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tv   2019 LA Times Festival of Books  CSPAN  April 13, 2019 3:29pm-5:30pm EDT

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our carter presidency was having a lot of problems at the time. he should be running for president for a long time. he would be hard-pressed to find two people that were more different. another one who didn't even have indoor plumbing until he was nine years old. they did not like each other very much. >> think you for the introduction. thank you for all of you who are coming here. and to the la times for holding this. it is a great presentation. i do see that miriam won the sticky note contest. both johns and susan books are available and audible. that was the way that i consumed their books because i have to do a lot of driving in southern california.
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all of these books are where you learned something. that's the reason why she won the sticky note contest. i got the idea to write this book in 2013. i was at a dnc meeting. in washington dc. they have gone on to distinguished careers. in the democratic party. and they started reminiscing about the 1980 convention. they have just accepted the nomination chased teddy kennedy around the stage and he was essentially drunk on the stage in front of the entire country. and then i ran upstairs. and i ran into anita dunn.
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in that fight and split us personally and structurally for a decade because they did not win the white house until 1992. that was the beginning of a journey for me. in deciding to write this book. i realize that no one had really told the story. in the victors often went in to sign the fine history. so i was intrigued by this. as i got into writing this book what really came as a surprise was a psychological profiles of each of these men in the way they intersected and interacted and collided with each other. and this is really the thing i enjoyed about the book. there is a lot in it that has clinical import. to me learning about these men in their differences was the
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most fun. i was fascinated by the fact hit so much weight on the back. he have his family history. his oldest brother was killed in world war ii. all of the expectation of the democratic party to revive the dream of their glory days and yet he have gotten into politics in part because his father told him too. when he graduated law school after the 1960 campaign. he did not want to go into politics. in massachusetts. he dutifully obeyed. i began a lifelong career in
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politics. that was not his choice. so you fast-forward to both of his brother's been killed and he's been called on to run for president. does he really want to run for president. he didn't really have a say in the matter. when you add in the factor of the acquittal. you have this complex portrait of a man who is still expected to run for president can't run and 72. kennedy is the choice of democrats.
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that is before the hostage crisis happened. and maybe we will get to that. the door is so wide open for teddy kennedy to run in 1980. i don't think there's any way he could have said no he has pushed, pulled, dragged and maybe pushes him into running. for president. i never really understood if he ever wanted to run for president. he died four years before i started writing this. and a few of the kennedys would even talk to me. i tried to talk to his second widow. i went to the opening of the institute in boston on a cold snowy day. there was no mention of the institute. they have a quote from his speech. at the end of the speech where he talks about the dream well never die. there is no mention that it was at the end of the year which he ran for president. and when i approach them to talk about it. she demonstrated that she has
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no interested and in talking to me for this. i think it was a necessary exorcism to rid himself of these expectations so that he could get on to actually being what he was good at. he was good at being a lawmaker. taking what he could get in legislation. i could've never got that. and i get the scent that he did talk about it. he said publicly he feels like his father have a form of ptsd. from the experiences of
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watching his brothers be shot. but he did not talk about it. i just think jimmy carter is fascinating for all of the ways that he has misunderstood and underestimated in short i think the thing i can tell you in the book that will make you laugh and also raise your eyebrows. the famous gonzo journalist once said that jimmy carter was one of the three meanest people he'd ever met. along with mohammed ali. and i think the experience of understanding some of the psychology of jimmy carter the incredible drive to come from the dirt of southwest georgia. to will himself to the naval academy. he also when he went home
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after his father died similar to the bushes he did not consult with rosalynn. he basically made the executive decision. to will himself into that. the incredible corruption that he experienced in southwest georgia that he fought to get to the state senate. and then willing himself to the presidency. never a member of the establishment. i think it is incredibly underestimated this. >> speaking of his ex- presidency. there is no a second act second act in american politics. an incredible second half. the amazing record. the model of the presidency. what you talk about that for a bit.
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>> they have re- invented for the post- presidency. poster presidency. and he has mediated conflicts and hot spots around the world. it's a very painful disease that people get through stepping in dirt or water. he has almost through his work there single-handedly is almost completely eradicated from their work in africa. when he started at the carter center. nobody had really done anything like that and since he has done that. other ex- presidents have a kind of followed the model. you set up a foundation or institute in you set up in library and you do some good. some have done it more extensive than others. some have been far less public basing.
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as jimmy carter did it to the chagrin of bill clinton. but carter has set the template and model and been an inspiration to many people. as i mentioned kennedy went on to a great legislative career. did tech -- take him another decade another decade until they were married. it was pretty jaw-dropping piece the deceased journalists. in 91 i believe and it was called ted kennedy on the rocks. many a story a very bad misbehavior by kennedy and chris dodd. and fresh -- french restaurants across dc. he was in the state of not being a good place for yet another decade but in those last few decades has the accumulation of everything accomplished in the senate career. to me he is a model
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legislator. in a day now where we have some new people who go to congress really more to posture than anything and i just actually interviewed joseph kennedy the third he is now in congress and it was striking to talk to joe kennedy about his approach to being a member of congress. he is now in a majority for the first time in the house. he was very clear eyed in a way that i think is passed down from knowing ted kennedy and knowing his legacy he was very clear about what the job of the congressman congressman is and is it. and his goals should be in congress. he's going for mental health legislation. he was very clear. he knows republicans controlled the senate. if you have to work on things that have a good chance of getting things.
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they now see the institution of congress as a platform for self-promotion rather than an institution which they go to and work through. i think that is ted kennedy's legacy. it's so fascinating that the history of that is almost erased with a great embarrassment at his institute. his concession speech lives on and so many ways. the ones that you referred to. when he endorsed barack obama for president he carried it forward. it's the issue of resiliency. and the characters in your books each in different ways have some resilience. jerry brown when he was
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defeated for the senate in 1982. that was the end. a lot of people said he went off in the wilderness and not only that but in 1992 when he ran for president for the third time. they would not allow him to speak at the convention unless he he spoke. and used his 20 minutes that he was allotted because he had one a few primaries and have some delicates he was considered to be finished at that point in 1992 and come back and moved to oakland and all of his friends. they still live in san francisco. he's very much part of that san francisco bay area word. what are you thinking. he talks about the jesuit motto.
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he quotes ladd a lot. but one of the models means do what you're doing. he doesn't worry about what the next thing is. at the same time he plans out. when he moved to oakland. he already have the idea that he would run for mayor. obviously the second act of governor. and then the oldest governor. i had two quick thoughts based on what you guys were sane. one was about the role of women and how that has changed. and first ladies in particular and i was just thinking how bernice lane brown was born in 19 '08. generation before barbara
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bush. when she was can be a teacher she tried to hide the fact that they eloped because you were not allowed to be a teacher if you are married. that is that world of 1930. and her eldest daughter. supersmart. went to cal as many of them did. it was the 1950s. she is still bitter to the state. about the fact that she was raised in a world where you were to get married and that was the 1950s a 1950s ozzie and harriet world. a really important piece of the political career. she was educated. pat never went to college. always felt intellectually
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deficient because of lack of a college education did not know how to pronounce words sometimes correctly and bernice was a really important part of his formative education. but always behind the scenes. and as the gracious first lady who entertained then you fast-forward to jerry brown 2.0. the second time where he was married to and gassed was born in 1958. and have a formidable career as a lawyer with the important corporate lawyer in the executive at the gap. and then gave that up and became the campaign manager. and was every bit his partner. he was the person to say that his success much of it was due to a and who kept him organized i don't do details.
