tv 2014 Texas Book Festival Sunday CSPAN October 27, 2014 1:00am-7:01am EDT
>> welcome today to a booktv's live coverage of the 2014 texas book festival held in austin, the state capital. over the next six hours will hear from nine authors on such topics as social change an instant, the death penalty, the global history of train travel. author and professor ilan stavans starts off with a discussion about his latest book, "a most imperfect union: a contrarian history of the united states." >> hello and welcome. happy sunday morning, everybody. i name is nathan. i'm here with ilan stavans, professor of latin american latino studies at amherst
college, author of last time i counted about 10,000 books. the latest of which is "a most imperfect union: a contrarian history of the united states." it is -- do you call it a graphic novel if it's nonfiction? >> we have in english limited lexicon to address the growing genre of the graphic novels, graphic books. when he's a graphic book you really would have two meanings. it is illustrated or too violent and sexual. we need to nonfiction book, the catalog as in that graphic novel. brass live in a country where the past is fiction. [laughter] >> it is. as you say in the book i think history is plastic, history is not the record of what happened but it's the record of what we think happened. >> yes. i do believe that the past is an
invention and we accompanied that passed to our needs. relieve -- we live under the perception that the future is the one that is in constant change but the fact is the future is the only country that never changes. the present is a noble. the past keeps on changing. every generation has as its duty to reinterpret it, to reconfigure it, to reinvent it. and that's why we have the profession of historians. 's. >> do you consider yourself a historian to speak with no note. i'm not a historian, thank god. [laughter] i don't take the responsibility of a handling history for the next generations in a pure fashion. my job was actually critique the historians, say why they're not
doing right but in some ways bring it back to us, the rest of the earthlings. >> all right. in the introduction to the book you define yourself as a contrarian, which means questioning american attitudes to pleasure aesthetics consumption, history, outsiders, political correctness and foreign countries. you go on to say that your -- your contrarian roots lie in an inquisitive restless disposition linked with your experience as an immigrant. and i love to talk about a little bit about why being an immigrant has to do with being a contrary and. >> thank you for that question. it's the one that i'm often asked. i am thrilled to respond to it. i think that the contrary is nt the person who says no. it's not the person who says yes, but it's the person who
says why? why the yes or why the no? i think it is the duty to come most of us, to be contrary and, to ask why the yes and why the no. if we have inherited the yes or we have inherited the know, to what extent that yes or that no is the poker. it speaks for us. unfortunately, the country is simply a person antagonize, that goes against the status quo your but if that is the case then the country is the one that takes seriously the role, the job of being an individualist that wants to think for herself or for himself. and i'm proud to say that i am a contrarian in the state of texas. i am an immigrant from mexico. i grew up in a jewish company small jewish place in mexico city. my first language was gibberish. that in and of itself turned you
into a contrary in any country of 150 million people, there might be 4000 that spoke it is when i was growing up. there might be three that speak yiddish today. and speaking a different language in many ways is an opportunity, an invitation to look into the culture where you live from the outside, to be an outsider. at the same time because you're part of a culture, to be an insider. when i was growing up in mexico i was a jew. i didn't think of myself as a mexican. i thought of myself as hud can i spoke yiddish, because my last and was different from the last names in the country. the majority of them rodriguez, juárez, gonzalez hit because of the color of my skin, because of the education that i had. and then in 1985, nathan, i moved to the united states and as an immigrant, became mexican.
[laughter] i arrived in new york city and indexes the fact that i was jewish was absolutely irrelevant. [laughter] of the fact is mexican and looking like this, it was clear that the puerto ricans and dominicans and the colombians would not trust me that i am truly mexican and that i speak spanish as one of my native tongues. and i relos and when coming to the united states as an immigrant that i realized two or three things. one is that the minorities have a privileged viewpoint on society. they can't see it again from the outside in. they are part but not full members, at least yet, when it comes to latinas, when it comes to hispanics, when it comes to mexicans and that that double position is very beneficial.
and also learned that this is a country of immigrants. what i have been puzzled about is what makes a country if we are immigrant? why is it that italians and irish and jews and the scandinavians and the french and blacks and latinos all at one point become members of the same club? while still having some elements that define us. if all of us are from different backgrounds, are we all outsiders? who is the insider? so i love being an immigrant. i love having an accent. i love the opportunity to live in a country that accepts, or used to accept, people and embrace them -- >> is that the trend? are we moving away from acceptance? >> i think we're shortly moving away from acceptance. we are a very generous nation
that is very suspicious of foreigners, and less they are high-paying tourists. after september 11, whoever comes from the outside be seen either as a terrorist or as i went back to his taking our places in schools and hospitals. i think that the tradition of embracing immigration is one that is being fractured. and am afraid for the experience that our children are going to have the i am in desperate need to teach my students and to engage with readers and to have a nationwide conversation about that. that statement in the poem, and the thought she had in the pedals of the set statue of liberty of welcoming those that are the hoddle masses -- huddled masses. >> take one step back. if you went to new york and became mexican, i did teachers
to hear what your experience as a jewish mexican american has been in texas. >> in texas. well, i come from massachusetts to texas. no two states can be more different. [laughter] and more proud of him different, right? than texas and massachusetts. i love being an outsider here, again. i love the fact that texans don't understand massachusetts, and massachusetts don't get texas either. we might be really -- unless you work in california. is max -- massachusetts and texas. >> if you could help a massachusetts resident be a little more texan, what would you suggest? >> i'm afraid i'm going to say something very dangerous and probably i won't laugh until my next flight which is tomorrow
morning. i think i would try to go beyond stereotypes and say that there's a place in the country where people are truly in the pennant minded and have a sense of the concept of republic in a unique fashion. that is in texas. it is also a place that can be intolerant for the same reasons that massachusetts can be intolerant. and a place in its uniqueness defines the rest of the country just as massachusetts. >> in your book, continue called texas a quintessential american state. i'm curious just to hear how you would define americanness, both for yourself and maybe anyone out here in this audience. >> americanness, nathan, is the
proud noun of saying we are going to start from scratch. we're going to have dreams, and were going to deposit those dreams in our children so that those dreams become even better than ours. i say that americans are a true inheritors of the biblical concept of starting the promised land. and absolute committed to the vision of perfection. the idea that the country can be perfected, that the tomorrow, unknown as it is, can be better than that today, and certainly other than yesterday. in a country that, in spite of its xenophobic elements, is truly a microcosm of the rest of the world. every single language in the world is spoken in the united
states, you know, aside from english. [laughter] when it's spoken, it is also a country where people from all over the world at some point come and this is the magic or the marais choose element i was telling you about, at some point called home. how is it that an italian immigrant arriving to the united states in 1880, wants this would to be part of this country, and his grandchild in 19511960 will look at italy with nostalgia thinking that's where my roots are? but now i am an american. it happens with latinas but it happened with the jews. there is some magic, some miracle in this concept of nation that we have that i'm absolutely in all of about. >> i think there's a dark side to the idea of starting from
scratch but as you point out in your book, you could say that with columbus and the pilgrims we were starting from scratch, but, of course, there were already a few people here. >> starting from scratch, again, that passes always reinvented and fictional but i invite readers in the book to think in what sense are the following words synonymous, synonyms, or in what sense are the really very different words? immigrant, subtler -- settler, exile, refugee, slave, tourist. all of those words describe and define people that have come from the outside to the united states for a short period of time, or permanent. immigrant is the key word there your migrant, immigrant, but it is connected with being a
settler. we don't use the word settler anymore, but many of us are settlers going to be places. massachusetts in my case, new england, to settle down and to start a family. the difference with this lace is dramatic in that they did not come to the united states willingly. i think the openness of our lexicon from a variety with to describe those who come from the outside makes the american experience, so intriguing and so engaging, and also -- >> why getting the resistance of people who call themselves americans when they use the word we to include all of those groups that you just mentioned? >> is a resistance because americans ultimately, we think that we are members of an elite squad. we are a nation better than
other nations. we are the true people of israel in that we have a responsibility to teach others what they need to know about being good in the world, about behaving correctly, about teaching your children. and so we want to be very protective of that, and we do so often in a violent way. violent verbally, violent physically, violent socially but we can also do it in a very generous way. i've lived in a number of countries. i am always amazed at the generosity, the volunteerism of americans, trying to help others to in this rhetoric -- right of way from our politicians that immigrants are taking away a slice of the american dream, i think it's more the rhetoric and the true way of seeing the american experience. it is a country of we but if the country of, of capital i. we that is made by or of
350 million different capital eyes, and we always make sure that we capitalize it. even when we text. [laughter] >> not always. well, to shift gears a little bit, because where in texas so hthey parts of the book are interesting, especially in the graphic novel format. i think he used visual irony a lot where, for instance, in one panel you're talking about american identity as we're just talking about. you talk about that's starting to be shaped in the late 1700s and then the images someone, white person wetting a black slave. another one later is talking the the treaty of guadalupe day after the mexican-american war
when suddenly the entire american southwest which was america suddenly became mexico. and you say that this is the birth of chicano -- over i think your illness or, you and your illness or are characters in the book. could you talk about how chicano culture fits into the idea of americanness? >> yes. in many ways the latino expense, the latino immigration experience is like other immigrant experiences in the country, and it's also very different. for one thing, latinos are really not one single ethnic or racial group as you know. we are a sum of parts. we are mexicans and dominicans and colombians. we are white and black and asian
the people that don't speak spanish at ilogistics are people that speak only spanish and are latinos. we are also a minority that in its entirety did and didn't come to the united states. part of us did. i survey did but there's a large portion, and we're in the southwest, that the united states came to us with the treaty of guadalupe an they come with nevada and utah and new mexico and colorado, and california and texas. many ways this region has an id. started in the indigenous or the aboriginal cultures that still lives in the name of the streets and the way people relate in the way people interact with god and with nature and with the environment. black teen of consciousness is a
multiplicity. when one lives in the northeast, what is very much influenced by caribbean -- will become to the north, to the southwest you have mexicans and jeb central americans. the term mexican in some ways is a synonym for latino. nicaraguans and salvadorans complain that people refer to them as mexicans because every latino is a mexican. they want to keep their distinctions. their unique profile. now, the portion of the southwest that was sold for $50 million, $50 million to the united states in 1848 with the treaty of guadalupe a -- >> do you think that was a good deal of? >> it would be incredible right now. yesterday i was in a department that was renovated just two or three blocks from here for twice
as much. [laughter] it's very important to think that the treaty was written in english and really was not disseminated as a document. so people that live in the southwest that were non-english descent, or non-english come english profile, were given one year decided they wanted to become americans, or the want to go back to mexico. but either they didn't have access to the document, they never heard that the war had ended, or they simply did not know what you could do in a year in order to move. why would you move from your home -- >> and going back to mexico. i mean, really moving to a different part of your former country. >> many of them were very ambivalent towards mexico even for the war. so think of them is going back to mexico is a very complicated issue. so it is anyways the birth of
people that see themselves as being colonized. but manifest destiny, the united states has not only been about getting people in by taking over other parts, the philippines, puerto rico, alaska, hawaii. this is a country that has seen itself, all of us, venturing out and hoping to take the land that we will civilize, we will order, we will make coherent. >> do you see that continuing? >> in many different ways. i am obsessed by the idea of bringing democracy to other countries. >> do you think it's a good thing? >> it's a terrible thing. [laughter] i think democracy is a wonderful thing but you can't bring democracy summer. democracy has to start from the bottom up. you can't tell someone, be free. somebody has to struggle.
you can't take someone be democratic. after recognize that. this concept of bringing democracy out is so american. let others be like us, even though at the bottom of our heart we know they will never quite reach there. >> at it doesn't always work out so well when we bring democracy. >> never. >> i want to talk about literature a little bit. after all, you are a literature professor. i love the part in the book where you call moby dick, you say it's, i think in the first chapter of the book you said moby dick is a lack american novel. and by that you mean it's that become restless and encyclopedic. and maybe you could just talk about how you teach literature as a way to also foster maybe contrariness in your students. >> yeah. uncertainty. i hope my students stay in the class come and by the end of the
semester disagree with me. what i want is for them throughout the semester to polish their arguments, to ground it, to make it their own so that after they leave the classroom they will have a point of view. my objective as a teacher is not to give them my point of view but to make them realize that they need a point of view. that they are not one of 350 million. they are one that matters among 350 million whose voice matters, will define this country. and i think literature has the dna of who we are. in our literature, and our art, in our movies, i am a passionate reader and devoted writer. i think that we find the genome, the source of who we are when we read emily dickinson, when we read america for a, when we read
arthur miller. and, of course, everybody has their own list of favorites. for me, moby dick is the ultimate american book, the most expansive, the most encompassi encompassing, a book that you can get lost in, a book that tells you how to read. if you're patient, often a book that uses you and not vice versa. it is the type of book, i don't think readers choose books. i think books choose readers. books have ways to get rid of it and has ways to retain readers, to enable them to find companions. i think we have a short life to live, and we have 10, 15 books that going to be our closest friends, our companions. they are going to grow as we grow. you are going to read moby dick at 22 and find that tale of
adventure. when you read at 53, my age, you find it a tale of lost adventure, of wanting to do something when you were young. i want is one would think about moby dick. i had read moby dick in 1983 in spanish and a different translation. and then i moved to the united states with very poor, limited, rotten english. and they did not want to become a pariah in this country. and so the first or one of first things that it did was to buy myself a cheap penguin classics copy of moby dick, and to try to read it in english. and the way i did it is i would open it late at night and i would read a sense. call me ishmael. and then i would close the book and see if i understood all those words. i would open it again and read a paragraph here and every time i stumbled upon a word i didn't
know, i would write down that word in a notebook that i had. then close the book and memorize those words. then it would open the dictionary and try to understand what each of those words was. and the truth was i opened the dictionary more than moby dick. the true friend of moby dick was the dictionary. and the next day speed is about the same size. [laughter] >> they have about the same about a force but organized differently. [laughter] the next day my first exercise would be to see if i could remember the words that i had written down yesterday, and if i could describe the description. >> do you remember your favorite word that you learned by doing that? >> i -- now i don't member many of the words, but i felt that the vocabulary for sea creatures
was astonishing. that anybody could give such an array of words to describe the nature within the see. and to this day i am in at the difference of how spanish describes different types of fish in english. and one of my terrible since his of loss is i can no longer, after 30 years in the united states, remember all the spanish words for different fish. were as i know them in english. >> we just have a couple more minutes before we will open it up to questions, but i wanted to talk about your latest venture as a publisher. in addition to being an author, professor, public speaker, translator, editor, you're also a publisher of restless books. and just talk a little bit about what made you decide to do that.
>> thank you for the opportunity to say something about it. the reason why i decided, there are two reasons why i decided to become a publisher. one has to do with age and one has to do with impatience. maybe they are the same thing. i turned 53 years ago, and i've been teaching for a number of years and asked myself, reaching middle age, is this what i want to continue doing, or is there something i can add to it? the second, i will go back to this one but the second reason was that i had been in this country for almost 30 years. i love this country. i came here because i wanted to become a writer. i want to be part of an open society where ideas matter. and my feeling is that in the last 30 years the american mind has closed, or has narrowed, that there is last debate truly in democratic that engages
others and more simply defined political debates that simply points fingers at people. in one of the symptoms of this narrowing is the fact that whereas in germany or in italy or in france, the number of translated books is enormous but in germany it is close to 50% of all the books that are published. and the united states it is only 3%. we only translate about 3% of all the titles that are published every year, only 3%. i could at 50 continue complaining. this is, the mind is narrow. our children are not inheriting the right things. ought to do something about it. i decided to open a publishing house devoted to translated works from the arab world, from italy, from latin america in order to expand that. and it's called restless, the mantra of the company is in its
title. >> fantastic, thank you. [applause] >> for those of you who have questions, please come and line up behind me and we will get started. >> now that you've been in the united states for almost 30 years, what do you believe the nation's most important problems today? what solutions do you recommend to cure these problems? [laughter] >> that's a simple answer. >> i'm not a politician. if i'm not a historian, and proud of it, i don't even want to come close to be a politician. it seems to me that one of the most serious problems that we have is that we don't trust our politicians anymore, and that they really don't talk to us but the talk at us.
i think that we've been witnessing a separation between our leaders and ourselves, and i can start with president obama. i think that he has become increasingly isolated in the white house. i find it astonishing that a black president lives in the white house and there is no middle ground for those two extremes. i don't really know how to solve the problem, but i do know that there is a problem. i think that if there is a way for inpatients to do something, it is through teaching. i did not become a teacher because i wanted to. i became a teacher because i didn't have a visa. i ended up in the classroom because otherwise i would've been sent back to mexico. happily, i've never been a doctor, i've never been a lawyer. i've never been a plumber, i've never been a pizza maker but i
can tell you teaching is one of the most astonishing things one can do in life. every single moment has been in the classroom is worth a million outside of the classroom. i think that's something to the magic, the miracle that happens in the classroom is a solution to that, or at least i hope. as long as the classroom doesn't become monolithic and narrow as the outside is. [applause] >> my name is tom noonan. because the brazilians speak portuguese rather than spanish, they often get left out of discussions like the one we're in, and i had the privilege of living there for eight years, and it's a fantastic place, the culture, et cetera. in a few words could you can put them into the context that you've been talking about? >> sure. just as north americans
simplified stereotype come latin americans as -- every latin american has a big summer, drinks tequila and takes a siesta, and, of course, i'm being an extreme, extremist or a contrarian, every latin american also simplifies the united states. they come in short, they have baseball cap and an iphone. and really they come to take selfies, not the environment itself. latin america is as much a multicultural pluralistic, complex reality as the united states is. it is made of a sum of part. it is ironic as you suggest that the largest portion of latin america, brazil, doesn't speak the language of the majority of the others. in and of itself is an island
within that large continent that is latin america. more brazilians know spanish and latin americans know portuguese. we, just as in the united states, have our ghettos and let america. our way to ostracize others by race, by country, by class. just as the united states is a work in progress, so is latin america. fortunately, in the year 2014 latin america has moved beyond tyranny come has moved beyond repression. is open. it allows for dissent but when i left mexico, dissent was not a possibility. debate, dissent is. you can be against the politicians and not end up in jail, or killed. most of the time. and i think again in the classroom, maybe through
writing, the goal for me is to be able to not simplify things. i hate when books simple by things. i hate when teachers simplify concepts, but to explain the complexity. >> a question and little common. first, when i was hearing about your book i was thinking about what was your reaction, how you felt -- was published. my first question. then comment, myself being a jewish also from argentina come when you move here how you relate to the jewish community, the american jewish community. >> thank you for your two questions. richard blunk oh is a wonderful poet. he was the poet that was selected president obama to deliver the poems, to write an original poem and deliver it in a second inauguration.
i have one complaint. not about richard blunk about about the selection process. i don't think that those the selected richard read his poetry before. a chosen because he was a latino poet, because you as a cuban poet and because he served the purpose barack obama is the reader and probably president obama had read some of the tina porter, not that much. i just wish that poetry was, poetry and politics were not that several. i wish they came together. there's much that poets can learn from politicians. there's much more that politicians can learn from poets. what knesset about being jewish and mexican? i can say a lot of things, as my wife and my mother will attest. i relate to the american jewish community, both with affection and with puzzle.
the american jewish committee has become complacent. it is a community that in many ways is creating a rival, becoming a rival. and how strong this is, of the holocaust, and that it is losing its connection with its own core and a lot of people are disappearing in the process. it can be narrow when looking at middle eastern politics, and particularly israel, thinking that everything that the israeli government does is correct, or at least the voices that speak out give you the impression that if the israeli government did it, has to be right because israel has a right to exist but israel has a right to exist and we have a right to say no to the policies that israel might be taking. i think that's very important for american jews and for other
types of americans in general. [applause] >> i realize this is outside your realm of specialization, but as someone who focuses on immigrants, can you shed any light on why young people who are children of not only immigrants and refugees have been granted asylum in this country are willing to commit treason against, treason against countries by aiding enemies overseas? you know, i'm thinking of the case of the boston bombers, the girls were just arrested in, somali refugees who were willing to go to syria. can you shed any insight on that? >> there is a section -- i thank you for that question, and i
think it's a very important question for us to ask. let me see your face. it's a very important question for us to ask. let me first give you a very, a wrong answer, and then the right edge. the wrong answer is that there is no immigrant that doesn't commit treason. all of us by coming to the united states in some ways are renouncing something and embracing something to come and we don't know at the beginning that we are embracing it. a similar issue process works its way through ourselves in a peculiar way, and without realizing after five years or 10 years we no longer speak the language of immigration or we no longer trust or we no longer eat in the way we did before. but something dramatic is happening with the recent of those were joining isis and
connecting with what is happening in syria and iraq. and i think that that is less about immigration, that an a disenfranchisement with western values. i think that as a civilization we have become plastic. we have become limiting, and i think young people are finding this in different ways, even through alienation or three different types of rebuilding compared to the previous ones. i am as puzzled as you what the women that will give up their american citizenship, or french or british or german, to go and fight for isis. ices, what is it that that is doing that we are not providing? whatever it is, it's something we should pay attention to. there is something in us that is alienating alternative voices that are thinking that through self martyrdom, mutilation that is going to be a better option
than a life that we have. it's important question that we have to get deep into and not simply have the in the news is another piece that is read and forgotten tomorrow. [applause] >> thank you very much for the interesting presentation. my question concerns mexico actually. are you surprised by the ways in which cartel violence has ravaged and fully taken over the country? in d.c. any hope for the infrastructure, the economy in mexico which would deter people from continuing to cross? >> i am absolutely devastated by how my country has extended to one of dante's hell. it is beyond words. i spent my entire day's with words and i don't have words to tide you, the pain that i have.
mexico has always been about the tension between a fragile order and a pungent chaos in the way that the two find each other. and i feel that in the last decade or decade and a half, the forces of chaos have one, and are pushing our country to a much more primitive, my country, my original country, to a much more primitive state than the one we had previous prior to the revolution of 1910. in many ways mexico has become colombia. we should even probably changed our name. the columbia of the '90s. in -- and hope that i have is the colombia today has almost no comparison to the colombia of 15 years ago. i'm hoping that in a decade
mexico, or the right things done will be able to go beyond. it's absolutely a way of relating to one another where the forces of violence and torture and destruction are the ones that rule, and where politicians are in cahoots with what is happening with the cartel. the true presidents of mexico are mayors, are the druglords and not the figureheads and that we have on television every so often who tell us that things are going to get better. they are not getting better, but they can and we have to do everything we can in order for that to be achieved. >> this is our last question. >> hi. young person, delighted. >> i was born in america with the whole wide family. i grew up in a white neighborhood but because i burgers can i've always been, people told me i'm mexican, i'm not white, as if they know. and so i was wondering as a
light skinned jewish boy growing up in mexico who speaks yiddish, did you ever feel like an immigrant in your own country growing up to? absolutely. i felt just like you. white in mexico is brown in the united states. i felt pushed aside. i felt that it didn't belong. i felt that other people told me that it wasn't part of the community but if you keep your sense of integrity and you tell yourself that you matter, that you have something to say, you eventually can get a lesson to those white kids who are telling you that you're not part of it. it is how you define yourself and the others define you that matters. [applause] >> thank you so very much. i would like to remind people that our offer will be in the
book signing tent immediately following this presentation, and please join him there to purchase his book. thank you so much. [inaudible conversations] >> that was ilan stavans, author of "a most imperfect union" who just wrapped up at the next event features two authors. we will take a short break to set up for the next event. you are watching tv, television for serious readers. >> at the weekend booktv brings
you 48 hours of nonfiction authors and books on c-span2. keep watching for more television for serious readers. >> one of the things about my day job is you get to meet extraordinary people from extraordinary places. and a week ago before it came us talking to friend of mine who was a polish number of the european parliament. he's my age. he came into politics at my age is like twitter is to little girls, the same age as mine. he could have grown up on a different plan. he has grown up under dictatorship. his father has effected to canada when he was a small border had been only able to meet once in cuba. goes only place the two of them could get a visa. the father said come back with a to candidate. he said no, going to stay in poland. i want to be a part of the
change, he could see coming. he was right. his father was not alive to see it. as we were talking was telling me about the impact that been made on him as a teenager, sal, as a boy by john paul ii, first visit to poland. as a polish pope. and he told me something i had never heard before. he said, you know, the holy father never wants directly criticize the communist authorities. he said he didn't have to. he just offers something better. and that i think should be the creed of conservatives. just offer something better. i saw on the news as i was coming here that you picked up a jihadi volunteer, so when we decided he was so alienated by this country is going to take up
arms with those monstrous blasphemous in iraq and syria. we have a similar problem in the united kingdom the we have something like 200 boys born and brought up in the uk who have been so repulsed by whatever it was that they found around them that they've taken up arms against their country in the most extreme way, by fighting alongside some of the most violent people on the face of the planet. and it occurred to me, isn't the answer should we be offering them something better? what was the life expense of with the second generation immigrant boys going up in an english city? if he got any history at all at school, the story of this country would have been presented to him as a hateful, chronicle of racism and exploitation are almost all these feelings, the state would've taught him to despite
when the national brand is systematically derided and reduced our intellect shall elites over decades, is it any wonder that some of our citizens began to grope around for alternatives? if you're not satisfied with being patriotic in the identity of your passport or place, some people will scramble around for something more compelling and stronger. we need to offer something better. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> .tv covers hundreds of other programs throughout the country all year long. here's a look at some of the events we will be attending this week. look for these programs to air in the near future on booktv on c-span2.
