tv Charlie Rose PBS November 12, 2014 12:00am-1:01am PST
>> rose: welcome to the program. on this veteran's day, we begin with retired lieutenant general daniel bolger. his new book is called why we lost, a general's inside account of the iraq and afghanistan wars. >> we took that great military that we have, those greatzkodu d men and we misused it. our armed forces are built, the volunteer forces we build in kind of the ashes of the war of vietnam, defeated vietnam, they're built to short decisive violent exains against enemy conventional forces, u.s. enemies, tanks and ships. they're designed to do a desert storm operation or kosovo in 99. they'reò not designed to replicate vietnam. we consciously turnedwe knew to
work. >> rose: we end with edward by lurks anne hamburger and aj sue buy. when men and women go to war. >> i don't think you can go over and do all those things and have things done to you and then come back and everything's just like you just unpause your life. like that's not something that's possible. >> rose: we conclude with a canadian novelist, margaret atwood, her short stories. >> i called them tales because i didn't want people to think we're inrealism although we arey because i don't think there are any real zombies or anything in the stories but there are people who are interested in cut off hands that crawl around by themselves and earth means of
here. he's an author, historian, retired lieutenant general of the united states arm y. he served in afghanistan and iraq, and again from 2009 to 2010. after 30 years of servicelú he retired from the army in 2013. he's written a new book which was released today, veteran's day. it is called why we lost, a general's inside account of the iraq and afghanistan wars. i'm pleased to welcome general daniel bellsoo -- bolger for te first time, welcome. >> thank you charlie. >> rose: as you point out in your column, it is appropriate that we salute the men and women. >> absolutely. >> rose: who have put on the uniform and who go in harm's risk. >> yes. and we must always remember whenever we talk about results in the war, one of the results we can point to with pride as americans is the sacrifice of the bravery, their skill, their courage. and the sacrifices made by their family and fellow citizens to
keep them there. >> rose: you may have seen it on another program, when men and women go to war, their spouses go to war as well. >> absolutely. and their children too. >> rose: and their children too. the title of your book is why we lost, an inside account of iraq and afghanistan. why did we lose? >> in the simplest terms, we took that great military that we had with those great men and women and we misused it. our armed forces are built, the volunteer forces we built in kind of the ashes of the war of vietnam, that defeated vietnam, they're buitr to short decisive violent campaigns against enemy conventional forces against uniformed enemies, tanks, planes and ships and things like that. they're designed, in essence, to do a desert storm-type operation or a kosovo in 99. they're not designed to replicate vietnam. we consciously turned from at that time. we knew that was not going to work. >> rose: didn't we try to learn the lessons of that. the isn't what a lot of the post
vietnam analysis was about. >> it absolutely was. unfortunately what happened to my generation, leaders that served with, we did learn that lesson. we initiated both wars with that kind of decisive campaign. afghanistan in 201 and iraq in 2003. we did so well we were so impressed how well our troops did we actually thoughtmh maybe this time we'll fight insurgency and win. we'll fight a vietnam and win. what we forgot was the facts on the ground. the iraqis and afghanistan need to want it. in the end it's their filed when you talk about a counterinsurgency. >> rose: do you think they want it bad enough. >> i think a good number do. the average folks in afghanistan and iraq, it's a different culture than ours but they're very much people want to raise their family, have a job, get
educated, do thing that any normal person in a family would want to do. very few of them are these jihadi fa that sists like isis. >> rose: beyond what went wrong and whether we're well advised to fight those wars in the way that we did and focus on the future. so what does a president do? if he looks at the advances that isil was makepz and people tell him and they're recruiting around the world and they have a anywherive and you better stop them now. >> absolutely.
i think our president has seen that. the presentation he made to the american people, the people he works for, all the citizens, all of us he says some things that are really important. and i think two of them show we have learneing are from a the episodes in iraq and afghanistan. one it's going to be an iraqi fight, iraqi arabs, iraqi kurds they're going to take the lead and we'll support them. and train them and support air power and intelligence and logistics help they don't have. another thing equally important he also told the american people this is not going to be a fast campaign. this is going to take a long time because they're in the lead we are going to move at their speed and it's not going to be perfect. iraqi way and their way is not our way. we made a commitment for a lengthy period of time and i think the president has correctly and rightly warned all of us as citizens this is not a quick war, this is not desert storm over a couple weeks, this is going to last a long time. >> rose: do you support what he's done so far.
