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tv   In Depth In Depth with Geraldine Brooks  CSPAN  December 25, 2018 5:00pm-8:01pm EST

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publishers weekly, is terry westover 's memoir about her life working up in the idaho mountains. in her introduction to formal education at age 17 in, educated. some of these authors have appeared on booktv and you can watch them online at booktv.org. ... the >> in and i'm booked to the assembly program "in depth" a pulitzer prize-winning author geraldine brooks. her books include "march," "caleb's crossing" and most
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recently "the secret chord." the pulitzer prize in 2006 for her novel, "march." >> host: geraldine brooks, do you write historical fiction? >> guest: that is what i write. trinity was your approach? >> guest: usually i hear a story from the past that is incredible. something that if you made it up, nobody would believe. i love what mark twain once said that section must be plausible, truth needn't be. so i look for an implausible truth. something that actually happened. then my question is how much can we know. because you can know everything about that implausible truth and
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it's a job for a narrative historian. so i'm looking for an implausible truth about which we can now interesting things, but we can't know everything because the historical record has fallen silent for the voices of the protagonists at the time there were not recorded. the unheard voices from the past. and then i know it's a job for me. >> host: how many levels does not take to get to one of your books? how many levels of imagination, research? >> guest: it starts with overhearing something or a notation on a map or an artifact, a belt buckle dug up on the porch of my house. it can be anything that gives me the initial idea appeared that
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happened and that's incredible. and then i have to find out who's going to tell me the story. who is going to be willing to rise up out of the grave and start talking to me. when i can hear that voice i can start writing. "in >> host: in your pulitzer prize-winning "march" come and yet didn't know and read little women before read this book? >> guest: i don't think you do, but it's fun if you have. i tried to stay very much out of her way. i wouldn't have the chutzpah to rewriting louisa may. but i wanted to take the words she had left in the beloved children's story and add some darker adult residents to a. it is the story of the absent father in little women in the
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hear about him on the very first page of the novel and we hear that i'm not end-stage, rather dangerous age to do such a thing he has gone south to minister to the union troops because of his abolitionist convictions. and that we don't hear much more about him at all. and in the book as it was originally published ends with a reunion when he comes back having survived a life-threatening illness he comes home and goes around the room and tells each of his daughters how he thinks they've changed in the year he's been away. luisa may doesn't tell us a single thing about what the year has done to him and how he's changed to the bout was the void i had to work in. >> host: how much research went into this book? >> guest: that won a considerable amount. we were living in a little
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village in virginia in the foothills of the blue ridge mountains and it's a time of the very initial history because it was settled by quakers in 1733 and they allowed blacks to settle in the village which was illegal under the virginia motta at that time, but the quakers took that as civil disobedience. a real crisis of conscience that some of the young men of the village thought that the ideal of freedom over it was more significant and so they take up as quakers to fight on the union side. and so that's a pretty astonishing thing. the house we were living in at the time i knew had been the residence of the quaker family
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and mother were doing some renovation and the court yet with nonunion soldiers felt a call. i thought about that young man and him being read out at those meetings and taking up arms and being held by an ideal that he went off to war anyway. i've always been interested in the subject of idealists. you go to war because of a fierce and passionate belief in an idea but often acquire to do things that are against the very principles that take you there in the first place. in literature there is this idealists out for and we don't know what happened to him. then i turned my attention to what was it in massachusetts and
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that the father of the little women, but with the ipad? >> host: is a based on the outcrop family? >> guest: i didn't intend it to be, but that was one of the most wonderful things. these kind of get snowman on your desk very often. i thought well they made based the characters on her sister's interest elf. maybe there should some little detail in her father's site that i could use help me create the character. and i'm really embarrassed now that i didn't know who bronson alcott was. ron charles to review the book put it more eloquently than i could. if they were the shining stars of american idealism, bronson
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alcott is the matter from which they drew their energy in the three of them all live together in concord and exchanged ideas throughout their creative life. he was such a radical. you as a radical educator. he has school is considered progressive schools even today. he was a radical animal rights activists. not only vacant, but he wouldn't wear wool because he thought it was the rightful property in an abolitionist in the underground railroad. so there's a time to work with there to create my victorian idealists. >> host: in fact in the afterward you said mr. alcott wouldn't kill the worms they were eating the apples. gusto he was a wonderful thinker and a vastly impractical provider. >> host: is grace clement your
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creation? >> guest: she is a fictional creation, but her voice is very much in line the voice of jacob in the narrative called incident in the life of a slave girl written by herself and was given grace a very different situation and back story. the voice is very much harriet jacobs voice. >> host: did the ideas survive civil war? >> guest: about is the question the reader is left to ponder it the end of the book is how is this damaged man going to put his life back together? i hope it ends on a somewhat optimistic note. >> host: you used a technique in here where you had two first-person voices. >> guest: that was the case of the story telling me what i needed to do.
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i think it brings the reader very directly into this story and the voice tells you the person as in who they are help you to know how they're going to act. but in this case it's heading to the one thing we now, which is that he contracted a life-threatening illness and he's laying in one of the makeshift hospitals here in washington d.c. where they turned every available building into a hospital for the wounded and the mother of the little women is called to his bedside and louisa may dispatches her to washington, but she doesn't follow her there. so i followed her there and then i had the choice because if you're first-person protagonist is delirious and semiconscious come either you have to do some kind of extraordinary experiment
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in writing from a subconscious or you can use it as an opportunity. i found as well as being interested in the idea in the thing of idealists at war, the book had taken a life of its town had also become the story of communication in marriage and how in war disrupts trust in marriage and actually after the book was published, i heard a lot from people who at that time had spouses serving in iraq risking his man. he said this is exactly what happened to last. he didn't want to tommy about the terrible things that he was confronting on the battlefield. i didn't want to burden him with the fact that i founded in the kid's bedroom in these important things are happening in our lives on parallel tracks and
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then when he came home, we had a golf that we had to bridge. this idea of miscommunication in marriage and at that point it was a wonderful opportunity to put the point of view and she recasts a lot of the incidence he is described and we see how gravely he has misconstrued her meaning. >> host: with them or what was mr. march in love with? >> guest: mr. march is on love with his wife, his curls, his ideals. i think is very good to grace clement who is a woman he meets when he is a connecticut peddler
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selling my biggest to call yankee notions which is something bronson actually did himself as a young man so i was able to base my fictional account on his account of what that was like. he meets this young and late lamented because of his ideals, he becomes attracted to the idea of her and she becomes something very important in his mind and has an infatuation between them. >> host: at the end, geraldine brooks, you either think or apologize to her husband for not getting out of the car at antietam battlefield. >> guest: well, my husband -- the polite way to describe it would be a civil war enthusiast. the impolite way we've been married for 14 years before we been foreign correspondents to
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"the wall street journal" around the world in the middle east and africa and the balkans and covering contemporary conflicts. so i hadn't quite realized how deep this obsession went with him until we moved to some town in virginia and there is a saying that the civil war was fought in 10,000 places and it soon became depressingly evident to me that we were going to visit every single one of them. and i did get out of the car at antietam the first time, but the third time i became childish and decided not to. >> host: is probably another move since you're raised in australia. >> guest: that's true. the fascination with the civil war extends far beyond this country and i wrote a paper on it when i was in high school. i can remember the title. it was the object of four is a more perfect peace discussed. >> host: sudan the interviewer
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and on our facebook page she asks this question. how long does the research take to develop a character and stay in character? she's selecting this book for what group in january. >> guest: wonderful. i think that it's very hard to put a time frame around an individual book is often your thinking about the next one while you're still working on the present one. i've likened it to be in in a long relationship and going off to a party. you know the defects of the person you've been in a long relationship with that they come back and drop their sandy towels on the floor. and then you see someone across the room and they're all bright and shiny and charming and you think they don't drop their towels on the floor. that's like a new book idea.
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you haven't seen the difficulties of it yet. he don't know how hard it will actually be to engage in books on every book has turned out to be disappointingly a towel dropper. to answer the question, i tend not to do a tremendous amount of research up front because they think there is a danger in not letting the research drive the story. you find something that's just interesting menu wedged in there whether this story needs it or not. i think it seems to work at her for me once i've got that voice in my head and i'm working to the ark of whatever story fascinated me to let this story start, is to start writing them up to writing tell me what i need to know. so if i need to know what kind of buildings in washington were
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pressed into service as emergency bill passed the bills i wait until i get there and then i go and find that out. this is something i've been doing from the beginning because i got some great advice on how just about to embark on my historical novel in charles frazier cold mountain is one of my favorite books. he said that he is among the libraries in cold mountain took in more than a decade to write because you would go down alleyways of fascinating research that had nothing to do with the book he was writing. finally i think it was around three or 11. said charles, this has to stop. we have to have a new role if you go to the library you need to show me three things and then you come back and incorporate
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them in the fiction. i think i'm remembering it correctly. but in any way, i took that advice to live by. i let the story drive the research. once i've got what i need to move the story forward i'll go into the next bit. >> host: what select to win a pulitzer prize? >> guest: it does not suck. [laughter] it was a wonderful fantastic -- the day that it was announced coming in no, when you're a journalist as i was more than a decade, you're very aware of the day the pulitzers are going to be announced because you either have to congratulate or commiserate with them. everyone is waiting around the newsroom. i have left journalism long behind and was actually a fellow
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at the recluse institute at harvard that year and i was playing hooky. it was my son's first day of the spring breaks or just decided to stay at home and spend a day with him. he was into a thing called warhammer where you paint is little figurines and then you have imaginary scenarios with him. we've been painting and it was like a minute past three and was my old editor from "the wall street journal." he said this is fantastic. this is wonderful. you're great. i had no idea what he was talking about. that said you don't know? you just won a pulitzer prize. i said i haven't done any journalism. he said uganda for your novel. i thought he's been out to a long lunch in these mixed me up. then i hung up on him basically. but then of course the phone
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immediately rang again and again and again and was very exciting and at one point it was my publisher sent flowers straight over and mom can't come right now. she's so dizzy she just got the poet surprise. last night >> host: geraldine brooks, and where does year of wonders take place? >> guest: year of wonders, my first novel takes place in an actual royal village in england. and i was still working as foreign charis fonda in the middle east and i had a very rare couple of days off based in london at this point because tony, my husband, was covering europe for "the wall street journal." and so i would fly back from hot, dusty places and i'd be
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craving somewhere what in green. so we went for a hike or more called a ramble in the peach district. a wonderful foot path where you have ancient rights away through private property from village to village and it was something we love to do. this particular day we saw a post that said the name of the town and underneath it said play village. not many places try to attract visitors, but it worked for us. we went there. and in the church they had an historical exhibit about what had happened in this village in 1665 when it ordered a bolt of cloth from london were the plague was raging and unfortunately the cloth -- and
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people started to die, starting with the taylor and the people in the house where he was sporting spreading out in the way that plague us. and then something unusual happened. this is one of those implausible truth moments. the village took the unique decision to voluntarily climb itself rather than would normally happen, which is everybody to save their own lands with the plague into other communities. they decided to take this massive act of self-sacrifice. >> host: did you know you saw the word plague village that you had a book fair? >> guest: goodness no.
