best stuff to sell your book. people say no advertising is advertising. but i think hand selling is probably, i think, one of the key takeawayings i would say. you've got to get out there, and people have got to know about the book. whoever the evangelist is, publicist, social media versus -- >> well, and it really does begin with the publicist, because the way that the books get into the store, that they get into our rents program is
when we meet with the publyists and they're hand -- publicists and they're hand selling the books to us and we get excited about them. that's where it really all begins, i think. >> yeah. i would say definitely, you know, find something that gives you that experience that susan talked about. if you are not near an independent bookstore, you could get to know one online. but get to know a store that knows your taste. and maybe that means following a particular publication or a book blogger who really appreciates, you know, the kinds of books that you love and reach out. that's the beauty of social media and everything online, too, is you want, you know, you love cozy mysteries, you follow a blogger who writes really well about them, you can e-mail that blogger and say i need some more recommendations, and she might either give you a list or send you on to another blogger, you know, etc., etc. i am putting stuff up on washingtonian site all the time, and when i put up my top ten
book of each month, i say, you know, e-mail us or put a comment in there's something you don't see or that you'd like to see or that you'd hike to add, you know? so -- like to add. there are lots of ways to make your voice heard as a reader right now. >> that's great. >> i would agree not being afraid to use social media. you can follow certain authors, and you'll know when they have their next books coming out. a lot of niche publications that would write about, like you said, mystery normals, romance novels or any kind of specific thing. you could read the independent online, so that's always a good way. and i'm a journalist, i'm a newspaper person, so i always say, you know, support "the washington post" and the washingtonian and "the new york times" and read their book sections and their book news. >> absolutely. >> that's comment. so i'm going to put you on the spot out here now, so the one, i love the book industry, bun of the things -- but one of the things i don't like about it is
we do very little market research. by a show of hands, how many people out in the audience buy ten books or more a year? >> whoo hoo! [applause] >> easily i'd say 60-75% of the people. how many buy, you know, more than five? if you bought more than ten -- [laughter] okay. so, good, we've obviously got a very literate crowd out here. i put them on the spot, now i'm going to put you on the spot. by a show of hands, you have to pick one of the four choices. what is the main reason you buy a book? is it because word of mouth/personal recommendation is one, old school reviews/interview, online/social media or the fourth choice is other. so by a show of hands, you can only pick one. do you buy a book, are you most likely to buy a book because of word of mouth? interesting. a small number, i would say, of people.
reviews and interviews? >> oh,? oh, really? >> at least half. >> online/social media? >> we still have jobs. [laughter] >> something else i haven't mentioned. >> [inaudible] >> wandering the library. >> okay. it's nice for us to know. you know, you sit there in your home, in your office, in your cubicle, wherever you are, and you think you know what's going on out there, so it's sort of nice to know, a, people are buying books and, b, how you're learning about the books. we'd love to take some questions if the people in the audience have a question. please come up to the microphone if you're going to ask a question. yes, sir, fire away. >> could we talk about amazon reviews for a moment? >> you may. >> i pay a lot of attention to them. i've written a couple hundred myself. you know, they can be very positive, they can be very negative, very useful. i mean, they can be from brilliant to idiotic.
i get a lot of value out of them. would one of you like to comment or all of you about how they play into your scheme or whether you love 'em or hate 'em? >> sure. and i'll even expand it a little bit with. he's asking about amazon reviews and thousand they a-- how they affect buying. every product is now being reviewed online. how is it affecting your lives and what do you think about them as a consumer? >> i think if they're honest and they're bubbling up organically and then it is useful for a reader because if you get a cumulative mass and there's certain opinions expressed, it's useful. but i think a lot of times the downside of it is as you've said, you get a lot of crazy, ranting people out there. you get people who go on amazon and give a no stars because the book took too long to arrive,? you get a lot of -- it's not
very well filtered. and then at the other end of it if you have people who are very good at sort of promoting their own books, they can also, you know, gather enough force. so i think at some level they're useful, but it's, i think you really need to know what you're looking at when you're using that as a gauge of whether or not this is the book that you'd be interested in. >> well, and the problem with this for books -- and i think this is, my husband is a big online review fan. he loves yelp and wants to use it for everything now. and i keep telling him, and this is really important for books, is that there is a difference between someone recommending something and someone reviewing something. and this is one of my bug bears as a book reviewer. a proper review will tell you about something fully. it isn't necessarily saying just i loved it or i hated it. it's actually telling you something about the book that's
meaningful, and there's a takeaway in it. but amazon, it calls them all reviews. i wish they would call them amazon recommendations. that would be so much more accurate because that's really -- there are not, i'm sure, sir, that your, you know, are really well written, and there are people who write, who take the time to write reviews on amazon, but those are few and far between. >> yeah. i agree with everything you just said. [laughter] >> so i guess the general feeling is, chime in, take it with a grain of salt. like everything. >> yeah. >> you know, i sort of feel the if you want to buy a book, you don't necessarily not buy it because you read a bad review. i wouldn't buy everything you see or not buy it because you got bad reviews. it's one piece i sort of describe as, it's one quiver -- one arrow in your quiver of reasons to and not to buy a book. >> right. well, and clearly, it has a lot of power. i mean, when i go on yelp and
see, you know, a lot of or stars, i filter that differently because that's not the business i'm in. .. with the increasing importance of -- that's okay, sweetie, of rider self-promotion how is important is it to align yourself with a large well-known publishing house or a specialty, you know, if you are riding held
to buy children's books or a dry children's books should you be looking to do that. i am wondering importance of that. >> well, i mean, the thing that large publisher can do for you is get your book into bookstores and get out of the media and distributed everywhere that you wanted to be distributed. that does not necessarily mean that it will all smedley be more successful than the self published or small press book that an author knows how to do, if the author can do the same thing for him or herself, but, you know, you are starting, you have a running start. again, social media, the stigma no longer tests to sell publishing the way it had been back in the days of when it was called vanity press now it's more just entrepreneurial publishing, certainly i have
seen cases of self published authors to have done very well. there are a lot of reasons to just be wanting to have the freedom to do what you want to do and not be relied on the system. i actually think that a lot of authors to decide that they want to go the sell publishing grew don't realize how much is done at a major publishing house and how much that all cost. what i am encouraged by seeing now is something i have written a little bit about. a friend who is a publicist is calling cracked publishing which is basically small presses springing up around an author, but they have all the things that i necessary to make a book a really good book, adding, copyediting, cover design, marketing, publicity, all that sort of thing.
