tv Interview with David Rubenstein on the National Book Festival CSPAN August 24, 2019 12:30pm-12:56pm EDT
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something he needed help with. it had been started early in 2001. it's an idea that really came from laura bush. she asked jim billington around the time of the inauguration in 2001, whether or not there was a national book festival comparable to the one she had started in texas. he said there isn't yet but there will be. so i came up with the idea of how to put together a national book festival. the idea was to do to the mall and a series of tents that was set up for the first year. it turned out that any sponsorships that were going to be more difficult than they thought it would be. he asked me if i would get involved and i told him i would do to and i began to be a sponsor and the cochair of the event. ten years or so. it's very important to me that i enjoyed a great deep deal. it's a great gift for the country. as you know we get about 200,000 people come to the day of the festival every year. this year is going to be liberty weekend the saturday of labor day weekend.
see map first of all what is the madison counsel that you represent. >> david rubenstein: the library of congress gets most of its money from the federal government congress rep appropriations. like many organizations, the smithsonian and that national archives the money that comes from the federal government is not really adequate to deal with all of the needs throughout the organization involved so these organizations build support ar arms. the smithsonian has them in the national park service have them all of these organizations try to supplement with the federal government. the madison counsel was to be the supplementary arm of the library of congress. it was really started off a large gift by john clooney many years ago. now other people are involved in supporting the library of on chris with gifts. the last number of years i served as chairman of the madison counsel. >> to fund raise, do you give gifts yourself.
>> david rubenstein: i also fund raise, we meet twice a year and we have a number of people from all over the country who donate actually sometimes they give part of their collections from the library of congress. they also give money. we try to raise money for various things that the congress is doing. for example, now the library of congress isn't sick considering making the building is known as the jefferson, the main building, somewhat more user-friendly. we are trying to get some more money from congress. the private sector will contribute as well. it's very easy it is easier to get money from congress if you can get some support from the private sector as well. for example, the smithsonian, the african american history coliseum that was built in number of years ago, that came about because congress put out about $270 million in the public put out about $270 million. now the aerospace museum is being redone because the walls are crumbling of it as a result
of congress have agreed to put up more money. they are putting up 650 million dollars in the private sector will raise money as well. additional money to the organization can get money from the private sector is a formula that has worked somewhat well for the congress and the private sector. in the kennedy center coming week are bringing. all of the money is coming from the private sector to the kennedy center. it will help with the upkeep of the reach. it's roughly $250 million from the private sector with that. >> you've called your donations patriotic philanthropy. >> david rubenstein: i've said that when i give money to the smithsonian the kennedy center and things like that, what i'm trying to do is to remind people of the history and heritage of our country. but also about the good things that are country stands for. also some of the things that are
also not so wonderful, the good in the bad. when i do that they regarded as what i called patriotic philanthropy. it's really a little misleading because you're really giving thanks to the country that can be a reminder from our history and heritage. >> was the role of the cochair of the national festival question mark's e1 is probably los impressive than the title was seen. i have put up for the last ten years or so roughly a million dollars a year. to support the national book festival. the national book festival costs roughly around $2 million a year are little bit more now. so this is enabling it to do some of the things that would otherwise not be able to do. as i said, we get about 200,000 people coming to book festival the last couple of years, originally wielded in the mall in the mall is a great site but the national park service thanks that it's not so great to have
that event there. it has weather problems. we had rain storms and other things and we had it there. so if you years ago we moved it to the convention center in washington. the mayor washington convention center. the great although he didn't intend it to be a permanent mo move, we like it much better because we don't have to worry about whether the facilities are pretty good. as a result of that, we do result in a roughly 200,000 people who come for free, mostly from the washington metropolitan area. some cases they come from all of the country. they get to see the authors who written great books, they get to hear the authors interviewed, make speeches, they sign your books, they do many different things they otherwise wouldn't be able to do with people or the readers. so it's really a great thing to see people of all ages go there and really learn from the authors how the books came about and what the authors are trying to do. we have about 140 authors that will be coming this year. >> you do several of those interviews right.