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in she was the chief advisor into the governor's office. you'd be hard-pressed to find a woman in california who had more influence in the state a lot of ways that she did thinking about the political dynasties. one of the things i think distinguishes the browns is that they made their mark in california not on the national stage. by virtue of the size of california. they were national figures but california is so big you guys me know this. la county has more people living in it than 43 states. in many ways california is
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such an important influence on national policy that being the governor of california although it is not the number one job that people want they made this very important constitution walk here. they were able to because of the size and nature and complexity of california. in your book. there is resiliency and a couple really important respects. one personal and one political. as a parent of a what the bush family went through with their youngest daughter i think would be worth for you to talk about that for a bit.
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>> you have to do the publisher. you did samples. here are the chapters i would write. i have the first chapter. i think it would be about the 1998 election. the one that put it in the white house. in the moment of great triumph for him. when i wrote the first draft of this book i still have the 1988 campaign as the first chapter and i have a chapter about the daughter robin. and it just was wrong. i wrote a second draft that moved the experience with robin to the first chapter. the 1988 campaign may have been the defining moment for george bush. the illness and death of robin was the defining moment. she was 28 years old when her
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daughter was three was diagnosed with leukemia near -- neither of them have ever heard of the disease. the pediatrician said there's nothing you can do. make her comfortable and tell no one. they called the uncle who was a dr.. in the next day they flew to new york and began six months of really brutal treatments i've robin kind of an early form of chemotherapy. nobody had ever been cured of leukemia. no recorded case of someone surviving the diagnosis. she was the strong one in the family. during robin's illness. there was a moment when they
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were clear that robin was gonna die. they brought them home to midland so that they could visit. and see friends and neighbors in midland. all of these decades later some of the best friends refuse to visit them because they thought leukemia was catching. when barbara bush became such a force in changing attitudes. she was looking at people with aids through the lens of robin with leukemia. there are other ways in which the experience was with robin. it made her harder on the outside. she have a survivors armor. she no longer cared about what
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people thought about what she -- how she looked. she survived the worst thing that could have happened to her. it also made her more empathetic and the inside. george and barbara bush had a privileged lives. full of opportunity they were beginning to think about going into politics. here was something beyond their control. their money in their status and their status in their powerful friends could do nothing to save robin. she got to know families who also have children with the key meant who are in much worse circumstance than she was. this was a lesson that she took through the rest of her life. the five times i interviewed her it was at her home in houston. it was in the living room of their house. in the living room there was a
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chair. it's where she would sit and meet with people or do needle .2 something she liked. in the corner of the living not in a place of providence where she could see it. she can see in the chair was a portrait of robin. in reading hyundai awaits she would know today note today is robin's birthday. how old were robin lee if she were alive today. it's the end of her life she told her nephew this was the most joyous time of her life and this surprised her nephew because she was in her 90s in declining health and he said why is this the most joyous time of your life. because soon i will see robin again. >> i would like to now open the program up to questions and i do mean questions not speeches.
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>> here in the front. >> i worked in the browns campaign. [indiscernible] do you care to share any secrets that you know about his future laugh --dash future life for what he might be doing. i tried it never predict what he will do. he will stay very involved in some of the key issues that he has made has precedence in recent years. that would be climate change. nuclear proliferation. his very concerned about the direction that the world is going in and will and will try to do anything that he can to
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address that. and also criminal justice. he have a profound impact for the last eight years. in the state in many ways. and a move towards a more restorative justice and more humanity in the prisons. i think he will continue he also said in a december farewell event for him. >> he said there were thousands of people there who can view supporters. i $15 million in my campaign account. be nice to me i can spend the money on anything i want. i think he will get involved in the issues on the 2020 ballot valid coming up including some efforts to roll back some of his initiatives. i think he also views the ranch is a place that there
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are jokes about camp david west and the institute. he sees it as a place that people can come together to try to work out problems i think they will probably try to formulate that. >> think you hear him. getting your mike. into the first campaign at that time the entire country thought he was gonna to be the one instead of the other guy. the interview with barbara did that ever, did she ask any questions on that. >> he said that his mother said you cannot possibly win. don't run. >> advice which he ignored.
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george w bush had struggled in the passage to adulthood. he have some areas where he did not seem to be on a very serious course. his younger brother was always the one it was more serious who married me first. went to work and studied harder. interested in public policy. i think there was an expectation for both of these men when they ran for governor in 1994. jeb in florida and georgia and texas that jab was the one or more likely to win. and i said what happened. george w bush one. an amazing victim. and it set him on a path to the presidency. jeb lost that year he ran four years later and one the first of two terms as the governor of florida. it was a surprise i think to the bushes and others that it was george w who prevailed and
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it was george w. bush who made it to the white house. that's one of the things that makes barbara bush for unique figures in american history. there had been two women who have been both wife of the president and a mother of a president. there has only been one who has survived to see her son into the white house. abigail adams died six years before john quincy adams got into the white house. they wait and not just with her husband but also with her son. he ignored her he ignored her again when she raised concern about the course of the war in iraq when he he was president. her husband have made about not to meddle in his son's presidency and not give advice unless he was asked. he was almost never ask and he didn't offer it. barbara bush made no such promise. she went to her son and said you're listening to much to dick cheney you need to listen to people like brazil cross.
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advice he did not take. in advice i think a lot of people wish he have. >> yes her right here. we are going to get you a microphone also. >> one of the things that impressed me. >> can you speak into the microphone. >> at one time he asked for a big cut. he was continuing the excitement from the start. and he refused to live that way. and he missed to a small apartment. have just one bed. >> this is true.
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her frugality is almost well not. that's how he characterized it. i think a lot of it goes back into the seminary in that very formative experience at a young age of living in a cell in the aesthetic image of jerry brown is accurate. it was good politics for him in many ways. it also is simply who he is and has said recently it's hard to get him to buy a new suit because he'll say i have a suit what i need another one for. his lasting contribution to california after arnold schwarzenegger. it was been written about being ungovernable. and not only restoring financial security. but in many ways through that restoring a sense of public confidence in government and
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that is something is very important to him in his father. >> we had time for one more question. [indiscernible] >> can you address the policy differences between them? >> as susan was talking about barbara bush and the personal experience shaping her public policy views ted kennedy also have a lifelong passion for health care. healthcare. and was pushing for national healthcare in the late 70s. .. ..
