tv 2017 Biographers International Organization Editorial Excellence Award CSPAN November 26, 2017 5:21pm-7:01pm EST
certain stocks like netflix, facebook, google. >> alphabet. >> that have outsized stock prices, i'd be nervous about those, too. >> yeah. trees don't grow to the sky. when you have seen something grow that much, you have a problem. the idea of fads and main ya are always going to be dangerous in the stock market. >> if that's all the questions, thank you for coming down to word and having this very interesting conversation. >> thank you for have us. it was pleasure. was fun. >> thank you. [applause]
[inaudible conversations] >> encouraging people to take their seats. good evening, everyone. my name is cia bird. i'm in the new executive director of the leon leavy center for biography, which is celebrating the ten inch year now, all due to shelby white and the leon leave levery foundation, and i want to
advertise our new alliance with bio, our first joint -- we sponsor the event with them and also curtsy of will swift here, of the president of bio, we have our -- also going to be doing cosponsoring their great annual conference on biography next way. that will also be happening here at cuny. should be a great event with over 200 biographers. also want to advertise -- i put out the word, we have a december 15th deadline for the new -- the annual fellowship, and there are four fellowships given out every year of $65,000 a pop. for aspiring biographers. so if you know anyone who is aspiring, encourage them to apply. i'm really thrilled we're able
to do this event to honor bob weil, and i introduced now will swift, who will take it from there. [applause] >> biois biographers international organization and cia is such a good friend to boo and to me and thad -- for being to help. and thank kathy curtis who i amazing, kathy, who this the whole event together. ever want something to go beautifully and efficiently, call on kathy but she already has too much to do because she is so amazing. when you're the head of an organization, it's so relaxes to have people who are incredibly comment that you work with. it's great. for those ofow who don't know,
we're -- obviously an international organization of 400 biographers and we offer training, education, support, all kinds of ways to nurture young -- begin i buying agraphers as well as buying agraphers who are mosters of the field and we're very excited this year, bob and i to inaugurate a new fellowship which people are applying for, allows them to travel if the win the fellowship, to travel to have funds to travel to 0 go the place is thunder subjects lived in so they can get a more visceral feel. and that's one of the new initiatives. we started the editorial excellent award for years ago, and we honored first bob a gottlieb, then john siegel, nan talese last year and delighted to honor bob weil today. we also have many other awards we give an annual award for the
art contribution to the art and craft biography and we're pleased to have two award winners here tonight. and we give a riley award, which is to a new biographer for a first proposal, and we have considered that very important because that this kind of thing that gets people going. i have the pleasure of introducing tonight one of our most distinguished buying a graph efforts, a annette gordon reed. i would like to say she that's national humanities medal, won the national book award, the pulitzer prize, member of the american academy of arts and sciences, she also has had guggenheim fellowship a macarthur fellowship. she essentially is the epit me of a distinguished biographer and she is here tonight because bob weil had ed it two of her
books, one is hemings and the other one -- the patriarch. also written about andrew johnson and quite -- a lot. so how is that for a summary. she's done a lot. i have leonard guy on too long in introductions so i'll just say it speaks to the quality of bob weill that annett is the person that we asked to introduce him. annette, please join us. thank you. [applause] >> bob's done a lot. this is wonderful to be here, and to be able to introduce bob, my editor and my friend. a person who deserves every accolade that can be given him. me bob in the late '9 sod when a mutual friend gave him a copy of the man man manumaleuna uscripte
first book i've written, and bob read it and liked it and bid for it. it by went with the university press of virginia because it was new book about jefferson and i was saying controversial things and i thought they would actually happen it a -- handle in it in a way that would make the historical community accept because these were their peers and he was very, very generous about that and agreed, and he was patient and we became friends after he became the editor of my other book about jefferson this, hemingss, the monticello americans family. a wonderful experience being with bob. the word legendary, see that word appended to his name it and makes sense. everybody that i know, knows of his work, talks become him as the editor's editor and the writer's editor and he was that. line editing, taking a large view of the project, very, very
low-key about things. if you didn't accept his suggestions, that was fine but if you did, that was great as well. marvelously erudite, a person who loved history. we fell in love with ed morgan, and he introduced know ed and we used to good up to visit him periodically and take him out to dinner and so forth, and it was just been a wonderful experience. it's not just like having an editor as a profession relationship. bob has been a dear friend of mine and has taken an interest in me in so many different ways. ...
