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tv   Book Discussion  CSPAN  April 19, 2015 8:30pm-9:01pm EDT

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states. >> host: ben shapiro, best-selling author, editor at large at breitbart "the people vs. barack obama: the criminal case against administration." his most recent book is coming out in paperback. thank you would be on booktv from "the l.a. times" book festival. >> guest: thank you for having me. booktv will continue in a moment. everything will re-air on booktv@the span to. today from l.a. thank you for being with us. we will thank the folks at the l.a. book festival and the folks at usc for the hospitality. it now continues. >> here is a look at upcoming book fairs and festivals.
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>> host: linda gordon, who is dorothea lange? >> guest: dorothea lange was important for target for the period of depression in the 1940s and 1950s. i can guarantee you that everyone in this country does
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her photographs. which is often called my grandmother has it is used in every textbook when i asked my students what is the visual image of the great depression of the 1930s they describe this photograph. >> host: where's the photograph taken? >> guest: it was actually taken in california. it is interesting because she was naming and the western u.s. and it was taped in with people in the field, these were migrant workers who moved along from field to field from an agricultural operation to another picking as the crops right then.
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this woman and her family and many others had unseasonal freeze and there is no work. the crop was destroyed and they were sitting there with no work and hoping they would find work at their next stop. >> host: what year was the photograph taken? >> guest: the photograph was taken in 1936. somehow it just spoke to so many americans published versus a local newspaper. in fact it was very functional because so many people were affected by it that they had many contribution. just cause spontaneous to the pea pickers stuck in the field. >> host: >> host: has the woman never been identified? >> guest: yes, she has. lawrence thompson. many years later than 18 to use she came out to speak, claiming
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to a bad at that time in 1830s, she did not have the identity and dorothea lange did not know it. it's an interesting question. and i often wonder how people would have responded. >> host: you write in your book, the story i tell is limited also by the availability of source material lange did not document her own life. >> guest: she is really not a woman who ever expect it to be famous. it is all they really towards the end of her life. she died in 1965 at age 70. only towards the end of her life she began to accept herself as an artist. she originally was a studio portrait photographer.
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she had a very very successful business in tampa and disco. and when she began what would cause documentary photography, which is not a word that existed at the time she didn't think of herself as an artist in any way. she thought she was a craft woman practicing her craft and she was an employee of the federal government. getting a very low wage with a small per diem because she had to travel around with farmworkers located. partly because of that she didn't have the impulse for every scrap of paper is the way someone you know the thought of himself as an artist might have done. >> host: wherever she bored? >> guest: she was actually born in hoboken, new jersey. she had a very ordinary
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middle-class childhood until at age seven in 1902 she got polio. polio was a new disease at that time and it only crippled one of her legs. at that time they were given iron blogs. had the polio crept into her torso she would've died. she was actually very lucky. the issue is a disabled woman and she later would say this was the most important formative part of her identity or disability. she was very good about hiding it and when she was born women wore her long skirt. her mother was afraid she would be on marriageable because of this we think as a slight deformity and a limp and her
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mother drilled her in high demand because she wanted her to be a happy woman and have a has-been and so on. but she really hover around new york city. it was new york city that she was in love with. she never went to college. she did not study photography formally. she got herself a job at portrait studios and taught herself to photograph. >> host: how did she make it to the west coast? >> guest: with a girlfriend in 1918 when she was 23 years old they decided they want to go around the world. first they took a train and then they took a shift through the gulf of mexico of rising in san francisco. as luck would have it, the moment they arrived they were
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picked pocketed and all of that money was taken. if it hadn't been for that, it would've gone on. because of that they stayed forever in the bay area. very enterprising, got herself a job right away. first went to stay at the ywca until she could get the money together. within a couple years she had a thriving photographic studio. >> host: linda gordon, when she's out of the federal and in what capacity question dark >> guest: a series of wonderful for her taxi vans. her photographic studio was right in downtown san francisco francisco -- to take photographs, her clientele were wealthy people. she would look out the window and saw homeless people on the
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street soup kitchens. for the hacker that, she she decided to go start doing this photographs. a friend of hers like them put up an exhibit of hers in oakland, california gathering. that exhibit listing by a man who would become her husband, paul taylor, and very straight the economist, professor at the university of california berkeley. he thought they were sensational and he hired her first work program of the state of california to try to help all of these agricultural migrants. then, since he was an agricultural economist he took it across to washington d.c. to the department of agriculture where they had started a small photographic project. the man took one look at the
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photographs and hired her on the spot. had no idea what he could do but he thought this photographer has to work for this project. in 1936 she shifted and began to work for the federal government for a project known as the foreign security agency. >> host: how long was she with the feds? >> guest: she worked for them for four. 10 series to the fall of teen 39. the project itself was killed off by republican congresspeople and all of franklin roosevelt's enterprises. it was killed off in 1941 1942. during those years she worked like a trooper. she may have been disabled, but she was a very strong woman. she was traveling through the nature areas of california
