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tv   Summer Reading with Senator Lamar Alexander  CSPAN  August 7, 2016 10:30am-10:51am EDT

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the image is soft and deep it buildings, parts of the city that are no longer there. also sort of a time and a place that is very indicative of when the photo was taken versus now. it is thought that i've had several people who have purchased the boat, effective leg to take the book and find out what the photo was taken to see how that was changed. this types of boats very often so much as driven by the image that gets lost or isn't as emphasized as much. ..
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what is conveyed on the back as well as on the front. because you were forced at that time with the people at that time were forced to write things in a very short, succinct format it gives you an indication of what they felt was important. in many cases is very different from what we feel is important today. in some cases it's very much like we do. they tend to stick with, in the words of joe friday, just the facts. they really believe that conveying the most important
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thing more important but it is you are real idea of what things, what people, what events were important in their daily lives. that kind of a window is very often a tough thing for historians in particular to get an idea of. that's one thing in particular that i think the era has been able to document in ways that you may not have been able to document the errors are a maybe even in the air is since. >> for more information on booktv's recent visit to port huron and the many other destinations on our cities door go to c-span.org/cities tour. >> host: if someone asked you for a recommendation for a book
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about tennessee or tennessee history, what would you recommend transferred i would recommend alec stewart. alex stewart was a cooper, a barrel maker. he lived up in hancock county which is one of our remote mountain county. the creator of the museum of appalachia and interviewed alex stewart about his life. he was one of the most remarkable men. he could make anything. he could pull teeth. he could catch a squirrel, skin it, fry it, it. he was interested that he was invited to washington to be part of the smithsonian festival one time. to get a sense of how someone people lived, and totally off the land, alex stewart. >> host: a lot of famous politicians from tennessee.
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james polk, a couple president, andrew jackson, andrew johnson. what about august of them? >> guest: i will mention to you. "american lion," jon meacham's best book. i like the way jon meacham writes. in fact, he wrote a book called "american gospel" that not as many people know about. it's a short little book, i think that's the name of it, about the role of religion in america. his jackson book won the pulitzer prize and its the best book. john pope, i've read his diaries. pulled, six-month, you must a data with the quilt 10, this was the 1850s i guess, 1840s. he wrote sometimes lengthy notes, probably 10 or 11 at night, something like center is used and showed up at 9 p.m. for immunity. that would be sam houston. it took me a long time but a red
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all the way through the i don't know any president who is written such detailed diaries. host with what is truly on your reading list? >> guest: i'm reading a book that robert norrell wrote. the biography of alexander lee. alex haley was the tennessean. he's in the news right now because this is the 40th anniversary of "roots" which people may have forgotten was the best watched television show ever. the last episode, about 85% of the american television sets, people who a television sets watched some part of "roots" in 1977. alexander's book about slavery really told it in such, such, terms that had not been presented before. that was combined with the movie.