>> i do. because it doesn't give an immediate satisfaction is an indicator it's probably right. and it's not unlike the tough decision taken by harry truman in korea when he committed forces there. in 1950's. a lot of people didn't thank you where korea was he elected to pt those forces in. in the end although the war resulted in an armistice, we still have an agreement to the korean peninsula that exists to this day. >> rose: what is america's role in the world. >> we remain the dominant power. we're the super power. we have a responsibility clearly to look after our interests and our allies around the world. and i think we also have a responsibility, i think, to be clear eyed with ourselves as to what our limits are. as powerful as we are we can't do everything and be everything. >> rose: i'm reading the opening in the book. here's what you said. i am a united states army general and i lost the global war on terrorism. we lost it or is it incomplete?
>> well, it may be incomplete but i can only look at the two phases that we fought so far. iraq from 03 to 11ib and afghanistan that's from 01 to 14. those campaigns were lost and the others remain undecided. so i think it is tough to say that. i wish, charlie, i could come to you tonight and say hey we're doing all right, it's going to improve. i don't see that. those campaigns are complete or almost complete and they failed. now, can something good come of that, can we do better next time? absolutely. and i think the effort with isis is like that. i know we're continuing operations around the world to chase the recommend informants of al kiedz and prevent attacks in our own country. a all those things are positive but we should not kid ourselves that these two counterinsurgencies were failure. unfortunately yes. we had a failure to go into iraq. you mean the initial invasion. i don't know that it was a failure but i know it was
something that we looked at and now looking at the intel people might argue otherwise. it's difficult to tell. i mean just as recently as within the last two weeks the "new york times" pointed out that in fact there were quite a few chemical weapons although very degraded that were present on the ground. it's a murky situation over there and one thing i would also say for sure what do we do know about saddam hussein whether he had workable chemical weapons. he massacred his own people including using chemical weapons on them. absolutely. sponsored several terroristñf groups. he's a bad actor committing bad things. probably responsible for the death of at least a million people. so in that regard once we went in, we had to do the job properly. i think in both cases where we made the mistake is we didn't settle for good enough. we didn't let the locals take the fight after the first few weeks and do what they could do run their countries. we wouldn't have been happy. >> rose: with iraq everybody looks back and say it was a
mistake to disban the iraqi army, it was a mistake to take the effort to take the party and eliminate everybody who had ever been a member of the party as an effective force of government. >> well exactly right. that was your educatedqú people the technocrats rung the power plants and keeping people fed. definitely a mistake. i would also point out to a degree the iraq arm forces had already disbanded themselves. john kegan says that in his book. it's a key point. with a he would have had to call them back together to keep them in the army by the time we got to baghdad. >> rose: some of those people are fighting isis now. >> indeed. displaced number of the sunni arab minority. that's one of the component of isis and what we fought for the eight years we were there. >> rose: one point in the
column, the surge that is so been applauded by david petraeus, not by him but his work. >> he was the commander. >> rose: and the decision made by the president against arm odds that we're going to pull more troops in there. the conventional wisdom is that was a success. >> and i would tell you that that conventional wisdom is incorrect. and why? what is the nature of the enemy you're fighting. it's a gorilla enemy. mao zedong said when the enemy advances that's when we retreat. when you show the main force they go to ground. what happened to iraq and afghanistan, they went to ground. as we began to withdraw, enemy retreatsthat's what mao told thd years ago. it's still sound advice and has been for centuries. the isis is the natural result of the end of the surge. surges by their nature are
temporary. what both iraq and afghanistan was not a surge of u.s. troops but a long term commitment that we would support them in their own fight. >> rose: there's an argument that the isis development has been in part they found in syria a place to go in. >> a sanctuary. >> rose: and a place to go and get combat skills. >> absolutely. there's no doubt any guerrilla insurgent and -- >> rose: pakistan, before now. >> absolutely. that is one of the thing that guerrilla forces needw6 to surve as a sanctuary. in the current strategy although it's still working out, it looks like the obama administration's going to try and address that sanctuary. how effective remains to be seen. >> rose: but this surge in iraq. >> i think -- >> rose: it was wrong. >> i do think that. the problem is we were trying to junk it too close to the event.
