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tv   Summer Series with David Mc Cullough  CSPAN  August 22, 2020 4:05am-7:00am EDT

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for her name in the box at the top of the page.
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>> good evening, every saturday night throughout the summer booktv is putting on several hours of a well-known author. kind of our twist on binge watching. tonight's featured author 's historian david mccullough the author of a dozen books including best-selling histories on the american revolution, the invention of manned spaceflight the settlement of the northwest territory and the creation of the brooklyn bridge. he is a two time winner both pulitzer prize and national book award and appeared on booktv and c-span over 75 times. coming up over the next several hours we will show you some of those programs. first up in 1992 he appeared on c-span's book not programmed to talk about his biography of president harry truman. the book won the pulitzer prize for biography and hope to change the view of the truman
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presidency. here is david mccullough from 1992. >> david mccullough, and your last chapter called citizen truman "truman had held to the idea of the mythical roman heroes cincinnatus ". what's that all about? >> cincinnatus was the mythical hero who left the plow, left the farm to go to the aid of his country in time of war and became a great general and it was victorious and then he renounced all of his power and returned to the farm. that's a theme that this country was founded on. if you go up to the rotunda in the capital and you look at the great painting of the tremble of george washington turning over his powers as commander-in-chief and the continental army to the congress, the cincinnatus symbols are all do that
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painting because the founding fathers really believe this is what democracy entails. it meant that citizenship met any citizen should be called, could be called upon any time to serve his country or her country and any capacity including the greatest power. in the power belong to the people, therefore, power would be returned by those who held it for a time. truman liked to say i try never to forget who i was, where he came from, and where would go back to. that's the cincinnatus team obviously but it also shows that he knows who he was. he knew who he was and he was proud of who he was and the return to independence after he left the office of the presidency in 1953 was his way of letting his actions speak louder than his words but when he got home he found it was
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living up to the idea wasn't as easy as expected and well we all remember i think with affection the harry truman of independence missouri walking the same streets of the town he had grown up in and just being a citizen neighbor truman once again, he wasn't all that easy for him. he missed washington, he missed the simulation of the pressure and the excitement of washington. in order to understand truman you have to understand, it seems to me, life in jackson county. he lived to be almost 90. >> the year that he left washington to go back to independence? >> 1953 when eisenhower took the oath of office as the 34th president of the united states. when eisenhower took the oath and true maroon walked down off the platform he was right back
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down on ground level again as citizen truman. he had no pension. he had no allowance for office space, no franking privileges. no secret service guards. his only income was his army pension which was i think $119 a month. he got on the train and the president, the new president general eisenhower had given him loaned him the presidential parlor car can the railroad car that had belonged to franklin roosevelt, the famous magellan to write home to independence. all the way across the country he was greeted at one town after another the crowds that came down he got restless and got up and walked around. it was regular passenger train the rest of the train was for the regular passengers he just walked up and down the chain saying hello to everybody and returning to what he had been, the last part of his life in
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many ways is as fulfilling as happy as interesting part of his life as all the rest of it. he is a great story, harry truman, and asked sometimes why did you do truman and what drew you to truman? and there are many obvious reasons but one of them certainly for me as a writer is it's a wonderful story. the story of his retirement years is as appealing, was as appealing to for me to write is also anything in the book. 1117 pages. >> including source notes. >> correct.[laughter] if you stop at source notes. >> 992 pages of text. a mere slim volume. the big problem was to keep it to one volume. i was determined it would not be a two volume biography. i wanted it all in one volume. i wanted it to be a big book. i didn't know it was gonna wind
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up quite as big as it is. it's a big subject. it's a big life. the arc of his life is really a chronicle of american life in those years. he goes from what is essentially a jeffersonian jacksonian farms and small towns which he experiences directly as a boy growing up in a small town environment for 11 some years. to a country and nation that describes the world with power based primarily on industrial technological and scientific accompaniments. he is a 19th-century man formed in all manner of speech, habit, thought, taste, formed in that period before the british world war and yet he has to face momentous the most momentous of all decisions of the 20th century by which theoretically he is not prepared but then we were prepared as a country either. to me he's like bunyan's
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pilgrim and pilgrim's progress. he has these various ordeals and complications and difficulties he has to overcome or get beyond. each one of which represent something that symbolizes the history of our country. this is a book about america for me. i wanted to be as much a book about america as it is about harry truman. >> is a lot of things we can do a with this book we only have a short hour. i'm going to stay with the last chapter and also some notes. in this last chapter because it's relevant to today commute talk about harry truman and his wife got in their own car after he was president, drove by themselves back to this town in new york, talk about that. >> he had a new chrysler and love to drive an automobile. which is interesting because it
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was one of the few recreations he had he didn't know how to play in sports, he didn't play golf commute and play tennis. he didn't even know how to dance. driving an automobile and reading and walking were his primary recreations. he bought a new chrysler and as he said he wanted to give it a workout. they decided to drive from independence back to washington and friends tried to sway them from doing that but they were determined and they set off in the car and it was an adventure in itself. every time they came to people would of course recognize them and they be great for us and the police would get very concerned they were in town and worried about their safety and worried if something happened to them would be the fault of the local police. mr. truman like to drive quite fast above the speed limit.
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mrs. truman did not approve that. she would have him hold to the speed limit. as a consequence they were often being passed and what people would pass them by they would look there was former president of the united states his wife driving along the highway and the cars would drop back and pass them again to see a set eyes there goes our incognito. then when they arrived in washington many of the press corps covered him drove up to maryland to pick him up. they heard he was coming. waited for the car to come in and they all followed him in the town and he loved it. when he stopped at the mayflower and got out just as short sleeves on driving the car the crowd all gathered around, traffic backed up and caused quite a commotion. they then drove up to new york to see margaret, who was then living in new york and went to
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some shows went to see on the town leonard bernstein show. went to the restaurant just like anybody visiting new york. and causing great commotion. taxicabs would pull over to the curb and drivers would jump out and say hi harry, you are my man and all that. the state trooper pulled him over for apparently he had been cutting people too close when he passed them. he said the trooper wanted to say hello and get his to shake his hand. from then on they would go by train, plane come about. >> there been an attempted assassination and the number of presidents had already been assassinated. why with government at that time have productions? >> it just wasn't done.
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in fact, he had very little money. he had to borrow some money. quite secretly. dean atchison cosigned to pay for the move back home. this is not well-known. it doesn't mean he didn't have any money. he did have money but he needed some cash to cover the dances moving out of the white house. when he got home, in order to provide himself some income he undertook the writing of his autobiography and memoirs which no other president had ever done except herbert hoover. hoover's time was much ãb truman's presidency covered far more tumultuous history than hoover. to undertake the two volume memoir was a very major ambitious task. then he built his library.
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there had been a previous presidential library, franklin roosevelt library at hyde park it was established after roosevelt. truman was the first president to actually officiate over the establishment of this presidential library. he was beginning something new. one of the things i tried to imply or emphasize in the book is that truman was in part a very creative public figure. he was a creative president. his was a creative presidency. he been a builder all his life, he built roads, he built choruses he got to washington when he became president he built the famous truman balcony on the back of the white house. which caused a great flurry of criticism. he is the one who entirely rebuilt the white house. the white house we have today is really the house that harry built. except for the outer shell which is maintained the original outer shell.
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the entire interior is a reconstruction of the original house. he took part in every detail of the reconstruction. he loved building he loved creating and things. in course in a larger way his presidency is marked by such creative and innovative acts as the marshall plan and truman doctrine and nato the library building the library, having his office at the library welcoming guests and taking people around the library became his life except for his troubles when he went to europe. >> did you ever meet him? >> i saw him once when i was just a youngster when my first job in new york i was very starry eyed and got a job in a new magazine called sports illustrated. was coming home from work one
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night we lived in brooklyn and i came out of the subway stop at the old st. george hotel and a big car pulled up. it was a small crowd rating and i stood with the crowd and a big car pulled up in governor harriman stepped up and i never seen a governor before. i was quite excited about that. and out stepped former president truman. i was astonished. and i remember thinking, my god, he's in color. because we only have black-and-white television. black and white newspapers. the fact that he had very high color, he radiated good health. it made him seem very vital to a person. he certainly didn't seem like a little man to me, to me at that moment he was six foot eight. but i never spoke to him and never met him.
