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tv   Beth Macy Discusses Truevine  CSPAN  November 24, 2016 1:00pm-1:54pm EST

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two brothers, kidnapping and another's class and also a true story the jim crow south. "truevine" has been long listed for the andrew carnegie medals for excellence. at the reporters, that's one more than a dozen awards and earned an even fellowship at harvard university. her first book, factory man was odd the best of 2014 last and is currently in development to become an hbo miniseries executive produced by tom and jerry gottesman. please join me in welcoming beth macy to the second festival of books. [applause] >> well, "truevine" -- it is true. could you explain how you first heard about the story? >> i would love to. as a young journalist who arrived in roanoke in 1989 to write feature stories, i took
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two years to muster the nerve to mess with nancy and she was the story's gatekeeper, a newspaper photographer had told me the bones of the kidnapping story based on rumors he heard growing up in roanoke. it's the best story in town that no one has been able to get it he said. by the time i poke my head into her tiny soul food restaurant but the idea of writing a story about a famous great uncles, it is very clear that all personal details are going to be closely held, trickling out in dribs and drabs and very much an active timeline. the first time after that interview will he meet his and in this 90s, according to the goodie shop wall at a customer had stenciled the word and letters on a white painted word and given it to her as a gift. the sign read it down and shut up. willie was not now nor would he ever be available for comment. hoping to generate some goodwill
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or future story, i wrote a feature about a restaurant, a place for the menu never changes in the even written down. they're just goes to know. black roanoke or skitter the respected daily specials would eventually commit to memory. tuesdays memory. tuesday spaghetti or lasagna except every other tuesday which is pork chops are wednesday session thursday country fried steak. the road so i thought quickly. the line out from stars or minutemen. the lunch doesn't officially begin until 1215 and not a moment before and later usually nancy has to come home in the midst of a bad day at uncle willy saber specialist tuesday spaghetti. nancy also kept a painted rock on top of her cash register. it is a gift from whom she helped raise. she was not above picking it out presumably and just should a customer offender. when i returned for lunch two
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days after my story ran because we fridays are my favorite, nancy shook her finger and is clear is not getting anything close to a pat on the back. her mother sat by peeling potatoes watching the young and the restless and cringing about what her daughter was about to say. she sent me packing the first time i want to the restaurant and inquired about her uncles that the softhearted.but they do their restaurant teacher. i actually saw the very first episode of young and the restless. the characters i was hoping to peel potatoes in her kitchen before the episode was over much to nancy chagrined.and i both agreed that victor newman is a scoundrel. you know what your story dead, nancy said? brought out a bunch of crazy white people. that's all. paying customers that might have added in no mood for back i've passed without further comment
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leaving now to feed uncle willy and feeding the spanish alphabet and the goodie shop as many as five or six times a shift. her great uncle story would have stayed buried where she thought it belonged. the first time she heard it she was just a child and found the whole tale embarrassing and painfully raw. the year was 1961 and black and white people alike wanted to know where the light skinned brothers black or white? have they really been tried an occasion for us to eat raw meat? these men deserve respect nancy knew. they did not deserve the gawkers who came by the house at all hours they get on the front door. though some of her first memories of people banging on their door in the middle of the night. by the time it came on the signal and talked about savages or circus freaks, a sturdy woman at the temple is this game is nearly white as the shot because she were to irk. she baked bread and she was
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every bit as fierce. even russia refuted a family while in group in the neighborhood around the corner and is now a social sciences professor had never contemplated bringing the subject up with an good that is one exceptionally guarded family he told me. you got to take vb steps. you have to think of them as they try. the try. they fall out with each other sometimes but if you follow one of them they will come roaring back at you like an army. it was tender years before nancy warmed up enough to let me in a co-writer authoring newspaper series and only after willie mays death in 2001 he was 108. she didn't reveal much, though. she invited jen mccaffery, josh meltzer and meet inside the house exactly one time. she made reference to the family bible we were not permitted to view them for years after the series read whenever i visited the restaurant there so much more to this story than we have
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found. when she would say things like that, she would call me scoop. our newspaper was the same one that mocked her family's version of the kidnapping story decades earlier. it had looked the other way with city officials estimated to historic neighborhoods in the name of midcentury progress via urban renewal was the black community called it removal. the newspaper cheered when the city knocked on hundreds of community homes and building including the holding church. i refuse to print black wedding announcements for bright in the mid-1970s because the wealthy web publisher reasoned roanoke had no black middle class. i myself have used a pair of pregnant black teens to demonstrate a story about the high teen pregnancy rate in 1993, a story that went viral before the internet term existed and made the girls the object of ridicule, even rush limbaugh joined in with the rant. when the girls dropped out of