>> and you're looking at live picture in between sessions of the 19th annual festival book festival. wwe'll have more from austin, texas, in just a moment. >> book tv asks bookstores and libraries throughout the country about the nonfiction books in most anticipating being published this fall. here's a look at the titles.
>> i do some writing here and to talk to students and i have graduate students and people in my seminar who i passed somethinthethings that i'm work. we sit around the table and discuss and argue and debate why writing what i'm writing and what do i mean by it. it's really, really fun. it's intellectually stimulating. i learned lots of things when it asked the question or think of a
question and i don't know the answer to it. then i go and research it. and then my finish my first draft -- i don't make out plans usually. some people do, but i have in my head where i think i'm going and i like to draft out the whole thing and then go back and edit. the reason why i do that is because a colleague of mine who, for years, tried to write a second book never did, and he was a brilliant guy. and that was because he wanted every line to be perfect before he went on to the next line. and i said, you're not writing fiction. begetting get it down on paper, maybe you'll be able to go back and edit it, and it helps me to clarify my thinking when i write things out. and i may edi add to it a millin times and go over it and add stuff and revise, but you got to
get something down so yocan think it through. that's the way my mind works. and he never did finish his second but because he kept trying to get perfection in every single line. i said, boy, -- i write it all up through. and then i put it away and think about it and then they have, i write it through again. and i don't have the student or anybody read it until after i had written it two or three times. and then we talk about it. i want whatever i write to inform people and to educate them, and that i have to agree with me but a wish to make them think. so i guess i want to be provocative at least if nothing else. >> here's a look at some books that are being published this week.
them. he was extremely talented and ambitious in terms of surgery. he was ambidextrous, was quick and new about clinton does and at a time for germ theory was proven. i think is probably because he was a patient himself so may times and he knew the difference between a dirty doctor and the clean doctor and how that would affect them. he was also extremely pathetic any time period when there was this emotional detachment when doctors and patients which to do i know we still struggle with today but back then you have to imagine prepping for think about someone song off a leg while you're still awake, our instinct is to be the person whose leg is being sought off and boudicca. imagine being a person who spent years of their life studying to help heal people knowing you would have to cause this pain in of to do what needs to be done. you had to emotional detachment but dr. mutter did not have that quality. he trusted people and wanted to be clear, have enjoyment on the
journey of the surgeries which made him so popular. he came back to philadelphia to try to make a name for himself and become a professor and clashed a lot with another doctor who was the main antagonist of the story which is this guy. they both -- the college was discussed before, a vanguard medical institution bringing new things to the forefront such as surgical clinics and patient clinics. they also brought some of the most brilliant minds in surgery and medicine to one faculty. the problem is they were all crazy, jesus did not want to work with each other and in my research i found tales of fistfights in faculty meetings and to go to reach of the surgeries and heckle each other. jefferson had not fired the entire faculty and decided to bring back one the more aligned with vision intended. it just so happened that dr.
mutter was selected a picture of surgery, the youngest person there at age 31. yet gotten his medical degree at 21, and the oldest member of the faculty would be charles makes it took over as the chair of obstetrics. and begin a clashed before and to be much classing -- clashing to come. >> you can watch this and more at booktv.org. >> we are back with more live coverage from the texas book festival in austin. up next our authors maria venegas and chris tomlinson. maria venegas is the author of "bulletproof vest: the ballad of an outlaw and his daughter." chris tomlinson is author of "tomlinson hill." >> just yesterday we had larry wright, joyce carol oates, a
both of these authors today have written fabulous books come a very different books about their families. when i was thinking about this, my name is paul steckler. i teach at the university of texas and i teach films. i show films every semester about people's families, where their families give up all sorts of secrets for a wide audience. afterwards i asked the students, how would you feel about doing this if you're an family? would you ask your mother that question? would you ask them to say these things to a wide audience? i really admire the fact that chris and maria have dealt out of written such fabulous books about their families. so what i would like to do is to start up by leading each of these authors read from their books, described the books for you. i am going to ask a few questions. yesterday i was noticing a lot of the moderators for not having as many questions for any
questions, so i look at today's questions questions from you guys earlier. i want you think about these books in your questions. we have a microphone over here. because lighting up after my first couple of questions. let me introduce maria first. traber was born in mexico immigrated to the united states which was full your sword. "bulletproof vest" was in "the guardian." her short stories appeared in many places include plowshares. she saw creative writing at hunter college and current works as a mentor is still waters in the storms come a reading writing sanctuary for children brooklyn pugilist in new york city. she's written an incredible book maria. v-neck thank you. tina mack everyone for coming out. i really am sorry i was late. i got lost and i've been wandering around the streets all morning, but the good thing is i'm here now. of the book that i've written is called "bulletproof vest." it is sort of i didn't have a
relationship with my father for 14 years. i have often heard people say that people who hurt you either you never talk about bad or you talk about them all the time. and i used to never talk about my father because when i was growing up in the chicago suburbs, he shot and killed our neighbor. and so, after he shot and killed our neighbor, he bought himself it will approve fast and he laughed and he went back to mexico and never came back. so i used to never talk about him. but eventually, i went back to mexico when we connect with him. when i went back down there come at that point i was already living in new york city and he was in mexico living on the old hacienda were both he and i had been born. he had this 200-acre ranch and i would go and spend summers with him and we would herd cattle to
gather. like you would saddle the horses at 4:00 a.m. and we would ride out into the moonlight and herd cattle together. through the time that i started spinning with him, he started sharing stories with me. you know, we would be writing past the creek and we would ride past the tree and the tree and he would like to say that is where my brother antonio and fidel got into a shootout and he would tell me the whole story. i think for me when i was growing up they never understood him or understood what made him tick. like there's anything you can take the cowboy out of the mountains, but you can take the mountainside of the cowboy or whatever the saying goes. so with my father, when we lived in the chicago suburbs, often he would come home from a night out in before going to bet he would unload his gun on her front lawn. he would send five thoughts into the front lawn and go to bed. when we first moved in a suburb
company preeds to call the police and report they heard gunshots. but eventually the neighbors got used to it and it was just like [laughter] they were just kind of like it is just as a turning in for the night and didn't bother calling the police anymore. but i think what i am going to do is read from a chapter about halfway through the book and it's called shooting guns like shooting stars. it's one of my favorite chapters. it is a scene that takes place after i've already reconnected with my father from the sort of party established a bond more or less and it takes place in mexico. lappeenranta is the old hacienda where he was living at the time. and yeah. i'm going to go ahead.
okay. scattered stars began to appear. one by one like eyes glistening against the cobalt skies, the sliver of moon dust and alumina of the darkness out there beyond the courtyard on a dirt road that i've have fused into a ball of causing teeth tearing through the night. outward dust authority clinging to fresh blood. one.breaks from the pack and run stores church that fits under the single light post in la pena. o'connor dust rises as they pounce on the one that broke from them, but when i tried to get away. a lot collapses in the fire to the cool air mingled with the browning cannot vanish. should we do something i ask my father? about what he asks, leaning back in a slight classic chair, his legs extended in front of him cross one over the other so the soles of his cowboy boots are almost in the fire. the dogs i say.
won't you kill each other? man, they'll work it out he says, taking a swig of the roman coke in his next 10. the battle continues to rage in front of a small church while in the distance along the dark ridge, other branches are coming into focus. i worry paradise could be watching the blow of the fire dance across their faces. normally we don't stay out past dark. once the chickens have talked themselves into the branches of the you collect his trees msn goes down, we go inside, locked the doors and stay put until morning. i hope my index finger and the rubber band holding my ponytail in place and light it up, let my hair fall freely about my shoulders. why are they fighting like that i ask? my father is now down when the rearranging the log from the fire. maybe it's a sign i say. yet, maybe he says.
desperate to take a few morsels before the year ends. you both a thick log into the fire. only a few hours left the crown says the centers in the burning pile. this lunch on night or at least until the new year he says taking a seat. see the great work. i chopped it myself. it doesn't burn not as fast as the others. he glances at me and follows my out to the rumbling that is now moving around the back of the house. i think one of those dogs of the those dogs of the heat he says. that is why they are all worked out. i leaned back in my chair and take a sip from a rum and coke. the dry heat from the fire feels good on my arms. you see those three stars he asks pointing out the big dipper. the electrical wires when we were kids.
over there i say they called those the word eludes me. it is like this sometimes. i find the right word in spanish and hesitate. it is like a small pot or pan or let a big spoon you see how the stars are in a row, how they seem to form a handle. though his face is still turned towards the sky, he is giving me a sideways glance, a one eyed quince. the sky is filled with stars, thousands sitting around the moon waiting for the new year 205. a small piece of rodney clings to the clothesline above. a few days ago a cop broken ankle and had to be put down. the meat didn't fit in the freezer and hung it on the clothesline to be tried by this time. rodney tom like laundry in the courtyard for two days. he reaches out, takes the peace out the clothesline and puts it
into the fire. i made that broke when i was in prison he says pointing out the clothesline. if a yellow rope that is tied to an extension cord that is then tied to the water will post. at one in the pink one that i tied to your saddle this morning he says. they teach you how to make rope in jail i asked. they teach you how to do a lot of things. if you pay attention you know more than when you went in. i gave those roads to my father when he came to visit me to tell me they put the house in the plaza up for sale and deposited the money into my account or the attorney that was working on the case. the dog have worked their way around the corral and are now fairly down the dirt road towards us. snarly moderate moderately approach. maybe we should go inside a say. now, if we go inside we will flawlessly. it is nicer here by the fire. we can have a bit of plastic out
and wait for the new year to arise. he looks at my bare arms and my ripped jeans. you want to borrow a jacket? no, i am fine taking a gulp from my car. do you really want to go inside kiosks maybe we should put out the fire. we sit in silence for a while. pass the house where he and i were born i set up and face him. what if someone shoots us i ask? his whole body turns towards me. no, inside don't think what that. he reaches into the fire, grabs the log inflicted. no one will bother us here. not at this hour. besides the holidays. everyone is too busy celebrating
he says. everyone is at the celebrating, celebrating and drinking, drinking and celebrating all day long. men had been knocking them back at the rodeos, the cockfights, the horse races, the suns on their eyelids, visions blurring, old conflicts rising to the surface. it is during the holidays the tragedy seemed to have been around these parts. it was on christmas eve 22 years ago that my brother was shot, fell facedown in the river and drowned. my father is back on one knee adjusting the logs in the fire. i polish off my drink and stand out. is there any more lefty asks grinning at me, a glimpse of the fire in his eyes. yeah, i say. taking his cup although make us do more. i think i'm going to stop there. [applause]
>> or other oscar today is chris tomlinson who has written a book about an important subject that is central to our country and is very often not felt this very well on the topic of race. chris is a "new york times" best-selling author living right here in texas. he writes a twice weekly column for the "houston chronicle" and previously with the supervisory editor for "the associated press" responsible for state government reporting. he's also the producer of tomlinson, are we equally a documentary film with documentary film without still shapes the community where his family slave plantation was located. chris is also a fellow in journalism for the national security and law. chris tomlinson. [applause] >> thank you. so when i was about eight years old, my grandfather said to me,
our family used to own slaves and are slaves loved us so much they took tomlinson as their last name. at that moment, it was early 70s, dallas texas and we were still trying to figure out how to desegregate the schools. they were race riots in boston, bracelets everywhere. we talked about it all the time. we thought about it all the time. as a little kid, i heard about fights at school that were based on race. and my father, while being very supportive of the civil rights movement and a member of several groups designed to develop racial understanding, my grandfather wanted to make sure and frankly the school district wanted to make sure in larger texas wanted to make sure that i took pride in my family's confederate past. to be a slave owner was to be
rich. who is to be like rhett butler and scarlett o'hara and to be part of the aristocracy of the south. quite frankly i bought into that. i believed it and i bragged about it to my friends as a kid. you know, my families to own a slave plantation called tomlinson hill. and there are black people named tomlinson. he was a mentor is obviously much older and much more educated and wrinkly after i become a foreign correspondent with "the associated press" and was covering the end of apartheid in south africa in the genocide in rwanda that i began to think about how the bigotry in the ethnic violence i was witnessing and particularly in south africa struggles to overcome an apartheid comment system of segregation and humiliation and subjugation that i realized that maybe my family's story was sent as
wonderful as my grandfather had me led to believe. and so, i am going to read a little bit from the beginning of my book about the beginning of this journey that would lead me to discover that my great-grandfather lynched black man, that my grandfather was a klansman and that my ancestors were key to imposing and reinforcing jim crow. one of my great-grandfather served in the legislature and his photo is hanging on the wall outside the house chamber. and he was part of passing on the segregation laws. and i began to realize that perhaps i had a culpability that i wasn't aware of. on my last trip to rwanda, try to understand how a country could recover from the
manslaughter of 1 million members of a minority by several million members of the majority. i went to the village borin meant to steal music is on, a member of the majority. they lived as neighbors and their children played together in front of their hats. the two had undergone a reconciliation programmer among other things they learned about the myth of ethnic difference in their culture. they were learning to not be the ttt, the simply be rwandans. xavier explained to me how it killed six of cecile's friends at the machete. he described the years he spent in an overcrowded prison, hoping for the chance to kill again. eventually though, he came to accept responsibility for his crimes with the help of a preacher. during the day we spent together, xavier taught me something i never thought about. when you criticize, when you confess and ask for her
goodness, you are asking a person for something he told me, to forgive is to give some paint and that is much more difficult than confessing. you are taking from the victim again. instead of asking us of asking cecile and the rest of the victims in the village to forgive him, xavier went to were constructing new homes for the other genocide survivors. they feel told me about watching him working with xavier, listening to take responsibility for what he'd done and witnessing his contrition was what finally made it possible for her to reconcile with him. in the 11 years has been in africa, i learned about many different forms of justice from sharia law to blood crazed. the one thing all forms of justice share is the need to establish the truth about what happens and why. south african archbishop desmond tutu share the truth and
reconciliation commission because he understood the futility of jailing people for decades for crimes against community. he also recognized the societal value of an honest accounting of the past. only once the truth is known can there be true reconciliation. i heritages away texan in my tomlinson determined who i could become and what opportunities they could enjoy. i have born witness to enough injustice, hatred, violence and bigotry to know that the accent of one's gender, race, nationality and while determines one's future more than once personal intelligence or motivation. i left africa is feeling a responsibility to discover what happened on my family's land to confront if i benefited from them. i did not intend to ask for forgiveness, but make an honest accounting.
my great, great grandfather owned slaves and i know there is no such thing as a good slaveholder. but what crimes could my ancestors commit to maintain power and privilege? did they know what they did was wrong? is an american and texan, i want to understand the sins of our fathers. [applause] >> you know, listening to the two of you read and think about your background. you are a short story writer in the passage you wrote from the beginning of the book in the description of your fathers previous instances of being shot from this perspective, the short or a writing background in the way you write this book is very similar. i'm curious about the transition of the non-fiction book. you are a veteran reporter come a report all over the world and in texas.
this is a different type of nonfiction writing. so i'm curious at a writers conference if you can talk about the process of making that transition. maria first and then chris. it actually was the transition. >> i don't think it was a transition. i think for me because what i did go back and reconnect with my father, he started sharing stories about his own upbringing and just his own childhood and it was these experiences that i had never been aware of that he had been through. so the book itself started. and no, i started taking notes and started trying to flesh out the stories my father was sharing with me. so it kind of started off with this collection of short stories. i remember i had a meeting with my added her and he kind of looked at me and said you know, maria, you need to be a part of the book because an american reader is probably not going to
really tear father, but they will relate to you being a daughter of this criminal and he was very much a criminal. he killed seven or eight men. i am not sure. but anyways, so the book started off as sort of a collection of short stories about my father's life and then i feel like i kind of got wrangled into it. i never really set out to write a memoir, but feel like i got pulled into it. the way this story unfolded, i remember the first time from the first person from my perspective through the dialogue mostly and then i realized i was killing the urgency of the story and it wasn't until i went back and rewrote the stories in third person from my father's perspective that it allowed me to remove myself, just to get out of the way it kind of let them tell their own story.
i was really exciting when i discovered that i could play with it and do that. they sort of jumps around from the perspective and my good and kind of weeks back that way until eventually the narratives come together and that sort is then kind of a combined narrative towards the hand. >> well, working for the associated dress, i rate it 700 word and are meant in almost a kabuki like form where there is no room for style number over amid all for first-person. so since i was working on this book, what working for the ap, it was exciting for me as a writer to try new thing. and yet, the principles i've
learned as a journalist stayed with me. you know, i was committed to treating everyone the same, black or white, living or dead. and i also realized the danger of a descendent of slave holders writing the story of a black family because the black tomlinson aren't equal part to this as the white tomlinson's. so as i was telling these other people's stories, including my ancestors stories, i decided to let them speak for themselves as much as possible. so i used a large pot close either from diary entries are from oral histories. and then i only take on the first person when i to make an observation such as about the horribly racist history books that were used in sauk county and the first 20th century or when i needed to explain
something to the reader. i really don't come into the store until i am born frankly because the books intermeeting 49 to 2007, 160 years of two families. so it was exciting as a writer to be a lot to take on these more creative style, to create a narrative into frankly have a stronger point of view and that is probably one of the reasons i don't work for the ap anymore because i got used to having a point of view and now i can't give it. >> i've been given a directive that we should have question-and-answer soon. i have one or two more questions. i suspect some of you would like to ask something. if you want to begin the lineup at the microphone i'd be happy to take your questions in a second. when i read your books, i kept thinking of authors have to type this, the personal detect is digging into family histories. and i am curious if that is the
way you felt as you are doing this, but even more importantly, at least to be able to excite the audience, what was the most -- the hardest discovery that you discover, do you really have to think twice in terms of your own relationship to your family is to be able to put into the book? the whole process could be in a history detective and the stuff that was the hardest to put in there put in there, but said he thought had to go there no matter what. >> i think for me probably the hardest thing i discovered was a hacienda where my father was living in mexico was always the house where he was born in the same house i was born in. what i never knew as a kid growing up, when i was two years old my parents left mexico and went to the chicago suburbs to find work and then i think a job
to stop at my grandmother's house and they were going to send for us a few months later. but then two years went by before they sent for us. when there were two years old until years old and years old until four years old i've been separated from my parents and i had no memory of that really. you know, they left me with my grandmother. when i went back even though it's back even by spending time with my father, i would go into town and spend time with a grandmother who is now like 94 and sharpest nails and awesome. and so she is the one that told me this story. you know, she's the one that match my parents left him and not a day went by that i didn't ask about them. i would wake up in first thing in the morning i wanted my grandmother to take me back home. i was such a payment two months later she finally took me back to la pena to the house was empty and my parents went there, but she took me so i could see that they weren't there. she said after that day i never asked about them again. i completely stopped talking.
like i literally lost my sense of language and just stopped talking for a month. so that was a hugely dramatic experience that i have been through and i have no memory of it. so when my grandmother shared that story with me, it was heartbreaking, but also really eye-opening in a way that i was sort of like that's probably why have always been sorted distant from my parents in this weird way that i never understood. so for me, that was really kind of an eye-opening game. it pertains to me and not so much to make bother. >> chris. >> i would say the thing that was most difficult to write about was my parents divorce. my goal was to talk about race in america through the use of these two families whose only real difference was their race. they came from the same place. my family was bankrupted at the end of the civil war come in so
really there wasn't financially they were about equal any team 65. i want to talk about america and what the color of your skin and packs the life that you are going to live. and i wanted to bring it to the present day because i think it is so optimistic now. of course what that meant design has to talk about the black families divorce, my families divorce in the reasons for that and how larger society influence to that. so telling the secrets of my family's dysfunction, it upset my parents. you know, my contemporary on the black side of the family is tomlinson. his mother is not too happy with some of the things we revealed about her marriage. but it was what happened to them has so much to do with what was happening in america in the 60s and 70s.