[applause]. first all i feel generally humbled by this baton that i had been handed in by baton i mean editor. one of the burdens i have never taken lately in my life i am so honored that the editorial excellence award committee particularly kathy curtis has chosen me for this award and i think annette gordon reed for her affection introduction. i am grateful to drake mcfeely and the visionary chairman for having placed this dark course
on me all these years. and more recently the new president they possess the commendation of creativity and belief and goodness that is unheard of in this era. and also to all of my wonderful colleagues at live right and norton and i don't know what i would do without you because they are my family. but most significantly i feel a mortgage to all of the writers that i worked with. both in this room and out there. who have succeeded through their words in reclaiming truth and in redeeming to a large part the world we know. please forgive me.
i titled biography as reclamation and it might surprise you a little bit because they are all different meanings to the next suggested biography. why did you become an editor. this is a question i frequently get asked. the honest answer is i just don't know. but i can assure you with utmost certainty that i never thought of becoming a book editor. that was in n till i was 22. and i have just resigned my first job as a social studies teachers and i was thinking that i might go to law school. as a high school student i have imagined myself as a history teacher giving back to others what a few exceptional instructors have instilled in
me after all the dates, and numbers came really easy to me. i would commit the batting average of every single major league player to memory a bit of bliss to the fact that no one in my house and you'll see why could imagine that they would care about the record setting in the era average or the that they actually lead the league with a 301 batting average which was shockingly low. perhaps going to college the handiest course i ever took in college one for my fellow students must have gone down like drano was european diplomatic history presided over by the hans gatzke and the immigration professor who reading from notes that have truly long since yellowed
required us to memorize the dates of every single european battle between 1815 and 1945. you have to know for example that the treaty of santos just stefano but then was resided -- revised. the two semester class we broke during the holidays but never popular but i loved the challenge of memorizing like baseball stats the crotch a logical order. world war ii and the big conferences yes i can still do them in order. no doubt you are scattered -- scratching your have at this seminar.
then the so much so that once when i saw immediate script that said that. alexander the second was assassinated in 1882. by this i was just too nice and perhaps too short of a flight i really did wait hundred 38 pounds at the time. i cannot control my class among teenage girls. or withstand a litany of indignity among the other group. they asked me out loud during the train class if i was still a virgin. and with nothing to do with that summer i was glued to television bonding the yankees
you have probably heard this. in the seventh inning. i was so ecstatic. the yankees were going to make it. i did however find the time to w read max perkins editor of genius a biography that had just appeared a few months ago immediately i know that this wasnt enthralling. as i was with south pa breathtaking strikeout. even though i had been an editor of my high school newspaper and rewriting coffee who they know assiduously as they do now. coming up with wacky story ideas.p
in my hometown. that landed me momentarily as a reprimand in the town jail i never considered at the time being a book editor. four decades ago i regarded book publishing as a largely waspy profession. it requires you to already know people to land a job. so much so that when i mentioned that whimsical notion of pursuing a publishing career to a father of a childhood friend who was a cartoonistf they have the name a few editors. and with just five names i was off to snag an entry-level position wearing my interview and my one pair of good black shoes lovingly shined by my father to meet with what seemed like a parade of personal people.
you are a man and you just now typed 86 words a minute. an editor was daunted by my degree in intellectual history. said i did not seem the type so elusive was the prospect. they saw the resume. it was the prospect of getting the publishing job that i would do literally anything to get in the door showing up without an appointment at the editorial office of dell publishers i just wanted to convince them to edit me a line of crossword puzzles. finally i was overjoyed that an exuberant romance editor popular library her name was
kate duff it was about to offer me a job that i parlayed the news of that into an interview with roger jelinek. if they wanted me he would have to act quickly which he dido resulted in my first job as an editorial assistant which began in october 1978 during some of the gloomiest times of jimmy carter's presidency. i did noty countenance the idea being a book editor until 78 i really think thinking of writing this talk that the intimations of a calling fulfilling i suppose some innate yearning to rescue and nurture came at a much younger age and would come to shape my editorial consciousness. one of my earliest childhood memories is the mammoth snowstorm that dumped at least a foot of heavy damp snow on our tidy suburban yard. my 5-foot tall by then already
in his late 50s bundled in the thick world overcoat. probably new. the deafening warlo created deep side drifts along the wall. i was probablyhe seven. i was seized by some internal. to free the true in the yard of their snowy burden. that they would collapse. no matter how far i ventured there was higher limbs no matter how frantically i raced about from bush to bush. i was unable to return to the garden. even after the driveway and the black pavement glistened once again in the morning
sunshine in the path had been clearede i was still struggling so much that my dad had to say it's time to come in to which i exceeded. it was out of course how a seemingly mundane childhood memories act like this. they remain embedded in oneness memory. but if you look for other influences it's probably my mother into her abiding concern for the oppressednc which did not always extend to her children. many mothers have this. in november 1962 when i was seven i recall her lamenting the death of her real idol telling us what a great lady she was h in her odd accent in a peculiar mix.