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i had no idea that i was going to be a novelist. i love to journalism. that's been a correspondent to "the wall street journal." it was a privilege to bear witness to some of the places in the world where you see american foreign policy be acted out in people's lives and you try and bring the truth about two people who can maybe make a difference. i loved that job. i never thought of it as doing anything other than be a journalist really. not seriously from the time i was eight years old. i was where i wanted to be. there's something about that story took root in my imagination and i started to think about the decisions that people had made and what it would be like to come to a consensus like that driven by faith in the sense of doing the right thing. but then to suffer the
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consequence is a decision. and i started to run that example up against things i was seeing in my working life like is the plague on the village is the way i'm seeing it at dean on this kurdish man where his kind and solve a depth of heroism and kindness that he didn't know we had for a setback to non-them like this office torturer who's going to the darkest extremity in cruelty. i just became fascinated by the question of how people change by catastrophe. and i guess the story grew in my mind and the day came i was reporting in nigeria on the
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massacre of subsistence farmers shall oil have actually called the nigerian will it carry into deal with this peaceful protest and people have been killed in the most brutal way. i was reporting that story and i wound up getting arrested and handed over to the nigerian police into a lockup and i was laying on the concrete floor and wondering how long they were going to keep me in keeping of all the journalist had been detained for years and kerry andersen came into my mind in his eight-year captivity and i thought eight years. i'll be too old to get pregnant. and it had never crossed my mind that this job i had and having a
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family were not that compatible with each other. anyway, they deported me three days later and i came home and greeted my husband with great enthusiasm and our son was born the following year. and at that point i didn't want to be going off to places where you might get thrown in the slammer or worse. so i made the decision that i get a new gig in the story was very much in my mind and i'd written nonfiction at that time in bed one a lovely award to encourage writing in australia and it came with a bit of money and i thought of going to use that money and take some time and see if this story could be a novel. and that's how i started writing
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year of wonders. >> host: your first two books were nonfiction books. >> guest: the first one was a journalist book. it was a book of what i have learned after six years under russell not this time when women are turning toward this kind of islam and it really, you know, defined the way i reported the region because i was so interested in the story is that women had to tell how they negotiated their lives and societies are they had no apparent public roller power. there's a lot of private power that people didn't see. so that was the first book is the second book was much more personal and more of a hybrid. the foreign correspondent in question is largely my penpals that i had when i was a little girl growing up in sydney and i try to connect with the rest of the world by writing to kids my
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age in the middle east, in israel, in france and here in the united states. and so, when i was going through my father's cases, i found it kept all those letters from a hollywood penpals. i'm going to see if i can find them and see how life has treated them. so foreign correspondence with bob cannot list the book that you need a campbell award in australia and i use that time to try fiction and luckily for me if somebody wanted to greeted. >> host: wide use the word rundlewonders in the title? >> guest: at the famous poem by john dryden and it deals with the plague year in the great fire in london. you have to take a more biblical view of the word when pharaoh
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cause bozos -- when god calls moses to confront pharaoh, he says with this stop you will do my wonders. the wonders are pretty terrible bringing down plague and death on the egyptians. so god works in mysterious ways to perform. plague is a very mysterious way and yet even out of the greatest tragedies, some amazing good can come. so it's all of those connotations. my publishers were unconvinced that a book about the plague should have the title year of wonders, but i'm glad i persisted. >> host: what did they want to call it? >> guest: we didn't get that far. i dug my heels in and said no. >> host: hotted on a end up
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nigeria? >> guest: so, oil or alert. so, and as the young miner's widow who takes him be entirely fictional character. siva suggested to me in one of the few documents in the plague years, which was by the minister process for showing my made continued in-house, which was a blessing. anyway, there's nothing else on the record about this made, so i made her up as anna. she's young, got two babies. she's a widow. the taylor dies, her children died in she's last in this quarantine village and she finds the most amazing resources in herself and she grows so much in
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this year and she was so inspired to me by women i have seen grow and change because of catastrophes when i was reporting the young girl who had been raised in a village so conservative that they still hot for girls are separated wife wasn't allowed to address her then. this young woman went on to lead troops into battle against the ethiopian army and became a military commander. so when you see an actual change like that, it emboldens u.s.a. fiction writer to allow your character is to also change. and so, she by necessity because the midwife was killed, has to learn to deliver babies. she finds a great passion for
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healing. she learns how to use the hubs of the village to strengthen people's health to resist disease and the various complicated reasons needs to leave the town at the end of the book. i knew that she was going to leave because the actual truth is that it did not really recover. the plague and dead, but the village itself was mentally traumatized, physically destroyed in terms of people's beliefs in themselves and just a very dark time. i didn't want to leave her in a dark time. i wanted to take her somewhere completely different. and so i started researching
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whether it would be plausible for a single woman of that time to make the kind of journey i wanted to send her run. i found so many extraordinary journeys by 17th century women. the one i used as the model for what became of her i didn't follow it exactly because it would have been too impossible. but actually, to irish women laugh to migrate to the american colony and sent on their way their ship was hijacked and they were headed for the slave market of north africa except that their skills as midwives and healers instead led them to evers acted position in the town where they ended up. i decided to leave out the pirates, but i wanted to send him somewhere where she could use these new skills that she had learned. i heard this little app go of
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the plague in my head and not of course being a little bit playful i just decided to send her to algeria. >> host: it sounds like you could attach to your characters. >> guest: some of them very much so. i miss anna. she was terrific. mr. march, i was glad to wave them goodbye. >> host: he had a rough time though, didn't he? >> guest: i have a soft spot for this type of guy. impractical idealist. the guy who goes out there to change the world and we need these people. but somebody has to be coming behind them with a dust pan and brush cleaning up their messes, putting their food on the table, doing all the missus days that a great idealist doesn't necessarily consider. >> host: well, this is montana
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but to these daschle edition of into and we are pleased with the prize-winning best-selling author geraldine brooks is our guest this month. she's written five novels beginning in 2001 which we discussed a little bit. marge came out of 2005, won the pulitzer. people of the book 2008. "caleb's crossing" in 2011 and her most recent is "the secret chord" and we will discuss those as we go this afternoon. but we do want to make sure that you know how to contact us if you have a question or comment from his works. (202)748-8200 and eastern and central time zones. 748-8201 in the mountain pacific time zones. now we are going to roll through as well by social media sites. they are all at booktv, facebook, instagram as well as twitter. so we will scroll through those. we've got a little more talking
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to do before we get the calls, boil it to make sure you're aware will be getting to your calls we appreciate that. i have written down here so you know i'm not cheating. you've already discussed several of these things. this is my list of themes that you talk about in all of your books and we'll see how i do on the test here in a minute. one of the things i wrote down his vivid descriptions. this comes from the year of wonders. if you're eating you might want to put up food down as i read this. george vickers lay with his head pushed to the side by a lump the size of the newborn piglet. a great shiny yellow purple knob of pulsing flash than the purple burst all of a sudden like a pea pod and issuing forth creamy costs all spotted through what shreds of dead/. the sickly sweet smell of apples
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was gone replaced by a stench of week old fish. >> guest: job. >> host: that's vivid. bigotry is important to you. >> guest: well, i think if you're going to write about war, if you're going to write about these things, you have to confront them face on. i have no time for you from the. so when i decided to go there, i go there. in my research at and i talked to doctors and i read medical text books. my mind is full of a lot of things i wish i didn't know. that's the price of admission i think. >> host: how long did it take to write a sentence like that? >> guest: gosh, i have no idea. sometimes, you know, you have a
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really inspired a writing where every word just falls into place. and other days not. i lived on martha's vineyard now. we have allotted beautiful old stone walls all around us. even walk in the woods you'll encounter beautiful as don wall because land that was once used for grazing sheep has gone back to being forest again. i think a lot about the people who made those walls and i think writing is a lot like because i bet someday you'll find exactly the right stone in the right shape and it looks good. it got the right patina. you put it in place and then suddenly there is another one and benefits per play. and on those days it goes up straight and true. on other days i bet you can't do
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that to balance in the wall is unstable and unsightly and if you're honest with yourself the only thing to do is push it over and start again. the main thing about it is you still have the cute listing the rocks i think writing is very much like that. you have to do the work and sundays you get the sentence that you want another stay you get a sentence but it's no good and all you can do is come back the next day but you've got something to work with. >> host: are you disciplined your writing habits? >> guest: i try to be. i try to treat it like a dog. i go to my desk, sit at my desk and i was inspired by a man whose a sculptor. her name is sarah's knee. she said her process is less
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mass. and i love that because you can't make art every day. you can make a mess every day. and out of that mess, maybe art can come. if you don't make the mass, you've got nothing. >> host: people of the book. are you hannah? >> guest: know, hannah is the opposite of me. >> host: she's australian. >> guest: she is australian. she's my generation. the only thing we have in common is a liking for certain slightly out of date australian vernacular and flying that nobody uses anymore, but i love those words and i keep using them, so i let her as well. but when i knew i was going to have who was my age, western sydney sim, wanted everything else about her to be different.