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school shortly after my story ran, and is devastating. words linger and i learn it's not possible to predict the fallout they can, in subject line. it would take me 25 years to earn sent being daring at the stratosphere to commiserate with the american republic are purely for my own financial benefit. in 2013 when i hit a snag a dating as she wrote a story on the pregnant teens more than 20 years after the original expose the first story, it seems fate that one of them now at the 7-year-old mother of four live just around the corner from nancy's northwest roanoke ranch house. after some angry relatives tried to bully me into not running the story, physically threatening the end of indian and newspaper but my boss is coming if they reassured me don't need permission to do the story just like you really don't need my to
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write your book. not really you don't. and yet, months earlier nancy's permission is exactly what i saw on the eve of publishing my first book about a third generation factory owner who battled chinese imports to save his company i'd given her in the inserting copies of fact dream man on race relations i found particularly hard to navigate. a detailed decades the black furniture workers in the sexual harassment of black domestic workers who often resorted to wearing to goebbels at the same time as their bosses groping hands and out right rape. nancy said it's been that way through history. a friend of my moms of my lungs of a vacuuming down the steps a housekeeping job in the husband would be feeling her up from behind. my mom had to fill in when they she told the man first thing, don't make me open up your chest. by which.round meant with the tip of my knife.
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nancy and i had come a long way from the days of sit down and shut up. still it was by no means to get me when i called her in november asking for her blessing to pursue her uncle story in the book. in her mid-60s and recently retired after closing the goodie shop. i wanted her help delving into the story as well as connecting with distant relatives including one outside of you still living and true god. i'll think about it she said. the message is clear. i was not to call back you should call me. i wrote it in my calendar. if given can come in december. it was like christmas. here's my phone number. within six weeks later, she enjoyed making their way. she finally called. i waited she said i could give it to you as a christmas present. it is christmas morning and nancy decided to let me read her uncle story with her blessing but on one condition she said no
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matter what you find out a writer researcher and up, you have to remember in the end they came out on top. i knew the story's ending already i assured her. ird interviews several people, nurses and is coming neighbors and lawyers to describe the late i've care she'd given down its impeccable, extraordinary. i was less certain about who would force them into servitude in the first place about the struggle to have humanity knowledge of the work comp is dated out exactly during the harsh years of jim crow had george and william managed to escape. >> how frustrating was that when this remarkable story was remarkable story was so close and yet so far away and did you ever feel like giving up? >> well, i did give up because she said no. she actually said -- i asked her, you didn't even let me interview him and say i would hold the interview until after
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he passed away because that was the rule she didn't want anything with an item until she passed away. she said you're too curious. she didn't think i could go the interview. she didn't believe me. now she says when you walk into that shop the first time and you just thought i would give you the story, i said to myself, scratch has met her match. i was scratch and she was the match. >> you call yourself a unicorn in the ranks of journalism because of this globetrotting world is saved in one place and roanoke for decades. how has your staying power allowed you to read both of your books? both of which require very deep reporting. >> not a lot of looks get written from rural america. i live in a city, a valley of a quarter million and most reporters move on after a few
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years with some of our best reporters at "the new york times" have done great stuff. i decided to stay. i no longer they are, but you can see i'm still writing stories. she didn't want to talk to me in 1991. shoot progression at a good restaurant future. i started spending time there. you shall look the story. it just came these places in town that caught my story people who can lead me to other people in the community. it is a diversity with the big push. and i had this fantastic who is
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tough as nails. there is a lot of says i'm having more black editors, more black reporters and doing stories that more accurately reflected diversity in our community. zero bashar al-assad is achieved writing a general story and roanoke has a 23% black population. she would send it back. so that was like retraining for young journalists. i'm not sure papers have the resources for those wonderful training that led me to the paper that really what i did is i had been trained to work outside of my zip code and beginning stories that nobody else really had the entrées into it because i had that time but immigrants, refugees, caregivers for the elderly, veterans of
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ptsd and i had really kind of made that my fee. one of the cared is in the book he passed away recently, but he was the dissent is relative. it is a civil right leader and roanoke and he was an 11-year-old boy in 1927 when harriet ms. cutter sends back. his job after school with you at helping lion man to city markets he made. he had this wonderful view to the story you 30th 98 when i interview them for this but. but i knew them because they've been numerous articles before and i think because i made those connections in the community under. but it's really the time, the fact that albert. these are my people. i know them and they trust me.
