tv 2018 Miami Book Festival Saturday CSPAN November 17, 2018 10:00am-1:01pm EST
>> good morning. good morning. and welcome to the 35th miami book fair. i am truly delighted to welcome each and every one of you to miami book fair at miami-dade college. what a beautiful day it is in miami. and let's give them a warm miami welcome. this is a season of gratitude so it gives me great pleasure
to thank our sponsors, oh l, the knight foundation, the degroot foundation, bachelor foundation and so many other sponsors without whom the miami book fair would not happen. in addition to that the many volunteers from miami-dade college, students, faculty, staff, along with hundreds of other volunteers, those young at heart from middle and high school and four seasons, very generously of their time. this is no exception. a wonderful program for you, at the street fair. miami book fair international is year-round. did you know that? we have so many presentations
of authors, to partake of those of the friend's circle. thank you so much. we can applaud them. thank you for being part of miami book fair international and so many of you each and every year have provided support, a, robbery that makes this fair so special. thanks to each and everyone of your friends. we will have a question and answer period. we approach the mic in the middle of the room, ask a question and i ask you just take your seat immediately after so we can get any questions in as possible.
the authors in central presenters we have this year. if you would silence your devices we are very eager, from our authors this morning. without further a do i would like to welcome to the stage david corn and michael isikoff. [applause] >> by that applause there is no need for an introduction but i will do the honors anyway. david corn is a veteran washington journalist and political commentator,
washington bureau chief for mother jones magazine and analyst for msnbc, the author of three new york times bestsellers including showdown, the inside story of how obama battled the gop to set up the 2012 election. and the inside story of spin, scandal and selling of the iraqi war, cowritten with michael isikoff. michael isikoff is an investigative journalist who has worked for the washington post, newsweek and nbc news. he is the author of two new york times bestsellers, uncovering clinton, reporter's story, and huber is as i mentioned before, the inside story of scandal and the selling of the iraqi war. david corn and michael isikoff's recent book, russian roulette. the inside story of vladimir putin's war on america and the
election of donald trump, tells incredible harrowing accounts of how american democracy was hacked by moscow as part of a cohort operation to influence us election and to help donald trump gain the presidency. we let the authors tell it all. wants to hear from them? please help me again. welcome david corn and michael isikoff. >> thank you. this is an awesome crowd. i guess the issues surrounding trump and russia hold some public interest out there. there's a lot to one px, that i write about in the book that anticipate a lot of the events you have seen unfold in the last couple years and let's talk a little bit about recent
events. we are all sort of on pins and needles to see how the robert mueller investigation is going to reach its grand conclusion. there are a lot of signs out there about indictments to come, perhaps imminent, a few other characters we talk about in the book and the question of will he have a report about everything he has found in the course of his investigation. however that plays out, we have some clues, we have all been wrong before. we do know a lot.
i just want to talk about the events over the last week because there are so many. can't tell you if mueller is going to find the smoking gun, the conclusive proof that donald trump or someone in his campaign actively communicating or coordinating during the 2016 election. nobody fuels the story and gives it further legs better than donald trump himself. to last weekend in paris. and commemorating the armistice that ended world war i, a
somber ceremony and there is trump glumly sitting there being lectured by macron about patriotism and nationalism and looking very out of sorts in the whole thing. and then suddenly his eyes light up and he breaks out into a spontaneous smile, something you almost never see with donald trump. and why? there is vladimir putin looking at him a couple seats away and gives them the thumbs up. we scratched our head trying to understand this strange, weird relationship between the president of the united states and present of that is president of the russian federation, the one guy trump seems to be so fond of, so protective of, so friendly you
could denounce justin trudeau in canada as a great threat to american sovereignty, but he is always there to stand by vladimir putin. we go into a lot about the trump vladimir putin relationship, behavior like that, spontaneous smile at the site of vladimir putin the raises questions about what is going on here. and it the other day with trump had to sit through hours of preparations with his lawyers for answering robert mueller's questions, and causes him to go on this tweet storm. denouncing mueller, the
witchhunts, and why didn't the fbi get the dnc server. for those who follow this closely, and somehow raise doubt about whether the russians did this at all. it is not just the unanimous findings of the intelligence community the russians hacked the dnc and russians gave the emails to wikileaks and the russians engaged in a disinformation campaign and exploited american social media. but also the unbelievable indictment that mueller brought last summer against identifiable russian military intelligence agents that laid out chapter and verse who did it, how they did it, the actual
quotes from the intercepted emails of the russians communicating with each other and wikileaks delivering the stolen dnc emails to julia sans on july 14, 2016, barely a week before wikileaks on the eve of the convention and there is donald trump who has been briefed on this multiple times laying the evidence out clinging to this idea that somehow it was that proverbial 400 pounds guy in the living room on his sofa responsible for the whole thing. that is so illuminating about our president, how he used all this, once you get something in his head, you can't dislodge it and it is a pretty important clue to what is going to unfold in coming months.
>> thank you, it is an honor to be with people who love books. give your self a round of applause just for that. so many of us are caught on the twitter hamster wheel every day, one or 2 of you watch msnbc obsessively. msnbc contributor, thank you. i love the fact that those of us get caught up and watch the developments day today are able to take a break from that and do a deep dive with the book, michael and i were not sure we could get people off the hamster wheel who care about the stuff, to spend the time and money on a book, withdraw and get a deeper understanding, largely because of people like you.
we thank you for showing books matter and count when it comes to news every day. this week, mike alluded to this, the news that donald trump was working on his answers to questions for robert mueller. i have a 17-year-old daughter, envisioning the same scenario. no collusion, next question. no collusion. i want to talk about collusion and how we portray it in the book. that has been his defense and the defense of republican conservative champions, no
collusion, no evidence we ever colluded with the russians. by that, i think they mean there is no evidence that trump set down with military actors from russia and explained to them how to hack into the dnc and what's documents to release. we can probably agree that did not happen. but we portray a series of eventss in the book that i think point to a type of collusion. all you have to do is start with the trump tower meeting in early june 2016. the russians sent a message to donald trump junior, a russian embassy who turns to hillary, will you meet with him? that email goes to paul manafort, not in jail and running the trump campaign, and jared kushner.
the top trump advisors at the time. they all agree to meet. they say not much came out of the meeting but the email said that this emissary was coming as part of a plan, secret scheme the kremlin had to help trump. what did they say in response to learning the kremlin had a secret plan to help trump? in donald trump junior's own words, i love it! forget what came out at the meeting the most significant thing that happened was the trump campaign send a signal to the russians, we are all in here. whatever you want to do to help us, we won't say boo to that, we won't go to the fbi and rat you out or tell the public about plans to intervene in the election. it is a sign of a send. it is not even silence, not
even a nod. it is a we are with you here. let's see if we can work together. coincidentally, 5 days later, a dnc hack became public and the first response from the trump campaign to news of the russians hacking the dnc was this is a dnc houck. there making this up because they have such about the candidate. we can argue the three people in the entire known universe who were best able to say the russians are up to something were paul manafort, trump junior and jared kushner and even donald trump who conceivably was told of the meeting and this pattern continues at the democratic convention with the 22,000 emails that were hacked are released by wikileaks as part
of a russian plot, at the time the clinton campaign tried to point out this is a russian attack, the russians are trying to middle in the election. donald trump junior and paul manafort both go on sunday shows and say clinton people are making this up, how dare they bring this campaign into the gutter by accusing the russians of interference. paul manafort goes on to say he has no connection with russians at all. he only owed $30 million to a russian oligarch who is powell's with vladimir putin. this pattern continues after the convention. donald trump gets out there and says russians, if you are listening, those clinton emails, whatever you can do, look at this from the kremlin's perspective.
the steel memos go to what might have been happening inside the kremlin. there was debate, how far can we go? there is backlash against us. are we being too reckless. if you are doing this and the trump campaign is on your side, the russians are denying they are doing anything and you have the trump campaign saying they are not doing anything either so you have to think this is pretty good. we are getting the green light again and again from the trump campaign and while trump is talking positively about vladimir putin, he is get interested in getting rid of the sanctions applied on russia after their invasion so they continue to do what they are doing. mid august donald trump is briefed by the intelligence community is all presidential candidates do on what is going on in the world and i have to imagine that point the us
intelligence community did not want to share major secrets with donald trump so probably gave new york times plus, that is really interesting. someone is saying page 7 of the new york times 3 days ago but they did brief him and say they concluded preliminarily that the russians are behind these hacks and releasing information. for the rest of the campaign, in public statements, i love wikileaks, how do you know it is the russians? he blames it on this 400 pounds god again and again and again. think about it. the russians now have been warned by barack obama, we know privately, we know what you are doing, cut it out. they are looking at trump, trump is going on about how it is not the russians. this is giving them permission
and preventing the obama administration from working with republicans to come up with a response because they don't want to disagree with donald trump and come out strong and say the russians are attacking, we have to join together in nonpartisan manner to respond to this. it is keeping the issue in a partisan lane. you end up with russians in october when wikileaks released john podesta's emails but i believe in a race that was this close 77,000 votes deciding across 3 states, anything you can point to was reversed, might have been in another way. and a better message but i think without the emails the race might have ended up
differently as well. throughout that whole stage the clinton people are trying to point out as they would get attention away from the emails they were under attack from russia, trump is saying it is not happening so it becomes a matter of dispute. it doesn't become a consensus position. you have 4 months russians attacking the united states, denying it is happening, donald trump and his minions meeting with the russians and publicly saying we don't believe this is underway, echoing and advancing russian disinformation. the metaphor i use is you have a situation akin to a fellow standing outside a bank, the bank is being robbed, look around and see guys with guns,
he is told the bank is being robbed but as people walk by him on the street who might want to intervene he says nothing is going on, no robbery, nothing at all. even if he's not involved in the original caper, he is helping the caper be successful and he ends up being the beneficiary. in the book we don't use the term collusion. you could argue he colluded in the cover-up but the term we use is aided and abetted. which is a pretty serious matter. he aided and abetted a russian attack on the united states. [applause] >> and i don't think that has been fully absorbed in our political discourse and i think trump has been successful in defining collusion in a very narrow way, making this fundamental fact of aiding and abetting something that is
debatable rather than something that is accepted. >> that last point, what's trump aided and abetted was a federal crime. mueller has brought an indictment of an identifiable people for violating federal law. and a massively larger theft. and the watergate burglars, and with interior document you support that. and switch the investigation a little bit to the us government and its response. i think we document in the book that while all this was going on that david talked about,
there was a really major intelligence failure by the us government comparable in many ways to the intelligence failure that led to the events of 9/11 and a major policy failure by the obama administration in its response but let's talk about the intelligence failure to begin with. as we talk about in the book, there were multiple warnings the us intelligence community had about what the russians were up to. we talk about a secret source inside the kremlin in 2014 who was laying it out to a government official about what vladimir putin was up to about a plan russian intelligence had to destabilize western democracies including the
united states, cyber attacks, disinformation, propaganda. all of that being communicated, the source telling the us government you don't understand what is going on, there is something very big, very major being planned. all of this was being communicated to washington, senior government officials who frankly really weren't paying a sufficient attention. it was viewed through the lens of the ukraine issue. vladimir putin, in crimea interviewed in ukraine, that was the crisis people who were working on russia policy were dealing with. they weren't thinking in larger terms, what they were being told the russians were up to. even more striking, a lot of
what the russians were planning was hiding in plain sight. the internet research agency, that troll farm in st. petersburg, an army of trolls setting up fake accounts under phony names to manipulate public opinion around the world. this was known, a whistleblower from inside that troll farm in 2015, who goes to a russian reporter and says you won't believe what is going on inside this internet research agency. what i have been asked to work on. the break point that caused her to come forward was the assassination of boris napsoff in 2014 in the shadow of the