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my mother was my best friend. i was very fortunate in my relationship with a mother. we laughed, we joked, we saw the world in the same way i wanted to imagine a relationship that would be the polar opposite of that so i gave her a terrible relationship with her mother. my upbringing was lower middle class, in no way privileged. i gave her an extremely privileged to regain. so she's quite different. >> host: what is the hokkaido? >> guest: a god god is the book that jewish families use that passover to relate the story of the exodus from egypt. so every year, every jewish family would get out there has been maybe one for everybody at the table and you'll take turns reading and telling the story of
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the jewish were enslaved in europe and what happened when moses could rent to sarah and then hopefully widen the discussion to say who is still in slate today and what work is left to be done to bring human beings, freedom and dignity. so that the way it's supposed to go. the memoir if you like helps tell the story. >> host: at essentially plain, straightforward? >> guest: they, not colors and flavors. there is some absolutely exquisite works of art. there are some that are just really cheap, just very basic. there are some that are philosophically rich with many different readings and interpretations. the one that is at the center of people of the book is a very
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important small codecs created we think in distant century spain. "in >> host: so it exists? >> guest: it exists it is a series of miracles but it exists. that's my impossible truth that this little hebrew book divides the expulsion of the from spain survives its journey across europe. there was almost in the fires in the inquisition was saved by catholic priest at that time. they traveled across the pediatric and was saved from the looters trying to get all the treasures of the european judaism. it was saved by religious muslims and hidden among the carranza and the mosques to keep it out of hands. and then it was again in the bosnian war during the shelling
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of sarajevo once again by a month on librarian. it's remarkable that we still have this book. its creation was also remarkable. we don't really know why, but at the time it was made, it was thought that some five didn't practice in a figurative thought because of the claimant thou shall not make any likeness of anything and jews took it seriously. yet, here is this book on not time full of wonderful painting. miniatures show in the story of the exodus from egypt. in the illustrations, moses is in spanish and the landscapes of spain.
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so it is a remarkable artifact if you weren't interested in medieval jewish light, interested in the history of art because when this book came to light everybody had to reconsider the belief that didn't display with likeness of every kind of thing. so its creation on the how it came to be, why it was so lavishly illustrated with gold and silver leaves and a very pensive pigment like ultramarine which had to come all the way from that guinness fan. so, it's really some pain. i've been lucky enough to spend time. i did not touch it, but i was in the room bali conservator hired by unesco was doing the work is stabilizing it so it could be put on exhibition after the bosnian war ended.
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this book is very important to the people of sarajevo because it's a symbol of the survivor of the multi-up a good deal of that city. and so, i sat with her for several days while she worked on the book. when you first see it, you wouldn't even pick it out. the cover is very dingy. it was rebound a couple hundred years ago rather badly and soiled. but when you open it, the eliminations are as fresh as it was painted yesterday. it's quite an extraordinary thing. >> host: without giving away the ending, does the live-in sarajevo? >> guest: it is in theory a vote. the national museum. it's been a struggle. the bosnian war ended, but he is has never been entirely achieved at the level you would hope it would be.
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the cultural history of the country and who has the right to tell history and whose story should be told. if you're trying to have a national museum, there's not a lot of enthusiasm so that the museum has not enclosed. the book goes on and off display. the sub pop mall situation put it mildly. >> host: to quote from the people of the book, how can you have a religious war in a place where no one ever goes to church. >> guest: this is what a lot of bosnians that to me that before the war you can have a mosque in a synagogue and a christian church all within a block of each other in syria about and everybody thinks of them as lovely, cultural artifacts from the past it was very low level engagement and
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religion. talking about a place after world war ii. so religion was downplayed. but then, this willingness to demonize seems to be a virus that human beings readily infect dead over and over again in our history that the other is less than you and subhuman and not worthy. so that terrible ideology bubbled up yet again in the osha nationalists fighting, the croatians were fighting, and when somebody tells you that they're fighting, then suddenly you might crack that i mean on the koran has never looked in and people have become actually more committed to their identity since the war.
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>> host: so, the venice portion back story of this book, the vienna back story. those come from here? >> guest: no, the only thing that entirely came for my imagination is the story of the book is spain. because we have nothing really to go on except a couple in the illustrations that associated with two common jewish families, but that day. we don't know how it was created, who the artist was then a sorcerer who wrote the hebrew words. we don't know who that person was. we don't know who got it out of the country because so many jewish books were lost at that time. then we know that it was by catholic priest in venice because his signature in the date is on the way for you says there's nothing against the catholic church that doesn't
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have to be destroyed. except that is not true. at that time, there was a lot of what would have been considered massive heresy and decided to overlook it. he was moved by objects of art and also my research told me that the catholic priest who worked in the censorship of hebrew books have taken us two ideas to play with that closed in on history and world war ii, although that was wonderful for me because i love to actually find out some historical truths. i was researching the world war ii story on the librarian who saved the book. there were lots of different
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accounts had been printed about what happened to the book within the library that he climbed on a drain pipe to get out of the library. i'm thinking, this is in living memory. there should be an answer to this question. i actually traced his needs are working for the state department teaching about this language to u.s. diplomat and she agreed to meet with me and she brought some papers and we met here in washington. she laid them all out and she looked up at me and said you really want to know what happened during world war ii, you should ask uncle i.c.e. i had no idea he would have a living videocassette or yes, much younger than uncle. so i sat with her and she told me about the day so vivid in her memory that a german general, a real group had come into the
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library and demanded that out of because hitler had this intensely corrupt idea that after all the jewish had been killed and he picked the real estate and he was systematically losing to this museum and the idea was they would have christians reenact the jewish population and they would dress up in aberdeen's and pears and walk around in this museum precinct. well, the librarian was not going to hand over this book to the nazis indicated in the waste bin of his pants and went to speak to the general instead i'm
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so sorry, but one of your junior officers already came to the library and of course it was given to him. if they do, name the man. he said generally did make a sybase to demand the name of the officer and he took it home at lunchtime and crocker told me about the stress of this book and what were they going to do with it. and then he had the brilliant idea that he would take it to a mosque in the mountains. >> host: so that part of the book is true. i wrote down more in lost history. a lot of history gets lost during war. >> guest: and culture and art. yes, as well as lines. >> host: welcome was that a couple callers on hold.
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let's hear from them before we move on to a couple of other geraldine brooks books you david, rochester, new york. you're on the air. good afternoon. >> caller: good afternoon. thank you. guess i have a questioning. i'm interested in how the historical novel works like an historian in many of the same way as. you unearth new facts here you go where the facts are. i'm just wondering did any historical novelists influence you when you started out being historical novelists and what looks do you like today that you enjoy reading? >> guest: that's a wonderful question. thank you for that question. it's true we do work like historians. i think following the line as far as that lead and it's when
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that line starts to become faint and then fade until at some discernible that's where you have to take the leap into imagination. but i try not to take that leap until i absolutely do. i've been inspired by so many wonderful writers. in the past, the one that set me on the track to doing what i do with the way i do it as the british writer, mary reynolds, but wrote about the ancient greeks. my favorite book and it remains my favorite even though she's written many, many wonderful books about the ancient world is called the persian boy and it tells the story of alexander the great years of conquest, but it tells them through the eyes of a minor player in the persian munich that was given after he
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conquered persia. what she does i find so remarkable. so you're in the habit of this young boy as he is taken from his family home and enslave. you're in a very different place. his pathology is completely different. what is right and wrong in many cases, culturally a huge gap stands between my character in the reader and yet she connected to him because the human emotions there's a millionaire and so recognizable. and so i never got to meet her. she passed away some years ago now. but i think she must have believed as i do that no matter how the physical props of our lives change, there are strong emotions of love and hate and the desire to live and see
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children live. those are the things that unite us through time. so she uses those commonalities of human emotion to really connect with the story. i follow in her footsteps and that's what i try to do. right now i think hillary mantell, were watching a masterpiece being created with her trilogy, the first two volumes and bring up the bodies i think into the characters who was, how shall i put this, henry the eighth dick cheney perhaps. the dark eminence who made things happen around henry the eighth. you feel like she must've been cromwell in the past life. everything about this man rings
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so true it is such a complicated character. so i really love what she's doing and i cannot wait for her to finish the final volume of the trilogy. hillary, get on with it. >> host: she a friend of yours? >> guest: i have met her and she was very supportive of my first novel. so she's a wonderful person but i haven't seen her for many years. i am so thrilled for the success and recognition. i hope she'll get a third. i also love an american historical novel by the novelist brian hall that re-creates the journey of lewis and clark. the title is i should be extremely happy in your company in. for hillary mantell takes a deep
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dive into a consciousness, brian hall does something quite extraordinary in that he tells the story of this expedition into the unknown from several different voices and he is equally convincing when he's in the mind of meriwether lewis or when he is in the mind of most remarkably i think one of the most fascinating elements of that expedition is certainly a reason that it exceeded. brian went to the effort of learning so that he could have the thought back over forms of shoshana. so obviously he didn't write it. it's in english. but he create are very convinced
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thing and very different way of looking not in describing the world for her. anyway, i love that book. i think it's absolutely marvelous. >> host: another one of the team that i picked up from her books, strong female characters who exhibit the feminism of their day. >> guest: yeah, you know, a couple said brooks character sound like modern feminists. and i was a to those critics, go and read some 17th century court documents are often not the only time you can find women speaking in their own words because the court transcript is taken verbatim. it's amazing how come you know, i think were a little bit -- a little bit arrogant of us bit arrogant as contemporary feminists who think were the only women who ever realized that the deal wasn't fair, that the deck was stacked.