she read as part of the first lady's new york times obituary. i just looked it up which noted that mr. roosevelt who spoke with a distinctive falsetto was as indigents to american palms to the florida coastline and as the nations more. pathetic woman brought warmth, and sincerity to every corner of the land. a few years later having just turned 11 i along with my sister we were hauled to our new to watch as my mom said history was being made. this was not an operation. belting out the woes to open up the new welding. it have far less to do with the opera which is not one of my favorites. but more in her interest as
civil rights. i must admit this might surprise me -- and many of them know that i found it painfully dreadful as a kid itt certainly posed no threat to my beloved yankees despite lavishing the seller.hi even though both of my parents were born in world war two europe my mother to be exact was born the day before the arch duke was assassinated in 1914. they were married four days before the nonaggression pact was signed. it never happened. they have very different ways of dealing with history especially out there with our family history. and it was opposed ways of processing the stories they are to remain to our examination. my swedish mom with her fiery
red hair i did not get it. and the often stressless way of behaving or bonding with people. that her swedish heritage gave her the license to a skinny dip anywhere was magnetically drawn to family history. she have already soaked up everything about her familykeutf the assembly land. perhaps the leading supplier of hops and mops -- malts in the world. it also extended to my dad's family. they left that. they were more religious than that my father was actually bar mitzvahed. to my intrusive let it all hang out mother there was no set -- such thing as a family secret.re
it was actually situated in the kitchen she took pride in relating the terms of her endearment to my dad she have plodded along with complacent germany to trick her society conscious parents unaware of their daughter's romanticty direction. for her future husband who they would initially load and regard thus i became familiar with the individual biographies of every aunt and uncle on our side. they went to paris for the accounts. twice her age. and they centered the front because he was jewish. the first in that of that generation to go to college. and she have to flee germany because she was elected.
no story was ever too painful or inappropriate food called upon to draw a bit vintage conflict. soon to be flung out over four continents. they have largely submerged. yet the love of family history could prove painful to others. not only in her recollection of stories others chose to suppress but in the determination to document the story of the wild. i can recall my father beat wed with anger fleeing the kitchen dinner table one evening not infrequent occurrence when she chose to recall the details of his mother's tragic death on december 25. dad had first refused to leave
his hometown also kissinger's hometown without his parents. six months earlier they have to convince him and the train station that the department on his own with the swedish work visa in hand. they themselves have applied for a british visa. no one could have predicted that summer morning as my dad in the train faded into the horizon with the toxic act atmosphere that was exceeding that. it would finally explode a mere five months later. while not taken there. probably because of thebl advanced ages my in the british minimizing it a savage violence that descended on the
small ovarian city. forced to leave her fans in my despondent grandmother rose ends duck her headd in the oven on that christmas day. unaware that they were already winging their way from england. by the time my mother had finished the story with my grandfather sigman having bearing his wife my father have already dropped down a whiskey maybe two and had locked himself behind his office door. in the volcanic temperament. they acted to repress since painful memories. preferring to the count of the army buddies in the getty and his response was never a
denial. at the dinner table followed wherever. he could never contain the rage. if you are interested in what motivates a biographer it's worth asking them what they read as an adolescent. i know that she liked biography and was drawn to sally hemmings story. for me that influence other than my beloved baseball biographies were more frequent works of fiction. i went on a binge of hardy and conrad. the social realism. james jones from here to attorney. that awakened my interest in class and poverty. no novel influenced we --
influenced me more which i developed after nine grade. as i followed the family on its epic trek to california. one of my favorites favorite that leader influenced me. it ought to be out on 66. all they have was to have west. to a trucker companion at mae and alice roadside diner. a big car a special carp. a special job hit a truck. right back into the drivers. and they went right on through. hurt the truck out jesus christ one of them cut it all down. kids in chickens.
never seen such a mess.ou he just stands there looking at that kid. such imagery. taught me about the church. to redeem and eliminate. when they are doing that. to look at t fiction inspiration. it was biblical transcends it.sh offering their i was thinking of the panelists gathered here today with whom i've have the privilege to work with for 19 years at norton. by the way i have to say i have not so fired referred to theirr biographies or how they
mere such redemptive themes. having never written a biography. this talk is not devoted to craft i should state some of them will recognize themselves here. even the most practiced biographers about bound to have false starts. until they rely too heavily on research. that hijacked the biography. it takes a biographer one false start at least to announce it in december that an umbilical cord and produce a narrative that does not mimic the subjects of language.