it did certainly depress the number of enemy attacks. >> rose: it took place at the time of the awakening as well. >> that's right. where the sunni arabs split away came toward our side. the way i describe it is the patient has a disease. give the patient an aspirin. after you run out of aspirin the underlying disease is not present. >> rose: the president of the united states after coming in office in 2008 does a huge and long review and decides to have a surge in afghanistan. that was a mistake. >> i absolutely think so. at that point you're doing the third u.s.-led counterinsurgence rea in our lifetime. u.s. vietnam being a failure. there appeared to be a failure of amelioration. it's after that as all presidents are, president obama armed with the best information he can get and the best military
advice from guys like me decides the surgefm in afghanistan is a mistake. all cases, the main point is the local people must take the lead in a counterinsurgency. >> rose: how many people in the military said to the president of the united states do not surge? >> none that i'm aware of. >> rose: none. >> that i'm aware of and i was in a position to know a good many. >> rose: where were you at that time. >> at the time of the -- >> rose: of the surge in afghanistan. >> at the time of the decision and the surge in afghanistan i was serving in iraq, i was a division commander in baghdad. >> rose: nobody stepped up to say mr. president do ÷f( do ths in the military. >> not at all. >> rose: not the secretary of defense or deputy secretary of defense, not the joint chiefs or the army or the marines or the navy. >> for the afghan surge. now the iraq surge was a different story. in the iraq surge the joints
chiefs of staff, the secretary ofsúo5ñ gates all recommended at it. >> rose: and george bush went ahead with it. >> that's right. >> rose: and david petraeus -- >> was the designated commander. >> rose: it was probably the most important in the analysis of david petraeus' leadership in iraq that's where he gets the most credit. >> well and he should. the commander's responsible for everything the union does or fails to do. he was clearly outstanding figure of the iraq surge. but it's note worthy that he came into afghanistan following stanley mcchrystal and having to oversee the implementation. the majority of the troops arrived after david petraeus was in command. not good results there. >> rose: it's the opinion in the army things might have been different if stan mcchrystal had stayed. >> there was no doubt that stan had the vision for sure how to fight this network terrorist enemy. some of the things most people in america don't know but they should is that stan was the guy
who organized our special forces. >> rose: in iraq. >> absolutely. and later afghanistan and other parts of the world we don't need to talk about. but the fact of the matter is stan was that visionary and he really did that. he only got about a year in command in afghanistan. his ideas were just going into effect. yñ had an unfortunate run-in with michael hastings and his staff said some things and the military control said i can't have that for my comarnldz, we lost a very skilled guy. he's cultivated that relationship. because he was a special forces officer and he understood the local people had to have a leading role. >> rose: the afghans had to five the afghans war. >> rose: that's right. >> rose: and minimize as much corruption. >> do what you could but recognize -- >> rose: i was struck that no one was saying, because one of the criticism and you just heard it in chuck taught -- todd in e
with me saying give me another option. >> the options that were presented were small, medium and large. >> rose: exactly. >> but always a troop increase. >> rose: what does it say. >> what it say to me and that's where i write that damming statement i'm a u.s. army general and i lost the war. we have a degree of arrogance. >> rose: we the military we the -- >> we the senior leadership. we think our soldiers are so good and our equipment is great and our training is great and we're confident in the azto wino anything. if you give us a task we will figure out the resources and way to solve. some problems are not solvable by military forces. insurgency by its nature draws strength from a foreign troops in the country. the more foreign troops the more chance you have to defeat. >> rose: what would general
bolger do about isis. >> i would recommend to the president my best military advice is very much in line what we are doing which is to say measured u.s. response, filling in those capabilities the iraqis and kurds don't have and preparing for a long struggle against isis. >> rose: american advisors on the ground. >> american advisors. >> rose: for long term. >> yes but a small number notm3a large. >> rose: what's that 10,000. >> or less. about what we have now. >> rose: three. >> yes, maybe. whatever it would take. what içó wouldn't say we know we're doing this wrong in we see u.s. batallions, brigades and regimens, they will disappear as guerrillas they are. >> rose: is this possible here. >> it's always possible. because there's a clock that runs in washington that's different than the clock in theatre like there always is, people want results. >> rose: there's pressure from the public. >> to get action. >> rose: they don't on the ground. >> it's back to how is the military designed. it's designed for rapid decisive
action. when it's not doing that there's a natural perception from the american people you put our sons and daughters at risk how long is this going to last. i think the president is hoping the discussion and congress will pick it up with hearings and formal vote where we decide yes we'll still with this for a long time and if we say no that's fine too but for god's sake let the public be heard. >> rose: since you retired what are you doing. >> i teach at north carolina state university. i've got an opportunity to steven those -- teach those grt young men and women there. >> rose: what do you teach. >> military. >> rose: the book is called why we lost the general's account of theafghanistan wars. he has a column about what we were talking about and he's a retired general of the united states army. aboutek
back in a moment stay with us. >> rose: basetrack live draws on the experience. it plays at the brooklyn academy of music through november 15. the show comes to bam as part of a natural tour with outreach to veteran communities. here's a look at the opening sequence. >> what's the first time said in the platoon. i'm from indiana. i'm 21. >> i'm in7c the marine corps. >> my first name's mikal. i'm looking for a new position. i'm 19 years old. >> my name's -- >> first lieutenant. >> captain john campbell.