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i've often thought that would be asking if he could go back in time and i could reach out and touch him on the shoulder in 1956. mj, mr. president, i'm right your biography someday. >> knowing what you know about him, what do you think he would think of this? >> i'm sure there are some of that he wouldn't like because this is after all an honest attempt to see the complete premises flaws and faults. i would hope that in some he would think i had understood him better than other people have. i think he was a much much more complicated, complex and keenly intelligent man. thoughtful, considerate man than the stereotype of harry truman. the portrait implies. he isn't james whitmore. he isn't the kind of he isn't
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just the kind of salty down-home missouri well rogers. all the people i've interviewed who knew him and work with him and were in the white house with them, all say please understand that this man was much more than met the eye. >> how many interviews did you do? >> about 126 and that ranged across a broad spectrum. some people who hardly knew him at all but saw him come and go as neighbors or people in independence. also some of whom were so important and what interviewed them many times over. >> who did you spend the most time with? >> i would guess in total perhaps either margaret truman, his daughter, or george elsie, who is on the white house staff and clark clifford. some of the secret service
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people who are invaluable because they were with him all the time. many of whom had never been interviewed before. >> are secret service allowed to talk after the fact? >> apparently so. >> they were concerned? >> no. they were wonderful because they saw him offstage they saw him in all conditions and often under enormous pressure. you mentioned the attempted assassination two of the secret service men still here in washington walked me through the whole event from inside and outside blair house where it took place. spent the better part of one saturday doing that. i'm sure that's never been done before. so my account of that is based on material that can only be had by reaching that time to living people. their devotion to harry truman
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is a very compelling thing to listen to and true of all the people that work for him at all levels. i did not find a single person who knew him well and work with him who wanted to tell me what his terrible backstage temper was or what an ungrateful or difficult boss he was to work with. the closer people were to him it wasn't just that they liked him that they were devoted to him and in a way i kept hoping i would find some people who didn't really like him and had some skeletons to pull out of the closet but that never happened. >> when did you start on this? >> 10 years ago 1982. >> what was the reason? >> i was looking for a subject, i started working on a book about pablo picasso, had to go around the barn with pablo picasso to wind up with harry
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truman and i quit that book i stopped after a few months because i found i dislike him so a repellent human being. he didn't really have a story of the kind that interested me. he was instantly successful. he never really went very far or had any adventures so to speak. he was immensely important painter. he was the krakatoa of modern art. i found the treatment of his family his attitude toward women, all he wasn't somebody i wanted to spend five years with is roommate so to speak. in my editor at simon and schuster suggested that i think about doing franklin roosevelt because at that time there was not a good biography of franklin roosevelt. just on impulse in a visceral way i said, no, if i really do
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1/20 century president it would be franklin roosevelt it would be harry truman and he said, well, why not harry truman? so i looked into it and i found it was not a good biography of harry truman. there isn't a complete life and times the last chapter that you're talking about that part of his life is never been written about before. comprised 20 years of his life is a very important part of her life. beyond that there was this immense collection of letters and diaries which he poured himself out on paper all of his life and he left a written, personal, very revealing record unlike those of any president i have known him. we don't write letters much anymore. he did both his whole life and long before he ever realized he was going to be a figure in
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history. in one month to give you an example, in one month in 1947 when he was president and when his wife best was back in independence looking after her mother harry truman, the president of the united states wrote to her 37 times. these were just simple how are you and the weather is turning cool. these were real letters. >> did you ever find out how he wrote them? was it on hand. >> actual letters. >> and wonderful, clear, straightforward strong handwriting, just like he was. but fortunately very legible so there's never a problem reading his handwriting as there was very seldom ever a problem understanding what he was talking about. >> in the last chapter you pointed out at some point in his life that he and his wife called their daughter margaret every night in new york? >> yes they were very very close. the same people with him as secret service agents or is
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white house staff, domestic staff in the mansion, have said they were by far the closest family they have ever known in the white house. though they don't want to be quoted by a person, they all say that truman was their favorite president. he was the first president ever to walk out to the kitchen and the first president in their memory to walk out to the kitchen to thank the chef or the cook for the dinner that night. they remembered calvin coolidge coming out once or twice but they thought that was perhaps to see if anybody was filtering food. truman knew everybody by name on the staff. knew all about their families. this wasn't a politicians device. it's just the way he was. the whole give them hell harry,
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harry truman on the job at the office in the white house with his people at the lowest level or highest level never gave anyone hell. he never raised his voice. if anything he is remembered for being for how considerate he was. from small favors and courtesies he would do. >> let me ask you a few things about yourself then i will get back to president truman. were you born? >> was born in pittsburgh pennsylvania 1983 andãbi grew u very happy household my own children have told me you have no chance of ever being a serious writer because you had too happy childhood. >> what did your parents do? >> my father had an electrical supply business electrical
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supply company which is still in business by one of my brothers now runs it. i went to yale university and when i got out of the yale i was determined to go down to new york and get a job either a magazine or newspaper. >> how did you get into yale? >> i guess i just did well enough on the college boards exams and i had pretty good grades in high school my two other brothers had gone there that seem to help in those days. >> what did you study? >> an english major and minor in fine arts. i was torn whether to be a writer or a painter. i never imagined i would wind up writing history and biography. i feel in my work that i'm working in the school following a tradition or school other writers who would not been trained academically as the historians but writers who work in the past away foreign correspondent might work in
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another country. people like barbara tuchman and bruce cadman and paul horgan and wallace stagner and robert caro and robert massey, lots of them. i suppose we are lapsed to journalists. >> who came to new york for what reason after school? >> to find a job. out of the streets, try to get a job in the new york herald tribune, colliers magazine and time life was hired at time life to be a trainee at sports illustrated. >> how long did you stay there? >> at time life for almost 5 and half years and when john kennedy was elected i came down to washington to be part of the new frontier. a very lowly member. i worked at the u.s. information when admiral was running it which was very exciting. after the president was killed and after marrow was ill and
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went back to new york as an editor and writer at american heritage magazine. my major effort there was the picture history of world war ii which is still in print. at that point i started writing my first book which at night and on weekends which was the john ãbpublished in 1968. >> how many of the books? >> this is my sixth book. >> during this 10 year period from 1982 to 1992 did you write any other books? i wrote the anthology of essays which came out last year but no other books but i did a good deal in television. i've been the host of the smithsonian world series on public television and lately the last five years for the american experience series and a number of other documentary
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series like the lbj program and civil war. >> what was the voice can you hear that voice over 11 episodes of the civil war? do you get much reaction from other people in the country? >> at an airline ticket counter or order something in restaurant somebody's head snaps around and says the civil war. that was a big undertaking and it's almost wall-to-wall narrations i felt like i'd been in the game all 60 minutes, but was never seen. it was a privilege to be part of that series, will such a wonderful project. ken burns is a major figure in broadcasting today. he defied all the experts. the conventional wisdom about television was that nobody was interested in the serious
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programming documentary programming and certainly nobody would watch anything like that went on for that many hours. >> how much time did you devote to that? >> i was involved with it from beginning and as i recall it took about 4.5 years. it wind up taking a little bit longer than it did to fight the war. >> in the notes in the back the acknowledgments you talk a lot about your family and rather than me read it, how many kids and how many were involved in this? >> we have five children they all help in one way or another. some extensively. one son drove me all through france to follow the whole war the harry truman's party in the world war i and that same young fellow took a photograph of me on the back of the book, that's bill mccullough. jeffrey mccullough, another son, to help with research on capitol hill. at the library of congress. there's help with research or sustaining their father through
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difficult times the book is dedicated to our youngest daughter dori mccullough who did a very valuable work with helping with research on the restoration of the white house. more than that, who was with us with my wife and me all the time through those 10 years. we moved to washington to the smithsonian series when i was 50 years old. we came with one daughter who is a teenager and we lived in a very small apartment and we are making all adjustments one does to living in washington. from first-hand experience. it was very valuable for me in writing the book to a been here because the paleontologists in order to better understand the possible record study that the
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living form, and studying the historical record about the senate and the white house and the whole way the bureaucracy works in the press works, everything about washington. it helped to study the living form as well as the historical record. >> you say what the ãbhe ran one night after roosevelt? >> one of the most dramatic moments in the whole story was when truman the evening of roosevelt's death is someone from the white house by the press secretary steve early when truman was having a drink with sam rayburn in what was euphemistically known as the board of education ......