and the revolution and the changes of roles of men and women and mothers and fathers. and so i felt compelled to tell the complete story to include that. but it was -- yeah, that was probably the most difficult thing to write about. >> i want to ask one more thing very briefly of the two folks and then we look at some other people on the line. chris, you write about a book that as i said in the beginning is really all about race in america. you know i spend quite a bit of time making films about this and it's really hard subject to delisting reality and there's a lot of ways to do it. you took the personal route with your family's history and it's fascinating. how do you feel that your book places in the whole discussion of race in america? >> well, i think we talk a lot about race in america, but we don't talk about the history of
race in america. we don't talk about pre-1965 america. we don't talk about jim crow. we like to believe that once we pass the civil rights act that that day, everything is fixed. we don't have to do anything anymore and all of our problems are solved or somehow this is a long time ago. at one point i interviewed a woman named lucy may, then. she was 85 years old. she had known her grandfather who was born into slavery and told me about him in the stories he told about slavery. so it is not that long ago. i knew someone who knew a slave. so my father, you know, went to this beautiful school in dallas in 1950 when the damien father was going to re-sharecroppers shack they didn't have indoor plumbing. so we talk a lot about race, but we don't talk about the history of racing with can't understand where we are today without
knowing where we were in the past and that is what i try to contribute. >> berea, i woke up early this morning to thumb through your book and read the last 20 or 30 pages. one of the things i was struck by this is partially because they been talking to a bunch of a friend in mexico in the last decade or so was the line you talked about how i believe the words are the alliance of the government and the cartels have begun to destroy the fabric of community in mexico. i know you didn't set out to make a book about mexico, but it is to an extent about the changes. how do you think your book fits into that discussion if it does at all? >> well, it is interesting you say i didn't set up to write a book about mexico because i didn't. i set out to write a book about my father and it was a very personal journey. i think for me now is re-creating the stories that my father had shared with me as a way to try and understand how he was wired and why he had lived such a violent and self-destructive life.
i certainly didn't set out to write about the mexican drug cartels. but unfortunately, i feel like they ended up crashing into the heart of my story. i was already writing the book and six months after he sold the book, my father died in a very unexpected and violent way. but about nine months before he died or was killed or what have you, not to give it away, spoiler alert. so nine months before that happened, he had been kidnapped by the drug cartels. so this cartel had come into his community. i feel very fortunate that it went and spent time with him in mexico and i was there before the cartels came to the area. so i got to witness the town in the neighborhood and just the community before the cartels and after the cartels and it really,
it was heartbreaking to see the way these cartels ruled in the took over. his silence to the community and people were afraid. they closed shop before the sun went down. they stayed home. they stayed put. and so many locals started joining the cartels also that it became difficult to know who you could still trust or you could trust. these are tight communities where it goes back back generations and the people of all grown up together. so is sad to see how the cartels were able to come in. it was like a form of mobs of people coming into this community and eating away at the fibers have it. that was really heartbreaking to witness. >> we are going to take questions right now. just remind you if you drift off, both of these authors will be every book sale you make, not
only these two wonderful books, a part of the proceeds goes to the texas book festival that does amazing work with kids around the state can keep this festival going. malcolm, first question. >> risk of my wanted to ask you something about the truth and reconciliation. i had the privilege of attending three sessions in the tall, zululand. it was in an order to build with people who are overflow, people standing outside. there were people who were confessing to this horrific crime, hundreds of people killed, young women. i was looking at it and listening through american eyes and ears in the american justice system and expecting people to rush the stage, to yell into scream in absolute silence. people are just so engrossed in what was being said.
all they wanted at the end of the session is for the leader of this group to come forward and confess also and that is all they needed to satisfy them. and i couldn't imagine that happening in the united states or many other places. why did it work there and couldn't work in other places? >> well, i am not sure. i would say that i think it can work anywhere as i think what people fundamentally want is the truth. they want their stories told. you know, when we made a film to go with the book, it only deals with present-day marlin, texas, which is where the plantation is located. at the end of the film, i say in the beginning of the film, my ancestors were great this and murderers and torturers. one of the burial black gentleman looked to me and said i've waited my entire life to
have a white man admit that. to him, that with all the justice he needed. he just wants to be acknowledged. he wants the story to be acknowledged. every time i tell someone you need to get over it. i don't want to talk about that. you are denying someone their history. in rwanda and emptiness and other traditional justice systems where you don't lock someone up in jail. you confess and your hand over a couple of cows and get on with your lives. but it's the acknowledgment of what happened and why it happened. that is so much more valuable than putting someone in a prison and throwing away the key in my opinion. and i think that is universal. >> thank you very much for sharing your story. and steve sanner, professor of english at university of texas pan american in the rio grande valley. my question concerns the genre and whether the distinctions come if you could elaborate further on the distinction
between fiction and memoir and journalism and the type of book that you have written, chris and whether at any point in your process you had any misgivings about revealing family secrets. >> you know, when i was writing, i wasn't really thinking about revealing it may secrets or not. a lot of the cramps my father committed were very public and i don't think there's anything i could've written that would've shocked my siblings are my mother. that in itself was kind of a relief. i worried that once the book was published that my people might know would start bothering or asking questions. he died six months after he sold the book, so that was no longer an issue. but i think for me when i was re-creating the stories that my father shared with me, i was
more concerned with trying to get them as close to his truth as possible because obviously somebody else witnessed the same event told me that story. it's like memory subjective so everybody would have a different take on the same event. and because my focus was sort of re-creating my fathers life story, i want to get as close to his truth as possible. so i wasn't so concerned with what other people's opinions might be. >> my book was about revealing secrets. i mean, luscious put it out there. it was about dispelling myths and revealing the truth and telling secrets. the experience for you, was also for your family? be backing up, i'm not sure the catharsis is complete with some members of my family. i've got my fingers crossed we look at there. i mean this is the thing, i
spent 14 years going to other people's countries, permeating other people's cultures and pointing my finger wagging at it saying you are committing genocide or you are committing crimes against humanity or that the violation of democratic principles. and i realized i need to do that to my own culture and that was kind of my mentality was i need to expose the truth and cut through the secrets. >> thank you very much. >> chris, it is easy -- well, by telling your story, you force people to look back at that time who would rather whitewashing and forget it. and i think also by ignoring the true story, people who want to look back at it as totally bad also are able to have kind of a one dimensional view of it
without knowing the story. so why am wondering by having done your research, how did your understanding of that history and your family become more complex than a black or white history of slavery? >> well, one interesting thing i found is that tomlinson raised on the plantation who still live side-by-side with black sharecroppers, were not nearly as racist and vicious as they grandfather who moved to dallas became a civil engineer and really kind of broke those familial ties with african-americans. so i think having not distance allowed him to be -- i was surprised by that. whereas i think if you live side-by-side in you work with someone, you know, his grandfather had brought us every morning with one of my uncles before they went off to work the
fields as part of the sharecropping operation. you know, it is complex. these are complex relationships. while there may not be a quality, there is infection. the black tomlinson's were so gracious in accepting me into their lives and sharing their stories. you know, one of the things they kept saying mr. ancestors didn't go any better night in their research and they did. they did know better. there was a huge debate over racism and slavery. and there's some real heroes here. there are white heroes in like heroes, white balance and like villains in the book. it would make a lousy reality tv show because there's no contrast. it is just real people struggling with real problems. and frankly, i think by looking at how my ancestors struggled with those problems, we can learn about how to be better
people in dealing with our problems and that is the beauty of knowing the truth. in laying bare the facts that instead of mindlessly honoring our ancestors, we can actually learn from them. >> hi, i have a question. i've been writing for the past two or three years, just starting for the aged 12 kind of a think as therapy, but oddly enough i've been writing in a way if i need to explain it to somebody and recently i've had a friend read it and she said you should really think about sharing this with somebody else. maybe should turn it into some sort of boat. i was like that kind of ridiculous, but i started thinking about it in reworking everything. i thought if i did share with someone i would feel so guilty about sharing everything that i would want to do it under a pen name. i am curious if you ever felt any guilt for the things he wrote and if so, how you decided to be there right under your own name or not to the pen name
because in my head i'm thinking i feel really killed the about right in the same general matter how many people read it i would want to pen name it. >> i'm sorry, did you say you feel guilty? >> wow. i don't think i've ever felt guilty about anything i've written. if anything, it has been very cathartic and empowering to go back and revisit my past and make peace with it. so it would have never occurred to me to write under a pen name. but i think it is great that you are writing and that you showed your work to a friend. i think that in itself is huge because i think i used to be really afraid to show my work to anybody. but i think, are you writing very personal things about people? you can always change
everybody's names and hair color. that always helps. [laughter] >> i'm a journalist, right, so i'm not a sociologist. i feel no obligation to protect somebody. you know, check my sources. you have to think about what your purpose is and who your audience is. one of the things i want to say is let's be honest about american history and let's be honest about her what our ancestors did and how we benefited from it. and all blame on racist people armed with knowledge of the past can make this country lives up to its goals. you know, it is not enough just not to be racist. you have to know the history and those two things allow us to move forward. so you know, i don't feel a lot of guilt. but i also don't be that great
writing and requires you to kind of take all of your clothes off and went through the public square. [applause] >> i think one of the most wonderful things about the book festival as it gives you a chance to feel it is the authors that you know and his work you treasure and went to see their new work and see them in the flesh and that was the case for me because i've are the red crescent spoke before they gave it a panel to moderate. it also gives you a chance to read the people you're not familiar with and it gave me a chance to read maria's wonderful book. "bulletproof vest" and "tomlinson hill" are both wonderful books. i guarantee it. they will be an attempt to to sign the books you buy in every book you buy benefits the texas book festival. we've got a great festival going on for the rest of the afternoon. i hope you see where panels. i hope you buy more books and thank you very much.
emacs though it's interesting trying to understand what possibly motivate somebody to join the chase wrinkly ridiculous sounding regime. so i made contact with him and he and his unit were based on the top of a mountain in rural afghanistan. so i went out to this mountain. it is basically a day to get to the top hiking. when i got up there, i went to resort of narrow trail and went to a small village at the very top and sure enough, sitting in one of houses for a group of taliban fighters, 12 or 13 fighters. i went inside and sat down and they were all sitting
crosslegged in and i took out my notebook and i started interviewing them, started interviewing the commander specifically and asking them questions like why are you fighting against the u.s.? what kind of society do you want? what is your assessment of the 1990s regime, which is the mentality and went into power. he gave me answers for all of them. at some point he stopped me and told me, you know, you are actually the first foreigner that i've ever met. of course the first american i've ever met. can i ask you some questions? i said yeah, sure. so we started asking me questions, this is to does, so president obama -- two dozen nine. president obama just announced a troop surge. he asked me why is your president wanting to surge troops to our country? so it started to explain to him about the u.s. geopolitical concerns and sort of domestic
politics. then he asked, why does your country come to afghanistan in the first place? it turned out i try to explain to them about 9/11 and what that was all about in the war on terror. and then he started asking me questions about culture in the united states. yes, i heard in the u.s. women walk around and nobody controls them. that's not exactly correct. and i try to explain to them, the differences in culture between the u.s. and afghanistan. at some point he asked me, have you ever seen the film the titanic and i said yes, seen the movie. he asked me how come your country doesn't make movies like that anymore? it turned out he was a big fan of the titanic as are many members of the taliban. in the 1990s the taliban had outlawed the titanic and was very popular amongst numbers of the taliban and they traded at around and people would go and get leonardo dicaprio haircuts.
>> booktv is live from the texas book festival on the capital city of boston. there is several other toxin to come. visit us online at otb.org for a plea schedule of events. we will be back with more in just a few minutes. [inaudible conversations] >> there is no world order today. and perhaps if i tell you what induced me to write the book, i
was having dinner with a friend, professor at yell and i was discussing various ideas i had writing a book, most of which have to do with historical episodes. and he said, you have written a lot of history. why don't you write something about what concerns you most out the moment. and what concerns me most at the moment is the absence of world order, the fact that for the first time in history, and different regions of the world are interacting in the classical
period. the roman empire and the chinese empire existed without any significant knowledge and acted without any reference to what the others were doing. so the reality is that different societies with different histories are now part of the global system because they don't have an agreed concept of world order. so i began writing this for two reasons. because that is the only formal system of world order that has been devised. and because it was the dominant
system in europe and because the europeans as part of the imperialism around the world as a concept. but there is a unique aspect to the european experience. in every other part of the world, whatever order existed was part of an empire. in china, dat a bit states balance each other didn't exist. it didn't exist in that sense. europe is the only society for the sovereignty of states and the balance of their actions with each other was believed to produce international order. so that's what i started with
that and attempted to apply it to many contemporary circumstances. but this is not a cook book you can read to say that the national order will be. it is an attempt to tell you this is what we are up against now. this is the challenge we have in here are some ways of working on it. but it does not say that i know what the end result of all of these conflicts and ambiguities, some of which you describe will be.
being, and she's also been working on reading programs focused on the daughters of women who have been in prison, around the charges of adultery. she's also done art projects and a lot of other things, but her most recent adventure has been using the bike as a social justice tool. she was the first person to mountain bike in afghanistan and is actively working with the afghan national women's cycling team in producing a documentary on all of that called afghan cycles. so, shannon, thank you for coming to the texas book festival. we're so thrilled to have you here. [applause] >> thanks for having me here. this is actually my first time in austin, and i had no idea how amazing this festival was. you guys are so incredibly lucky to have this in your backyard. i'm incredibly honored to be here. >> so i thoroughly enjoyed reading this.
and your writing is raw, it's gritty, it goes to some places that are really difficult to read at times. one of the things -- actually, by show of hands, who is here because they were interested in the women's rights? what other elements would you like to know about the audience? >> who's here because of women's rights? yeah, all right, that's good. who's here because of the bike? [laughter] who's here because of afghanistan? interesting. okay, good. >> and who was wondering if they are in the wrong place at this point? [laughter] >> one. oh. you're on the end, though, you're good. you can take off. what's interesting to me is why only, like, maybe half of you raised your hands when i said who's here for women's rights, because one thing i guess i have really tried to get across in the book is women's rights is a human rights issue. everyone here, male or female, has a mother. something i'm trying to get through that, this is not a
women's issue, this is a human rights issue. >> one of the things i fought pass phasing was -- fascinating, one of the things national geographic puts on their adventures, and they're all extreme, and they denote them by their pursuit. so it's listed as ultra runner, surfer, biker, base jumper. and yours has the designation of humanitarian. >> yeah. i'm actually incredibly touched by that, because they -- national geographic chooses ten adventurers around the world every year, and they didn't choose me because i was the first person to mountain bike, they choose me because of my work and because of my humanitarian work. and to be in the same category as felix baumgartner who jumped from space, pretty amazing. >> how many women were in that selection? >> two. >> two, yeah. >> so it was pretty extraordinary. >> one of the things that you write about early on is the influences. and we're at a writing festival, a book festival. and i think it's really
fascinating that you were drawn to this work for two reasons. one, your own personal, but also the writings of others, jack jacqueline -- [inaudible] in particular, her work around a blue sweater. what about that writing, i mean, i'm just warning you when you read it, you might be joining her in afghanistan. but what about jacqueline's writing? >> jacqueline was fascinating to me because i had just started working in afghanistan, and i had been reading a lot of nonfiction books. i'm fascinated with the work of others in the humanitarian and activism fields, i'm fascinated by world travelers and adventurers, and what the blue sweater really did that no other book i had read does in a very easy-to-read, beautiful literal story was talk about the mistakes. we don't talk enough about the mistakes and that journey of, in my case, of becoming an activist. and i find that really fascinating because it's not this golden escalator that when you decide to become an activist or humanitarian or a national
geographic adventurer of the year all of a sudden from point a i'm living my life in colorado with my daughter, and all of a sudden, boom, i'm here. it's a lot of blood, sweat, tears, sacrifice and an enormous amount of mistakes along the way. and i love that the blue sweater really talked about those mistakes. and allowed me and others to learn from them and not reinvent the wheel every time. >> it sounds like your first trip on the mountain bike wasn't exactly as you had planned. >> no. [laughter] >> yeah. so -- >> incredibly difficult. >> but what i would love for you to do is to share -- because of the way you've taken, i mean, jacqueline's work and your own personal experience really helped you to take a very up close, personal, hands-on approach, and it's given you access in ways that other people haven't. and i would love for you to read a portion of your experience of visiting women in the candle hard prison -- kandahar prison.
so the kandahar prison was where i met a woman who has become a symbol of everything i strive for. she was accused of killing the son of her husband's other wife. he blamed her, she denied it. a game of he said/she said. but regardless, she was the fifth wife of her husband. he was 65, and she was 20. and she had been married to him for four years, married off when she was only 16. she told me that his first three wives were dead, all killed by his beating and fond use of knives, and she shyly pulled up her sleeves into showed me scars as if someone had used her knife as a -- arm as a knife sharpener. the women seemed to have formed a sisterhood. they slept, ate and, when allowed, studied together, and they raised their children communeally. i'd asked several women be they
felt safer in prison, and many replied that they did. and while i couldn't imagine the oppressive loss of freedom as anything less than a death sentence, these women often had very few freedoms outside of prison, so the loss of freedom perhaps wasn't much of a loss when compared to the protection from their husbands. the hardest part of prison for many women was the separation from their children, as only very young children typically remained with their mother, and that, too, i keenly felt; the notion of not being able to see my daughter, devon, because i'd been raped was mind blowing. >> your access, i'm frequently prized and stunned -- surprised and stunned. how is it, first of all, i can't imagine asking to be taken into a woman's prison in afghanistan -- >> there are times i've wondered if i would be let back out. >> that's what i was going to ask. how have you been able to negotiate and build these trust-based relationships?
because you have access to the men and the women, and often down the -- up and down the hierarchy as well as laterally. how have you been able to do that? >> it's within a really interesting situation, being a foreign woman working in afghanistan. i get asked a lot if, you know, being tall and blond and, obviously, standing out works against me, makes me more of a target. and, actually, it's the thing that has given me the most access. and if you talk with a foreign journalist, any female journalist i've spoken to in afghanistan that has worked there or pakistan has said exactly the same thing. being a foreign woman makes me uniquely qualified and uniquely situated to do the work that i do, because a foreign woman is considered gender-neutral. i am not a woman when i'm in afghanistan. i am not a man, but i am considered an honorary man. and the men treat me as an equal. and so i have full access to the
gatekeepers. at the same time, because i am a woman and not an actual man, i have full access to the women. and so i get to hear both sides of the story which often are radically different. and it gives me the ability to do my work where i'm fighting for women and girls, it gives me a unique access point because men that are gatekeepers, the men that make the decisions as to what can or cannot happen for their wives, their daughters, their sisters treat me as an equal. and we can make those plans ourselves. it's just i also get the context of the women's perspective. >> so in particular your work is about giving voice. and what i'm really curious about and, i think, probably a lot of folks are. when you have access to the women and they obviously give you a private space, so you are there, the brothers, all of the men aren't around -- >> no. >> -- and you actually get to
have that really interesting girl talk. >> uh-huh. >> what do they ask you? >> so a great example is same family i've visited many times out in the mountains in the panshir valley, i've always had either a male translator because that's easier to travel with, there's very few female translators, or a male member of the family, an older son who's in high school who wants to practice his english. and we would talk about family, you know, my daughter, their families, the region, what i do, very benign, safe conversations. and the same family that i stayed with two years later i had a female translator with me by complete fluke. and i didn't think anything of it. she was with me for a three or four-day journey. and we go back, meet the women, have tea with all of the kids. there's three -- sorry, four wives, two grandmothers and then all the children. they see i have a female afghan with me, and they boot out all
of the kids. only the girls get to stay. none of the toddlers, nothing. if you're a boy, you're out. and they just shoo them out, sit down, and before my tea is poured -- and this is a country where there's just so many layers of -- >> ritual? >> yeah, rituals and hellos and greetings. the first question they ask me, i'm taking a sip of tea is, are you on birth control? and i almost spit out my tea. [laughter] and i looked over at my translator, and i was like, no, they didn't ask me that. she's like, yeah, what they asked. [laughter] and we had this incredible conversation about family planning, the health of mothers, what kind of birth control i was on, what are options. and they had been, they had been told by the local midwife that, you know, birth control was available. but there's a lot of misconception around it. and it's really becoming something quite new, that doctors and midwives are
advocating for it. because it helps spread out how many children the women have and keeps them healthier. other side, they're having them back to back to back, and the children and mothers are very sick. be but they're limited information. >> you mentioned in your book abdomen billboards. >> oh, yeah. >> what do they saysome what are they promoting? >> there was a billboard that was over an entrance point, kind of like a police checkpoint, and i asked my translator at that time what it said, and it was basically promoting space between births. men, don't knock up your wives as soon as she's had a baby. give her a little time. let her have some space, let the child get one-on-one time, breast-feeding, you know, things like that. and, you know, having to really educate that having more children because you're worried your children will die is not the best solution. actually, spacing them out creates a healthier family. >> so, okay. one of the other things, too, is
that you're hitting on some really culturally challenging topics. >> yeah. >> and you're training as a dancer and all these other things. you seem so well suited for your role. how is it that you have learned to navigate the cultural differences safely? >> well, i give a huge amount of credit to my translator and my fixer, najibullah. it's interesting that one of the key components of the work that i do, my knowledge of afghanistan, my knowledge of navigating the culture as a foreign woman, where i can push boundaries, where i can't really comes down to men. afghan men that believe in the work that i'm doing, that want a better future for their country, for their wifes, for their -- wives, for their daughters, and they support the work i do. i always find that really fascinating. often baf began men are labeled as the oppress sores. that's not wrong, but it's also not the full truth.
there are an incredible number of men that want a better future for their entire family and are incredibly supportive of the work that i do, and i owe them everything. >> that's a good segway into the cycling. so the, actually, that's been driven can by the coach of the men's team. >> uh-huh. >> so i want you to share your first experience of mountain biking and then lead us through how that ended up, how you ended up with the women's national cycling team. if you wouldn't mind sharing -- >> yeah. >> -- your very first experience with cycling. >> and to give a quick segway of this, this is a country where women have never been allowed to ride bikes. it's one of the few countries in the world. i don't know if you follow what's going on in saudi arabia with the driving and bicycle ban, it's the same situation in afghanistan. this is a country where girls have never been allowed to ride bikes, which is why i did it. [laughter] my heart pounded.