it's being done on a microbrew, the level. the term kraft publishing. i think that that has a lot of potential to get away from the vanity of publishing and to be more about people. a think if we have written, such pros that it deserves to be up there with no filter, you probably are really meant to be an author. we want to have other people's eyes on my work desperately because we know that there are things that can be changed and made better. i think that is a really important message to get across, >> any other questions of there? any of you on the panel have any sort of additional stock, last word? i mean, are you recommending your jobs? publicist, online media guru, reviewer. >> absolutely. my daughter just graduated from
college. what is she going to do? go in turn for a literary agent in d.c. someone on line said, you really are a bad mother. you are getting her into publishing. i thought, well, you know, cannot help it. we love what we do. chris said earlier when i interviewed him, you don't go into publishing to get rich. you go in it for love. that is why we are all here. >> i would say, feel free to volunteer if you are interested. i mean, it is a lot of fun and something i do because i love it. the independent as always looking for volunteers. there are signs all over the internet to what people will write and help promote and all that. if you're ever interested and just want to do it on the side, it is something that you should think about. >> very, very well said. we have established of the death of a book is greatly exaggerated fears. want to thank the panelists. we have learned a lot from them about how they work and connect readers. i also wanted thank you because we learned from u.s. well.
me. >> c-span2 providing live coverage of the u.s. senate floor proceedings and keep public policy events and every weekend book tv now for 15 years the only television network devoted to nonfiction books and authors. c-span2, created by the cable-tv industry and brought to you as a public service by your local cable or satellite provider. watch as and hd, like us some facebook will follow us on twitter. >> book tv covers hundreds of of the programs throughout the country all year long. here is a look at some of the books we will be attending this week.
there was slavery, and it was really bad. and then and bram lincoln came along and freed the slaves. [laughter] and then black folks kind of disappeared until 1955 when rosa parks -- [laughter] -- rosa parks said no thank you, i will keep my seat, called the police. >> independently. >> yak. there's a lot of stuff that goes on in there, and one of the things i wanted to do was to capture some of that. you see some time some of the movie's about slavery or some of the older depictions of slavery or someone comes along. they throw down the lows and are dancing. that is not actually what happened. freedom was a very imaginative -- you have been around for your entire life. you are 30 years old, 45, 50 years old and someone has owned your entire life. you have not gone anywhere without that person's permission , not down -- you
know, virtually not even thought almost without that person's permission and suddenly somebody says well, all of that is gone. you are free. for some that is liberating and wonderful thing. for some it is a frightening thing. that is a thing where you have to think. for most of the slaves there was this thing that they had to sit together and study on it to use their language and define what it meant to be free. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. [inaudible conversations] >> the gaithersburg book festival on the city of grounds in maryland will continue in a couple of minutes. >> book tv is on facebook.
like us to an attractive book tv guests and yours, watch videos, get up-to-date information on events. facebook.com/booktv. >> as they move into the middle-class they adopt middle-class values, and he is really upset by this. in the late 1950's you see him writing in his journal more and more and writing letters as saying, you know, the way that this is going this is not going in the direction that i want. he really believed that it was important to empower people and for them to have a sense of dignity and not live in poverty and be comfortable, but not to forget where they came from and to help people who were still living in poverty and to help the cause. and that is a lot of the reason why he would not leave the cso and starts out on his own to
organize farm workers. i think that that really strong feeling that i have empowered these people and now they are using that power to -- toward goals that i don't support is becoming very significant later on when you try to understand some of the decisions that he made and the degree to which she wanted to maintain control because he never wanted to be in that situation again. and he talked about that quite a lot. so later on the cso was just a organization. once he is running a labor union a lot of people support labor unions because they want to make more money and they want better conditions and not everyone did joins a labor union because they believe in macau sa and want to better the lives of other people and sacrifice. so he felt very strongly that you needed to educate workers in order to share this philosophy
>> if you go back and looked at coolidge, he was a conservative hero. his tax rate was our gold standard tax rate that we saw in the video. 25 percent was what he got the top rate down to. he fought like crazy. it started with wilson in the 70's. that was an epic battle. when you go look at what all the socialists said about collision washington, how cold the was, he would not meet with them, they were poorly also from families that endorsed different policies. essentially roosevelt longworth his father had a different model, let's get them, go active bully pulpit president. and here was college prissy and cold and not giving out favors. he looked as though he had been weaned on a pickle. coolidge was cultural, from new england. farmers don't talk a lot or raise their arms about because
it, kick them. you know, if you have -- and it was temperamental. a shy person. it also had a political purpose. he knew that if he did not talk a lot people would stop talking. of course the president or political leader is constantly bombarded with requests. his silence was his way of not giving in to special interests. he articulated that quite explicitly. >> author and columnist will take your calls coming in miles, and treats on taxes, depression-era presidents and current fiscal policy. in debt live for three hours sundays in first at noon eastern on c-span2 book tv. >> our last event of the day from the 2014 gaithersburg with festival. the founder of jezebel and
gaithersburg is a vibrant and diverse city that celebrates and supports the arts and humanities we are pleased to bring you this fabulous event and would like to thank our -- the support of our sponsors and volunteers. we say thanks. a few announcements. consider -- and silence all your devices. surveys are available here and on our website. by submitting a survey you will be entered in a drawing for cobol the reader. signing books immediately after this presentation, and copies of the books are on sale. today we're are coming and homes, founder of the website jezebel and conversation with columnist and novelist john mess tent. john has written for many media outlets including the new york times. his novel this is your captain
speaking as i high-speed satirical commentary about celebrity obsession and our corporate america has learned to capitalize on a. we asked john to speak to an imperial rewrote a satire about 24 hours a day seven days a week media the 24 hour and seven day a week media. founded the website and 2007 dug deep into our range of nitty gritty subjects that are covered by today's media. this includes everything from conversations about rape on college campuses to scathing criticism on equal pay legislation to the pressing need to know about beyonce is personal life and fashion choices. the editors and columnists said jezebel have shattered the tiny glass ball that used to surround the label feminist media.