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>> and i wanted to make that run and to find out what time he must of been in various places so to tell him how long it took him to walk over over to the hideaway. you can start running to the capital so i asked to take baker to make the run at the same time and he said i know why. yes i will arrange of it on - - arrangement that i can run with you so that capital place as our escorts made the run and we were coming along through the hall running through those stone house of the capital for men with street shoes it is a
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thunderous sound. we came up to a point where the white house capital police have their rest area and an office and they heard this noise four or five of them came out into the hall to see what was going on and what they saw was one capital policeman running straight for them seemingly being chased by two guys in suits civilian suits another tasting from behind and the capital police as we could see looked very apprehensive and as we got up to them they said to them don't ask. >> i could never possibly
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explained what we were doing. it was a long run and very worthwhile. truman said later he did not think her did not occur to him the president was dead and wanted to confer about something but if he didn't think the president was dead then why was he running? what did he think he was running toward or what was he running away from? if it were a movie or fill you can see that freeze-frame of him running down the hall by then he is president of the united states he is running alone with no capital guards. he had to have known he wasn't
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admitting it to himself must've been a dreadful time then he arrives at the white house and steps off the elevator mrs. roosevelt comes forward and says very softly hairy, the president is dead. i feel it's a very revealing moment because at first he couldn't say anything but then said is there anything i can do for you? and then of course she says to him, no, is there anything we can do for you? you are in trouble now. >> he is a character on an odyssey who was in trouble at one point most of his life.
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but then he has to rise to the occasion whether the family farm when his father dies or an officer of the artillery battery world war i or a senator emerging from the shadow or the stigma in the background he says to get out of the hole so to speak. because franklin roosevelt told him nothing. most people know he was told about the atomic bomb that that was only part of it. it wasn't only irresponsible of roosevelt's part but unkind. so when mrs. roosevelt says you are in trouble now she knew what she was talking
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about. >> you write about the selection process for the vice president for the election and also a number of times how the people around roosevelt knew he was a very sick man. >> it was commonly known at the convention. i think it's one of the most dramatic stories of political history. they know the nominee for the presidency is running for the fourth term will not survive for last very long he is a dying man. this is kept secret. it's a cover-up of for very good reasons. it is absolutely essential neither our allies or the enemy get the idea the most powerful of all nations is being led by a dying man. but the vice presidency is worth everything.
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and the irony of the story is the man they nominate, truman doesn't want to be nominated whereas the other two henry wallace and burns are ambitious and what that very much. >> wallace was the vice president and roosevelt was playing a tricky game because he told both you are my man. you go to chicago and get the nomination. but the political bosses wanted truman. some say he was an accidental president but he wasn't accidental at all because they didn't want wallace because they felt he was too left-wing and too eccentric and didn't want the famous senator from
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south carolina one of roosevelt's most important assistance at the white house he was to conservative with the segregationist. he wanted truman. roosevelt under tremendous pressure agrees and then at one point he says i hardly know truman. so truman is the creation of the smoke-filled room of the old bosses and one cannot help feel therefore that was not an entirely bad way to go back to business. the bosses knew what they were doing because they were extremely fortunate harry truman was there. even though on paper with a
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conventional resume his background is inadequate for the presidency. in many ways he was superb least prepared to be through but the country was through and he knew from first-hand personal experience so much of what american life was about. >>cspan2: talk about surviving the. financially. >> yes or by the time he paid his taxes and the rest he wound up with not very much but what saved him financially in one of the great circles of the story is the old family farm that was sold to make way for a shopping center and it turned out to be very valuable. he was raised on the jeffersonian idea and the value of land to see to the
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hardest of times then he hung onto that farm through terrible times and all kinds of depressions because this is what had real value and in the final analysis wasn't the political career or fame or memoirs or all the other things that would give security. >>cspan2: when i think getting it together how do you survive financially? >> i do a lot of lecturing. and television and my advance. >>cspan2: what will make this book a success? >> i don't know how to answer that. as far as i'm concerned if it reaches readers if it's already bestseller in a matter
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of weeks 922 page biography to go right to the top of the bestseller list. i will say it's unprecedented but it is rare in the summer and in part that is because truman still has a very high standing and great appeal among all of us. but in this political year he represents something the country more in other years wants to reach out for. for the authenticity and clarity in his personal and presidential manner. truman stood for served on - - something.
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you may not have agreed with his position but you knew where he stood. >> was he loyal to his wife? >> he certainly was. absolutely. never never never. in fact there is a scene where he gets into his car to drive back to his quarters and an army officer puts his head in the window of the car late at night and says mr. president i can arrange anything you would like what you are here. anything of wine or women. truman is absolutely livid. >>cspan2: i have underlined. listen son, i married my sweetheart. she doesn't run around on me i don't run around on her i want that understood. don't mention that to me again. by the time we were home the secret service man got out of the car and never even said
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goodbye. what would an officer ever be doing saying this to a president? >> it's almost unimaginable. >>. >> many of the secret service people had never been interviewed before i spent one long night with the head of the secret service and at the end of the evening i thanked him for giving me three or four hours of his time he was also with roosevelt and churchill and stalin and i said thank you and in particular how often you must of been asked these questions. he said i've never been asked these questions. truman's affection and his devotion is a major part of
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his life and it's a very touching aspect the reason we have all these letters is because he was so devoted his courtship is one of the great stories that i know of pre-world war i middle america on the farm in love with the prominent well-to-do family the uphill struggle the family does not want her to marry him. it's his first campaign. he pursues her, he's devoted and loyal he seems always to want to please her in the letters how am i measuring up. >> i noticed throughout your
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book allied of insider information. >> and his mother and sister imagining where he meets the churchill and stalin for the first time. never has he been on the world stage before. and he had no small experience that some of those that were with him did better than roosevelt would have. >>cspan2: page 949 what is this cost? thirty dollars? >> yes except at discount stores you can pay ten bucks. >> in the wintertime put in your trunk and way down the back of your car. >>cspan2: you have any perception or projection as to
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how many of these will sell? >> no. over 200,000 right now. number one bestseller. number three on the new york times list it is unheard of what the book of this kind it is the season supposedly. it was as a return to america returning to ours not so long ago. because this is real and who we are and we must be reminded of who we are of the tough times we have been through a wonderful line of churchill we
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didn't come this far because we are native sugar candy. when you see what he has individual and what we have accomplished and built and stood for and if he reminds us of anything it is the strength and vitality and the common sense of the democratic process. >>cspan2: when you travel around on the talk shows, what are the things people ask you the most? >> at the moment it is about ross perot and the question is often doesn't he remind you a very truman? and what interests me about that question is the underlying wish that i will say yes.