>> first lieutenant, nicholas, 26 years old. >> i'm richard gilligan. >> corporal. machine guns. >> i'm a second lieutenant. >> first platoon. ( overlapping voices ) squad point man. >> man. >> my name is aj czubai i grew up in fort worth texas in the united states marine. >> rose: joining me now for a discrimination about basetrack live is anne hamburger which produced the show.
edward bilous of the julliard school who created the show and aj czubai who served in iraq and of gap stan. basetrack live is based on his story. i'm pleased to have all of them at this table.welcome. what is basetrack line. >> it's multimedia experience about the impact of war on veterans and their families derived from real life interviews with marine unit and afghanistan. marine unit one eight and their families. mothers, wives and sons. there's a score that was composed by ed bilous and two other composers , michelle and greg that runs throughout. but it really centers on impact of war not just on the guys who served but on their family as well. >> rose: ed how did it come about. >> a few years ago i went to see an exhibition that was produced by google and the streaming
museum. i saw this extraordinary collection of photographs taken by a group of young photo journalists who were imbedded with one eight marines for several years. the photographs included portraits of the marines, the local afghanis and video of the war itself. i later learned his photo journalists had some difficulty getting their images/it appearen magazines were not so interested in running articles about the afghani war and they weren't really selling and perhaps readership wasn't so interested in them. so they created a website and log called basetrack.org. they posted their photographs and stories there. but more importantly they started a forum that allowed the means and their families to communicate on-line. and amazingly in a very short amount of time that forum received over five million hits and became one of the primary ways in which the marines and
families were communicating with each ought. when i learned about this i realized there was a much bigger story here and much bigger important social message that needed to be brought to life and i thought the arch was the best way to do that. >> rose: the message is. >> well the nature of war is changing the way we start and the way we involve ourselves with war is changing. the way marines communicate and the way we engage in those environments isdramatically. years ago,home, or a soldier woe home and kiss his wife good-bye, get in a bus and he would be gone for a very long period of time. now there are levels of communication in which these fellows are existing in two or three ram -- realities over exd period of time. we don't know when things begin or end because of the complication of media. this is reflective of a very different kind of world we live
in, very different paradigm for making heart. >> rose: how does it feel for you. >> extremely surreal. i reside in texas, and just seeing like all my brothers up there on the screen and like oh yeah i remember that and oh i know him and i know him. it was just really surreal. and it really like took my words away. >> rose: one of the pivotal scenes is when -- >> i was in the middle of the mojave desert and listening on a speakerphone. that was the first of many things i wasn't with my family because of the military and i joined knowing that was a strong possibility if i ever chose to have a family while i was in. that was really rough. to this day it still kind of bothers me. >> rose: you wentyi through a transformation. >> i did. not just then but you know,
obviously going as a trained marine and then actually going over there and getting in combat and being wounded and you just changes you. unfortunately the change doesn't stop there because once you come home and you have to kind of remember how to be a civilian again. it's a grueling battle, it really is. >> rose: what's the story? the story is. >> we picked aj's story. we conducted the over four dozen interviews by phone, and then it was very difficult to narrow down the story. and we picked aj's story because aj in some ways it's like the every man. and when entertainment deals with the issues of wash it's so often either sensationalizes the issue or victimizes that. we felt very very strongly that we wanted to do neither. aj is somebody who enlisted and
served and got wounded and came back and is doing really well, i'm happy to say. >> rose: but he went there, he struggled. >> for a very long time. >> so we wanted it to be a realistic portrayal but at the same time a realistic one and come to show from all over the country have been really appreciative of the way in which we're telling this story both&4y of the other people on the screens and their families. because one of the important things to realize is they never talked about is that it's not just the people who serve that are going to war it's the families. it's the wives and the mothers and the brothers who are waiting for their loved ones to come home. and every day are worried about this. >> rose: and often when they come home they find out that the relationship is different. >> yes. i personally don't think that you can go over there and you know do all those things and have things done to you and then come back and everything's just like you just unpause your life.