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they just jolted the country, and it filled up the libraries with americans searching for the own family history. robert norrell is a university of tennessee professor who wrote a book about alex haley, about his two books, the autobiography of malcolm x, "roots," which the author says are the two most important books about black america in the 20th century and maybe the two most important books about american culture in the 20th century. >> host: what else you have on that list? >> guest: i'm reading a couple, "growing up" by russell baker jon meacham told me that was the best memoir. it's pretty good. i love the way russell baker wrote. i'm reading a book, just finished a book, he was blind
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and he was the last person to live in the great smoky mountain national park, because that park was bought by the state and people had to move out. they let him stay in there. i went to see in just a few months before he died at age 95. this is a book about his life. i really enjoy reading a lot over and over again really about the areas where i grew up and lived in the mountains of tennessee host where did you grow up? >> guest: berryville tennessee. it's just outside of knoxville. right at the edge of the great smoky mountain national park i can walk out my backdoor and two miles i'm in the park. >> host: what kind of books i try to? the satellite biographies. >> guest: well, they do their unlike biography. i've always liked biographies. i like, like most americans, i
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like almost anything hemingway wrote but i haven't read much of that lately. i love mark twain's books. i read a lot of biographies. diane feinstein, senator feinstein gave me a book called "the death of caesar" by barry strauss. it's about the senator's who killed julius caesar. it's remarkably detailed, and if you are a senator, a united states senator, you know, you read it with a certain amount of interest. sees are appointed, the roman senate was about 500 senators. cesar appointed them all and about 30 of them persuade him to come on the senate floor and then stab him to death. of the du share books with their colleagues? >> guest: yes. i mentioned senator enzi of
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wyoming. he underlines the book he reads and writes himself a book report on the books and he will tell me about books you like. senator durbin reads a lot of books and he's in the gym when i am sometimes so we will talk about a book. >> host: let's go back to the marysville tennessee. what sparked your interest in reading and education? >> guest: my parents. the "new york times" interviewed my mother once and wrote out a grew up in a lower middle class family in the middle of the mountains. when i called home that weekend, my mother was reading thessalonians for how to deal with this slur on the family. she said she that a library card since the day you were three and a music lesson from the day you were four. give it everything you need that was important. i've had people tell me my mother took me down to the public library and they said mrs. alexander, we don't have
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library card for three years old. she said you should. and i got one. so i give her some credit. >> host: rookie feature books today? >> guest: i buy them. people send them to me. dianne feinstein a big this cesar book. i bought jon meacham's book. i ago, david rubenstein has some things in the library of congress where he interviews authors. these into giving jon meacham about his franklin and winston books so i would get a book out of that. basically i buy them. if i hear about them. and then i give them away. like i gave the alex stewart book away to three or 400 friends for christmas when you. just because a lot of tennesseans are interested in alex haley. >> host: a couple of centers
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have mentioned this library of congress series david rubenstein sponsors and to bring in office. have you tried to attend a? >> guest: opcode to four or five of them. i think he does a terrific job with it. i will say this to you and you did a good job with it if i may say, but he knows the subject and asked questions, he brings out the author. the office to do the best are the ones who think the best conversation. evan thomas who wrote "being nixon," that's good book. it's on my bedside. it's really the most balanced picture of richard nixon who is a really remarkable successful president except for the big watergate problem which was a great big problem. he interviewed him. it was a very good, he interviewed bob woodward very well. jon meacham is the next one up. richard nixon, you've got a couple of pictures on the wall of u.n. richard nixon but that was before your political grid
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as governor of tennessee. >> guest: in fact edited with it because the first of i ran for governor, my democratic opponent called me nick sims choirboy. i worked in the nixon white house in 1969 and 70 for a man, a wonderful individual and a former eisenhower aid who has had and has enormous respect for everybody. so that was really the beginning of my political activity. i started before that with howard baker but that was early in my time. >> host: senator alexander, as president of the university of tennessee, what was your experience with the students when it came to reading and literature and some of the classes being taught? >> guest: i try to drop in on classes of interesting teachers. one of them was not there anymore, his name was richard married his. he taught at the university of us and when i was governor i created a governor's school for
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teachers of writing. he came down from harvard where he then taught the freshman writing course to teach about 200 tennessee teachers or two weeks every summer how to write, how to teach their students how to write. they might be third grade teachers, fifth grade teacher, eighth grade teachers, english teachers. that was a part of the university of tennessee that i, were i had a lot of interaction with students and teachers. >> host: is there any value in a whole city where you hear about a whole city saying everybody, let's read this book, our university, let's all read this book coming in? is there a shared value to the? >> guest: sure there is. "roots" comes to the closest thing. there we were in 1977. it was on tv for eight consecutive nights. we only had three networks at the time. 85% of the american people