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they want me to say yes ross perot is another harry truman. because i feel that we are hungry for the authenticity truman represented. we had it with the wii of politics in the creation of candidates and personality and persona by ghostwriters and madison avenue experts. when truman went out with the ultimate expression of what he represents to campaign across the country with his whistle stop campaign stopping in little towns along the way 22000 miles. brutal. physically shattering experience those that can
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remember that vividly. he spoke to the people directly and spoke spontaneously and in complete sentences. i think it is latin teachers would have been very proud. if you look at those speeches today wouldn't this be reassuring if somebody was as direct with us as that man? talk about problems and solutions never whining or blaming other people or his star and the dogged determination and the conviction that he would win was shared by nobody none of
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the experts or pollsters or professional politicians that he had a chance. >> in the last chapter you write a lot at the end of his life they tried to reconcile with general eisenhower. there is one incident they spent an hour together at the end. >> yes both general eisenhower and former president truman came to washington for kennedy's funeral and spent an hour together at blair house and they made up and reconcile differences. >> was at ever written anywhere? >> it's not know what was said but it is important to understand truman made up with everybody he ever had a fight with. he was a very forgiving person
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his temper was hot but it was over very fast the only person he ever had reconciliation with was general macarthur but even then he did send him birthday greetings on occasion that went unanswered meet with president nixon and the music critic for the "washington post". >> i gather he is writing a book about that experience himself. so he's not willing to talk. >> and then they blurted out to general eisenhower who was present at the time i support
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you. >> yes he tried twice to get eisenhower to run as a democrat. according to one account he even offered to run 1940 as the vice presidential candidate if eisenhower would agree. imagine that. so when they had the breakup , it was very painful to truman because he admired eisenhower and then the breakup came because eisenhower refused to repudiate senator joe mccarthy when he attacked general marshall and called him a traitor truman thought the world of him and that he was the greatest man of the 20th century and that marshall made eisenhower and elevated him to that position. so for eisenhower to sit on the same platform and not include a paragraph that was in the prepared speech to
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repudiate these charges gave truman a moment of betrayal and almost never got over but eventually did. >>cspan2: offer your book you write many times about harry truman being surrounded by book books. >> he was a lifelong reader i asked margaret one day what is your father's idea of heaven she said that's easy a good comfortable armchair a good reading lamp and a stack of new history and biography. he once said all readers cannot be leaders but all leaders must be readers in particular history and biography. that since is a crucial aspect because it meant he knew what mattered in the long run the judgment of the country in the long run so with the calls for
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impeachment to file gently - - fire general macarthur because he knew what mattered in the long run he would have been judged to do the right thing. >> he liked a couple of jolts of urban in the morning. >> if there's one startling discovery he would drink every morning apparently quite early to get the engine going. he would go for a walk and do some exercises and then have a drink when i was first told this i thought that couldn't be. but it was confirmed by two or
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three others as well. >>cspan2: what was he like? >> very stubborn holding on long after he should have died in the hospital. i think he was sustained by miraculous modern medicine. >> a model patient and never complained but a breakdown of heart and lungs. >>cspan2: how long did his wife live quick. >> almost ten more years he died just after christmas. >> did you have a chance to talk to her? >> no. she was unable to see people. >>cspan2: do you have another book in mind? >> as several but i haven't made a decision yet. >> is there a movie? >> yes there will be. at the moment there are two
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different television networks interested in the book a dramatization of the book on television. >>cspan2: after all you saw about harry truman and learned about him would you vote for him? >> absolutely and actually go work hard to see he was elected. he did make mistakes the loyalty program was a serious mistake and he made others but he reminds us what a man in that job can be and can do and he accomplish things and created legislation and ideas and constructive policy again and again. if not for the korean war which cause the downfall of
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popularit popularity, his standing with the country would not have suffered as it did. >>cspan2: we and looking at this cover who did it? >> wendell meyer who i think is an immensely gifted man who's done book jackets all of my books except for one. it's an important portrait because it suggests the road that truman travels to the white house which represents the road the country has made from the agrarian nation to a world powe power. >>cspan2: david mccullough author of truman thank you for your time. >> thank you.
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>>. >> can everyone hear me? i have a variety - - a writer and senior editor it's my pleasure to introduce david mccullough one of the finest living historians and it's my pleasure eight years ago to serve on the committee that chose truman for the award of biography 1993 and the ceremonies i first got to meet him briefly and come to admire his work and i know all of you do as well the lecture and
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historian the narrator of distinguished most historical series a recipient of the national book foundation distinguished contribution and twice received the national book award the most recent book is john adams. other books include the johnstown flood warnings on horseback and truman so on behalf of laura bush and the library of congress and all readers everywhere please welcome david mccullough. [applause]
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>> thank you. what a warm welcome and thank you for your introduction. i'm thrilled to be here and to take part and honored to take part with this historic and marvelous event. what a thrilling day this is to see thousands of people here on capitol hill the american acropolis right at the heart of the greatest libraries of the world. and to see it all with thousands of people out there today of all ages all parts of the city and country all in celebration of the book the
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miraculous ingredient called the book. there has never been a national book festival never in the history of our country. and never a first lady who was a librarian to start and who got behind books, made a festival like this happen. she deserves all of our heartfelt thanks. [applause] >> i am extremely partial to librarians. [laughter] they have been my guiding stars. but for 40 years trying to become a writer of history and biography and here in this
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library, while i was employed in a government job as a young man, that i first discovered history and my vocation and found that what i wanted to do. so i can never ever express sufficiently my gratitude to the library of congress. or to the library system overall. if you think what we had in the public library system, nothing like it in the world. when you walk through the doors of the public library, anywhere in the country, little town, big city , you walk through the portals of freedom. it is all there, all the wonder and journeys and touching experiences which move the heart, not just the
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mind and all three in a time and society were very little is free anymore. so thank god for the public libraries and librarians and let's give more support than we do to the public library system. if you ever get down about the state of our country there are more public libraries in america than mcdonald's. [laughter] [applause] >> i would not be here or the life i have had order to discover those nuggets of idea
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leading to my first book if not my editor in chief was also here today. and chairman of the ethics committee. [laughter] and my wife and i i would like you to meet her please. [applause] >> we were just talking to a reporter from the "washington post" outside and told him she was my editor in chief and he said maybe you should call her editor and chief. [laughter] i have been privilege with my subjects i felt all along i have had wonderful rare chance to write about events past and
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turning points figures that are a protagonist in times past that are almost without equal as sources of story and understanding of who we are and where we come from. and also to go inside those times past to find out what it was like and the three books that i have done that are biography with truman and roosevelt and adams that i have what was described when she said a biographical subject should be someone that serves a lens through which you can see a whole era or time. and i must say for all i have
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enjoyed and learned from my subjects in the past years, i never ever had six more enjoyable years than i have had writing the story and life of john adams. i should say john and abigail adams. it has been a journey such as i have never had before i never set foot in the 18th century before. when one goes into the 18th century you give up a great deal that is advantageous to the writing biography in the 19h and 20th centuries. there are no photographs, no old outtakes from television interviews. very few examples of what we take to mean as journalism to bear very little resemblance to the newspaper coverage that
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continues into our own time. but what it does have and in many ways are the letters and diaries of the people of the time but in the case of the adams it is possible because of what they wrote and their letters to each other and other members of the family and their diaries, to know them better than we can know any of the founders. not even franklin takes us into his confidence the way john adams did. he poured out his innermost feelings all of his life on paper. sometimes to his detriment to tell us more than he should.