>> david rubenstein: i do about five year. i interview people that i know something about the book and so i am interested in them. in some cases i've already interviewed them. i enjoy doing the interviews and that something that i wrote your guard is a pleasure. sumac county choose. you get to choose which ones you want to interview. >> david rubenstein: the authors are really invited by that woman who was a former editor of the book world which is the washington post. it's a book review magazine. marianne rana. she really helped select the authors. she's known these authors for quite a while but she is not there herself and an editor for quite a while. she really helps with the invitation. then she sits down with me and she asked who would you like to interview of the people who are coming. sometimes i know some of them well or i am interested in learning more about that person. it pushes me to read a book that i might not already read. >> what you think your interview
style is. >> david rubenstein: i've seen you do this before and i like your interview style. i tried to read the book, i make sure i know it reasonably well. i then tend to write out the questions in longhand and that i get them typed up and i tried to memorize the questions a bit red that i have a conversation with the person, not unlike what we are having. i'm not using notes. if you have notes in front of you, your eye inevitably will look down and as soon as you look down, you've lost the eye contact with the person you are talking to. instead of a conversation, it's an interview. five prepare 40 questions and are never 37, no one will know but me. also i think it's important to listen to what the person is saying, and then don't just go down your list of questions but reverted necessary. i try to do the inverter you where i ask a little bit about how the author came about to write this book. does the author enjoy writing,
how does the phrase these he or she is writing a book in terms of how to put the words forth and get the message out. but then i try to take the person through the projector he of the book. it's usually beginning a middle and an end. i try to converse through that. then i try to ask questions that a normal person would ask. who might not have read the book. cnet is not the same style you use on bloomberg. >> david rubenstein: on the bloomberg show him that i have, i try also not to use notes. i'm interviewing their people in a usually know them reasonably well. there i tend to focus on what made the person a leader. i'm usually not talking about above. i am talking about what made that person a leader that i'm interviewing. i try to take them to the trajectory through their life and find out what complications they might've had or hardships they had in getting to the.where they are now leader. almost everybody has had hardship setbacks and having people talk about that is something that i think people find interesting.
>> who were the favorite interviews you've done. >> david rubenstein: i have so many it's like asking you which of the children you like the most. i am very hesitant to who i like the most. of the interviews i've done, on my show, i think oprah winfrey is obviously a very talented person and i said to her, i think she does have a good future in television if she wants to do that. interviewing bill gates, i've interviewed people in government for quite some time with jim baker who was actually in a firm for a while, former president bush former president clinton, i've interviewed them as well for the show. they've all been very good. sometimes the person is not as well-known might be even more interesting interview. authors, i've interviewed a number of people of the library of congress in a program that i've started that i have my own book coming out on. this is a book where it is called the american story. i'm not promoting it now will be
on until october after the book festival. all five super six years ago i decided it would be a good idea to member of congress education and i decided with jim billington to have a programmer i would sponsor at the library of congress where we invite members of congress only to come so they can bring a guest. we would have them come to the reception for democrats and republicans talk together and go down and have a nice dinner. then i would interview another about a very important book in a maker making history. now done about 45 of them, the first book that i have coming out about that the american story being published by simon & schuster, will contain the interviews of some of the people who are in the best of the interviews that i've done so far. david mccullough jon meacham ron chernow robert caro, among other well-known authors. >> i have an advance copy of the american story and i did want to ask you when you look at the historians 99 percent are white
male. does that affect how we are telling our american story. >> david rubenstein: no doubt it does. we've tried and we do have some women who are authors in there as well. we also have another one who african-american authors as we well, i interviewed regarding the african-american cultural museum. we've also had some white others who have related to black issues. he is written a definitive book on back history. we try always to get more women and minority authors and we are striving to do a better job. but there is no doubt that many of the best historians to date, have been white males. we talked about several of her books and she has appeared at the national book festival as
well. david rubenstein there is a literary award that's being named after you. >> david rubenstein: is a literacy award. here's what it is. i as a young boy went to a library, near my home in baltimore, you take out your first set of books when you're six years old. i got my library card to take out 12 books a week and that's all you can do. i would read them all the first day and that i would have to wait until i could take out more. my parents were not college-educated but i was able to through them get the love of books. books have been very important to me. sadly, not that many people in the united states really can read as much as i think should be the case. for example, 14 percent of adults are functionally illiterate. roughly 32 million americans cannot read past the fourth grade level. if you can't read at all, you have a pretty good chance of being in our federal criminal
system. so something like two thirds of the prisoners in the federal criminal system are functioning illiterate they can't read past the fourth grade level. that 80 percent of those are in our juvenile delinquency system are functionally illiterate. you're not going to get a great job. you're probably going to be involved in things that are wonderful, i thought it was important to promote literacy. there are a lot of great organizations who are doing this in the us. i simply thought the library of congress should do something in regards to that as well. so i put up some money to enable them to select award winners for literacy. an organization have done some things for literacy. we try to get some attention to them and give them some money. that's dropped in the bucket to compare to what is needed. all of the proceeds from my book, will go to that literacy fund. >> who are some of the best winners. >> david rubenstein: i'll give you one reading is fundamental is one.