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ultimately had to have his leg imitated. he spent time in the hospital with other families who are in certain states does. and that is what she described for national healthcare. he was interested in national healthcare in the 76 campaign encounter promised kennedy that they would make it a priority. but once he got into office he put it on the back burner. that was the biggest policy separation between them they were in many ways similar to each other on policy but i would say on the problem of inflation in the late 70s which was out-of-control, carter was more interested in cutting government spending, through the money supply.
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and ultimately put paul at the fed who cut the money supply. kennedy was much more interested in government spending to mitigate the impact on the working class and the poor of inflation. those will be the two biggest policy differences that come to mind. >> i would like to thank all the panelists. i would like to thank all of you for coming. i urge you to read and be skeptical. [applause] you will are all part of a cohort of people we have to fight for the free universe. thank you all. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> you are watching book tv on c-span2's live coverage of the 24th annual los angeles festival -- los angeles time festival of books. one of the panelists you are just listening to, susan page for the new biography of barbara bush. she will be on acuity program on c-span tomorrow night for one hour just her talking about that book. coming up in about a half-hour is a panel on u.s. history, moon landing, world war ii and forgotten black pioneers. the three authors topics. right now we are pleased to be joined by author and professor rocks and gay.
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it's called not that bad, this passage from rape culture. how did this book come about. >> i pitch this book to harpercollins after the feminist came out. and i wanted to be able to encourage and invite more voices about sexual violence. i thought a good way to do that was in biology. my publisher was totally on board and originally i wanted to interrogate the idea of the phrase rape culture, we stayed all the time but what does it mean. i was hoping for critical essays about that. and then i ended up getting around 330 submissions and 330 of those were testimonies. they were women and men saying this is what i've been through. and i realized that my intellectual ambitions for them biology were not there yet where we can have a critical conversation and instead the book took on a different shape. >> how did it shape differently?
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it became more people talking about their own experiences or the experiences of loving people who have dealt with sexual assault. it became far more testimonial than ever intended. but in that the book becomes a powerful artifact that shows just how bad it really is. >> how did you get the submissions. how did you solicit that? >> i put out a call for solutions on social media and that was enough. i have a lot of followers. the word quickly spread. it was really challenging to go through all the submissions and find the best 29 pieces to represent what we wanted. but we did it. >> the closed words in this book are pretty rough. when i was 12 years old he right, i was gang raped in the woods behind my neighborhood by a group of boys with the
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dangerous intentions. >> yes. >> how has that impacted you as an adult woman? >> the further away i get permit the easier it becomes. but the reality is it happened nearly 30 years ago and i'm still dealing with the repercussions. it has shaped every aspect of my life, how a female self, how interact with others, relationships, my own body, it was something that happened once for several hours and has had decades of impact. it has been very challenging. >> have you ever had or wanted to confront the boys who did this, now men who did this? >> yes. i've never confronted them. i only knew one of their names so i never had the opportunity. i dream about all the time. what it would be like. what would i really want from a confrontation. at this point the statute of limitations is long past but at this point all i would want is
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for them to acknowledge yes, we did this terrible thing. maybe an apology. it won't repair what happened but it would at least help to not be crazy. >> roxanne gay, as a 12-year-old girl were you able to talk about that with your mother? >> i wasn't. i didn't tell anyone for many, many years, i was a catholic girl, good catholic girl and i thought i committed a sin by having premarital and i didn't realize the difference between rape and at the time. so i kept the secret to myself and in fact turn to food as a coping mechanism. and turned in on myself and i would write stories about girls who had been through terrible things. but i can never tell anyone, this is actually fiction i'm writing my own story. >> where did you grow? >> i did. >> you're in l.a. >> i'm. this is my final year. i have been commuting for four years.
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i was at purdue until this year end i'm teaching at yale university and i fly out every other week and i teach on site the other week. i am from the midwest even though i lived all over the country, l.a. the weather is always perfect and the people i care about most are here. when my partners in new york which is challenging and we are making it work. hopefully i convince her conventionally to live the good life. roxane gay is our guest for the next 20 minutes or so. your chance to talk with her. (202)748-8200. [gun shots] 20274882 zero one for those of you in the mountain and pacific time zones. actress gabrielle has of submission. what is she talk about? >> she talks about her own self and repercussions. there is an essay published in
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the los angeles times. and i remember reading in the l.a. times and thinking, this is so powerful. it was so well-written. she particularly brings attention to the challenges that black women face when dealing with race and sexual assault. i knew the minute i read it i wanted to include in the in biology. she was gracious to allow that. >> she also talks about the birth of a nation? what is that situation. >> she was involved in the movie and that is what prompted her to write her piece. it came out that nate parker had engaged in rape. she writes about having to make that choice and probably going to negatively affect her career. she ended up doing the right
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thing. she was believed in the people supported the decision she made and it was an incredible thing that she did for all of us to have dealt with sexual violence. >> the name of the book is not that bad but some of the related themes that i saw and reading, thank god you're not dead, you did not die. it is my fault. is that common? >> i think that's absolutely common. with believe that we did something wrong. we have no language for that beyond it's my fault. also there's a lot of shame. it wasn't my family that did this to me. it was a stranger or was my
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family that did this to me. at least it wasn't a stranger. women minimize our experiences we tend to flatten the experience of sexual assault. and deny the truth that it is not bad. in violen violence exist on the spectrum but on any point it is not bad. >> one of your previous books was bad feminist. do call yourself about feminist? >> absolutely. >> why? >> is partly pine and cheek. as they get about my own relationship and i wrote it. of course i'm a feminist but i'm really bad at it because i listen to a lot of music and i love it because it has a lot of classic. and is also deeply offensive to women.