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he was a wonderful writer as was abigail. either one could of been a professional writer and have a career as a reporter or biographer or novelist. with a perfectly on - - perfectly's superb command of the language. when they think what they had to go through just to get through the day, the discomfort discomforts, labor, hard work, threats to one's health, and everyday life beginning at 5:00 o'clock in the morning that with the long strenuous day, to put up with the inconvenience and concerns that never enter our mind today that they would sit down at the kitchen table or desk in philadelphia in a cramped
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boarding house it is exceptional and humbling one of the reasons i tried as best as i could to explore that time it was a very different time that it seems to me we can never know enough about the founding generation and era. we must never take it from on - - for granted we must understand what they did and against the odds they face , the personal sacrifice and the danger and risk of one was signed you were
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recording you were a traitor and if caught you were hanged at best legal you to be drawn and quartered. it's not inconceivable that could've happened. the temptation always is to look back at times past as events happening in a prescribed order we are taught this way in school that this follows this we get it straight and memorize it it is on the test on thursday so therefore you come away thinking it was on track and preordained in fact nothing was on track all of those events of times past could have gone off in any number of
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different directions for different reasons along the way. and most importantly keep in mind what they didn't know. there is a hubris where we look back to say they didn't behave intelligently why they didn't realize is what happened? that is a huge advantage and arrogance of hindsight they don't know how that will come out. none of them. they took a poll of the country in 1776 deciding to go ahead they would have scrapped the whole thing. only about one third was for it another third was adamantly against it and others were waiting to see how it came out. [laughter]
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the idea this scattered small population a settlement only reaching 50 miles along the eastern shore of the country was going to revolt the most powerful empire in the world and seem preposterous no colonial people had ever successfully broken away from the empire ever before in history. furthermore none had any experience in revolution or nationbuilding. always remember they were not starting off to launch a broadway show but founding a country. [laughter] in our vernacular, they were winging it and the miracle is they did what they did as
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human beings. the very first line of the declaration of independence, let's never forget when in the course of human events the crucial word is human they were human beings. had feelings and flaws. they were vulnerable and inconsistent and contradictory and subject to ambition that all human beings are doing dumb things. each of them. none were perfect by any means. they were not superman or god. if they were gods they wouldn't deserve much credit because god can do whatever they want. they were human beings and the fact a rose to the occasion and saw they were in one of the great dramas of all time and they had better play their part well is the miracle that
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they did it and succeeded. john adams was born 1735 living to the age nearly of 91. you live longer than any president in history. commonly thought of as a rich boston bluebird on - - blueblood. he was a farmer's son who because of a scholarship to harvard and discovered books that he read forever. and now let's remember it is john adams second president of the united states to sign legislation to create the library of congress so to talk about john adams it is
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altogether appropriate at this occasion. he was a man of genuine brilliance. also a man of great heart, great humor, devoted to his country, truthful, his wife, family, god-fearing and altogether one of the bravest patriots in history he was abrasive sometimes temperamental tactless sometimes overly concerned with his own position or place for posterity and also a man to his credit never considered popularity his mistress he never recorded popularity his
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courage was the courage of his convictions and one of the principal behaviors and conduct in life the only founding father who never owned a slave as a matter of principle. we know it's important to judge those who did in the context of their time. that is correct and fair and the sensible and sound thing to do but don't forget they were also of their time in a proslavery. abigail perhaps more ardently than her husband. at one point she says i wondered if all the travails and suffering we are going through is god's punishment for the sin of slavery. the san andreas fault of slavery that runs through the country story begins well
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before the revolution just as the revolution seem to not understand began well before the declaration of independence. john dickinson was in many ways launching into a storm of a skiff made of paper what made it more than just a piece of paper was the fact we succeeded in the revolution that we fought for and succeeded to gain our independence and john adams were not of said free and independent but independent and free and then comes the freedom after the independents and new englanders by nature and cultural tradition were fiercely independent people independence was a way of life and so was religion this is
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the utmost importance to understand that age and moment in history and the protagonist. we believe strongly in the separation of church and state and to a large degree they all did too but the separation of church and state did not mean separation of church and statesmen. if we really want to understand that we have to understand the part religion played in their outlook on what might happen next. they also had very long distance communication to take a lot of time and travail it almost beyond our reckoning to get a letter back and forth between philadelphia and boston where the items lived it took at least two weeks
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communication across the ocean when they were separated cumulatively ten years and that separation was created by the atlantic ocean and to communicate upwards of three to six months. what does that mean cracks adjustment in the personal life and diplomatic or official life one had to be more responsible than we understand today for one's own decisions. abigail adams at home running the family and farm trying to keep people working with her to make the farm work because that was their only means of subsistence try to educate the children make decisions and to get smallpox shots park one -
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. had to make those herself she could not call her husband and ask. that was a part of life the assumption of responsibility to oneself when adams was serving in france and the netherlands as a diplomat again and again he had to make momentous decisions on his own that would affect the course of events at the time but also his own career. he made them because that was necessary nothing could be communicated any faster but at that time it was the same thing the vast difference they lived in a different time. very different time in a very interesting time.
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i try to read not only what they wrote and they wrote. neither john nor abigail was capable to write a short letter or a double sentence. and just between the two of them over 1000 letters to each other that survived. all at the massachusetts historical society all on rag paper as a consequence they are as good as the day they are written you can hold them in your own hand and you are holding that letter the same distance from your eyes as they did with two hands. believe me something tactful and very important, visceral happens when you are working with the real thing. is not like microfilm are to be reproduced in about. the humanity immortality and
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the vulnerability comes through and the bravery. and she's in her kitchen 11:00 o'clock at nine up since 5:00 a.m. doing all she did to sit down and write those letters and nearly always to insert a wonderful quotation from one of her favorite poets or shakespeare and nearly always getting in a little bit wrong. [laughter] which shows she didn't look it up she didn't take a book down and say this will make me look erudite. she knew it. it was a part of her. that there is an equally important and rewarding experience not just what they wrote but what they read. i did a small piece in the
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"washington post" all of those that were required to read in courses in college and the novels of samuel richardson. and to be reminded of how terrific they were and what wonderful writers. we talk about progress living with the benefits of progress all the time certainly when we go to the dentist. [laughter] when i think of poor john adams at the end of his life not a tooth in his head everyone had to be pulled long before novocain.
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we had a certain vanity and arrogance about progress but when you read what they wrote in the 18th century nobody does it any better today or as well. and something else that ought to make us all stand up and shape up is a literacy rate in massachusetts was higher in their time than it is today. what a disgrace that is. and what a lot of work still has to be done about that. the books that they read affected their lives as they do our lives and our time. the notion of truth and heroism right and wrong and how you write a letter and john adams advised him don't try to write literature when you write. don't strain for thrills or
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fancy effect. right the way you talk. it is a letter. so when you read his letter letters, you hear them talk. one of the things i have done in my books and particularly in this book the way i approach biographies, is to let them talk is much as possible. most of life is talk if you think about it. and how they talk, the words they use, the cadence in figure of speech is the cadence of personality, style. abigail was hugely influenced by the writings of samuel richardson the great novel of the 18th century and she wrote a very interesting letter to her knees and said read clarissa and write your
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letter the way they are in the novel the whole novel is just letters. that's all it is writing letters back and forth to each other. and mrs. way those are written all of those that they wrote to the husband is in large part because they were separated and the suffering they experienced because of the separation is to our advantage because we have the letters. but even when she wasn't separated from her husband she would write to somebody else. she needed to write she needed to work her thoughts and feelings out on paper. this is a very important point about writing for all of us after the experience you sit down and write something you find you have an insight or a
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thought you never would have had if it did not force yourself to write. something about writing focuses in a different way. it when they wrote those letters that was a need they were filling in their own way to approach life i will write about it then understand it better which is why john adams encouraged his son john quincy as a little boy to keep a diary. he kept it for 68 years. john quincy adams diary is one of the great treasures of american literature not just american history. john quincy i think it's fair to be said was a man even more brilliant than his father or thomas jefferson all the
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presidents of the united states were given the iq test john quincy would come first. he wasn't a particularly successful president his heroic time is when he came back after the presidency to serve in congress something no other president has done ever or since. he died on the floor of congress which is now statuary hall. battling slavery the same theme that runs through the adams family. and he wanted to be there because he wanted to serve. he saw no stepping down from the presidency congress. none. nor do i think they see the
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presidency is the ultimate objective of his career he doesn't see life as climbing a mountain or a ladder of success. more closely is the example or the metaphor of the journey. the presidency was just part and necessarily the most important part. a word about his final year years, every biographer has to face not just questions of analysis and the gathering of information but writing problems and questions. here is a man who served his country for more than 25 years and never not answered the call of this country to
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serve. never. . . . . david: never have anything much service. and has no power, has no influence, there's no popularity. it just novella living on his farm. south of boston in quincy, massachusetts. i thought, how my going to handle that. i can just a, will he went home from the white house. [laughter]. he didn't do much of anything pretty lived on virtually every years. [laughter]. nor it was all entirely tedious, day after day and nothing happening, cannot possibly expect any intelligent reader to
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stay with another 50 pages about that. as lawson that we often worry about things we should worry about. in fact, in the final years of his life from the last two chapters of the book, many ways the most interesting part of the whole story. that was the inward journey beginning thin. in the inward ginny is because he was a man of such death. and such turmoil worried who needed the result love about himself about his family and his thoughts and his own mortality. it was beset by one terrible vote of another. lots of children, grandchildren. while he had one child was really a property prophecy, a young quincy, and the president. another son, charles, a very popular and lovable child. who killed himself with alcohol.