like i just don't think that's possible. >> rose: what does the country6r owe you? understanding. >> that would be a little nice but then again i wouldn't expect someone who has like no experience with the military to understand. that's one thing i do like about the message that basetrack is spreading because i think nowadays especially after this country's been in war over a decade you would be hard pressed not to come across one veteran a day because there are so many of us. unless you like grew up in military family or your significant other's in the military, a lot of guys don't understand, you know, why we act the way we act. >> rose: what's the hardest thing for you to watch. >> it talks about one of high best friends dying, that was obviously extremely rough. watching the way i behaved before i got treatment. i really put my0ringer.
>> rose: exwife. >> exwife, yes. >> rose: through the ringer. >> those were the best words i could identify to. it wasn't fair to her or me or anyone it was just a bad situation but seeing myself act like that it was pretty rough. >> rose: roll tape. this is testimony from the wives of combat veterans. here it is. >> he can't really expect someone to come back the same way they were. he's still shook it's not like tarrable but -- terrible but it's only the small chiechtionz only i would notice. >> you have to be careful what you sayúñ and how you present things. like that instance is gone. the whole way of changing is completely different and it's how they respond to you when they come home. >> we were told by a few different people like if they're having a nightmare and you have to wake them up, don't be anywhere close to their face.
>> you saw the outline of it. you called it hatred he carried but he would never show me that. he would never confide in me. >> i had to wake him up and i would touch the bottom of his foot. like when i he would jump like he was dwog to go like this and startal awake like some people do butov he sat straight up. he jumped up and was out of breath, you know.8risç that blew my mind because i just, that was the first time i ever seen anything like that. >> rose: is this more informed by theatre or journalism? >> it's intermingling of the two. i don't think you can separate them. i think the art in it is the adaptation, the music and the approach. and i'm very thankful to aj and all of the people who shared their stories with us but for me to be able to use the theatre as
a catalyst for social change and engagement, is so meaningful. i mean i'd say this is the most meaningful production i've ever produced. >> rose: have your fellow shoulders seen this? some of them. >> yes. a couple guys came to see the show with me and often. i know a couple more went to the california show. my uncle saw it and he's a retired marine as well 123450eu6789 -- >> rose: what did they say to you. >> they're at a loss of words. they're just so blown away. >> rose: it captures the reality. >> very much so. >> rose: how about your former wife? >> she went to go see as well and they went to the richmond show in virginia. and you know because @9was saide just don't think about like families. it really does affect everyone and for her to tell her story as
well as me tell me it's difficult as well. >> rose: have you had conversation with the actor that plays you? >> yes. i met him in austin for the first time. it's really kind of creepy how much we have in common. >> rose: he's a marine. >> yes. he told me he really didn't have to research that much, he just kind of watched the tapes from my interview. after we hung out a couple nights while he was there, it's kind of weird we have stuff in common. we've been keeping up texting back and forth and whatnot. >> rose: what's the biggest challenge for all of you interms of making this work. >> i would say it's the fear of the narrative by the veterans community before they get in the door. it's been tough to get them to come out. but once they have, then there's been such an outpouring of support with oh my god i can't
believe this really does portray this. it's respectful, it's not partisan and it's very moving. and then so my goal, and i've just been adamant about this it's traveled all over the country it's going to 21is to br with civilians to promote a conversation about the impact of work. it's less than 1% of our country that's going to work and it feels in some way like there's two americas. >> rose: those who go to war and those -- >> those who don't and know very little about it. one of the most moving things when we were in l.a. we had 750 high school students in the audience. afterwards we had a post performance discussion and we almost couldn't get them out of the theatre because a lot of them had family members who served but there's so much that's not talked about that they felt that the show helped them to understand even thoughts very intimate. >> rose: this is what you