i focused downhill, picking a line through the rubble, i steadied my nerves and took a deep breath. i gripped my handlebars and tried to keep my bike upright. the school and the open court yard sat at the base of the mountain, a sexual white oasis -- small white oasis in the sea of brown. i let the speed take me through. shades of brown rushed by in a blur as i picked up speed. i bent my elbows deeper to allow my arms to absorb the bouncing, my teeth chattered and my tires searched more solid ground. dust stung my eyes, my hair was sweaty and plastered to my head under my checkered head scarf. my heart pounded even harder whether from fear, exertion or the layers of clothing i wore, i wasn't entirely sure. but suddenly the tires stopped sliding, and i was on level, solid ground. the mountain had spat me out alive, and as if a mute button was released, sound flooded my
ears; cheering. 600 boys were cheering. i looked up for the first time since i'd started my descent and smiled in relief through the crowd of dust. 600 afghan boys smiled back, and one threw a rock. [laughter] 600 to 1? i'll take those odds. in a remote village in the heart of the panshir mountains, 600 boys, the teachers and a few random individual allers had just -- villagers had just watched a woman ride a mountain bike behind their schoolyard. what they maybe didn't realize was they had just witnessed the first time any woman had mountain biked in afghanistan. i didn't go there planning to ride a mountain bike. does anyone travel to a war zone and think to themselves, i wish i had remembered to pack my mountain bike, helmet and lycra? yeah, no, they probably don't. but on my fourth trip in 2009, i had decided to bring my
tangerine 9-er 29-single speed and challenge the gender barrier that prevents women from riding bikes. afghanistan is one of the few countries in the world that doesn't allow women or girls to ride. but i'm not afghan. standing at 5-9 with long blond hair, i am clearly not local. while many back home assume being so obviously a foreigner is an inherent risk, it has become my biggest asset. a foreign woman here is a hybrid gender, an honorary man, a status that allowed me unique insight into a very complicated region. >> that was great. [applause] >> thank you. and just a little bit of a spoiler, the very first time that she was putting the bike together, it didn't go quite as -- [laughter] >> no. i actually, the worst injury i've ever had in afghanistan was putting my bike together in the courtyard right before that ride. and i clothes lined myself and split my eye open riding my bike
to make sure i had built it right. >> i really admire the fact that after that in the courtyard, you would -- >> yeah, exactly. it's not land mines, it's clotheslines. [laughter] >> so sports are not foreign to women in afghanistan. >> uh-huh i. >> but what is it about the bike -- first of all, why is it such a taboo? >> there's two reasons that the bike is so taboo in afghanistan and why women have never been allowed to ride, and one is the fact that you're straddling a bike seat. motorcycles, horses, bikes, women ride side saddle on the back. but more importantly, you can get past that controversy, more importantly it's that the bike is independent travel. so in a country that's repeatedly reactioned the most -- ranked the most oppressively treated in the world, the last thing men are going to allow is freedom. it literally means freedom for women. >> and you've written quite extensively how afghanistan is not the first ones to address
the women and the biking issue. >> yeah. it's fascinating to me because as i started to dive into this and really trying to understand why, what is the taboo, how deep does that go, does a foreign woman starting to ride, can that ripple out? and time and time again when you look at this country and say, well, you know, these women are being insulted, rocks are slingshotted, why is it so controversial? when i started looking back to the women's suffrage movement in the u.s., women who started riding bikes at the turn of the century, late 1800s, petticoats buttoned up underneath their necks, they were labeled promisous and immoral. and has been replicated in, you know, in britain, in france, basically everywhere women have started to ride bikes, we've turned over the apple cart, you know? it shakes things up. and it scares, you know, the men that women are going to be able
to go wherever they want, however they want. and so it's fascinating to me that parallel is there. it's a century spread, but whenever women have started to ride bikes, it has rocked the world. >> it scares some men, and others have embraced that. i think one of the unsung heroes here are these young women who are racing on the team, man, this is really tough. i mean, you tried riding here in austin -- >> i did. >> you found out how hard it is. but it's their fathers and their brothers who have been supporting them. and sometimes they're at as great a risk if not many so than the women. >> definitely. yeah, the women who take these risks whether that's on a bike, whether that's women running for parliament and political office, whether it's just girls going to school, their fathers and their brothers are key. when they support and allow and encourage these girl, they really are the unsung heroes. and i think that's something where, again, women's rights is
not a women's issue, a human right's issue. and the -- human rights issue. the men in afghanistan that support women are by far my biggest heroes. >> the other thing i found fascinating is you, unlike other sports -- say swimming or any of these others -- it doesn't have the same economic impact or well being of the country. how has that happened, that women on bikes can radically change the outcome? >> what we've seen in countries throughout southeast asia and africa, bikes are literally a vehicle for social justice. bikes increase access to education in rural communities. bikes allow midwives to service a greater community and a broader base. and especially in countries like afghanistan where sexual harassment and violent attacks, gender violence is rampant, bikes literally are a tool to fight gender violation. it's giving girls -- violence.
it's giving girls transportation. so the bike is way more than a sport, and my hope in afghanistan is that the sport of cycling can normalize bikes for girls across the country so that we can use bikes as a social vehicle for justice. >> well, they've been getting an awful lot of international attention, this team, a lot of support. and as a matter of fact, the guardian today has a piece on them, and with the film that you're bringing. so with all the added attention, does it make them safer because eyes of the world are on them, or does can it make them a bigger target? >> this is a question i always navigate, because my worry is by highlighting the work of girls like this, are we putting them at more risk? and is that worth the potential benefit of more funding, more sustainability? and so i pose the question to the girls. i've put it on their plate. they're the ones taking the risk, how do you feel about this? i keep it secret if you want it secret, we talk about it and share it if you want it shared.
they are so proud of what they do, they want -- i mean, when we shared the stories that germany, you know, paper in germany covered them, that there was a tv story in france, that these girls are not just changing their families and their communities, but they're inspiring the world. that buoys them and, i think, gives them great hope that what they're doing is not just isolated in a bubble. >> well, the clip that's out on the afghan cyclists is really uplifting and inspiring and, boy, the risks that they take just -- and the story with one of riders how she was, basically -- what happened on the road where one of the drivers -- >> a motorcycle, yeah, a motorcycle targeted her. and, i mean, it's funny. you look at, i know stories from people who ride in texas getting run off the road. it's dangerous to be a cyclist. doesn't matter gender or geography. but you amplify it in a country where these are the first girls
to ever ride bikes, they're doing it on afghan highways because it's the only roads that are paved, and you've got truck drivers and, you know, all manner of traffic. and remember, this is a country where probably 90%, i would say is a safe number, of drivers do not have driver's licenses. [laughter] it's a little crazy. i'm petrified riding on the road when i train with these girls. but they constantly come back with this phrase which i think is incredibly important, and this is what i look at whenever i share their story and whenever we talk about the work that is possible in countries like afghanistan; change does not happen by playing it safe. these girls know the risks that they take just as young girls who walk to school in kandahar risk an acid attack. they know if they stay home, nothing changes. and every afghan politician, every afghan activist, every afghan cyclist says the same thing. would i want my 9-year-old
daughter to walk to school and know that she might get attacked just for going to school? no. but that was the situation and the roles were reversed and geography was switched and we were the ones in afghanistan, i would hope that others encouraged her to go to school and fought for her the way i try to fight for them. >> and you do take a lot of personal risks, and you do that in your writing, you do a lot of things where you've revealed some of the risks that you've taken. and one of the things that i'm not sure people really appreciate is the amount of financial risk you've taken. >> oh, yeah. >> this isn't financed through the gates foundation. [laughter] >> no. >> you're open for business. >> no. i sold my home. i gave up my house, i gave up -- i took out a lone against my car, which i owned. i have leveraged every last asset, sold whatever i could. and doing this while having a daughter, knowing at some point i'm going to have to pay for a
college education. but that i knew i needed to do this work. and until it's fully funded, that i needed to sacrifice to do this. and my family has also been amazing because the last trip this spring we had 60 brand new racing bikes to bring over for the girls' expect men's team, and i did not have the $50,000 to ship the bikes. we had $150,000 of bikes and brand new equipment donated, and my sister leveraged it on her credit card for me. i meaning it's a family affair. >> it really is. well, if there are questions from the audience, if you want to go ahead and line up, and we will open that up. the other thing that i found really fascinating is how you are managing this logistically. because 19 trips to to afghanistan means that you're not here, and you have a young daughter. you're doing this work on behalf of all the daughters, but you've got one in particular. how to you manage this
logistically? >> well, in one case i'm incredibly lucky. her father and i co-parent, so we have 50/50 parenting, and i'm incredibly lucky to have his support. she's with a parent, not with a grandparent. to me, it makes all the difference where are i'm traveling. yeah, i live in the mountains of breckenridge. logistically, it is a nightmare to do the work, but it is completely worth the planes, trains and automobiles to make this happen and horses and bikes and motorcycles and donkeys. [laughter] >> looks like we've got -- hi. >> hi. i wonder over 19 trips to afghanistan, i wonder what are the things that you have taken away from after began culture that we may not -- afghan culture that we may not realize that maybe surprised you the most? and also how have you seen the change over time, if at all? >> i'd say that the majority of the changes that i've seen in
afghanistan have been -- actually, let me take that back. you surprised me. it's a country full of incredibly sweet, kind people who are incredibly hospitable. i've never been so welcomed as i have been in afghanistan. and i think that goes against the norm of what we assume. and i have a good friend who works in security there and who says, you know, a nation of incredibly sweet people living across an incredibly messed-up backdrop of violence and war. and the changes in particular for where my passion is, women, women have made incredible strides over the last decade. there are more women in school, more women running for politics, in politics, there's even women lawyers, doctors. there's -- and now we have the very first cycling team. there's been incredible progress for women. the danger is that we see security potentially sliding backwards. you know, things like isis coming into the game which, you know, may spread into this
region as well, and that means that women on the front lines. they are most at risk for the back sweep of security. >> a quick question. one is, how'd you get started? we've heard the middle and the end, but how'd you get started? the second is, has there been any contact with the u.s. government in afghanistan during your time there? >> so i have not contacted the u.s. government. i've gone to the embassy once in 19 visits. i do have occasionally e-mails from men who are in special forces, navy seals, the brits, the swedes, international forces that are there that reach out in support of the work that i'm doing, but i have not done any work in conjunction with the u.s. government. and in terms of how i got started, the nutshell version is i myself am a victim of gender violence, i was raped and nearly killed when i was 19, my sister was raped on a college campus 12
years later, and i'm a mother. i woke up one morning and realized the world has got to change, and i need to be part of that. [applause] >> part of my question was taken -- >> i saw you shaking your head. [laughter] >> right. >> but he didn't touch the other part, and that is have any international ngos done any reachout to you, and more importantly than the u.s. government, has the u.s. state department bothered to contact you in any form or fashion? >> not that i know of. [laughter] no, not that i know of, you know? i'm sure, i'm sure that whenever i come back through after 19 visits, but, no. i really have not -- >> you mean fso has never bothered to pick up the telephone and call you -- >> no. >> no. >> no.
>> too bad. [laughter] >> but, you know, the work that i'm doing can, you know, i travel in afghanistan as one woman. i don't travel with security, i work with my translator when i'm there, occasionally have a photographer that i'll work with when i'm there, but it is very much an individual sort of situation. and most ngo that are working in afghanistan have security and convoys and live in compounds. so i work incredibly differently, and that allows me the access that i have. >> so why don't you just make sure that the rest of the world hears this, that you have been selected by national geographic magazine as one of the ten most whatevers, and nobody has bothered from the united states government to pick up a telephone and give you a call. [laughter] >> no. but maybe now that it's on c-span, they will. [laughter] >> i'm not holding my breath. >> no, me neither. [applause] >> just a simple question. i'm wondering what we all can do to help you in this.
>> thank you. >> worthy goal. >> there's two things. and one of them is not directly for me, but i think that what i'm trying to get through when i wrote this book besides sharing these stories and opening up the conversations about the choices we make as mothers, as women is also looking at individual action and the brief that one person can make a difference does not mean that you need to sell your home and upturn everything in your life. it means you can take individual actions in your community to create change. that, to me, is the biggest takeaway i want people to have. in terms of supporting my work and the work of these amazing afghan women, my organization is mountain to mountain, slightly different, it's with the number 2, not to. it's mountain2mountain.org. there's a donate button. we need support for these women that risk their lives to change their communities, and that
change does not happen on rainbows and unicorns. it happens with money being able to be plugged in directly to those that we can help and creating sustainable, long-term are, generational programs that can change the world. >> well, shannon, we don't ever want you to go to afghanistan without your lycra -- [laughter] >> uh-oh. oh, very cool! [laughter] >> so texas bikes. >> actually, what we need to do is get one of the after began girls in this. >> this is from atx bikes here in austin, and they are proud to donate full cycling kits to the afghan women's national cycling team. >> oh, that's fantastic. [applause] texas to afghanistan. >> thank you again. thank you for joining us. >> thank you for coming. [applause] >> visit her over there and buy her book and get her to sign it. and thank you for joining us
founder of the mountain to mountain nonprofit, dedicated to helping women and girls in conflict regions. up next at the top of the hour is jeffrey clueinger, author of "the narcissist next door," and christian rutter, author of dataclysm. this is booktv on c-span2, television for serious readers. [inaudible conversations] >> part, part of the process in this town has to be the engagement with people who are in political positions up on the hill who you may not like, you
know, let's face it. governing is tough. governing means you have to deal with people you may not like. 435 members of congress, 100 members of the senate all from different parts of the country. some are smart, some are not smart. some are honest, some are dishonest. some want to do the right thing, some don't want to do the right things. it's a real mixture. it's a cross-section of america that's represented up there. and there are a lot of people, i mean, you know, particularly today there's probably more in terms of, you know, numbers of people that are just very tough to deal with. and yet challenge in legislation is to engage people. i mean -- >> why doesn't the president do that? >> i think, i think the president, you know, believes that part of it is that he presents an issue and the logic of an issue and that people should embrace it. and, you know, he's not -- i mean, the difference between bill clinton and barack obama,
both who are extremely bright, both are capable, both, i think, are quick studies when you brief them in terms of understanding issues. they ask great questions. and deep down both want to do the right thing for the country. make no mistake about it. they want to do the right thing for the country. the difference is bill clinton loves the political engagement. loves the process of, you know, rolling up your sleeves, dealing with individuals. i mean, he loved politics. he loved dealing with members. i mean, he knew every member's district. members would come in, and he would say to them you're running the wrong campaign. [laughter] he'd say you're running on the wrong issues. let me tell you what you ought to run on. [laughter] and he would tell them what the issues were that they would run on. so he was engaged in that process, and that makes a difference. i think president obama, you know, is not into that kind of personal political engagement.
he wants to work with people, he wants to work with people on the issues. but to get it done, it's like everything else, it is a personal process of basically wooing people, listening to them, understanding what their needs are, understanding how you can convince them what is this their interest to do the right thing. it is that entire process that ultimately results many getting things done. -- in getting things done. and that's where the president has to engage in terms of dealing with the issues that now confront the country. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> booktv asked bookstores and libraries throughout the country about the nonfiction books they're most anticipating being published this fall. here's a look at some of the titles chosen by the free library of philadelphia. first off, cognitive scientist
and linguist stephen pinker suggests ways to improve the way we write in "the sense of style." next, in "the republic of imagination," the reading and teaching of american literary classics. former secretary of state henry kissinger comments on international affairs in "world order." also on the free library of philadelphia's list of their most anticipated fall titles is pulitzer prize-winning author lawrence wright's account of the 1978 camp david accords, "thirteen days in september." and wrapping up the list in "the innovators," walter isakson profiles many of the people responsible for the creation of the computer and the internet. that's a look at some of the nonfiction titles the free library of philadelphia is most anticipating being published this fall. you can visit the library in philadelphia or online at freelibrary.org.
>> it's a discussion that comes up, but it's in the constitution. they're appointed for life. for better or for worse. framers of the constitution thought that would be the best way to insulate them from politics, so that they weren't effectively running for office or they didn't have to please the person who had appointed them. so there were benefits to the idea of this impartial judiciary, of a judiciary that would have more integrity, be blind to certain political constraints that the other branches would face. so that's, that's the background with of why our supreme court justices and, frankly, every member of the federal bench from district court judges up to the appeals court level to the supreme court level on federal bench are appointed for life. now, you get complaints about that, but they tend to be -- they didn't tend not to be like caller's complaint. the caller is raising concerns
about, you know, burnout, bringing your own moral judgment to it that, you know, might be outdated after time. usually, it comes down to kind of questions of politics of one justice over another. sometimes it comes down to why is that liberal still hanging in there? justice john paul stevens retired at 90 and, boy, was he a active, flee thinking 90-year-old -- free thinking 90-year-old. justice douglas basically had to be wheeled out, you know? it depends on how long they hold on. chief justice rehnquist really, really, really wanted to hold on, and what does he do? he died in office september 3rd, 2005 from thyroid cancer. he thought he could last another term, and he couldn't. so they, they tend to think that appointed for life means appointed for life and then death. and they hang in there. now, justice o'connor left just
shy of 25 years, but she left in part to go home to take care of her husband who had alzheimer's at the time. he ended up dying a few years later, and her colleagues -- including justice ruth bader ginsburg -- think that she regretted leaving when she did. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. [inaudible conversations] >> founded by former first lady laura bush, the texas book festival has been held in austin, texas, since 1996. booktv's live coverage will resume in a moment. [inaudible conversations] >> here's a look at some books that are being published this
week. radio host glenn beck tells the stories of ten americans who he believes are misremembered in "dreamers and deceivers." karen armstrong challenges the idea that violence is an intrinsic quality in many of the world's dominate religions. jill he por tells the story of feminism by examining the creation of the first female superhero in "the secret history of wonder woman." gary crist's book examines the history of new orleans through the struggle to keep the city's vice district operational. in the south china sea, bbc news reporter bill hayton deconstructs the complex history of the important asian trade route. and katherine harrison recounts a story of a french woman who became a military leader in joan of arc, a life transfigured. look for the titles this coming week and watch for the authors
in the near future on booktv and on booktv.org. >> so the estimates, like, from the national safety council would put at about, if memory serves, about 1.5 million of 5.6 crashes, million crashes in the u.s. owing to phone use. but those are estimates. and the reason we don't know is because it's very hard or track for police agencies, it's hard to get the information, people lie, and we just started trying to collect the data. so the estimates are based largely on how much we know people are using phones and how many crashes there are. just to give one example of how we know that the official numbers are so far off, there's a number from about 2011 which is the latest data we have of deaths owing to phone use. and tennessee remarks 93 cases,
and the state of new york remarks one. just simply impossible. we're not tracking it accurately. so the short answer is, we don't know. the long answer is, all the science and everything we see on the roadways say it's a big and growing problem. >> uh-huh. well, tell me a little bit about the story, because we are dealing with a very, very important problem, you know? it does seem to be on the rise even if we're not quite sure of, you know, the scope of the problem. tell me about the story, the accident briefly, because it's a very gripping model or example of what could happen to all of us. >> yeah. when i thought about writing about all the science -- i'm sure we'll talk about it at some point -- i thought, you know, what interests me when i read anything is story is. it's character, it's narrative, it's emotion, it's conflict, and i could not have invented and could not have imagined the story that i discovered in
reporting this out. it starts with a young man, 19 years old, september 22, 2006, and he's driving to work at 6:30 in the morning. it happens to be last day of summer, but already there's freezing rain, and it is dark. and he is going 55 miles an hour, which is the speed limit. but he's swerving periodically across the yellow divider. and this is noticed by the guy driving behind him who happens to be aer ifier, a horseshoe -- ferrier, a horseshoe maker who's got two tons of equipment, a missile at highway speeds. and the last time reggie, shaw, the young man who i mentioned earlier, swerves across the yellow divider, he clips a saturn carrying, again, can't make this stuff up, two not only fine family men, but no kidding, rocket scientists. the real thing. building boosters for the next
space shuttle. he clips them, they spin across the road. they are hit by the ferrier broadside, and the two men in the saturn are killed instantly. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. [inaudible conversations] >> well, the tent is filling up for another author talk from the texas book festival. our live coverage in austin will continue right after this. [inaudible conversations]
[inaudible conversations] >> booktv covers hundreds of author programs throughout the country all year long. here's a look at some of the events we'll be attending this week. look for these programs to air in the near future on booktv on c-span2. on monday we're at the john f. kennedy presidential library and museum in boston for historian richard norton smith's recount of the life and political career of nelson rockefeller. that same evening at the university of california santa barbara, constitutional scholar irwin channel run sky contends that supreme court justices regularly allow their own biases to guide how they rule. on tuesday prettier prize-winning boyle jiu-jitsu edward o. wilson comments on what makes humans profindly
different from other species at the free library of philadelphia. the next day at ucla, megan ming francis examines how the civil rights movement affected the american political landscape in the early 20th century. and on wednesday night at the university of virginia bookstore in charlottesville, virginia, mark ed mundtson weighs in on the contributions football makes to american culture. that's a look at some of the author programs booktv will be covering this upcoming week. for more go to our web site, booktv.org, and visit upcoming programs. >> all the big -- [inaudible] at least if we're thinking of a time scale of a century or so, arise from or will arise from human activities as opposed to nature. so there are existential risks from nature, but we can see that they have to be fairly small. we've survived earthquakes and firestorms and volcano eruptions
for years. but we will introduce can entirely new kinds of hazard, particularly, i think, from certain anticipated future technologies that will radically expand the powers that we humans have of affecting the external world and ourselves. a different way of making roughly the same point is through this metaphor of a big urn which contains a lot of balls. like the balls represent possible discoveries that can be made. technologies that can be invented. throughout human history we have made a bunch of discoveries, and the net effect has been extraordinarily beneficial. it's because of all these technological advancements that we now live in abundance and why there can be seven billion of us. so a lot of these discoveries that have been made have been almost exclusively positive.
some have been mixed, have been used for good and nil. and one might be able to identify a surprisingly small number, perhaps, but a few technologies that we would have been better off without. net negatives have outweighed their positives. perhaps chemical weapons, maybe nuclear weapons, some torture devices or things like that, you could make case. what we haven't so far is pulled out a black ball. a technology or an idea that destroys the civilization or the species that discovers it with high probability. what does such a thing look like? well, we could do a little historical counterfactual. it was about a little over half a century ago we discovered how to create nuclear weapons. and in a sense, we were lucky because it turns out that to build an atomic bomb, you need these difficult-to-obtain raw materials. you need highly enriched uranium
or plutonium, and the only way to get those is to have a big facility that is expensive to build, takes a lot of energy. but suppose it had turned out instead that there had been a way to unleash the same destructive energy but not by with acquiring these rare raw materials, but through some simple method like baking sand in the microwave oven or something like that? now we know that physics prohibits that. it's physically impossible to release the energy of atoms by baking stuff in the microwave oven. but before we did the relevant particle fizzings, how could we possibly have known how it would turn out? so we were lucky that nature was cooperative with us. but if we keep pulling out balls from this urn, if there is a black ball in there, then it look like we will eventually pull it out. and what we don't have at the moment is, it seems, any rabbit to put the ball back into --
ability to put the ball back into the urn. it seems or very hard for us to achieve that. so if there was an easy way to make nuclear weapons, then probably that would have been the end of human civilization. too many people could destroy cities, modern civilization would have been impossible. perhaps we would have collapsed back to some stone age state, and even if after a few hundred years we could sort of claw our way back up again, then as soon as we reached a level of technological advancement where somebody could build a microwave oven, we would unleash the same demon again, and that might have been the end. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> booktv asked bookstores and libraries throughout the country about the nonfiction books they're most anticipating being published this fall. here's from the elliott bay book company in seattle. roxanne dunbar ortiz through the
eyes of native peoples in, "an indigenous peoples history of the united states." next, in "just mercy," brian stevenson remembers the legal practice he founded in alabama to help those in need. in "being mortal," a surgeon weighs in on the use of medicine in end-of-life care. also on elliott bay book company's list of their most anticipated fall titles, columnist naomi klein looks at climate change and the global economy in "this changes everything." and wrapping up the list, jill "la pore examines the feminist underpinnings in "the secret history of wonder woman." that's a look at some of the nonfiction titles elliott bay book company is most anticipating this fall. visit the bookstore in seattle or online at elliotbaybook.com. >> one thing that, you know, a lot of people talk about, well, legalization is the solution and, obviously, there's a big
controversy over that. but one thing that a lot of people don't understand when we talk about the drug war and why we've continued to maintain the same policies -- it's been, what, 40, 50 years we've been doing this war on drugs, and really nothing has improved or changed. so a lot of countries in latin america have been challenging that mindset. and say, you know what? we're tired of these current policies. so your bay recently said, you know what? we're legalizing everything. and oh, my god. it's really kind of an experiment. but uruguay's not the first country to really do it, but they're not the first country to think about it. guatemala is talking about. guatemala has zero money. their police, zero as far as, you know, we the tense in dealing -- and the cartels are all over guatemala. i mean, it is bad. so the problem is that there's something called the united nations convention against narcotics, and that's back from 961. and i think there's, like, 189
out of 192 or 96 countries that are signatories to this convention, and it basically says you will have laws that make it illegal to use or sell drugs, etc., etc. so any country that goes against this international convention, that's a really big deal. and bolivia went against -- they withdrew from the convention because coca is a big part of the indigenous culture, but now bolivia has this huge cocaine problem even though their president, evo morales said, oh, no, no, yes to coca, no to cotown. but as bolivia wanted back in, they wanted that exception, even bolivia recognizes being out of that convention, that's kind of a big international -- that's something to be looked down upon. so uruguay being a very kind of insignificant country relatively speaking in the grand scheme of thing, they said somebody has to do something different.
i don't know that's going to be some big chain reaction, but it's drawn a lot of attention. >> right. >> and now that we have this movement as far as, you know, medicinal marijuana and, you know, now colorado and washington and public opinion is moving a little bit, i don't think we're anywhere near pulling out of that convention because, you know, obviously fully legalizing here the way that it was in uruguay is too big a step. and too controversial. but there are countries that are looking at this at the international level and saying, you know what? screw the u.n. this is not working for us, and we need to do something different for our citizens. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. [inaudible conversations] >> we're back live at the texas book festival with authors jeffrey kluger and christian rudder. mr. kluger is the author of "the narcissist next door," author and screen writer owen eggerton moderates the discussion.