mcnamara the wife of robert mcnamara. it's a terrific organization that gets books into the hands of people otherwise would not get them. there are many good organizations around the world that we've honored as well. one organization for example is something i thought was unique, we give them a word couple of years ago. if you learn how to read pretty often children learn how to read by a parent or reading to them. at the age of three or four year age of the children. if you are military in the united states, sometimes you're not going to be home to redo your child. so this particular organization and a very clever idea and they would give them a video screen and having the father or mother who is might be stationed on vcs and read the book to the child and the child is now able to hear from the parent had read this book. that's an example of the things we are trying to support. we try to give them some awards and attention to. >> what are your current reading habits. >> david rubenstein: i love reading. i try to read 100 books a year that isn't in a substantive
amount but i. i'm sorry. tui. i'm not reading physics back books, i'm not reading books that are outside of my area of expertise and therefore i tend to read biographies and history in business books, subjects i know something about. i can go through them reasonably well and i also have a mechanism that forces me to read books. i have a lot of programs that where i'm interviewing people so if i'm interviewing the person, i have to read the book. at the national book festival, have to prepare for that in the library of congress, have to prepare for that. in the historical society, i interview authors and that is one that also requires me to read the books. i think if you are interviewing something or someone about a book you have to give them courtesy of having read the book. i actually do. some of them are not easy and i have to interviewed author soon, who is written a terrific but on
american history but it's almost a thousand pages. i am about halfway through it and i am rushing to through it i have to interview her in a couple of weeks. >> who are you interviewing at the national book festival. >> david rubenstein: some of them i have interviewed before and i am familiar with their books doug brickley, about the effort to get to the moon. president kennedy really launched. it's not about the actual apollo 11 that god is there, but actually what led to got us to get to the effort to the moon. in the 60s. i am also interviewing michael --dash watch on his book residents of war, and that's a book that i've interviewed him about before but i think it's quite a good book and i look forward to doing that as well again with michael. i'm also interviewing david on second mounted, i haven't interviewed him before that book. that is a book that i am looking forward to doing. i am interviewing angela roger book on churchill, on a i've
interviewed him before about it but i have a chance to get to do it here. and i'm interviewing a few, to other people about economic related things. asia and us economy. i'm looking forward to that. >> you have interviewed several supreme court justices about their books. do you find there is a uniqueness to the group. >> david rubenstein: i've interviewed the chief justice, not about this book but about his life. i've interviewed justice mayor, i've interviewed justice ginsburg and will do so again shortly at the 92nd and new york i've interviewed justice breyer, at one point not about a book but just generally. recently i interviewed justice thomas the supreme court society event. they are very intelligent people who love the law and live the law. they really are quite articulate
and they really are quite good interview subjects. i've also interviewed justice kagan for a an event at the library of congress. i should've added that. i am for my book the american story, i interviewed the chief justice. we describe that. good to know the chief reasonably well because i currently serve as the chairman. the smithsonian's chancellor is the chief justice. i get the chance to interact with him from time to time. i thought it would be a good idea of the program i have the library of congress to interview somebody was maybe not another one is somebody who could be an interest in person as a member of the congress. i've done that twice now. bill gates interviewed and one is with the chief justice. the chief justice was a person very interesting story, i went through his life but in this story which is recounted in the book, i said did you always want to be a chief justice of the united states. he said no i had no interest. did you want to be judge, no did you want to be a lawyer, no,