they have no trouble calling themselves ladies well they put the magnifying glass and the way women are portrayed, the reality of what women deal with and how women view themselves. the commentary is sometimes irreverent, sometimes heartbreaking, but all is poignant. a mouthpiece for a generation of women and men use the open discussion on an eclectic array of subjects, normal, intelligent, multidimensional people. the idea is that the voices speaking to us through the media should reflect that the reid and and her coeditors to put together a collection of those voices in a new book called the book of jezebel, and illustrated encyclopedia of lady things. it is not a reprinting of website posts, but an original cultural review in alphabetical order on the state of women's lives today. please welcome the founder of the website jezebel, the editor of the book of jezebel has
interviewed by john [applause] >> thank you. a pleasure to be here and a pleasure to be with a fellow new york writer. talking about the book of jezebel, we cannot talk about this until we talk about the website. now, jezebel is no longer working there. this month actually celebrates the seven the anniversary. talk to us a little bit about why you started this website and what you hope to achieve. >> i think i have forgotten that it was going to be seven years this month, but you're right. normally i remember this. counting down the days, but i forgot a little bit. to answer your question, why i created it, well, i was asked to start a site for the parent company that was a woman's website.
celebrity and sex and fashion. i worked for a number of women's magazines throughout my career up until that point. this was in 2006 that i started talking about starting a site. i had been working in magazine since i graduated from college in 1995. a little over a decade. and also worked a number of celebrity magazines and had never really enjoyed working at either celebrity magazines a women's magazines. it was a way for me to make a living but it was not the sort of writing or editing that got me excited. in fact it often got me angry because it was quite patronizing to -- these magazines were quite patronizing to the readers, most for female. they tended to have of very narrow definition of what it meant to be female, and they assumed that women's lives revolved around a few things, namely shopping, the acquisition of some eight, mail, dieting,
make up, adds that trip. and gossip. and that is not to say that there are members of -- are women who are interested in those things, but we are a lot more complex than the magazine's that i was working for giving us credit for. and so when i was asked to start a website that would cover these topics, because they're known for publishing a site that kind of punches up that institutions, for example, tending to you after espn quite a bit. gizmo has a history of going after apple. the sites are always somewhat scrappy. and they pride themselves on telling the truth in many ways about industries that had been
kind of glossed over. it felt like it would be a perfect opportunity for me to do it woman's website that would go after women's magazines that i had worked for, but also to of presents an idea of what it meant to be a woman that was more complex and diverse and more reflective of 21st century america. another complaint of mind with regard to a lot of these magazines. they tended to be overwhelmingly -- they tended to feature overwhelmingly white, very thin 22 ewald's. none of the women -- well, far away from being 22, but most of the alumni do did not fit that description. much more diverse ethnically and in terms of the sexual orientation in the media was representing. so it felt like the perfect kind of fit to do a site that would go after women's magazines. in no way its own women's
magazine, the one that i would love to have read. i would not call it a woman's magazine. posting 50, 60 things a day. turnover with regard to this sort of stuff we were putting a bomb line. we were all so aggravating things that appear elsewhere. we did do original stuff, but for the most part we were reacting to and commenting on an pointing out things in a marked traditional mainstream media and the ways in which mainstream media talked about women, bought about one, critiqued women. have fun doing a very spirited but also serious site. >> this is from the book of jezebel. this entry is cosmopolitan. this is a magazine. pioneering but extremely frustrating american women's magazine that began advocating for female sexual freedom and the late 1950's under editor in
chief. but then devolve into recycled sex advice on the ever--- fashion spread and pernod articles that tell your man may be cheating if he talks too much, does not talk enough, sleeps on this side, calls a certain way to more breeds. so that is kind of the voice of jezebel that anna is responsible for, that voice. you brought up an interesting point. putting at 50 to 60 pieces a day a lot of people that start. their dream job is to start a website, start a block. but then when they started or they started and they find it successful, talk a little bit about what that is like. the dream job that would also be a huge grind. >> the job was not my gene -- dream job. at the time i agreed to do it i worked for in style magazine which was not one of the women's magazines. it was pretty straightforward. it was not really giving diet
tips or instructing its readers on how to keep a man by being good in bed. here is a celebrity's house. here are some outfits for spring, stuff that i did not really find. my dream was not to start a blocked. this is 2006. none of my friends who worked in media were working on the web. they were all working in magazines. i started working in magazines off. a consumer of the internet, read blocks, i used the internet to buy things, but things on amazon and would read the new york times online in the dow was not someone who saw it as a career opportunity. a love that was because websites or not paying very well. i was not making a lot of money, but i certainly did not want to be making, you know, $18,000 a year slaving my off on a blogger like some of the bloggers i heard were doing. a lot of them were allowed him
to then me. it fell into my lap. and when i was hired to do the side and was told that my salary was going to be matched. so that changed everything. i think that was about when, you know, blog and web sites and -- i hate to use those terms. i think they can be interchangeable, that is, you know, media companies started investing more money in the internet and paying their employees fair rates. i just want to make up -- i had not really dream of working on the web. you know, once the site launched in may 2007 we had '06 months to work on it, applauded out and planted out. i hired two people. i wanted it to be successful,
but i think i was taken aback by how quickly -- how strong their response to it was and how quickly that came. within two months there were people on the site, readers store in the comments section referring to themselves as jesse's which made me very uncomfortable because i had not predicted that this would happen. i was -- i don't want to say i was flattered, but i was excited at their loyalty and devotion. i was also somewhat terrified because i has not expected that there would be such an immediate embrace of the side and will we redoing. and had no clue as to whether it would work out. the fact is that the site like it had not existed before. there were signs that took a critical view of pop culture and gender politics, but they tended to be labors of love.