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and maybe she said yes to 25 years ago, you would be ready to write this book. people like joe and poindexter. >> that was the first black reporters at a neighborhood and roanoke and the maker of the alleged within the west end at only the very old people referred to it as jordan's alley and joanne to do something in the neighborhood anymore, but she goes to church there is able to put in touch with 80, 90, 100 year people. what happened? how did she get them back and also where their lives better the service than they would've been at home which begs the question, how is life in pro and roanoke, virginia what was that
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like? i was able to drive around with these older people. i always did the best i can when your kids are teenagers and they don't want to talk to you because you're looking at something else. not only would what they were singing with jog their memory, but they are both facing forward. i was a technique i used. it's not a technique. nothing special. for added safety are some of the same stories that the next time i was with them i could say so-and-so said this in a new story would come out. that is my i'm though i drive around. but my phone on record. >> yousif vacations are a great place. >> well, you all know kitchens. but for everybody meant that a parody. everybody's in the kitchen even
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though the host to some occupier. i always ask if we can do that interview in the kitchen. i usually have some questions but now admire corridor and it's easier to mail for taking a because i don't trust the recorder and it's easier if i have all my stuff on the table. really because i want people in the kitchen because that's where they lived. >> by staying in place, you have that limited yourself in terms of material because just a few blocks away from that, another person wrote another bestseller. >> rebecca so, i grant it? is boring about a block away in jordan's alley from within these families live so just remarkable
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. probably every place has these remarkable stories, but these two stories came from this one tiny place. they're very different stories. the facts in the story he wrote are so few and far between that photographic evidence and research played an important role. at what point in the process did you realize the photos to be so vital and how to choose them? >> there is a circus historian is interviewing and he said he reminded me that circus managers would often change their name. the brothers were called darwin's missing links, barnum's monkey man, the ambassador is from mars and the sheep headed man, the ecuadorian savages. there were never called george and willie muse. i got into a database i could type that that would necessarily bring up all those other names. i had to be cognizant of that
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and also the photographs themselves just became the great reporting tool because those are the news clippings were so scared. they never recorded with the brothers actually saw him even a stories about the reunion they had never reported with the family's point of view was. decoded and dialects, but it was really clear from the wrong person that they didn't actually talk to her. the photographs i find is just an incontrovertible evidence. this is the earliest photograph of ms chat exhibits. when i saw it, to me they looked like a scared young brothers had been taken from their mother. they were told she was dead and they should quit crying. i just studied it and somebody said it is a person in charleston who studies historical costuming.
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i e-mailed him the picture he blew it up and he saw so much more than my eyes could see. he noticed that the scenes were stretching. he says the seats are about two sizes too small. they're actually kind of nice that there was not caregiving to the root of these monkey ben at the time. but at this are too short. during this time, see about that evidence. he can kind of really see what's going on in that picture in the scott family stories of willie telling everyone that when he was little, george custer had and there was a popular song in 1940 team their lives to world war i and then about missing home. you can sort of player the fact with interviews and stories and memories, pictures and the
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documentation as it exists in a racialized land. that's what i tried to do to bring it into its fullness. the pictures were just great. this is from around the southern. mr. burns writes a memoir in the 1930s when she brags about tying them and making them the paying proposition . that is more proof. he was proud of it because everybody thought african-americans were subhuman and he was getting something over on them. so this picture i showed to nancy when i found it is the first picture of them with instruments. we were driving around with that picture prompted a memory. should or will he say in the first time they were handed pictures it was just to be a photo prop. one of the ways managers make extra money as they have pictures of their act than they
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would sell the money. they were called to parse. i was just a photo certainly they can't play instruments. it turns out they were geniuses. we have a recording that unfortunately i can't share, but we have a recording of him as a 105 euros say that the long-awaited temporary. here's a picture of him playing his guitar just totally worn down. he was a wonderful musician. nancy saw that she was able to add that layer of the first being a joke but the joke is on them because they were wonderful musician. here's another picture of that with one of their capture of algae died in 1822. once their mother had gotten them back and was able through very per cart at legal battle to
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get them paid. you can see in the pictures that they have more agency in their lives. this is a casual backyard picture, but they kind of called backstage. in the music gave them this agency in this power like any skill that we have. writing makes me real good when it's for. music makes them feel good and it gave them some to do -- something to do. and it gave them power. >> can you describe what their life was like in the circus before their mother got been an actor and explain how many years went by. >> i'm sure at least 13 years went by.