>> hello, everybody. how are you? are you having a good book festival? [applause] >> fantastic. i don't want to make anyone nervous but you are on national television right now as we speak. [cheering] >> so feel powerful. we are spreading the germs of literature throughout the galaxy, through c-span2. my name is owen, i'm an author here in austin, texas, and i'm going to be your moderator, how to win friends or manipulate people. going to be a fast -- i'm really excited about our two authors here. we will be taking questions at the end, but we're going to basically have a conversation that i think is going to be fascinating, and based round these two fantastic pieces of work. so let me introduce our writers and then they'll read a short passage from their books books . to my left, we have a writer who is award-winning for several
books, young adult books, lost moon, which was apollo 13, which we're aware of is a fantastic book. the sibling effect, and most recently, the book he will be reading from, the are in cyst next door. underring the monster in your family in your bed in your world; please welcome, jeffrey kluger. >> thank you. >> at the far end we have one of the cofounders of okay cupid and is in the pop rock band, by-shot allen, which i saw years ago and one motor vehicle favorite bands to this day so i'm kind geeking out a little bit. and dataclysm is his book just out.
please william, christian rudder. >> thank you, happy to be here. [applause] >> so jeffrey, i was going to do a coin toss to decide who gets to read first but i'm just deciding you. would you be willing to read. >> yes, i would. this cover, please ignore. this was an earlier version of a cover, a cover that screams, do not purchase this book. the book has since been revised. you'll see it has a white cover with hazard warning tape on the front to suggest narcissists are dangerous. so i am going to the device of the book is the chapters are written in the same format, each title. the monster in the nursery, the schmuck in the next cubicle, the beast in your bed, the bastard in the corner officer, and one of my favorites, the peacock in the oval office. i'm going to begin reading and i ask your indulgence in advance
because this -- the phrase -- some of the phrasing here might be franker than you thought you were in for, but i shall begin anyway. here's betting you don't want to think about lyndon johnson's penis. i'm not sure even lady bird wanted to think about his penis but she signed on for the job, the rest of america, no so mon. plenty of people had deal with the jobson johnson, especially during the five plus years he was president. bay lot of measures he was, not too put too fine a point on it, crazy. it wasn't so much his fierce amibition, extreme even by the standards of the narcissist, to the driven partly by the fact he came from a family of men who died young of heart disease and he lived with a sense that he was always racing the clock.
and it wasn't just his -- towards his enemies, particularly the kennedys and particularly robert. that's the wail he played extreme contact sport was 1970s politics and wasn't the micromanagement of the vietnam war. it was a hideous and murderous exercise but as much the result of floundering, fearful, wilful blindness as anything else. it ought not to come as too much surprise that man who effected a rough-hewn courtliness in the public persona might in private be foul-mouthed, boarish, and an often hard drinker. the halls of congress are filled with such two-faced figures. might not have been a surprise he was a philanderer, helping
himself to the women and on the white house staff and his and lady bird's circle. but as far as we know, i'm skipping ahead here -- it was instead johnson's appalling habit of conducting meet examination press conferences while on the toilet. it's well documented and often repeated, though no less jaw-dropping. it's not easy to peel back all of the layers of pathogy thinned this most primal kind of exhibitionism. something proudly infantile, perhaps, some sort of now turf marking, some statement of dominance, surely you can hardly make other people stand still to witness such a disagreeable exercise unless you truly are the alpha male. the full frontal displays were something else. some of the most alarming examples of lbjs behavior were described in the 2009 book "in the president's secret service."
by form winds popes and warn warn reporter ronald kessler. according to kessler, johnson would no sooner board air post one that drop his public persona and replaced with the real ranch-bred deal. you dumb sons of' bitchs i'll piss on al of you he would say when the door was closed. he would then retreat to his stateroom, getting undressed, stripping down to socks and shorts and often to nothing at all, sometimes while the door was open and staff members, many women, or immediate family members, all of them women, came and went. during a press conference at the johnson ranch he once turned to the side, unzipped, and being peeing freely into nature, at the same time keeping his face turned to the reports and continuing the colloquy. one morning at 6:00 a.m., a
secret service agent spotted the president similarly relieving himself off the back porch of the ranch house, greeting the dawn in his own particular way. anyway, i won't take too much time. it gets worse than this. i am sorry for the fact that once you see these images, you can never unsee them. but i have been living with this for two years myself. >> jeffrey kluger, ladies and gentlemen. [applause] >> thank you for choosing a texas theme, too. as i started i thought, he's well-loved here. i think most of us are related to him, actually. [laughter] >> christian, would you -- i have a copy of your book. >> i will -- yes. i have never actually read from this book outloud, at least, so this will be a first for me,
obviously. i'm -- the book generally is about i guess the more personal side of data rather than the marketing or the kind of nsa security. so i worked for a dating site of helped start a dating site so you see people doing ridiculous things, not as crazy as the former president, i guess. i wanted to tell some of that, at least through data. i'm going to try to find a passage that does that without any charts which none of you guys can see from there. so, i'll just dive in, i guess. that's how it goes. as for the data's authenticity much is in a sense fact check because the internet is part of everyday life. you give the site your gender and age and gives you a name of somebody to meet for a beer. i if you upload another person's
picture as your own you resident get more dates but imagine meeting the dates in person. they're expecting walt they saw online. if the real you isn't close the data -- this is the trend. >> online and offline world, built-in social pressure keeps many but not all of the internet's worst impulses in check. the people using these services, dating sites, social sites, and news aggregators are fumbling through life, as people always have, only now they do it on phones and laptops. they've created a unique archive. databases around to the world hold years of yearning and chaos, and it can only be analyzed -- it conclude analyzed not only in the fullness of time. i spent several years gathering and deciphering data from almost every other major site and never been able -- quite been able to get over a nagging doubt which i'm not dully that big of a fan of the interit in despite me
career. writing a book about the internet, of -- why bother? that's a questions of my dark hours. ll skip today -- i don't know if -- i will just beat misdemeanorful there's a great documently resident bob dylan called "don't look back." my best friend, justin in college, was studying film and bob gets into an argument with a guy who did or did not throw glass in the street. the climax of the conversation is this exchange. this is bob dylan. know a thousand cats who look just like you and talk like you. the guy at the party says, beep off. you're a big notice. dylan: i know, i know i'm a big notice. i'm a birth noise than you the guy at the party says, i'm small noise. and dylan says, right, and everybody feels gross. and then someone breaks up the
party so they can talk poetry. it's that kind of night. conquerors, tycoons, martyrs, their lives how we tell our larger stories. from pharaoh in bc34100, the first living man whose name we know, or nelson mandela, how people order the world. namar was the first on an ancient list of kings. the 1960s, power to the people and son is the perfect example. the era of lennon, dylan, and hendrix. a small noise, the crackle and his of the rest of us is making it to tape. so many other courses of personal endeavor will i hope
democratize our international narrative. >> thank you. christian rudder, ladies and gentlemen. christian, can i have that copy back? did you see my notes? >> it was nice to see what you thought 'twas good in there. >> underlining, "disagree." not really. you should see my kindle. it's a mess. i appreciate that you read that passage. it leads well into i think the beginning of our conversation. both these books -- i want to say this, actually, both books are filled with an immense amount of information and both hilarious. they both had me laughing outloud, and that's one thing for you guys who have not yet picked up these books, they're entertaining, and just so insightful as well. what you were saying about a small noise, this era when now everyone is a noise out there, and the data you have been able to examine and collect, goes along with some of your also --
jeffrey, your realizations. you pointed out in "timetime" ad you're season writer -- the person of the year was you in 2006. the cover was a mirror. and it was exciting until i realized it was just reflective. so, with that, i think some ways you talk about the same thing that we have never had a time more when we are crafting publicly the narrative of our life. we're constantly doing that. and i'd love to now how that is impacting us as individual, impacting us as a culture, when we're constantly crafting the narrative of our lives. >> i think it's a big question, and there are whole lot of answers to that. now, it is true that this has been made possible by the internet, facebook, twitter, is to the narcissist what the open bar is to the drunk. it's just an easier way to get
the substance you're going to be abusing anyway. >> that's true. >> that doesn't mean that the internet doesn't play a real role in it, but the fact is the numbers that i look at here show the scores on the narcissistic personality inventory, the number of people who score above the mean has increased by 33% from 1979 to 2004. which actually, 2004 was when facebook was still just a function of mark zuckerberg's dorm room. what happened in the 1979 to 2004 period is that the self-esteem movement took full flower. aim the first to say the mom was vitally important thing, but -- and to good reason. there are a lot of kid witches learning disabilities, physical disabilities, kids who are just shoe whoa would have been for
thrown off the carousel of the social life of high school. when we teach kids you have value, whoever you are, that's very important. the problem is, this has been amplified into the sort of everybody gets a ribbon at the track meter and experience, everybody gets good a's, we have high fructose as and bs that kids didn't earn. i went to a track meet where my older daughter was competing in sixth grade but i love her to bit us but she is the worst athlete on the planet. she could finish last in a place where people are running backwards and yet she and eve a child who crossed the finish line had a ribbon put around her neck before she even stopped running. that's that's just too much. what facebook does, though and what twitter and social media does, is, as owen suggests, gives us a chance to polish and present that image.
so, i make a plate of peppers and shrimp at home and the world needs to see a photograph of it to know what a good colorful job i did? well, i have post evidence that picture and i'm not proud to admitted. if you friend me on facebook you'll see my shame fully exploded. we do that because we're taken with our lives. we live inside our skin and inside our lives, and the opportunity to share that with the world is good. what we don't do, of course, is show the lousy dinners, the burned hall bat. the -- hall but, the day you looked terrible, the raise you didn't get at work. so the internet isn't to believe but allows to us yield more easily to our worst impulses. >> not really for the underdog. people give ribbons to to the last person. the internet allows winners to
amplify themselves even more with a friend count. you get to quantify how much cooler you are than everyone else. we see that kind of thing all the time. give people a set of rules and they basically try to hack their own way interest success through your interface. >> christian, one of the fascinating things i was thinking about with your book is, it's information we have never had before. the data that people have just naturally been putting out on ok cupid and facebook and everything else is telling us a story. i love you compared it to "people's history of the united states" saying we have constantly heard the big noises and now because of data we're finding much more about who everybody is. now history is not leaders and wars. it's trends and tweets. is it with data -- are you fining we're just learning more about who we are? not really changing?
>> it's good for knowing things but it kind of goes beyond the brief of a site to change people's behavior. especially -- the kind of biggest takeaway i found from people reading that book, and every dating site i have been able to look at, which includes match.com and other sites, but there's the same racial pattern in terms of attraction and how people vote on each other and how people message, and the same in all three that i look at intensely, and it's that black men and black women get 25% less attention and so do asian men, and people ask me, why don't you do something like this? the think we can make people message each other but you can't do that. no more than facebook can make you be friends witch someone. twitter can make you tweet about something. there isn't a lot of imperative there. >> are you finding that -- are we changing -- the fact we know these things, that you can put
it in a book, look who we are, the subtitle of the book is, who we are, asterisk, when no one is looking. are we -- because we're aware of our own lives and details in other people's lives, is that changing us? >> there comes a circle, people judge me by what i put on my facebook feed and whether i'm a good cook. everybody is their own publicist. and the stuff i tried look at is a deeper level, not necessarily your public face but when you do something when it's not broadcast, like google search and who you choose to mess imagine. the peer pressure and the internet experience makes people act cooler than they are. >> i love the stuff you write about and talk about, personal branding. >> exactly. people trying to kind of like shape their messaging as if they're a thing of skittles. very weird. i don't know. old spice.
i don't know. >> i'm wondering, jeffrey, in that way, with this rise in narcissism, are we breeding ourselves to be more and more narcissistic in are we celebrating it too much? >> i think we are celebrating it too much. what is happening is with this game -- the idea of the number of facebook friend, the idea of the number of twitter followers, i came to "time magazine" in an era in which it was just a magazine and the internet time.com was a little offshore colony where we put the misfit stories and now it's the tail that wags the dog, and a great many people, radically younger than me, who are in charge. these are not just kids. these are fetuses.
they're so young, and i'm answerable to them. and -- [laughter] >> one of them who is significantly less than half my age, who is my twitter coach, said you have just become the ideal twizen, and i thought i am prouder of than annoying term than it's healthy for me to be but we all do get caught up in that kind of thing, and i think that's a problem. it is good when you're trying to brand yourself. it is good when you're trying to market yourself but out in such a good thing if it becomes about image manufacturing and image creation and much less about what the substance is behind the images. >> one interesting thing, some over narcissists you describe, they're successes. donald trump. and i think we all admire donald trump.
is there a little bit of narcissism is okay, it's going to help you? when does it get dangerous. >> that's a really good question. the fact is, yes, you need a good slug of narcissism in order to be successful. it's not enough to wake up in the morning like steve jobs and think, you know what? i got this wild-ass idea to make the computer a personal thing. it could transform the world, it could transform communication. it could transform commerce, and guess what? i am the guy to do that. that is where a lot of us fall off the edge. we have an idea but don't think we can do it. the same thing with the reason all presidents are narcissists. may be nutty like johnson but all presidents are narcissists because it's the table stakes of running for president in the first place. you have to wake up in the morning and say there are 317 million americans and about
217 million of them are eligible to be president, and i'm better than all of them. well, good, god, what kind of vanity does that take? but you have to believe it. and in a lot of ways it works. it works also on smaller scales. narcissists are crazily hung fry for recognition, which means if we work in a business, if i work in a magazine, and we're all sitting around in a small committee of people and trying to come up with a in idea for a special issue, the narcissist in the room will generally be the one who is the most motivated for the little reward pellet of applause, and as a result will work the hardest to come up with the best ideas. for whatever reason, narcissists, particularly successful narcissist, do tend to be charismatic, they do tend to have higher energy levels. they do tend to at least convey a level of intelligence that
other people may have but aren't conveying as well. and this goes right down to the dating scene. look, anyone can be charming in a bar. most of us aren't charming in a bar. most of us try to say something, realize we sound like an idiot, drink our drink and leave because wore so embarrassed how the evening worked out. the narcissist in a bar will literally charm the pants off a lot of people, which is why they leave so many little narcissist behind. but it's important never dating world and married world to do that. is so get to have a little narcissism? yes, where it crosses the line is when you get up to that one to three percent of the population which suffers from what is called clinical gnars narcissistic personality disorder, a tossup of grandosty,
utter lack of empathy, and a profound sense of entitlement, and when you see those things and when you see them in ways that are costing people marriages and jobs and relationships and sometimes landing them in prison -- hello bernie madoff -- that's where it becomes something that damages the person and the culture around them. >> i am glad that you once again went to sex because -- people without pants on seems to be a theme in your book. both of you guys actually write some fascinating thing about sex, and both of you -- i just -- as a male, i'm very shallow. christian pointed that out to me in his book. and jeffrey, some things you talk about sex about how sticky and full of germs and it goes against everything my instinct usually tells me. don't touch those things, but in section i do. so, i would love to get your --
what you both think in this culture where narcissism is on the rice and social media is rampant and is the new reality, how is that changing sex? >> you first. raft. >> well, okay, cupid is doing well. >> it's all the same to me at this point. >> i don't know if it's really changing it. so many of the things that are funny or laughable about how people act on ok cupid, whether it's guys exaggerating that they're two inches taller than they are or inflight how much money they make. the same thing people do at a bar. ok cupid has more millionaires than exist in the united states. but that happens all the time. even weirder stuff -- took us a while to figure this out -- in order to catch spammers we take how long a message takes to
type, so there's one character and they type and then this thousand character message that guess out. but i ran the analysis -- we're got at catching spammers and i ran the analysis on normal, known, safe accounts, and we saw guys who were sending 20 or 50 copies of the exact same message to women ask they were actually doing really well at it with the message, and it wasn't just like, hey, what's up, 100 times in a row. it was like those tailored, skull ' -- sculpted things and you couldn't tell it was for one person but it went out to 40 people and it worked. he had gotten 15 replies itch get into his personal account with his permission because it came up in a totally different context so i know these details itch thought to myself, that's so weird. must be so gross to be a woman, getting all these messages and knowing their cut and pasted,
but i've told the same store to so many people about the scar you got, or even doing this book tour you tell the same anecdote over and over again. it's a thing of human behavior to your point, the internet is that open bar but it's note alcoholism itself. it lets people do things they've always done and do them in bulk and easier but i don't think it actually creates or weaknesses, and speaking to sex, i don't know how much this has changed sex and love and intercourse. those are eternal things, but it's made the game a little different. >> certainly the element of this -- this isn't quite so much about social media but obviously the phenomenon of sexting is a real thing. that hurts people, especially young kids who don't realize the internorthwest is eternal, images are eternal and are suber bullied. it hurt others people.
i'm thinking of a fellow with a funny last name, weiner, something in new york -- >> go back to the same place. >> i'll clean it up from here on in. the other part is, funnily enough -- this is one of the great paradoxes i report in the book -- narcissists in one respect -- are good in the earliess parts of relationships. they're less inclined to cheat than nonnarcissists but it's for a narcissistic reason. one of the greatest causes of cheating early in a relationship is insecurity. if you fall in love with someone over here and you have just met at a bar and you're starting a relationship and you suddenly begin to become insecure, was he looking at this other girl? he talked to his old girlfriend last night. i think he is interested in her again and we start getting fretful, and that's a real risk factor for cheating because we
think, the hell with it going to get jettisoned anyway. narcissists can't fathom that the person they like is not rapturously in love with them. so for the earlier part of the relationship, they think, i got her, she's mine as long is a want her. so for that short period, they don't cheat. now they make up for it eskimo anyone chalet because they -- exponentially because they cheat on hyper speed once they get bored with the relationship but the more narcissistic we become -- if every relationship were six weeks long mars weiss be the best lovers in the world. >> we're going to take one more -- i'm going to have one more question and then take it to the audience. both of you also have fascinating chapters on rage and violence. you, jeffrey, you talk about
columbine and mass shootings and the relationship of narcissism to those situations, and christian, some stuff you talk about, just twitter rage and how quickly an lol moves into a hateful death threat. i would love you to talk about that. how that brushfire effect is changing rage in our culture in america and is it on the rise? is rage on the rise? are we feeding it? >> i definitely -- at least the online version seems to be on the rise because rather than just going a chat room where it's and you a couple other people, you can sendous message out. the case in the book, someone had been insulted in front of 60 million people in the span of 24 hours, like a normal person who says something tasteless but it -- just morphed into this phenomenon totally beyond anyone's control and people were falling her around in person and all this stuff, and 60 million people, that's a lot of anger for a civilian to bear.
i guess barack obama could probably handle it but not somebody else. i don't know. i definitely think it's getting worse. >> and i think certainly you would know this better -- the anonymity of it makes it easier to do. you cannot look someone squarely in the eye and say something hateful as easily as you can publish it. i wrote a colin on trying to explode the michigan of the family dinner -- the myth of the family dinner, and the theme of the story was why i don't like to eat with my kids. i love them to bits but they're savages. i'd love to feed them and put them to bed and then we can have a quiet dinner. one tweet that came back said, you sound like a shitty father and you look like you're 80. enjoy having dinner with your children while you can. now, that just hurt my feelings.