kremlin, the leading russian human rights advocate, dissidence, opponent to vladimir putin, he is gunned down under mysterious circumstances in the shadow of the kremlin, a bridge outside the kremlin. remarkable he at the time it happens all the security cameras that were watching that bridge were turned off, pretty ominous signal. and the whistleblower i'm talking about is asked to blame it on ukrainian nationalists. she says i can't do that and goes the russian press to the russian reporter, this gets reported, the existence of the internet research agency gets reported to the russian press and then the new york times sunday magazine follows up on that. a great reporter does a cover story about this outfit, patrol form and it is not just manipulating public opinion in ukraine but targeting the
united states. that cover story starts with this unbelievable gripping account of how the troll farm created the story of a chemical explosion in a small parish in louisiana and puts on twitter fake cnn webpages, reporting this chemical explosion that never took place. a clear sign that russians were trying to stir the part in this troll farm and what is amazing is nobody in washington is paying attention because the same troll farm, the internet research agency which is subject of another mueller indictment in the past year, that is the very same vehicle by which russians were seeking to manipulate american public
opinion in 2016 election setting up hundreds of fake facebook account, hundreds of fake twitter accounts, putting out messages aimed at sowing discord, getting people angry, getting people, whipping people up on both sides of the political spectrum for the sole purpose of sowing discord within our country. and in 2016, when the obama white house is wrestling with how to respond to what the russians were doing. they knew about the cyberattacks, how the russians had distributed the stolen emails to wikileaks. they knew about the russian
propaganda efforts and most ominously the russians were probing state election databases throughout the united states, something that raised the specter that they could manipulate vote totals or more likely simply flip a couple of digits on somebody's social security number or voter id number so when you get to the polls it doesn't match the printout they have at the voting station and you can't vote. that spooked a lot of people and the obama folks trying to figure out what to do and yet they were almost entirely oblivious to this whole other component of the russian attack, the social media exploitation which is remarkable when you look back on it. the policymakers are trying to
decide what to do and they are not even aware of what the russians were doing. despite multiple warnings to do so. so i want to say from today's perspective i should also point out somehow facebook and twitter seem to have been clueless about what russians were doing even though phony facebook accounts i mentioned, they were being paid for in rubles. you would have thought that might have been a clue that something was up. but you have these social media giants looking at the bottom line, having to take anybody's business, helping connect everybody around the world so we can all communicate with each other, even russian trolls. facebook pages with titles like lock her up, paying for ads in
rubles. the intelligence failure leads to a strong part of our book how the obama administration responded to the attack which is my favorite chapter, chapter xiv, for those who haven't read the book yet, it is a what would you do situation. as mike laid out, they knew about the obvious things we all were seeing publicly and clueless about the social media attack. the question came in august and september 2016, what to do about it. there was concern that if they publicized the attack and give more credence or credit to its significance, that in and of itself would help the russians because one of their goals was to create disorder and chaos
and if their attack was highlighted, voters might think the election was being undermined and subverted and you had donald trump at that time beginning to say the election might be rigged, the only way i can lose is if it is rigged. trump who is a fan of chaos like joker in the batman movie, he likes chaos, he finds it to his advantage, would have been aided by that. there was a strong component in the white house national security staff but wanted to punch back really hard. they came up with a list of possible counterattacks that included putting on the internet secrets that the intelligence community had derived about vladimir putin's family and their finances and there are billions of dollars attributed to members of vladimir putin's family that are not explained. they wanted to shut down these research agencies, all these
creative and aggressive measures. within the high council of the obama white house there was much debate about this, whether we got into a cyber war tit for tat with russia right before the election, that could make things worse and we are more vulnerable as a more wired society than russia is and if we are trying to set rules for cyber conduct around the world it is the way to go and others show vladimir putin he can't get away with it. that is on both sides of the equation and what you say publicly about this, a chilling moment in the book a lot of this gets superseded. james clapper, director of national intelligence, says we
punch back with cyber, the russians might be able to shut down our electrical grid. it has since been reported that there have been russian probes and penetrations of different electrical systems, utilities and think about an advisor to the president. your hands are tied. if you are a top national security, top national intelligence officer tells you this could lead to shutting down the american power system, what are you going to do? that was, i think, and enlightening moment that goes beyond this attack that shows how vulnerable we are as a nation not just through the
electoral system, which you are vulnerable for other reasons, thank you very much, florida, thanks. how hard is it to design a ballot? anyway, it shows we are vulnerable to disinformation attacks for political purposes and other bad actors in the world, china has hack the united states often, north koreans attacked sony when sony put out a movie they didn't like, obviously terrorist groups, people who might want to do it for kicks. we have a system that is highly vulnerable. is anyone heard donald trump make this a priority? to protect our elections or protect the electrical grid? there are good people throughout government to work on this night and day, but having covered washington for decades, if you don't get the orders from the top it is
harder to get things done. it brings me back to that scene that mike described where a guy who attacked the united states, showed how vulnerable we were, might have been able to shut down our electrical grid appears on stage with donald trump, what does he do? gives him a thumbs up. we laugh about it, joke about it, scratch our head about it but at the end of the day i can't think of a better word than deplorable for that. it is not a joke. it is not a joke. i can only imagine what vladimir putin says about this when he is back, tax -- he attacks us and gets a thumbs up. throughout the book it is a comprehensive account of many
aspects of the scandal and as stories come out on a daily basis we can see how they fit into the narrative that we put in the book and we have been grateful so many people have engaged with it and have said to us now we see the big picture. this information ecosystem we all live in as impressive as it can be, sometimes the biggest victim not just the story but almost every story is the big picture. there are people out there with an interest in seeing it. i thank you for supporting a book that tried to show one aspect of that. >> if you have questions, a microphone in the middle, i would be happy to obtain them as best we can. >> are the russians happy with the results, trump doing what
they want and next steps for russia? >> we have two us governments at this point. we have those people in the agencies, treasury department, state department and elsewhere, who are dedicated public servants. they understand the law, they understand the rules of what happened and congress which weighed in quite decisively when nobody else was, that the russians needed to pay a price for what they did and as a result we had new sanctions imposed on russia and some of those who were additionally sanctioned since the election are key players in our book. the oligarch who paul manafort owed all those millions of dollars to during the campaign
has been sanctions, with some remarkable details about his ties to russian organized crime. alexander dvorshin, deputy governor of the russian central bank, the handler for a woman you may have heard of who is now in jail and reportedly cooperating with us prosecutors about attempts to infiltrate the nra and other conservative political organizations. you have that going on and then a president who is out there on his own denying that any of this is necessary, giving signals to the top guy in russia, don't worry about it, i got your back. it is like we have a schizophrenic american government. a functioning american government and a president who
is off in his own world. how that is going to play out in the future is anybody's guess. >> good morning, gentlemen. thank you for your commentary. it is very illuminating. two questions. sometimes among the multitude of indictments and issues that the probe has illuminated, can you illuminate for us which convictions, which indictments that have been issued directly relate or directly imply connection between trump's campaign and russia's? that specific item? >> do you have a second question? there's a long line behind you. >> my second question is for
you and i would like to know how you get the point across about chris matthews. >> i will take the first one. the second one we will get to very quickly. i love working with chris. he is in to the astec. he knows a lot of history. it is a pleasure to be on the show. there has been no major collusion indictment per se by mueller so far. but there are lots of intriguing things, go back to the military gr you indictment over the summer in which mueller lays out how the emails were hacked by the russians and given to wikileaks and in there, you will see a reference to an unidentified us political figure who, in the words of the
indictment, was in regular communication with the highest levels of the trump campaign and was in communication with lucifer 2.0, the online persona created by russian military intelligence as a funnel for those hacked emails to get to wikileaks and into various political campaigns, that unidentified political figure who was in regular communication is roger stone, clearly in the sites of robert mueller. he has spent a lot of time investigating him and everybody in his orbit and if there is a shoe yet to drop on this, that is certainly one we should be looking for. you can go back to the manafort proceedings, indictments in the trial where it is clear his top
aide during much of that. go when he is working for the pro-russia political party, identified in the court papers as a russian military intelligence asset flying back and forth between moscow and kiev at the time manafort was working for him and simultaneous with that, communications between manafort and the vladimir putin oligarch to whom he owed millions of dollars and according to emails laid out manafort was trying to mollify during the course of the trump campaign offering private briefings about what is going on inside the trump campaign as a way to pacify it so he doesn't keep hounding him for the money he owes so there
are lots of clues out there in court proceedings that point to these connections. we have to wait for the final word. we have to see at the end of the day what exactly mueller comes up with. >> the congressional democrats are interested in the trump tower meeting. whether there was any involvement of donald trump himself or communications after the meeting between participants and intermediaries, that is another point we don't have a full picture on that house democrats particularly tried to dig into and were blocked by republicans and can revisit. >> a couple questions. >> no, no. we have 5 minutes, please give us one question please. >> what damage do you think
whitaker has done, trying to do, and going to be able to succeed? we have no idea what will happen in the next 6 weeks. >> it is very clear trump fired sessions for one reason. he had recused himself in the russia investigation. in every other way sessions with implementing the trump agenda, doing exactly what donald trump wanted him to do except in this one area. he was not able to have his back in the mueller investigation. so he put somebody like whitaker in who nobody had ever heard of whose only credentials to be the attorney general of the united states was he had previously been on cable tv defending trump in the russia investigation. whether whitaker will actually be able to shut down the mueller investigation or constrict it in ways, there is
the political check the democrats have the house and there are republicans in the senate who will balk at something like that but at a minimum, rod rosenstein is cut out of it. the only guy mueller reports to is whitaker. whitaker will have access to everything that mueller is doing in his investigation of the president of the united states. >> there's an interesting question about whether that appointment is legal. george conway who appeared on mike's podcast, fascinating interview. >> i hear it is fascinating. illuminating and very funny. he is one of a number of republican conservative legal experts, i won't get into the details, who say you can't put
a person like matt whitaker confirmed by congress to the head of the justice department. there is some question if he were to fire mueller, whether mueller could challenge that in court and say no authority to do that. there could be a constitutional crisis that is also a constitutional mess if matt whitaker takes any overt steps to cut things out. in some ways this is such a blatant brazen move, it might almost backfire on trump. might be handcuffed by the absurdity of the situation. we will see how far whitaker will go implementing trump's desire but also there's another issue. i will layout very briefly. if you fire robert mueller, that doesn't end the investigation. the investigation started before mueller.
he was hired to run it. managers of baseball teams get fired all the time and they pulls -- still play the game the next day. you would have to shut this down. he would have to order the fbi director to shut it down and that leads to another constitutional crisis. >> know to an indictment. >> next question please. >> i'm amazed you guys are pushing the russian conspiracy theory after two years of no evidence. >> let him talk, let's get to the question. >> i'm amazed this russian conspiracy theory. i can hear myself talk. after two years of no evidence of collusion, we can't call it collusion anymore. you don't have collusion. it is just innuendo, guilt by association and this meeting with don junior, now we know was set up by the obama fbi,
went to the fbi after. >> can we get to a question. >> my question is, i do have a question. this guy had three. i'm getting to my question but i can't hear myself ask it. >> everybody. >> did i interrupt your? >> let him ask the question so we can move on. >> one of you said you have been wrong before. once your proven wrong again and the mueller investigation is a dead and nothing -- >> question please. >> nothing comes of this impeachment push will you do an apology book tour? >> once your proven wrong. will you do an apology book tour? >> the answer to that is no.