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but i also believe i have a right to reproductive freedom, abortion, and i should be paid the same as a man. i am absolutely an ardent ten minutes but i'm bad at it. historically it is focused on the concerns of heterosexual middle-class white women who don't deal with stability. they do so to the detriment of many other women. if that is good feminism i'm very bad feminist. it and i'm believe in the important of inner sexuality. >> prior to that your book with what women, why? >> it was just a great title. all of the women in the stories and difficult women feel a range of emotion that often times women are being told that the different when they express. it was a really good control title for the women in the book in the times of issues that they
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deal with. it also sounds really good. and i clearly like short titles. >> are you a difficult women? >> are very difficult. >> in what way? >> i have opinions. and i'm incredibly stubborn. i am really nice which is good. but i am not afraid to advocate for the things that i most passionately believe in. often times when you are passionate advocate especially anything in social justice are labeled as difficult. and i'm fine with that. i am not too difficult. i am the right amount. >> you look out loud on a social media. you are not shy about sharing your experiences, what you're going through, even on a flight to australia you had several tweets about the flight. >> it was a very long flight. [laughter] >> is there a correlation or connection between what happened to you and living out loud? >> i think in part. actually in my day-to-day life
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i'm really shy and quiet. so social media gives me the opportunity to say all the things that i wish i could say in person. there is a freedom to it. i started using the internet in 1992. back then you could be anyone, you could pretend to be anything. there was this distance between yourself and reality. so the person i am online is me, it's a version of me. but there is a freedom there and when you keep a secret to yourself for so long, it's so terrible, when you really decide to free herself from the secret and free yourself from the shame you decide that you're not ever going to be quiet again about the things that matter. so on social media i am allowing myself to be vocal about what matters to me and i think it's a perfect medium for complaining. i would never complain for example, to someone who is doing their job and doing the best they can but i can't complain on
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twitter, it will say in a tree, that's it, and life goes on. i have a lot of fun with it. i'm also very private so i have boundaries about what i will and will not share. >> what you teach at purdue? >> i teach creative writing. and workshops in creative and creative nonfiction. >> i'm going to ask anyway, do you have a favorite horse story that really grabbed you and not that bad? >> i do have a favorites. ways to be a girl by xps, i thought it was really good because it shows on the milder end of the spectrum but every woman deals with. in their places that our bodies are not our own and we are part of the public whether we want to be or not. fragments by aubrey hirsch was th opening essay in the
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collection. marianne wrote a great essay about loving a woman. even though she has not had the experience herself. i loved all 29 essays as much as you can love something about something so difficult. but of course their highlights. >> would you consider what happened to her sexual assault customer. >> i think it sexual misconduct. it is tricky with these words. but that was inappropriate. and i think it's important to find language for talking about inappropriate behavior. it was definitely sexual misconduct. every young woman going into acting deals with some level of it. and often times especially as we saw with the harvey weinstein story, the women run the business. there addictions are brought to a halt because some man decided he had more right to her body
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then she had to a career. >> one of the things that intrigued me about her essay, was the 13, 14 your girl who are going before producers. >> that was actually one of the most painful parts that these young girls are already experiencing sexual creation especially for 10-year-old should be allowed to be that age. if they want to become actors they should be allowed to explore that dream without having to deal with being objectified, without being overly sexual side because they are still children. >> roxane gay is our guest, mary is calling in from jackson, michigan. mary heuer on book tv. >> thank you. i'm calling to express my appreciation. i think what you rea written iso powerful. that has been my professional life. i am so grateful that you have taken the time to bring these together. my question to you, my concern
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about your own dealing with us in a private way as a catholic woman i have done this kind of work on my life. i wondered if there was anything those of us who are activists in this field would do -- would be suggested to do because that is not your capability or intention at the moment. especially no timeframe for reporting for one thing. >> host: before we get an answer, can you tell us what you meant when you said you have done this in a professional way? >> caller: i worked in sexual abuse with the courts probably 15 years. i accompanied the women from the hospital all the way to the court system.
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>> host: thank you ma'am. >> guest: thank you mayor. that is a great question. the most important thing activists can do is first believe women, and secondly, and make negotiating the justice and health care system and the aftermath of sexual assault easier by being advocates. by talking about avenues of justice beyond the court system which not everyone will serve their best interest. so talking about restorative justice and doing the kinds of works to bring restorative justice out. just most important to be with women when they're going through this. >> host: danielle with albany, new york. >> caller: hi professor. thank you so much for your work. i want to go back to the topic of sexual harassment and assault in the african-american and brown communities. i grew up in the inner-city and
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i have dozens of stories were young women were sexualized at a very, very early age. i myself experienced some sexual harassment. i know that many of the inner-city communities lack a lot of resources but i think this topic is so important because in a sac sense familiesd generations especially when it comes to reproductive life. i was just wondering what do you think the communities of individuals with less resources can do to better educate their daughters, sons, parents, people who have a major role in a young developing mind and life.
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>> guest: yes. i think the most important thing that communities without resources can do is encourage people to get help from community-based resources that are re available if at all possible. but also have necessary conversations about what enthusiastic and active consent looks like. not necessarily talk to young girls about how they should move through the world but talk to young boys about how they should treat women. again, it's also important, especially in black and brown communities to believe women. we recently saw our kelley's and we are now just talking about him facing judges under justice because people do not value his victims. which was black women. it's really important that we are as valuable as anyone else in our story should be believe. >> host: from gabrielle union, wiping the sting clean essay and
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not that bad, quote begin we are making an effort to make it a consent and we explain that the onus is on them to explicitly ask if the partner consent and we tell them that artists mile or so i won't suffice, they have to hear yes. just to go back to her question, she talked about african-american women, another essay was charisse tracy, that was difficult reading. >> guest: that was very difficult reading. she is an incredible writer and i've known her for a few years. i met her at an event and we stayed in touch and she has a hearing story about dealing with sexual abuse from her father. and that is so painful when it is somebody who is supposed to
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love you and take care of you and your supposed to be able to trust this person to have your best interest. when that person betrays the trust it is devastating. i cannot even imagine to be honest. and she writes about not only what she endured but the aftermath, betrayal, and the ways in which he was betrayed by her family and community when her story was doubted. and when she was overlooked because of her experiences. we have to do better. this is actually not something that i think is unique to the african-american community. women in general are not beliefs. but i think in the african american community often times the shame becomes even more pronounced because we tend to be ibe, because black women in particular are expected to be the strong black woman. and we are not allowed to be human and to have moments of weakness. we are not allowed to shore suffering if and when we suffer. we have to resist those
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narratives to become complex people. >> host: when you finally talked about your experience did whoever you talk to believe you? >> guest: yes absolutely. one of the things i am most grateful for is that i have been believed when i share my story and when my family found out, they were angry on my behalf and my father in particular who is an amazing man told me that he would've gotten justice for me. and i know that to be true but when you're 12 years old, you're 12 years old. especially back then. i didn't know any better. a lot of times parents come up to me at events and said what could i have done, what could i do and cases happens to my child can come and tell me represent everything they should do it wasn't about them it was about my fear in my shame. but they believe me and that goes a long way. >> host: one more essay, anthony the plumber, how did you meet him? on social media?
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>> guest: he found the call through social media and submitted through the admission queue like everyone else. i very much wanted to include essays by men. because men are part of the conversation. and men to experience sexual violence, they do deal with rape, and i wanted them to be able to share their experiences and hopefully have the experiences honored in the way they deserve to be. >> host: not that bad is the name of roxanne gaye's new book. dispatches from rape culture, are you working on another book? >> i'm working on several other books. i'm working on a young adult novel. >> host: he wrote comic books, fiction, nonfiction. >> guest: i read a little bit of everything. like a swiss army knife. >> host: thank you for spending a few minutes with our viewers. >> guest: absolutely thanks for having me.
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>> but tvs los angeles times festival of books continues on the campus of the university of southern california. in about an hour we have another call in program and it is going to be best macy. he saw her earlier talking about her book on opioids in the opioid epidemic. she will be coming on to take her calls. up next is a panel on u.s. history. it's james donovan, duncan williams and annalisa cox. we have covered these authors separately talk about the moonlit lead, world war ii and forgotten black pioneers. now they will be on a panel together and it will begin in just a minute. live coverage from los angeles. [inaudible]
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[inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible]
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[inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] >> could ever be goo i'm exciteo talk american history. welcome i'm elizabeth taylor and i'm going to moderate this panel. writinwriting the epic american
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history. thank you for these amazing panelists and let me introduce them and we want this to be collaborated as possible so we hope we will ask only ask each of the questions that you will jump in and we just want to say that, epic history what makes history epic more than an episode. but history -- american history has tragedy and today these three books, you can see them here these are three books that exemplify the duality. in really powerful ways. so together they get a sense of the american experience.