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women have known this all along and one with women are dragged into court as they so often are in the church courts of new england, for example, women would be accused of being a scold and that meant you were never heard criticizing a man in public. .. very quickly, a couple of quotes from caleb's crossings. colonial archives contained no surviving female diaries before 1700 and very few letters. and then the character is quoted as saying what a remarkable
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thing it was that the rare time a woman's voice my he heard in our church was when she was asked to trading herself. >> that's right. you have to get up and confess to your terrible crime. >> kind of deserved it. >> caleb's crossing is very close to home. it's mostly on the island. cambridge massachusetts. it was a lovely place. martha's vineyard, you know, an island 7 miles off the coast of massachusetts. i always wondered why english
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colonists went there. in the 1630s. why would you put 7 miles of difficult ocean currents between yourself and the only other place that there is anyone that likes you on the mainland. when i went to live on martha's vineyard, i was studying the history of the island. the answer was interesting. these people wanted to get out from under the massachusetts state colony. having been swept around the world on the winds of religious freedom, they got here and were not willing to extend that freedom to anyone else. their freedom of what was religiously correct became taliban like. the first few settlers were very
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much inspired by their own quest to do their own thing. very prototypical americans. of course, they arrived on an island with maybe 3000 indians. the dynamic between the small band of english colonists was fascinating. i first got the idea for the crossing, i was thrilled to have these neighbors. the tribe is still very vibrant on the island. i wanted to learn more about the tribe i went up to the tribal headquarters. they are a marvelous resource. they gave me a map of the island with all of the place names and the places that were of special significance to the tribe. right where we were living was in annotation that said place of the first american graduate of
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harvard. i thought terrific. maybe i will see them at the farmers market. i thought it would make sense. you know. what have opened the door a crack. let the native americans in. the civil rights movement. the tribal recognition at that time. then i blinked and saw it again. sixty-five. native american raised in this culture on an island. latin and greek. it was in latin and greek. studies with the colonial and graduates. >> that part is true. >> that is true. i wanted to know who was that
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guy. that started the quest that became the novel caleb's crossing. >> his name was not caleb growing up. >> we don't know what his tribal name was growing up. it became his surname once he moved into english society. >> was -- in love with caleb? i kept waiting. i kept waiting. >> that is the narrator. not entirely reliable in this matter. not in tune with her own heart. i think that that is for the reader to decide. >> what did you decide is the writer? >> no. that is for the writer to work out. >> is a happy ending to that book #. >> no.
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>> does not die in the book. still alive. i thought about giving it a happy ending. i thought about ending up book with caleb's graduation. could not be an intellectual. could not be admitted into the society of educated men. and then i said that would be so untrue to their real history and what unfolded. the true story, wanted to educate ministers to fill the prophets of new england when the first generation of settlers came too old for the work. it was set up to be a theological school. it quickly developed into a much broader curriculum. the english were very, very keen
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on converting native americans. they were not successful at doing so. native preachers. they train native preachers. caleb was recruited to be one of those. that is not the path that he chose for himself. it is pretty clear to me that he embraced his destiny as an intellectual and he became a protége of thomas who was a very significant jurist and political figure in the colony. caleb was working at the time of his death. if he had lived, history may have gone a completely different way. it is really tragic. i thought that if i just ended at the graduation, and did not then go into the extreme
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deterioration in relation that followed that that would be a betrayal of caleb and of native american history. >> next call for geraldine brooks comes from barbara in massachusetts. go ahead. >> hi. good morning. i do live on martha vineyards full-time. first of all, i just want to say that the geraldine you see before you as a full-time 247 geraldine. there is absolutely no dialogue this woman whatsoever. as someone who has been researching a book for over 40 years but does not have the courage to put the pin to the digital paper, in this extraordinary weekend of the immensely courageous doctor ford , i just want to hear you talk more about mild-mannered meek women like us having the
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courage to put our truth out there because we all can see how incredibly important it is for this to happen for their really to be a true evolution in women's equality. >> barbara? barbara, are you with us? >> yes, i am here. >> we lost everything. >> i may be back. it's my phone. if you can hear me, raise your your hand, geraldine. i am looking at the screen. >> it's delayed. go ahead and talk. we can hear you. >> i'm a senior retired book conservator from the library. i am that character. you did a fantastic job of representing us as the incredible protectors of the
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frail and fragile that we are. i will see you at the hubert center and congratulations. >> barbara is a friend of yours. >> i know barbara and i want to hear more about this book. barbara, let's get together and discuss your project when i get back. >> all right. what is your advice? do you teach at all? >> i have taught very little. i felt like i had a skilled ground in a training in journalism that i could pass on. fiction is much more intuitive thing for me. i never did a creative writing class or writers workshop myself i feel little presumptuous to teach something i'm not quite sure how i would do. i would still like to talk with
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writers and i hope that i get a chance to talk to barbara. i think she touched on a number of crucial things. she talked about the frailty of paper. the frailty of culture. they are all of the quiet. i think the power is immense. i often think of the wonderful woman. the end of her career. she was speaking to some young journalists who were about to go out into the careers. she said all my life i have drawn very small pebbles into a very large pond.
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i have no idea if any of those pebbles have made the slightest ripple. that is not my concern. my concern was the effort made on behalf of of this fragile planet. >> she did her duty. she made the effort. we will see where the ripples go from her testimony. when all is lost, that is not exactly how history will reveal itself. when i feel any kind of despair, as i often do over issues like what do we come to me separate parents from their children. what do we come to when we take risks -- it seems like we are not moving in a direction that
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we should be. not taking the steps that bring us together. tackle this big real problem. i think about how it must have felt to the other listener. who lost and lost and lost and lost until they won. i think that it was the wonderful rabbi who said despair is the biggest thing of all. we mustn't despair. we must continue to wield our words as best as we can. >> a very common theme in all of your books is religion. >> it is. i do not exactly know why. i am not a deist. i believe in something greater
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then us that is expressed in nature. i think about the beautiful writing about what is it when we see these extraordinary things. talking about self and playing in the waves in the light. she describes it beautifully. what in our soul is in response to that. that to me is going up in nature i had a lot to do with religion. i was raised catholic. very, very orthodox. very traditional catholic upbringing. over feminism.
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when they have been abandoned. taking the sacrament at about 15. i was traveling happily as an agnostic. when i met my husband and at the time i was probably one of the few people that would meet this man and not know it was a jewish name. i'd do steep learning curve there. when we decided to get married, it is passed through the maternal lines. always liked it, not only for its matriarch, but a hardheaded fragment is him.
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i did not want to be the end of the line for my husband's family's jewish history that have made it, you know, through exile. i was not going to be the one that wish that line stopped. i converted to judaism. jewish practice. i feel very at home because, at the the climax of the worship, you hold up. we bowed to a book. and to me, it is us bowing to the struggle of human beings through history. it make sense of what our purposes. to me, it is an engagement for search for the truth. not necessarily the doctrines.
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>> sheila. >> yes. >> oh my word. i cannot believe i'm actually speaking with geraldine rooks. you are one of my favorite, favorite authors. i read all of your works. i am listening to you talk about judaism and your conversion on the phone. i muted my television. i am seeing your beautiful smile i cannot tell you how excited i am speaking with you. i cannot wait to read your new book. i don't really have any questions. i loved hearing you going through all of your, your stories. people of the book was my absolute favorite. absolute favorite.
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why father was a russian jew. i am kind of this half breed, but i was raised catholic. i am still kind of a defender of the faith. i am still within the faith. my heart is with the jewish people. a very close association with the jewish people of the community. i feel very fortunate to have been raised the way i was raised this is not about me. this is about you. you are so beautiful. do you have any children? >> i have two boys. thank god. that conversion actually happened not very far from where you are. it happened in cleveland ohio. >> oh, my goodness. >> a very icy winter day. when i came out, my my hair
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froze to my head. >> it is very cold appear. >> it is. you have the lock on the cold winters. [laughter] when i move there, i had lived in a student -- as a student in new york one winter. i arrived at the apartment. here is where we keep the snow shovels. i said what is that for. they said, you will see. [laughter] >> we are going to hang up on you in a second. >> okay. i just want to tell you how much i enjoy the program. i am glued to the television all weekend. in fact, i am am upset with it. when i turn it on, it is all you, geraldine. you have made my day. >> thank you so much.
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>> i cannot wait to tell my friends that i was on book tv. >> you can playback online for them a little bit later today. they will hear you about an hour 20 into the show is where you pop in. do you ever, are you going to go to cleveland now? >> i generally go to cleveland. it is a little bit like being a politician. it happens on a regular cycle. every four or five years. the gradebook cities tend to be the ones that you go to. they are not always what you would expect. one of my favorites is milwaukee i hope that it is still true, a used bookstore. it is terrific.
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it is beautiful. this is a huge privilege. something i did not expect from sitting alone in a room facing a blinking cursor. you do get to get out there and see this country and other countries. in more depth than you would in another walk of life. i hope to get back. >> what is the most interesting interaction you've had with somebody? or an interesting interaction? >> it is always very wonderful when somebody comes and tells you their own story and how it connects. the veterans, the spouses of the veterans who talk to me -- a young man served as a military
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chaplain. an unusual group. officers, but they don't have any assigned duties. we have many different denominations. the armed forces. in administering to the spiritual needs of people who are not necessarily -- they are very interesting group of people people who bring you information that you did not have. that just makes you so excited as a novelist. something that you might have gotten right. imaginatively. making copies of documents at a been in my family. they never understood, they
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valued the documents, they never understood the witness. that is one of the rare places where we actually have a document from his own hand. it is brought to their knowledge something strange that happened in the research for the book also. i grew up in australia. my -- it runs along very parallel track to the disposition of native americans. and so then i thought, well, i am not carrying this caring this historical burden. these were not my forefathers that did these things. and then i found out that i was
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quite wrong. my father was born in santa maria california. i knew he had grown up in california. i thought our family history in america was west coast history. a very small population. i looked into it and sure enough, my father's were part of the great migration in 1630. i have the unique experience of being emigrant to this country and a potential member of the dir. but, as i look deeper, i found that my great-grandfather, six generations back most certainly -- his sister was a teacher who taught caleb lattin.
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it gave me a shiver. i realized i was implicated. i put them in the book. all i know was he worked in cambridge. i put him in the book fixing some broken windows at harvard. >> not born of rooks. >> he was not born a brooks. >> we are going to show some video little bit later. very quickly, he ran away with a renowned director. made wonderful. it did not go over very well. i would have like to have been a fly on the wall.
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sitting in one of the front rows probably was steam coming out of his ears. made another name. you are not going to work in this town under that name. looked out the window and saw brooks brothers. that's how he got the name for it. >> what was your father's name? >> robert. >> when he was working in hollywood? just in case anybody wants to google it. >> we will put the phone numbers up in case you would like to call in and talk to geraldine rooks. east and central zone 748-8201. for those in the mountain and pacific time zones let's hear from stephen and jensen beach florida. >> good afternoon to both of you interested in the religious
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attitude tiered i consider myself an agnostic. our founding fathers -- my main question about senator john kennedy from louisiana. something that i happen to agree with. the united states. radical to overcome. should see about changing that. and i could see the danger throughout my life.