[laughter] >> but the thing about, on a more serious note-the-thing about columbine and other kind of killers, is that here we have -- rage is a big part of narcissism and offer the result of the masked model of narcissism. it covers up its exact opposite, a profound well of low self-esteem and self-loathing and when you're challenges, narcissist are brittle and angry. most people who aren't narcissists, you might feel defense receive but you might this did die this right or ongoing? the other key detail is the lack of empathy, and up at the pathological level of narcissism and funnily enough, in babyhood whenas narcissism is the normal way to be, baby will hit another baby over the head with a block and won't think anything of the
fact it would hurt that baby as much as it hurt the hitter to get hit because they think, my world is different from your world. true pathological narcissists are the ones who can kill, who can do what happens in columbine, who can do school shootings, or even drug murders, which are motivated by at least they're motivated by something, in this case a criminal need for wealth and turf. but still, if they are shooting and thinking nothing about the suffering of the person who is about to die and the suffering of the family, and it's because the empathic lobes are shut off. >> we have microphone up here, and if you have a question, please come up to the microphone and remember, questions are a sentence that ends with a question mark. as opposed to a paragraph of thought. but, yes, if you have a question for christian rudder or for jeffrey kluger.
yes, sir. >> for mr. kluger. can a narcissist be rehabilitated? >> if you send them off to an isolation island, yes. no they actually can. one of the risks is -- the problem with narcissism is, it's called an ego disorder. i'm not a narcissist. i really am just better than people. similarry with paranoid personality disorder. i'm not paranoid. the cia really has put transmilters in my teeth. and anxiety disorder like ocd or phobias are ego distonnic. one somebody with that can comes into the doctor's office they say i know this behavior is nuts, i just can't stop it. narcissists don't do that. it's very hard to get them into a therapy's office. and they rarely last more than five or six sessions before they conclude they're smarter than the therapist, fire the shrink
and leave. but sometimes they do get better. ssri, antidepressants, dugs can help because they can lower the symptoms enough just to enough to make the person receptive to therapy. age helps a little bit, as with criminality and other conditions. the older you get you tend to age out of it and for narcissists there can be a learning curve. they look around and say my friends have had one happy marriage. my friend have had a stable, steady career. my friends keep their friends. i've been fired by all my bosses. i've been fired by all my spouses and i've completely run out of friends. something is going wrong. if you sort of hit bottom, as alcoholics do, narcissist can often bounce back but it's a hard condition to treat. >> the more you talk about narcissist the more nervous i am. >> check. check. >> kind of nervous.
another question? >> you had a great chart in the book about no matter how old man gets he prefers a 20-year-old woman as a partner. so between stuff like that and the racism you see on 0ok cupid, have you ever considered implementing affirmative action or something like that? >> oh, well, i've been asked that question before. but we can't make people like each other. there's nothing we can do. i can't make anyone go on a date. i can't make anyone send a message. we can just report on what is going on and hope that the report and the self-knowledge that comes from that helps. but there's -- just like facebook can't make you be friends with different kinds of people. you're friends with who you are friends with and you love who you love and that's how it shakes out, from my perspective. >> thank you for the question. sir? >> this kind of followup,
christian, on making people behave. you recently did an experiment on some of the users where you reported different data and you did get different results and you kind of fill news on what you did and how to change behavior. >> we basically tried a different match algorithm. our current normal match algorithm uses some measure of the things you have in common with someone else and that the versions we tested against that were saying the things in common mean nothing, and tested opposites attract, and just like in the real world where people have different ways to bring people together, there's opposites attract, there's birds of a feather, the way of you both come from a good family good, luck. we try different things to see what -- to make sure what year doing for everybody elsees as good as possible. and the tests the gentleman referred to we found that the kind of things in command algorithm is about half of
whether people go on to have a conversation or not and then just the recommendation itself, offer gets people talking. >> thank you for that. >> hi. i sit at board tables in rooms with a lot of narcissists and i think they're healthy in a lot of ways. very occasionally they veer off into an area that is unhealthy, that is having a negative impact on the rest of the people in the room. do you have any tools or skills that would help that person or that i could use to help that person get back into a healthier place in the moment? >> running, screaming from the room, i found helps. and there are indirect ways to do that. it does not usually pay to direct the narcissist, to say something explicitly about it to
the narcissist. narcissists are fiercely unwilling to except criticism and criticism in front of other people is much, much worse. it's best -- and i write about this -- it's best to work with the people around you. so when you're working with a narcissist, it's a good idea, or any idea you have, any suggestion for a project someone else has, to be aired publicly first, never to the narcissist alone because the narcissist will steal ideas and do so completely up remorsefully because it's more about promoting themselves than anything else. when narcissists are claiming credit for things collectively, if there's a way for the group to quantify how much work is done, that's good thing. don't necessarily target it to the narcissist but if they say i put in 14 sures work this week on this project and no one else came close to that, just later
on, without necessarily mentioning the narcissist, hand around the numbers, the billable hours so everyone sees sees whod what work. often what works best -- this is the -- more for bosses to do -- if your boss is in the chapter, the bastard in the corner office, you won't have this necessarily but a good boss will recognize the energetic and innovative value of the narcissist and keep prorowe tating that person from project to project. so they'll be there for that early part, the startup part, when their energy and creativity really does benefit and then get rid of them before they begin slacking off because they don't much care to do the quiet work in office managing the new client. so helps to move them from place to place as long as that's sustainable. >> some of the characteristics you mentioned of a narcissist
seems to overlap or bring to mind a sociopath, is narcissism consistent with sociopaths? or is narcissism a symptom? >> that's a great question. it's been asked more than i thought it would be when i first started writing this book. narcissism is what criminal lawyers call a lesser included offense in psycho pathow and sociopathy. it is -- you really can't be a psycho path -- psycho path or sociopath without being a narcissist. it's like having a terrible chest cold. you can have a terrible chest cold and not have pneumonia but a you can't have pneumonia
without a terrible cough. >> i want to think anyone here for listening. a huge round of applause for christian rudder and clefry kluger. jeffrey and christian will be in the signing tent. so -- christian is unable to be in the signing tent. jeffrey will be there and you can see the actual cover of the narcissist next door. thank you for being here. the texas book festival. continue to have a wonderful festival. [applause] [inaudible]
>> you're watching live coverage of the 19th annual texas book festival in austin. we're going to take a short break right now but we'll be back with a discussion on the death penalty and wrongful conviction. you're watching booktv on c-span2. when you think about it, very interesting. people have very strong opinions about all sort of things, gay
marriage, iraq, climate change, nuclear power, without having any technical expertise in these areas. my strong view on american foreign policy, what do i know about it? i took one course in international real relations whn 1983 in south korea, ask the crusty old professor who taught us used a textbook from the 1960s. so what did now about international relations is from half a century ago. but then, whenever these topics come up i spout my opinions. why is economics different? well, it's actually a very complicated thing, but the short answer is that my professional colleagues have been -- in the
rest of the world that the stuff is so difficult that you don't understand it even if he bothered to explain it to you. i happen to very strongly disagree with this view in my previous book that was mentioned, 23 thing is didn't tell you about capitalism, i actually wrote a short professional side note by saying that 95% of economics is common sense. it's made to look difficult with the use of jargon, mathematics, graphs, and even the remaining five percent can be understand if somebody speaks plainly and an accessible way, which is what i try to do in this book. this is the cover of the book. actually, it came out in the
u.k. on the different format. this is a pocket size paperback edition. exact same content. different publisher, different type set and so on. and indeed, in order to make this book accessible in order to make economics accessible to noneconomists i pull all the stops i can. so there's marry -- mary poppins, the matrix, my fair lady, gone with the wind, the simpsons, ned flanders, hi favorite simpsons character. so i really try. i don't know how much i succeed but i really try, but don't get me wrong. being accessible doesn't mean that i'm trying to give you some
baby version. so, seven things you need to know about inflation, three things you didn't know about this and that. i do not do that because i take my readers seriously and i really do talk about -- i mean, in accessible language i talk about all kinds of fundamental issues. what is economics? can it be science? can we get rid of politics from economics? what are the ethical foundations of economics? >> you-watch this and programs online at booktv.org. >> the "washington post" reports that the cia took issue with the contents of former director leon panetta's memoir, and that mr. panetta allowed his publisher to start editing the
book before receiving approval from the agency. shy mon and shoesster agreed on a deal with amazon over the pricing and profit margins of it books. "the new york times" reports that seem nonand shuster with some exceptions will control ebook pricing, and ben bradlee died on tuesday at the age of 93. mr. bradlee oversaw the newspaper's watergate coverage and was the author of the moment moyer "a good life" published in 1995. stay up to date on news about the publishing world by liking us on facebook, at facebook.com/book booktv, or follow us on twitter. you can visit our web site, booktv.org and click on news about books. >> you're looking at a live picture from the texas book festival in austin, texas, which annually hosts close to 250
authors and 40,000 attendees statement tuned for more in a couple of minutes. >> booktv asks book stores and libraries bet the nonfiction books they're most anticipating being published this fall. here's a list titles chosen. looking at the personal and political lives of theodore, eleanor, and franklin roosevelt. next in way are faring strangers, the recent re-count of immigration of scots to appalachia in the 18th and 19th century. eye agographer walter isaacson examines the digital age in "the
innovators" also is naomi kline's book, and former secretary of state henry kissinger weighs in on international affairs. that's a look at nonfiction titles quail ridge books is moist anticipating being published this fall. >> it was kind of the story of the impact it was having to just start investigating why even in my own practice, we don't do a very successful job of dealing with mortality. we reached by the owned of the 1990s place where 17% of the population died in the home and 83% died in institutions. often hooked up on machines,
unaware of what was happening in the world no chance to say goodbye. no chance to preserve some quality of life that's came to the end, and it was clear that this was not what people wanted, and that i wasn't being successful at it. so, i began interviewing patients, family members, over 200 patients, about their experiences with aging and the end of life. or just dealing with serious illness. i interview scores of geriatricians, hospice workers, nursing home workers, and i learned along the way. i learn about what some of them do that is really successful, process of changing care ten, and i began trying that, and then my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor in his brain stem and spinal cord, and unexpectedly needed to use some of what i was learning as a son in stead of as a doctor.
>> is that tough time for you personally? >> yeah. it was. having the chance to understand what people who are more affected, whether it's as family members or as clinicianses -- what they do, made it less tough, though. it was very interesting. i think the core thing that came out of the lesson for me was that people have priorities besides just living longer, yet medicine doesn't recognize that, and i was never taught to articulate and recognize that. the second part was that the most reliable method of learning what people's priorities are is to ask. and i wasn't asking. and also i wasn't asking even any own dad. and so when his condition began to deteriorate and -- this is a tumor that was going to make million quadriplegic as it
gradually took his life, and he faced options of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy. the started asking questions that people talk about asking and don't. so, what are your priorities? and what are the tradeoffs you're willing to make and not? really hard questions to ask. and yet changed every step of his care along the way. >> you can watch this and other programs online at book.org.
>> we're back live to 2014 texas book festival held in and around the texas state capitol building in austin. up next, panel discussion on the death penalty and wrongful conviction. it features two authors, michael morton, who was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life in prison for killing his wife, and columbia university law school professor james leadman who has written a book about a man who he argues was wokfully executed by the state of texas. actor mike farrell, who is president of the organization, death penalty focus, the
there attends behind bars in our prison system. you yeah over 2,300,000 people bars. and it is her case it seems to me a gone awry. that number, 2,300,000 is the largest prison population in the world. and it is some team we as americans need to take a look at it seems to me when you look at the number of cases that go wrong in you learn about two of them today. we need to take a look at what is going on in our system or what a survey done to correct what is going wrong in our
system and how an effect we, all of us as americans, both in this country that so many call the exceptional nation and how it affects people around the world who look at this country that refers to as of as the exceptional nation and see if that exception in ways that perhaps we don't consider often enough. these megabytes suggested our heroes. michael morgan was victim of a criminal justice system goner bride. im liebman has made it his life to study cases where the system has goner bride and in one of them, the case of carlos d. luna, he has written a book which i have a recommend to you called "the wrong carlos." in michael's case, he has written his personal story in a book called "getting life,"
another one i highly recommend to you. michaels is a personal, very telling, deeply emotionally affect in story about a man whose life was cast under by the criminal justice as a result of a terrible crime that was committed for which he was convict day. jim liebman has made it as if it is business, our business to take a look at what is going wrong in the system and has done exhaustive, extraordinary study that should've been done by the authorities, but was not. when we look at the fact the criminal prosecution is supposed to be a search for justice, a search for truth, what we see here in the two cases is the truth in a way and with different justice. so i play, if i may first to ask
jim liebman to read from his book, "the wrong carlos." >> thank you, michael. at a certain point i am going to ask you to put up slide number 49. but let's wait for a moment. on december 7th, 1989, texas executed carlos do there now. his death marks the state's 33rd legal killing since renewing the death penalty in 1982 after an 18 year hiatus. they barely notice execution, was also the 33rd time that texas death house chaplain had eased a prisoner through his last day and onto the gurney where he was in check did with poison until dead. the luna was executed for stabbing wanda lopez to death with a buck knife in a 1983 corpus christi robbery. shortly after the killing, police found deluna cowering
under a pickup truck, arrested him, taken to the gas station and store where lopez had been working alone but nine. burial mound, and go eyewitness eyewitness briefly saw an hispanic man running out of the store identified deluna as the killer. on a scorching day almost 15 years after deluna was executed, fernando freddie schilling, a corpus christi non-serving time in the richmond texas prison received a visit from a private investigator. the investigators showed them a picture of a handsome young hispanic man five-foot eight inches tall, 160 pounds with heavy eyebrows and dark wavy hair. without hesitation, now if you go to 48, without hesitation, schilling identified the man as his brother-in-law, carlos
fernandez from 20 years early. schilling for scars from his fights his brutal life is punctuated by sometimes deadly violence, most of it directed towards poor young his unit women in corpus christi, often using a seven played at night. the dissected socially the man in the photograph was not carlos fernandez. it was carlos deluna. the detective was investigating deluna's crime, claiming he had been mistaken for another man he had seen struggling with wanda lopez inside the gas station. the claim was ignored at the time and deluna was convicted and executed. the man deluna named was schilling's brother-in-law, carlos fernandez. man, he is a ringer for carlos fernandez schilling said. that gives me goosebumps. tears welled up in schilling's
eyes. >> thank you, jim. before michael reads a segment from his book, i wanted to be understood that for whatever reason the prosecution that did the job on michael did not go for the death penalty. had they done so had he been given the death penalty he would not be with us today. as a result of the prosecution he spent 25 years in prison before the opportunity was made clear and evident to the authorities who freed him. he was as a result of that. >> thank you for being here. some of the things that jim does our academic and worthy and
really need attention. for all of our problems and issues we address, offers member there's a personal site as well. these actually happening to people. on the morning the jailers came to take me to prison, i protested that i was supposed to be in court for the custody hearing, a complaint that could've not meant less to the men handcuffed the man handcuffing man pulling me into their car. who cares. i had about as much control over my movements as a suitcase being tossed in a car trunk. most inmates headed for prison are chained together and piled into vans going to bigger counties and buses for the long drive. for some reason i was stuffed in the backseat of a squad car and escorted by two deputies, sort of the penal if you a fine first class. we did almost live. or my approach in the back, i could see we were averaging
about 80 miles an hour on our mad dash to the madhouse are unhappy little trail that ties the forest and farmland, nearly deserted little towns and long stretches of nothing but scrub brush cat is in cody's. as he rocketed past the outskirts of one tiny texas bird, i saw a guy will never forget. i saw him for only an instant, but in that brief moment i realized i had never wanted to trade laces with anyone more in my life. i was handcuffed in a police car on the way to begin my life sentence in the texas penitentiary. he was on the leo -- he was at the wheel of a riding lawnmower, wearing a baseball cap and a headset with a thoroughly modern at the time walkman strapped to his head. i can almost see his head bobbing to music. i've had a cup holder cradling a cold drink.
why couldn't i have that life? at chance to while away a morning and such and consequential, enjoyable way. what has he done to earn his peaceful life on the lawnmower and what had i done to deserve this high speed race to start the rest of my life in prison? i wish the deputies had slowed down. i wish the drive had taken longer. [applause] >> i fail to do what they've asked me to do, so that they back up and say we appreciate your being here at the 19th annual book festival. [laughter] please make sure your cell phones are turned off and tell you that it's a great pleasure for our festival to use the capital and its grounds. so please be respectful of this
space and i am tempted to say, please be at least as respectful as those people who serve here or more so. [applause] immediately following the segment you will be able to meet these shallow men in the book signing. are there books are purchased are probably other books if you want them to sign will be able to be signed. [laughter] i am really a privilege to be here. i admired this man. i admire the courage and incredible spirit he has shown throughout his odyssey. and i admired this man having known him for seven years and knowing the dedication he has shown to this country and to our system to making right now which is hideously coming garishly, ghoulishly wrong.
so let me start. my own questions before we get to your questions are asking michael, what was the single thing, if there was a single thing that not only allowed you to get through this process, that has allowed you to be asked for a human being as you are today? >> i think the short answer is the grace of god. but the longer a more nuanced response is probably that spending a couple of decades as a word of this state and having every aspect of your life dictated by the state, where i would live, which share a cell with me, if i'm going to eat, what kind of job i'll have, my medical care, dental care, everything controlled by the
state becomes repetitive, predictable after the years buildup that becomes a good soul crushing because while there may have been somebody else with my name, there may be another michael morton in the penitentiary, there was never another 445394. that was me. and every encounter with authorities on the inside, they would ask my name, but they had to have my number. when you become the number, you lose your individuality. you lose who you are. and you are reduced to fodder. if nothing else, other that the state, not just this state, but the state as an entity anywhere doesn't really care about you. they are just there to provide security and a means of keeping
you where you are. but out of either naïveté or ignorance, i always felt that the truth would come out, that somehow right would win because i am one of those people that in the end right always wins. and that good prevails and that are universe makes sense and there is a reason and that we should not lose hope. >> god bless you. [applause] >> i have been -- i don't know what to call it, and navigation, a commitment at any rate involved in the criminal justice system and reform of our presence in ending the use of the death penalty and working to it to see the values we espouse in this country are actually the values we practice. and i have run into a good deal of what i fear -- what i have
named in mind so journey of the institutional imperative to not be wrong. states, counties, jurisdictions, prosecutors, police to commit to a five as they see it or whatever reason are unwilling in most instances to admit that they made an error. now for some that is a practical question because if they admit to having made an error, they are going to have to pay recompense to whoever was the person who suffered as a result of that error. but for many, it is because errors in just in perfection and they don't want to accept the notion that we are people who do, practice this is done in perfectly. i actually ran with constable,
williams county was at? i met accountable yesterday as i was walking through these structures. and he was doing security work and he asked me what i was doing and i told him about this panel. he said michael morton, i know that case very well. i said what you think about the result of their? he said well, it is not a perfect system. [laughter] it is not a perfect system. that is demonstrable. but it's not a perfect system. i said it's not a perfect system operated by human beings who tend to be well-meaning capable of making errors, why do we kill people? and he said, it is not a perfect system. jim, you deal with that imperfection, that institutional imperative day in and day out because this is not the only
case that you done this kind of research on. would you care to explain what it is you run up against and how you deal with? >> well, as a lawyer and somebody who committed my professional life to doing this kind of work and practice the non-behalf of people who don't have everything they need and i believe, as michael does, in the system. and i believe that there's an integrity to the system and as long as that integrity as they are, we are all going to be a lot safer and we will all be a lot better. so we all need to contribute to the integrity about this done. but there is error and people who commit the error do it for sort of two reasons i need. one is just error, and commandeered the mistake, accident, silly little things that have been. one of the things that struck me every step of the way and carlos
deluna's case for being arrested to executed, he believed like you did, michael, he said aniston so they will find me. they will find the right person. they will. i trust them. at every point along the way, they came so close, but then something happened. somebody made a mistake, somebody screwed up. somebody just didn't do their job. that little thing that meant something that could have been discovered didn't get discovered. so that is a real big part of it. it is a system and systems make mistakes and so you need to look at them systemically to find out why. that is something our system has never been willing to do. unlike a car crash or airplane crash for something like that after it happened than after they discover they've got an innocent man who had been in prison. the first thing you do when the plane goes down as you have an investigation and you figure out why in make sure that never happens again. we do not do that in our country to discover and confidence --
and confidence and mistakes that could be done again and six. but there's also a second part of days because it is a human system and that is that some people not only don't have the integrity of the system for, but they cheat. they for nurse. they do things for whatever reason. at the very end of our investigation, when we had thought that most of this was about mistakes and accidents, people just screen out that not really knowing they had done it, we found out that all along, although carlos deluna only produced the name of carlos fernandez the day before trial. and he said i'm scared of him. i don't want him to come after me. he kills people. he's killed other people who recover corn to rat him out. but i am going to name him in the police and prosecutors said they did a diligent search of the could not find him. there was no carlos fernandez.
he was a phantom the prosecutor told the jury, a judge found in the case that carlos fernandez probably never existed. well, near the end of our investigation, we actually got the district's attorney filed the case and we found out that two months before carlos deluna ever uttered the words carlos fernandez, the police had heard that carlos fernandez was going all over the community telling everybody that he had committed this crime and the police had them in their file. they even picked him up for four days, but then they let him go in a trial they said they had no idea who he was and called him a phantom. and he was expecting the police to go out and find that man into their job. or why people do those sorts of things, that is a hard one for me. i can't figure that one out, why people do things that they know are wrong and could have the results that michael has
described and that carlos deluna suffered. >> there are over 300 people exonerated today for various crimes in our criminal justice system. the innocence project and peter nouvelles organization as you are probably aware has been responsible for a ticket number of those. jim has been about for some. sam gross from michigan state has been involved with him. there are no innocence projects springing up all over the country, but they are working essentially outside the system to do the work that the system needs to do for itself. over 140 people have been exonerated. having been tried, convicted and sentenced to death. and come very close to being executed before the facts were found out. and many of these instances, exonerations fly in the face of the believe of prosecutorial
forces. there are people walking the streets today and michael morton may be one of them for whom prosecutors will continue to insist despite the facts, despite what has been proven while they're really guilty. there is some people asked jim has just tested for whatever reason will not acknowledge having made an error. or worse, will not acknowledge having done some name intentionally that resulted in error from prosecution. we have justice to be part of the justice system in this country. one of the things in your book that really struck me is he would talk about a situation that you have been through or a question that i can't see you that in a number of times you said, and i still don't know,
have you gotten any satisfaction later on since the book was published about any of those? when i got the word i was going to get out and then prosecutor that was one of the issues, on a saturday and said you can be on the street tuesday if you agree that there will be no investigation or admission of wrongdoing, there will be no depositions and i told very to play hardball and within a number of hours they cratered because why is one of the most important reasons and the questions we have in our lives. not just in my case, but almost every level wise the most important thing. i am willing to sit on top with
can can understand the man who prosecuted my case. but if you don't pursue the why, nothing else really matters. you said it, but do you find a prosecutor or a judge for a police officer who was involved with these prosecutions who was willing to be of assistance to you when you give them the information, when you say look, i understand what you thought was the case, but here are the facts. to find assistance for a night or do find obstruction? >> imagine you put somebody in prison and then you let them get executed. how are you going to live with that unless you build up a lot of scar tissue that leads you to
say i know he's guilty even though this and not any other i know he's guilty. the prosecutors is a very good man in corpus christi. he's a very well-known civil litigator in the city and people respect him. and he has gone into the press and said i know that this case stood on an eyewitness identification and now i believe the eyewitness identification is bad. i would no longer stand on that identification because it was tainted in many ways and the person you made the identification has since come out and said i couldn't tell one hispanic man from another. they are all julio to me. i wasn't even 50/50 when i made that. so he's gotten off of the
identification. but he holds to the fact that carlos deluna, a mentally disabled man could maybe make it through the eighth grade, had an i.q. of about 71 or 72, lied on the stand about an inconsequential fact, nothing to do with this case, but he did tell a lie and this prosecutor says he lied about that, so he must be lying about everything else and i think that is just his defense. he's got to defend himself against the fact that he did something where he made a big, big mistake and he's got to live with that. i do sometimes wonder about when he really has to face up to this, whether it is near his dad or maybe after his dad and he really has to face up to this and how that will go for him. i'm convinced that he like many others won't face up to it until that time comes. >> excuse me, may i add one little thing that's important.