>> thank you so very much. it has been very lively and informative conversation. let's give a round of applause to david corn and michael isikoff. thank you so much. >> thank you all very much. >> the authors will be autographing just past the elevators on this floor and to the north side of this building, thank you very much. if you have a ticket for the next event, you can stay in the room. one more time. if you have a ticket for the next event, you may stay in the room, thank you.
[inaudible conversations] >> you have been listening to david corn and michael isikoff talking about their book "russian roulette". this is our kickoff of the 35th annual miami book fair, full day of author events, booktv.org, author events and also a street fair going on during this festival, two of the founders of the festival,
eduardo padron, president of miami-dade college, and mitch kaplan of books and books. mister kaplan, 35 years ago, what was the discussion you had with president pad -- eduardo padron? >> i got a call, let's put on a book fair. i think if i am wrong you can tell me but he had come from barcelona, i think, the barcelona book festival. i was a young bookseller, a small little festival. eduardo padron got wind of the fact that putting on a festival in downtown miami, eduardo padron was president of this campus at the time and he put all his resources and heart and soul into it and brought the power behind what i could not have done alone nor could any of us young whippersnappers and eduardo who was a young whippersnapper knew what to do, organized us and took the
resources of the college mind and i call it miami-dade college's great gift to miami. >> is that accurate? >> it is very accurate. what he's not saying is how much work we had to do to convince people, to see books and authors. if you recall, early 80s when most people abandoned downtown. downtown miami was scary so having a book fair, not many people believed it would happen. the first year to everybody's a price we had 20,000 people come. we were able to get some decent authors. >> james baldwin the very first year. >> it was a real encouragement to continue and you see the
result today. without question i have seen the most wonderful, robust celebration in the nation and we are proud that it is happening in miami. for all the people this is a very non-elitist celebration of her folks and you see people here, all ages, nationalities and races joined and it is wonderful to track that kind of author that comes here. so we are just delighted. we are partners in crime. for the last 36, that is when we started planning, 35 years of doing this, takes an army. it takes a lot of people doing this, carrying books and all the precedent, and they do it out of love. out of the recognition this is education at its best and we are delighted to be able to
bring this gift to miami in the world. >> what was it about the barcelona book fair that inspired you? >> i went to barcelona by chance, a line of people trying to get into this auditorium and asked what is that? it was a book fair. and i say we can do better and we can do it outside with great weather and be able to have something similar. he said that is what we need to do and the rest is history. we are here today with 600 authors participating in the last week and this weekend is a combination of that. we have everybody who is somebody in the literary world has been here and it is something we enjoy.
>> we are showing 20 authors in one room and that is a sliver of what goes on here. james baldwin in 1982, was it? 84. that had to the one of his last appearances. >> living in paris, did a program called literature in exile and we had roberto padilla from cuba and james baldwin and i'm blanking on the third person but they were the two you remember mostly and it was baldwin's last appearance. >> what did you get right 35 years ago that you are still doing today? >> i would like to think it is because we are inclusive. we -- our mantra is something for everyone. we operate under we want to
create the biggest possible under which the entire south florida community can feel like they are a part of. it is not elitist, not too this or that but something for everyone and it mirrors the diversity that is miami and that is what we have done. we become the community center that is always vibrant in any community. public spaces are what people love. look at people congregate, to amplify what and why no said. and nearly days, we invited author, we would be happy to send that author down. people had no idea serious reading was being done in miami nor did anyone want to go to downtown miami and look at downtown miami now. it is booming. i would like to think it is booming because of the miami book fair. we take full credit for the fact that downtown miami is booming.
>> what always impressed me was how great the men are for coming here to enjoy their favorite authors and engage in dialogue with authors. it is something that doesn't get any better, to be able, to be in the presence of people waiting for their classes, to engage in conversation with them, it is education at its best and what we do here is something that will be emulated in many other cases. the fact of the matter is when we started the book fair, traditional book fairs in the united states, you have book fairs all over even in florida. almost every big city in florida has a book fair. we have delegations from virginia, california, to see how we do the book fair to
implement the decision. those people who feel the book industry is in trouble, come here to miami-dade college. .. >> a pin drop in that room. he had them in the palm of his hands. and this is the next generation of readers. and that's what we're really excited about, creating the next generation of readers so the miami book fair lives for another 35 years. >> host: well, aye run out of -- i've run out of time, i'm afraid. i wanted to ask about all the changes. we'll have to save that. we'll cothat next year. you're watching booktv on
c-span2, live coverage of the 35th annual miami book fair. we are going back in now to hear from another author, and this is simon winchester talking about the perfectionist. it's about the engineers who created the modern world. after that it's justice sonia sotomayor taking questions there students across the country. live coverage on booktv. [inaudible conversations] >> good good morning again and e take your seats. we're about to begin. thank you so much. good morning again. i am marilou harrison, and i'd like to welcome you to miami book fair, the 35th edition.
i'm so proud to have served as a volunteer for 29 years and loving every minute of it. [applause] so thank you so much. miami-dade college is so proud to host miami book fair here at our college that serves over 165,000 students. and talking about, you know, students, faculty and staff, those are among the hundreds of volunteers that make miami book fair happen each and every year. in addition to that, i'd like to recognize the many youngsters from our school system, from our area institutions as well as others in the community who also volunteer their time to make sure that this book fair is as special as it is every single year. and as you know, miami book fair
is actually year round. so thanks to all, particularly miami book fair's circle of friends. i know many of you are again in the audience here today. to the sponsors, the knight foundation, the degrassroot foundation, the bachelor foundation, ohl north america and so many other key sponsors that give of their support to make sure that our year-round miami book fair and our evenings with and the street fair all take place in a very, very special way. and so without further ado, let me ask you to turn off your devices, as always, so that we can all enjoy the program, and there will be a question and answer period. i ask at that time that you step to the middle of the room where there is a podium. one question only, please, so that we can get all of the
questions in. again, i'm so proud to have served miami book fair at democracy's college, miami-dade college, and we respect each and everyone no matter what. and so on that note, the program that we're about to enjoy i'd like to ask simon winchester and also stacy schiff to come on stage. let's welcome them. [applause] and so we have simon winchester in the conversation with stacy schiff, and as you know, simon winchester is the acclaimed author of many, many books including "the professor and the madman," "the men who united the states," "the map that changed the world," "the man who loved
china" and so -- yes -- so many other new york times' bestsellers. in "the perfectionists," perfectionists, how engineers created the modern world, the revered new york times best selling author, mr. winchester, traces the development of technology from the industrial age to the digital age to explore the single component crucial to advancement. he's in conversation today with stacy schiff, an author in her own right, winner of a pulitzer prize, a finalist as well and a great improvisation, franklin, france and the birth of america. she's also the binner of the george washington -- the winner of the george washington book prize among many, many other accolades. today, again, join me in
welcoming ms. schiff and mr. winchester. thank you. [applause] >> thanks. thank you all for coming. good morning, simon. >> good morning. >> for those of you who were here for the last session, this session is designed at the antidote to all that messiness -- [laughter] and muddiness. this is about perfection, like the florida ballot -- [laughter] going to talk about precision here. so, simon, you begin with, you begin the book with an indelible childhood memory, but the book also to have a -- also happens to have a very precise origin in florida. i thought it seemed appropriate that we start there. if nothing else, this will tell you why writers love so much to hear from their readers. >> we do. this was a chap i'd never period of before call colin povey. just to make sure he's not in the audience, he said he wouldn't be -- [laughter] so i can now talk about him entirely freely. he lives in clearwater, which
is, i think, on the other side of the state, isn't it? on the gulf side. and he is a scientific glass blower. he makes intricate pieces of glass ware for use in laboratories. and he wrote to me one day five years ago, i suppose, saying i've read all of your books and i like them, which is obviously very nice, and i just wonder whether you might be interested in doing a book on the history of precision, this thing that envelops all of our lives but which is invisible and incoate and indescribable. and i thought, you know, not a bad idea. my father was a precision engineers i'd never really -- precision engineer, i'd never really thought about it. my editor was skeptical, wondering how you could produce a flow -- >> to think of a jacket -- hard to think of a jacket design. >> and, indeed, a title. both the united states and britain, different titles,
different, different jackets. the title in -- in fact, i hope it's now -- [inaudible] in britain the title of the book is my original title which is the word "exactly." >> so you should buy two copies, the british and american editions? >> exactly. $25.99. [laughter] but the marketing people at harper in new york said it's very difficult to market a book whose title is a concept. i thought -- >> like longitude, that book that didn't sell any copies. >> no copies at all. [laughter] so they said can you not think of putting human beings into the title. so in the end, i came up with the perfectionists. and it went on to the internal e-mail at harper. and within about ten minutes, people were saying, oh, we hate perfectionists. [laughter] nitpicking, pedantic fussbudgets, why do we want to
coa book about that? [laughter] >> let's move away from the other word, perfection, let's talk about precision. you probably need to define the term, you did for me anyway. there's precision, and there's accuracy. and as you point out in course your pages, sometimes they go together beautifully like when it comes to a gun, and sometimes they don't work all together, with like my watch and many clocks. do you want to speak to that and also talk about how you tell time? >> well -- [laughter] precision and accuracy, i mean, the two words are used more or less interchangeably, but as you know in the english language, there are no synonyms, or effectively no synonyms, and those two things are very different. the best way to describe them is to think of a dartboard. your intention is to hit the bull. and if you do, you have achieved great accuracy, because the definition of accuracy is achieving something as close as possible to your intention. precision is very different.