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they are on an epic scale. but that contradiction, tension really is the core of the american experience. so i'm going to begin by introducing the authors. altogether, then we will built into the conversation. i will go alphabetically, actually as it happens i like to looked left generally. to anna-lisa cox, she is a fellow at harvard university had said hutchins african-american research and is curated the national museum of african american history and culture.
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and she lives in michigan. her new book as you can see, is the book, the bone in the sioux knew of the land. america's forgotten black pioneers and the struggle for equality. in this fascinating book she focuses on northwest territory. so everyone knows what the northwest territory is, that is modern michigan and ohi, ohio, wisconsin. in the first half of the 19th century. in her book persuasively shows the african-american a much larger role in the settling of the frontier than anyone previously believed. and before the civil war there is tens of thousands of free american -- african-american pioneers who came to settle in
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this vast territory. and she really tracks those down. it's an amazing map on the front of her book the demonstrates. and then moving along to james donovan who is a writer in dallas. he's written about the alamo, custer, but his new book, shoot for the moon, the space race and extraordinary of the apollo 11. you can see right there. it's a dramatic story. the space race between the soviet union in the united states. jfk was about to put a man on the moon. but more than that it was about the technicians, engineers, the story of the people who did this
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amazing work. at that moment we know so well, it's been played so many times, when neil armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. does anybody remember, it was 50 years ago, 1969, duncan williams is an ordained buddhist priest and the scholar of buddhism. he is the director of the center for japanese religion and culture right here at the university of southern california where we now are sitting. this beautiful campus. his new book, americans who trust, the story of faith and
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freedom in the second world war. the mass incarceration of the japanese in world war ii as a scar on her packed. and now duncan writes about the cannot city. it has a new twist. after so many people were removed from their homes imprisoned in the camps, a minority of these maintained their dignity by fighting for the religious right. and it is challenging. the japanese-american buddhist insisted remarkably that they could be both buddhist and american. again, the contradictory american experience and we tried
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to fuse it together. so let's have each one of them began. the most obvious question as you look at these bootable covers, maybe start with annalisa, how did you each come up with the titles of your book? >> it has a complicated history. it was almost called this. because it is on the long denied and wrong. history of african-american pioneers in a place in a time when they were not supposed to exist. i kept coming across his phrase that african americans equal rights activists were using in this region, and the 1830s,
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1840s, as a way of claiming their essential americanness. their deep roots in this nation. then i had a crisis. just as we were deciding with my editor, i came across the last retirement speech by president andrew jackson. in which he coined the term, bone in sinew whe. i thought how in the world am i going to make this work. and then i realized that these african-american equal rights activists coming out, the flourishing farms of the midwest were very much aware of this. they knew of the speech. and what they were doing was appropriating this language for themselves to say that okay
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president jackson, you may be talking to a white audience and calling the bone in sinew but we are going to appropriate the term and call them the bone in sinew of the land. so this inflates over and over again of broadly published speeches from the black convention that are occurring across the midwest in the 1840s. >> were talking about the cover so right? i had done two books previous to this books in the american west in the 19th century. a book called the terrible glory on custer in the little big horn in the book called the blood of heroes which is about the battle of the alamo. i wanted to do something in the 20th century so someone suggested, i stored in my mind,
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it can't make it to the forefront may be a brain and i figured that was tell me something. so i took it on in books as you know, they are sold in the basis of a proposal that is sent to an editor talking about the book. i wrote a short proposal and it always has to have some kind of name, he wanted to be wonderful and intriguing imperfect but sometimes it's not. probably half of all titles -- original working titles are changed but the phrase popped into my head, shoot to the moon, this is about four and half years ago. and i thought for sure i would come up with a better title, form romantic, perfect, original, what i do when i go to sleep, i pick up my book because like all of you, you probably read before you go to sleep.
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in the five, ten, 15 minutes before go to sleep i try to think of a better title. i never did. [laughter] and foreign half years, i'm pretty good with titles, i like to think. when i saw this cover i realized it worked as a title. so i like the title now, i did not before. [laughter] >> and it speaks to troubled levels about where the book is. >> yes it does. has the moon, you will all these important things, i had something they were titles but for my custer book i really want to use fate is a river but nobody liked it except me. i thought it was romantic but somebody said it sounds like a thomas wolfe book. time in the river. so maybe if i write novels. >> duncan? >> i have been working on this book and it's about the work to
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japanese-american incarceration. and as you mentioned, it's one of the big topics in american history. you think what else could be written about it but what i focused on in the book was religion or buddhism. over 110,000 persons who were revolved in the removal and placing different camps. that group was about two thirds u.s. citizens but over two thirds buddhist. when i argue in the book is that there buddhist faith was actually considered a national security threat by intelligence agencies at the time and yet the very thing that put them in camp also was will help them survive and persist. in that idea of being able to say i can be buddhist and
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american. so when i was thinking about the title, i originally -- this boo, from completion i chance laded a lot of diaries from japanese to english, interviewed over 120 people for the book, wrote and rewrote, it took me over 17 years. and for 16 and half of those years the book title was camp dharma. [laughter] the idea that there is a buddhist teaching that came from camp. and then at the very end, i won't give it away but it's a poem that begins the book that interprets the whole experience of losing everything that you work for, being placed in one of these remote camps with barb wire fences and this person interpreted it as if it were a buddhist teaching or buddhist
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scripture. he has a poem that begins with the phrase, have i heard, it's a classic preamble for a buddhist scripture. it's what follows is what lived and what happened at the camps was a kind of buddhist teaching. the interpretive would be the interpretation of a classical sacred text might be. so i changed the name at the end to reflect that idea that two things that may not seem to go together, something called american and something from the asian buddhist tradition in the midst of war and how they come together. >> so all of your books in some way are an attempt to revive american history or come to grips with it or two related to
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an audience. and so i think one of the things that they share, it focuses on people. so at these great moments in history, i am wondering when you are writing that how did that work for you? did you find characters to help tell your stories or was it the story first? >> all of you. >> i can start. it is hard to start off because this is the nation's first great migration. it is a movement of tens of thousands of people settling of property settlements across the earliest midwest starting in the 1790s. that there is a lot of
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statistical table and it would take the heart out of this history. and the people who lived it were truly heroic. i don't think any of us here sitting at this table could write the things about falling in love with the subject. and falling in love with the people that we write about. and i got to know particular individuals because i knew their descendents or because i got to know their communities very well and i have to admit this is a bit of an issue i had with my editor when i originally pitched this project i had over 13 families that i wanted to follow because the one thing i wanted to get across to an audience is that this is not about the s in the 0, the first and the only, we so many times, and talking about minority history, whether it's women, or asian, they said they were the first, or the only, this is exceptional is him
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argument that is made. but this is a massive movement. he said, i have three. [laughter] and then i got them up to five. the story actually starts with a young couple who were board enslaved and ended up free on the indiana frontier before there was a state of indiana on their first 40 acres which they grew to over 250 by the time that they died. in the into them too. in their 90s. we followed them through. there are others in here as well because in the end i knew that this is a history that it was going to have to get people herr to get the monumental aspect of this epic history. >> people know about the movie.