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i had read it on the internet. they don't know, they don't know because of experiences that i've had in the past. i think it is uncertainty, certainty is the greatest thing. the certainty of god is not a gone fact. it is based on stories. storytelling. i, too, would like to see something along the lines of the premise of what tony blair has been doing throughout the world. i wish that our country would do more about that. emphasized the fact that no one knows anything about god any
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more than i do. and i know nothing about god. >> i will leave it there. thank you for watching and calling in. geraldine brooks. >> some big questions here. the first thing that i would like to say is when you talk about islam, you are talking about more than a billion people. within that billion people, you have a spectrum that is incredibly diverse. american muslim populations, which is one of the most diverse in terms of number of african-american muslim adherents. i think you then went straight to the word which is a small, slightly influential believers
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in really the most narrow unforgiving and sometimes extremely dangerous separatism. denigration of not only other faiths, but other muslims who do not adhere to the same strict interpretation. and, i think, think, you know, it is dangerous and the most radical strategy of any religion we have radical jews who have done murder, killed worshipers. now, does that, i don't want want him to be conflated with judaism. he is a radical extremist. if we can just say radical extremist, we've had catholics
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and protestants whose killed each other's children for years. every religion has a tendency to find a strand. i think that this willingness demonize all muslims is one of the most dangerous contemporary. i don't not think that that is what you meant to be doing at all. i think you are raising a very interesting question. looking at our own foreign policy. the saudi arabian government was busy building schools all throughout there he moderate muslim like indonesia spreading their hate filled version of faith in the largest muslim country on the earth. what were we doing?
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we were busy going to war in afghanistan and iraq and stop doing what we had done so successfully for years which was held schools and use soft power. liberty and equality and tolerance. it made this country so great for so long. we access the right. the most tenaciously. prejudicial version of what is a great religion. >> we will play a little music and then we are going to ask you what is connection is to your most recent book. ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ >> what is that song? >> may his name be remembered for a blessing as we say in jewish tradition. it is a beautiful piece of music. it connects to my novel the secret cord. they gave me the idea for the title. leonard : was drawing on the old that king david's music was beautiful.
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playing this cord pleasing to the ears of the design. it is such a poetic idea. and the song became especially meaningful to me. decided that the one instrument that he was interested in learning to play was the harp. that seemed like a very strange choice for an 8-year-old boy. it turned out to be a great choice. if you play the harp, you can't make a bad sound. even when you play it quite badly. you don't get the reaction you get when you are screeching on a violin. it sounds good. anyway, he became quite good at it. mentioning so much in the bible.
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deciding he would play something he played a beautiful arrangement. >> you have not thought about the book at that point. >> one of my majors in college, i have been incredibly intrigued i was interested about the renaissance. i loved all of the diverse depictions of king david. the idealized male form. then you have a sculpture of a very reflective young david. by donatello. completely different men.
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on and on and on and on. able to project their own vision onto them. my son was studying going regularly to temple. i was reading. the biblical story of david. had i realized how much was in it, it is really the first political biography that we have in between everything happens to him. every amazing good thing that could happen to a human being. professional triumph. every nightmare. the worst thing you could
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imagine. having your children kill each other. having a child turn against you. losing a child. losing your integrity. doing something so evil and then having to recognize your betrayed your own beliefs. he's got it all. everything that you could want to explore about the human condition is in that. >> who is the narrator? >> the prophet. that was suggested to me by two. one was in the book of chronicle the acts became first and last. as told in the book of nathan. we don't have the book of nathan
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a famous moment in scripture. when he confronts david about his sin. at the forefront of the battle. >> david want to sleep with the wife. nathan is the one that gets him to confront. i thought, what's the a career path for that guy. they've done the wrong thing. you won't get to say many things to the king after that. apparently at that point he drew close. on david's deathbed arranging this succession to make sure it goes to the right one.
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and incredibly tangled tale. the relationship perhaps the worst way imaginable. she is dragged from her home in the middle of the night. that is not a bright invitation. that is presumably armed men. a relationship over having that. managing to build a life in which her son is a one that would be king. the king is sometimes the byword for good governance. >> the end, the afterwards again , i believe that david lives. >> suppression.
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it was a pretty literate time for the most part. surrounding the hebrew tribes. into a nation in the first place would not expect a lot a state archives from that time. it was a very chaotic time. you would think if there was a king of the stature, we would've heard something about him. all there is is one stone inscription that was dug up and fell down that mentions the health of david. to me, compelling. british historian that said david must have existed because no people on earth would make up a character.
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>> what is the importance that place throughout this book. >> ask for solace for a turn. when you are dealing with history, there is a lot. certainly in david's life. accepted them. how is leasing that in contemporary leadership? i cannot take of one example. yep, i've done it. repairing the damage i've done. blaming someone else.
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aren't they. >> david doesn't always own up. he might do it because it is politically expedient to do what is necessary. >> i think in the nt does. it is threefold. he has massive losses. i think that he accepts that destiny and he really does do the right thing and making sure they will be the one. something for powerful man to do doing the right thing. >> the book progresses. you never name the city of david
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>> is out on purpose? >> i've used hebrew all the way through. the hebrew name. i can't remember if that is in there or not. the city of david was what it was known as at that time. probably just stuck with that. the hebrew. yeah. >> thank you, book notes. my question is, what role does the novelist play and recording our history.
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>> i would like to think of myself as a gateway drug. [laughter] just like we were talking earlier about one of my big influences. that sent me to read history of ancient greece. if you get intrigued by some aspect, that readers will go to the history. >> understanding our history and how it tragically repeats itself we were talking earlier about the tragic repetition about the need to demonize the other. whatever that might yet the time powerful and wonderful and a cultural protest when muslims, christians and jews were living
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side-by-side creating and sharing intellectual advances together. and then, you know, the demonization started. the muslims were expelled. you can say it has not recovered from the greatness to this day. only one kind of people are worthwhile. that is where i think it is important to study history. 1 million other examples of how we get tricked into war time after time. how we give up on diplomacy too soon. how there might the other ways. >> elk grove, california. you are on. >> take you for having a fiction in addition of in-depth this year. i loved it.
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>> i wanted to ask you, i had had this idea to write about a significant event in history that i know absolutely very little about. i was just wondering for you, kinda with the right what you know versus what you would like to know kind of argument, how you write about a particular time. have you ever written about something you knew very little about in the beginning? >> most of it. i encourage you to dive in. you can use what you know in ways that are not direct. i use what i know from being a fine correspondent for all of those years. obviously i need to research the weaponry.
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fortunately -- you can use what you know. >> write what you care about. right what you care about. and then you will have that passion that will drive you forward on the bad days. >> did you care about how to make paper? a very descriptive description on how to make paper. >> i love books. our house will fall down under the weight of the books that we have. it is something that came from my parents. they were booklovers. did not have a lot of discretionary income.
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we would all come back. i got absolutely hooked on them. the library only had one in the series. the rest of the series for sale. i mention it to my parents. they taught me that you find that money and they bought the books. >> i laid it out on the dining room table. wonderful illustrated covers. i felt myself flush and i felt myself get short of breath.
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rather exciting. i think that there are a lot of us out there that feel that. it was wonderful to get into the world of people who make books and people who protect them and conserve them. one of the most researched projects that i had it i also got to go to venice to do research. you don't often have the chance to have a work trip to venice. it is amazing. i found it necessary.
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>> about paper. there is carnaval. there is drinking. in the back story. geraldine brooks. this special edition in-depth fiction. we will take a short break. we will show you the book trailer from caleb's crossing. we will be back to take your phone calls and social media comments as well. we willig be right back. >> an island off the coast of massachusetts. i came to live here in 2006. the beauty of this landscape. once here, the islanders that
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fascinated me. the culture has strived for thousands of years. the farming and fishing families i came across showing sites of significance to the tribe. known as american graduate of harvard. coming up and graduated. the civil rights movement. the actual date was 1665. how did it happen? raise in his own culture. came to harvard to speak. the songs were weak.
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caleb's crossing is imagination. the daughter of the english settlers minister. atwhat is considered. she encounters caleb. drawn into his world just as he brings him into hers. the father strives to convert. english world. groomed for a role that puts him and his culture at grave risk. i delved in archives.
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i rely on the work of a historian deep in the beliefs of that tone. the earliest english settlers. particular. >> risking everything in the search for knowledge. >> we are back live with geraldine brooks. the author of five novels. she started off with nonfiction. back in the day.
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poulter prize-winning book came out in 2005. caleb's crossing 2011. her most recent book is the secret cord. came out in 2015. for those of you in the east and central time zones (202)748-8201. at book tv for facebook twitter and instagram and e-mail at book tv at c-span.org. that's a lot of information. we will scroll through it more slowly so you have a chance to see that. >> why is that? >> i'm not sure.
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i cannot really say. until very recently my working day was my kids school day. i just got into the habit of that when i was small. they did not need mom hovering over them. i just had that routine of stopping work when i got home and being available. i found that it worked quite well. continue thinking about the book one of those visual puzzles where you cannot see the image. looking at it indirectly. prop points would resolve while i had my hands in the teller door. feeding the horses or something
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like that. >> a little video that pbs made. tell us what it is like to live where you do. >> i'm very lucky to live on martha's vineyard did one of the most misunderstood communities in america. everyone thinks of it in terms of very glamorous summer visitors. the year-round community is essentially a wonderful, rural rural small-town place. long settles with farmers and fishermen and people that work in the trade then in construction. it is beautiful. it is rural. it has extraordinary lovely beaches. i am a bit of a beach snob. you can take it from me. the beach is up martha's vineyard really are special.
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we love our quiet small-town life. >> we were just showing, those looks like some pretty spoiled alpacas. >> i'm a person that loves to have animals in my life. we have two dogs at the moment. that is one of them. i have a horse which i'm very lucky. >> do you ride? >> she is a much better writer than i am. i started writing quite late. it is my midlife crisis i say. some people make it a red mustang, i got got a black pony. [laughter] >> how far is that 7-mile stretch of ocean now? it looks pretty substantial back in caleb's crossing. >> what is funny about martha's vineyard is it is very convenient to get to today. back then it was ridiculously inconvenient.
