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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  October 6, 2012 8:00pm-10:00pm EDT

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and you made them in such a way as to intimate these werer. permanent behinding commitment, the whole point of fdr calling these things, these new rights a second bill of rights was to suggest they were just as important and permanent as the first bill of rights and just as you wouldn't say, we have to give up on free speech, it's coaching too much. we don't have to give up on medicare because it's costing too much. you find the money. because it's a duty. but there will also be people on the left who say, look, you know, this is a high-risk strategy. we could lose everything. why don't we take half a loaf or a little more and comprise, you know, change the terms. there have been some efforts already made in the '90s and sense along the moderate lines. .
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. one is can we borrow from other countries or other people or from our people and secondly, are our promises -- will they accept their promise to pay it back if we use the money for the purposes we borrowed it for the we will wisely administer it. be dead.
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and those issues are very tightly interwoven in this whole problem of the welfare state. but my friend will vogel, one of his solutions at least was to move towards means testing and more of it so that in a presumably rich country and one that is getting richer broadly speaking over time, individuals should be able to pay for more of their own benefits, i mean because society -- if you look out over the past 30 years at society it's a lot richer than it was. if you look over the past 100 years it's phenomenally more rich than it used to be. his ideas that you can shrink the welfare state by confining it more to the truly needy and freeing up other people to make their own arrangements. and i think that is not an unreasonable solution but i don't know if it's politically viable.
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>> thank you. >> thank you. >> booktv has over 150,000 twitter followers. follow booktv on twitter to get publishing news, scheduling updates author information and talk directly with authors during our life for a grammy. >> now on booktv, the anisfeld-wolf book awards presented to books that have made an important contribution to society's understanding of racism and diversity of human cultures. this hour and a half event is in its 77th year. >> good evening my friends. it's great to be back in cleveland. i love cleveland. i have a thing in my heart for cleveland ohio. give it up for yourselves. [applause] and welcome to the 77th, 77,
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annual anisfeld-wolf book awards. this is our 16th ceremony to be held publicly before that time it was done through the mail. our 16th ceremony and what a lovely ceremony it is and one to which i look or two cohosting with run every year. this by the way is ron's tenth year as head of the cleveland foundation and what a remarkable 10 years it has been, hasn't it? [applause] ron thanks for all these people and all you've done to ensure that anisfeld-wolf commitment, visionary in commitment made three-quarters of a century ago to honoring such a thing, excellence in the literary and scholarly exploration of cultural diversity. you have ensured that this vision, this crazy idea, has not only been protected but it has
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been nurtured. it has been expanded. it has been filmed in ways that even anisfeld-wolf could scarcely have imagined. let's give it up for ron richards. [applause] these awards are chosen each year by a stellar jury composed of the novelist joined carol oates in the psychologist steven pinker my colleague and historian simon. this award has always been a major national book price with a hosted outstanding previous winners including among so many others, langston hughes, zora neale hurston and even the reverend dr. martin luther king jr.. and now thanks to the vision, commitment and shared energy of one person, we now have a hot web site and live streaming video of our event, national press coverage and several cavorting lectures and
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presentations and you know who that one person is. she is the lifeblood of the anisfeld-wolf book awards, my dear friend and comrade mary louise khan. give it up for mary louise. stand up, mary louise. [applause] our annual ceremony has become an important event on cleveland social and intellectual calendar and that takes an entire team of people including ron of course but also cindy schultz. cindy, please stand up in the six other team members who have worked for months to create this evening. give it up for cindy. [applause] as married with louise put it to me just yesterday and i quote the e-mail making sure i was going to be here, the e-mail -- called me when i was on the plane.
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i stop to get a shoe shine and she almost had a heart attack. i'm quoting from her e-mail to shove her that i do read them even if i do ignore them. [laughter] edith anisfeld-wolf she wrote was a quiet and reserved person and would be astonishing thrilled with how many people across the country now understand her resolve to open minds, to open minds to the rich diversity of human culture and the tragedy and waste of prejudice in nature. it's an honor to serve as chair of jerry and to play even a modest role in fulfilling edith's belief in the miracle of cultural diversity of the human community, diversity that these awards are committed to nourishing and protecting so thank you for honoring me with this assignment. and now, let's get on to the reason we have come here, to make -- meet this year's honorees. it is showtime, ladies and gentlemen.
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esi edugyan, this is the miracle of phonetic spelling ladies and jumo min. [laughter] if you saw this text he wouldn't even recognize this child's name. with being from baltimore to berlin to paris, "half-blood blues" is esi edugyan's story of a character, and afro-german trumpet player and his band called the hot time swingers as they leave berlin in 1939 for occupy paris but were arrested by the nazis for a crime of being and afro-german jasper could degenerate by birth because he is one of the ayn rand produced by the union of german women and french colonial soldiers after world war i. and degenerate by choice because the nazis considered jazz to be a degenerate art form at quote
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unquote jewish hot and hot todd frugality. think about that. a jewish hot and todd frugality. the central figure of this novel which is praised to the heavens in which he uses a little explored corner of the african diaspora to address things of creativity, community, the trail and preservation of himself related to the other and the very nature of both historical memory and historical discourse. the novel is powered not only by its flight from place to place and person to person but also, and i would say most impressively, by esi edugyan's really at use of vernacular language, the common language spoken by the people, his power of african-american fiction for more than a century. charles chestnut, langston
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hughes, darnell hurston, ohio's tony morrison. the language their characters. >> become almost the character itself. for inaccurate or is an expression of reclamation, the longing, of entity and most certainly of place. it's also an assertion of authority over a particular story. it establishes the storyteller if you think about it as the master of the story, as the definer of her or his own terms. the story is about a hero but it is narrated by sid griffith who has his own story to tell. esi edugyan's language is itself a hybrid. he uses the derogatory german term and what sit himself calls mongrel talk. she draws from the well recorded words of the time male
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musicians -- i rather like that myself. because they swing but in sid's retelling esi edugyan has called the blending of history one of the genuine pleasures of writing this book. indeed one of the features of the books the critic says most resoundingly praised as well. sam sacks of "the wall street journal" hailed the novel entrancing ventriloquism as he put it. the critic in the independent in the u.k. road and i quote the novel is truly extraordinary in its shimmering jazz vernacular, pitch perfect in its period slang. esi edugyan he continues never stumbles with the storytelling not even over one thing. i am sometimes leery i have to confess of the comparisons of writing to jazz when a critic
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writes in "half-blood blues" that its pros are quote fluid and hip as just. i agree but i worry that that simulation is too easy and too trite. however in the case of this novel, it happens to be more than that. as the judges for the scotia bank dealer a ward wrote quote is conventional to liken the pros in a novel about just to the music itself is that there could be no higher praise. in this case they continue, say in a jazz musician would be happy to play the way esi edugyan writes. the style is perceptively conversational and easy but with the simultaneous exuberance and discipline of a troop prodigy. next to west end blues these two works of art belong together unquote. in the words of the guardian
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u.k., esi edugyan really can write which helps to explain why this book has one and numerous awards in addition to the scotia bank's price canada's most prestigious award in english "half-blood blues" won the 2012 at the wilson fiction prize and was shortlisted for both 2011 and 2012 orange prize for fiction among many others. it was selected by "the new york times" book review and the editor's choicby the globe as the best book of the year and for comparable honors by amazon, quill and wire, the "san francisco chronicle" to name just a few. "half-blood blues" is esi edugyan's second novel. the second life of samuel times was named one of 2004's books to remember the new york public library. he was nominated for the hurston wright legacy award and part of cannot's canada's new fiction
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program. of -- parents or as they say in nigeria the naming and parents, in calgary and making her home in victoria, esi edugyan has held residencies in spain, in iceland and in germany. she is a writer who the globe and mail says promises to leave -- lead black editor not only direction i haven't agree with that. for revocation, for her invocation of the time and a place that are entrenched in our imagination through the language that they use. even as they define our imagination and for her illumination of people upon whom to little historical or literary light has been shown. esi edugyan is awarded the anisfeld-wolf book award for fiction for her stunning and startling novel, "half-blood blues."