one of the things i've run across again and again from police officers, from lawyers, from prosecutors, they have been incredibly kind. they say they feel sorry for what happened. they feel guilt for nothing that they did, but their position in the system and in the profession. i've been very encouraged by some of that misplaced accountability nonetheless. we have a think about 20 minutes left in the session. so i'd like to ask those of you who have a question to please come to the microphone and propose your questions. >> my name is crocker greasy and i will ask you a question motivated by the fact that occurred a number of people who
have served on juries. there is a problem for defense lawyers are the prosecutor addressed. the problem with opening up so that the jurors after the hearings, the jurors could ask the two lawyers any question they wanted before they do their deliberation verdict. there of course are texas to do that. i think everybody is part of that proceeding not to be allowed to ask questions. he has something called the adversarial system and some people think the adversarial system means one lawyer says anything he or she has to say on the other lawyer says anything he or she has to say and i'm not there. people have to decide. i think it is an important case in their questions left open,
they have to be answered. they ought to be answered after the case that we have an open up the system to a lot more questioning all the way along. so i agree with you. >> thank you for the question. yes, ma'am. >> i want to thank all three of you for the opportunity. my question as, have you any idea to encourage as on how to reverse this machine. i'm talking about the issue of the elected public officials accountable and to the juvenile justice system. >> i think the easiest way to do that, the short answer in our format here is to remember all politics is local. if you feel outraged or even proud to your local prosecutor,
not some big guy in the sky, but somebody who is near and dear to your heart get involved in local politics. and join a volunteer your party. if you don't like it, get involved. [applause] >> i'd like to thank all three of you for being here. >> i want to read jim's offer an answer to that. >> i'm going to take on the whole criminal just system is a question asked, but i will say something about the death penalty. not long ago 80% of the country supported the death penalty. now only 60% do. is the same number that support the death penalty in canada and sweden, which have lived without the death penalty for decades. i agree with michael. act locally. most prosecutors around the country are used to using the
death penalty 10, 15 years ago i stopped using it not because they are morally against the death penalty, but because they have realized they can live without the death penalty because of all of the risks and errors and costs it imposes on the system. when you're asking locally, the question to ask is not will you start agreeing with me about my moral views about the death penalty. americans like to have their own moral views. when you asked them, can you live without the death penalty given the cost that it imposes, including cost in lives of innocent people, most prosecutors actually are pretty open to that conversation and i urge you to start asking that in your communities here in texas. the vast majority of which no longer use the death penalty. there are just a few laughs. just ask them, can they live without the death penalty? [applause]
>> thank you and forgive me for interrupting. i appreciated that very much. i appreciate all three of you being here. mr. morton, not quite two weeks ago my mother-in-law was convicted in travis county of a left turn collision that happened recently. she keeps asking for defense and not done and some of them were denied. one of them was ordered to her that she never received in the trial judge ignored that. and so i gather most of this was done 2.1 no way. and i don't know if anything like that happened in your case. i thought we had these protections that really surprised to find it in travis county. i didn't know if you have any comments about it. we have a law that went into effect june the first of this year and has somebody who's been
prosecuted to team to make use when she called for those protections, let alone all the protections existed before that. >> as has been said, it's not an imperfect -- it is an imperfect system. not to make light of your situation. i'm approached again and again to give advice for people who have a loved one in prison or maybe it's about to go to prison. and i will be honest with you, i am not a lawyer and i can't direct you to somebody who will fix your situation. but the only thing i can offer you is hope and that you should not give the end that you are tougher than you speak you are and no matter how insurmountable it may seem, you can do a lot more than you think you can.
[applause] >> i heard you see a couple years ago have you been able to forgive ken andersen. your answer was between i don't know and no. i am just kind of wondering what your answer would be today. >> today i know. i like to joke a little bit i'll pick up my cell phone and look at his mug shot. [applause] with the truth is and the more important thing is that yes i have forgiven him because he was one of the people that was on my list of people that i had to
forgive. and when i did forgive him and others, to my astonishment, when i let that go, when i made the effort to do it, it was as if i had a great weight lifted off my shoulders and had benefited me far more than i anticipated and in a very counterintuitive way, we forgive people to our benefit and i encourage everybody to do the same. [applause] >> my question is for mr. morton. i watched a pbs documentary about your story. the thing that struck me most significantly during watching not was the description you had of the night that you were in prison and then you went from a position of anger and frustration and just not being okay with what was going on to
you switch. it was sort of a conversion experience. i would like to hear you describe that a little more. >> don't know if we have time. i was a matter desperation. i was analogous to the alcoholic who hits rock-bottom and i cried out to god and nothing happened until about a week later, 10 days, something like that. middle of the night, i was awake listening to the radio, but i was saved in a supernatural golden light. i can't totally explain it. i've never had anything like that happened before, but i do know and i thought without having to examine or ask or be told about it, that it was the presence of god. and it wasn't instantaneous hollowly a moment. it was an organic process, where he started looking inward and realizing i didn't have what it
takes and that just says, i guess he samite inner peace now is the grace of god and i finally understood that god exists and he is wise and he loves you. [applause] >> this question is to primarily night. d.c. is many cases entering the system with a plethora with good forensic evidence that's available to the investigative groups >> i'm sorry i have to ask you repeat the question. many cases decided of entering the system.
is the ability within the law-enforcement agency in prosecuting offices so that we do not have as much getting into the system. are there cases down are they continuing to maintain a high level? >> let me use the privilege of the moderator to ask a question to jim. >> things are getting fatter because not only is there more forensic evidence and juries are asking for it. they want to hear about it. that is a good thing. many cases don't have forensic evidence in them. part of that is because it takes an incredibly thorough investigation to get everything that you need. and we don't thorough investigations of this country. just to take the crime scene and
deluna's case, it was a four by six area where the man had attacked the woman at this gas station and it was strewn with evidence that we know it because we got the photographs that the police didn't get to the defense and didn't get to the jury. and we thought the evidence they are. there was a button on the ground cumin broken cigarette that had been broken in someone's mouth. there was a bloody footprint that the perpetrator left behind. whatsoever shortly afterwards it's the police don't edit, they'd be all that stuff. we had to just get the photographs, blow them up in ca. so it is a big process of getting the evidence from the crime scene into the lab and into the judicial system that takes a big process and that is one of the reasons why i keep saying we need to be more systematic about this. if we had done a look at each of these cases and said what went
wrong, one of the things we would know was what was wrong. they didn't look at the evidence very carefully. if we looked at every bit of evidence accounted for in nature the prosecutors had to explain every bit of it, we'd be in a lot better shape. we are not there yet. the evidence is getting better. the use of evidence is way behind so it will take us more time. >> i wondered if you might briefly, and as part of the study of the systematically into my comments on the public defender system in the criminal justice system because i know mr. ferrell, you sat and mr. smiley's conference yesterday and the effect of poverty and the lack of back to good defense for those that need it and other possible changes to that system that could help? >> yes, i think if you look at the 2.3 million people behind bars. you find out the vast majority
are minorities, people of color and you find that her chili all of them are poor. there was a recent study done about the fact of poverty and the fact that her widespread. but some of them are coarsely admitted to in the lives of people who end up on the wrong side of the law. so i think poverty is a huge issue. have a smiley's presentation yesterday was about his book about the last year dr. martin to 13, which is a quite extraordinary take on this man who is now so revered and was so despised in the year before he was murdered. i think his point and dr. king's point was the three great problems in the united states are racism, poverty and militarism. so i think it gives us a lot to
think about and look at when were talking about a criminal justice system that is supposed to be seeking truth and seeking justice. we are now at a place where we have a few more minutes. we have room for another question if anybody wants to chance it. [laughter] yes, ma'am. >> mr. liebman, we talk about the team that you work with? >> i will. we started looking at this case and it was just a young man named doug chaffee who read the record in this case. he was a second-year law student and he said, you know, this case doesn't seem right. it was the first one we almost have looked at.
we decided to look in texas because that's where the executions are. but try to set it to look in corpus christi because of the district with lots and lots of errors. we looked at an eyewitness case. i put together a team of investigators all over the country. this took literally millions of dollars after the fact no one wants out. and a tip about five investigators who spent many, many in corpus christi and then we started videotaping and all the photographs in the case. everything worked out by the way is on free. every single document is fair. you don't have to believe the word we said. we put it all up there and if you read a second in the book,
you can click on all of the materials that support the sentence. it took years and years to put all of this together then five students and i had never written anything like that. it's a real joint effort. it's the kind of thing that is so expensive and so hard. the government not to be doing this. they were able to do it for every case out there. >> last question. >> i am wondering. it seems to me in both cases. i'm not sure, but most state constitutions the governor is the last in an and he can stop an execution. in states like texas, it seems
to be that many of our governors let these executions proceed with a nonchalant that i find personally frightening. i'm wondering, is that your take on it also or is there something i'm not seeing their? >> that definitely happens. fly in the face of evidence, carlos deluna's case, the problem was the lawyers. the first thing the lawyer said to governor clinton's lawyer who was looking into this case to help decide about clemency was carlos deluna is guilty. we donate to worry about that. let's talk about something else as a reason to give inclement v. so this is a system that broke down in many, many ways. i broke down at that stage because his lawyers didn't believe him when he said over and over again. they never went and looked either.
we ask whether we could do about it. i'll deny error. i'm great money was part of the justice department court there's an execution of innocent person in the united states. you may well know that justice antonin scalia holds the same position. there has never been the execution of an innocent person in the united states. we have enough willingness to look carefully and honestly at the evidence and the people we have a dependent people who elect to representation in fact represent acid represent the values that make this country be exceptional country in the eyes of so many people.
i would like to once again to you how proud i am to know these two men who i believe to be heroes. [applause] >> thank you very, very much. [applause] these two gentlemen will be in the book signing tent in just a few minutes. >> for those of you still able to listen, the question about forgiveness, for those of you who have access to the web or other things, there is a documentary film called unlikely friends, that i highly recommend. it is a documentary film about this very issue of how could one forget and what is the result of forgetting somebody. that doesn't mean there should be consequences to enact that is illegal or inappropriate.
>> what does that mean the most popular and unify and foremost entertainment in 2014 features giant muscled men, mostly african-american and geisha in the sport that causes many of them to suffer brain damage. what does it mean that our society has transmuted the joys of childhood cummerbund, leaf, throw throw, tack onto corporatized form of simulated combat, that a collision sport has become the higher learning and the undisputed champ of our colossal athletic industrial complex. i knew it was the normal. >> thanks, steve. i love balance off the very high-level of erudition by telling a joke.
this joke requires you to use the r. word, but there's no other way to use the word. a man and woman, couple who are passionate redskins fans. they've been to every game for 30 years, good and bad. one day the new england patriots are some hot tea more in town and the guy shows up without his wife and a sitdown misters glumly into space. the guy sat next to them for 30 years sat down and says what she wife? demands that i regret to say my wife has passed away. it was a lot no one of silence in the guy looks at the empty seat and says this is a big game. was there anybody in your family or neighbors or friends who wanted that ticket? the guy says they all went to her funeral. [laughter] my book is also about football reform. steve's impressionistic and literary estate with facts and of also bought the professional college and high school level.
i may most important contention is the lower down the chain you go the more important issues come. nobody wants an nfl player to get injured you that there's only two dozen of them and they are adults who assume the risk and are paid well in terms of the risk they assume. you sat down to the college or 60,000 players they are in the big shame of college football to me is that the players are paid to it i don't think that's the ideal solution. eviction of college football is a division level to 55% of the players graduate. if most of them got vouchers to greece, that would be fair recompense for their labors on the field. far too much emphasis on victory not enough on education. he stepped onto the high school level and there you have read two mike 3.5 million, almost all boys come a handful of girls. depending which number he believed was 3.5 million. you concert by the interim high school football.
it can be a great experience that i played in high school you want my son stay. one of my sons were not to play in college. ways were self discipline, teamwork. they take all them or logical risks and almost all cases in return for nothing at all. if you look at any high school -- group of high school players, one in 1000 will eventually play in the nfl are less than one and 50 than 150 rocket and a recruiting boost to college, whether it's a scholarship for athletic admission letter. looking out the state capitol building in austin, texas. live coverage of the 2014 texas book festival will continue in a few minutes.
>> you did know him. you probably just didn't know his name. he gave the speech that i talk so much about. it's actually the speech everybody knows when he goes onto say cotton is king and will win have our guess everyone has to cotton. but hamlet is almost a cartoon or in any of ways. he was sexually abused is not only to a slave, but also to the nieces who are extraordinarily well-connected. that is itself a fascinating story. but he had a very different view of american men like abraham lincoln. they've lived the way a healthy society were to be living in one of the wealthiest society in the world at the time. southern slave owners were enormously wealthy. they were well-educated. they owned beautiful paintings that they had on the wall. but i don't mean once their
daughters did. >> my daughter did her painting. i have to say. i understand your point. fair enough. >> they had reason to believe they have finally gotten it right. and not making excuses to say this is why they got it right. they are not making stuff up. they are really about the pier there really well-educated. they think they have really good ideas. they live in extraordinarily beautiful homes. and he believed they had truly come up with the way society should work. the way society should work, he was only one, but the speech is too good not to use because lincoln explicitly response to it very famously. what he argued in a speech in 1858 was that society was healthiest when a few very well-educated, very wealthy man brand names because they were
the only ones at the education of the brains to direct what should be done. the proof of that is god had honored them with extraordinary wealth. they figured out society in the way society worked was for them to direct the labor of lesser beings. those lesser beings in the south where men and women of color. but to those people, james henry hammons should not have education because that would only make some them grumbly and bought more than they have. they should certainly not have any voice in american society. they shouldn't get much in the way of clothing or food because that was to be wasted on them. money should travel upwards so would create this extraordinarily intelligent, powerful class. that was the way i healthy society would work. he said to see that i'm right, look around you. we're the richest, most educated people in the world. this must be the best way to do
things. >> of course abraham lincoln as you mentioned wisconsin agricultural fair, repudiating this document of the road. give us a summary of that. >> he said, because the majority of the people but sales. the better slam into the ground on which house arrest in the 19th century. so they are the foundation. lincoln says this is not how a healthy society works. a healthy society works the exact opposite way. that is the workers who create value. not the people, but the bottom of the heat create value, you healthy society works in such a way that those people have access to education and to resources so that they can produce and the more that they produce, the mark jay will create, the more they will make an advance so they can put
>> good afternoon. i'm told we're live. thank y'all for coming out today. the caboose of the afternoon, i think we're the last event. appreciate y'all being here. i'm managing editor at the texas on observer, a little political and culture magazine based here in austin. that really has very little to do with why i was asked to moderate here. i offered and was lucky enough to get invited because tom and i happen to be old friends going back to my sue la, montana, oddly must have -- oddly enough. he's written four previous nonfiction books, all of which are wonderful, and he's currently -- well, i should say
he's a former journalist, so he's not making stuff up, he knows where of he speaks. if you want to hear about the history of the railroads or really anything else related to the subject, tom is an expert. and he's currently professor of english at chapman university in los angeles. did i get that right? >> orange, california, actually. >> close enough. [laughter] he's the reporter, not me. what we're going to do is, first, that brief little introduction, and then i'm going to ask tom to read. i'm thankful that i brought a copy of his book, because he forgot to today. so tom's going to do a brief reading, and then he and i are going to have a conversation, and then we're going to open it up to q&a from the audience for the last 15 minutes or so. so gonna let tom take it away. >> very good, thank you. there's actually a quick story about how i got to know brad which i think bears telling here. i'd just moved to montana after
having quit my last job at a newspaper. and we all know what's happened to american newspapers in the last decade, and it is a tragic story, and i left the paper that i had last worked for just feeling very bleak about the future of journalism and my role in it and what am i going to do, you know? i'm too tonallist to bag groceries, i really have no future. so is i'd moved up to missoula where i was living next to, as it happened, the railroad tracks in a dirt cheap apartment, and i decided, you know what? i really ought to get a telephone even though i can't really afford it. so i called up the local service provider, and they thoroughly botched the job and then sent me a bill for it. and, boy, was i mad. you know, how can they get away with this? this is outrageous. how can i fight this? i know, i'm going to write something about it. but, wait, i'm no longer a
journalist, this is no longer possible. maybe i can freelance something. so i walked down to the local all-weekly which brad edited, and i told the receptionist, hi, i'm here, i'd like to write a story about how terrible the phone company is. [laughter] and she says, okay. wait just a minute. and then, you know, i hear her footsteps going up the stairs and, you know, i hear this -- and then i hear brad's voice for the very first time saying, no, no, i really don't have time for this. [laughter] but i i was so angry at the telephone company, i persisted. i asked brad out for a beer, and he accepted -- >> and you know how stories -- >> yeah, exactly. nothing good results from that. so we cooked up a story. i wrote the story, and i felt so good about that story. i thought, you know what? there is life in this old beast yet, and i am going to continue
to be a writer. so i really have -- and i mean this sincerely -- brad to thank for restoring my faith in the power of the written word. so -- [applause] >> you haven't heard what it led to yet, so hold your applause. [laughter] >> all right. i had to tell that story. i love telling that story. all right. this book is about railroads, clearly. you never would have guessed. it's a method of conveyance that i'm absolutely fascinated with. and i never was one of those guys that was, you know, standing by the side of the tracks, you know, writing down locomotive numbers, you know, didn't have model trains growing up as a kid. everybody knows guys like that, perhaps there are some guys like that here, i hope there are. i love talking to those guys. but i never quite shared the fascination of trains as trains.
for me it was always pointing to something different, something harolder to express. harder to express. the ways that we're connected as people. and for me, that's kind of the one word that perhaps lies underneath all the pile of words in this book, is connectivity. and there is absolutely, this is a huge cliche. amtrak used these words in a promotional campaign, there is something magic about a train. and i think many of you here feel that, and that's probably what drew you to this tent. thank you for that. so with that, that's the spark that got this book going, and i'm going to read quickly here, maybe just two or three minutes from the introduction, and this hopefully will provide sort of a window into where all of us, i think, can connect with the rail spirit. twenty years after i saw her, i still remember this young woman
across the aisle from me on a train through a snowstorm in pennsylvania. she was half visible in the overhead lamp wearing a college sweat shirt and holding an open book on her lap. whatever she was reading was making her cry softly. i couldn't see the title, and i was too shy to ask, but the sight of her wiping away tears, emotionally transported into one world as she was physically transported into another, made me feel my individuality dissolving. snowflakes struck the dark windows without a sound, but unseen wheels hummed and outside realities could be subsumed in this linear realm of motion and warmth. five hours from pittsburgh and nowhere in particular. we were standing perfectly still, yet moving over parallel lines of steel, and she seemed like a ghost in the dim light. i cannot ride on a train at night to this day without thinking of her, wishing i had talked to her.
but strangely grateful that she remained a cipher. railroads anywhere, but especially in america, have the power to invoke odd spells like this, a feeling that might be called train sublime. the title sway of the carriages, the chanting of the wheels striking the fish plates. to me, this sound sounds like, dear boy, dear boy, dear boy. the glancing presence of strangers on their own journeys, wrapped in private ruminations. these secret pleasures of a railroad summon forth a vision of sweet pastness, the lost national togetherness. the train is a time traveler itself, the lost american vehicle of our ancestors. or, perhaps, our past selves. we live in a society that was made by the railroads in ways we never think about anymore; our imported food, the beat of our
music, our huge corporations and our method of stock financing. our strong labor unions, our abstract notion of time and our sense of everyday connection with people who may live far out of sight, but are made neighbors through mechanical means. under the skin of modernity lies a skeleton of railroad tracks. [applause] >> that was awfully short, tom. [laughter] and you kind of covered a lot of what i wanted to bring up in my first question, but i'm going to try to rephrase it and ask it anyway. your connection to trains, how far back does it go, where did it start? was it 20 years ago in pennsylvania and that girl sitting across from you? >> i think, yeah, it really was. having grown up in the u.s., you know, like most of us in sort of
a, you know, a post-passenger train era, i'd always just sort of, you know, when i thought about it at all, you know, thought about amtrak as just sort of this curious, you know, mediocre thing that, you know, you almost never see. it's sort of like, you know, a greyhound bus only, you know, less accessible, you know? thought vaguely, well, it'd be kind of cool to ride a train, but, you know, that's something that grandpa did. this is something that is antique, you know? technology has passed it by. that was my understanding of it. and it was only when, as a college student myself sort of taking that trip and feeling like, oh, my gosh, there really is something here and i wanted to learn more and saw that, actually, the technology is not dated at all. this is an incredibly robust, efficient and absolutely delightful means of getting people around, and there's
absolutely no reason for us to have turned our back on it as we did in the 1950s. none of it has to do with the fact that the train is in any way outdated. >> backwards a little built, your first exposure to the train was as an antique entity. you learned better but, obviously, that was your first impression. one of the pieces of the book, sort of a running theme, actually, that fascinated me throughout was how people reacted to it when it was a brand new technology. >> right. >> and i wonder if you could talk about the public reaction to the train when it was the first time such a creature had been seen on the face of the earth. >> right. this was the first real machine ever put on public display. this was the first widespread visual that humanity had of, you
know, this chuffing sort of beast, this thing that was almost alive, you know? powered by steam, obviously, and set out there, and you could climb on it, and you could travel this unfathomable speed of 25 miles an hour which was a shock to the consciousness. unless you had been on a speeding horse before, that kind of velocity was unknown to you, and so there were newspaper reports all over the place in the 1820s and 1830s in britain and in the u.s. of people not being able to comprehend what it was that they were seeing. their mind had no vocabulary for it. and so there are curious reports of people just staring at it like the sky had just turned purple. they could not comprehend it. there was a thought that if you traveled on a locomotive, there would be this weird sense that some time would be subtracted
from your life span, you know? that if you ride on a train for two hours, you know, you're somehow -- that's going to steal that two hours from you. and in india, there are widespread reports of people bowing down to worship the locomotive. it was an utterly alien thing and plenty of opponents. the aristocrats in great britain, the titled, landed class did what they could to stand in the way of railroad tracks being built across their favorite hunting yards. the duke of wellington famously said that this device is going to encourage the lower orders to move about. [laughter] it was viewed as a frightening, you know, sort of disrupting force, and the analogy is often made in business circles and elsewhere that, you know, we experienced this in our lifetime with the internet which,
certainly, collapsed many once-stable industries including the newspaper business which is why i'm standing up here, sitting up here, instead of, you know, in a newsroom somewhere. who else didn't like -- oh, some preachers actually viewed the railroad as a tool of satan. and henry david thoreau viewed it as an evil influence because it prevented humanity, in his view, from paying attention to nature. and he noted the effect that it had on people's sense of time, that there was like this speeding up of time. this debate that we're having about the internet making us all 1250u7d, you know -- stupid, you know, poor attention spans, you know, that we can't sit down and just be quiet because we're always clicking, clicking, clicking. that debate happened with the railroad. it was thought railroad was going to make us all dumb. >> and? [laughter] >> you be the judge actually, yeah. [laughter] >> you might have made this
point in the book and i don't actually remember because it was a while ago since i read it, but hearing you say that again, this idea that an objection to the train as a means of being able to be mobile and move around is probably a really good illustration of how much the worm has turned in a century since then because now if you talk about a train as mass transportation, it's -- the idea is that that's a restriction on a freedom, because we all should be in our own individual cars, right? >> right. >> so that argument sort of eats its own tail. coming back to the question of trains and policy and why they're antique now, can you talk a bit about what those policies are, how the train came to be, to make the turn from a revolutionary technology to an antique technology within such a very brief span of time? >> really quick period of time.