there were not being funded by companies, not for profit, not -- the women who worked on them or not being compensated very much, if at all. so i did not really have a model other than what i wanted his to see to be a lot of my frustrations built up to that point. i did not know if it would succeed. an early version. on the one hand i was grateful for his honesty. i felt like we had a lot to prove but we had a lot to lose because i had no indication that it was going to be successful.
so website it looks like in style. i put it on the web. i would have felt confident that there would be a for that. to kind of go after that sort of content or to talk about politics, whether gender politics from a racial politics, an electoral politics and the talk about the length and with such consistency, i was not sure there would be a big enough reaction. >> it has grown. the is wrong. abcatoo deasy that? >> it's almost expected.
>> it would have lost independent. a stable of sites that were beloved and fairly well known. we were able to at times do content on jezebel that would then be riposted on sister wore brother sites when it related to the sort of content that they published. and so that would bring in at or at least expose us whole other to what we were doing. and so i do think that if we had not been part of the media network we would have had a harder time building an audience that quickly. i could be wrong, though. maybe it was that we were the first to use something in a particular space or at that level. it is hard for me to remember exactly the audience numbers from back then and how they grew . i a good, you know, print out
to complacency. and i'm not saying it should have. i think we were very competitive, and there started to be sites that were popping up within about a year, year and a half that were very obviously meant to compete with jezebel and that made me feel even more competitive. and, again, these are not, i'm not making judgments. these are not good or bad things, but there was never a moment when i sat back and thought, wow, we're successful, and i can relax. or felt that -- i think it was only in retrospect, i think it was after i stopped running the site that i was able to look back and maybe enjoy some of the narrative that had been playing out for three-plus years. >> and not all the feedback was positive. so you guys have been, the writers have been called everything from lesbian shit asses to hijackers of the feminist movement. i'm going to read -- this is a quote from a review in the daily
caller called "angry ladies of jezebel." this is about the book. when reading the book of jezebel, you are confronted not just with humor, but deep, deep rage. not anger, rage. it goes much deeper than politics, although this is where this rage finds its expression. that's okay. >> pollen. >> pollen, yeah. what's your reaction? why are you so angry, and why are you so full of rage, anna? [laughter] >> i love that review so much. i really do. it was, i actually told jon on the phone before this event that if you'd asked me to write a review of the book by the daily caller, like a parody of what they would write, that would be it. [laughter] so when it came out, you know, i started sending it to all of the other writers in the book and the staffers and my friends, because it was so funny. it was predictable.
women who are full of rage or i think there's something in his review about daddy issues. >> yeah. it goes for a long -- [laughter] >> i mean -- >> i just read a little bit. it gets into it. >> it's very predictable, you know? i wonder whether the writer of that review wasn't having some fun in some way, just kind of hitting all the notes you'd think he'd hit when talking about women of opinions. who he, obviously, doesn't like. but it's funny that he would describe the book that way because i think the book is very pointed and very upon nateed just like the -- opinionated just like the site was. there are definitely things for women and men to be irritated, frustrated, outraged about. and some of those are, you know, there are topics in the book that definitely touch on some of those things. but i wouldn't, you know, like my reaction to that review is that he's kind of selectively reading it or -- i mean, i think he did say it was funny.
>> he complimented it. it was a backhanded compliment. >> yeah, that's okay. >> he said it's intelligence, but they're so angry. >> i don't know that i would describe the "they," meaning the staffers on the site and the writers of the book, as being angry. i would describe, i would say a lot of us are probably frustrated by the lack of discussion up until very recently about issues like pay equity, the assault on abortion rights. i mean, you know, i can tick off a list of things. but, yeah. i guess i also kind of reject the idea that there's something wrong with being angry, and i don't think that anger's a permanent state. i think you can be irritated and frustrated and angry about things but also not live your life in which you're walking around curled up into a ball of fury, which is what i think he was kind of accusing us of. so i'm not really sure how else
to respond to that, because it was a somewhat predictable sort of review, and i was kind of tickled by it. also we've heard that stuff so many times before that it doesn't bother -- >> yeah, of course. >> you know? >> i mean, my perspective of -- if you haven't read book, my perspective of it is i didn't know if it was going to be for me, but i found myself laughing through a lot of it. it's almost an encyclopedia of pop culture with an edge. and i wouldn't say rage, i would say it has an edge to it because you're talking about issues that are dear to everyone's heart, and you have a very pointed, you know, you have a point of view that you're expressing. >> just, you know, part of the point of the site or what i wanted to do was to use pop culture as a entry point to talk about gender politics. because i was born in 1973, so i was an adolescent in the '80s, and certainly pop culture was important in the '80s.