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you have incredible characters. >> this is not a story that has been underreported i think you can say. it is one of the most reported and recorded events in history. but as i told you when i get this around my brain, i don't want to take on a subject unless i think i can bring something new to it. so i started looking at what was out there in the books. and i realized i read a lot of them and i realized there were books out there but a lot of them were either -- written by science writers or the science and technology overwhelmed the story. it can overwhelm it easily. or they just didn't write it very well. i wanted to write a book about, there were some of those books.
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i wanted to write a book about people. i did not see a book out there that i wanted to read about it. because i wanted to bring up -- the hidden figures of the story. the flight controllers, the mission planners, and some are surprisingly interesting let me tell you. plus the astronauts and all that. that is quite obvious. so that is why i took it on. i thought he could do that. i interviewed many of the people involved and of course the astronauts are like rock stars. his trying to get an interview with led zeppelin. at least the apollo 11 guys are like that. the other people, the mission planners, flight controllers, engineers are not the rock star so they will talk to you. and they were all wonderful. >> some people had not spoken much? >> right. this is history for some reason
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that people who lived through the camp experience often wanted to show the children and people from this and buried their stories. in among the many books that have been written about the world war ii japanese american incarceration, a lot of them look at the constitutional questions about due process, or in my field, religious freedom, these questions don't really become real unless we look at it embodied in people. so wanted to see if i could tell a story inside out. so i tried to not only interviewed 120 people in transfer diaries and so forth, but like anna-lisa mentioned, i editor at one point in the book that said, i cannot keep track
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of these japanese names. can you get them down to seven main characters? and i had the struggle because i was like, these people's histories have been erased and i don't want to erase it further by not having their names. so the compromise was, this book has an endnote section and i was able to retain a lot of people's names that way. but also i hope it's a little bit more readable because it focuses on the couple but a more manageable number of people. >> think about the riding in the research, these are histories full of characters. were there tensions between the writing and narrative when you have characters with their own individual narratives, and you have it that it might not sink
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with the story of the book. >> what did you end up doing? >> the cutting on my gosh. i said feel like i'm still bleeding. i think as a writer you invest so heavily in the research and as i would cut sections or remember going back to the attic, are going to the basement to find the thing and then i did end up having a very long footnote section so i could include some of the stories that got cut from the main text. but in the end i wanted to be a book that would capture people and bring them in so they were there in a way with a sense of empathy and understanding for these pioneers who are living in a time which is so different from ours. also had families, who fell in
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love, who mourned the loss of friends, who worked hard against injustice. i wanted to get a broader scenes in about what was our first world rights movement. the northwest territory was set aside in 1787, that is the largest piece of land to ever be free of slavery in the world. and to have equal voting rights. this could bring people into why a particular family would decide to come from north carolina or pennsylvania to settle on the furthest reaches of the territory in the 1790s or 1800. because they were searching for their rights. they wanted to create this new america were all men could have access to a life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. so it is trying to weed the
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intimate and personal narratives which are so hard-to-find when you're dealing with old history. i cannot write about the color of somebody's hair without finding the military records. i wanted to bring people to life and that way because these are such exciting people and if i make them boring i will kill myself. truly. >> many epic history or stories that are set on a bobcat canvas, the danger is writing summary after summary, expedition because you then you get close to a textbook. and nobody reads textbooks for fun. so ideally you would love to have what you call seeing, summary, scene because scenes are wonderful because that is what we like to read. inosine told using novelistic techniques like dialogue and details and points of view, all those things are easy to come by especially for your story.
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i was lucky because i could still talk to some of these people who were there 45, 50 years ago or maybe more. but there is one flight controller that plays an important part during the dangerous landing. he was very nice to talk to him a couple times. he gave me his e-mail, that was a big mistake for steve. i must've sent him three or four dozen and was was prefaced with steve, i promise this is the last e-mail. when you laid out on the rough cotton blanket behind your house in the town of fremont, iowa when you were a kid with her father and looked up at the stars what color was the blanket? [laughter] was it wool, cotton, what stores were you pointing out? little details like that bring scenes alive because we can fix on the colors and things like that. i was fortunate enough to do
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that. none of the stories can be solid scenes of course. you've got to have summary. my little secret, not much of a secret but i'm going to tell you, i always try to start a chapter focused on individual and then your reading about a person and if i learned one thing in writing and reading my whole life is that people like to read about people. if you get them to read about a person at the beginning of the chapter and get an interest, you can send way to a summary and some science and technology. >> i would so agree with that the idea of how to keep what is at stake in the book kinda throughout. for example, in my book it was, what is america, is america a white christian nation or is it
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multiethnic and free nation. that is a kind attention throughout the book. but it's a little stories in terms of cutting block that i interviewed this one veteran about his experience and there was this one little tiny story that actually made it into the book. when he went and were instructed, can you imagine you're in these camps and drafted in your leaving behind your symbol leads and parents to termination and there is a moment when you're asked crew dog tag and what religion you are. you have peace for protestant, c for catholic, h for hebrew or jewish, and expert other. and he was like what about be for buddhist. he said buddhist does not exist in the u.s. army young man.
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and so he said, in that case i choose p and the guy sending them up said what made you choose that. and he said because a protest. [laughter] it was these little tiny stori stories, that is not why i was interviewing him but that is what made into the book because it illustrates the larger question of what is at stake. >> when you research your book, you do fall in love with your story and the people and you have so much material that you have to cut. of course it's a constant battle. what to cut, and one of the criteria should not be how much you care about, it should be whether it works in the service of the story. the editor for my first book, he should had a little stamp for how many times next to my first manuscript pages wrote, don't need this level of detail. and he was right.
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nine times out of ten. ninety-five times out of a hundred. >> it is interesting because when dealing with this ec frontier, pioneers, these have become iconic graphic terms within our american history. but we have kind of lost touch into details of what that actually means. i started off writing this book and when i was writing about charles and being out there to being homesteading virgin force. and i realized i had no idea what that meant. i didn't know what it means to plow with an ox team or clear land. i didn't know what that looked like. i couldn't talk to them, they lived 200 years ago. i ended up talking to some very eccentric and interesting people in michigan who still form that
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way. and i talked to them about their experience. it was astounding to me, the fact to plow an acre of land with a single plate plow you have to walk 9 miles per hour acre on rough mud. probably barefoot. i cannot believe this. . . . >> a lot of east coast folks that come out to frontier and they clear the land and they put their weed out there because that's a good cash crop and then they discover that it takes a really healthy, strong person that knows what they're doing,
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it takes a day to harvest a quarter acre of wheat. well, if you have 100 acres under cultivation, that means you will have to hire basically every nearn lives around you to harvest the wheat. so these details began to made me realize about the connection that is people had, if you had an african-american farmer who owned 900 acres of land, then they knew all the white people around them because they were hiring them to actually harvest that land. one of my favorites was an old plow that i helped to collect that's not in museum of african-american museum and culture and used by early african-american pioneers and handle was meant, creatures started eating the handle.