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[applause] ♪ [applause] [applause] >> i am so-so honored to receive this award tonight. to be associated with this long distinguished list of amazing writers who have won this before is just incredible and everything this award embraces and stands for, i am terribly honored. i will start at the beginning so as not to give anything away and dr. gates did a beautiful job introducing the themes of the
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novel so i will just start right in. paris, 1940, chip told us not to go out. he said, don't you boys town the devils. rot was cheap. >> the drink of french peasants but it left nails in your gut. it didn't even look right all mazie and black in the bottle. like drinking swamp water. sheets nailed over the windows, sunrise so fuse it seeped through the gaps dropped like croissants are scanned. a couple of hours before we tried to cut a record.
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more like a closeted ghosts than any joint with music. the cracked heaters was for its theme and empty bottles rolled all over the floor. cigarettes glowed like small holes in the dark and that is how i know it was not buzzing. the smoke was not moving or nothing. just sitting there in his mouth. everyone pacing about listening between takes to the scrabble of rats in the walls restless as hell. now a could need we weren't so rotten but i at least felt off. too nervous, too crazed, too busy watching the door. forget the rocks, forget the studio seclusion. nothing told me out of myself. take after take only to have heroes scratch the disc tossing it in the trash. just a breed of mistakes he kept muttering, a dam breed of mistakes. we saw my royalty after they got
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done with them said ship. colman and i ain't said nothing our heads hanging tiredly. but hero wiping his head with a handkerchief turned and gave chip the look of pure spite. hell, even at our worst we weird genius. did that ever stun me him saying this. for weeks he had been going on and on about how dreadful we some. he kept snatching up the discs and scratching the lacquer with a pocket knife yelling how there was not enough but there was something, some scene of twisted beauty. i didn't mean to, but somehow when the kid turned his back i was sliding off my best taking the last disc still delicate, the group still new and folding the fabric around it. i glanced around nervous and then tucked it into my base case. the others were packing up their
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acts as. where is our next record at said he wrote? he appeared at the trash benefit damaged disks in there. it's in there, but come i said. you didn't want to did you? he gave me a silent look. ain't no point. we ain't never going to get this right. what are you saying kids, said chp. are you saying we should give it up? the kid just shrugged. we lined up the empty bottles along the wall back to delight us via. kirby was on and paris was caught in shadows and stale air. i made my quiet way along the alleys driving the sound of footsteps until we met up at the flat. we collapsed onto 30 couches under the black curtains. i set my acts against the wall and it was like it could feel the disc just sitting in their.
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i felt his presence so intensely it seems strange the others didn't sense it too. it is wax holding all that heat like an altar candle. a couple of months before we had spent the day mailing black sheets across the flats window but that graham's son did not flood through anyway. the rooms felt too stale to sober up in. we needed to sweat it out in the fresh air and get our heads above us. ain't bruno -- been no breeze in weeks. all of a sudden he turned to me, his face dark and smooth as in the plant. christ i feel green. my guts are pure gravy man. ayman i said. band, i have got to get me some milk. amen i said again. we talked like mongrels you see, half german, half old tomorrow
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bar slang. just a few scraps of french between us. the only real language i spoke aside from english was -- that once i messed up the words i could not straighten anything out again. i know he preferred it this way. kid from the rhineland but he got -- or talked like he did. he was still young that way mimicking. something had changed in him lately though. he ain't hardly be anything since the boots dissented on the city laying favors for days on enand when he came to there was this new darkness in him i ain't never seen before. i gave my old ask a quick glance thinking of the record tucked away in there. it was not guilt i felt, well not that exact way. he was half world under the apache rug. he groaned, i need milk or go in the eye reckon.
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hero cost. i am trying to clean my stomach, not rough it up. his left eye twitched in the lead. it is milk i need rather, cream, that powdered stuff will rip right through you. like you are an hourglass. it ain't that bad i said. ain't nothing open at this hour anyway kids, you know that except maybe the coup but that is too far. lay in silence a minute. in a bad light i could make out the rams last few chairs huddle by the fireplace. they looked absurd like a flock of geese headed for the hatchet. day was the last of it, you see. it's been a grand old flat. all louix xiv chairs, chandeliers, tapestries, ceilings as high as the train
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station. but he urged her to sell what she could before the clouds came in. it seemed less bleak to him and now the flat being so empty, you felt only its depths like he you are stranded at sea. the whole place nothing but darkness. i glanced over at hero, now all knotted up in his chair. kid i said thickly, hey kid, i put a hand to my head. doing serious about giving up on the record. he didn't seem to have heard me. i watched him heave himself up on his feet churning like an old meal and then he staggered over to the door. at least i reckon that was his idea. is the more like he was heading for the fireplace stumbling all about, his shoulders on the wall and then he was on the floor on all fours. what are you doing, i said?
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hero, what are you doing, kid? what do you mean what am i doing? you ain't never seen a man put on his shoes before? stick around because this is about to get exciting. i'm going to put my dam code on next. hero was wrestling his houndstooth code, the gun twisted in the sleeves. he stood up and he said i need some daylight right about now. i stared out my watch and tell it made sense. you being a fool. you know he don't got any papers. what are you going to do if you get stopped? he shrugged. i'm just going down to the bronx. it ain't far. he open the door and slid onto the landing swaying in the half dark. staring into the shadows there, i felt sort of uneasy. don't know why. well, the bug was their name just a few blocks away and it was not far.
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all right, all right i muttered, hold up. i'm coming. i stumbled fumbling with my shoe and then slipping down those wide stairs in the dark and pushing out into the gray street. we usually run all over nowhere in the daytime, never without delilah, never the same route twice and not ever to the avenue. but he wrote, he he had grown reckless as the occupation deepened. he was a half read but so dark, no soul ever likes to give his mama a great rhinelander. his skin glistened by pure oil but he was german born, sure. if his face was not of the fatherland just about everything else about him -- and add to this the fact he had no identity papers right now,
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well, let's just say it wasn't a cakewalk for him. me? i was american and so light-skinned folks often took me for a white. i came out straight haired, green eyed, right little spaniard. i would be lying if i said it ain't back in berlin too. when we had gone out together in that city anyone approaching us would always come straight to me. when he would cut in with his native german well, that gentleman but dam near died surprised. most didn't like it though. a savage talking like he is civilized. he would see that old glint in her eye like a knife turning. we fled to paris to out run all of that but we knew it wouldn't fend off the chaos forever. ain't no man can outrun his fate. sometimes when i looked out through the curtains staring
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into the emptiness, i would see old berlin. i would see that night when all of the class on our streets shattered. we had been in the flat, messing it up and when we drifted over to the curtains, it's like looking down on a carnival. crowds in the firelight, broken bottles. we had gone down after a minute and it was like walking on a gravel path all of them shards crunching at each step. the synagogue of the block was on fire. we watched firemen standing with their backs to the flames, spraying water on all the other buildings to keep the fire from spreading, you see. i remember the crowd being real quiet. pergola firelight was shining on the wet streets, the hose water running into the drains. here and there i seen teeth
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glowing like opals on the black cobblestones. thank you very much. [applause] [applause] >> the beautiful, thank you esi. david livingstone smith has long been a student of some of humankind's impulses. his 2004 book, the evolutionary roots of deception and the unconscious mind drew on his training in the philosophy of mind, psychology and psychoanalysis to examine the inevitability of deception. we are wired for it. in 2007, he explored the bellicose tendencies of humans
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in the most dangerous animal, human nature and origins of war. it seems that we are wired for that too. "less than human" why we demean, enslave and exterminate others, one of our two nonfiction winners tonight, brings history, psychology, biology anthropology and philosophy to bear on the phenomenon of dehumanization, the practice of one -- the practice by one group of rendering another group subhuman. needless to say, even if the humanization takes on particular cultural forms it is nonetheless as ancient as humanity in his argument and it's what he calls a joint creation of biology, culture and the architecture of the human mind. it's not difficult to think of far too many examples from the 20th century alone of words that have been used to dehumanize and indeed to kill.