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the documentation is scanned on my period he said will he always told me of the bit they were guarded kind of close in the beginning. there is a bit of stockholm syndrome going on. they were illiterate never allowed to go to school. late in life she taught him how to write his name even though he was totally blind. he didn't have to sign and fax. the sideshow manager and there may be in her was that the only person who ever said anything bad about him he really hated him, even at age 107 he remembered some pretty vile things about him. when she got them back and they knew they could come home after that, even though they still try to take advantage of them and not get away with it. they became happier and as i
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say, that was really the only world they knew. >> to travel the world and they became famous. >> in the headlights of "the new york times" they became famous. they performed. whenever the door bell would ring when he was an old man at the house in roanoke, which was able to be bought and paid for by the time they retired. that's what she did but getting that legal settlement. whenever the door bell would ring he would go housekeeping, which he learned at a hotel in london and i just love that. >> one of the real heroes of this book is willie and georges mother, harriet is. can you describe her persistence and bravery and how she became what you and others have called a bad asked in her quest to get back. >> 1927, roanoke virginia where african-american.
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there is actually a city code that is. segregation was just a grain into everything. so at the circus, blacks were told they had that -- they would make one a day that african-americans could come. the circus typically only came for one. in 1927, october 14 had come to her. she told relatives that her brothers -- that her sons were with the circus. this is the story pressed on with a generation. in 1927, the top line for an official in roanoke, virginia is the founder of the local, which was the largest in the state. there's a picture in the book
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and it was a semi-risk was too should get the best families in time are members of the. they pull up at 6:00 a.m. on the train, unloads, goes over to the fairgrounds and that is where they set off. that's where they had the rallies. the sideshow was one of the rare places in the circus horse aggregation broke down because they were thieves. he walked around the crowd was sort of flak from one part of the stage to the other as they demonstrated their skill or answer questions. i have a picture of her from the next day so i know she looked like. i know how the sideshow where and i had the brothers remembering their own stage playing one of their songs and they can't see very well. the theater, and in this scene,
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the family has passed down in every member of the family recounts the same way. will that all those george. i'm sorry, george olivas willie and says there is our dear old mother. she is not dead. so then the police time. eight police officers according to newspaper accounts. wrangling lawyers. they want to take the brothers to the next stop in lynchburg. the mother wants them to come home. the manager actually says they're my children and had some paperwork as his last name. somehow she got -- she talked the police into letting her bring them home, not going back to the circus. not only back on a couple days later she hired a really down ambitious lawyer and she filed a lawsuit against the greatest show on earth.
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>> and she kept at it. >> she kept at it because whenever they could get away with it, they would not pay them. the manager was such them to another show and then he was such them to some other show and he would pocket the money and then she found another lawyer to the club are the kind of awful sounding legal arrangement. she had been declared incompetent the court would have been in charge, they would go and find them and she would actually, the bill bondsman who worked with them would go find them, track them down ..