with the themes of justice in redemption. but only later on. the and how such bigotry is if you really care to examine what is behind the dog whistle i am convinced that race, more than economics at all comes together as evidenced by this. as a child growing up amidst the tidy suburban lawns. i was hardly aware of the forces that dehumanize the other and put actuate
hierarchy as old as america itself. with my initial yardstick i was taught that ethnic barriers just remained insurmountable. i remember passing that it had been restricted for decades. bucking the prevailing order we were subconsciously in my family it could land you in jail and not for a matter of minutes. these experiences and convinced later drew me to writers like gordon reed who is willing to take on 200 years of accepted wisdom in writing about the hemming sea. they two. they demonstrate that thomas jefferson had a decades relationship with his slave.
that our nation refused for centuries that it was far more common the case. the admin's admits racial divide that i made teen still divides us today. i also became aware of the challenges faced by biographers and the need to advance whole chapters out of the tiniest of clues he paid for selling the smallpox. after just one line out of what it's like for young girl to be inoculated in a foreign country. they are spinning that. the men of jefferson honored. could not possibly have entertained a relationship
with a slave girl but how could they have bright -- widely ignored the telltale fact that jefferson and hemi's enemies named their six children after his beast necessary. a while i am not the editor of two commanding biographies who was regarded by hundreds of thousands of americans black and white as the paramount custodian of the intellect that so many impoverished the private african african-americans have another developed or found it imperative to conceal to quote these volumes demonstrate that race in intimates the most important events of post- civil war 19th century american political history. in his forthcoming very
exciting book. the very concept of race is a false construct that is not even exist until the 17 hundreds. the natural inferiority of blacks to justify their treatment and enslavement in the first place.d it is not as not as black-and-white as one might think. it poses an instructive conundrum. a chinese-american literature scholar since my asian american history have consisted of publishing the photographic work in the
japanese internment camp. i was intrigued especially since they propose thatpe arc of the pop postmodern light to wisecracking detective and then to a gumshoe. who's pitch in english was seized upon upon american asian activists. in working on charlie chinon. the siamese twins we will published next april. i have come to realize that that self-examination among asian americans as a bodied in history that expose rank discrimination is far more front that many asian americans although it has changed that the road to the
demands in accommodation with the bigotry that has shaped their american journey. it puzzles me for example that one case i know the messy case from hawaii in 1931 in which five asian americans were arrested and falsely tried for rape. in one brutal murder that dominate the news in 1931. it remains unknown to 99% of the population and almost all asian americans outside of hawaii. it continues to be somewhat unappreciated while they have ever increasing numbers at top colleges presents a paradox that informs the understanding.
as dominant an issue as aom race has become in the fractured age of obama and trump. the only those biographies that they are not examining race and they cannot have similar imports. while ruth frankly appears to be an illuminated study of depression previously neglected american novelist the book is as a frank on a number of occasions a feminist biography which through that lens of jackson. the critic she examines the subjugation of women and their silence in belittlement by both the mainstream cultures. even perpetuated of ruth jackson's book. and just thinking of this book and i did not add it here.
that they write about the 1950s o students were considered almost entirely relate normal. and that is a culture in which we were suddenly confronted with right now. it's so evident during that time the thing that makes for a biography that shirley jackson loved her husband. it is the shakespearean and her husband loved her work more than any other thing.
what franklin's a book also showed me and i like to contextualize things was that his work came in he was -- she was jackson was so visionary and then i thought of shirley jackson and what and they were facing hurdles of women artists. in the portrait of the legendary biographer. another bias a few weeks ago. he was described as many and
professors who often feel marginalized. they suggest that this was an unwillingness to embrace the conservative student and the conservative professor and it created it could not possibly believe that donald trump could become president. and extending in us. it was not my comment. the editors and agents. to raisese their eyebrows and questioned my motive and willing to work with the serious writers across all political spectrums. there was an expectation that i as a liberal and a registered democrat must never sign up for writers whose political opinions deviated from my own. i think of max boot. f. i've been editing since 2007.
i recognize the incisive writing style. and often the wave of interpretative military events that make sense to me. they had been instructed by previous editors who wanted to capture the red meat audience.di he have to write shorter punchier books. suddenly seem to luxuriate. they include footnotes. that expand on intellectual theories of war. in the that way to win the trust is to treat them with respect and to put them in their own sovereign ability. with the historical residence. i whether the agents.