if you fire your dart or your arrow, your gun at the target, and you hit that, say, 10:00 in one of the outer rings and hit it again and again and again and again, you have achieved great preif decision. precision. accuracy, if you achieve precision and accuracy, that's perfect. but precision is really doing the same thing over and over again, and it's crucial in engineering because the manufacture of interchangeable parking lots, that the parts are all -- parts are all exactly the same, and so all of them will fit. i'm sort of getting ahead of myself, but that precision and accuracy, those two definitions should sort of be borne in the back of your mind even though lazy writers, you and i dare say -- sorry to -- >> no, for sure. >> would use them interchangeably. to an engineer, they're not to be. >> and to go back half a step, you actually say they give us a date of birth for precision, just before the date of birth of
america, in fact. >> well, in fact, and i'd be fascinated to know in the audience, i think mainly only young people will know this. i didn't when i i wrote it, but precision has an actual birthday, and it's the may the 4th, 1776. two months exactly before this country was born. but i didn't realize that that date, the 4th of may, has a greater but actually rather relevant significance. does anyone know what the 4th of may is? >> [inaudible] >> yes, "star wars" day. [laughter] who said that? was that a young person? >> that was great. [laughter] >> anyway, may the 4th be with you. [laughter] so if you -- control and ironic that this is the date. >> we have the answer, right? >> we do. >> before interchangeable parts, you through your entire miss can debt away or took it to the gunsmith. so there was no such thing as
component parts. >> yeah. >> probably we should go back to talk about component parts and maybe the demonstration of the -- >> yes. i mean, that was the sort of famous or infamous demonstration in the closing years of the 18th century when a man in france took apart the ten principal components of a flint flock gun. there are things with names that we've long forgotten, the frizzle, the pam and, of course, the trigger and the striker. and in a battle fought in, let's say, 1780 if you broke your trigger or the flint lock wouldn't work probably, you'd have to -- because everything was handmade, you'd have to take it back to the armorer and get a new gun or a new gun made for you which took time and took you out of the battlefield. blanc realized if you made all the parts interchangeable that
would fit, then that would change the field of battle, and he didn't really quite appreciate this, the world of engineering at a stroke. so he did this, and he produced all the parts of a flintlock and put the individual parts in boxes and mixed them all up and then invited a group of the great and good in paris at the time to come to a demonstration. and said, you know, pick every trigger, pick -- and assemble out of these ten pieces a flintlock which people found they could coin a matter of seconds -- do in a matter of seconds. the crucially important person at that demonstration was the then-american minister in france at the time, and that was thomas jefferson. jefferson saw this and got it. an indication of jeff's brilliance as a scientist. and he wrote immediately to washington and said i've just seen this amazing demonstration. we should, in my view, incorporate this kind of
manufacturing technique into the making of guns in america. so a competition was staged. there were two armories at the time, one in springfield, massachusetts, but more crucially the one in harper's ferry, virginia. and who can make interchangeable parts for the kind of gun which we are using in america at the time when we need about 10,000 of them right away. and one person who put up his hand mainly because he had gone bankrupt and needed the money was the fellow from the cotton gin. >> eli whitney. >> i was going to say -- whitney says i can do it. and they said, fine, give us a demonstration. so he went away and produced clutch of guns which looked as if the parts were interchangeable but were not. he cheated. he pulled a con on these rather simple fellows who were on the committee that had come could dn from washington, and they said, well, mr. whitney, you appear to
have done it, you've got the contract. he won the contract, made the guns, and none of them worked properly. it was so -- to the engineering community, whitney, the popular imagination has whitney as a heroic figure because of the cotton gin which he didn't patent, which is why he went bankrupt. but to the engineering community, he's regarded as a charlatan and someone whose reputation is completely besmirched by having cheated at this demonstration in harper's ferry. so i thought i'd get a lot of blowback in the book from fans of, you know, whitney. but, no, people -- [laughter] mostly said at last he got his view. >> i was just wondering if people were going to start planning dinner parties where you assembled a gun. [laughter] you made me think about so many things that we take for granted, the fact that one screw is identical to the next screw. let's talk for a second about standardization because the legacy certainly thinks it bears
exploration. >> yes. i mean, up to that point screws were sort of each one made for purpose, and so one screw wouldn't fit another screw hole or another to device. and whitworth, in manchester -- a great baboon of a man -- [laughter] came up with the whitworth screw thread and particular cant of the angle of the screw and the distance between the threads which is still used today. you get screws, you go to a shop and you probably wouldn't notice this, but they'd all say something like .75 psw, which is british standard whitworth. and the legacy of so many of these people -- whitworth is more or less remembered, but who remembers henry lordsly, for instance? he is my great hero. >> i was going to ask you among all these oddballs, excentrics -- [laughter] if you had a favorite. >> i do. brahma and hordesly. i mean, brahma was an amazing
man. he invented the fountain pen, he invented the -- just to make it, just in case it didn't work, he also made a machine for machining quills in large number. [laughter] so hedging his bets. >> hedging his bets. >> yeah. >> he made the beer president ph allowed a man pulling pints of beer not to have to go down to the cellar every time people wanted another beer. [laughter] there is one pub in england called the brahma. he invented the flush bl toilet, clearly -- [applause] very good, yeah. [laughter] >> i tell you -- >> applause for that and not the beer tap. [laughter] >> i have just come here from bhutan where the default toilet is the squatting variety, so all hail sir joseph brahma. [laughter] and he made the lock, the beautiful, beautiful, exquisite cylinder of a lock. because, and this is quite interesting, at least to me, the industrial revolution begins.
prior to the industrial revolution, the wealthy in england were mainly rural people who lived in manor houses and castles and so forth. and they were protected, their own security, by land and by hedges and by fences and by servants. industrial revolution begins, people start making things, factories are opened, all powered by james watts' steam engines. and then suddenly wealthy people are to be found in cities close to their factories, close to their factories but also close to people who are not wealthy, and so they suddenly felt vulnerable that their house might be broken into. so they built large, well-constructed houses in cities but protect their doors with locks. and the most sophisticated of the locks was made by this fellow joseph brahma who had in his showroom in piccadilly, on the western end of piccadilly, a
bow-fronted window. and on it, in it was a velvet cushion with his most beautiful lock on it saying anyone that can break this lock without destroying it i will pay 200 guineas, which was a great deal of money. so that was in 1790. no one could -- they would come in and say i think i can break it, and they'd retire defeated. 1810, he died, his son took over. the brahma company, which still exists today, continued to exhibit this lock. and it wasn't until 1851, joseph whitworth was there in the great exhibition in hyde park in london, down one of the wings because the exhibition was dominated by gigantic steam locomotives and other sort of triumphs of the industrial revolution was this little lock still unpicked. and then an american called charles hull from boston said i make a lock in boston which i
know cannot be broken, and i also know, mr. brahma, that i can break yours. and they said, okay, so armed with a variety of very specialized tools and powerful lights and little lenses and so forth he worked for 51 hours -- [laughter] before there was this satisfying click of the lock, and it opened. and the brahma people said, well, fair dues. you've met the challenge. we don't feel it's in any way ruined our reputation because what burglar is going to -- [laughter] 51 hours to pick a lock. so here's your 20 guineas -- 200 guineas. now, about what about your lock? and a man from the back of the crowd said, i think i can pick it. stepped forward, and using a tiny sliver of wood and a magnifying glass, 15 minutes later, click -- [laughter] and it opened. and his name was ely yale.
the yale company and the brahma company prospered, and the other faded away into history. [laughter] >> since you've taken us to mid century britain, it feels in your hands very much like the world today. everything's in flux, industrialization is changing the landscape. you have to run to keep up. progress is the word on every lip. so why london, first of all, and second of all, would these essential differences and this lunge forward s there a comparison between the mechanical 19th century world and the suddenly automated one in which we find ourselves today? >> a very interesting question. i -- the thing about these early inventers is that they were, their inventions were based on nothing, on their own hunches and intuition and sudden flashes of inspiration whereas -- to use a very well-worn phrase -- contemporary workers in this
field are standing on the shoulders of giants. so i think it was tremendously exciting the way that things were being developed in victorian london, because no one had seen anything like it before. i mean, to give you an example and to go back to this other unsung hero, a fellow who was involved, oddly enough, with brahma in making locks, a fellow called henry mortsly. very few people remember him, but he was fascinated by the idea of industrial the production, how you could make lots of things inexpensively and all looking the same. and this had tremendously important ramifications. what he was very interested in in the beginning of the 19th century was the royal navy and shipping, because the royal navy, of course, its ships at the time were sailing ships, and to hoist the sails, to pull up an anchor you yielded pulley blocks -- you needed pulley blocks, those things you
probably remember from school usually made of wood and sheaves and wheels inside them which would give you a mechanical advantage. they were made of elm wood, and they were made by hand, hundreds of carpenters all over southern england. the navy needed about 150,000 of them a year. so he went to the navy and said, okay, to turn an elm tree into a pulley block, how many steps does that take? and they looked very carefully, cut the tree into chunks, you smooth it into the approximate shape, you bore holes in it, it goes on. 43, they said. he said, oak, well, i will make -- okay, well, i will make 43 machines, each one will do one discreet part of the manufacture of a pulley block. and they gave him a factory in portsmouth about 60 miles south of london, and he built these
machines. and sure enough, you would feed elm trees into a hopper at one end of the factory, and out of the other end would come fully-fashioned pulley blocks. overnight all of these hundreds of carpenters all over southern england lost their jobs. and the only people that maintained this factory were ten unskilled chaps with oil cans and bunches of cotton waste to make sure the machines worked. and i might say that the machines worked so well that they were still producing pulley blocks in 1965. not a single one of them had needed to be replaced over that 100, the 00 years -- 200 years. so that was the first true factory in the world. it was the first -- it was the kind of thing that led, ultimately, to henry ford and mass production. no one aware of the social consequences. and because it had come out of nowhere, everybody utterly
amazed that such a thing could ever come about. so i think to answer your question, victorian era manufacturing was so transformative that by contrast what seems to be going on now, even though, you know, the iphone and the jet engine, so forth, are marvels, they seem to be merely incremental advances on something which began, had a birth date and back then was profound in its, the way it changed the world. >> so i don't have to accept the updates on my phone today, right? >> well, i had one today. >> me too. [laughter] i ignored it. because we didn't have time, because we had to be here. [laughter] one of the great triumphs, to me, and your ability to narrate two contradictory stories at the same time. so in your hands we follow precision in two different directions, precision for the few versus precision for the many as we watch the rolls royce and the ford motor cars come off the -- be born. so let's talk, first, about
henry royce and the making of his first machine and also why a rolls royce should properly be called a royce rolls -- [laughter] and i probably should say that one of the many reasons to buy this book is that you will hear simon report that a rolls royce is actually a perfectly reasonable investment. [laughter] >> i look, i mean, there are these two henrys, henry royce and henry ford, both born in 1863, both captivated in youth by the idea of mechanically-propelled vehicles. they both owned these french-made -- and, incidentally, the reason that words like automobile and garage, copyright and so forth are all french is because the original engineering origin nateed in france. they both had these machines which were effectively two bicycles bolted together with a 10 horsepower, very primitive engine; chains which propelled
these two characters along at high speed noisily, smokily, no brakes, nothing sophisticated like that. [laughter] very dangerous. but both men thought this was wonderful. but both -- each man had a different view. henry royce in manchester said i want to perfect this way of driving. i'm going to create the most impeccably engineered automobile that i possibly can. henry ford, by contrast, said we live in an amazing country with astonishing vistas, with forests and grand canyons and so forth. i'm going to make a machine which everyone in the country can afford to buy so that he or she can see the magic of this country. and so what i concentrate on are two cars, both made almost exactly the same period, 1908-1927. the rolls royce silver ghost, which was made in northern england. also, oddly enough, in
springfield, massachusetts. and the ford model t. they made 8,000 rolls royces. probably the finest machine ever made mechanically. 80% of them still running today, which goes to your point -- >> why it's reasonable -- >> a very, very good investment. [laughter] >> it was your point, actually. >> my point. okay. probably a rolls royce -- [laughter] whereas the ford model t, also from 1908-1927, they produced 16 million of them. but, and the crucial difference is that -- and this is where precision comes in -- you'd think of rolls royce as being the a apotheosis of precision. but, in fact, it wasn't because they were handmade. so if a part didn't fit properly, the engineer in charge would simply take a file and file it until it did fit. whereas in dearborn, michigan, the production lines that henry ford created, all the parts
whether it was for a carburetor or brakes or transmissions or whatever, were in hoppers on the floor above the line. and if for some reason they weren't interchangeable, they didn't all exactly fit, one came down the chute into the production line and didn't fit, then all of a sudden the production line would grind to a halt, and men would stand around smoking and chatting while someone worked out what had happened. money would be lost, the line would be interrupted. so precision was a key to making lots of things very cheaply. it was not a key to the making of a rolls royce because we did it as an exercise not so much in full-scale production line manufacturing, but in craftsmanship. so there was a dichotomy at this point where craft and high-precision engineering left, and that was at the beginning of the last century. >> and do you want to mention why it should be a royce rolls as opposed to a rolls royce?