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>> until the story of jill had been largely untold because of their race and social status not to mention a disabilities or compass understand this widespread process and why it-- not even just in the south, the press did not even bother to interview the family before, during or after their ordeal. >> i interviewed one of our oldest living reporters that started working there in the 30s and he is ß-letter can be and he remembers when he started and whenever an african-american would be in the news they would have to write colored after their name. so, that sort of gave me feedback on what it was like to be a reporter then, but-- i
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wrote down some of the quotes of the way the media treated the reunion. from the day after she found their sons the family reunion was quote in the newspapers, others talked of it all of the wild humming happy mammy songs never quoting the family and also reported they were not overdeveloped and mental capacity, which i repeated over and over again through interviews in later years. a new yorker piece profiling then the following year, 1928, said quote they did, their eyes did not quite focused they love the monkeys and kangaroos. their eyes did not look as because of the albinism and another new york peace said they rejoined the circus that year because the fried chicken had given out. there is no mention of the years of servitude, lawsuits, no context about poverty in jim crow because it was just widely
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believed that blacks were considered-- and not about. >> in the 1928 season opener of madison square garden in the "new york times" the headline was that they are happy. the times did not mention the lawsuits or the servitude either, just that they were back and happy because they finally had the permission of their parents, i mean, this is kind of surreal almost surreal racial thinking that was the predominantly what people thought and it's heartbreaking and shocking, but that is the world i'm trying to show because that's what they lived in and those were the challenges they faced. >> here you thought it would be a book about the circus, which it certainly is then there are endless fascinating stories about the circus, but so much about race and hurry-- here you were this grown-up times reporter and they were one of the many papers that had not
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treated them well. how did you get people to trust to who had no reason to trust you and what percent the stories >> one of my stories begins with joanne poindexter who is now retired and in her 60s and she called up basically all the older ladies in her church that had grown up in the neighborhood and asked if i could interview them. she has helped me so much in my career. when i wrote that story that got me in so much hot water. after that i got a hard time having african-american to trust me. i did not mean to make those girls the subject of ridicule. i honestly didn't, but that is what happens and she would actually go out to interviews like there was a church that was starting at it had been a crack
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house and i was trying to get the neighbor's to open up to me about it because i wanted to do a story and that's a pretty cool story a crackhouse turning into a church in joanne went and sat on the porch of every neighborhood-- every neighbor and vouched for me, so she did the same thing years later for me with this, also. again, they had read my stories. they had seen the work i had done since then where i wasn't just doing like drive-by reporting. i was really digging in and spending time with people, so i think i was able to reap it on just my time there. >> one low point in your research you complain to canadian historian jay nicolas about the difficulties of your task and she gave you a valuable piece of advice saying, if we only wrote the histories of the people who left a detailed records we would only get to
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know about the really privileged people. yet the piece together your evidence with empathy and conjecture using your material. how did her words inspire you? >> i was beating myself up because there were still so many holes and i thought that is correct. the way she put it like that, it gave me permission that maybe my story wasn't perfect. i didn't have every single year, every place they were, but there was a reason and that was because of this institutional racism and if i can write about that then like i can cast it in a even more deeper context and that really helped me. i also complained once to one of nancy's younger relatives that it was really hard to get some of these like basic facts or collect their births were not recorded. their birth is listed in numerous different years in the documents. i was just complaining to a younger relative, so she told
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nancy and nancy sent back the message. if she thinks the story was hard to write, she should think about how hard it was poor uncle georgie and uncle willy to live. she better pick her up. so-- >> you picked your up. >> i tried. >> tell us about their life after they left the circus. >> because of that secondary lawsuit with her mother got guardianship, the checks were sent home and must-- most of the money was funneled into like a retirement account and when this was set up social security did not even exist, so by the time they retired in 1961 a really nice house was bought and paid for for them and the family of nancy, her mother, .-dot, her grandparents, they all lived in the house together and they took
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astonishing good care. they sort of protected them. the barber would come to their house and cut their hair so they would not have to go out because people would still say rude things and they watched over them and later when he was in his late '90s, i think it was, he was in the hospital-- actually he was incredibly healthy. he was on no medication, but they thought it was a bowel obstruction, so they put him in the hospital to watch him overnight and a nurse put a heating pad on him and it was turned up way too high and when nancy came in the next morning he had life-threatening burns that took two years to heal and her family calls her the wharton, by the way. that's her nickname, so the wording was not happy about this, so she like her great-grandmother before her found a really scrappy promotable lawyer in town and