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watched at least one episode. i think "roots" as i mentioned earlier, it did two things to a confronted americans with ugly story of slavery and a brutal it was. is going to be a better day kind of thing at the end. and then it showed that it was a family story. seven generations from kunta kinte to himself. it costs americans too, filled up the library's with people looking for the own genealogy. so there's an example of a whole country watching a book, "roots," and the two major effects that came from it. so there would be an advantage to a community or a family or the club reading the same book. >> host: is writing hard? >> guest: yes. i love to write. alexander, i knew him for about 10 years. he said he would write sometimes
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correct his manuscript 26 times. i tell the students who write the paper and turn it into i was in alex haley won the national book award, not by turning his book in the first time, he rewrote it. he also said use a green pen instead of the reagan because everything looks like i thought she. a green pen is more friendly for your corrections. >> host: you are an author as well just the i try to be. i encourage my staff members to write. writing is hard. it's a skill that lots of young people don't learn because they don't do it enough if they are too glued to the screen and to twitter. but being able to write a simple declared it sends or pick out a mass of information but the essence of it is and say it in plain english, being able to persuade at least half the people you're right is an important part of public life, and being a good writer helps. >> host: what was your book
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six-month off about? >> guest: my wife said after the seven years, she said we didn't have to get out of there so we picked the place. we have three teenagers and a seven year old. a day i was sworn out of office we moved to sydney and let their six-month. the kids went to school and that was our six-month off. i had a friend called peter ginna to encourage me to write a book about being governor so we visited the publishers in new york and went to random house i think and the publisher said to me into peter wood wrote a best selling book, what do you want to write about? lamar wants to write about what a great governor is bent and the publisher said, his mother might read it. what else are you doing? i said i'm not doing anything. we are just meant for australia for six months. he said that might be interesting and he gave me an advance and out came the book.
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it was right in its entirety on national public radio. program where he reads for 30 minutes and he do that. it was in 1988. >> host: is another bookwriting? >> guest: well, i thought of writing a memoir some time but, if i do other probably call it what my grandfather used to tell me when i was a kid. he would say aim for the top. there's more room there. but i'm not thinking about doing that right now. i'm too busy enjoying what i'm doing. >> host: a lot of your colleagues have written books. have you had a chance to read there's? >> guest: i just read senator mcconnell's, "the long game" to i interviewed in four hours he spent about a. when asked me, i said i don't think mitch mcconnell can talk for an hour. he's got a star in his own book where he said one of president george w. bush's staff members came in until the president mitch mcconnell is very excited about a boat. president bush said, how could you tell?
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because mitch doesn't say much. but i thought his book was very interesting. there's lots of good stories starting with the polio jihad in the early 1940s and how his mother, we forget how desperate parents were then they did know what to do about it did with polio. they would see people in iron lungs, no cure, no vaccine. his mother took him down to warm springs were present roosevelt was, and learn something about what they did that with therapy. for two years when he was two and three, massage his legs for the hour or two a day and kept him from walking. i don't know how you keep a two year-old from walking or three year old. he credits that with the fact he can walk almost without a lift today. >> host: senator alexander, do you recommend any books to your staff? >> guest: yeah, sure.
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i tell them about the books. i recommend "roots" to everybody because it's such an essential part of the american story. and the fact that it was such a learning experience for americans. i think it really changed the way we think about african-american life in our country, changes the way white people would -- i told him about "the death of caesar" because i think that would be interesting to anyone who work in the senate, the book senator feinstein gave me. >> host: what about fiction? what about non-historical fiction such as "roots" but fun fiction? is there relaxation breathing for you? >> guest: my favorite piece of fiction is "all the king's men."
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i reread it last summer and i was just astonished by how i'd forgotten how good it is. he was a gifted writer and he wrote that just after world war ii. it's a little racy for the time which is probably why it sold so well. that he won a pulitzer prize for it. it's so intricately put together, the characters. you can still see willie stark and jack martin and you can of the our and you would see the families difficulties in the pictures of life in louisiana. that's such a powerful book. another book which is not fiction that i have been reading for months is t. lawrence's book called the "seven pillars of wisdom." that may sound kind of strange that this was lawrence of arabia, this is a book he wrote about his time in the desert back there in the world war i

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