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i think it has a good effect on our psyche. you cannot say well i absolutely positively have to get there today. it is foggy or it is very windy and you can't. that is something we have lost in contemporary life. there are some things that are out of your control. you absolutely have to get there today, you should have left yesterday. [laughter] >> geraldine brooks, it has been since 2015 since the secret cord came out. can you tell about your latest project? >> yes. i had a project i contributed to. kingdom of olives -- writers. that was a riding by about 20, mostly fiction writers. travel to israel and the west
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bank and gaza to write about what occupation looks like. that was a bit of a return to my journalistic identity. it was a remarkable experience for me. .... .... >> i was able to see how things had and had not changed in 50 years. i ended up focusing in on an israeli attorney who defends palestinians in the israeli
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criminal justice system. focused on a really tragic case that she had at the time, which was about a young palestinian accused of attempted murder of a young israeli, and they are both -- [inaudible] -- years old. it showed how entrenched and desperate the situation is. >> is that building on your next book at all? >> no, my next book is quite different. my next book is another historical novel. and it's set in three time periods, but the historical part of the story is in the 1850s and 60s. it is about a famous racehorse and about the people who trained that horse and rode that horse and what happened to the people and the horse during the civil war. and then it has a more contemporary thread about a missing painting of the horse. and that brings us to the expressionist movement and the
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dawn of that movement in new york in the 1940s and then to the smithsonian museum today. so it's -- >> when will we see that? >> i hope to finish it next year. >> do you rewrite and rewrite? >> i do. and this one -- this one's required a lot of picking apart and reconnecting because it's quite -- it's quite a puzzle to connect the three different threads in a condensing way that will keep the reader with me. >> although hannah heath from people of the book is australian, what about a book about australia? >> i feel in some ways all my novels are sort of australian novels because they share some sort of core australian values and concerns, which is the
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plight of the underdog. i think when you -- you know, it's interesting to me that australia and america share so much but the mythology and experience of pioneering is so different in so many ways and americans came here as idealists and optimists. australians were dragged in chains and dumped on this unforgiving shore. and that -- these people who are the outcasts and despised of their society managed to create this incredible open tolerance, forward-looking, wonderful place. it has shaped my political views of the world, and i think shaped many australians' view of, you know -- america said send me
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your poor. australia just took them. and when they got there, they had to learn how to be in a -- they didn't go out to the midwest and find rich topsoil. they found a tiny layer of soil and a massive unforgiving desert. so there's a different relationship to nature as well. >> diana, texas, good afternoon. diana, are you with us? my fault. diana, i apologize. i need to hit the button. no you are on. -- now you are on. we're having trouble. diana, if you could start again, that was all on me. i apologize to you. please go ahead. >> caller: i'm laughing so hard because you are my favorite, favorite interviewer. you always do such a fabulous job. you never make a mistake.
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and this program with miss brooks is just fabulous. i don't know her work, but i'm going to recommend caleb to my book club here. i'm sure we will enjoy it and love it. i missed the first part. would she be able to expand a little bit more about how she got here from australia? and my other question is, does she ever come to texas on a book tour? >> host: where is wemberley? >> between san antonio and austin, deep in the heart of texas. >> host: thank you. >> i've been to texas but only been to houston and dallas. i have never managed to get to austin. i would like to do that. i would like to see the hill country of texas, so much to explore there. so from your mouth to god's ear, i hope on my next book tour, i will be able to see more of texas. you asked about coming to the united states.
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it's in some ways a very common australian story. we love to get out and take a big trip and see the world, and for me, i wanted to do it with a mission, and i was lucky enough after working as a journalist on a sidney newspaper for three years to get a scholarship to the graduate program at columbia university. so i came to new york city. that was my first stop in the united states, and i had a wonderful year, learning from some terrific professors at columbia university. and my intent was to just get that degree and go home and get on with my real life back in sidney, but i met two guys who turned out to be quite influential in changing the direction of my life. one was the gentleman who hired young reporters for the "wall
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street journal," and the other was a fellow classmate, and i've been married to film -- i've been married to him for 33 years coming on, so it was a very interesting year. the "wall street journal" hired me, and my first job with them was in the bureau in cleveland, ohio. i spent a year there, covering all kinds of things, but a lot of basic industry and a lot of the themes that we see currently bubbling up in our political discourse. we're already there in the 80s with jobs being sent offshore, and, you know, working people struggling to keep their heads above water, so i was very grateful for that time in ohio, and i went back and opened a bureau for the "wall street journal" in australia. that was fantastic too. after that they offered me the middle east correspondents job and that was the kind of the adventure that a girl from
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sidney couldn't turn down. >> do you feel isolated in australia when you are there? >> i think in the days of my childhood there was some feeling of being at the ends of the earth because -- look, dinosaurs were walking the earth back then. [laughter] >> we didn't have the internet. we didn't have the instant communication. i can go to australia now, and i can watch the news hour. i can listen to npr. i don't have to be disconnected from this country. when i came to columbia, it was impossible to get any australian news. it was -- even a phone call was very expensive. you know, so it was a much more isolated time, when i was growing up. i don't think that's true at all today, and people manage their careers quite well, from sydney,
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whether they are working for companies, you know, china or the u.s. or europe. so i think things have changed enormously in that sense being in an interconnected world. >> another one of those themes that i found in all your books was the importance of place, a real sense of place. >> yeah. well, you had asked me about writing an australian book, and i will have to go home and get immersed in -- there is a story that appeals to me a great deal, and so if i can dissuade my stubborn husband to get his head out of his american history terms for long enough and we can get back there to look into it, i would love to do that. >> but even if your books here, you -- but even in your books here, you talk about martha's vineyard and how it sits in the valleys, and jerusalem, the
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world of david, with a hard life. >> the land is a character to be sure. that's why i capitalize land every time anybody mentions it, because the land is what is being fought over, or the land is what was promised, the land is what defines these people, and the land is still being fought of today. and the battles that king david was engaged in are ongoing, and so i think, you know, that history and that sense of the land and the people of the land is very entrenched there. >> was david a -- [inaudible]? >> i think the relationship with jonathan is one of the most tenderly drawn relationships. so what we do with scripture is
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we take the portion of the week and we hold it up to the light and we turn it around and we look at those words, and we try and squeeze every bit of juice out of them. according to our own lived experience, so when i do that exercise with the plain words of the text, about david and young john, i can only come to the conclusion that this was a full relationship. david talks about his love being greater of his love of any woman and at that point in his life he'd loved many women. when they first meet, he was an established officer, army, soldier, very experienced, much older than david. david is this young fresh hero. but he gives david everything.
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he gives him his clothes, his weapons. he gives him the right to succeed him as king. he hands his birthright as the heir to david, and i think in the song, the beautiful psalm that is a lament after the death, you feel the emotion of people and it says in the text, their souls were knit together. so me, i would have to say i see anything there other than a full relationship. >> reading that, it felt like a contemporary political novel? >> i think there's so many contemporary things in this story. when i was writing it, the david petraeus scandal was breaking, and i remember from my reporting
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in iraq, that petraeus who is so admired by his men, his troops, men and women, they called him king david, and then of course he undoes his career to a certain extent because of an adulterous relationship. >> you write that natan felt he was, quote, no more than a tool in the hand of an unseen craftsman. >> i was trying to learn about the hebrew prophets, and joshua heshel wrote a book work of scholarship on the prophets, and he talks about them as -- i love -- he says that they are some of the most irritating men who ever lived because they are always telling people what they
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don't want to hear. but for many of the hebrew prophets, it was a role that they assumed unwillingly. i like jonah, particularly, because every time god calls jonah to go and tell an unwelcome truth to a corrupt nation, jonah wants to go and take a nap. i think we all feel like sometimes when we're confronted with a duty that we know -- a task that we have to perform. i'm sure christine blasey ford would have rather taken a nap than give testimony, but she was doing what she felt it was her duty to do. that's very much in that prophetic tradition. so natan -- and natan, he might be a reliable narrator, he may not be. we only have his account of his powers and his visions. other people in the book expressed to him some grave doubts about what he's up to and what his motives really are.