>> yes. i mean, henry royce laboring away at the mechanics of this thing, would anyone sell them? how am i going to get the word out to the general public? and after several years of failure in this regard, this mayfair-based swell, the honorable charles rolls, came up to manchester, saw the early prototypes of the machine, couldn't believe that a car could be so quiet, that you could quite literally put a brim full martini glass on the radiator, accelerate the car up to full revs, and there budget even a trace of vibration as this mighty engine was roaring underneath and said to royce, i will market your car but only under the condition that my name, because i'm an aristocrat, should come before yours. [laughter] ..
by volkswagen. when they say goodbye to a car, they call the royces was if you meet an engineer be sure not to use the word roles which they shut up with contempt, he was merely a salesman. >> host: on the subject of human foibles, you make it clear there's a point when precision outstrips the ability to create it and you tell the chilling story of how a single, 5 cm metal pipe could bring down an airbus over indonesia. how do you feel when you sit on an aircraft? and the human being steps out
of the picture. >> that is why press about in the closing chapters of the book. are we beginning to reach the limits of mechanical precision. the story i'm talking about is a fully laden double-decker a380 airbus leaving singapore for sydney in november 2010. and the most powerful engines on the planet. and heading south, leave airspace very quickly, a severe angle with the maximum power. suddenly the inboard portside engine explodes and shrapnel this and all over the place, not only the passenger cabin
but shatters the wing. and they wrestle the stricken airplane and get it down to singapore airport and everything is okay but the analysis of what happened, a pipe 5 cm long the diameter of the drinking straw which is in a couple in northern england a year before and missed machines 100th of a millimeter. and the sequence of flights and the runway, somewhat stressed, and sent oil into the bearings in the middle of the jet. it landed in london, took off from london. and took off from singapore,
and a slightly -- immediately flashed into fire, melted the titanium through the rotor blades. are we beginning to machine things to tolerances which are too tiny because we are under pressure to build bigger airplanes, more passengers ever faster. at that level i wonder is and in the electronic world the iphone is outside but one like you are trying to update yesterday. >> host: i wasn't trying to update. >> guest: the size of my pinky fingernail, has 41/4 billion transistors in it. the transistor was invented in the late 1940s, the first were
the size of my fist and 1 billion of them. the most chilling statistic i came across from intel and more transistors working in the world today than there are leaves of all the trees in all the world. i drive up and down and look at all the trees and there's an incalculable number of leaves you cannot possibly have more transistors on the mass pike. and such tiny spaces, almost anatomic level, if you're heisenberg, what should i do? pushing the limits and that is a point of the book. >> host: you anticipate the end of more's law. >> guest: more's acolytes say
we are moving on to this business about computer power will double every year or two years. >> host: everything is faster and smaller. >> guest: and they insist, the new generation of optical computing and quantum computing we can go on and go on. that is a whole new argument. and if that doesn't sound pretentious, and i wonder whether we are fetishizing precision too much and forgetting the delightful craftsmanship, the in precise, the human scale kind of thing. it is an important thing to take stock of. a whirlwind of progress and -- >> you do that beautifully when talking about going to japan,
it is mind-boggling. 10 handmade watches being turned out. and >> >> and gave it to everyone in the world. it recovered. there is this production line on the second floor of the factory in northern japan producing 25,000 quarts watch movements every day but the same floor a set of double doors and these craftsmen and women, each one producing mechanical watches, things we
have forgotten like hair springs, maine springs producing 100 a day. they revere craftsmanship and in my own part in massachusetts, we have eight mechanical clocks and a paragraph which i wind every sunday morning. i wind them all and at that moment, 8:00 sunday morning or 8:00 in rate, nothing to fall out of rate, wednesday, thursday, complete shambles but that reminds me of that lovely line from the novel gordian night about walking through the streets of oxford and listening to the college clocks chiming midnight. she says in friendly
disagreement. [laughter] >> host: i prefer a world with friendly disagreement that other precision. >> host: you bring a perfect events to a last question and we will take questions from the audience but i can't help but ask you. your stock in trade has so much clarity on the page, the perfectionists have precision in the title, clarity is the specialty, do you feel you had to bring this to a standard with additional pressure on you in some way? >> guest: the paper book is going to come out, i never had a book with more readers pointing out, mercifully small, and here is a list of 175 corrections. i would say 175 improvements.
>> if there are questions from the audience. we all use gps every day. do you want to speak quickly? the two clocks in easton? >> guest: two rival inventors, the way it is done now has formidably accurate clocks in 32 satellites with gps devices and the time that signals take to travel from earth to these satellites when triangulated, three or four or five satellite gives you a position, astonishing accuracy. used to be a geologist and have
a job positioning oil rigs and using a primitive form of radio, i can put the rig down in the north sea was to within accuracy of 200 m i suppose. nowadays, went to the japanese research ship, where gps and the american gps system is best in the world, they can locate themselves in the ocean. you know what a wilderness the ocean is to within half a centimeter. that is quite extraordinary and it is from an airbase. no one knows about it. and the chinese are coming up, russians and europeans, a gps system run by the united states is the best and 3, one of the great trials of 20th century
technology except it made us forget the joy of maps. friendly disagreement of clocks. and able to use them, take them out of the glove compartment, study them rather than simply say take us there. i rent a lot in this book. >> host: someone has to refold the map. >> guest: that is true. >> something in line with your story about serial production. you were talking about manufacturing in serial production where everything is identical. you mentioned rules. interesting highlight of rules, 1909, the short brothers of rochester, later of belfast, northern ireland, 3 brothers
signed a licensing agreement with the two wright brothers and proceeded to build six right flyer bes in series, the first serial production of powered aircraft anywhere in the world. the purchaser of the 6 aircraft was mister rolls who proceeded to kill himself. >> host: >> guest: nicely said. my first reporting assignment was in belfast in the 1960s. a particular type of aircraft, rather stubby looking carrier in the wings for that aircraft were made in northern china and you would see the wings would come on the trans-siberian railway to moscow transferred to amsterdam. to put on another ferry to belfast.
delightful insanity. >> i beg your pardon. i hope what i said was true. a 76 improvement. >> besides avoiding take-ups from singapore, what would you say about daily life that will take away from your book? >> say that again. >> taking up this space in singapore, because of the precision of the court so besides that. what other practical advice for daily life can we take away from your book? >> other than not taking airplanes, nice to have faith in the precision, things i'm
going to work every day, you have to assume they are properly made but when you do break down, and it is an imprecise parts, lower your guard, be aware that precision is not an infallible thing, something we should take for granted but also have some caution which goes back to my point about not fetishizing it. be thankful for it but be cautious. to make things by hand your self. i love the fact that in korea, japan and china, people, usually elderly people who make things by hand are awarded the title of living national treasure. and are given pensions by the
government and reverence by the people. i would like countries that revere precision and precision only, the united states, britain, germany, to say wait a minute, let us also give respect to people who make imprecise things by hand. i would love the japanese and the korean system to come here as well. thank you very much. >> i wanted to know during your research, do you find any notable stories of industrial espionage where technology, when people think about the second world war. do you find notorious trends? >> let me tell you a short story. i live in western massachusetts, the river that
courses down from my village is a valley which leads to long island sound and it was the brass valley where brass buttons, coats were made and brass cartridges for guns were made and in the 20th century a lot of metallic manufacturing and there was a company in torrington, a town half an hour from where i live where there was a company, they were called hindi, and just before the outbreak of the second world war they did a lot of business with company in frankfurt, mechanical engineering company, they decided to have a contest to see who could make the most precise little things. the people in torrington worked long and hard and produced the steel rod, a 16th of an inch in diameter, perfectly straight
and polished, unvarying, put in tissue paper and a wooden box, sent across to germany. then, just before the war broke out the germans responded by sending back a box which people in torrington opened and found in tissue paper identical steel rod, same diameter, same straightness and then they noticed their horror that in fact a whole was boarded down the center of the tube and they were aghast. how is that possible? the war broke out and correspondence broke down until the 1945 those companies survived the war and the managing director of the german company came over to america and came to torrington in the two bosses had lunch together
and ruefully americans set i can't get over how you board that whole in that steel rod. we were embarrassed, it was horrible and the germans said that is the reason i came to see you because in fact we cheated. we drew the whole in the block of steel and then machined around it which was an easy thing to do. what you did was the most perfect thing we simply cheated which is why we lost the war. >> on that note i would like to ask a round of applause and thank simon winchester. thank you so much. as you know, autographing will be taking place on this floor on the north side of the floor
and if you have a ticket for the next program you may remain in the room. if not we ask that you leave as soon as possible, thank you very much. [inaudible conversations] ♪ >> booktv is live from the miami book fair and we are about to sit down with justice sonja soto mayor will answer questions from students across the country. then we take your calls on presidents during wartime and
gina louden who serves as an advisor to the trump 2020 campaign will answer questions about her book mad politics. first we went to show you just a sotomayor's interview with carla hayden from the national book festival in september. >> in 18 years we never had on the main stage books that were written for young people but because of you and -- kids are powerful. i know, that really intrigued me. the children's librarian, what
motivated you? to write other books. why would you write for young people? what was it? >> with respect to the middle school book, the beloved world of sonja sotomayor, you are going to meet my cousin miriam who is 6 months younger than i am and i tortured her. now we are older and she tortures me telling me i am younger. she is a middle school bilingual education teacher and when i wrote my parents book, my beloved world, she asked me immediately to start writing a middle school book but i have a day job. sometimes i am very very busy and it took me a number of
years to try to make the time to write this. i decided to write this as i was thinking about writing it. i thought really, how about young readers? this may not be appropriate for them yet. if i'm going to do one, i should do the other, shouldn't i? then i thought it is a real challenge. how do i tell my story to young readers in a way that they can understand in words but that they could see as well. so i thought about it and i said and illustrated book. then i had the pure fortuity to find an illustrator who could turn the story into pictures,
beautiful pictures. and turning pages was born. that is me walking up the steps of the supreme court and that is me, not today. i like him. that is a symbol of puerto rico. and in my hands there is a key and that is what this book is about. the key to success in my life, it is the secret that i want to share with kids. it tells and explains this book, how i became successful.
what is the answer? i could tell you to read the book. what i know is i'm here as a supreme court justice only because of books. because reading books. [applause] >> opened the world to me. that is what this is about. >> i will tell everybody i don't get to endorse books as much now. let's just say i love this book. i got an advanced copy. it is so evocative of what the power of reading can do.
and -- >> i am going to start by saying the most important person in my life was my grandmother. one day during the confirmation process my mother turns to me and said -- i know because you have been so important in my life but i will find a way. >> that as justice sonja sotomayor from the national book festival in september in washington and we are down here in miami and pleased to have her join us for a live question and answer session.
we solicited questions, the classroom initiative and they sent in hundreds of questions. it will be for 5 hours before we let you go. we are talking about the beloved world of sonja sotomayor. the on adults book, autobiography, my beloved world, her best-selling autobiography of a couple years ago and this is a question from zoe who goes to school at bethel high school in hampton, virginia. how did books open the world to you? >> i have written extensively that you may consider too young for you, turning pages, you see me walking up the supreme court steps.
when you look at the key, it is the key to my success. the books opening the world to me. we live in our neighborhoods, we know our teachers, classmates, maybe some of their families, but the world is a very big place and in many ways we are a very small person. one person among billions and billions of people and the only way i could access that very big world and even the big universe was through books. books let me see possibilities i never knew existed. they let me realize how big the world was and how many opportunities there were in the world for me. so they were and still are the
key to my success in life in the key of success for anyone because through books we can find out not just who we are, but to imagine the place we inhabit in this world. >> host: in the beloved world of sonja sotomayor you talk about the neighborhood library. >> guest: as you know and kids will learn through my book, my fourth grade in school was very sad because my dad died. he had been ill for a very long time and when he passed away he had a great deal of sadness in my home and i was fortunate enough to find the local library. at that time, it is no longer true now, the library was on the same floor as macy's, a department store.
myself somewhere else, and that's still books from my escape, when i'm sad i pick up a book and i start reading and i immediately either laugh if it's a funny book, if it's a serious book it makes me think about something else and if it's just a book about information i start thinking pictures in my head of what the words are creating for me. books can be all of those things, a place to escape, a place of adventure, they can be a laboratory for you to experiment in your head with different things, there are so many things that books can do for you, so for me, that finding of that library was an eye-opener for me. >> this is cielita, skyline middle college in san bruno city, california, several questions along this line.
what is one thing that you're most proud of being the first latina on the supreme court? >> oh, you know, no one has asked me that question, how interesting, what am i most proud of. i think what i'm most proud of in my life was reflected the day i was sworn into the supreme court in my public ceremony. i was in the courts -- courtroom which is quite beautiful and i was sitting facing the court until they call you up to be sworn in, you sit in the seats john marshal, one of the most influential justices of the supreme court or the earliest justices, at any rate as i was sitting there, i was looking at my mom and i was looking at my entire family and most of my
life-long friends. they had come from around the world literally, my entire family had come from puerto rico and in that moment, i realized that no matter how successful you are, it's really only meaningful if your family and friends come with you. if they share your life with you, then that is success. there are a lot of people who work very, very hard and who are very, very successful but they sort of break away from the people who really started with them and i've never done that. success you measure by how much people walk along with you, not by who you leave behind and i hope i've blessed very few people if any. >> well, i know that your mother is down here in miami.
