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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 25, 2014 7:53pm-8:01pm EST

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>> i love reading romance novels. they're dirty now. >> for me it's when i forget i'm reading. it's when i stop looking at a book and thinking oh, that's amazing the way they did that. that was so clever. it was a really smart idea. look at the way they're presenting that character. when that part of my brain shuts off and i stop analyzing the book and figuring out how they did and it i just fully enter into it? then it becomes a truly great book. i just finished reading -- can we talk -- i never agreed photographic novels so to have that part of my brain click off, i was just with her every second. >> great great. >> for me it's about being transported. i don't want to read about other neurotic people my age in new york dealing with family and
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work. i want to be off in the congo. >> can i recommend a novel called "the buried giants." >> yes. >> yesterday we heard a wonderful presentation from walter isaacson on his new book, "then innovators" and i was curious if you spend much time reading nobody fiction books? >> i probably read more nonfiction than fiction. >> i write nonfiction, so i have to read it. i have to read a lot of nonfiction books in order to sift through what other people have said, and it's also -- it's kind of nice to alternate, i think to be in an imagined world is kind of enveloping in a different way. when you are reading a nonfiction book, the person gets all sorts of points for telling the truth, and i like the truth.
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so, i'm -- i read probably as much or more nonfiction than fiction. >> i read a lot -- when you have been out of school for a million years, you're by in necessity -f you're going learn anything you have to keep ifdown reading. -- keep up your reading. >> i bought this thing published in the '30s called the educator library, 11-volume college education for soldiers who went to war and couldn't -- you could only go to school when you were 18 and so if you're like 25, you're an old guy. but it was whole college education and because it's before computers and before jet engines, they explain almost everything you can do. how to build a plane, it's like kind of wonderful. and i love stuff like that. like history, too, the story of civilization, kind of wonderful. >> i read a lot of nonfiction
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and listen to a lot of nonfiction. my favorite book this year is a nonfiction book pie deep down dark, the story of the trapped miners" brilliant book. >> thank you. we have to bring this session to a close. i don't know if you want to wrap it up and -- >> no. >> with any closing remarks. >> no wrapping. >> the audience looks sad. >> you can still hang out here and corner us with questions after, except for nicholson baker who has to go to his next session. >> let's have a round of applause for our panel. applause
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>> tell me how did president wilson -- what were his mistakes with world war i? >> his biggest mistake in my opinion was his -- i'm trying to decide whether to call it his inability or refusal to do strategic contingency planning. my work began with lincoln and i was stunned when i wrote about lincoln to see how much he did simultaneous, best case some worst case cob din generals si planning -- contingency planning all day. wilson is almost a mirror opposite at a wartime leader. he almost never thought about what could happen good, or bad. he just presumed that things would take care of themselves and so he just sort of made things up as he went along.
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very hard to believe until you get into the wilson papers. and it's all too obvious. he was a very, very intelligent man in many ways. but his pattern of thinking and feeling were so dysfunctional. to some extent it's a mystery. he was what he was. but from the 1970s on there's been a school of thought that holds that several years before the catastrophic stroke in 1919, he was suffering from cerebral vascular disease and was -- it's a terrible story. >> how much of his lack of planning was a direct result of not wanting to be in the war to begin with in. >> well, a great deal. the war was a catastrophe. a horrendous tragedy, and as
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many, many people all over the world said immediately, and he did, too. but he has this notion from the very beginning that, number one, the united states could keep out. ... >> to the vision of guiding roles into a different way of living so this would never be
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self again. war to end war and so forth. and it went terribly wrong. it could have gone right. there were many points where if he had played his cards better, if he had listened better, if he had analyzed the available information better, he could have made different decisions that would have resulted in a vastly different outcome. and consistently he refused to do that. it is a terrible story. >> did you find any of the mental decisions reflecting themselves in his domestic policy? >> not to as great of an extent as in foreign policy and war. he had a very high strung personality. very petulant at times. and when he was at

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