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and by the time he was in his early 30s. his beloved daughter, died in the house there in quincy. nasa still there for all this to visit read as a consequence of a hideous mess ectomy rated is performed in the house. it was back in the day before and aesthetics. the horror that one can even imagine. and of course her mother and father were right outside of the door. and then the of his wife, abigail. in his declining health which was declining strike. but the old flame, the old blue flame. of the mind blaze and writing to the end. interestingly, this man who had been called a pessimist, he was a realist so much of his life. him him increasingly optimistic. it is a wonderful line when the
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spirit of st. paul, he said i have vowed to rejoice evermore. this was when terrible things were happening. he said i down to rejoice evermore read if i can. it is that wonderful if i can at the end. [laughter]. and your heart goes out to him. as i hope you know, he died, much as on any day. the day of days. with the fourth of july, the same day as thomas jefferson died in far-off charlottesville. jefferson died in the morning and adams died in the late afternoon. and adams, among his last words, they were literally as last words but jefferson survives. it is a great story, these two friends began his friends. began his close friends and became) bradberry) while serving the diplomats abroad.
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and then in the new government, new george washington administration, found themselves, on opposite sides of the emerging two-party system became political rivals. and ultimately political enemies. and there was a period of about ten years when they refused to speak to each other. but in 1812, adams to rekindle the friendship, to bring about reconciliation he wrote a letter to jefferson and commenced one of the great correspondence and her history lasted until final year. 1926. 1826. there were not just present at the creation, those two extraordinary men. they made the creation happen. adams was the voice, and jefferson was the pen. there were two strikingly different and to every different
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worlds of massachusetts and virginia. anyone who understand those times, and who we are and why we are the way we are, it's important to seems to be extremely important to understand the different different parts of the country for thin. i would like to finish by bringing you something that was written in the 14th century read and jefferson and adams both knew. they both had written almost for certain. it was written by or to a friend was mark. in the year 1346. john adams and thomas jefferson were two of the greatest booklovers of their day. each had a large and very valuable library. adams looks the public library
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in boston. the boston public library jefferson books are here. those of them who have survived. but this was written a good 400 years before thomas jefferson and john adams and it's exactly the same spirit of what each of them felt and which i think so many of us feel today and one of the reasons we're here to celebrate a festival, a national book festival. writing and 1386. divine city has rescued me from almost all of the human desires. one is not entirely at least in big. this is evans doing pretty though my character of the passage of time has contributed. i have seen many things and meditated much. and alas i have begin to
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understand the worth of those activities that educate human race. that you may not think i'm immune to all fans of failings. i learned that one unquenchable passion possesses me which so far anita could not nor would repress. i flatter myself the longing for where they things, that are not unworthy. you expect the name of some disease yes it is that they cannot say, my lust for books. perhaps now i have more books than i need it is with books as a with other things that the more one gets the more one wants. if there is something special about books. gold, silver, gems, purple roles and broad lands of paintings of horses with rich trappings. all such things, bring only a mute superficial pleasure.
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but books, thrill you to the marrow. the talk to you predict a council you read it and miss you to their living and speaking, friendship. nor do they insinuate themselves alone into the readers spirit. they introduce other books read each one creates a desire with another. [laughter]. thank you. [applause]. [inaudible]host: ugly we have tr
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some questions. so i will pass the microphone back. thanks much. guest: the jew's cover about charles, the signer of the declaration in maryland. david: he was the last surviving signing, was he not yes. i never found anything. there that doesn't mean that the present something. about his catholicism are a dealings with that absent jefferson have pretty think the most interesting thing that i found, about adams and catholicism was that he attended a catholic church. jill catholic church. still very much a part of
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philadelphia greeted his percent he had ever inside of the catholic church and he wrote a wonderful letter to abigail describing the entire mass. lasted two hours. [laughter]. he didn't leave. interestingly, washington, george washington attended say mass. it seems to be no explanation of why my event. they went together. ono is that each of them was there that same day. in the letter, back to abigail. he describes the priest pretty in the look inside of the church. he describes the whole mass. he said he thought about moving a novel. max and understandably, many people read that, and many people have written about the have taken that to mean, just one of those narrowminded the
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new england people. in fact, he meant full all. awful did not mean same those days. you have to be very careful about the language of the 18th century. words have different meanings. very serious mistakes can be made there. yes her. guest: the purpose of the book you find that you started to write a torn biography of adams and jefferson. i'm curious to know what point did you realize you just wanted to write about adams and what did you reach that decision. david: indeed was going to write a dual biography will be god being at work between the two very interesting and very different men. in our lives. my worry, my concern was a jefferson with his star quality.
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in his gifts. the romance of his house on the mountaintop and all the things and feels much less we can balance was so command the stage that the short stout john adams, by husband in the shadow for several hundred years not have a chance. how could give them equal time. happy to give them equal importance. really be the least of my concerns. because once management were it didn't take very long. i realize that adams was a story i wanted to tell. and adams, tells mark. is there for us reaching out constantly as if he's trying to find a human being. and is often there. adams for example, wrote
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extraordinary letters to his wife and she to him. virtually all of their lives. they're very revealing informative of feeling. jefferson back on first destroyed every letter plenty of our roads and every letter she wrote to him. we don't even know what she looked like. is very guarded man. he didn't want people to know about what he really felt, the most fears and worries and anger. hello. other shelves of books, but jefferson, there are relatively few books about an entry procedure have been books about andrew goodman but not the book i want to write.
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as soon as i saw that it should be evans, is if somebody giving up a track a disco. his liberating. this is more about that major the biographer. but when they have learned from his go where the material is pretty. [laughter]. otherwise you resorting to conjecture. all leaders people were writers. as a reader of voice symbols conceivable or possibly king we have been thinking store for thing someone. that's getting on very thin ice and is tiresome after a while. i also was usually influenced by the presence of abaco. thought about writing a biography by abigail.
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i honestly feel like i have already written about her because you can't like life about john adams without writing about abigail. yes. guest: as it public education, and what i had always heard the just practically dismiss the federalist. and it was overwhelmed with the depths of the person in only really owed to him. i drive around the washington and i see the memorial and the monuments. it just seems like something is missing. david: the question is what we deserve to get some visible and tangible symbolic expression of the importance of john adams. i'll yes indeed. very strong we should. that should be.
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i think it will be decided by creative people of good things. the house is already voted for this. whether the senate will, is remain to be seen. i do have nine hamper what the memorial to john and abigail adams should be. [applause]. i would like to tell you what it is. [laughter]. i think not to be a library. the gotta be the library of american letters and not to be, my idea of heaven is a library in a garden. in the mall so far as an oasis, another marble monument marble temple.
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a library which would give changing exhibits an american letters meeting not just literally letters with american literature. the books of john adams of the works of john quincy adams. changing exhibits of the letters were literary accomplishments of other people of other americans a few times. very tacky doctor billington and direct erica massachusetts historical society as conceivably library of congress. willing to have some of those treasures alone. northerners cases of these wonderful spirited documents and you browse look. living with the card not to be partly one of the kind that i
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have some fruit trees. the kind they had. remember you heard it here first. [laughter]. [applause]. guest: you have a building by the name of the adams building help. for mr. adams. and we talk about how he helped, he was the beginning of the library of congress. and wondered if in fact, reading, did you find letters about how he wanted this library to me. david: i think it was always for it. last night, i read the letter that he wrote to jefferson when jefferson sold this library to
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replace the library of congress that had been destroyed by the british during the war of 1812. and adams are back to simulate and view it no mortal, writing books. he loved them. thank one of the happiest and proudest moments when he signed his signature was signing legislation. yes are you have been very patient. guest: . [inaudible]. i wonder if you would do us a favor of writing. [laughter]. david: thank you. [laughter]. i'm going to take a little breather from biography. when asked what was going to go back to writings in history and next time.