>> she is, she's the smart one, she's inside staying cool, it's a little hot out here. [laughter] >> another question from a student and this is lila baker from soda creek elementary school, colorado, who supported and inspired your interest in the law? >> who supported and inspired my interest in the law? interestingly enough there were no lawyers or judges in my family so i didn't really have someone close to me who knew enough about law to be able to guide my interest. i didn't find my mentors in law until i actually got into law school and there i found people who obviously knew much more about the law and how to be successful in it than anyone else in my life and so there was one professor administrator at yale law school, his name was
josé cabranes and jose was the leader in the puerto rican legal community and generally he was general counsel to yale and he taught at a high school and he befriended me and he's been my mentor ever since. the most telling moment for us was when i joined the second circuit court of appeals. he was a judge there and one day he says that the stringest moment for him was when his students became his colleague on the court. >> you were appointed to that position by george h.w. bush, correct? >> i was. >> people sometimes forget that and to the supreme court by president barack obama. >> and to the court of appeals by president clinton. it is unusual for a justice to have served on the either two courts. there's only three justices in the history of the united states
who have served on all three levels and it seems to happen about every 100 years, so the last one was almost 100 years ago. >> all right, oliver, oliver corpus, university high school, irvine, california. >> you have kids from all over the country. >> we have literally hundreds of questions from the kids, we are really pleased at the response that we got from them, but oliver would like to know, do you and the other justices ever hang out outside of the courtroom? [laughter] >> we hang out all of the time. i spend more time with those 8 other justices than i have with any other group of judges in my life and that's because we hear every case together. we are in the courtroom listening to every case that we decide as a group of 9 and after we have oral arguments which is about 5 to 6 times a month, we
have lunch together and every friday we have a conference and we have lunch on those conferences. we also have lots and lots of dinners together on the court because there's always -- the airplane above us -- >> it's okay. >> it's all right. sorry, kids. there's a plane overhead so i can't even hear myself, sorry, but we also have a lot of dinners together because there's a lot of formal events. if you're asking do we ever socialize outside the courthouse, not as a group generally, although once in a while there's an event that we would all go, as some of them may have seen on tv when a justice has a celebration at the white house, most of us will go because it's a new colleague joining the court but occasionally we go to the theater together, we go listen
to music, we have dinner at each other's houses, we are actually very friendly to each other even though we disagree a lot. we are the one institution in government that kids should know we still like each other even though we don't have the same opinion because we know that you can agree and you don't have to be disagreeable. you can differ in what you think as long as you're willing to have an open mind and talk about those differences. you can still be friends. >> justice sotomayor one of the rumors in washington is that you really know how to host a really nice dinner party, fun dinner party, is it truth to that? >> there's a lot of truth to that, first, i love food and second i love people and so for me having dinner with friends and hosting and making people relax and enjoy themselves and
laugh a lot is very important. >> this is something that you discuss in your book, the beloved world of sonia sotomayor and this is a question from garrett jensen, stanford university palo alto, california, given that november is diabetes month can you discus how diabetes played role in career development and how those living with disabilities can also manage to reach the highest levels? >> one of the things that's been most important in my life with diabetes is really realizing how precious life is. when you have a disability or a chronic condition, you appreciate every minute that you have in life. you know that you have to take advantage of every moment that
you're permitted to enjoy yourself and have in this world and so for me, my diabetes taught me discipline, it taught me how to take care of myself, how to stay healthy, it taught me that every day i had to bring out of life as much as i could and so i studied very hard, i did a lot of after-school activities. on friday and saturday night i partied a lot and saturday and sunday during the day i worked because my family was poor and we needed to earn a little bit of extra money. i still to this day do the same thing. i enjoy every second of my life because my condition has taught me that it's valuable and for those of us who face chronic
challenges, we should have pride, we should have pride in our courage, in our ability to take care of ourselves and in our ability to accept help when we need it because there's a lot of people who don't realize how important that is and so for me it was a blessing. it's taught me something that a lot of other people waste a lot of time not appreciating. >> now, justice sotomayor, we noticed this at the national book festival when you were doing your presentation, you got up off the stage and were down in the audience and i presume you're going to do that a little bit later at the miami book fair? >> if you didn't have me strapped down in the chair with this mic i would be out there. [laughter] >> you know, it happens naturally at my very, very first book event in washington, d.c.
it was a huge haul with i don't remember, it was over a thousand people and i was up on this stage and i could hear people laughing or clapping but i really couldn't see them and at one point as i was walking back and forth on the stage i thought to myself i want to see them. i want to say hello to them and all the time waiting and i got off the stage and there's a lot of ooh's and awe's and it was so much more personal and so much a connection between me and the audience that i felt why don't people do this more and i really don't understand why they don't, so i've continued to do it and
it's been wonderful. do you know how many hugs i get when i walk around? and every one of those hugs particularly now because this is a children's book and there's a lot of kids in the audience, i've told people i've collected thousands and thousands of hugs, it's the best part of the book tour. >> sasha thorton, does growing up in the bronx have any part in your discussion-making? >> i think wherever anyone grows up becomes a part of them. it's the sights, it's the smell, the memory of people and places and things, everything builds up a core of memory in your mind. you know, when i was growing up my grandmother lived in an apartment building on a floor that faced a running elevated
train and that train like the airplanes that are going off above used to pass by every 10 or 15 minutes. the first day i was in that apartment i thought to myself, how can she sleep, how can you ignore the loud noise of that train and over time i learned that it just becomes background noise and i used to play in her apartment and i would look out the window at the passing trains and i would wave at people who were in the train and some of them would wave back and occasionally i would stick my tongue at them and run to the back of the room or make faces at them, but those are moments that have been marked in my mind, they are my moment and, sure, your identity gets swarmed
by the place you live in. mine was a hard neighborhood. it was very crime-ridden. our family was very, very poor, they worked very, very hard. all of those things become a part of sonia, but sonia is also a lot of other things. i went to a fairly elite college and elite law school. i have been a prosecutor, i have been for a company that represented some very, very rich clients including maybe kids know ferrari the race car and i represented ferrari, so all of that -- altogether is a piece -- a little piece of me. >> one of the characters in your book, a real person reading the book just to learn about abuelita, your last moments with abuelita, you write about her.
>> do i, abuelita, my grandmother, was probably the most important person in my life next to my grandmother. she was everything to me and i describe? the book how we didn't look anything alike, she had a long face, i have a round face. i have very curly, she had very long straight hair. not completely straight, a little wave but not curly and mine was a curly mop, we didn't look alike but we shared a spirit, everything about us was the same, we loved people, we loved parties together, she's the one who taught me the beauty of words because she had poems memorized and she would talk about them and, yes, i was there the last day of her life, she had been sick with cancer. i was away in college, these are the days before cell phones and
every call you made home was very expensive but i knew he was sick and i would call home at least once a week to try to talk to her. when i came home that semester from college i went to the hospital and spent every day i could with her and this was a christmas eve of the year she died and all the rest of my family except for one cousin went home and he and i went out and bought her a small christmas tree for her bedside and we put the christmas tree there and i sat there, he actually walked out of the room and she started to talk to me and she died in my arms. it's a moment that i will never forget, but there was a young girl this morning, i was meeting with a group of kids from an organization called amigos for
kids in little havana and a young little girl asked me, did it hurt a lot when your grandmother died, and i told her it hurt like anything and i cried and i cried and i cried but once i stopped crying i remembered, and to this day i think of my abuelita almost every single day and i know that she's still alive in here and in all of my memory she's never died there and in those ways no one ever dies forever because we stay alive in the memory of people who love us. >> mohamed khan, ocean township high school, ocean, new jersey. >> now, that's close the other my home. >> there you go. [laughter] >> well, he would like to know if you ever considered running for president or office?
>> no. [laughter] >> i love my job, first, i absolutely love being a lawyer, second i absolutely love and adore being a justice. i get to think about and be a voice in the decisions of the most important legal questions in the united states and sometimes in the world. for me it's the perfect job for me. everybody has their own perfect job and we don't all like the same thing, but i've never been interested in elected office but i have always been interested in law and the good that it can do for people, so for me, this is the right job for me. >> justice sotomayor, we are out of time and we are getting gette rap signal. >> they want us to go away? >> they want us to go away. we literally have hundreds of weeks for you in a 3-day span.
we want to thank students and teachers for sending them in and any time we are back in dc and you want to come over and answer some more, we would love to talk to you. >> i would be delighted. >> my beloved world, the beloved world of sotomayor the young reader's edition and she has an even younger edition of the book turning pages. i want to show you that cover right now, justice sonia sotomayor, you will see her later in coverage of miami book fair. thank you, ma'am. [cheers and applause] >> lovers of presidential history, those of us in this tent, we have been waiting a long time for another book from michael, this has been a decade in the making and michael, my first question is, why did you write this book and why did it take you 10 years to write? t.[laughter] >> well, my publisher also asked why this took 10 years to write.