and then decide to sign up. with the legendary cia chip. his forthcoming biography as a man who had we only listen could have prevented america in the humility debacle. now ten years after they were built. i think everyone gathered here would agreee it is unprecedented political era we are the very foundations of our american democracy in it could be in peril. yet no longer do iil get tart comments one of him at lunch once waved her hand and said she does not read conservative books. the former editorial page who has counseled presidents has now turned his alert against
the force that he feels has hijacked the republican party. his views have not changed at all perhaps not that i'm not sure thing going public and venting his interest most fears g he has sacrificed real financial support at the same time he has amassed 902000 twitter followers in the challenging age he has helped us forge a new consensus with the both the honor against tyrants and not those addicted to props. in a whole new lightns and has gained acceptance from the mainstream media. if we are tond print preserve that democratic ideals that undergo their republic. i believe a new consensus like this one that brings us together here today that have previously reconcilable adversaries is worth noting is
much like an novel to seize the imagination as well as to revive and reclaim. both a beacon and a burden for the biographer that they demonstrates time and again remains shackled to the truth thus prevented from inventing a new character whitewashing a massacre or inserting a happy ending just to please his readers. tonight howeverdi i don't have to worry about such things. but on saturday i know it's back to myy drive park bench where i was used to meeting to go over my edits for their i just know who's bows are ever lifting weight to be freed as natured burden all while the law it is my great pleasure
want to apologize for the music that is coming down below. i'm not sure what's happening down there. that reminds me that to remind all of the panelists to speak directly into the mic this is a great room but it's a very tall ceiling we need you to speak directly into the mic. as you can imagine i am honored to be here and to be in that presence of 70 great people. bob instructed me to tell the panelists not to talk about him and i did that that won't
stop me as bob knows. connecting it with them with the bob was a major gift to me. i rarely worked with an editor who actually edited perhaps it is a dine at dying at -- art. i hope not. as it is a major intellectual project and as you just heard he is also a writer as well he not only has the ability to see the overall structure and art of a narrative and he also shows our thursday how to strengthen that structure. he also contributes ideas from an amazing historic knowledge that is not confined to european diplomatic historyry and the knowledge and cultural.
i actually now in regretful that i did not say him in my foot notes with insight. he can do small. and grow big. sentence by sentence. example by example. most the time i agree with them. it comes to the fact that he actually listens to what a writer is doing where the writer wants to end up in how theri writer proposes to get there. he is in part because as you know many people know he magically can turn a 24 day hour day into a 30 hour davein about being a workaholic is the least of his location.
i'm sure that all published writers know that being a great editor is also a matter of character. they do not need to be the smartest person in the room. s he or she must trust but alsoo argue with the writer and must be able to work and a host of different genres and biography is only one of them. must give gift that gifts that is not always publicly acknowledgedat enthusiasm. his enthusiasm seems to spring up from a capacity for joy reading a promising manuscript is obviously an intense pleasure a kind of pleasure in seeing the possibility of what might become of that miniskirt. i want to thank him not only for what he has contributed but for bringing me a lot of other wonderful things to read.
a arena -- rather haunted life.un it was named new york times notable book of 2016 at time maxing with the top nonfiction book. i won't list all of the awards. they appear in some very seamless publications. in my senior name at all right. he is the author of charlie chan perhaps the best known subject of all of the biographies that we've talked about today. in making a book even more interesting of course. also the editor of the big red o book of modern chinese literature he is twice with
the autobiography with both parts of his biography he is the first author to win the pulitzer prize. on the same subject. a lot of people may notub know that his first book prisoners of honor was about the late 19th century france. eleven books later his biography of when it was published. he was already contemplating another book. a family history of slavery.
[indiscernible] this mic i mike i feel like i should be singing except all of you will be very grateful and i don't sing. i am intimidated by the prospect ie of talking about biography with all of you in the room. i feel like i've been called upon on baseball. c or on football with the boston patriots in the audience. instead of doing that i think i'm going to ignore it for onceea bob's indent injunctions and not about the autobiography but talk about robert wilde. i was reading about it earlier
in the last few days let me just quote you a few of the descriptions he sought authors who were not just safe. but who has spoken a new voice about the values.n he did more and then reflect the standards of his age. he influence and change them by the new talents he published. he told writers don't ever defer to my judgment for a writer of any account. and without ever being a writer himself he could speak the language of writers better than any other editor or publisher he would ever meet. and he was always tactful. have to admit i pulled a i fast one here because it's not actually about about the man who inspired him to become an editor. i did not realize he had been
inspired by maxwell perkins until he just said that right now. j this is from the biography. i kept having one after another. it sounded like in many ways. in the essential attributes of the good editorbu i truly see bob as well. it has been one of the greatest privileges of my professional life. and more years to come. to be associated with bob. i think what he has really done he has elevated my writing because he has have faith in me as a writer and from somebody of bob's best means a lot. he always thinks i think the best of his writers.