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someone said why would these pioneers have kept plow in homes, if they didn't the plow handles would have been eaten to nothing. >> trying to go back to where they were. >> you do tons research and makes richer and -- >> certainly. when you translate, for example, from japanese into english, one of the things you need to figure out quickly is trying to figure out terminology that was used in that time that may not have -- they were talking about certain things of things and i just didn't know what it meant to live in that, world war ii camp
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and one scene where they didn't have a buddhist alter to do buddhist birthday ceremony, one of the men went to hall and got the largest carrot he could find and started carving it, i started to realize, the usual buddhist ceremony, if you have a statute and pour sweet tea on it, but if i were in that situation, didn't have the sweet tea but had, you know, sugar and coffee, you know, that's how they would do it and place one can have self. >> the character is so important, but and then how much do you think of the reader when
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you're writing? novelists talk about that. >> well, i think some -- >> go ahead, okay. >> well, some writers just are oblivious to the reader which just amazing me. i'm always trying to think of the reader, whether they will make sense of any of this, he was speaking of translation, when i try to translate nasa into english, i wasn't always successful because no one has acronyms than nasa. a couple of words thattic were english. i made a rule that there would only be one acronym per sentence because i couldn't have that and it was very difficult and i didn't stick to it but i tried. >> i think that for a lot of people and i hope this isn't for those of you in the audience, lawsuit of people find history
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intimidating, right? boring, some really bad history teachers out there. my poor daughter ran into some, she was about 10, so i knew -- i needed to write this in a way that would be a story, that could engage people. that the reader could have a heart for and imagine themselves in that person's shoes whether they were somebody who was, you know, brought to work in salt mines in illinois illegally enslaved who was to work extra to raise the thousand dollars to purchase themselves in 1820 and also had this dream of purchasing their entire family and their entire family's freedom or it was a mother worried about what was going to
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happen to her children as they were seen more and more enslaved children brought to the state of tennessee. just constantly trying to think, is somebody going find this interesting. i don't know, i think there's some history for me writing this history felt like an act of justice because this has been a history that's been denied for so long. but i also wanted the reader as they read it to feel like as they read it they were helping to unbury and bring to light the history. i think there's some histories when you read them, act of revolution, i really do. i was hope to go write a book that would be like that. >> some writers as i said some writers really don't pay attention to the reader. i get to the granular. you turn the page and there's this huge block, one paragraph.
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[laughter] >> no dialogue, oh, my gosh. the best writers, i'm sure we think this here, some of the worst writing is by academics. academic historians, i'm sorry. [laughter] >> i'm going to include myself. they suffer from a condition that a writer friend of mine calls corn cobitis. [laughter] >> and i hope you will give us a chance to read excerpt from the book -- [laughter] >> let's do that. [laughter] >> okay. 2 or maybe 3 minutes. so this is very small and it's not about plowing. you can -- you can read that or something else.
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this is urban and it's one person's story about a terrible decade that hit our nation when almost every city in the north was hit by horrific where whites were rising up to burn down black businesses, black churches, black schools. this is chapter 6. burnt our towns an destroyed the lives of our people, each chapter titled from the declaration of independence from the bill of rights, cincinnati, late august, 1841, they were barely breathing, all of them quiet as they lay on rooftops and stood in alleys that led into darkness, the night seem to be holding the breathe with them, it was so hot. the clouds were lit holding in the stink of cincinnati, that clean city of 46,000 souls on the banks of the ohio river. the ghost of millions of hogs slaughtered every winter in the
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city rose from the ground in a stinking theme. the pork business had given their city the nickname porkopolisn. the winter many streams that drained the city couldn't freeze, warmed by the blood running into them. emptying into the ohio river so that the entire city was whimmed and now it was summer, the hog slaughtering season was over but james and his men knew that summer was a season for another kind of slaughter, for summer, in cincinnati was the time for war. the first battle was broken out in heat of august of 1829, thriving community of africans americans reduce today half. but the numbers only told part of the story, this was a peaceful entrepreneurial community of african americans trying to work and raise their families in one of the largest cities of the great west,
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attacked because of their success. they were supposed to be lazy, ignorant and brutal, the only problem was that african americans were not what they were supposed to, they were starting successful businesses, founding churches and building schools, they were organize to go change politician and the law in favor of liberty and equality. all over the nation whites were turning in violence towards african americans they considered to be aspiring too much and cincinnati with its thriving african-american community and active abolitionist both black and white saw one to have earliest and worst of these attacks. but some stayed and there would have been men on the rooftops who would have remembered 1829. the attacks started at night,
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white men mobs streets, burning torches setting to burn. it was he who was leading them this night, he was only a young man, but all the men he led called him major. they knew he was the grandson of revolutionary war leader until they honored him even though the white grandfathered may not have even known or cared about the existence of an enslaved grandson. but wilkerson and men claimed the revolutionary blood and now they were leading their own revolution, but more than his ancestry choose wilkinson to lead them, some african-american men saw homes rebuilt and burned
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again. preacher, literate and well traveled, survivor of slavery and they trusted that he would lead them well in the defense of their community. according to the laws, the courts and the market, wilkerson's life was worth a great deal of money and he had earned every penny of that work buying his own freedom. now finally he owned his own body, his life belonged to no one but himself. he was willing to give up that life for his brother in cincinnati. [applause] [laughter] >> all right. >> mine will be real short, only a minute, minute and a half, this is from the first chapter, chapter 1, i mentioned steve,
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flight controller. one saturday morning in october 1957 a 14-year-old in a small farming town of, if rema, iowa woke up to found the world in a different place. the soviet union had launched beach-ball size orbit around the earth, they called it spu, the nik, fellow traveler, they were seen as technological power had beaten the united states into space. boy's name was steve bales and he was of average height with thick brown hair and glasses. mother worked in beauty parlor, father at the age of 39 had been draft intoed the u.s. army and served with the 102nd infantry division in world war ii. owned hard wire store. steve told his parents, younger brothers and anyone else who
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would live how angry he was that america hadn't launched satellite first. he had been interested in space ever since he was 10. when he and his father and brothers spent many summer nights sleeping outside on well-worn gray blankets, there it is. [laughter] >> in the field behind their house on the edge of town. as darkness fell, dad would point out the big deeper and nothing seemed as wonderful as universe and its mystery. that excitement spiked when boy watched the 1955 wallet disney tv special featured intense rocket scientist with slight german accent describing how one day men would reach the moon. it belonged to soviets, the enemy in this cold war but it was only a matter of time the boy knew before the united states would launch its own and there would be more space
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exploration and he wanted to be a part of it. [applause] >> i worry that i'm the academic the room. [laughter] >> let me read a little section from the beginning of the book. it's about this man, he's a buddhist priest, community before the war in los angeles. >> after being deported from los angeles, seems like he initially spent several months in temporary corridors of the city, had not finished construction in camps that were to be used. while those were being built, along with 18,000 other persons of japanese ancestry had been sent to santa anita racetrack
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where they were forced to leave in horse stalls. upon hearing that he would be moving again this time to camp in wyoming, wrote a poem entitled leaving santa anita. the poem, this morning the train like big black snakes us takes us so far as wyoming, the current of buddhist thought always runs east ward. the policy makes tend tendency of teachings, by writing that current buddhist thought always runs east ward, invoking ideas found as early as the late eighth and ninth century, popular collection. the belief happened in its origin, prophecy that after he died his teachings were
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transmitted east ward. traditional formulation of buddism described in japan, spread of religion begins in india and korea and then point in the island of japan. by the late 19th century and early 20th century buddhist migrate to go america had began to think of their journey as extension of east ward trajectory. it is in this tradition of thought that invokes suggesting another more hopeful interpretation of the forced migration enacted by the u.s. governments discriminatory policy. as unexpected an devastating as it might seem, perhaps it could be understood and yet another opportunity to fulfill the buddhist prophecy of east ward migration of teachings. [applause]
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>> you don't read or write like academic. [laughter] >> bad name here. don't want to do that especially in a university. anyway, so please think of your questions and the mic is going to come down, raise your hands and meanwhile while that's happening i will ask questions, writing the epic american history, so what -- why write about american history? >> you know, kind of had to be epic, i didn't start to write epic history.