[laughter] >> my wife does too. [laughter] >> the idea of this book is i wanted to get into the heads of the 8 or 9 president who is got america involveded in major wars during the first two centuries and the idea is that only 8 or 9 presidents have had this experience of sending large number of americans to risk their lives and what do they have in common, what was different? for instance, a surprising number of them had emotional breakdowns under the strain, a lot of them became more mreligious. abraham lincoln said to a friend who knew him when he was younger when he was agnostic or perhaps atheist, the friend said i can't believe you're reading the bible. lincoln said i can't imagine anyone that would go through traumas of a major war like this and not turn to comfort.
lady bird jonson whom i got to know, late in her life said, late in the vietnam war i wouldn't have been a bit surprised if lyndon had become a catholic. [laughter] >> and what happened was that he had gone to mass with his daughter lucy who converted to catholicism when she was 16 and he got such comfort at the time that he was getting all of the reports of all the casualties in vietnam. all these presidents benefited from marriages to strong women. [applause] - >> one great example -- you can clap for that. [applause] >> franklin roosevelt in 1942 was debating do i send japanese americans to concentration camps. eleanor roosevelt to her undying credit, no, hoover at the fbi says it's not necessary, you itknow, don't do it and one dayn february of 1942, infamously fdr
began the japanese-american and eleanor was furious and the people who knew her felt the marriage was never the same after that. if you look at eleanor roosevelt she spent awful time traveling away from her, they felt maybe they didn't share the same political ideals which she felt that she had and another thing that you really look for in war presidents is empathy, you want a president with empathy. it's very important in the office especially in wartime. and, for instance, abraham lincoln, there were so many casualties in the civil war that lincoln's came to him and said, we have to build a new national cemetery, there's so many people being buried and lincoln said, you're right, build the cemetery near my summer home which is now known as the lincoln's cottage, it's been restored in washington, d.c. and he said, it's going to be severely painful to me but i want to see
the graves being dug, i don't want to be distant from the decisions that are being made that result in all of these people dying, he said to another friend lincoln said, can you imagine, i can't even stand to watch a chicken being slaughtered and all of these andecisions i am making are leading to oceans of blood, so many men being killed. >> if you go to the lbj presidential library and i hope you do, we remodeled that several years ago and michael was enormous help in that endeavor, one of the things you will see in there is just a small cake depicting lbj spiritual life because michael said it wasif so important, spiritualty was so important for lyndon johnson during the turbulent time as it was for his predecessor who had f been commanders in chief during times of war. michael, let me read a passage from the introduction which really lays the premise for this
book. you write to risk the abuses of power by an american president, the framers in 1787 created constitution that gave congress the sole power to declare war and you point out that the last time the president asked congress to approve a war was 1942 and you -- >> good thing we haven't had any wars since 1942. [laughter] >> and you continue as this volume demonstrates during the past two centuries presidents step by step have come to disrupt the founders' design, where the founders to come back there would be astonished to discover that in spite a life or death of much of the human race has now come to depend on the character of a single man who happens to be the president of the united states. enhow has this -- >> the life or death of tens of millions of people plus depends on the character and leadership
of the president of the united states, have a nice day, everyone. [laughter] >> i want to talk about the commanders -- the character of commanders in chief, how has this trend toward presidential unilateralism toured our nation going to war come to be? >> the founders were worried that presidents would become like kings and they knew that the fastest way for a president to become someone like a king with absolute power was wartime because in europe and especially in england if the king became unpopular the quickest way to become more popular and take on more power would be to fabricate a reason for war, the war takes place, everyone is united behind the king and the king says in a time of war, i have to take on all sorts of powers that i might not have done at peacetime, so that's why founders said give the power of war or peace to
congress and over 200 years, you know, that has all changed and the result is that nowadays and this is the reason really why i wrote the book is to find out how this happened, if a president of the united states today wants to wage a war, do it for good reasons or for selfish political reasons, very easy for him to do so, he can do it almost single-handily, he can do it almost overnight. there could be on incident, god forbid that there could be a terrorist attack or a cyber-attack so the point is that we have become to vest an awful lot of power in the president of the united states are wagingnt who is war can abuse power very easily because they can do things and say i have to do this because i'm protecting the men and women who are fighting for us in the ayfield, presidents in wartime n declare marshal law. they can do a lot of things. woodrow wilson in world war i
came up with something called espionage act, allows modern presidents, including president trump have been use to go harass journalists who write things against the president, so i'm someone who is worried about president, i'm really worried about a president who abuses that power and if you're worried about both of those two things, the time you should really worry about that is a time of war. >> it seems like michael, congress has willingly subordinated itself, is that a fair assumption and if so, why so? >> congress says in recent times behaved almost like lap dogs, lyndon johnson when he was waging the vietnam war, sometimes people forget this, he was getting almost hourly criticism from -- >> and that was best-selling historian michael bescloss from the texas book festival in
october and we are live from the miami book festival and he joins us here, special for your times. >> have you ever gotten anyone complaining about being in the miami book fair? >> not when it's -- >> no, tremendous. >> in your talk there in texas you were talking about the fact that we have invested a lot of power in the president of the united states and that can affect war judgment? >> yeah, that's for sure and that's what our founders were terrified of because they were really worried that our presidents might become like kings of england which was what they were trying to get away from. what they specifically wanted was to make sure that no president could get us into a war single handily or almost overnight and over200 years that's sort of the story of my whole book, i tell the story of 8 or 9 guy who is took us into major wars and in the process grabbed more power for
themselves and also possible in our own time for a president to take us into war with little input from congress. >> and you write in your book that they have seized for themselves the pow tore launch large conflicts, it is telling that the last time a president asked donning declare was 1942. >> 1942 and have we had any major in the united states since 1942? congress is supposed to be part of this. what i have found is that presidents have been tempt today get involved in sometimes unnecessary wars over 200 years and that's exactly what the founders at the time of the constitution we wanted to make sure to prevent, they failed. >> one of the things that we might not think about and you write about it in presidents of war, the role of james k. polk. >> right, james k. polk in 1840's was a liar, bully, other than that, wonderful.
he did a terrible thing which was he -- he manufactured a counterfeit incident in the texas border to provoke mexicans to attack americans and then he went to congress and said we need a major war against méxico, all the way down to méxico city and turns out that we had an ulterior motive that he lied about the congress, lied about even to his own secretary of state which was to try to apply millions of territories so that we americans could for the first time in history become a continentallation from atlantic and pacific but what polk did was open the door to presidents essentially getting involved in wars on the basis of instances that really didn't happen, thinking of the names 892, mckinley said let's have a war, turned out that it was not by the spanish but by accident.
1964 tragically lyndon johnson says to congress, unprovoked attack, a couple of weeks later after they pass resolution, johnson realizes that there was no such incident yet based on this resolution, hold vietnam war for the next 9 years killing almost 60,000 americans is waged that the founders would cry. >> michael, have you written extensively about james k. polk? >> this is my first experience with james k. polk, if there are members of the polk antidefamation league watching on television i apologize but he basically allowed later presidents to do something that our founders would be absolutely horrified by. >> speaking of which what was the founders' original vision in your view? >> the vision, was, of course, the nation has to go to war but make sure that it's rare, if it
happens congress supports it overwhelmingly and the american people do too and james madison, one of the founders, he was the guy who sort of broke the law and ruined all of this, war of 1812, madison got us involved in that, what was the first war we lost, i would say it's the war of 1812 not vietnam. what was the most unpopular war in american history, i would says 812 not vietnam, almost half of congress was against it, new england almost succeeded because they were so angry about this and, yes, this war was great victory, the spar spangled banner and andrew jackson in new orleans, don't give up the ship, the glorious victory so-called of 1812 which by the way was failure that james madison was almost hanged by the british, chased him out of washington which they burned, james polk in 1840'ss i want to be a war
president too. >> michael, most recent book presidents of war 1807 to modern times, we've covered on several of his books, you can watch all of his past appearances at booktv.org, let's begin with some calls, 202 is area, 748-800 if you live in east and central sometime zone, 748-8201 in mountain and pacific times zones and james is calling again from south bend, indiana, go ahead with your question or comment, james. >> yes, sir, i enjoy your show there, speaking of books and wars, i'd like to get michael's comments on what some call best book ever, bible, the cause of war is greed, the cause of war is sin, and isaiah, trillions --
>> host: where are we headed? james, where are we headed with this? could you -- >> caller: the question is -- yeah, the question is wars would man ever fight for shares of trillions of dollars of tax money and the bible is answer to that, maybe your guest can correlate the two the bible and war? >> host: correlation there? >> guest: i'm afraid i'm a political historian. one thing i would say and our caller is touching on this, in the course of history, you know, what do these 8 or 9 presidents have in common who took us in major wars which i write about madison from lbj, one thing is that every single one of them becomes more religious, abraham lincoln when he was a young man was atheist or agnostic or skeptic and he was visited in
the white house by someone who knew him and earlier days found him reading the bible and lincoln says, i don't know how a president can get through the trauma of being a war president without finding spiritual comfort. lbj who was sort of a show protestant, no signs of deep spiritual involvement, by the late 60's he was distraught over vietnam war whose daughter lucy converted took him to catholic church usually in private and johnson got such comfort from this that lady bird johnson told me later on i wouldn't have been a bit surprised if lyndon had converted to catholicism. >> michael, how insightful was it to talk to lady byrd johnson about lbj?
>> unbelievable. she gave her last tv interview to c-span, i think that was around 1999, she loved the interview but felt that she was not quite what she had been before and turned out to be definitive energy, but one thing all war presidents had in common they were all married to strong women and i wish that i could some day say if we ever have to have a war president again the president was married to a strong man, that's something in the future if you'll have me back i will expand the book but she made it possible for lbj to get through that war. i'm not psychiatric qualified but lbj tapes that you and i have talked about that are paranoid, angry, he had -- he was very prone to severe depression. she pulled him up and calmed him down and on these tapes johnson, i put these in the book, johnson
is saying bobby kennedy and martin luther king are paying in chicago to embarrass me lbj and the reason why students on the campus are protesting the vietnam war is because the soviet and chinese communists are telling them to and the reason why senators like william fulbright are against my cars and stuffing cash into his pocket. that's what he said in private and that was not a president who was sort of operating with a full deck, she made it possible for him to get through that war, you know, in a way that was relatively stable, eleanor roosevelt, 1942, fdr was talking about sending japanese americans into camps and she basically said, this isn't necessary for national security, total violation of civil liberties, he did it anyway, the friends thought that was a moment in their marriage that never recovered from and you will note that for the rest of world war
ii fdr kept on telling her i really would like to have you home, i'm lonely, i need the company and she went on all the trips, she kept her distance and i'm convinced that one reason for that was that by interning the japanese americans fdr was showing her maybe we don't have same political ideals after all. >> jonathan in milwaukee, wisconsin, you're on with michael beschloss. >> thank you very much for taking my call, i would like to ask about woodrow wilson, in 1916 famously vow today keep our country out of war. in the election -- >> which was a lie. >> yes, precisely and his election against charles evans hughes was so close that charles evans hughes went to bed thinking he was president and waking up -- woken up to find out no, california went a different way but i wondered if
you -- >> can i -- it's a great point. >> i wondered what you're -- >> go ahead and finish. >> i wonder what your thoughts were if charles evans hughes if he had been elected president how the course of world war i would have been different. >> hard to speculate, he was close to theodore roosevelt who hated woodrow wilson but the one thing to be aware, i'm so glad that you brought up 1916 woodrow wilson whom i think is vastly overrated, he was a horrible racist, he was not a man of his time, his two predecessors were far more progressive on civil rights, this is someone who gave comfort to racist in this country, showed birth of nation celebrating celebrating the ku kluz klan in the white house. the other thing that wilson campaigned in 1916 like the caller is saying, you know,
would have keptous out of war and he will do the same. he knew that we were going to get involved in that war early in the second term and he was telling a falsehood and what drives me crazy is in that very close election of 1916 the people who made the difference were voters in california specifically women in california who could vote in 1916 and they from everything we know hated the idea of war, loved the idea of peace, voted for wilson because they idealistically expected wilson to bring them peace and very soon the second term wilson brings them war and i just hate for our democracy to see a president elected under false pretenses and you can imagine what those women would have thought. >> had woodrow wilson prior to that election had been planning to enter the war? >> he knew we were close, one ship sinking or one incident in the north at lantic by the
germans away of getting involved in war and the problem here is that wilson had been writing wonderful books and journal articles when he was academic for decades saying such things as presidents have to be honest and they have to communicate with the people and once he was in power he did almost the opposite, when the war began, he moved toward authoritarianism and passed the espionage act which still in force, allows president to harass journalists which criticize him, if you are worried about authoritarian president that's the time they abuse power. presidents and war, they can declare marshal law, you know, you may have gotten as i did a presidential alert announcement so-called on iphones a couple of weeks ago perfectly benign but if a president is able to send you messages on iphone any hour of the day or night during a
major war that is beginning that opens up the possibility for authoritarianism. >> and in your book presidents at war michael beschloss writes about liberal democracy, the moment wilson became war president, he grabbed for authority with some of the passion of autocrat claiming that unquestionable powers were absolutely necessary and stepped on civil liberty. tom is calling in from millford, kansas, go ahead, tom, we are listening. >> caller: thank you. two questions, number one, how the nuclear age kind of made the idea of full-blown all-out war unthinkable so that congress wouldn't really want to do it and give the president that kind of authority? and the second question is, when was the last time since 1945 that any nation anywhere actually went to a declaration of war against another country?