>> yeah. >> yeah. first, let me talk about the politics of it. george will, george f. will, famous newspaper columnist, commentator, wrote a column called "why liberals love trains." and it is actually a really thoughtful column, and will is a thoughtful guy. but in this column he postulated that it's because you're herding people together, and it's a means of social control. that, you know, liberals just love mass transit, right? these are the people that pulled the lever for bonds to build these great transit systems in cities like austin. but yet i don't think there's ever been a consensus on the politics of the train. picture, if you will, the cover of ayn rand's famous novel, "atlas shrugged." if you can, you'll picture a locomotive and, you know, this sort of treatise for the selfish gospel of, you know, wealth
accumulation above all things. one of her great heroes is the owner of a railroad, and, you know, these guys in the 19th century were some of the greatest advocates for laissez-faire capitalism and, you know, get government off of our backs and, you know, these safety regulations that are going to prevent brakemen from losing their hands. no, we don't want any of that. we've seen a flip that in today's world railroads are viewed generally as sort of the favorite projects of those who really like government spending, etc., which, you know, brings us to this idea why did the u.s. turn its back on our peerless passenger rail system in favor of the private automobile? you know? why do we have to get in our cars to drive to dallas? why can't we just get onboard the, you know, the texas flyer or what have you? it's not because necessarily the american people got together in
a room and made that decision. what happened was -- there's a famous misconception that dwight d. eisenhower signed the highway act as a means of quickly evacuating american citizens from city-centers in case of a nuclear attack, and that eisenhower had been so impressed with the german autobans when he led the american army across europe. those were contributing factors. but the main reason why the united states did not double down on investment in its rail infrastructure is because for the perverse reason that american railroads survived the war without being bombed. in europe when they're looking for means to rebuild these shattered economies in germany, france and belgium, they had a
litter of bombed-out railroad tracks and a lot of people who needed work, and they had seen the enormous successes of the new deal, these public works projects. and the energy went into rail building there. we didn't need to do that in the u.s. there were, there was heavy lobbying of congress by texas oil interests and by detroit that, hey, you want to stimulate the economy, you know, what we need to do is put every american in a car. this is famously a time of great consumption, it's when the public is really embracing this idea of the united states being the premier nation of the new world order and, you know, we have the best standard of living anywhere, and this part and parcel involves the liberty to get in our car and go wherever we want, go to the shopping center, drive to florida if we feel like it. it just so ties in perfectly with this american narrative of
freedom. and trains are not that flexible. you're going when the train goes. you are captive to that timetable. and this is somewhat antithetical to what we want to do at that time. and i'll point out that, you know, the detroit automakers and the texas oilmen were not wrong. this really did put an enormous shot in the arm to the u.s. economy in multiple ways, and we're still live anything that world today. living in that world today. the point is that we didn't really choose it. congress chose it for us. in the '50s with this amazing project to build interstates. and i'm gonna make a -- i'm going to jump the tracks because trains are not just about politics, but about policy, and we don't want to get into too much of an argument about that.
you also talk about trains as repositories of symbolism, symbolism of sex, of death, of power, romance, probably some others. this really opens the topic up for you as a writer, i'm sure. wonder if you could spend a little bit of time talking about the resonances of the railroad and of trains. >> oh, yeah. i mean, first of all, i mean, hollywood just has a gooey love affair with trains in a way that they do with no other conveyance, including the vaunted automobile. think of the wonderful movies that feature the train as either sort of a backdrop or an active device, you know? is -- silver streak, north by northwest, strangers on a train, of course, this wonderful burt lancaster movie called "the train." recently we've seen wolverine takes place, a wonderful train fight on top of the, on top of the cars. the hunger games, takes katniss
into the capital, a high-speed train. snow piercer. incredible. with a train of all things. isn't this supposed to be that sort of, you know, fuddy-duddy antique? no. i mean, this is just a visually, really stylish, you know, really amazing way to sort of get characters talking to one another. and it's just a really, i think i'm on safe ground by saying it's a very romantic way to travel. and part of the reason is you do come into contact with people who will spill their guts, you know? i made a point of just trying to be very sociable on these trains, and that's not hard. it's not like, you know, on an airplane where if you talk to your seat mate, boy, that's a risk, isn't it? you don't know who that person is. you could be bored off your keither for the next four hours until you get into miami. but a train is different. you can kind of wander in and out of conversations, you know? in this very graceful, civilized
way. it's a big, roomy carriage, and it sort of mimics the way we sort of like to mingle with our fellow people organically. so i heard all kinds of crazy stories just sitting in the club car with a drink in front of me. and there is something about that sort of chuga-chuga and these towns slipping past the windows, you know, it gives you a sense of almost being transported in a kind of different dimension. and it creates a conviviality unlike that of any other way to travel. and so for me it's all about sort of meeting my fellow human beings. this book was reported from eight different countries, and i saw some amazing things ask met some a-- and met some amazing people overseas. i'm sometimes asked what was your favorite train out of all of that? the trans-siberian, the world's highest railroad to tibet, and i always have to come back, it's
actually the southwest chief, for gosh sakes, that goes from chicago to l. a.. cuts through the midwest and kansas which i think is a beautiful state and, you know, through my home state of arizona, and i got to know my fellow americans in a way that just clearly would not have been possible, you know, driving, you know, i-10 and probably would never have happened on an airplane. so, for me, it's the human contact that makes in the most imminently civilized way to get from place to place. [applause] >> and we're done. [laughter] it's obviously a rich topic, and you're not the first person to write about it. as a fellow writer, i've tried several times to imagine the pitch meeting where you said, i'm going to write about trains, and an agent or an editor said paul thoreau, right? >> yeah. and that's an obvious
comparison. those of you who have head him know his way of reporting on a country is simply to do what i did. he sure didn't steal it from me. he was doing this in the early 1970s, you know? simply get on a train and talk to all the random people that you meet. and thoreau's literary device is to say nasty things about them. he's sort of a famously grumpy guy, and he writes with such acid about some of the people that he meets. i'm told that in person he's actually a very nice guy and this is just sort of a pose. i wound up just really liking a lot of the people that i met and, you know, many of them, you know, telling fairly sad stories about, you know, their struggles. i met a number of people who had served time in jail, you know? that somehow just kept coming up, you know? i'd be talking with someone, and he would say, you know, when i
was down in the joint, x, y, z, and, you know, that's always a good story. >> did you ever run into an uncomfortable story? did you ever feel trapped on a train? did you ever have that through experience? or was it a uniformly positive, enlightening,s positive experience for you. >> no. russia is a very difficult place to live, and the russian people have it really, really hard. when you ride the trans-siberian, particularly when you do it, as i did, in hard class, as it's called, third class, you're meeting a lot of people who have taken some kicks in the teeth. and i can recall, actually, being there like this hard bunk, and these guys -- these drunk soldiers show up, and they tell me -- one of them speaks english, and, you know, they're carousing, but it's not a nice kind of a carousing, it's kind
of mean, and one of them says, yeah, we just got off the battle front in chechnya, and now we're going home, and, hey, here's a drink. and, you know, they pass me this large two-liter bottle of beer, you know, that guys have been swigging out of, and the beer is sort of kind of pick from some of -- opaque from some of the spit. so i found a polite way to pass, and that didn't endear me to them because with russians, you want to drink with them. no, i wasn't going to do that. one of them says, so, are you traveling alone? i said, yeah, i'm traveling alone. oh, you carrying any money? [laughter] and i said, you know, not a lot. and, oh, okay, are you carrying any jewel are i? -- jewelry? and i said, you know, i'm going to see what's going on in the club car. welcome home from the war, i'll see ya later, and then i just was hoping, please, don't follow me. but, no, they found other people to bother. so, yeah, i was kind of glad to
see those guys get gone. and that's also, i should shay, some of -- say, some of the sadness of the train too. you know, you share the sort of stories and moments, and, you know, people will tell you amazing things. and then comes their stop and, okay. you know in your heart you're probably never going to see them again. and that, also, kind of bittersweet in that way. it's a met for for life, too, the train. >> well, i'm told we have five more minutes before we go to q&a, so i'm going to ask, i know you took kind of a kick in the teeth in the russia as well. is that an anecdote -- >> this is embarrassing. if you want to tell the story, that's fine. >> i'd really rather you do it. >> yeah. it's an embarrassing, stupid story. i really had wanted to ride the trans-siberian to the russian ocean, and that's exactly what i was going to do until the time i stepped off the train to, you know, take a day in this one siberian town where i got mauled
by rabid dog. and, yeah, that was my exposure to the russian health care system where the doctor basically says, yeah, i wouldn't trust us. you want to fly back to the u.s. for those shots, and so i said, oh, jeez, really? so, yeah. that ended my trans-siberian trip halfway through. one day, i promise, i'm going to go back and finish it. >> i think that's going to leave time for one more real quick question. you obviously had to do -- i didn't do a final count. how many rail lines did you traverse for this book? >> eight. >> so you must have had to do a pretty tough winter. if you had had room or time or money to do nine -- >> to do nine? >> what would -- >> i do ten? >> if you can do it in three minutes. >> okay. there is a train called the beast which runs from -- the length of mexico. it's nicknamed this because central american immigrants on
their journey to the u.s./mexico border to cross mexico which is in some ways even more harrowing than the desert crossing in arizona or texas, they will be hobos on this train, and there's a wonderful book called "the beast" which documents that journey. man, i wish i could do that trip. i mean, it's illegal and dangerous as heck, but, you know, i'd still want to experience that. there also is, sadly, no africa chapter. africa's got an amazing, tragic history with trains, and some of them still run. and had there been space, i either would have ridden across the democratic republic of congo which takes a month, i'm told, or a significantly faster what used to be called the lunatic express from mum bass saw in kenya to nairobi. and the story of the
construction of that railroad is harrowing. that's where we get the word cooley, by the way. east indian labors were mainly brought in to kenya to build that road and were treated very poorly, and that's, that's why there is an east indian population in east africa. there>> excellent answer. i think we are close enough to our last quarter of hour, so i would like to turn it over to questions from audience. >> hi. i just wanted to say i was born in missoula and traveled back and forth across the country four times on the train. do you think it should or will be fixed or revived in the u.s. at all? >> that really depends on the
price of oil, frankly. certainly, amtrak, the national passenger rail corporation, the quasi-federal entity that runs the show now, they are trapped in a hopeless situation because congress keeps asking, well, why aren't you making any money, and they can only shrug, and part of the reason is because, of course, low ridership, and the other reason is it's very difficult to make money doing this. other national systems like british rail, the scnf in france, excuse me, sncf, they're subsidized to a huge degree by their respective governments. and so congress by continuing to demand, you know, these totally unreasonable explanations from amtrak while refusing to actually pay for quality passenger service means, you know, we're going to be the this way for a while. i don't think it's ever going to
go away simply because it is so useful, particularly in the northeast or corridor. but i'm an optimist, you know? i hope that we will see a reinvigorated passenger service. >> linda loomis, hello. >> i was charmed when you signed my book for me yesterday, and of all the books we took back into our hotel room last night, i snuggled up with yours. >> oh, well, thank you. >> and i was charmed at the very end to see the loop because my first train ride was as a brownie -- the precursor to the girl scouts -- riding from bakersfield up there. you've got it all. you've got sumner where former supreme court chief justice earl warren's dad worked for the southern pacific. and so anyhow, the whole intent of that is about high-speed train travel, bullet trains. do you think that first bullet train will be eventually built in california, and secondly,
what country on earth is most progressive in terms of building very modern, high-speed rails in. >> very good. thank you. those questions are linked. yes, i am an absolute optimist. california is going to get this darn thing done. it's going to take a long time, probably not until 2035. it's going to cost upwards of $100 billion. it's expensive, but it's going to be an inspiration. it's not going to be a panacea, but it's going to show that this is a robust, durable method of technology. and the second part of that question, which nation is most progressive, hands down spain. they doubled down on investing in high-speed rails, and it absolutely destroyed the demand for domestic air flights within spain. it radically changed the aviation business in spain. but it caused more people to take international flights
because you can take high-speed rail to the barcelona or madrid airports and go overseas. so they've done wonderful work there. if you're going to europe, please, please go to spain and ride their trains. china has also envelopessed major -- invested major money and an incredible high-speed rail network. because of the ways that it was built, i have my doubts about it. i don't know that that is a model for the to follow, but i do write about that extensively in this book. >> an optimistic perspective. along those lines, what do you see in the research that you read about the young generation getting interested in railroad engineering or the universities creating programs for that? i myself don't see much of that action, but perhaps you have seen it in the course of writing the book. >> yeah, young people and railroads, right in yeah. gosh, i asked an amtrak conductor, you know, this was on the the city of new orleans where sometimes he'll actually
get on the pa and, you know, sing that song, the arkansas low guthrie -- arlo guthrie song. ♪ good morning, america, how are you? ♪ don't you know me? i'm the native son. ♪ i'm the train they call the city of new orleans. ♪ i'll be gone 500 mile when the day is done. everyone! [laughter] [applause] >> there's a first. >> yeah. i mean, he'll get on pa, and he'll do that just to amuse himself x he says, you know, people go, huh? [laughter] they haven't heard the song. it's too bad. and, you know, that's one of the lesser-traveled routes in amtrak's national network, from chicago to new orleans and, of course, vice versa. and i asked, you know, who's taking the train? and he said, well, you know, those who either, a, don't like to fly, avia-phobes are a big part of amtrak's customer base,
those who are just afraid of flying. i met a lot of people like that. secondly, those who can't afford to fly, and i think amtrak actually does great service there because, you know, not everyone, not everyone has money in this country. it's just, you know, they deserve to get place to place, obviously, and so there's got to be a low cost way of doing that, that, you know, is not the indignity of the bus. and thirdly, college students. to answer your question, who make up a huge part of the ridership base of the city of new orleans. because it goes very close to the university of illinois, illinois state, you know, i rode it a lot when i was in college without ever knowing that i was going to write a book about it someday. and, yeah, i mean, it's an age when you're young. clearly, it's an age when you're young -- [laughter] it's an age when you're open to new experiences, you know? when the adventure of train travel sort of appeals.
and it should be a rite of passage for college graduates in the u.s. to go get the rail ticket, actually, and to spend a couple months with a backpack and just going from youth hostel to youth hostel and just drinking it in. and the train is your ticket when you do that. it's still, i hope, enormously cheap. it used to be just $600 for the whole summer. so i, to your question, i discovered my, i think, passion for this when i was in my early 20s, earliest 20s, actually. >> how did the introduction of the diesel engine change trains? >> oh, yes. the introduction of diesel. it made them marginally more efficient. actually, a lot more efficient. and it certainly cut down on our coal dependence. this largely happened in the u.s. in the early 1950s. the d.c. can el engine, i
believe -- diesel engine, i believe, had been invented in the '20s and '30s if i'm not mistaken on this, but the widespread transfer away from steam and towards diesel happened in the early 1950s. and i think by 1956 or '7, union pacific had swapped out all of its engines for diesel. it meant the end of the coal economy in large portions of the west. many towns just sort of dried up and blew away, you know? certainly, it was cleaner to do it that way. something of the charm, though, i think is lost. you know, there's something so charming about a coal-fired locomotive and the steam involved in that. but, you know, it's more efficient. >> [inaudible] natural gas-powered train? >> yeah, i believe, i believe there already are. and, certainly, you know, we're drilling more gas than we ever have in this country, so, yes.
>> romantic train ride to take in the u.s. what's the most romantic train ride to take in the world? >> oh, define romantic, sir. [laughter] i could answer that a number of ways. gosh, i think i'll just be -- well, baseline is any train is romantic really except for the trans-siberian. [laughter] anywhere you go, it's going to be a great experience, i predict. for sheer amaze aing things out the win -- amazing things out the windows, a tie in between the coast starlight from san diego up to seattle where you just see incredible, incredible stuff. it's a wonderful -- consider it date night, actually. to book a sleeper on the coast starlight. you're not going to be disappointed. tie between that and the california zephyr which goes across the state of nevada at sunset, and it's just
astonishing. >> before i ask this question, i should explain to you that my stepfather was a brakeman for northern pacific and that i'm a great advocate of warren buffett and charlie munger. here's my question: what have you discovered is the true value of the real estate involved in railroads? >> oh, wow. yeah. wonderful question. railroads were real estate empire builders because they got free land from the government. they got it in this checkerboard pattern. land that was essentially claimed from native americans, you know, congress decided how are we going to make the best use of it? let's just give it to big corporations and let them, you know, use it for the right-of-way and then sell it off and build towns. and it was actually, you could argue about the morality of that, but it worked brilliantly, you know? it made a lot of people rich, and it created astonishing corruption too. so railroads today have these
incredible rights-of-way. and it was an executive with the southern pacific who figured out, you know, wow, we can do more than put gas pipelines down these right-of-ways, we can actually string fiber optic cable down them. so sprint, the telecommunications company, is actually an acronym that begins "southern pacific." and so to this day when you're traveling down those tracks or you see a freight rail, a good bet that there's a gas pipeline underneath those rails, that there's fiber optic cable strung along them. this is a big part of the reason why phil anschutz of quest got so rich, was off of owning these railroads which, you know, their value was exponential because of the real estate. >> thanks. i think your last answer there maybe partially answers my question, but it's about routes and, obviously, the route selected is a big factor in the
success of certain routes. you mentioned the romantic ones, and the route of the proposed austin light rail has become very controversial, and i just wonder what is the typical method that has been used for where railroad routes go in europe and, i guess you mentioned in the u.s. often government giveaways of right-of-way. >> yeah. i mean, so many of our rail routes, obviously, were plotted in the 19th century, and it was where the railroad thought that -- [inaudible] could be planted, where they could entice german and norwegian immigrants who saw posters about this bountiful new land, they would send agents over to northern europe to try to convince, you know, ye poor, ye weary to come on over and take a free railroad ticket out to, you know, god knows where and, you know, in missouri and try and make a new life.
many of them said to hell with this and went back. [laughter] enough stayed, my people are here because we got some railroad or land in kansas. some of those routes were very poorly planned. there's towns all over the great plains that arguably should not be there because they're economically insufficient. you could say that about the great state of texas, that many of these towns out here, you know, in the drylands were there for, you know, somebody's money-making scheme in the railroad that didn't work out too well, and so you've got, you know, a dying town out there. like i say, we live in the world of the railroads, we just don't realize it. so real quickly, to bring this to a close, the route of a new train -- particularly a high-speed train -- is incredibly political. and this is a fight that is sort of still being hashed out a little bit in california, how many stops is this bullet train going to have, and where is it going to go? because when you put a train stop somewhere, people are going to get very rich, you know?
not just because of, you know, you've got a stop there, and it boosts the value of the land, you know? but that's a lot of foot traffic. if you know where that station is going, boy, you can flip that land for a lot of money. and spain has seen some corruption in terms of where the trains go. this has always been the case. trains and corruption have kind of gone hand in hand from the beginning. i talk about lots of less pretty elements about railroads in this book too, so this is not necessarily a valentine to the railroad. there's a lot of, you know, kind of nasty business in here too. >> we have one last question. >> yes. >> did you consider the fascination that children and adults have with model trains? >> yes. no less an authority than sigmund freud wrote about this as to why little boys in particular are, have sort of, you know -- have this sort of, you know, love affair with the train, what is it? and, like, being sigmund freud,
you know, i think you can guess what he thought about this, and it's true that, you know, trains are a guy thing, aren't they? i mean, how many -- i think i'm on safe ground by saying this, you know? how many ladies do we know who are out there with the guys taking photographs of trains and, you know, noting locomotive numbers and all that stuff? i'll close with this story, you know, one of the -- when i knew that i was going to write this book, one of my first acts was to go see this guy in greenfield, new hampshire, who is one of these gentlemen who is obsessed and, you know, has this business that he runs out of his house where he videotapes trains, and, you know, sells them, you know, to his many customers. and he's got like 500 videos of trains, you know, just rolling past. you know, you think, wow, how boring is that. but people buy this stuff, and people love it. and, you know, i'm not here to judge it. and i said, you know, hey, dick, you know, that's his name, why
do guys like trains so much? and he looks at me like i've just asked him the most foolish question in the world which is so obvious, and he says, well, it's heavy equipment moving fast. [laughter] >> thank you all so very much. please join me in expressing appreciation. [applause] and on that note, thank you all very, very much for joining us at the texas book festival. tom is going to be in the book signing tent in just a few minutes, if you would like to purchase his book and get his autograph. again, thank you so very much.
about the collection and use of personal data by private companies any questions what it means for our privacy. as a case study he used caesars entertainment which he says has perfected the practice of gathering personal data from its customers. he spoke at the fordham university school of law in new york city. >> i'm glad to be with you here. i thought i would start this talk with going back in time about a cordova centric in episode, in the final years of communism in eastern europe 1988 and east berlin. at the time this is one of the strictest countries, one of the most rigid communist countries in the commonest block ally to moscow. i visited there a number of times and in 1988 and predirs