said. i made the show to bring people$ who served together to people who know nothing of war beyond what they read in the paper. what we aim to do with basetrack live is not the people who loss necessarily but who had lost peace. >> that is correct. >> rose: for you the challenge with a? >> the challenge was finding that structure that would allow us to use the authentic text spoken by the marines and their families. in other words this was the composed text. etcetera been adapted from the original language. and finding a way to use that from its original journalistic source and place it in an environment where can help live and let it thrive in a bigger way. >> rose: take a look at this. this is what the final scenes looks like. here it is. >> i called my doctor and i was like hey i need to see you today. she was like all right, i have an opening. so i came in and i'm telling her that like you know my wife just
left me left me, you know. this is over my life is over and blah blah blah blah.9 she is like smiling the whole time. i'm looking at her and i'm look what do you think is so great that you have to smile about. she said you don't see it yet but you started this because of her. i'm like yes because i wanted to get better for my family. all right. well she broker up with you. she bumped you. i was like yeah.5w are you in bargaining drunk right now? no. and she said no. you came to me. the hard part for you is over as of right now. and it's like hit me. it was like oh, she right.
and you know, i just start telling all these things i've been running away from, the stuff i wouldn't talk about that i was just trying to keep bottled up. and all of a sudden it just was the a big deal anymore. because yeah, you might have a little scar but it's just the beginning. >> rose: congratulations. >> thank you very much. >> rose: this is really remarkable and not a better time than to talk about it and have it than this day which is veteran's day and how much we owe those men and women who self our country. >> we mostly owe them our understanding. >> rose: and you make that very point. thank you. stay with us. >> rose: margaret atwood is here she's written more than 40 books of fiction poetry and critical essay. the power of her fiction allows us to believe that anything is possible. her new book turns to short fiction for the first time in near
it is called stone mattress, nine tales. i'm pleased to have her back at this table. welcome. >> hello. >> rose: why did you return to toy stories. >> i think it kind of happened but the first one i really was on a boat in the arctic and i really did start writing a story about how you would murder somebody on a boat in the arctic and get away with it. there really were five people called bob on board which was you want a number of because on board so you can change them around. and my partner graham gibson came up with the method. he said here's what you would do. so you see why i have to always be very nice to him. and he had it all figured outja. be nice to graham if you're murdering bob. >> rose: that's right. if you're murdering bob. >> yes. and be nice to graham so he won't murder you. but the murder win is a 1.9
billion year old fossil call a stromatolight. and it split and you can see it would make a sharp heavy thing and i've got it in my kitchen. >> rose: i think things like that are used as weapons in prison. >> i think they use smaller ones. >> rose: you called them tales not short stories. >> i called them tales becausei didn't want people to think we're in the land of socialism because i think they are because i don't think there are any real zombies or anything in the stories but there are certainly people who are interested in cut off hands that crawl around by themselves other means deform. >> rose: you would think
dereader or writer that shore stories would be easier but it is not necessarily so. >> it is not necessarily so but on the other hand some of the problems are similar in that if you can't get!n the person readg past the first page you'reed whether it's a novel or short person. >> rose: if you can't get them past the first page you're in trouble. >> yes. like stone mattress. >> rose: that's true with everything. >> for instance with dracula, we start with a kind of guy who is telling us a tale of being on a train and everything is kind of mundane and he wants the recipe for his wife and you think this is a pretty boring guy but we know something that he doesn't know and what we know is the title of the book is dracula.
so wecoming along. that he doesn't know about. >> rose: so there are all kinds of things, anger, death, feminism in the natural world. >> richard the third. cut off hands. charms -- is in one of the stories. >> rose: what's that. >> that's where if you're losing your vision and sometimes if you're feeling quite isolated you see little people. >> rose: this is an actual disease. >> it's an actual syndrome. >> rose: syndrome. >> strangely costumed often in green and usually in multiples. so dancing in groups or marching in groups but they don't interact with you. they don't talk back. it called charles binet syndrome because -- >> rose: how did you find out about this. >> through the author who wrote the man who mistook his wife.