and then aspiration to be better. and he tells me constantly that i should scale the heights that so many in this room and it is something that is both daunting but inspirational. of care and attention he gets to manuscripts it is almost a lost art these days. when longform writing is now considered to be 280 characters on twitter. bob is really a throwback in the best way. he really believes in the power of literature. he really believes in the need to elevate the world and to inform and enlighten the world when he sees that as a mission not just about making money
and enhancing the profits of the publisher although i hope that he does that i think he does see a higher calling their and you can see in the way that he goes about carefully editing his manuscripts so many other publishers and editors had decided it simply not worth it whether it makes economic sense he thinks that this is the moral and correct thing to do. the only complaint i would make about you is prettyy damn hard to read your handwriting. we have his long-sufferingo assistance that i constantly call up. once i find out. i think man that's good.
he's adding a lot to the manuscript. and now i will drop a secret here. they are not actually in my doing. i'm not a huge opera fan. and more than he is actually a wonderful relationship guru. love the fact that he inserted this references into my books and that becomes an excuse to take me to the opera. what if i'm asked on the book t -- book to her. fostering the commonality of interest.y i am very grateful. i have to say that bob is the toughest, reader that i've
ever had. the one i want to please the most. i'm always in the state of that. i'm in a state of anxiety right now. it is even higher when i turn the manuscript to bob. it's what bob says. and i await the phone calls with dread and fear as well as help that he will give me that coveted stamp of approval. he always delivers his verdict with the same kind of tact that he was known for. when he called me up and we have a nice conversation how are you doing max. and then he says by the way
the manuscripts you just submitted was 400,000 words long. i guess and count the whole thing. he suggested maybe it should not be 400 words long. i think it very few people would be interested in reading. to reduce the length was actually wonderful stimulant to synthesizing and condensing and drawing out the essential narrative line without getting lost in a bunch of details. t in general i will say it is pretty much the last editor to say keep it short or don't write so much. his instructions usually run the other way. i could ramble on and on and
speak for a deal longer i feel if i do that the blue pencil will come out in the comments will be next. do you really want to give that speech. it is a privilege to be here with all of you. [applause]. >> i guess i will go next. i will tell a little bit of a story about my first encounter with bob. a number of times about me. and now i'm going to get to tell it the story is a number of years ago i won't say exactly how many to preserve the identities of the innocent
i was a young editor at the new york public. i was just out of graduate school and so anxious and insecure about this task. i did not feel like i could write about anything except the subjects i have actually studied in graduate school which was german and polish literature. fortunately i was an editor at the new republic which is one of the only places where in fact there was an editor. so that is how i gravitated to one of bob's books a small novel by the german writer who i have not heard of.
i read it. i became interested in who he was. i started looking into his history and his other publications. he is at the center of an interesting controversy. he served have served as the ghost writer four. just after world war ii ended. they have gotten kind of disgrace when it came out people said he had appropriated the survivors story as his own. i started looking into it and what came out of it was quite a long piece that served as the impact this for my first book. the tension between memoir and fiction among other things that he actually had it done anything wrong. what he have done was make
fiction out of someone's memoir. it was very different from plagiarizing appropriating. it was the time. there was a piece about such things that could be published. you are going to hear from bob. and indeed the phone rang. and it was bob on the phone. he said i can't believe you wrote this review of my book. and i said who is this. it became clear exactly who this was. and what struck me the most about it actually was a day did not matter to bob that this was not inn fact i revere -- a review of his book.
>> to rescue obscurity and nurture back into healthy reputation. the health of being included been read once more. there are several writers, bob was not satisfied with the translations so he commissioned a new translation of all of the works. went to end by saying how privileged unfortunate i feel to had my subject included among the writers involved and made it his mission to rescue and nurture. shelley jackson's reputation owns a great debt to bob and his
work. humble to be in his company. >> i share all of the sentiments that have been expressed so far. i have many as well. but that i was service something else. recently i gave a talk based on my new book at the maritime museum in santa barbara where the it is a good crowd and high class. but i stil show some slides andt opens with the game on the high seas. at the end of the lecture simply came up to me because i was
displaying my books on the side and woman asked me, since the charlie chan book political? so my usual way i said well i am chinese on this book is actually a radical. whatever that means. definitely i think the rescue and nurture, if i can summarize in one sentence but bob taught me as my editor, frank, and teacher is to teach me about america.