what did you want to be? i want to be a historian. that was my great love i love english and a mark in history and so my father that's what i wanted to do. he said okay but is not going to make you a very prosperous person, not a lot of money in a historian but john roberts said i really don't care. i want to do this because i really love history. some sure enough he was a good student he went to harvard and he majored in history. as he was coming back i think of his sophomore year from home in indiana, he landed in logan airport and in boston and got into a cab and sit in the cab driver can you please take me to cambridge massachusetts. the cab driver said are you going to harvard. yes. student harvard. yes i'm setting history. the cab driver said well that's what i studied when i went to harvard. so john roberts said maybe this is not as good of a profession as i thought. but actually he did continue to major in history but he also added courses that would help
you prepare for a law school. speak. >> how have your books contributed to your personal success. >> david rubenstein: i think if you read a lot, you learn more than you wouldn't if you didn't read a lot. i learned relatively well. i don't have a photographic memory i wish i did but i love reading books and until people went to make speeches about reading, that is important to read. i read a lot of newspapers and magazines but the book books observe the mind and focus the mind much more. these much more important to read a book and go through the gaining of about two the middle in the end and take that with you for some time a week or two or whatever it takes to read a book. you get more out of that because you have to focus your brain for longer period of time. i think it's made me a better person by having the knowledge i get from reading books and much more informed about the world that i was as much anger.
i worry that some.i will say it's hard to read all of these folks and maybe i will take life easier but i really don't want to do that. i want to read more books off your books. i love talking to authors and i love interviewing them about the books and how they came about to write these books. >> cochair of the national book festival a big room and sign, we will see him on labor day weekend. >> david rubenstein: thank you very much. >> watch book tv is alive coverage saturday august 31st starting at 10:00 a.m. eastern, our coverage governs author my own words. david trier, his book is the heartbeat of wounded knee. sharon robinson talks about her book child of the dream. rick atkinson author of the british are coming. and thomas malone, sounding director of the mit center for collective intelligence.
discusses his book super mines. the national book festival. life saturday august 31st at 10:00 a.m. eastern on book tv on c-span two. recently on book tvs author interview program afterwards, cnn's interviewed former trump organization executive vice president george soja on his time working for donald trump. there's this misconception out there that president trump is a guy that doesn't listen to people. he's a guy that steamrolled over other people's opinions and he doesn't really want. there's a guy that worked very closely with him on a number of projects for many years i think he truth is actually the opposite. i am kind of taken back to an experience i had very early on in my career with him. we just finished up a difficulty on a construction site, their whole number of issues that we are dealing with. some things were going our way,
some things we were happy about but it was a long tough day. we were just walking across the site just me and him and he said to me you know george, people will frequently ask me how did i do it. how did i get successful how did i accomplish anything i did. i would go around the world and see what people want, listen to people, i give them what they want. i give the people what they want. it's really simple. simple words. there is really profound wisdom in that statement. look around the world. this is advice now that like you, i have small children and when i talked to my son, i tell them things like that. don't just go through the world blindly. look around and see what people like and see what people don't like. be aware of your surroundings.
because really, that ability to listen and understand, it's a fundamental aspect that is openly going to make you a success or a failure to watch the rest of the interview what visit our website at book tv .org. click on the afterwards tab. >> weapon to boswell book company at state 3767 being in business. [applause] it's for tonight speaker is vern branigan required, the buddy in public radio. she is also a producer and a contributor to wisconsin public radio's to the best of our knowledge. she now conducts media training