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when i started the research at the hutchins centers at harvard. settlements that were african americans were farmers. it was a lot and sort of had to become an epic, but also sort of a problem within historical community that individual community histories were arising at the same time there was a growing interesting african-american history. they had all of the ideas, this must have been unique to new york or unique to cincinnati, this must have been unique to california in order to get a grasp of what was happening i had to look very broadly and information in order to find this. it kind of demanded the people involved in this that kept saying this needs to be history, really?
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[laughter] >> i was hoping it wouldn't take this long. >> one of the reasons i wanted to write this book was because, you know, this happened less than 50 years ago but the median age in this country is about 38, so there were far more people living today than were alive back then and old enough to remember and believe it or not, a decent amount of those people who don't actually think it's really happened. so i really had that in mind hope to go counter some of that movement, you knowing part of this increasing antiscience and antieffect movement and i see in today's discourse,. >> i guess for me the poem that i just read it's change perspective. obviously this guy is i'm going to be in prison, still find meaning and freedom and also the idea of america, there's one
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kind of history of america which is like, you know, england becomes new england and pioneers are going west ward and lewis and clark. for asian people, it's not their history, the history is moving east ward and once you say, okay, there's an east ward history, then for our central and south american, their american stories, north ward, you start to realize once you break open one thing it's possible to think, you know, by changing perspective, flipping the map you're able to reflect a little bit about what it means to be american. >> microphone. >> first of all, thanks for your readings, that was wonderful. i have a question for you, what i appreciate most of what you're talking about is lives of
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ordinary people in epic adventures and in your research, how do you blend that contrast of nonfiction with the reader that everything you're writing is true and everything they said is accurate, how do you research that? how do you make sure that happened when they had no voice or hard to find their voice? >> being incredibly truthful. i mean, there's over 80 pages in this book, not to scare anybody. i knew because it was present history that it was buried for so long that it was going to be incredibly important have this meticulously researched and in fact, my -- my boss at the center when i first started work tong project, he gave me incredibly helpful advice, he said don't exaggerate your claims and that was really
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important. i really tried not to, but there was some -- there were a few freedoms i took. for example, january in wisconsin i would claim it was cold. [laughter] >> that was something i was willing to do. you know, i didn't look up the weather reports. if there was a farm, frontier farm i would assume there were chickens there and probably rooster crowing. certain assumptions that were made that were norms that i knew i could bring into the story but everything else is really from accurately historical record. there's not that dialogue. there are voices, though, so quite a few of these pioneers were literate and they left behind their voices and speeches
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and letters and dairies and biographies that they were writing, james wilkerson wrote a beautiful biography about his life and i was able to read those in, their own words because that's incredibly important in history but i obviously didn't interview them. >> you mentioned i didn't have to do as much imagining and i had easier in some ways because only of the people took part of the story were alive and i could talk to them, interviews and accounts, but when i was doing my two previous books, she mentioned assumptions and, you know, you can assume that the sun came up even though nobody says so, the sun will come up in the east and you can find out what time it's going to come up, you know, nowadays, easy, so i called these reasonable assumptions and logical
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suppositions, ls and ra. >> i always found -- i interviewed 120 people back 17 years ago, already in 80's or, you know, people's memories can be sometimes amazing but also faulty at that age and so if i could find contemporaneous letters and dairies that can confirm and the government in the camps very documenting everything, countersurveillance section that was creating reports, so i went -- being able to -- a couple of different things in triangle to be able to establish the fact is one way to do it.
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>> triangulation is so important. >> it's amazing how people that were right there see something different and happens all of the time. >> exactly. >> even i wrote about and you just have to spend -- historians spend incredibly large amount of time kind of comparing what somebody said or claimed against the historical record and that's a surprising to figure out what happened in this particular instance that happens a lot more than people think. >> how accurate are newspapers, i have to say, fake news is not news. [laughter] >> and so i had to make sure i knew exactly the political affiliation of the editor of the newspaper and how the reporting some things and use 2 or 3 different newspapers in order to get accurate -- accurate picture of them because one person's under ground railroad, another
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newspaper's editor slave dealer, right, so you really -- politics involved. >> hi, i'm a third-year history major at the university of california liver side. i had a question about what advice could you give an aspiring historian to try to find those counterperspectives that challenge the dominant narrative that we have been fed throughout our lives and focus on untold stories of history? >> great, great question. mind if i start? so there is so much history out there that has not been told. there's not a scarcity of history especially when you're talking about the full picture of american history that includes and weeds in all americans, women, minorities and i know that sometimes things are
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thrown around, i want to be really clear here, once businesses present new information about radio waves and black holes, people don't start attacking things, i'm not going to listen to that, i know what the universe looks like and so i understand there can be some discomfort that people have with new discoveries that are made about the past but the problem is that's historical project, to be constantly finding more that we didn't know because the past, history is what we we talk about and massive field that we are never actually going to know everything about it. keep an open mind in whatever you do, try to ignore, first person that did this or only person that did this, would you look for more and do look for their backs.
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>> here is another point. no matter what you take on there's always new information to find. maybe going back to biblical times -- unless several hundred years for sure, i -- when i did book on big horn, i found tons of new information that i hadn't found. same thing with the alamo in 1836, not as much, if you dig hard for those primary sources which were all important, it'll make a huge difference. so many historians even today, best-selling historians they stick to secondary sources and they don't dig, dig and they don't find anything new and there's a market for that kind of thing but it's not going to be anything new. >> in my particular field of japanese history, we used to say when you look at contemporary or modern times, the picture, like if you go to medieval period, you kn

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