so far i spend a big part of my life in the united states and china. i went to college in china and grew up there and came here when i was 22. i'm now 48. so i've spent a longer time here. went to buffalo and taught at harvard. i was that i knew enough about america, not until i started writing the charlie chan book and realize the complexity of bob discussed as a race issue and how complicated it is. never black and white. that is my experience as a nation american were asian at a time. at that time everything was black and white in the deep south. i literally fell into the vacuum in some ways. in terms of knowledge and recognition i have a lot of
pitfalls and bob was very perceptive in dealing with my first book and he was absolutely great in terms of restaurant me from some of the pitfalls are pot holes line ahead. he is a big lover of history and knows everything about history. so the in-depth knowledge and also is trained as a literary scholar is sort of a poet and it taught me how to switch from a writer and scholar to a narrative storyteller.
set official friend of mine asked with a look your distain, do plants write fiction in a time? compare the fiction biography is perhaps more inferior genre. i always believe in some way what he called the deadly space between the documentary of the historical. bob taught me a great deal to track the path between narrative and the research. so in many ways thank you for making that possible. [applause]
on. [inaudible] >> of course i share everything that has been shared about bob. it feels like we've been doing many books together because we have known each other well before i became one of your fortunate clients. i thought since i knew we would all say what we said which is we're terribly indebted for bob for his suit just insular manuscripts that his range of knowledge, historical is really a gift. his personality is rather hard
to sustain. at the same time it is priceless. i mean bob is managed, he is obsessive. his workaholic and sometimes he doesn't listen because he is so intense on correcting and helping his father. so let me look at that. i thought what i would do is read a love letter to bob that i wrote the 24th of october in 2010. her first book together was a monster, is god's crucible. now, neither of us was confident to edit or write such a book. but i felt it had to be done.
had gone to morocco to write a very small book on the invasion of the iberian peninsula. unfortunately i arrived on the day of 9/11. my editor said don't come home, this book has to be much larger. bob then became the editor of that book. it did fairly well and is translated into spanish and portuguese. in korea hoping it would be translated into turkish. i just happen to be in turkey when we had good reason to believe it have been translated and was about to be released. so this is a what i write to bob
and carl my now deceased literary agent. 's four days after the quirky afternoons have had since college days. ruth and i are back from a long weekend returning to dubai early on saturday morning to abu dhabi. after breakfast ahead of them are quaint hotel on crest for a publication director of a publishing house. it was on the opposite side of the golden world. a telephone call from the hotel over trusts ascertain the director would return the call
it a day when he came to his office. but i decided to find my way to him. johnson i headed into an ancient arterial slips stopping over 10y map and asked for directions. locals offered directions. after seven affirmations that my address was just 200 meters on the right or left, i suspected number 14 describ 14 despise di. after discovering multiple
addresses must to be told that number 14 to was in a different place. later, i learned number 16 believed to -- who is at the national book awards. done a few steps the sign announced plateau -- on the building with a large store opening onto a courtyard. i walked on uncertainly, startled several young men and women who spared questioningly. professor lewis sounded firm yet congenial, striking just the right note. the great larry as the director's name was called down and let until a long office the
overhung -- they approached a young man rubbing thin fingers through a mop of curly hair. and almost seductive smile pinned to his lighted cigarette. yes, of course he met to for me. his pleasure of meeting me was almost an expression bowl. not every day to time. the surprise winner tame. certainly not one his book was one-of-a-kind. a book upon which she had director has state his reputation of great significance. except to the cuppa coffee but declined in the marble i said there's an explanation as
something to be shared in earnest confidence. i may require an aspirin, he was saying that it was too bad about the censorship and my wonderful blog. it really should be published. things were difficult in turkey now. there were people whose views had to be taken into consideration. people at the universities were concerned. i asked her more process explanation. whether local academics who found this faulty or flawed? oh no said he, the problem was not the book scholarship, but scholarship, there are things
the book said that was unreasonable to say. what it says about the jews and the prophets were that is not talk turkey them, slaughtered the jews. readers would be very upset to learn these developments even though as your book reveals they are historically true. by now, the director worked himself into locks wrapped around his fingers as he protested his adoration of god's crucible, even before it was all too troubling and by the way, what i staying, log for dinner where committee owner? he looked in my direction
encouragingly seemed the owner way. dinner. nothing ventura thought i found ruth was just leaving the meeting and explain the situation as best as i think comprehend today. under the bridge we consumed the fair quantity of wine and immense varieties of white fish, sardines and pickles. i had to advocate the cause of god's crucible not as its author so much, but if the card terry members of the republic of letters and ideas. express the fears that the lack of intellectual courage went to the heart of the 21st century capacity of the refuser of a few
secular's to respect history only further marginalize muslim, especially the arabs and the turks in the struggle to the great contest of ideas. they worried that the bullion religious authorities placed his firm in a terrible bind. i replied that he must celebrate his predicament by honoring his profession. he nearly wept. publishing is a business like any other. might i agree to assenting to us
moving in translation the sharp edges. this was even too much, he will really regretted that they were writing a simple turkish could be easily translated into english to realize his prize-winning ambitions. was late in the day, time to meet ruth of the fine modern art museum established five years earlier. i found her again a much more suitable area for dinner. we left together walking along to meet my wife. plateau's film owner had not shown. roof was waiting to lighted with the venue, via cordial introductions. as we parted like a clasped my hands and looked into my eyes
and said mr. david, you are right. we must learn to live with truths in turkey. your book will be published monday, give you my word. paul and bob, we shall see. we are now reissuing god's crucible and perhaps we might try the turks again. i think the situation may be even worse now. [applause] >> we can have a couple of questions from the panel. not all.