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she sued the hospital, which is the largest employer in the town, still. one a settlement that enabled her to work and have full-time care for him and if so some of the best sources of him in his later life are these nurses who have come to the house to tend to his burn wound and take care of him. so, you could see how the story progresses in the beginning there is this cautionary tale. parents would tell their children when they went to the circus or fair, you stay together or you might get kidnapped like them and by the end of their life they are sort of a wise elders in the community giving their nurses-- willie, giving his nurse great advice. feed them honey. could be better than the person mistreating you and i just think
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that's-- i think he had a wonderful late life. >> you described him as being so gracious and he always said god is good to me even after all he had been through and that's on his tombstone, i believe. >> it was on his tombstone. he said it like people said hello i'm a god is good to me, so she had it put on his tombstone. initially, i had a little bit of trouble convincing my editor that i was going to be able to find enough facts to make the book, so i was asking in calling nancy. she had given me permission i said i'm not sure i can get this into a book, so finally i did some more research. i did sort of an addendum to my proposal on how i would find out all of this stuff and when i fall it-- finally called and told her that i had sold the book she said, i told you. just remember they are we scum out on top in the end, so uncle willy who is having this-- she
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believes uncle willy is responsible and she thinks that book will do really well because uncle willy is looking out for me. i love that. i hope she's right. [laughter] >> your books are about connecting with people and connecting the past in the presence and this is your advice for young reporters, get away from your damn smart phones and computers. go back to the basics, papers, scissors and real people. be the glue as a great reporter mary bishop once told you connecting stranger to stranger pour only for an instance. can you elaborate on how this has been your mo? >> well, i mean, documents can only take you so far. memoirs written, i mean, that was a great find when i found the guy bragging about buying this. paperwork and take you so far, but there is no substitute for going and meeting people and
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hearing their stories i mean the best parts of the book, i think, are these a greedy kind of micro- aggressions that these men and women lived with during jim crow, like the little girls were walking to school passing the white lady's house and there are two pair it's on the side porch of the periods have been trained to squawk racial epithets at them and these are the memories they have. these ladies in their 80s, rent collectors that accepted sex as partial payment. i would have never had these stories had i not gone out and spent the time and got to know people and have them open up. >> and that's the heart and soul of your book. >> well, thank you. one thing also, if you could comment, because the brothers were pro- trade as imbeciles, can you talk about willy's intelligence? >> turns out a friend of mine
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who is a lawyer happen to have deposed him for that burn lawsuits, so i took him out to lunch and i was having trouble getting those final document, i mean, they were like this filed in the circuit court clerk had to help me, so i took him out to lunch and he was giving me advice on how to find those he said i'd deposed him and i said what was he like and he said he was lovely and gave me a little detail and i said did you think he was mentally incapacitated and he said my heavens, no another lawyer who deposed him said it was mid december and he had a better handle on his christmas shopping than he did. >> and he was blind. >> he was blind and could not get out of the house, but he knew exactly what nancy was getting and how much money it would cost. the doctors, the nurses, he just had this way about him.
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one of the nurses remembers walking up the stairs and he heard her footsteps and he said who is there and she said, it's the nurse and he said does the nurse had a name. [laughter] >> like you can tell me your name. >> how hard was it making the leap from writing articles to books? >> well, a good friend of mine that i was a longtime reporter with had written up his first book before the book came out he gave me advice which sounds simple, but it was so i heed gave me the confidence. he said it's like one very, very, very long feature article. all the same tools, recording text neat-- techniques, trust building, documents, calling around to experts, taking what experts said and running it by another experts, showing a picture to someone that was an
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expert, it's all the same skill, but it's over more time, hundred years, both books covered 100 years and it has to like-- things have to kind of like this can't be totally apart from this part in this part in this part. in factory man, my editor said the first time he read it, he said it reads like to books. it's about southern virginia furniture maker who took on china to keep his workers employed and so what his suggestion was to build on what was going on in china early in the book and at the same time so it would all seem to be more seamless and so i had back in my mind as i was writing "truevine", so i have this boring office supply shop talk, but i have this stuff called wizard wall which is like dry erase and you could move it and it's all over my walls and so i
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would keep up with like little threads and i would know it and to me that's the big difference, i mean, you're still writing. i writes like i thought out a chapter and then i put up the sections and i want each chapter to read almost like it was standalone, but then i want each section-- in journalism we call it kicker's, the end and i want each section also to have a kicker in the chapter to have a kicker and i want them to all sort of feet on the next chapter , so you are leaving people to want to keep turning the pages that this is such a intricate story with past and present and how did you figure out that structure? you know, i like the way you interweave it started with the basic story and then you go into try to get the story. >> basically, it's chronological after that except for these to aggressions and then i can't find next, cited this because