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so again, it will be for the reader to decide. >> another theme in all of your books is life is rough. it's not fair. is that purposeful, or is that just something i'm reading? >> i don't know that it's purposeful. it's certainly true. it's certainly -- you know, people sometimes say if you could go back in time, where would you go? and i'd say nowhere unless i could have a gender reassignment first. i would not choose to go back any time as a woman because women have always been endangered, subjugated, victimized, throughout history. the women's life is tough and it is not fair, historically. so that's true. i hadn't really -- i'm quite a
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sunny optimistic person by nature. but i think when you write about the past, there's so much to be concerned about as we were talking earlier, the lamentation is very loud, and we hope we're bending the arc of the universe towards justice, that sometimes the bend is so slow to be indiscernible. >> human failings, another theme. >> well, we've all got them. it's what makes us human in the end. in the wonderful leonard cohen song, hallelujah, he talks about the holy and the broken. and he says there's a blaze of light in every word. it doesn't matter which you heard. the holy or the broken, hallelujah. it is that idea that holiness
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and brokeness can coexist, and in fact, it's a very mystical jewish idea that it is out of the broken crack that the divine light can penetrate. dr. monica miller tweets, how does geraldine brooks approach archival research? how much time does she spend in the archives? >> i do love archives. you can accomplish a great deal on-line now. more and more of the great collections of human knowledge are being digitized, and i think that's a wonderful thing for people who can't access the archives, but i tell you what, things still happen in the archives that will not happen on-line. i'm lucky enough to be close to a library, a wonderful research library at harvard, and when you are in the stacks there, every time i walk in there, there's
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this wonderful biscuity smell to the old volumes in the stacks, and you go there looking for one thing, but your eye can be drawn serendipitously to a book that you didn't even know existed, happens to be shelved nearby. there's also a mystical connection, if you hold a piece of paper that was held by somebody that you are writing about, going to the library of congress and holding some papers in my hand, and a poem that was transcribed for one of the wounded soldiers who was in the care of a nurse during the civil war, these are transporting experiencing experiencine experiences, and i think if you only ever use google earth and google books and -- you're going to deprive yourself of some
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wonderful opportunities or epiphany. i can't think of a better word for it. >> where did you find the story geraldine brooks about the horse during the civil war period? where did that spark -- >> that was completely serendipitous, and i think you will have to wait till the book comes out for me to tell you the whole story, but i will just say that i've always loved what earnest hemmingway said, can be something you are lucky enough to overhear or the wreck of your whole life. and this was something i overheard at a lunch table. my lunch companion on this side was trying to pitch an idea for a book to me, and it was a lovely idea, but it wasn't right for me, and across the table i kept hearing parts of another conversation, and finally i just
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wanted to say could you just pipe down about that idea because i think my idea is over there, and it was. >> very quickly, for viewers just tuning in, "year of wonders" how did that come to you? >> "year of wonders", i was not a novelist. i was still very much a journalist, foreign correspondent, working for the "wall street journal," at that time my beat was the middle east. so i spent a lot of time in the hot and dusty troubled places, where the stories were happening, and i had a few precious days off and decided to go with my husband rambling in a district -- >> or walking? >> the british call it rambling. words are very important to me. getting the right vocabulary is something that drives me very hard as a novelist, and i think
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it tells you something about the difference between english mindset and american mindset, that we say hiking, and they say rambling. [laughter] >> anyway, hiking, rambling, and we saw a sign that named the town and underneath it said village. we went there, and the story of that village and how it had voluntarily quarantined itself. unique decision of any community as far as i could determine that was afflicted by the plague, and for a year, they -- the villages would leave money in a depression, in iraq, at the outskirts of the town, and people would take the money and leave supplies. that was the extent of the communication with the outside
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world. >> speaking of language, you in each of your books set in different periods or different places, you pick up the vernacular, don't you? >> well, it is very important to me, and, you know, i like quoting these south american writers, clearly, but mark twain said the difference between the wrong word and the right word is the difference between a lightning bug and lightning. and i think that that is true. if you can get the right word, and i think it does it even more -- even more weight on it in historical fiction, because you don't want to pull your reader out of the illusion that you're creating, and this person is speaking to them, in the voice of the past, and you don't want to go overboard with this, because you don't want to use impenetrable dialect or so much
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archaic voe -- vocabulary that people can't get the right meaning, but on the other hand, there are times it is so important. one example is this in caleb's crossing, i need the narrator to speak. i'm pretty sure on martha's vineyard in the 1660s, she's not using that word. what do you do about that? if you haven't found the word in the correspondence or the journals of the time, then you have to go and research the word. and there's a wonderful resource for this. the oxford historical thesaurus of the english language this digs down through all our vocabulary, all the way through the centuries to early icelandic. and so i went and looked up that word. and i got down to mid 17th century. and i found that the word she
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would use. if you put that word in her mouth, i think it's very transporting. you feel like you're in a different time and seeing things in a different way. >> darlene is in gold hill, oregon. hi, darlene. >> caller: hello. i just want to tell ms. brooks that i haven't read her novels, but after hearing her speak, i will be getting all of them. i love historical nonfiction and fiction. i find i agree with her totally on how important words are. it amazes me sometimes how the english language gets distorted, and, you know, 25 years ago, a word is different use than it is today. and the other thing -- the question i want to ask her is, why does she think that all of the -- i want to say great, but
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in a way i want to say large religions of the world are basically male dominated because throughout history there are women, such as cleopatra and queen elizabeth and throughout history, these women are so influential, their countries were at peace most of the time that these women were the leaders of their country. so i'm asking her, why are all these religions so male dominated? thank you. >> well, darlene, i just want to say you have one of my most beloved names. my older sister is a darlene, and it is not such a common name. so it's nice to hear from you. and the question of the suppression of female religious power is -- it's really a question, you know, for somebody like karen armstrong who has made a wonderfully deep study of
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this, but i think it is women have had at different times and in different cultures incredibly influential roles in the formation and the rituals of worship and even early christianity, though it was apparently a much larger role for women which you can still see in some of the earliest art works of early christianity, but then there was a massive corporate takeover of the religion by rome which was a male-dominated superpower of its time, and of course everything -- many aspects of christianity had to be changed to conform to the uses and the needs of the projection of roman power, and i think that that's probably the story in many religio
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religions. certainly in islam, one of prophet muhammad's wives said believers should take their religion from her. yet she was actually suppressed militarily by a different faction, after the prophet muhammad's death. so -- and that's one of the early stories of the fundamental split in islam today between sunni and shia, where people who followed her and people who followed actually the prophet's daughter. so women were critical the early stages of the formation of islam as well. >> e-mail, mary jo in dearborn, michigan. years of wonder was the first geraldine brooks book i read for a book club. i loved it. what was most interesting to me
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was the idea of a community being faced by a common ethical decision. i wanted to hear more of that. that's the question. i will let you think about that. i want to finish your e-mail. i also enjoyed people of the book. she's a retired librarian and caleb's crossing, i look forward to reading march as a fan. i've been told many times to read your book, "nine parts of desire" which is definitely on my to be read pile. thank you for hours of amazing reading. then back to the question "years of wonder" common ethical decision being faced by a community. >> i think one of the things that consumed me many those -- consumed me in those years that i thought about writing this
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book. we during those years we moved back to the united states. we had been living in cairo. we moved to this small community in virginia. it was 350 people. we're talking really small. and it was almost exactly the same size as the community at the time, that the plague arrived there. and so i couldn't help but compare how our community worked and how that one worked. and we had a lot of trouble with consensus. [laughter] >> we couldn't even get the community to come to a consensus about whether the notice board should be inside or outside the post office. that made it all the more inspiring and intriguing to me that this young minister had brought this group of people together to a consensus that was really a matter of life and death. and so my job as a novelist was
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to see what preceded that. what was he building on? how did he convince them? what words did he use to convince them? what words could you use? how could you make it seem in people's self-interest to do something like this? or how could you inspire them to act against their self-interest? so that was my challenge as the novelist, and the novel is really the long answer to the question. >> there's a lot of -- this is the wrong word -- forbidden love relationships in your book. >> forbidden love relationships in life. [laughter] >> i think, you know, we see people becoming undone by passions, by the wants of their own heart, in our daily life. we see our friends' marriages falling apart, sometimes for
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better, sometimes for worse. certainly as a foreign correspondent, you know, there's nothing more heightening about your sense of being alive than when you feel that you're at risk of death. so i saw a lot of inappropriate relationships in the press corps. inappropriate relationships, dangerous liaisons, whatever you want to call them. you know, it's one of the most intensely human experiences. so when you're looking at your characters, and you're trying to make them fully human, sometimes their judgment isn't as good as it should be. >> who is a character in your book you don't like? >> oh, i try not -- i try to not do that, because if you decide that you don't like somebody, you're never going to be able to write them properly.
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you're not going -- nobody is acting wholly out of evil motive in their own mind. so you have to in some way try and figure out what is making them do that, what is it that they believe? what is it that they hope to achieve or what has turned them into this person? but you can't start off saying oh i just don't like this guy, and then write a successful character. >> "the secret cord" talking about david's children before solomon, uday and qusay hussein came to mind for me. >> they came to mind for me too. [laughter] >> that's the case of what we were talking about with the viewer earlier, right, what you know.
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i don't know -- but i did know the aura of fear that surrounded uday and qusay hussein in the nightclubs of baghdad and how people were terrified to go out with their young daughters because these guys could take anybody, and you had nothing to say about it, or you'd be found mutilated corpse. you know, the way that they moved in this cocoon of fear and protected by their powerful father, inspired me to think about those two oldest sons of david in that way. >> bill, new hampshire, hi, bill. bill, you're on with geraldine brooks. please go ahead. >> yeah. i would like to -- between the silence of god, between the old testament and the new testament,
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there's 400 years, and almost the first thing that's brought up is that the mother of -- >> tell you what, bill, i'm going to put you on hold. you've got to turn down the volume on your tv. otherwise you're going to get that delay, and we're not going to be able to talk to you. we're going to put you on hold, give you a chance to turn down the tv. we will come back to you. let's try mark. let's go to mark in asbury park, new jersey. mark, you are on the air. >> caller: yes, thank you very much. ms. brooks, i want to ask you an easy question. when you talk about how they were not on the high echelon, i would like to know -- when you say the word women, was there any difference between a white woman and a black woman? was the white woman equal with the black woman?