we all watched john hughes movies, but it didn't seem to have as much power over me and my peers as celebrity and pop culture do today. and i do think that a lot of celebrity culture is very disturbing in the messages that it sends to young women. again, i didn't grow up ignorant of the fact that young women are expected to be so many things to so many different people and that in many ways sometimes their sexuality is valued above all else. but i feel that it got, it became a somewhat insane level in the early part of the 21st century. and it was very disturbing to me to think of 14-year-olds whose only content and only content that they were subsisting on was celebrity gossip that reveled in pointing out cellulite, you
know, on a 40-year-old actress. so in a way we could attract young women as readers with celebrity news or discussion, but in a way that wasn't denigrating of females. but also in a way that would kind of expose them to media literacy and gender politics. then we could have some substantive discussions about superficial things. but also just have, you know, serious discussions about sub instant i things as well -- substantive things as well. these things could coexist. so that's what we were trying to do with the site, and i think it's what you see in books a well. i don't know that i'd call it a pop culture book. i guess i feel there's lots of women's history in there too. >> there is a lot -- i shouldn't have -- >> i haven't actually counted up number of entries in the book that fit into one category
versus another. i think pop culture is definitely the driving force behind the book, i think it's definitely the driving force behind the site. >> well, talking about that, when you're trying to put together the book of jezebel, how do you decide as the editor, how are you deciding what goes and what stays? because there's so many varied things, and one of the things i admired about the editing process is that you're linking, you're linking something like the movie "dirty dancing" to ayn rand. and how you do that is, it's really interesting because i actually, you know, as you're reading through this stuff, i had to google what the fountainhead had to do with "dirty dancing," there was a connection, but i wouldn't have known about that. >> well, i can't take credit for that. i oversaw the book, and i -- but the individual writers of those entries were, you know, they share a sensibility with me, but their sensibility is also very independent of mine. i just happened to admire their sensibility. and so, for example, that
entry -- which i believe was written by a former staffer -- she was very obsessed with the film "dirty dancing" and its commentary about, you know, all sorts of things, class, race, abortion, politics, and there's a scene in the book in which one of the sharkier characters is toting around an ayn rand book. so, you know -- >> [inaudible] >> yeah. it was the collective, it was the collective intelligence and wisdom of the writers of the book and on the site who brought owl those little nuggets in there. i mean, certainly i asked them to not just write entries that would sound like they'd been pulled off wikipedia, you know? somewhat dry and overarching. but that had a point of view. but, yeah, i can't take credit for, like, those little gems so much as i'd like. a lot of that was really the brilliance of individual writers. >> now, you don't, i describe
this as a pop culture book, and you corrected me, you know? it's, but it's, you know, it's -- the me, a coffee table book, something that i would keep out and look at similar to like what "the daily show" has done. they have books -- >> yeah. same publisher. >> and also mcsweeny's does this, and i collect all of this stuff. and i keep them around. and it's not something i would sit down and necessarily read the way i would read a novel, but i would keep it around and read it. how do you describe this book? >> i just describe it as a kind of very opinionated reference book. if -- opinionated and noncomprehensive reference book because it doesn't cover everything. and, actually, that goes back to your earlier question. how we decided what was going to go in the book was really, it was, it wasn't a particularly, it wasn't a particularly great way to go about it, but it was really the only way i knew how to go about it because i'd never
edited an encyclopedia-type book before. so what i did was make a list of people and things and ideas that should be in the book. i put them in alphabetical order, and i asked all the writers who were going to be working on the book to tell me what i might be missing in that list, and they suggested things. and then i read the dictionary, literally opened the dictionary and went through it to make sure we weren't missing words or ideas. but we missed a lot of things. in fact, after the book came out i was the recipient of me mails. some of them -- many e-mails. some of them mildly annoyed, most of them friendly just asking why this wasn't in the book, why that wasn't in the book. there were readers that were confused as to why taylor swift wasn't in the book. and this is where my biases begin to show, because taylor swift is not someone who i pay a lot of attention to. even though i know she's a big star. at the time the book was being written and edited, she was less of a big star. she was still a star, but she
just wasn't really on my radar that much. and i didn't think that she needed to be included in the book. but, you know, there are readers who felt differently. so a lot of the pop culture you find in the book really feels somewhat specific to, i'd say, an age rage of between mid 20s to early 40s. certainly, there are john hughes movies references in there, there's also a reference to "clueless," but a lot of the pop culture, i think if you look at it, it does seem very firmly rooted in the nostalgia of a certain generation. women who are older than me, you know, would probably read the book and wonder why there aren't certain movies that were so informal or so important to their development and their, and the fond memories they carry of adolescence. so it's a biased book in that it's, you know, from certain
women and the certain point of view that they carry. but to go back to the other question about -- i see it as a coffee table book, i see it as the sort of book, someone told me that she keeps it in her bathroom which i didn't find to be insulting at all because it's the sort of book that you flip through, you don't read it front to back, although my sister did. [laughter] >> i did. i read it front to back. >> you did read it front to back? i never thought anyone would actually do that. i figured they would kind of browse -- >> that's how i think. >> but, yeah, a couple of people have read it from beginning to end. and, you know, ideally there'll be another edition of it someday that, in which the entries that we've overlooked are put in there. and then there are also people or things that happened as the book was in production that couldn't make it in the book that now seem like kind of obvious choices, for example, wendy davis who's now running for governor of texas. you know, her filibuster on the
state senate floor happened when this book was already being copy edited, but she seems like she would be a natural fit into the book in terms of what she did and what she's doing currently. so, you know, unlike a blog which you can update whenever you need to, a book is really a more the sixth object, and that can be somewhat frustrating when you want to keep up with the times. >> yeah. we talked a little bit about there's a lot of references to movies and tv. a couple shows that i haven't thought about about in a long time are rhoda and murphy brown. even cheers is something i was brought up on. these are all movies and tv with strong female leads. but as i'm thinking more about movies, what about, you know, you took a web -- you took a blog, and you turned it into a book. what about taking a book and turning it into a movie or a tv series? >> this book, you mean?