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appeared 120 degrees in the shade. she was sleepy and cheap hotels on or very small, $3 a day u.s. government per diem. she discovered she was happier than ever doing this work. she liked it so much more. i think her studio portrait photography had begun to seem that it wasn't helping her grow as a photographer. she was very good at it. in fact if you look at that famous painting, what you see and it is true all of her so-called documentary work, she was always a portrait photographer. she did something very unusual. she had all of the skills of making photographs of people that were flattering, that sort of thin hand to people's identities and respect and
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dignity and she turned the same high towards the poor. that was shocking and i think that one famous photograph viewers back because you see in a worry drawn, tired rackety way, this woman was a woman of great beauty and a woman of great dignity. and to pose with their two children living on her shoulders and a baby in her arms she would feel she has the weight of the world on her shoulders and how she going to feed these kids. >> host: after 41 what did she do? >> guest: she did some very interesting during world war ii. she photographed the first meeting in the united nations in san francisco in 1945. so a mistaken hopeful. she also photographed something
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that she was upset and even a little angry about and i was in the u.s. government decided to imprison all of the japanese americans during the war. 120,000 people of whom somewhere between two thirds and three fifths were u.s. citizens. they were all rounded up and shipped off to these camps. there had never been a conviction, let alone an allegation of any disloyalty. she photographed that. as the war ended, she started having the first problems that would ultimately kill her. one that people today don't know about so much anymore because polio locally has spent pretty much wiped out. there is a phenomenon called post polio syndrome in which people had polio at a young age
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when they hit 40, 50 they start to get symptoms. apparently the polio virus remains in a more quiet way inside the body and can be react debated. she went with that and began to develop ulcers and ultimately died of the cancer she would not have died of today because there was no treatment. >> host: was she political? >> guest: in a certain way. she'd never belong to any political organizations. she was not a petition signer. she had a more spiritual feeling but she adored franklin yet that is important because she not only for about poor people but what it must have meant to her with the president
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of the united states. this is a very very powerful emotional attachment. when she did this work she had no problem saying to people the way she would introduce yourself to people that she was going to photographs, these farmworkers and sharecroppers they work with president roosevelt. she would even say i'm a propaganda for president roosevelt. she has no -- she didn't feel in any way that diminishing course of her photography. she believed the country needed to do some thing to help these people who are paid terrible wages. many of them were people who were driven out of their homes by the dust bowl, the huge drought in the middle west. another thing that was very unusual.
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one third of all photography is not. were photographs of people we would call people of color. they were either mexican-americans who are the majority of the farmworkers or they were african-americans in the south. there is a sadness about that is a sadness for her. then that these photographs of people of color were photographed at the time. so the head of the program salt the country wasn't ready for respectful photographs of people of color. since they wanted to build political support, through roosevelt's agricultural programs they felt they could only do that by showing white people. so it was only much later that people have come to record as howard gordon. shattuck cantos antiracist perspective that you really saw
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what he saw the photography of the japanese-americans. she just felt that her heart this was a racist idea that japanese americans can't be trusted. after all we were at war with german americans and german americans were not locked up in prison. >> host: linda gordon wish you well known in her time? >> guest: she wasn't. the reason is most of her photography was published without a name. most of the epilogue to the federal government and it still does. you don't even have to be an american. someone from china or kenya can go to the website at the library of congress and get access to her photographs and you can even die for the cost of make in the parade. they are all of the public domain. she did do a lot of photography in the 1950s and 1960s and
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that is that the open museum. she does them very, very wonderful stuff in the last two decades despite. >> host: was she unique at this time being a photographer? >> guest: she was unique as a studio portrait photographer. many women doing that because women did it out of their own home. you could do this in one room while he took care of your children to go to dinner. as a documentary photographer and especially someone on the road she was not the only woman in this federal project though she was also the only parent. when she married paul taylor the two of them together had six children. she was extremely lucky and
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married paul taylor. i think of them as the husband from having. he adored her. he thought she was a genius. he was so secure in his own career, which was a major one that without the slightest reason and of her. he then traveled with her would work with her assistant in a way. it's part of her technique way she would say she needed to get people to relax into their natural body language because a photographer knows most people will stiffen up when they face the camera. they get nervous and it's not flattering. she had to get them to relax when she was out in the field. paul taylor became fluent in spanish so he could speak with mexican-american farmworkers. >> host: paul taylor was also
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investigated. >> guest: they never found a single name. i found his fbi file there. one man was a parking ticket, literally recorded there. they are suspicious because of and it is because of him she developed a comp remains that this was not a necessary or right thing to do. but he was always a college professor for a long time at berkeley. so she moved to berkeley to live with him and their six children. >> host: you also note in your book that she wasn't the best mother. >> host: >> guest: she would have been a difficult momentum now. i don't think it is easy to write a good biography of
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someone they just adored. i like it that i have very mixed feelings. she got where she got by being very assertive. people called her bossy all the time. her children used a collared dictator.. she was very fussy about our house. she was a good cook and an immaculate housekeeper and she once corrupted one of her grandchildren who was carrying a dish that was a handcrafted ceramic dish. that's the right way to hold the dish. you must hold it in a way that respects its faith. she was very difficult. once she's got where she was i'm not so sure. there's a pretty tough world for a woman to be in.