>> have a question. david, you raise an interesting issue about translation. i've had some of my biographies translated into foreign languages. years later i encounter a native speaker, this is my telly and addition of my biography. he claimed that he could read both the english and italian and it was atrocious. whole paragraphs were's translated. the negative into the positive. so i did the turkish publisher not just publish you never would've known if he took stuff out.
>> when he first started writing, what did you expect the editor to do for you? >> i say this from mistakes so i could not so obvious really that i think one would hope the editor's editing would result in a bestseller. >> i ask because were describing bob is different from other editors. so what about the people, who would you think what are they doing if they're not doing that?
i've had to editors and both were hands-on. i hear from many others that editors are not with it and doing anything. is it what you expected? [inaudible] [inaudible] >> one of the things i learned which goes along with what others are saying, is that you could write history in a way that was not so different from fiction. don't mean that in the sense of not inaccurate, but another sense. [inaudible]
[inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] >> i have felt that somehow ruth had, that's why mention robert because you have to mention the truth. you can't invent characters, you have to animate them until the stories and write each chapter is a short story. i detested shirley jackson's, she is one of the most loathsome, under condor mothers i have ever encountered. that is due to ruth's skills as a writer and biographer. then we would have fun and
otherwise stanley looks good. one thing in general, i don't think editors are properly taught. there is no place, which teach copyediting and there are five-week courses teaching you how to get into publishing. no major university treats editing as if it were craft. i cannot imagine a courseware professor would give out 20 copies of an on edited manuscript and asked students what will you do with it. one reason why editing -- no one is trained to be an editor, except from the editor itself. most editors lead a decent life.
in this environment with 300 e-mails a day you cannot expect to do entity at the office. it's a craft of the nights and weekends. i think some of you should think which schools, everyone teaches you how to be a fiction writer, who can teach you how to be an editor. >> we probably have too many writers and too few editors. >> on that note will close. congratulations to bob. thank you. [applause] [inaudible] [inaudible]
[inaudible] [inaudible] [applause] >> early on when grant was singling the he went to springfield to see if you might find a position in the union army. he wrote his father said i will never participate in the trading ambition these military officers are into. that is not who i am. when he wrote to sherman he said i was forced into it in spite of myself. we need more humility and modesty. we need the ability to say i was wrong, i made a mistake. that is the vision for american leadership that grants helps us
to see. >> being a career teacher with the district, grant practically is -- in terms of our worst president. probably because of the second term. in terms of reconstruction during his two terms, what kind of successes and failures did he have? especially in terms of how tried to help empower the freed black men who are trying to restore order in the south after the civil war and some of the whites were not having the. >> grant is rising.
i participated for the first time in the third survey of the 21st century. each of the surveys grant is rising. there's ten different categories by which you rank a president. the highest the social justice. he was right ten of all the presidents. so, grant that comes into reconstruction and he subservient. then he recognizes underinsured johnson that he cannot take that position. he cannot cooperate with johnson. he begins to be more politically astute to stand with them on the 13th, 14th and 15th amendment. as they retreat he won't retreat. he says we have to deal with this. i think it's one of the finest moments of grant.
>> he can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. you are watching the tv on c-span2. television for serious readers. here's the primetime lineup. at 7:00 p.m. author and former auditor of simon & schuster talks about his life in britain the run-up to world war ii. the executive producer 60 minutes provides a behind the scenes history of the news program. on afterwards at 9:00 p.m., christopher bedford examines donald trump's leadership as a businessman, politician, president. at 10:00 p.m. linda nathan examines the challenges facing high school students in higher education.
we wrap up at 11:00 p.m. with bloomberg news senior editor who reports a college fraternity culture. that happens tonight book tv. >> good evening. we have another wonderful full house. vice president for public programs and it's always a thrill to welcome you to our auditorium. i was like to ask how many people are members? have my glasses on. so if you could just shout. no. i saw blurry hands. it looks like a list every a