>> this book, yeah. >> someone else asked me that. i'm not sure how that would work, honestly. but, you know, there have been plenty of other books that you can't imagine being turned into films like "what to expect when you're expecting," you know? i think the only reason -- i haven't seen the movie, so maybe it's really -- >> is it out? is that movie out. >> >> oh, yeah, it's been out for, like, a year and a half. maybe it's very close to the pregnancy guide. i doubt that it does. but it was a brand name, and i'm sure that's part of why the producers bought the rights to it. u%-f book would be turned into a film. >> it's almost like sex and the city with rage. [laughter] but i would almost see it as it would have to follow the development of a character, being you, and starting this blog. >> ah. yeah, okay. well, maybe you should write the script for it --
[laughter] >> i think i just got offered a job. >> i think you did. i kind of blanch at that idea of it being sex and the city like only because sex and the city -- which i thought was a fairly fun show -- >> much different. >> was not realistic. >> right. >> in any way, shape or form. >> and you get to that in here. >> yeah. it may have been realistic to the lives of 700 women who live in manhattan, but that's about it. and in terms of, you know, the whole world that they inhabit which just doesn't reflect reality. and, yeah, there's a somewhat critical entry in the book abour the show which is more of, again, it's more of a fantasy than anything. so, yeah, i wouldn't -- if anyone ever compares the site or the book to sex and the city in any way, i -- >> well, i would think it would be almost the way the antithesis of can cosmopolitan magazine, the antithesis of sex ask the city. >> okay. but the funny thing about cosmo,
and actually i was going to say this when you brought it up earlier, cosmopolitan, as have a number of women's magazines, have become much better over the past couple of of years. i think women's web sites have really challenged them in terms of their relevancy. cosmo, for example, has become much more explicitly feminist. they just hired a writer and reporter who came from the feminist blogosphere as one of their senior writers. and so that entry about cosmo's in the book and all of the kind of pot shots that we took at cosmo on the site in the early years we could never, we could merv do those now because -- never do those now because it really has gotten much better. the editors or the publishers or a combination of the above have seen by example of women's web sites like jezebel and many others that women don't really need 20 sex tips for, you know,
how to get -- yeah. i just, they, they now see that they can appeal to a broader, more diverse range of women with a broad arer, more diverse range of interests beyond diet tips and sex tips. >> there's an entry in the book for yun -- countryniling gus which just has one word. [laughter] >> yeah, we didn't really want to be publishing, at least i didn't want to be publishing advice. i felt that -- which was a mainstay of a lot of women's magazines. and having worked at women's magazines and written stories about sex and relationships and not, you know, i wasn't someone who knew a lot about sex and relationships, i mean, i was well aware of how bogus, bunk a lot of the advice in women's magazines was, so i didn't want to be repeating that on the site. i just didn't think that we had anything of value to say on that front. since we were all figuring out
life as well. we did have one advice column, but it was a fake advice column, and it was called pot psychology. >> oh, yeah. videos, right? >> the yeah. the conceit was that the two stars of the series, one of them was a writer on the site and one of them was her best friend, were answering reader advice questions on video while stoned. now, they were not smoking pot on camera, so only they know whether they actually were stoned around, but it was try -- obviously, but it was trying to make fun of taking advice from anybody else, because why would you want to take advice from a bunch of cheetos-eating potheads? and it was a very successful video series and was very funny because they were very funny. and, in fact, a book based on that feature came out about a year before this one did. so that was actually, that was actually the first jezebel book. but it was very much about that
conceit of giving advice while inebriated and why no one should really take anyone's advice. >> nice. you want to read a little bit? >> from the book? >> yes. >> sure. do you have entries you want me to read? i'd be happy to. >> i went through and found some entries that i think kind of give the perspective of jezebel and also the voice that you got, that you and the writers developed both on the web site and also in this book that i think makes it so edgy. >> okay. >> so the first one we're going to start with religion is the vatican. page 273. >> some of these i read aloud before, and some of them i haven't. so bear with me, because i -- there were so many entries in this book that i've forgotten a lot of them. the vatican. governing body of the catholic church that resides in a walled, landlocked city-state, population 800, ruled by a spiritual authority who's secretly elected on ballots that
are burned into white smoke, wears gold shield hats, travels in a glass case on the back of a mercedes benz suv and decrees whether billions of women should be forced to carry women against their will. if gay prostitutes should die of aids, how to resolve the energy crisis, etc. see, that would piss a lot of people off. [laughter] >> well, the next one will too then. page 274, the virgin mary. >> why are are you doing all the religion ones? [laughter] >> i liked the religion. >> okay. i'm really going to get it for this. >> virgin mary. physical mother of jesus christ and proud winner of the miss impossible female standards of virtue contest. for the past 2,000 years running. according to the catholic church, mary of nazareth was a virgin when god placed a fetus in her uterus. was accused of promiscuity, most notably by her husband, joseph, after she showed up pregnant. the point being, if even the virgin mary got slut shamed,
there's no way you're getting through life without receiving some of the same, sorry. [laughter] >> and the next one is page 242. this is jezebel takes on the secret series, the series of books called "the secret." and i've never really heard, you know, i've never really heard this perspective, actually, but i thought it was kind of an interesting take. [laughter] >> the secret. creepy, worthless enterprise run by charlatans trying to use the law of attraction to attract scholars to their finish dollars to their pockets. first gained notice as a 2006 self-help book, suggested that if you had fought hard enough about a lamborghini and acted like you had one, that a lamborghini would literally appear in your garage. which means people could change their lives, but they just don't want it enough. haha, suck it, poors. the author of the secret once implied that natural disaster
