tv Summer Reading with Senator Lamar Alexander CSPAN September 17, 2016 2:15pm-2:36pm EDT
>> c-span: i want you to give your time back in a second. before we close i want to ask to define what a librarian is beyond the obvious and why do people that are library in feel so strongly about their profession? >> guest: we like to say that the librarians are the original search engines. that librarians are people who help other people get the information, the resources, even the entertainment and you mentioned fiction that they need for their lives or they may wants and that they can help them distinguish for instance health information but they can also tell them what the latest novel is by your favorite author or a particular thing they can open up things.
librarians are people who help people. and information rich world. >> a question i did not follow up on it is your dad still alive? >> no. so did he have brothers and sisters. >> guest: no. i'm an only child. it's interesting when you say is your dad still with us, some of his image that he liked jazz and he was also a studio musician so he still talks music and everything but he also is a studio musician. so sometimes a minimal and i can hear my dad playing background on a song and that is quite a feeling. >> who is your favorite jazz musician? >> guest: miles davis. i think it's because i actually met him and he was pretty cool
back then and's i have always felt that there was something about him and as an eight or 9-year-old to have a person, i didn't know how cool he was then but he was nice to me. >> so you probably are not old enough to have been to mr. kelly's or the house in chicago? >> i knew about the london house. my dad played there. that was a group that they took in so you can still hear their music. i knew about the london house. >> it was something. >> guest: it was a long time ago chicago was quite something for music and it still is. >> c-span: thank you so much for your time. >> guest: thank you.
>> here's a look at upcoming book fairs and festivals happening around the country. tomorrow starting at 10:00 a.m. eastern, we are live in new york for the brooklyn book festival featuring other discussions on topics that range from immigration to digital privacy, the military, and campaign politics with the likes of ralph nader, thomas frank, rock hill, molly crabapple and more. next saturday, september 24 book tv is live from the 16th annual national book festival in washington. our all-day washington. our all-day coverage includes author talks from pulitzer prize winners, stacy ship and work as well as your calls for authors of bob woodward, ken burns and representative john lewis. coming up next month is a southern festival festival of books in nashville tennessee from october 14 through 16th. the boston book festival is held. for more information and toan watch previous festival
coverage, click the book fairs tab on our website, booktv.org. >> senator lamar alexander, if someone asked you for a recommendation for a book about tennessee or tennessee history what would you recommend? >> i. >> i would recommend alex stewart by john rice. he was a cooper, a barrel maker. he looked up in hancock county which is one of our remote mountain counties and john rice irwin was the creator and he interviewed alex stewart about his life and he was one of the most remarkable men. he can make anything. he could pull teeth, he could catch a squirrel, skillet, fry it, eat it and he was so interesting that he was invited to washington to be part of this with sony and festival one time. so we really get a sense of how some mountain people lived. and totally off the land alex
stewart,. >> a lot of famous politicians from tennessee that james polk, andrew jackson, what about biographies of them? >> well i will mention two, american line john beauchamp's best book and i like the way john beauchamp writes, in fact he wrote a book called american gospel, not not a name people know about it's a short book about the role of religion in america. but his jackson book won the pulitzer prize and it is the best book about polk, i have read polk's diaries, polk, after about six months every night sat down and he must've done it with a quill pen and this was 1850s i guess and he wrote sometimes
lengthy notes, probably ten or 11:00 p.m. at night something like senator houston showed up at 9:00 p.m. for an interview. it took me long time but i read it all the way through. i do not know of any president who has written such detailed diaries. >> what's on your reading list? >> i am reading a a book that robert norelco. a biography of alex haley.he is alex haley lived in tennessee, he's in the news right now because this is the 40th anniversary of roots which people may have forgotten was abople may have forgotten was ever, the last episode about 85% of the american television sets, people who had television sets watch some part of it in 1977. and his book about slavery really told it in such in terms
that had not been presented before. but that was combined with the movie, it just jolted the country. and, it filled up the libraries with americans searching for their own family histories. and robert is it university of tennessee professor who wrote a book about haley, about his two books, they autobiography of malcolm x which he which he wrote in 60s, roots which he wrote in the 70s, which the author says are the two most important books about black america in the 20th century and may be the two most important books about american culture in the 20th century. >> that is one, what else else list.read that i at. >> i am reading a couple of "--e
he was blind 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 and they let him stay in their and i went to see him just a few months before he died at age 95. this. this is a book about his life. so i really enjoyed reading a lot over and over again really about the area where i grew up and lived in the mountains of tennessee. >> where did you grow up? >> guest: in tennessee. >> host: where is that west marks. >> guest: it's right outside knoxville. by that smoky national park. >> host: what kind of books the track to? the summit biographies.>> i
>> guest: well, they do. i like biographies. biographies. i have always liked biographies. i likes like most americans i love almost anything hemingway wrote. but i have have not read much of that lately. i thought i would like marks bo twain's books, i read a lot of biographies. diane feinstein gave me a book, i think it's called the death of caesar. it's about the senators who killed julius caesar. and it's remarkably detailed. if your senator you read it with a certain amount of interest. caesar appointed the romanto senate was about 500 senators, caesar appointed them all at about 30 of them persuaded him to come on the senate floor and then stabbed him to death.