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vermin, cockroaches and dogs. have we been told by the aggressors populated the human landscapes of nazi germany, over wanda, of the sudan and the middle east to name just a few of the most glaring examples. in reading his analysis of its this language and thinking about a human human tendency to treat groups of people not as people but as animals, one wonders if there is any other species that needs to make its enemies not only less. that would seem to be the lot the jungle as it were but categorically different as well. we could certainly see this radical dehumanization in our own history. black slaves were not only less than, but were fundamentally different than their white slave owners. never remaining wholly in the round of either philosophy or psychology but always drawing examples from our own experience in the world.
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smith argues that if we want to overcome our tendencies to dehumanize, which lead to atrocities and genocide, we must look these tendencies square in the face. we must study them honestly, openly, in order to control them. "less than human" has garnered lavish praise from scholars, valerie curtis writing in the journal and i quote books like smith should be required reading for all with a social conscience and his ideas ought to find their way into every school curriculum. the yale psychologist paul bloom calls a quote a beautiful book on in a topic and charles w. mills, dean of the field of moral and intellectual philosophy, calls it in a quote, a powerful original work that forces us to recognize that monstrous atrocities are routinely carried out not by
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monsters, but alas, by ourselves. reviewers in the mainstream press, including barbara ehrenreich from the "l.a. times" review of books and david from "the new york times" book review have admired the book for its thoroughness and position even while contesting some of smith's arguments. this is why in the opinion of the jury, this is -- i'm sorry in the opinion of the jury a sign of a well-written but because it indicates in this case that "less than human" participates in and inspires a dialogue about what it means to be human and inhuman and challenges readers to contemplate the very large questions of being a human connection. professor smith is written for "the new york times," "usa today" and other national publications and he has been a frequent guest on npr, the bbc and broadcast television. he recently addressed the g20
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summit in los cabos mexico and he is co-founder of the new england institute for cognitive science and evolutionary studies, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies at the university of new england. he has been an unflagging student of how human beings make their way ine world, even though that way is often not great. he challenges each reader to tinker with their own wiring, to be aware and he hopes to do better. for his profound insights into the human condition, and into the conditions some humans place on play some others, we present him the anisfeld-wolf book award for nonfiction. [applause] ♪
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♪ >> the this is wonderful. and i deeply appreciate the fact that such a distinguished jury read my book, much less thought it worthy of this great honor. in a moment i i'm going to read you an excerpt from "less than human," which deals of course with the atrocities of the past, but i think it's useful to remind ourselves of the point of considering atrocities of the past is to make a better future. if we can understand what has driven us to do the terrible things that we have done to our fellow human beings, perhaps we can fashion a future with no more row one does, no more auschwitz's no world more hiroshima's. so, to strike a somber note i would like to remind you sitting
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here enjoying this event that halfway around the world there is a genocide of attrition going on in sudan and that genocide is being fueled by dehumanization. i will not go into it more but those who are interested can speak to my dear colleague al sutton who is the founder of the african freedom coalition and i will have some literature on the table in the reception after the ceremony. so, let me read. the dehumanization of african-americans did not end with the creation of the new nation in 17764 with the abolition of slavery in 1865. books and pamphlets published during the latter part of the 19th and early 20th centuries continued to assert
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that they were beasts. during the 19th century the new discipline of anthropology gave this racist ideology of the scientific respectability. some like the british surgeons or william lawrence the harper geologist louis agassi's and the philadelphia physician samuel george martin or polly genesis, people will believe that each race evolved independently of the others and therefore the black people were separate species quote that the black is more like a monkey that a european road lawrence cannot be denied as a general observation end of quote. the german anthropologist vividly described the confluence of the polly genesis mindset with extermination must policy. writing in 1863, of those who regarded the so-called lower races as subhuman creatures he
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remarked if there be various species of mankind there must be a natural aristocracy among them a dominant white species as a post to the lower races who by their origin are destined to serve the nobility of mankind and may be tamed, trained and used like domestic animals or may according to circumstances be and are used for physiological experiments without any compunction. to endeavor to lead them to a higher morality would be as foolish as to expect that lime trees would i call the patient they are peaches or the monkey would learn to speak by training. all wars of extermination, whenever the lower species are in the way of the white man, are then not only excusable but fully justifiable since a physical existence only is destroyed which without any capacity for a higher moral development may be doomed to extinction in order to afford
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space to higher organisms. and he went on to add, this time with delicious irony, that such a theory has many advantages. it flatters her self-esteem by the specific excellence of our moral and intellectual endowment and saves us the trouble of inquiring for the causes of the differences existing in civilization. the theory has thus attained many adherents. wills to there are some that consider this one of the reasons which render the assumption of a specifically higher mental endowment of the white race in probable. polly genocism was sometimes dubbed the american school because of its popularity in the united states especially among apologists for slavery. many americans use the bible with biology to underwrite their
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racial beliefs and it even more outlandish manner than their 17th and 18th century predecessors had done. some believe that africans are not of noah's lineage but dissented from animals that he took aboard the art. others believe that believed that blacks were the progeny the devil are descendents of the subhuman race god fashioned prior to his -- published at the turn of the 20th century by the book and bible house. [inaudible] biological fantasy. [inaudible] who had a fall from an ape or as adam and eve for white people created in god's own image. beliefs like these fueled the continued violence routinely
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directed at african-americans during the century or so following the civil war. the story of pygmy tribesmen provides a heartbreaking illustration of the dehumanization of africans during this period. he lived with his wife and children in the village of the vast tract of land in central africa then called the congo free state. king leopold the second of belgium founded the congo has stamped his late to provide aid to people living there however the congo free state was anything but free. leopold recently exploited its land and people draining it of resources like rubber, copper and ivory and exterminating approximately 8 million people in the process. the core of african mercenaries and force the rain of terror. they did their job with gratuitous cruelty, men women
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and children who fail to meet their quotas were flogged with hipaa bonamici clips or had their hands hacked off with a machete. the hands were then collected in baskets and presented to colonial officials. one eyewitness reported a village which refused to provide rubber would be completely swept clean. i saw soldier molly lee guarding the village take a big net and put it arrested native senate attached dunce to the net and made a tumble into the river. the village was one of those swept claims who murdered his wife and children sold them to an african slave trader. it was at this point that samuel phillips verner injured the picture or go verner and missionary and entrepreneur was an african on a mission but not a religious one. he recently signed a contract to bring exotic specimens of
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humanity to st. louis for humans do at the 1904 wolves fare. this was to be a grand exhibit giving visitors an opportunity to all collect tribal people brought to missouri from the four corners of the world. even the old apache warrior better known by his maximum -- mexican surname drawn them i was going to be on display. werner was shopping for pygmies when he discovered him and paid off the slave merchant took the young man to united states along with seven to agree to join them. when the affair was over, ferner returned them to their homeland and remained in africa for year and a half collecting artifacts and animal specimens. during this time they became friends. bang the accompanying ferner on his collecting adventures and eventually asked to return with him to the united states. ferner consented. after brief stints in new york's museum of natural history he was
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given a home at the newly opened bronx zoo where he soon became an exhibit sharing a cage with an orangutan. view expressed audible objection to the site of a human being and a cage with monkeying as companions "the new york times" wrote the next day and there could be no doubt that to the majority that joined man and monkey exhibition was most interesting site in the bronx park. spokesman for the african-american community are tested. reverend james h. gordon pleaded, our race we think is depressed enough without exhibiting one of those with the aids. we think we are worthy of being considered human beings with souls. in a delegation of black clergyman read by the -- led by macarthur addressed a letter to the american ear. the person x. responsible with in this exhibition degrades himself as much as he does the african. instead of making up the stiffest little fellow he should be put in school for the