victims are losers who could save themselves if they knew how to attract rescuers. ignore, ignore, ignore. >> nice. feminism, page 99. >> he's picking all the ones i've never read aloud before. feminism. according to merriam-webster, one, the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes. two with, organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests. period. that should be it. in reality, the word feminism and the mood it represents has a bunch of con no nations. the 1970s stereotype of the man-hating bra burner persists today even though it was always bull. well, not always the hairy legs, but, seriously, that's what we're going to get hung up on? yet legitimate criticism of second wave -- chiefly that it centers on white, straight,
middle class women at the expense of everybody else still goes ignored all too often. >> and fashion week, page 96. >> how come you picked these? i'm curious. >> you read and then i'll -- >> okay, okay. fashion week. semiannual trade show for the garment industry that currently takes place over four successive weeks in new york city, london, milan and paris. and throughout the year in other cities. fashion week is probably more exciting than spending a week at the dmv, although the lines are just about as long, and the people behind the desks just as skeptical. but only because there's often free champagne and very expensive drugs. basically exists so that designers can display their new seasonal collections to an invite-only crowd; critics and reporters, runway photographers, buyers for major retailers, event sponsors and their closet -- closest celebrity friends -- [laughter] when they pay to show up. seating is based on a guest's
position in the industry's archaic, yet constantly shifting pecking order. dozens of shows take place each day. new york fashion week, for example, plays host to over 900 shows, and every -- 300 showses, and every night there are parties where the same celebrities step and repeat and drink cocktails with the sponsor's logo pacing outwards like -- facing outwards. it sounds horrible, isn't it? it kind of is. and i used to go to fashion week shows a long time ago for a job i had. >> i picked those because, you know, the secret and fashion week are big topics in the magazines that, you know, your web site is kind of a different brand. >> uh-huh. >> and i thought that they were very unique takes on those topics. >> yes. yes, yes. >> there's another unique one in there that they actually talk about mrs. claus. and it's kind of, it's just an interesting thing to me because it sort of gave a new face on a
holiday that is predominantly male, you know? that santa claus rides in and saves the day, but nobody really ever talks about mrs. claus. >> what are your thought on that? >> on mrs. claus? >> yeah. [laughter] >> i can read the industry. it might be under claus, mrs. . >> it's right here. >> all right, here it is. it's a short one. long-suffering wife of a man who takes all the credit. wasn't even featured in the movies until the 1960s. we picture her at night kicking away anxious elves and listening to tammy wynette. [laughter] >> i like that. >> i like her. >> now, i mean, do you think that there's, are there more, you know, folk tales or myths in our culture that you would have a different perspective of or the jezebel january voice would kind of look at differently? >> yes, although i can't think of any off the top of my head. but i, you know, part of what we
wanted to do when we talked about culture whether it was contemporary culture or ancient history or religion or really anything was to look at it critically which isn't to say to be critical in a negative way, but to look at the gender politics of it. so even santa claus is not immune to that. i'm not even sure who wrote that industry, and i feel like it was probably one of those entries that was more, more interstitial to provide some breathing room and some humor between more serious entries. i don't really think that anyone's trying to take christmas away from santa claus, just in case -- [laughter] >> and, you know, you did mention this, but there is a lot of women's history and a lot of very serious entries. the ones that i brought up are kind of, you know, shorter ones that are easy to read and easy to joke about and have fun with. but that brings us into your
writing. >> uh-huh. >> and what you're doing now and what you're, where your life as a writer has expanded. a lot of what you do online has nothing to do with what's in this book or it's just a different, different tone, and it's a lot more essay writing and, you know, really talking about gender politics. >> yeah. the thing about the book and i think the thing about the site as well when i ran it was that i was good at directing the writers and finding good talent and nurturing them, but i don't know that i could have done what they were doing. ..
i work dreary hard in a different way than they did, but that was not the sort of writing a am able to do. i cannot just have an opinion expressed it. well, not in writing. so from the writing is something that's is of much slower process. and i don't have a problem with the word blogger. use in the pejorative. i was not actually given that sort of heavy lifting in that
particular way. in the same thing with the book. the book, again, we had -- we had about two years to do it, but we have some breathing room. i was not as talented at riding injuries in this book as a lot of the writer's work in terms of distilling things down to their essence in keeping facts and humor and so on and so forth. i think i am much better to follow would not say long form wire, but when i went to weigh in on something after think that i have something unique to say about it, especially in the kind of hyper reactive internet world the we are now. something happening. that is not something that i can do. >> something that we should have. >> i don't know that i have an opinion about it. hello, i personally find it tiring and nothing that it will
continue at the level that is right now. i think a lot of people is finding it tiring. even when i am fascinated by story, for example, last week, the dismissal of joe abrams from the time at this point i read, i don't know, 12 to 15 pieces on it. i still find the story fascinating. i don't think i quite understand everything that went on. i don't need to hear another five peoples take on one of all means. i feel like we're in this time right now off perpetual op-ed or hastily written of bed. i am as a writer not so much interested in executing hastily written op-eds. when i write of eds are essays are criticisms i like to take a little time with them which is to say maybe a couple of days
which seems like an eternity in the media economy that we are in right now. and i think that even though oftentimes i wish i was a faster rider, i would get a lot more done if i could white stuff out. you know, a lot of this because i am a bit older than some of the writers that i was ever seen . came of age in a more -- in an era that had to hire metabolism for this sort of stuff. it is easier for them than it is for me. 19951 weekly magazine things like a crazy place to work that because it was so busy. and that did work. i could never have imagined blancs, which i guess being my dream job, it was a great job.