we've got a book about hallucinations of various kinds which is pretty fascinating and i wish i could remember the title but it's probably something like hallucinations. >> rose: but revenge is the theme here isn't it. >> fortunately it is because actually there's something about it that you like reading about it even they are we might not even do those things ourselves. i was an early reader of edgar allan poe and most ofstories ar. i got that idea quite early and a friend of mine who is a writer and collector of stories happened a collection called dark waters and black arrow. and he said canadians haven't written any revenge stories and i thought we'll have to change that. >> rose: you were on your way. >> they are quite interesting to write. >> rose: do you like better male characters or female
characters? >> to write about? equally well but i'm very fond of gavin in this book in the second story. he's a very grumpy older man. and he's a poet so he's grumpy in a very articulate verbal way.as students, one after the other and the one he's married to now is quite a lot younger than he is. it makes for an interesting situation but he's the former boyfriend of the person in the first story and a fantasy writer. and i'm fond of her as well. she's put gavin inside the fantasy world but she put him inside a wine cask for about 50 years. >> rose: you're so bad. tell me about torching the dusties. >> setting them on fire. it's an upscale retirement home
ambrosia. there's friend is telling her what's happening as he looks out the window and one day he sees a retirement home demonstrating with signs and things and then they turn on the radio and they hear this has become a fairly wide spread phenomenon and in some cases the mob has burnt down the retirement homes. and they are younger people who are very annoyed that this generation sucked up all the money. and isn't spending it on themselves and not creating any. so they have a movement going of burning down the nursing home. and one of my, excuse me retirement homes. they do have a wing attached to it called advanced living. you don't want to end up in that
one. so one of my favorite parts that you would like is when they have a panel discussion on radio. they have a wolfed panel -- a wonderful panel discussion talking about what's going on and the economic narcotics but nobody does anything about it. sound familiar? >> rose: yes. what's the future lab project. >> that is so interesting. to me. i got a letter about it and it is connected with the library in oslo, norway. and they teamed up with a conceptual artist called katie patterson and she put it together for them. so it's a forest growing in norway and will grow for a hundred years. each one of those hundred years a different author will be asked to submit a manuscript to the future library. and you will put it in a box,
you will seal the box. it can contain no images. there shall be only one copy and you can't tell anybody what's in it. all that will be known will be the title and the name, and when the hundred years is up&i just like sleeping beauty, they will open all the boxes and they will cut down enough trees from the forest to make the paper to print the hundred books. it's like a time capsule and my book will therefore be the oldest one, it will be a hundred years old. and the newest one will only be one year old. during that hundred years, all the people who were today alive unless something radical happens will no longer be so. the committee will have to renew itself a couple times, and the youngest authors haven't been born yet and their parents haven't been born so there's no idea who they will be. >>]! rose: isn't darren doing something in your work.