>> host: do share books with your colleagues or do they share books with you? >> yes, yes, i think i mentioned a senator from wyoming, and's he underlines the book he reads and he writes himself a book report on the books and he will tell me about books he likes. senator durbin read a lot of books and he is in the gym when i am sometimes a we'll talk about a book. >> let's go back to maryville tennessee, what sparked sparked your interest in reading and education? >> guest: my parents, when the new york times interviewed my mother once and route that i grew up in a lower middle-class family in the middle of the mountains and when i called home that weekend my mother was athes reading thessalonians for how to deal with in the family, and she said you have had a library card from the day you are three, adam music lesson from the day you're for. you have you have had
everything you needed that was important. important. my mother took me down to the public library and they said, this is alexander we do not have library cards for three years old and she said well you should. and i got one. so i give her credit. >> host: where do you get books today? spee2 i buy buy them, people sent to me, dianne feinstein gave me the caesart book, i brought john beauchamp' book. i david rubenstein has some things in the library of congress where he interviews authors, he is interviewingin beauchamp about his franklin -- book. but basically i buy them and if i hear about them and then i give them away. like i gave the alex stewart book i mentioned to about three or 400 friends at christmas one year. and the book about alex haley i gave to the same people, just
because a lot of people in tennessee are interested in the alex haley because he was from their. >> host: a couple of senatorste have mentioned this library of p congress series that rubenstein sponsors and they bring in authors, have you try to attend that? >> guest: have been to four orfi five of them. i think he does a terrific job of it and he doesng not interpose himself. i'll say this to you and your doing a good job of it too if i may say, but he knows his subject and he ask questions and brings out the author and the authors who do the best are the ones who can a carry on the best conversation. thomas who wrote be a next then, that's a good book, so my bedside. it's really the most balanced picture of richard nixon. it was a remarkably successful president except for the big watergate problem which was a big problem. but he interviewed him, it was very good. he interviewed bob woodward very well.od
john beauchamp is the next one out. >> you have a couple of pictures here in your wall of you and richard nixon but that was before your political career as governor of tennessee wasn't it? spee2 impacted interfered with it because the first time i ranb for governor my democratic opponent call me the next inquiry boring. i worked in the 70s for bryce -- wonderful individual and i was a former eisenhower aid who had and has enormous respect for everybody. and so that was really the beginning of my political activity. i really started before that with howard baker but that was early in my time. >> senator, as as president of the university of tennessee,t c what was your experience with the students when it came to reading and literature in 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 marriott's, he had taught at the university of tennessee and when i was governor i created a governor school for teachers of writing and he came down from harvard where he had been taught the freshman writing course to teach about 200 tennessee teachers for two weeks every summer of how to write how to teach their students how to write. you might need third grade teachers senior english teachers, so so that was a part of the university of tennessee that i had a lot of interaction with students and teachers. >> was there any value and a city where you hear about a whole city saying let's read this book or a university, let's all read this book coming in?
>> is their shared value to that? >> sure, roots come as close to that as anything. there we were in 1977, it was on tv for eight consecutive nights. on tv for a consecutive nights. we only had three networks at the time. and 85% of the american people watched it at least one episode. so i think roots as i mentioned earlier did two things, heth confronted americans with the ugly story of slavery and how brutal it was and the heroism of the slaves. there's going to be a better day kind of thing at the end. and then it showed that it was a family story, the sevengeneratin generations and it caused americans to -- it brought up the library so people looking for their own genealogy, so there is an example of an entire country watching a book, roots and the two major effects that came from it. >> so it would be an advantage to a community, family or book club reading the same book.
>> is writing hard? spee2 yes, i love to write, to write, alex haley, i knew him for about ten years, he said that he would write sometime correct his manuscript 26 times. he was a student and he would write a paper internet amen alex haley won the national book award, not by turning his book in the first time, he rewrote it. he also said here is use a green pen instead of red. because a red pen means i caught you and a green pen is moree friendly for corrections. enjoy i enjoy writing and i encourage my staff members to write. writing is hard. oniting is hard. and it is a skill that lots of young people today do not learn because they do not do enough.
thereto glued to the screen and to twitter. but being able to write a simple sentence and pick out a mass of information what the essence of it isn't say it in plain english, been able to persuade half the people you write is an apart part of public life and being a good writer helps. >> host: what was your book six months off the bus? spee2 that was about six months our family spent in australia after i was governor. after seven years of it she said we have to get out of here. we had three teenagers in a 7-year-old.. of the day i was sworn out of office we moved to sydney and live there six months. the kids went to school and that was her six months off. random and i had a friend called peter jenkins would encourage me to write a book about being governor so we visited the publishers in new york. i went to random house and the publisher said to me and peter who wrote a best-selling book, what you write a bite and he said well he wants to write about what a great governor he has been in the publisher said his mother might read it. what else are you doing. well. well i'm not doing anything. were you test really for six
months. >> any federal that might be interesting. he gave gave me an advance and out came the book. it was read on national public radio. there's a program where they read for 30 minutes and he did that. as a as a 1988. >> is another book ready? >> guest: i thought of writing a memoir sometime but if i do i will probably call it what my grandfather used to tell me and when i was a kid. he said in for the top, top, there is more rooy there.f y but i am not thinking of doing that right now. i'm too busy, i'm enjoying what i'm doing. >> now a lot of your colleagues have written books. have you had a chance to read that. >> i just read senator mcconnell's, the long game. i said i don't think he can talk for a while.l can and george says one of president
george w. bush's staff members came in and said well mitch mcconnell is very excited about a vote and president bush that how could you tell? because mitch doesn't say much. but i thought his book was very interesting. there there are a lot of good stories starting with the polio he had in the early 1940s and house mother, we forget how desperate parents were them. they didn't know what to do about the kid with polio. they would see people with iron lungs and no cure. no vaccine. his mother took him down to warw springs where presidenttroos roosevelt was a learn something about what they did their with their pm for two years when he was two and three, they massaged massaged his likes for an hour or two per day.walki they kept him from walking. and how you keep a two-year-old or three-year-old from or 3-year-old from walking. he credits that with the fact that he can walk almost without acre limp today.