>> guest: no declarations of war since 1942. and we've had a couple of nay juror wars since then so we have a problem, i think it's a violation of the constitution and i'm not suggesting that if god forbid tomorrow there's a cyber-attack or terrorist attack, may god forbid, russian missile comes over the north pole that a president should convene congress and debate it for 2 weeks, that's not what i'm talking about. what i'm talking is if there's a major war of the kind that we have seen in recent years, we are now involved in the war in afghanistan has been for 17 years, the longest war in our history about 4 times the length of our involvement in world war ii based on a resolution by congress to let the president use the armed forces and my point is that if there's something like that in the future, he should be required to go to congress and say, i want you to do what the constitution says, declare war, get me a war declaration, let's have a debate. i will tell you how many
americans might have to give their lives, how long this might take, what other sacrifices americans might be required to make. if you don't have a war declaration, the problem is that members of congress can vote for it and then the second the war becomes unpopular and we have seen this happen so many times members of congress said i had no idea that this might lead to war, i was just voting for getting the president authority to use the armed forces, i'm saying that if you have a president of war make sure he's got congress in on the takeoff so when things get rough they can't run away and said the president did something we didn't ask for. >> host: how long did it take to write this book? >> guest: it took 10 years and you were so nice to have me today for a lot of reasons but particularly, you know, i take 10 years to write a book, how much time would i ask for going on for the next 6 hours, but the reason for that is that i found
-- i expected this to take 4 or 5 and covers 200 years and in detail the 8 or 9 presidents and i couldn't read 3 or 4 books on each president and prearchive, i had to research every period as if i were writing a whole book on it and the part of it that i love is to be able to go in and, you know, read other people's mail, for instance, what i try to do is not only talk about the presidents but other key figures that they dealt with in these wars, for instance, spanish american war when the ship was sunk, captain called charles sigsby, a supreme narcissist, terribly involved, the ship sank and hundreds of americans died and sent message to his wife that something like, you know, the ship has sunk, so many of our crew have died, i'm going to have to replace my whole
wardrobe, you begin to get a sense of who these people were, robertson, commander of federal soldiers when the confederacy fired on them and they had to surrender, lincoln turns -- he was a great politician but he had his if i think near the wind because would americans blame anderson for this or would he be a hero, anderson goes to new york, union scare, a couple thousand people, people think anderson is a hero although he surrendered, only then does lincoln get in touch with anderson and basically says i've been mean to go write, why not come and visit to the white house, he wanted some of anderson's and wonderful story, lincoln meets with andersons and says major anderson do you remember having seen me at war and anderson said no, i really don't remember, i'm sorry and lincoln says, i was only involved in a war before one that was the black hawk war in
illinois 1832 and guess who muciónerred me into war service, it was you major anderson and anderson was bulled over, completely charmed, he was a lincoln man for the rest of his life. >> host: next call from michael beschloss comes from robert in california. >> thank you for taking my call. my thing is -- when i was a young teenager i remember the press, president johnson, you are familiar with the daisy commercial -- >> fall of '64. >> that's where the little girl pulling up and -- they are saying he's crazy man, he will blow up the whole world and i'm scared, i'm believing and they are saying in goldwater, maybe one state in all of that and then later on, three of my friends were killed in vietnam
and i was so mad at johnson, i never voted. i have not voted to this day, i was so mad at that and i was wondering how did we get pulled in by the media and johnson and goldwater wasn't really such a bad man and i want to see your comment on this? are goldwater was a much better than than he seemed at the time. there's a moment on the johnson tapes that i quote from in the book in early 1965 and lbj was talking to secretary of defense who is one of the villains of the vietnam war, had been urging johnson to get in a big way and the same month february of '65 johnson is sending huge numbers of young americans off to vietnam and telling them he expects to win, in private he's talking and he says, i can't think of anything worse than losing the war in vietnam and i don't see any way to win and he
goes onto tell lady byrd that year in private about war in vietnam, i feel as if i'm in a plane that's crashing and i do not have a parachute. so the point i'm making is that johnson had enormous heart, he was going against his instinct. he allowed himself to be convinced that vietnam war was essential for us to win the cold war, of course, we know with 2020 hindsight that was not true but i'm so sorry to hear what you told me because even at the beginning of this war in private lbj was skeptical that could ever be won and i wish i could have gone through time or some other historian and just told him, listen to yourself, you're saying saying the war cannot be won, if that's what you think in private, a, you should say so and also in public and b, if that's what you think, get out of the war, we shouldn't be there. thank you so much, thank you so much for family sacrifice. >> two follow-ups to robert's
question, what did you think of apology tour? >> i thought it was dreadful and because one of the sub texts of that book is that he was not that much to blame for vietnam and quoted directly that we were all to blame. we were not all to blame. it's certainly not equally. he was the one that told lbj if president kennedy were alive he would have escalated, big deal, if you do it you'll be subject to criticism for that nonfulfilling treaty obligations. he did not know that lbj had made tapes of private conversation which max had not heard before he published the book in mid-1990 and bad luck for him because you listen to those tapes and they show that some of what he has written in the book did not turn out to be true and lbj was -- had sort of
last word. >> host: second follow-up, robert suggested that presidents used war as political tool, was this a common theme among the presidents that you covered and presidents at war? >> presidents are tempted, james polk used war not to run for reelection basically because he pledged to serve only one term, but this was one way that he could get something that he felt he couldn't get any other way which was actually trying to get more land for the united states to help make out a nation that spanned the continent, the problem in modern times, i'm worried that a modern president would look at george h.w. bush who wage it is persian gulf war about 6 weeks, his numbers go up to 90% and it horrifies me to talk in these terms but after national tragedy after 9/11 people unit behind the president and even president trump in 2011
tweeted saying, watch out because barack obama, i predict will get us involved in a war to get reelected. i think that's always a dangerous thing in the mind of a president to link the possibility of our being involved in major war and i'm not predicting that and president trump's case or anyone else, i never want to see a modern president even word march toward war if politics are being discussed. if you go to founders that's specifically they designed the system to avoid and i think they would say we didn't do our job. >> kenneth, richmond, kentucky, please go ahead for michael beschloss. >> yes, sir, thank you. sir, i'm a retired marine officer and retired a couple of times but there's been some books in my history that really impacted me and -- and two of them are walk's books winds of
war and also john jay books of northern and south trilogy. now there are three books out today that are affecting me and affect society just as much, your book, george's book in leadership and john beachum's book soul of american, sir, this is more or less an opinion question, it seems that coincidental that books are published in times that we need them the most and yet you worked on this 10 years ago and other officers didn't sit down and type them up and get then published, what do you think causes people to -- to not -- not causes but the gift of these books at this times that we need in our national -- in our national politics right now? i'd like to listen to what your -- >> host: that's a really interesting question. tieing three books together. >> guest: thank you, yes, good
company. i think that we are in a time that as troubled and sometimes confusing as the time that we are living through politically sometimes you look to and an earlier period for context and the same thing to presidents, if i had to ask for qualities i want to see in a president, one is i'd want a president who knows about history. harry truman probably read about in presidential history than anyone else. when he was a kid he had thick glasses, parents said we can't afford to replace them and truman said i read every book in public library which i thought it was an exaggeration, it was a small library, he probably did. when i was having to make tough decisions like firing mcarthur and whether or not to use atomic bomb, i looked to presidents but enough similarity that i would have inside that would help me
make the decision, perhaps andrew jacksons, abraham lincoln did, one thing that truman said not all readers would be leaders but every leader has to be a reader because this is my language not his but why would you if you were president or all of us as citizens and voters why ever would you want to deny yourself the collective wisdom of billions of people who walked the earth and found out what mistakes they made and what successes they had particularly previous presidents and generations of americans. what the founders wanted was a country to be very different from england and in one way particularly. in england there wasn't much history because documents weren't released and what was written basically said the king was perfect and everything was wonderful. they wanted us to do the opposite. they wanted us to absolutely scrutinize what earlier presidents and earlier generations of citizens had done and learn the lessons as quickly
as possible and that's one reason why the founders felt very strongly that we should keep very exact records of what our presidents do and release them to the public as soon as possible so that we can learn the lessons quickly. >> host: marie, el paso, good afternoon. >> yes, my question is and perhaps you already touched a little bit on it. is it possible to curve the presidential power of they being able to send troops without ever declaring war or just sending troops anywhere he wants for example, here along the border where i live sending troops to keep the caravan that is crossing méxico from coming into the united states. >> host: thank you, ma'am. >> caller: it's a really great point and in history the times that we do best are when we have congressional leaders especially
of a president's own party to tell him that's he's doing wrong, that's what the founders wanted. they wanted pushback, they wanted criticism, if you have a president that behaves like a king and doesn't take criticism and basically says if you're criticizing me, you're criticizing the soldiers, basically shut up, that's what they did, lyndon johnson weighs vietnam war but senate majority leader hated the war, told him all of the time, this is what you can do better, same thing with other senate leaders. there was an effort in the early 1970's that you probably know about, the war powers act to limit president's ability to just send troops for all sorts of reasons and limit it to a number of weeks after which they have to get congress to approve it or withdraw, hasn't worked very well, most presidents have said that they think it's unconstitutional but i love what our el paso caller has said and we have a real problem which i
try to write about. >> host: president trump sending troops to the border, let's go back to founding fathers, is there a clear line of authority from them to what he wants to do? >> guest: they were worried about presidents using armed forces for blatant domestic political reasons so if a historian like me 40 years from now is confirmed looking at this in history and says if this is true that donald trump sent these armed forces to the border to help his party's prospect in the midterms, you know, if it looks that way in 40 years and then barely talked about this kavanaugh -- talked about brett kavanaugh but didn't barely talk about the caravan after the election were in, i think that historian would say that the founders would look very much at the use of troops for political reasons, but one of the differences in looking at this as historian which i do first
someone looking at it in realtime i think that it take about 30 or 40 years to finally have a judgment and you always have to keep your mind open to the possibility of different scenarios and that's why it's exciting to do this kind of work because i look at james polk differently, james madison, woodrow wilson i'm really mean and friends of wilson scholars, i'm sure i drive them crazy, i don't -- even harry truman 1950, he took us into korea without asking for a war declaration from congress and that opened the war, that opened the door for later presidents to do the same thing which was not a great thing for the united states in my opinion. >> host: let's hear from one more caller and this is paula in washington, d.c., paula, you're on with historian michael beschloss. >> honored to be the last caller. michael --