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not going to tell you what it is just a viable state 18th century. i am very happy there. [laughter]. i'm going to stay in the revolution. so to be in the year 1776. beyond that them outside. [laughter]. would like to conclude with one observation. the huge advantage of growing up in pittsburgh, pennsylvania where the first thank you. [applause]. refers library was established. new not just down the street, there were also in every school. it was library the school. on the right school. the first day that i went to school. remember those long falls, and stairways be very grand way back
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recently to visit the school treated they found that the school very always were very long and just as impressive as i had remembered it as a child. merging in the hall into library. we sat down little tables. the library introduces to the library into this is where you come read books. a few minutes i will tell you table by table the book and had him get up and go pick the book of any choice you want. she said have you all brought your library shoes. [laughter]. and sinema god. [laughter]. my mother didn't tell me about any about library shoes into the state i can come in thinking have a life library shoes on. [laughter]. so manually, number two bring
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your library shoes pretty. [applause]. [applause]. host: thank you again for coming. inside the room and orders. his ideal the library and garden. not for many reasons but also tells about library shoes. please go out and enjoy the rest of the book festival pretty thank you pretty. [applause].
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[background sounds]. host: excuse me ladies and gentlemen. there's on the program starting soon. we need to leave this room. there's a book signing a debacle at o'clock. the book signing as by david mccullough. need to cleanse from now. [background sounds].
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host: .-ellipsis saturday evening, book tv has taken an opportunity to show you several programs from our archives. featuring a well-known author. tonight this is david mccullough. best-selling book, including biographies of adam countrymen. a history of the flood as well as the construction of the panama canal. up next from 2005, mr. mccullough sits down to talk about this book on the american revolution. 1776. this is from cspan's q&a program. ♪
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this week on q&a, august is offering historian david mccullough. on the genera general henry knom in maine. host: david mccullough, you told audience outside of this general henry knox museum, days ago that everybody in american should know who henry knox is pretty white. david: because these extraordinary historian an american who seem to be miscast. seem to be fellow not prepared for the role of the history and for him to play and who not only lived up to the rule, but when over the top as it were. and as an example of a man who
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came from very humble origins, very little advantage in the way of education, or connections. heroes to be one of the most important americans of his day read the men that george washington discovered. and amanda george washington counted on. through nearly eight and a half years of the revolutionary war and who then counted on him as his secretary of war during the time of presidency. and he started out at the boston bookseller. very stout gregarious robust, friendly, popular fellow who had about the equivalent of a fifth grade education. and who love books and never stopped reading. he became one of the best officers in the whole work. washington singled out to young
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men. almost within a week or two weeks after he had taken command. and cambridge massachusetts. these are people as he could count on pretty one was nathaniel green rated was a 303 -year-old quaker but and made a major general. having no military experience at all in the second one was henry knox. involved 25. in no military experience at all. but both of them had been reading books. in the new about the military , was entirely from books those nara those are the best ways to learn things produced three books at the age of enlightenment. anyway, wonderful examples personifications of the enlightenment faith. if you want to learn something, pick up a book, several books.
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is during both physically and intellectually, is remarkable. he ingrained were the only two general officers. who became generals. estate with the war and with washington. through the entire war, not necessarily physically, personally. but with him in the sense of still fighting the war. all the other seated dropped out widely for some other reason. and with those two, right beginning, and he admired for the perseverance. perseverance is the end. it's amazing story. but knox had the idea of going and bringing back the great cannons and mortars there. which was preposterous thought. middle of winter. the hall those guns
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nearly 300 miles from hudson valley to upstate new york and across the mountains and all the way to boston. that was a feet almost like something of a myth but it was real. he did it. penny did it by saying that the solution to the problem was in the problem rated the problem itself was a solution rated newsletter. how can you drink those huge cannons all of the way in winter and answer course was to build giant sleds. and that's what he did against every imaginable quite a challenge both from the elements and from sheer exhaustion. and is one point they were hauling him over the mountains when the teamsters that he admired refuse to go on because it was too ris
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risky. failure to see. coming out of the hard part. these things could get away. it would kill anybody that was in front. they were not one. they said no it is too dangerous. we woke one. so this 25 -year-old bookseller, mounted discourse, canon or something. and gave them at ten after three hour speech on why they should keep on going. and they did. he wouldn't give up. that was a great quality with both he and brain. once in the washington, but that was among his strongest traits. host: this henry knox, remain, is a place that he spent almost seven hours on the friday afternoon evening signing autographs and speaking to a group.
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your best seller, they are book came out, number one is the number one ever since. why would you after all the travel that you did. david: i enjoy it. i like to do it. i like to meet people who like to read my books. i like to meet people who read books. they care about american history so that i was very happy to make a book tour. it is exhausting but is also exhilarating. is also very heart warming and gratifying. to see what interest in american history there is. everywhere. los angeles, 3000 miles in 229 years away from the year 1776. in a world that is so different to be unimaginable to those people who dissipated in the revolution. there are people in los angeles in the year 2005, who turn out in
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sizable numbers because of their interest in that founding time. and that's me is exciting. very gratifying. but here, in the knox house, i feel strongly that these historic sites and museums are very important for even major participants in how we educate our children and grandchildren. to bring people here to this house and bring people to the presidential home were the great battlefield or historic site of one kind of another. is to inspire and open up the mind in a way that is not exactly like a book or movie. or an original letter. it is something else i think these places speak to us. i think they speak to us in a very moving way.
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the idea that this house for example was designed by general knox, that this was an expression of their time and their culture. what mattered to this oval room here for example. which would have been a familiar to knox. because of the white house let's say. it is a very. peace speaks to us today. these two big fireplaces. girl very important. because it is a different time and different values and different notions of proportions, scale. the good life can be. this of course was the home of the very wealthy people. there is a high in the eyes of the country but
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it is amazing example to go to mount vernon or monticello and here grown-up visitors say they are surprised to find neither jefferson nor george washington had indoor coming or electricity. and so when you come into a room like this, people might say what they have two fireplaces. and that would open up the realities of that earlier time. we forget how much more difficult life was then. and how much more inconvenient and comfortable closer to the vagaries and hardships of living in a rough climate such as maine. because where so insulated from the facts of life as they knew them as they were
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insulated from the cold in the heat where we are protected by wonderful drugs and medicines. we don't have to worry much about epidemic diseases about like the way they did. we don't have to give up a 5:00 o'clock in the morning to start fire to make the breakfast. and we don't have to blot to cure of things. plan have to the premises for the call of nature. where softies compared to the people that time. just to get through the day peacetime. one of the best of conditions, and now the respondent to the real adversity. that tumbling. abigail adams, and letter to her husband when he was at
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philadelphia read the second congress. if future generations will reap the blessings somebody will have no conception of how of the hardships and sufferings of their ancestors. that is true. even for someone who lived is a handsome of skill and style as did knox's. host: you give a speech back in april a good quote written down the want to be back to you. but all that matters, being number one, getting ahead and getting to the top attitude is getting to stop. and do whatever awful thing in
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the material get to the top right you think we have changed since john adams arrow rated the henry knox area. see what i do. host: in life. david: for many reasons. and for one, their education, the notion history was based on the classical history of greece and rome. understanding of virtue, honor, character, is all derived from roman history. the idea this forecast the parts reminder parts to live up to the role you have been assigned. is there on the stage of history. if you have a sense of history,
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and isn't it just get along stop stuff before you came on the scene. but you also realize that when you pass from the scene, you will be part of what constitutes history. spring 14.3 they think of themselves as being someday judged by history. if you go into the old congress on capitol hill, in the capital. now statuary hall. open the door, there is rendition of cleo, the goddess history. she's in a chariot. penetrated pulling o'clock. it was installed or about 1515. the members of congress, for they look up to see what time it
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is, in their moment, basically oh raining in the big book, a book of history to remind them these members of congress and representatives of the people that they are not just being judged by their own time, the term of 4-foot the judge for all times by history. washington captioning outage can also be said for their permission the loyalist just convinced that they were the true patriots. an educational to combat perspective. wonderfully expressed in the play plato. most popular plate of the day. in the play, there's language goes, i can't guarantee success. in this struggle is war.
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but we can do something better. we can deserve it. what that is saying is that the outcome is not in our hands. too many other factors involved including providence. [inaudible conversation] chance or circumstance or whatever. can't control that. as individuals. individualism is essential to this whole idea of enlightenment. but we can control the week behave and we can deserve it. so even if we lose, i deserved to have one, we will have one in that sense. very different from the present attitude. and think a very healthy reminder mother's economy humorous about the present. everything we do the right way to do it free.