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development of such powers as god gave to him. we send their mcsherry's to africa to christianize the people and then we bring one here to brutalize him. these protests did not focus entirely on their racial degrading of the character of the exhibit. the they were also concerned the exhibit supported darwinism which then as now was an afcom it to christians. book wing under the pressure of controversy zoo authorities released him from his cage and allowed him to wander freely around the zoo. a cheering crowd pursued him. the times reported, there were 40,000 visitors to the park on sunday. nearly every man woman and child of this crowd made for the monkey house to see the star attraction mbarek the wild man from africa. they chased him about the grounds all day, howling, cheering and yelling on the sum of them poking him in the ribs and others tripped him up, all laughed at him. what happened next is not
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entirely clear. one sultry summer day he decided to undress. apparently keepers tried to force them back into his clothing and he responded by threatening them with a knife. he was probably transferred to the howard orphan asylum. he declined werner's offered to returning to africa because despite his bad experiences in new york they were nowhere near as bad as the horrors unfolding in his home in. after a sexual scandal involving a teenage girl he was transferred to long island and eventually to lynchburg virginia where he attended lynchburg seminary and was employed in a tobacco factory. 10 years after arriving in the united states, longing to return to his homeland but unable to afford a steamship ticket back, he put a bullet through his heart. thank you. [applause]
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>> thank you. david blight, sesquicentennial is a word with which many of us are familiar and if we aren't now, we soon will be. the 150th anniversary, the sesquicentennial of the emancipation proclamation is upon us in 2013 and many books are being published an conference is being planned to commemorate this remarkable event in human history. we are in fact hosting such an event at harvard. the signing and implementation of the emancipation pot omission was a remarkable event by any measure but not in a complicated one. president lincoln's thoughts on slavery, freedom and african-americans evolved over time and were propelled by a
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sometimes philosophical, sometimes pragmatic calculus of the needs of the nation. no scholar has taught us more or taught me more, but the role of memory and this historiography of the civil war and the national narrative that emerged from it then has david blight. is 2001 masterpiece called race for the union pacific war in american memory when all of the most important awards in the field, the bancroft prize, the lincoln prize, the frederick douglas price and four awards from the organization of american historians. in this book he argued that what seems so apparent to us now, largely because of his work, that achieved narrative to follow the civil war were about the courage of the soldiers and about the north in and the south and how people fought that as the historian john law points out, left out of this account were competing narratives and i'm quoting, one of those
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narratives was a story of slavery, emancipation and freedom unquote. his mandate is long to put that narrative back into the official account of the civil war. in his other works since that book including beyond the battlefield race in the civil war passages to freedom the underground railroad and history and memory and they slave no more, two men who escaped to freedom including their narratives of emancipation. and countless articles, essays and lectures david blight has returned this theme of memory and commemoration and what it means to conflate the subjective accounts with fact and history and not to recognize them as subjective at all. now he comes to us with that -- "american oracle' the civil war in the civil rights era which brings this new ones exploration into the 20th century. as we approach this as quick --
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sesquicentennial blight brings to light for american writers with their own perspectives to bear on the centennial of the civil war, how they grappled with the issues it raised and how they influenced public memory and commemoration of the board to varying degrees. for writers like features, southern novelists and essayists robert can want he would come to recant his view of the civil war as a lost cause, midwestern historian bruce catton whom andrew and company calls it sort of literary norman rockwell in part because his capacious works on the civil war were widely read at the middle of the century, northern elite and literary critic edwin wilson who looked at the war in terms of his own pacifism often neglecting the world of race and it and the northern novelist and essayist james baldwin who was the most acute essayist and
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thinker of race on the american psyche hands down working at that time. blight said in an interview with the chronicle of higher education that all four and a quote argued fiercely with america's tendency toward a progressive triumphal sunny sense of history and all four his quote continues demanded americans try to see through their well practiced and comfortable myths about the civil war and develop a genuine and authentically tragic sense of history. blight's mackiel critic carol phillips said of the book and i quote it effortlessly seems together literary analysis biography and historical thinking and in a thoughtful and appreciative review in the new york review of looks andrew del benko causes suggested. one of our most noted and lauded historians, david blight is the class of 1954 professor of american history and director of
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the guilford lehrman. is held fellowships of the hunting library in the colman center for writers and scholars and is an elected member of the american academy of arts and sciences. light is committed to doing the work of the public historian as well answer some numerous boards of museums and historical societies and is a member of the advisory board for the curators of the 9/11 museum. as i mentioned before, he has taught me so very much and served as one of my most frequent sources for my documentary, looking for lincoln, my book lincoln on race and slavery and for a new film project, the african-americans many rivers to cross. it is my great honor and privilege to present this evening the anisfeld-wolf book award for nonfiction to my friend and my teacher, david blight. [applause]
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♪ ♪ >> my goodness. skip i actually just wanted to keep sitting there and let you keep going. i don't want to talk about the book. let's listen to skip. if i may borrow a word from isabella, suppose, what a beautiful word to start almost every line with. suppose there was a place that celebrated books, suppose there was a book award in cleveland that drew hundreds of people to come celebrate books. suppose there was a place you could just love and embrace books. suppose, well there is. so i actually celebrate you.
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this is an amazing statement of the love of books and there is almost nothing better i can think of them that. [applause] i often start my lecture course at yale by holding frederick douglass is narrative in my hand and walk out -- it has two or 300 students and i walk out into the audience among the students and embarrass myself and i make them squirm. i hold the book like it's a newborn child and i try to get them to think about how they too can love books and they get squirmy and then i finally go back and start the class. [laughter] thank you to mary louise honda who obviously is the genius behind this organization and to mr. richard's foundation that does this award. the american civil war as most of us know, at least by passing1
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away is commemorating our landscape and all of every town, green and center in america has a civil war monument of some kind. you have an extraordinary soldiers and sailors monument right here in the middle of leave and i actually just visited it today. extraordinary and unlike most i have seen. and there are a lot of them. it is our most vexing experience that we have had to try to process. i chose the four riders that skip so well described and if it's actually, ralph ellison was the subject of my blog and by the way my epilogue on ralph ellison was in part inspired by a scene that arnold rampersad depicts in his biography of ralph ellison i just have a
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chance to tell arnold. you will have to read the note -- the book to know what i meant by that. and one of those quotable lines from his little book called legacy of the civil war, he stops for breath at a breath at one point and says, the civil war draws us as an oracle, darkly unrivaled and portentous of personal as well as a national fate. now that is a mouthful but if there is an event, an epic, a turning point in american history that may indeed be our oracle, the place we go for wisdom, the place we go to ask questions about who we are, a place we go because we always seem to be still fighting over its legacies, it is probably the civil war. now just where that oracle is or what it is, whether it's in a text, a favorite text or replace or a monument, the lincoln
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memorial, stone mountain, the shah memorial in boston, is anyone's choice. but it is that it sent in some ways that we go back to. now james baldwin, i had a great time writing this book in part because you don't get to do this very often. i just wrote about those writers that i always wanted to write about, quoting them and using them for years so finally i decided i was going to write about them and see what shape the book takes. baldwin is to me the most revealing. i had always basically quoted baldwin and plucked passages out of alvin which we all do but baldwin the essayist, baldwin the nonfiction voice in the civil rights movement is something everyone should go back and revisit. and a collection no but he knows my name or the collection, his
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previous nonfiction collections or the most famously baldwin made himself the voice that was constantly, constantly asking why can't americans remember slavery? why don't they want to face their history of racism? why don't they want to look back at the emancipation process? why don't they want to look back at reconstruction? why won't they? if they do it is typically an an in skip knows this, he actually interviewed baldwin in his quicksilver, quick fire, rapidfire method often trying to peel under the skin of white guilt. he left us so many passages about how we remember and forget. one of my favorites is one of the simplest from the 1962 essay where he says too often when americans use words about their history, they use the words to cover up the sleeper but never to wake him up. it is almost perfect and some
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metaphors just come out of some writers and they are almost perfect. the past we often -- we are all guilty of this sometimes. what pests do you want to claim to be part of? what narrative do you want to live in? a past that helps me sleep at night, he passed that makes me feel good. tell me the old story and make me feel good again, not the past that makes us wake up with nightmares. i just want to end with a quick story from baldwin. actually, i will read it. this is the last two pages of the chapter on james baldwin. baldwin has just flown back from england. it is march, 1965. i still have a problem getting into the 20th century, sorry.