>> exactly. the film director, well this is other people being busy. i don't have to do much for that. so he is. >> rose: just fill in the -- >> thathe's doing the trilogy ao stories. and he has a group called protozoa, that's his team so we've had quite a few discussions and now they've chosen a writer. and soon they will see the first script. >> rose: have you looked at the script and offering an opinion. >> we'll find out, we'll find out. >> rose: we talked about so many things before. i'm intrigued by you as you know. whenever i have you here, it always reminds me how delightful you are. but you have this reputation of being tough. >> i know. >> rose: when you tell people
margaret atwood is coming they say watch out. watch out. you better be good. >> well you're not a fool. >> rose: they do say that. what is it that makes you -- >> why do i have that reputation. >> rose: that's a better question. >> a long long long time ago before you were born, charlie. you would> rose: that's right. hence your reputation. didn't you worry about not being invited back. >> no. >> rose: you didn't care whether you promoted your back or not. >> i did. >> rose: you choose wherever you wanted to go --
>> yes, that's true now. but once upon a time you did whatever. i did give my first book signing in the men's sock and underwear the department in the hudson's bay company in edmonton, alberta. >> rose: my theory is if you've written a book and you care about it, you never did this but if you spend five years of your life you want to sell the hell out of it. >> i think you and the publisher are united in that view. >> rose: it's not the money but you just spent so much time in this. >> you want it to be read. >> rose: of course. >> yes. which is why people then say to me the future library nobody's going to read this book for a hundred years why would you do that. but books are time capsules anyway, this is just a much longer one. so yes, there have been many phases oflñ book promotions. some of them more than others. in fact there's a book called
mortafication. it makes you better because some of the things in there are so awful they will never happen to you, i hope. >> rose: what do you think of amazon. >> what do i think of amazon? what a loaded question. i think we're into very complicated conversation here because there's no doubt that publishers quite depend on amazon in many ways to be an efficient distributor of books. that is the good side. the bad side is thata the monopolies are bad. you don't want monopolies in anything. >> rose: he's a venture cant es who is made a lot of money. >> monopolies are good. >> rose: in certain circumstances. he thinks they become monopolies by creating superior products,
that's all. >> that's not always true. and once they have become a monopoly, even if they have become monopoly that way, if there's no competition they get lazy and they start exploiting their position and that's why you don't want commerce controlling. >> rose: so you're a hearty capitalist. >> i'm a capitalist within limits. that is i think competition is productive within limits. but i think once it gets to the stage of ae> rose: there are some interesting thing you said about writing including this. the older you get, the more you know about the plot before you begin to write because you've lived longer, you've seen more, you know more and so therefore it's readily available for you to pour into the vessel of the soon to be book.
>> yes. possibly not the plot. probably a bit more the characters. >> rose: you've seen people that you want to modelecharacte? >> i have more data at my disposal. how can we put this, yes. >> rose: you have data. >> by my age you know more people and you've read more books. >> rose: suppose the nobel commission calls you up or the panel or whatever they are. is it a panel, is it a commission, is it a board, whoever it is. >> it's a secret person. >> rose: a secret person. >> i don't know who it is. >> rose: but it's one person. >> no. i made that up. >> rose: okay. maybe it is. could be. >> could be. >> rose: i don't know. >> the phone rings and somebody says something. >> rose: they say to you margaret, can you hear me. i'm calling from oslo or stockholm wherever it is. >> the phone rang in 1970 and there's this little voice onothm producer my name is oscar louis
stein and i said who is this really. so i would probably say who is this really. >> rose: there's somebody you think should get the nobel prize in literature next year. >> there's a whole bunch of them, yes. there's a lot of excellent writers around the world. >> rose: who haven't been recognized with this highest accolade. >> well there's only one a year. >> rose: i know. >> of course. there's always a -- of course. there are more good writers than there are nobel prize. so -- >> rose: you know everybody thinks they're on the list. >> that's a rumor. but nobody's ever seen that list. >> rose: the great mentioner. >> let me put it to you this way charlie. the devil comes to you and says charlie, you can either keep on doing your show or you can win this big prize.
>> rose: i keep on doing my show. >> exactly, thank you. >> rose: this book is called stone mattress. why they always go back to the hand maid tail. margaret atwood off of the hand-made tail. >> that's having a big mom7zt on social media and elsewhere because of the various states in the united states who have enacted some quite strange legislation having to do with pregnant women. >> rose: like what? >> like if you're pregnant and you're even suspected of possibly not wanting your baby, you can be arrested and chained up to your hospital bed until you have the baby. tennessee has just enacted legislation like that. take has got it and a numb on -- number on it and it's all right to life stuff. >> rose: can you see this. >> don't put it at the front.
it intimidates people. >> rose: this is great, really. you must love it because you do it so well. >> i do love it. >> rose: i love having you here. >> thank you. >> rose: thank you for joining us. see you next time. foremore about this program and early episodes visit us on-line at pbs.org and charlierose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
this is "nightly business report" with tyler mathisen, brought to you in part by -- thestreet.com featuring stephanie link. the multi million dollar portfolio she manages with jim cramer. learn more at thestreet.com/nbr. the u.s. and china agree to drop tariffs on $1 billion worth of technology products. and some well known companies could feel the impacts. $9 billion in 24 hours. that is how much the chinese internet goliath alibaba rang up in sales today on singles day, an event that is now bigger than cyber monday and black friday combined. >>