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she was asked in the presenting very interesting ideas to her boss who felt that her job was just to take autographs and do nothing else. she has a long correspondence between her and her government foster new not only she was a great photographer, but her photographs were the most popular. but he didn't like her telling him what to do. he said he should do a project and he didn't want to do that. he didn't think that was her place. so that is a carrot or a stick of her. the real agony was about not being a good mother. one of the things that i found so telling about the position of people in that period was her
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biological children. one of them was a stepchild from the earlier marriage. three of them were paul taylor's children. no one ever criticize paul taylor for leaving his children. he was gone for huge amounts of time put them in foster care when his first wife left. i found that really interest you. i don't want to minimize the fact that her children were very hurt when i interviewed her children in her 80s and the kids don't feel the pain of having been left by their mothers. that was a real big. but the government job out there was the job she could not refuse. if she had refused it would never heard of her. she would've lived and would've lived and died a portrait
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photographer in her studio. >> host: linda gordon what do you teach at the university? >> guest: i don't teach anything about photography. i'm not really photographic expert. i teach a lot of different things. i teach women's history to undergraduates. i also teach a course on social movements, which is some thing i'm interested in. dorothea lange was not a social movement person in any way. she lived and worked with a period of intense social movement during the great depression or the arranging and organizing drives and civil rights drives in drives that the unemployed for unemployment insurance. but it might be what you might call politics something that happened just before she died. she got a letter that i quoted the book and then i have a copy of that home from some african
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american photographers working in the civil rights movement. and they wanted to establish a collective project of documenting the civil rights movement and they wanted her to be their mentor in sponsoring teacher. and she was thrilled. they are honored by that because again without a political affiliation, she felt so moved that these buried downtrodden people who shared photographed in the night and 30s were not 30 years later standing up and fighting for their right. unfortunately she was sorry to say it. she really couldn't do much for them. she could not have traveled to the southern states, which is what they would've liked. >> host: when did she start to get known?
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>> guest: she had mistyped nose: entry canal elements for at least 40 years before she died. they first thought it was a continuation of ulcers and it may have been. but she died of breast cancer of the esophagus and what i understand now medically is that the acid reflux had actually burned out and cause cancer of the esophagus. she suffered through awful, miserable treatments. this kind of surgery in which they try to ream out her esophagus and plans cobalt. it is the sign that cancer was essentially not a curable disease in the 1960s, in my
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lifetime. so she was -- she had a lot of pain in her last years. she did do something in her final year and a half. she was given a one woman photography show at the museum of modern art. she did not live to see the show, though she did was to design it. she did everything herself. she chose every photograph. she dictated how it should be arranged because she wanted the photographs to speak to each other. the she died in october and they show her open in january 1966. i think it is typical that she really care about the same. what she cared about was now in herself what she believed she had achieved.
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by the end of her life, she was singing i really think i am an artist. be able to say about was deeply, deeply gratifying for her. >> host: when gordon do you have a favorite photograph? >> guest: i have three or four. i think it's not the most famous one. maybe because it is a little happy because it's been so much. she often hide -- our greatest skill was sarah piatt not her camera, not her technique. it was her ability to see it in her mind frame an e-mail that would be extraordinary. there was a couple and the ones that i like that show more than one person and they show people that her relationship with each other. there is one towards the end of the book done in another project where she photographed the world war ii shipbuilding sites which
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were enormous around the bay area. she was looking particularly at the women workers in the she shows these two people a man and a woman who were in a relationship in august are having a fight and it is completely silent of course. and yet you can almost see the electricity between these two people. there is another one like that i really like this shows the mother in the background and a girl who might be 11 years old and the girl is unhappy about some pain. we don't know what. but we see in the background the worried mother. again her ability to see the emotional connection weather is a positive one or an angry one
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i find it more complicated than strictly individual photograph portrait. ..


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