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[laughter] baldwin had been in england and visited cambridge and some of you know this. he had just debated william f. buckley at the cambridge and before 600 cambridge students. buckley had the chance in that debate. the topic at that time was the american dream, is that at the expense of the? i mean, you can actually see it on youtube. you can actually watch the buckley baldwin debate or go it is just stunning. at any rate, he has just flown back from england and he is on his way to a special event. february 21, 1965, three days after baldwin debated oakley in england, the outcome x. was assassinated at the apollo theater in harlem. two weeks after that, 600 civil rights marchers were brutally beaten by sheriff's deputies and
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state police at the edmund pettus pridgeon alabama, the incident which came to be known as bloody sunday, one of the most important markers in the civil rights movement history. if anything now, the fire next time that manifesto of what might come to be in america if we didn't base this past, a massive bestseller nine months, number one on "the new york times" bestsellers list, seems a bit too prophetic. by late march baldwin was in salman himself to participate in the voter registration drive and ultimately in the famous march from selma to martin emery, march 25 to 29, 1965. ..
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you can find it in many other places. the way white and blacks had forged segregated an deeply suspicious historical memories of each other. and draws on cold war imgarage i are.
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he argued that americans built what he called a color curtain in their lives and in their hearts and in their historical consciousness, which as he put it may prove to be more deadly than iron curtain which we speak so much. baldwin used a refrain about distances he called them between whites and blacks and the stories within which people claimed could be living. as the sell baa story -- celebrate story marchers arrived he noticed that the con fed rate flag was flying from the capitol dome. and the federalized alabama national guard ordered to protect the marchers as he put it, or little confederate flags on the jacket. along the road wrote baldwin, quoting him older black me and
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women who endured unspeakable oppression for so long waved and chored. in the white section of town he saw businessmen, as he put it, balcony cheers, their maids in back doors standing silent. he distribution, quoted, beige colored woman become standing on the street. a big nervous. suddenly steps off the cur, and joins them. there are a small american flag in his hand. baldwin marched next harry, the for low harlem-born conrad who happened to be a u.s. navy veteran world war with. white secretary and upstair office windows kept extending thumbs down signs said baldwin to the marchers until suddenly many of them saw the stunningly
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handsome, idol harry bell phone nay in the crowd. [laughter] when they saw the beautiful cat, they demonstrated that america was the most desperately schizophrenic of a republican. [laughter] [applause] baldwin's story telling prose in the insight were never in better form. it was vintage james baldwin, race, sex and country. all on extraordinary display subject to his scorching ironic pin. those young win in the window, quote, could only look forward to an alliance with one of the businessmen. and they were, he said, female. a word which in the context of
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the color curtain has suffered the same fate as the word male. baldwin did not miss his chance. when the girls saw hare a collision occurred in them so visible to be at once funny and sad. at one moment the thumbs were down, they were barricaded within their skins. at the next moment, those downturned thumbs flew up to their mouths, their faces changed exactly like bobby soxers they moaned. god know what was happening in the mind and hearts of the girls. perhaps, concludes baldwin, they just wanted to be free. out of imagery that only baldwin might have actually seen in a world historical moment, amid
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the joy of the spectacular march he made great art of all the real people around him. barricaded in this skin. either the sental or vowshed and the city confederate sei was born, baldwin as he had been doing for years tried to kill that old story asking everyone to see in to a new history as they never have before. and after all, he too just wanted to be loved and just wanted to be free. thank you. [applause] [applause]
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>> thank you, david, thank you so much. last but not least arnold was driven to write the phd. at harvard on web du bois. we characteristic generosity he said, i quote, all the historians who had written about him done god job. think about i had missed his genuine essence which in my opinion is the grandly poetic imagine in addition he brought to the business of sea and describing black america and america itself unquote. from the advantage point of knowing an admiring him for years and years and years. i would say that my dear friend shares due boys' jen again wees essence. the premier biographer brought in to sharpest focus not just
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the subject but black america in indeed america itself. professor was born in -- [inaudible] calls the early literary education colonial. in those early areas he was certainly not a student of due the writing that would subsequently shape him professionally. perhaps its behindly coz moe politic perspective on the united states and the literature. want gift in a clear eyed view of it. that may be too easy in formulation in any case suffice it to say that the work is without compare. the word imagine magisterial is used in conjunction with biography. the effect of the word has diminished somewhat. but i want to restore it. as i think can think no better word than that to describe the
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march and authority of his four master work. the art and imagination, life of langston hues, jackie robinson and real ralph ellison. it was a finalist for the pulitzer prison. it was a final irs fur the national -- recognition of the contribution not only to african-american biography, but also to the genere of biography itself. he recently received a 2012 bio award of the biographers international organization. william grimes called his biography of ralph ellison fair a to scare a fault. he is a judicious and honest appraisal of the most difficult and complex figure in the american literary. he quickly, boyographers enter
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to a kind of marriage with their subject. a relationship is happy. but sometimes it happens that the boyographer wakes up one morgue after years cough habitation looks over at the other person and sees a stranger. and unlikable stranger at that. unquote. whether we see ellison is unlikeable and aggressive or sad, or both, he presents a fully fleshed out character in this work. the temptation to lineonize the man must have been great. no other novel had influence over african-american writing in the latter half of the 120*9 century. another critic called his treatment of langston hughes unsparing and sympathetic. those are the qualities if you think about it, ladies and gentlemen, unvarnished truth telling. it's the quality that make are
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followed's work powerful. in addition to being a biographer without fear, he is also a noted editor for the edited edition nblging the collected pow -- poems. and the collection and entitlement slavely in the imagination. he's also the coauthor of fetching them moisture spited days of grace. a -- at stanford and he helped fellowship of many foundations. he's an elected american of the arts and sciences. in 2010, he was received the national humanities metal it was
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presented to him by president obama in a ceremony at the white house in 2011. the nation's highest honor. arnold has been a model for more than three decades and i include myself among that number. among those indebtedded to him for the insistence upon the universality of standards. of truth with a capital truth and beauty with a capital b. he combines the fullest embrace the buygraphic call subject with humidity with the courage confront the fullest range of the humanity. qualities that are all too rare even among the most known biographers. quality absolutely necessary to the task of responsible belie representing another person's
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life. in all of the beauty, and starkness over the full range of the humanity and ours. that is the essence of the auto biography. it is that challenge that arnold is so scufflely -- successfully confronted squarely, honestly, and always most eloquently. gives me an enormous amount of pleasure, ladies and gentlemen, and a privilege to present arched lifetime achievement award. [applause] [applause] [applause] ♪ ♪ i too agree that should have kept on going and going and i
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would not have had to say word here. i should be the first -- [inaudible] i shall be the first to drink out of the grass of water. it's great to be here in colombia. [applause] i also spent several weeks, months maybe many, many years ago when i was working on the first [inaudible] life of langston hughs trying to track down the footsteps of that wonderful man during his four years at central high in cleveland. so it gives me a grail great deal of pleasure being back. so thank you very, very much, professor gates, skip, my friend, and thank you also to