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or was the black woman subordinate to the white woman? thank you very much. >> sure. and absolutely. any enslaved person who had absolutely no agency over their own body and, you know, in our tragic history and long history of enslavement of africans to be an african woman slave was probably the most disadvantageous status that anybody could have experienced, and, yeah, look, you know, it was harsh to not have property rights in marriage and to not be able to vote, but to not even have the agency of your own body and to be used as a possession,
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obviously that is a degradation of an unfigureable and unimaginable kind. >> when that call came in, i thought of mrs. march and grace clemen, and then i thought of the various wives of david, and how if they were treated differently because of skin color or tribe? >> yeah, so we don't know much about skin color. it's not noted. we know he had wives from different tribal groups, different nationalities. so it was more to do with the status. if you came from a royal family of an adjoining country, you would probably be a higher status wife or be treated in a different way, but the thing about the women in the david
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story is in most of the bible, women don't even get a name. lot's wife. anybody? gladys? cynthia? probably not. we don't know. noah's wife, we don't know. david's wives not only have names, they have really compelling back stories, but they are told such in an abbreviated way and only in so far that story intersects with david that we've got abigail who is the brilliant woman who manages to save her family and household and community by being diplomatic when her husband has been undiplomatic and almost brought death down on everybody. and she steps in and saves the day. and david admires her, and she winds up married to him. mikail, one of the most
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fascinating woman in the story, daughter of king saul. there's a line in the scripture that says mikhail loved david. i don't think there's anywhere else in the bible where a woman has the agency. she's the one who loved, and her feelings are taken into account and therefore she gets to marry david. but that love turns into the most corrosive hatred because she's the one who mocks and derides him after the moment when he's brought the ark of the covenant back to the city. so that's an example of a romance -- a great love turned into a terrible hatred. so that's a fascinating story, and we don't know as readers of the bible what happened in the intervening years, so that's where novelists have to come in and piece it together from the tiny clues to come up with a plausible explanation to what happened there, and the opposite
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as we discussed earlier, with bathsheba, with a relationship that starts in a horrible and uncapricious way turns out to be the lasting relationship. she's the wife who is there with david on his death bed. these are fascinating women. they are all women who took a bad hand and played it the best they could. they are all women who had no apparent public power, but who exercised enormous private influence. >> bill, new hampshire, you are on, and we are listening. please go ahead with your question for geraldine brooks. >> caller: yes. between the old and new testament, there's 400 years of silence, by our living god, but one of the few things that are brought up in matthew right away is that the mother of solomon was the wife of the hitite, uriah, between and all the wives and concubines of solomon, and
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there were many many gods and idolatry going on in his reign and kingdom, did that really ruin the lineage of our lord and savior jesus christ, the tribe of judah? i mean how did that impact what -- between what david did and solomon did? >> i think that -- you know, it's the tradition that jesus was from the house of david, and that's why joseph and mary had to be in bethlehem for the census of the descendants of david. so i don't think anybody is calling into question that lineage. but you touched on something completely fascinating, which is what happens next. solomon -- you know, solomon's
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story is another just such a rich story in the bible. my younger son is adopted from ethiopia, and he was saying that he would like me to write more about solomon, because it is a huge connection between king solomon and the ethiopian queen who came to see if solomon was all that he was cracked up to be, in terms of his wisdom and magnificence. and ethiopians believe that their king was the son of king solomon. so, you know, there's definitely another novel to be written there. [laughter] >> i'm seeing a trilogy, solomon, 400 years. you've got the 400 years between the old and new testament. >> it really goes bad shortly after solomon. i'm not sure i even want to go into that place. israel really was dispursed and,
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you know, some of the most tragic events of a very tragic people happened in those years. i think we'll stop with solomon. >> the cover of "caleb's crossing", is that a real picture of martha's vineyard? >> yes, the figure is art work, and the figure is trying to convey a little bit of what caleb might have looked like when he was first encountered. so it's as close as we could get, eastern native american hunting attire, but the photograph is a wonderful local photographer, and i didn't -- i knew him, and i didn't know what photo they were going to choose, but i was so thrilled that that
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was the one that the publisher selected, but that is one of my favorite places on the planet. that is the cliffs. anyone who comes to martha's vineyard, i highly recommend a walk under the cliffs at sunset, because the colors in the clay absolutely come alive, and it's a native land. they are very generous about allowing people to share and enjoy it. there are just a few places on earth where you get a really mystical connection with all the people who have loved that place, and i think you feel it very much under the cliffs, and there are wonderful legends and tradition that the red color in the clay is their giant and great protector, used to butcher
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his whales there and so the color in the cliff is from the whale blood, he was so tall that he could just knock the whale against the cliff. that was how he fed his people. >> do you not look forward to the summer months in martha's vineyard? >> i live in the country. >> as a local? >> as a year around resident, but i will always be a wash ashore. i'm a wash ashore, but i'm a year arounder. i enjoy all aspects. i love the summer. i love the beauty of the island in the summer. >> the tourists? >> -- in the salt water. i even enjoy seeing people coming -- you know, when the boats start to have mattresses
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and extra kayaks and bicycles, i always think good for them. i hope they have a great time. the only -- i don't -- i hope that the sense of modesty that endured for so long with martha's vineyard that people came there and they didn't show off is a lot. they didn't have a great big starter castle. they came to enjoy the natural beauty of the island, and those are the visitors that we feel, you know, the most warmth towards, not people who come and turn on the air-conditioning and play in their private bowling alley. fortunately there is very little of that, but there is some. but you know -- >> erin in tarzana, california, you are on with author geraldine brooks. >> caller: yeah, this is kind of a comment/question. don't you think it depends on the authors of the old
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testament? there were many authors. because some women were given of course -- queen esther, there was sarah, rachel, rebecca, i can only think of half a dozen, i never heard of mikhail. some authors gave precedent to women, i realize it was tokenism, probably the worst order, but women weren't totally out of the old testament. >> i wasn't implying that. the matriarchs in jewish history are just given weight with the patriarchs, but there are a lot of women that we don't hear from. i was just, you know, i came up with two off the top of my head. lot's wife and noah's wife who don't even get names. so, you know, i think it is, you know, definitely like -- let's be honest, most ancient literature -- look at -- [inaudible] -- the women are prizes to be won in war or to be given away. they're not -- they don't have a
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lot of agency. even helen of troy, we hardly hear from her. people fight over her, but we never hear her voice. it's just a fact of the ancient world that women weren't given equal voice, and it's still true today. we still don't have equal voice. it's getting better, thank goodness, but we've still got some ways to go, and in other parts of the world, that aren't as fortunate as here, women are still struggling for the most basic rights, even for the right to go to school. my character, who is english, colonist, on martha's vineyard, it was very typical in educated families, you would teach your daughter to read because it was good if she could read the bible, but you wouldn't teach her to write because writing is a skill that you use to communicate with the world outside the family, and women weren't supposed to need to do that. so that's why we have no
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journals from that period of women and so few letters because they just -- even benjamin franklin's sister, who was by all accounts -- there's a wonderful book by a historian, called "book of ages". it looks at benjamin franklin's sister, jane, who was apparently just as brilliant as he was, but when he left the family home, that was the end of her education because nobody else cared to help her learn to be more literate. so she struggled. she wrote to him, and that's the only reason we know about her because she wrote to him, and people kept his letters and not hers. so, you know, there's a lot of -- a lot of inequalities in the historical records, as well as in religious tradition. >> one of your characters learned subversively?
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>> she did. a young girl in afghanistan wasn't allowed to go to school under the taliban, her brother went to the local mosque to be educated. she would climb up over the roof, and she found a hiding place on the roof of the mosque where she could listen to the classroom below. she essentially stole her education by overhearing what her brother was being taught, and then when he came home, she would do his homework for him. and so that inspired me to create bethiah's overheard education as her father educates her brother. >> gayle, harbor springs, michigan. hi, gayle. >> caller: hi, thank you very much. i have more or less a comment. years ago -- i'm a presbyterian. there are similarities between presbyterian and the jewish faith. i love them both. i studied the old and new testament. today i'm currently doing the bible in 90 days.
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i made a comment. my mind is racked with the old testament that god appears to me to be a woody allen character, if you choose to comment on that. i might be clearly ridiculous, but i just keep getting that thought about woody allen and god. [laughter] >> -- working the same way, when you watch his movies, kind of neurotic almost, thank you. >> i think we've all got to connect with the sub lime wherever we can find a hand hold. that's an original hand hold. can i recommend a book to you if that's the way your mind is running? joseph heller wrote a hilarious version of the david story, and now i'm going to have a brain freeze. do you remember the name of
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that -- it's a completely different take on david. >> i guarantee producer kate will get that information to us before the end of the show. >> yes. >> e-mail from william. i would like to know how you feel about the historical novelist james mitchner. i heard you mentioned mary renoe. i read her back in the mid 60s, but she never clicked for me. i started with her book "the mask of apollo". >> yes, i admire that book too, but i think that you see her talents more fully on display in one of her other books. if you want to give it another go. mitchner, i read "the source", and i love the way that book was structured. as the archaeologists go down into the dig, each artifact takes you back in time, and i think that that inspired the way
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that i structured people of the book, ultimately because in people of the book, there's artifacts that the conservatives find either in the binding, like a white hair or an insect's wing and those take you back to the moment in time where that thing got into the book, and i think i was channelling mitchner, a little bit, and i'm grateful to him for showing me how he structured the whole history of the jewish people, essentially, and the source, through the archaeologists working. >> speaking of structure, you start off each of your books with kind of a -- again, i'm going to get it wrong. a mystery chapter or a mystery opening, a foreshadowing opening. am i just way off? am i -- >> no, i'm just running through my openings. it is not intentional, but one
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thing you do learn as a journalist, and i'm glad that i had that road into novel writing is the easiest thing for a reader to do is stop reading. so you owe it to the reader to grab their attention and hold on to it. that's, you know, that's the necessary, if not the sufficient condition for telling somebody a story is that you want them to want to know what happens next. and i've learned a lot through reading to my boys when they were little. we used to have book reading at bedtime every night, and it really is a golden age of children and young adult literature. what you notice is if you're an author, writing for young adults, x is interesting. y is interesting. x plus y is an exponent more
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interesting. they understand plot. and i think a lot of literary novelists are more concerned with style and clever devices, but plot, you know, sometimes i think people feel that plot is embarrassing, like something you don't necessarily want to be seen to be focusing on too much. but i am a big fan of story telling, and i think, you know, we see the stories that endure for us are the ones where it's one thing after another, and the next thing is really interesting. so i try to keep that in mind when i'm writing. so if i have got you interested, at the beginning of the novel, well, i guess i'm doing a -- doing my job. >> joyce is in west virginia.
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hi, joyce. >> caller: glad to be able to talk with you, thank you. i want to encourage you to go on. don't quit with solomon. that's a very interesting story. but the babylonian captivity. you know, many historians think that's what really made the jewish race what it is. they developed greatly and learned more about some worldly things. but i would just encourage you to think about that. and perhaps -- and i'm looking forward to reading a book about solomon. i love all your books. thank you very much for writing. >> well, thank you very much for encouraging me, and i won't rule it out. [laughter] >> god knows. >> god knows. thank you very much. it has a woody allen sensibility. it takes place at david's death bed. i think it has exactly the opposite take to me about how everybody in that story works,
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who is a character, and i deliberately didn't read it until i had finished mine. but i laughed out loud when i did read it. >> last call, peter in greenwich, connecticut. we have about 30 seconds, peter. >> caller: oh, thank you. i'm a vineyard fan too. congratulations on a wonderful career and raising children at the same time, good for you. especially on the vineyard. i'm a landscape architect. peter alexander is the name. ::
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. >>. >> and to notice i'm so glad that you raise that because with that sense of the specific nests and i'm a big fan of what landscape architect in that environment thank you for your work. >>host: thank you for the last hour. >> think you.
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>> there was a referendum on independence and then a militia started by the government started to run rampant people fled to the un compounds. because they became more and more dangerous.
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and there is a funny story because they did not consult before. but then to say sure. by the way i'm staying where have the men gone? yes i guess they don't make men like they use to that is so unfair because i happen to know those who have gone out that was just as brave to stay in the compound but that doesn't make a good story.
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gender bias in the military is interviewed by military times reporter. afterwords is a weekly interview program with relevant guest host interviewing top nonfiction authors about their latest work. >>host: kate, we will talk about your book it is exceptional but to set the stage for people who may not

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