i wish i could have predicted the internet. i would have bought facebook stock for something. >> talk about some of the writers you admire, riders that the doing the same thing that you're doing. >> i tend to pay attention to theme no more than mail because it was my job for a long time. just the opposite. this is non the list of people in any particular order. an hour from now will be mad at myself. roxanne day here just that a novel, out last tuesday or the tuesday before, a book of essays which i read, which is great. and free men who contributed to this book.
the list of women in the book are in many ways the list of writers that everybody likes. one of the main riders on the box who is finishing her own book right now. i tend to be attracted to riders sure to a little bit of water want to do with the site. i think we did in many ways just to talk about culture and a critical way. not negatively, but sometimes negatively. well, who represents voices that have been kind of historical marginalized whether it is because they are gay women, women of color, those of the sort of writers i am interested in reading. i am not particularly interested
in reading the musings of david brooks. you know, i feel like that has been played out. i am really kind of excited by the way of the internet has given platforms to writers of the don't think we would have heard from necessarily of this was ten years ago. she writes for the new yorker. doing hilarious stuff on twitter. it is not always in the pages of a magazine and newspaper. often times it is on people's tumbler's or twitter those are some, but if you look at the list of writers.
>> we have about ten minutes left. if anyone has a question in the audience. we just have to use the microphone in the back to be blood on listening. could you use the microphone. >> the writing and florence. >> the mainstream sources the people listening to to cover the issues. >> sometimes i get the sense that it has. i would not say my riding, but
the of times in my get the sense that something has been happening. i have no proof of that. i am seeing conversations reflected on television, cable news shows and also scripted narratives, half-hour's accounts . there seems to have been a sort of opening up the find very exciting. i don't know that it has anything -- i can't prove it has anything to do with sites like jezebel but i definitely see newspapers as rob.
they came from blocking. extremely talented and have gone much deserved attention but not get regular gigs in more traditional places. then might it asks to read op-eds of the new york times. rights and politics whereas 15 years ago she would have been writing about the number of subjects i have already gone over. i can't prove it. i am always hesitant when i get asked that question. i don't know that i can draw the direct line. >> knowing the we are here in gaithersburg more diversity of
content. another shot i had was, you did this for thinking perspective of the women's views at a time when we were not really getting the kind of attention we need. now i kind of feel that there are our group of men out there who are playing more the roles of the homemaker child-rearing men out there who may be are not getting the focus from the male writers. they are not fitting the stereotype of the typical male. could you see yourself or, you know, have you heard people driving to try and reach? >> i guess i have seen a
somewhat anemic at times at bat in different places. it is our something of i would take down because i would feel -- i would not feel informed enough or interested enough. that is not to say that those are not legitimate issues. i followed things that make me passionate. i feel like i know something about. did i run a set for man? no. a lot of sites that i would describe. it is not something i think i would be able to execute well.
>> i may have missed what you are doing now. did i? >> since i left i have been free-lance writing. working on the buck. freelance. i read a column for the new york times book review which comes out once a month or so about whatever subject the want to provide me. it is always a challenge because sometimes i have to find something that i think is worth sharing with the world and writing. for the most part i am freelancing and try to the side of a want to start another website at some point which would not be anything like jezebel. i feel like i did that already. >> any other question? >> they qb here. the was sworn in the 50's.
my adolescence was a little earlier than yours, but what i recall, when i talked to younger co-workers they have no clue that when i'm going to school, if the girls check typing. the board took typing you is obviously one of those down of that how you got a job was read the classified ads. the classified ads for employment turmoil when his job and man's job. there were no engineering positions in the women's job pages. and they have no idea this has happened. i was surprised the feminist movement, the younger ones, that is not for me. i don't agree with that. what we need to do to make sure we understand the history and to
you think that is something that should be brought up? i think they're missing a lot when they don't realize what it was like before and god forbid could be again. >> i think that there are more to embrace feminism than you think there are. certainly i hear young women like celebrities, when asked if she was effeminacy said no i like men. but i think there are a lot more young women who embraces feminism and call themselves willis than you may think. there are definitely more. they found the concept of gender equality to the abhorrent even though they believe in it.
i think that there is something that happens when you're young, like when i was wrong. socially aware and certainly did not have a problem with feminism . history and what my parents and their parents went through to get to a place where i could be born and thrive. of fields very thought tv. i feel like when you get older you start to realize how quickly time passes, how recent the love of history as. you begin to depend upon your elders for the wisdom that they learned and the things that they have experienced. when i was 22i could have pretended i was interested in hearing what a woman 40 years my senior, but it was like for her growing up, and i might have
been someone interested in it, but i was too self involved in terms of, you know, 2i have a boyfriend, what is my next job going to be? and those are things that are not -- i do feel that young people my age seemed is interested in history or the history around them, but, you know, we get older, mature, and i think that there is an embrace of that. i am not very pessimistic about the andrew generation in that respect. not with regard to their embrace of feminism and their interest in women's history. i think that develops as you get older. and i am kind of living proof of someone whose interest and curiosity has developed as she has done all the. i was always personally a curious person.
but a lot of it is just you if and being easily distracted and not realizing, you know, when i was a kid born in 73, the civil rights movement seems like it happened 100 years prior. it really happened six years prior. and so, yes. i think it takes some time to get some perspective on how short life really is. was not that far away. >> wheeler of the top. thank you for listening. thank you. [applause] >> and that wraps