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all the members of the exceptionally distinguished jury including you and also the wonderful poet that decide to make me the honorary of this year. i was pleased to receive a wonderful letter from mr. richard giving me the news confirming the news, and i thank the people who helped to make my visit pleasurable, easy, comfortable including perhaps above all mary louise han who has been praised tonight. i recall vividly how thrills it was in 1987 to learn that the first volume had been selected by a foundation as one of the honored books that year. i now the pioneering role, the foundation had playing in recognizing how crucial it was and is to encourage studies having to do with race and
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american cultural. of course, i could hardly have imagined then that some 25 years later, i would be standing on this stage as the recipient of such a distinguished award from the same foundation. certainly understanding race has been an essential challenge in my auto biographical work. my subject was due -- each of these men and understood race in a different way. from the it was a con consuming issue which he wrestled his entire life. he subtitled one of the bock a autobiography. for lang dodge hughs a great man but not without his demons needless to say. it was a topic engaged many public main fry an angle that
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emphasized not rage or imcrimination. he certainly had the fiery moment but the emphasis on the idea spirit really aty spirit of black people. it was like a disease more intense than the aids he had. jackie robinson buried as -- as he did in 1947, but then in later life, he struggled for dignity and effectivenesses as he waged in the politics and business, and civil rights. for really ralph ellison it was complex initial identity and founded on certain principles and ideals and trying to legally in what else called sacred
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documents. starting my own work in english literature in 1968, i was swept along asesome of us were in the 1960s and early 1970s by the force of social and political changes involving race transforming american culture. choosing a dissertation topic i turned away from traditional literary criticism as much as i loved poetry. i didn't want to write a book of literary stuff of the political kind. recognizing a crisis of black americans were concerned, i turned to biography of a sense that biography often and almost uniquely effective way to address what i've called a crisis of representation.
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when i found myself seared to the bone by passages about race and 1903 classic "the souls of black folk." but then read books of him, i couldn't see the face, the mind, the sensibility of the man who had moved me so deeply. there he was emphatically not my man i dipped as keeply as i could to biography. the papers were close to me. i tried my hand at what is called intellectual biography. i think that what i didn't fully understand in starting out was the near absolute rarity of boyography in those day. biography of black americans by the whites or blacks. i didn't fully understand that in the real sense biographies simply wasn't supposed to happen to black americans.
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just as black americans weren't supposed to indeed in some cases weren't allowed to live in certain neighborhoods or to hold certain positions. in the souls of black folk, he written about the paradox of being a black american of possessing no, quote, true self-conscious rches but being instead doomed all to see one self only as walks saw them. he dwelled on the tempt of the white world and seemed to think in the words, quote, between man and cattle created a third something and called it negro. david smith has covered some of the territory. but american history bore out the accuracy of the observation. one highly regarded 19th century book of silence it substituted not different race but a separate species from whites. so that quote, the negro was closer to the chimp and the
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monkey than he was to the caucasian. a chief justice of the united states supreme court declared as far as the founding fathers were started they had been quote, regarded as beings from inferior order. and all together unfit to associate with a white race. either in social or political relations. and so far, fit they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect. end quote. the u.s. supreme court ruled in 1886 social contract was so to distasteful in proposition that separate but equal accommodation for blacks and whites were perfectly legal. ther raff jim crow was made legal. with such attitudes nationally held, a biography of a black man or woman amounted not only to a kind of violence of social taboo but perhaps to a violence of
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intellectual proprity itself. for many decades freeing red douglas seemed to be the only black american seemed worthy of is a substantial biography. one published by an established house. it persists well beyond the december segregation and the tear mile of the self rights movement. finally according to the record in 1972 lewis published the first of the two volumes on booker t. washington that would win him a few prizes. the silence enceil lopping black writers began to break. it in 1973 became the biography of richard writhe by the frenchman. followed by a biography in 1977 by the american scholar. and in '86 and 1988 came my two volumes on hughs.
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aided by a archive left behind by hugh, i tried to tell through the lens of one crucial life the african-american story as it had existed and exists at the certain social level. i tried to do justice to the complexity that hn been discounted over the century and the representation of american racial reality. the pick already is quite different now. the 1990s saw a steady rise in a prize winning biography such as william mcafeely. in 1994, and 2001 they one prizes for each of the volumes of his bock. a biography won the pulitzer prize in the field of history. this search in biographical writers is, i think, a dependable index to the shifting and meaning of race in american
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culture and also to the written dignity of black americans. biographies, document and complicate in a sense of the individual human condition. they are the opponents of facelessness of emptiness what has been called social death. in so far as race remains a major issue among us than we'll continue to remain major among us biography, i would say, is almost uniquely qualified response to the harm that racism in the various forms is caused and continues to cause in so many aspects of our live thes. i i'm deeply satisfied to have played even a small role in this unfolding story of change and again i am certainly profoundly grateful to the foundation for honoring me as it has done today. thank you very much. [applause]
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[applause] is there a non-fiction author or bock you would like to see featured on booktv? send us an e-mail at cover of our recent stroit maine continues here on booktv. [inaudible conversations] the the main state library in the public reading room. it's a normal day at the library. they are doing research and computer use and looking for good book. we're going to have main office collection in the late early 1920s. the stately brairn at the time started collecting bocks by name writers trying to get them signed whenever possible and it's grown in to this. in fact we have an annex to the room. but we have thousands of titles
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by writers who have some connection to the state of maine. we like that say that steven king, the typical maine writer has probably about fifteen or twenty ways he's connected to the state, birth, education, employment, home, anybody else meets one of the criteria, his son, joe hills no longer lives? the state of maine. we claim him. we have been collected books since 1836. we have a number of unique or rare items. for instance we have a copy of the first edition of the book of mormon. which has been in the state library since approximately 1848. it was published in 1830. the first one was 5,000 copies. they were only in institutions there are fewer than 10% of that left. that makes our copy a little bit different. if you don't maine state
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library. we would full out of the safe and let you look at it with gloves. because that connection to literature is important so many people. that we think it's something valuable we can do. we believe in preserving books, but there's no point in preserving them without access. so that's something we do a little bit differently than other libraries. there is one item that we do not let anybody actually touch. and that's the martha ballard dares. martha ballard was a midwife who lived in maine, the next town down the river from 1785 to 1812. she kept a handwritten -- obviously, dare dairy of her work as a midwife. in the 1970s, laura ailed
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ridge wrote a book based on it called "mid wife's tale." this incredible detail. who she's talking to. what she's doing. it's really brings that time period alive from a woman's perspective. from a health care perspective. thing that we don't think about. her perspective is actually interesting in that she is much more free and doing what needs to be done than our imaginations are of that time period. we expect women to have been quite and gentle. she's not. she's out there doing her job. she's the doctor. she's taking care of people. it's just a wonderful look at women's history in a way that we don't always do. it isn't paul revere.