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that adds another later context to it. news papers really don't allow us to put ourselves in stories. i mean, i always just went along with it and put myself in the story, but i had written essays and i feel like it's almost more honest when we are peeking behind the curtain a bit showing the reader how got that information. in factory man, some of the best most telling details about john bassett the third on his constant calling me on the phone like he's just relentless in trying to control the story. one day 8:00 a.m. he has already called me three times and my phone was upstairs and i was downstairs and by the time i go up at 8:14 a.m. he says i guess you are sleeping in today like it can you that not being in the book, like that shows his relentlessness, so i would have
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left some of the best stuff on the cutting room floor and that's why did that. >> do we have any audience questions and if you could come up that microphone if anyone has a questions. >> thank you for being here. i have enjoyed your presentation and i feel like your sign instead of saying sitdown and shut up should say: i don't give up. i feel like we have kind of been with you through your journey to write this book and i would just like to know how you celebrated when you knew it was going to publish? when you knew it was actually going to become a book, what did you do to celebrate? >> well, i called and nancy and had a little celebration with her and then my husband and i celebrated because i'm hey, i have an income for the next two years and this week-- the book comes out tuesday and we will
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have a book launch party in roanoke, and nancy and her family are coming and all of those old ladies that i drove around i hope if they are really coming. 102-year old aj read from true vine who brought some of the worlds sharecropping alive for me in this book, i said now, your niece estelle said she would come and get you because it's an hour away and he said if i feel like coming i'm going to drive myself, so i think it will be really fun and exciting and to me that will be the moment like when no one celebrated in then and they came home in 1927 and i feel like i hope it will be this kind of special thing for the families, almost like a homecoming. that will be great. >> definitely needed a party for this. >> thank you. >> yes ma'am? [inaudible]
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>> this is such an important story and i am so glad that you never gave up trying to write it i'm wondering if you were african-american, would it have been easier for you to get the information or what is your perspective on that? >> yeah, i mean, i don't really know because i'm not. it took me a long time to understand nancy's mistrust of the media and her mistrust of me. i mean, really, i would have tell the story if she had let me interview her. really not until he delved into the way the family had been treated did i really understand like this tough tough layer that she had and because i was there
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-- she has read every single article i have ever written. she was kind of judging me for 25 years through the stories i wrote and what i would go in to get my ribs friday she would talk about whatever i had written that would be in the paper we would have discussion and she became one of the people in the community that would help me find other stories-- stories. i did a 10 part story on caregiving for the elderly in 2008 or so and all of the people in there were people i got from nancy, so i just think it's really important that we have to be inclusive. back to the first rule of my old editor taught me, you need to write stories that reflect all of the community. >> and it's how you set up a relationship. >> it is, i mean, it's a joy to do. there are days that i drive
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around and i can't believe i get paid to do this. it's like getting a graduate degree in whatever you are interested in and that's why i love what i do. >> thank you so much. >> thank you. >> thank you, beth, for an hour and a wonderful conversation. [applause]. >> sunday december 4, book tvs in depth, we are hosting a discussion on the the december 1941, attack on pearl harbor on the eve of the 75th anniversary.
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author of japan 1941, countdown to infamy and craig nelson with his book pearl harbor: from infamy to greatness. we are taking your phone calls, tweets and e-mail questions live from noon to make 3:00 p.m. eastern. go to book tv .-dot board for the complete weekend a schedule. >> after the spread of the cotton gin in the late 1790s the cotton trade, international cotton trade exploded us exported half a million pounds of cotton in 1800. it was exploiting-- exporting 2 billion pounds by 1860. caught represented 60% of what the us was exporting to the world and it was 40% of what was going out of new york's harbor, so it was a huge deal in the
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next biggest commodity i think was tobacco which was less than 10%. cotton threads tied new york in the south together, i believe, in a long and codependent relationship. of the cotton south, plantations out and new york city grew up together. the explosive growth of the cotton plantations across the deep south was largely funded by new york banks because that's where all the banks were. the new york merchants supplied the planters with everything from the pno's and their parlors to their plowshares to the close they put on their slaves. new york not only shipped a significant portion of cotton, but new york harbor was aware of those ships came back filled with european goods and that made new york important to washington dc or washington city as people called it then. it had a big impact on the federal governments because the government

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