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this isn't the revolution. because it's just happened. but it is day-to-day life. and that truly is the biggest gem of the collection. we talk about the literary history of augusta. we're talking about the magazines published not as so much as magazines but catalogs disguised as magazines. "comfort magazine" was published by the [inaudible] company william was a entrepreneur and he created something called giant [inaudible] if you had it. it would cure it. it was in a brown tablet and you plucked it in water, and drank it and all was made well. it brought comfort to your
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life. the catalogs at the time were actually magazines. so instead of what we would see at catalog or the montgomery catalog. we have the magazines full of story and in the story you needed to take up thing. would make your life better in some waits, these are a precure or so of social networking. tcht way to bipass advertiser. bipass traditional publishes and sell your product directly to the market. it was late 19th century through mid early 20th century. 1880s to 1930s because particularly augusta had access to the -- [inaudible] and to make paper. water and rail transit, things
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were published here. it made more sense to actually print the period kls in accuss that and ship them out. augusta has the enormous post office which is a castle. no longer in use as the post office the current post office is a small building. at that time we were shipping incredible amounts of magazines all over the world. ..
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they published news articles. they publish biographies of the people of the time. the publishing that started in maine and was heavily in favor of prohibition. selling this cute little drug that makes you feel better. there were lots of articles on prohibition and the kinds of things you would see today in the women's magazines like good housekeeping, but easily 80% of it was advertising at any one time. and one of the things they did was -- everything was free if you got more subscribers to comfort magazine.
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or, if you bought this thing you would get that thing for free. it was just all advertising. it circulated all over the country and in fact the state that had the single most subscriptions was california and in fact its success was the reason that it failed. when the postal rates -- they changed from a straight rate to a regional rate. it became entirely too expensive to mail something from augusta to california, so that made a huge difference and that is eventually what killed it. the other interesting thing i want to mention today was myron avery. myron avery, the history of the operation trail and myron avery are completely intertwined. you wouldn't have per trail without avery.
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benton mackay was the person who wrote an article in the 1920s saying, there should be a trail that you could walk from georgia to maine to see the whole country. myron avery is the person who went out then and built the trail, who walked it. he was the first person to walk the length of the trail. he was in maine native. his family background was in sardine canning which of course was a huge industry in maine in the early 20th century. but he loved the woods. he became an attorney and a captain in the navy and did admiralty law for a living, but according to one source spends 15 weekends a year working on the trail. he was headquartered in maryland and so he founded the potomac appalacian club and was the president of that. the trail would not have existed
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without him. he died unexpectedly at the age of 62, and had arranged to leave his papers to the maine state library and fortunately because of the untimeliness of his death, none of it was organized and we are still trying to get a handle on it or go there are thousands of pictures that he took or that his friends took of things happening along the trail as he was building it. some of them are incredibly fun. there is a photograph of an old man and it is titled old man my rain, standing on a farm and then the next shot is where the trail will go through the farm. avery said he couldn't have built the farm, the trail, without the cooperation of the landowners and he had good relationships with landowners
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across maine across the country, to get access to where the trail is now. this is especially exciting because it's the 75th anniversary of the trail this last august. in addition to photographs, a dam under construction, a camp for sale. the camp is in fine condition and people are still camping in the area. he wrote on all of the photographs what they were about this is myron avery and he is on the back of a truck going between spots for the trail building. most of these photographs were taken in the 1920s. and what i found was again there were far more women, particularly in the potomac appalacian who were out there blazing trails and helping to
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build the trails. most of the hikers who hiked the whole trail out one time, they started in georgia and they would and it maine. because of the way the seasons ran you could get started in march and georgia and finish up in maine. this is myron avery's booklet about the appalachian trail. it is absolutely wonderful and the opening paragraph is delightful. the somber forest across the breadth of the wilderness with this -- i'm airing of its course of the driven erold like -- the gateway to the mountains, lakes, forests and streams. those who traveled with gain
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solitude and may indeed feel that this is the forest of primeval the murmuring pines and garments green indistinct twilight. >> now we explore some lesser-known history on booktv. we travel just outside of augusta to waterville maine where we sat down with rafael who describes his book, "hitler's african victims" which describes a group of black french soldiers who were massacred by the german military in 1940. >> this book is about massacres of black french soldiers of these were soldiers who had been drafted by the french army in africa mostly sub-saharan africa, senegal, mali and countries in the region. they were brought to france in 1939 and 19 or to and they fought against the german army.
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when the german army captured these soldiers and made them prisoners many officers ordered they be massacred right upon capture and i estimate that around 3000 of them were killed right after capture and many more were killed on the way to camp so they were treated in a quite abbhorent we. the motivation was this was racism it and what is important is the in this context is the german campaign in france is often portrayed as a campaign where there is massive racism that is played out on the eastern front toward the russians toward the polls earlier on and my book wanted to show that the nazi regime was indoctrinating the german people and the german army during the
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french campaign and this led to east africa's black soldiers. before the massacres happened, there was a campaign in the german media and this campaign was ordered by hitler personally because he felt that after the first successes in that campaign that the british were beaten and leaving europe through dunkirk, hitler felt that the german soldiers did not hate the french enough so how do you get the german soldier to hate the french? he agreed with herbal to make a lot of noise about the african soldiers and the french army depicted as man being savages mutilating savages and not the
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propaganda centrally at this time so goebbels got on the phone with hitler and immediately gave the order and the next day articles kept appearing about the savage african soldiers who were cutting to pieces german prisoners in france. there were generally german propaganda teams who went into the camps and who had instructions and instructions in the archives, go and look for animalistic themes so some filmed soldiers doing things when they were doing things that animals do so the camera zoomed in on fulcher's being raw meat. they were starving in these camps at the beginning because the supply situation was terrible so the these camera teams filmed prisoners, black prisoners and also north african
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prisoners tearing apart rock house or raw sheep and being the meat. other propaganda -- they did this for many months when some of these prisoners were brought to germany before everybody got hitler's order. there was propaganda when they went into the p.o.w. camps and filmed these soldiers and often they told them dance. many of these african soldiers came from very different regions in africa. we are not weak, we are from different areas. we dance differently so they started dancing under pressure. the camera teams filmed them and as we watch them today we might think oh well just a bunch of
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black men and french uniforms dancing but the way they were presented, the german audiences at the time underscored that the soldiers from africa are primitive, that they are dancing primitive dances and behaving in ways that are more specific of an animal than the human. and this went so far that the official nazi newspaper said, started the rhetorical question do you think that the soldier ought to be spared and taken to a p.o.w. camp so the implication was these people were -- and the german soldiers read these articles. they heard news like that on the radio and when they attacked in the second wave in early june of 1940, they began to read everything in a battle situation according to not to propaganda so whenever they found one of their comrades with severe
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cutting wounds for example, they immediately thought oh this person must have been a prisoner of a black unit and they must have cut that person to pieces. and then, they said we are going to avenge these outrageous and very often officer ordered that soldiers be separated from the north africans who were usually put together with the white soldiers in the black soldiers were led away, very often to execution at the edge of a forester at the end of the field, usually without witnesses because in those regions of france, what happened, many of the civilians had left, they had fled before the german army arrived so they were often direct witnesses except for the soldiers in the german army, the officers and in many cases, they were just lined up at the edge
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of the field and executed with machine guns or machine pistols. the white french soldiers and officers later on heard it and then they often saw the corpses when they were driven away to a p.o.w. camp. most of the african soldiers were illiterate. few of them left rich and sources. there are a few in the archives but they are mostly the french educated, lower rank officers and they have a particular perspective. the most detailed documents were the accounts of white french officers and these were accounts that they wrote shortly after the campaign, a couple of months or a year or two after the campaign and they wrote them with a very different purpose. they wrote them to highlight certain soldiers who should get military medals and they also wrote them because the french
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government and army wanted to understand what had gone wrong in 1940. why did we lose this campaign so disastrously? so it wasn't about human rights or about documenting massacres, but in the context of trying to explain these officers very often gave a lot of details on what had actually happened in combat in right after people were taken prisoner. so those are the most important sources. the german sources, where soldiers in the diaries admit that they did kill africans, very few of them. but what you can see in the german sources, mostly these stereotypes about african soldiers that mirror almost one to one the nazi publications in the preceding days and weeks. one of the things that surprised me was that the massacres were
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by no means universal. there were german officers, who were dispensing the same nazi propaganda but who decided this is not right. this is against the geneva convention. this is illegal even though the official nazi newspaper, essentially legitimizes the killing of prisoners. it's the wrong thing to do and many officers decided not to do it. there were some german soldiers who stepped out and said stop this, we can't do this. there were quite a few who did lock such an execution and was surprised me was that in some cases i have the writings of these officers who did not participate in the massacre. sometimes they were -- but they
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somehow had the remainder of the legalistic thinking where they thought, no this isn't the right thing to do. i can't do this so let's not massacre the people. the french feel bad about not having recognized this whole contribution of african soldiers to the second world war and there were reasons they were not recognized. the soldiers became very unruly in 1944 and 45 and they led revolts and some of them went in to independence movements. it's a very painful issue in france but many french people feel these people have not received enough attention. in france, the book became -- had a huge visibility and in germany to some extent too because the german army and its
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involvement in the racial climate. i really did want to bring to attention that there were soldiers from west africa and the french army and that they were massacred but they were victims that were largely forgotten after the second world war and i also want the readers to understand the incredible complexity that even in a totalitarian state, people act in very different ways, not always predictable, not always logical and to understand this complexity, which i think is crucial in helping us understand or undermine prejudice in general. it's a very complicated picture. >> on a recent visit to maine booktv toward the bowdoin college special collection in brunswick. we explored the personal collection of former senator george mitchell highlighting his life and political career. here is a look.
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>> the this is where mitchell's papers are located. and if you look over here to the left, you will see where laughter roll after row of boxes and they're all on contact shelving which of course allows for denture to storage but also easy accessibility so we have here probably two-thirds of the papers that senator mitchell donated to us in 1995. senator mitchell was class of 1994 at bowdoin and donated his papers from the sun in 1995 and comprises of over 1000 feet of material, rows and rows of boxes and boxes and boxes and they are incredibly important scholarly
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resource for people interested in maine politics and government and also national politics and foreign affairs because of mitchell's roles throughout his distinguished career both nationally and internationally. i thought i would start with the college yearbook. this is the class of 53 yearbook but it shows the senator as folks like to call him, as a basketball player. you see it down here at the end of the road. mitchell comments often that he feels inferior to his brothers who are extremely academically gifted and how he was somebody with two left feet and never really got a chance to shine but at least he shined well enough to be on the varsity team for basketball. basketball. this is a photograph showing senator mitchell and senator built colin. cowen was also an alum class of 1962. cowen in fact was a the senior senator from maine.
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mitchell was elected later. mitchell was older. he was always sort of the jr. and a thorn in his side when cohen would get together, i don't know. but they work together very closely in the senate despite being on opposite sides of the aisle and this is a photograph that shows them in collaboration during the iran claims settlement act in 1980 when mitchell had first been appointed to the senate to fill senator muskie's vacancy. muskie had been named the secretary of state and mitchell was appointed to fill his vacancy in 1980. and then from his early senate career, some examples of his campaign literature. the show's mitchell on election night in 1982, the first year that he had actually run for the seat and was appointed for. it was a tough campaign. he came out on top. some letters, this one from
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strom thurmond who at that time was secretary pro tiem of the senate, congratulating senator mitchell on his quote re-election although it was really his first election. we continue to get materials from senator mitchell's office. he now has a law firm in new york city and is still getting awards and generating material through his career. so these things come to us over time. in 1990, having just been elected to the senate majority leader mitchell was involved in 1990 in the clean air act in this was a letter from george h. w. bush thanking him for his collaboration and succeeding in getting that legislation passed. the 1990 amendment was important for us today. we pay $4 a gallon for gas. it was the amendment that discussed the composition of gas
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and the introduction of chemicals during certain seasons of the year in order to make cleaner air. and then a sample of mitchell's writing style. there are their researchers to come because they are interested in particular topics but there are also people who come because they are interested in particular techniques or purchase. some people are interested in mitchell's papers because of his negotiating skills for instance and so this is a research question that bridges a variety of the series of records that we have. others are interested in his rhetoric, how much he was really involved in writing the speeches. obviously all politicians have speechwriters which is evident of how intimately he was involved in the writing process as draft after draft goes through and he is penciling at the last minute and striking things out in order to prepare his remarkable the senate floor and proposing his 1990 legislation.
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another part of his career that has really touched on was his battle in the iran-contra. one of the congressional hearings was with all of her north and mitchell was appointed the person on the committee to interrogate north. >> in d. the very fact that americans can criticize their government openly and without fear of reprisal, that is the essence of our freedom and that will keep us free. 's the north had taken a position of imperial righteousness some people might describe it and senator mitchell reminded north that he wasn't the only person that had reichel and imperial positions. of course mitchell became a rock star in the country. people from all over were sending comments up and thanks
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and occasionally comments of anger but a woman in san diego, no relation to mr. mitchell, send him a card thanking him for doing so much and in the mailing she also included a box of see's chocolates. sees of course is a big chocolate company in california. people in the country may not be quite so familiar with that but the irony is mitchell loves chocolate. the story goes that when he was on the campaign stops, he had an assistant who was charged with making sure there were refreshments and things that would keep them happy and chocolate brownies was on the top of that list. then if that are here from orrin hatch indicating his admiration and respect for mitchell's participation in the -- hatch on the other side of the. you get a sense that certainly
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this time in the 80's and early '90s there is a period of time when there is considerable collegiality and cooperation among politicians regardless of their political affiliation. he is a loyal alumnus. he comes to events occasionally. he has provided considerable support for the mitchell oral history project. he has delivered addresses from time to time. he does not have a position here. he doesn't teach classes but when he comes he visit the classes particularly in the government and legal affairs department whenever he is on campus. he will come and speak to the students and i think that is really a traffic experience for them in a great opportunity. after he retired from the senate in 1995, he has a private life life -- [inaudible] he is appointed by the president
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as a special envoy for northern ireland. that then grows into a special appointment not federally mandated that internationally mandated to negotiate the good friday agreement, and that was ratified in 1998. what we have here are letters from that time period even before he was appointed in 1995 with the prime minister of northern ireland thinking mitchell for meeting with him in washington d.c.. clearly there is a groundwork is being laid for the subsequent negotiations. ultimately then in 1998 after some false starts and difficulties, the good friday accords are ratified and here is a letter from ahearn who is the prime minister of ireland thinking senator mitchell for
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the efforts of his commission. here's a picture with the foreign minister of northern ireland giving a sense of the casualness that some of these talks imparted although this is a pre-top meaning they are having. to the way a lot of people in the room and mitchell spending a lot of time listening. the part of the negotiation skills that seem to work so well for networks was his ability to bring disparate parties together and give everybody a chance and then ultimately to come to really a strong synthesis about what different issues are and how those can be parsed and how an accommodation can be reach. again most recently we think of mitchell as being the special envoy to the middle east. many of mitchell's colleagues


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