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on those who preceded his were not quite as bright as we were. the reality of what matters pretty is an arrogant and i think ignorance view of life. there's so much that we can learn from history. there's so much we can learn from those people. the people interest me. seven but when the cost attitude of today. david: is been caused by an enormous variety of choice. just sometimes be numbing. the thing is been caused by the stepped up momentum of life. but by materialism. too much luxury. general johnson said really just
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people with too much luxury. too much of a much. elected leaders, but just thought of all kinds of all fleets, genders, patients race,e the expression, and ways of people moved to bali. people said will be admissible time. i saw it just the other day. i cannot those who the the support on. there was no simple time.
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i can make a good case of the 18th century was a far more complicated time, a far more challenging time. because of how much someone had to know just to survive to get by. somebody said to me, knew the blood red wagon, from here to pittsburgh pennsylvania, in december would you like to longview. i would say can make a list people from the 18th century. presented know how to do so much pride that we don't know how to do. we are the simpler times in some ways. where no more revved up sign. were more self-conscious time. traded, reported, analyze, endlessly. everyday.
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constantly. so much attention from the press and the television about things of no real consequence. and it's very confusing. not so i think it lends to many people a sense that whatever you can get away with, if you get what you want to its. somebody does something is off-track, some i will say that she tried. an attitude is outspread honesty, kindness, generosity. ambition to exceed her itself. that's different. it's what adam said, he said i wish there were more ambition in the country. ambition to excel. that is a lot different than ambition have a lot more stuff.
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signature number one or whatever. host: if you stall up the 2.25 million or whatever books on it use at least 2 million . on 1776. that's more people that were even alive in that time in this country. how do you explain your success such about time, your number one. number one john adams reread dupree. david: i'm not sure of a measure of that whether we are in a good time or not. it wind event time. they were a very exciting time. i think work a little off course in sydney sydney, which age you must want to live in, right now. there are many similarities between right now in the 18th century. both are times of the tremendous change and stress.
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technological change. exchanging like that in our time. what's different is the speed changes for the speed of information. the speed and throwaway culture. you don't just throw away us styrofoam cups. throwaway ideas in history. we want to run today. will we americans believe and what is new in the future. places, plywood is old. is it was new. as american. debbie turns over no leave. so in her attitude towards life. i think the difference between
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writings is the success of the history channel. the wonderful popularity of the films. all of that can be, in part a measure the fact that about the generations or more, give them an education our children every will industry pretty solo people and 20, and 30s and 40s are trying to get caught up don't know who theodore roosevelt was, have a very idea of what exactly he did or why he was somebody of importance pretty soon they do want to revoke or see the documentary and television. i think some of the movies that come along been very effective. i think we human beings are interested by nature really think it is very hard about human nature. we want to know what happened before. once upon a time, long time ago, the children stories begin.
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the two most popular movies of all time, though not necessarily historically accurate funds historical in spirit and in setting. god what the wind and the titanic. i think those are a very important measure. tom hanks is now going to be producing a big multihour movie for television of john adams of my book tom hanks is very solid conscientious man of great integrity and taste. i expect that movie for each them on way that maybe nothing else could. hundred times within a book of mine or other authors. tennyson right, that will be a huge step forward in my view.
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host: palacio john adams without any teeth. david: i hope so. so far and all i have suggested about the details, they have taken very seriously in their efforts to make everything as authentic as possible is the most remarkable. mosthat i've seen in thefield. host: any parts. david: i think it is 1130. host: what will run pretty. david: hbo. host: when. david: are going to start filming i believe this fall. how long it will be after that i don't know. there building backlogs. a lot of it will be filled in williamsburg. in some location in europe.
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host: john adams, what are the chances of having a monument in washington of him. soon pretty will be just on adams or abigail or jeff with the adams or entire adams family. david: this is still open for discussion and the congress has passed a bill making it possible. and the president has signed the bill. now at work out location. we become part of the group was trying to see this happen. it has to be location in keeping with the importance principally disgrace. there is no monument, no stature nothing of john adams in my opinion the opinion of others, except for george washington. as the most important american the time. but if you to know what i think it should be read i think it should not be another marble
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tomb or something like that's. i don't think it should try to rival either the washington monument of the lincoln memorial the jefferson memorial and skill. i cannot be 18th century skill. noises should be modest in size. the name promoting is mistaken, the idea that it will be adams library american letters. it will be a library open to visitors in a garden. and some more as idea of was a library in the garden. john adams thought that to read i know you been to the house and seen a library that is in the garden there. so this would be a library we become in a look at the. the real letters of jordan
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abigail adams or john quincy adams are jefferson and evans of display. in these exhibits will change from time to time. and you can go out and be in the garden. so nice mentioned there would be a garden the time of that of ago had with fruit trees and flowers and herbs and so forth really i would be sort of an oasis in the midst of washington there would be other exhibits as well from time to time read the library of congress and the massachusetts historical society which are the great adams family papers. thus far said, it would be very happy to have some of their treasures unloaded the library read and think would be in keeping with our their great contribution to imagine life.
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it is just my view. john abigail adams did with the did as patriots print as believers in the cause of america and independence and equality. they reported what was happening. they describe the people and the feelings at the time. in a way that no other couple dead. and that in itself, thousands of letters for an enormous disservice to their country. don't think they root them with that in mind read and that is in the result. host: a couple minutes ago, one of the leaders of this museum on ace around upstairs in the bedroom of henry knox. asking him how old he was. he said 56 he died of chicken bone in his throat. i wanted you to talk about medicine earlier but go back to the time when he blew a couple of fingers often at what age did he do that.
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and what impacted pretty soon his book the rapids and the rest of his life in advantage. david: yes. david: life was tough then. and the way life better people was apparent in their parents. people a connect then something wrong with them when i started missing teeth missing fingers. a partner year. because life be tough on you and there were no cosmetic surgeons. their work nor orthodontist. sixtys and the rest. that he listen to thought you lost a tooth. if you lost it at 25, there was. you read the description of the deserters for example. the most vivid of all of those instructions of the 18th century soldiers. and again and again, there is something physically noticeable
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about them. henry knox lost two fingers of his left hand. the third and fourth finger of his left handed and averred shooting expedition what is about 22 i would guess. he kept it wrapped because he felt it was unsightly read he didn't want that to be distracting thing. nathaniel greene, decided limp because of a childhood accident. john trouble, the great american painter, at the use of only 19. because of a childhood accident. >> , and predict with they did this with them. john trouble became one of the great painters of the sun. despite few had the use of only one eye. greatly altered his depth perception. very interesting to see that the small versions of his famous paintings. the sightings of the declaration
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of independence with the death warrant of a bill. in the small meeting art much stronger than the large paintings that are on display the rotunda of the capital. large part because of that problem. a boxing ring it would have been rejected because they were physically unacceptable. but they didn't let that stand in the way read in any way, it makes them more vivid somehow. the more identifiable. like characters. you would know them the minute they walked in the room pretty certainly no henry knox because it would be the biggest fellow the world. host: mentioned earlier that knox was 25 when he first lesson of george washington. and 43 for george washington. he also mentioned, only mention alexander hamilton and three pages in your book you say he
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was 19. what were the parameters. what did you not write and was a little on alexander hamilton. david: is a never writing they're going to become later. husky said the point. writing about what they are doing at that point. alexander hamilton and james monroe but they are briefly because they were very minor parts of the story that point. they were very good officers. the potatoes that. but they were the people of real consequence and what happened the wake knox agreement another sports. i also write about people like that who was a farmer from connecticut john greenwood from boston and joseph hutchins, massachusetts shoemaker is one of my favorite characters of all point in most people, the real part in the time period that
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moment. and we know because the road about a pretty all that we know is what with having diaries and letters. there were no correspondents covering the war. reporting what a terrific job alexander hamilton just did. nor were there artists correspondence winslow homer covered the civil war read all we have are orderly posts, the government records various times. in greece diaries letters of somebody kept a diary, or a lot of letters, really force it out and tells you what it was like describes the scene in the viewing said suffering hardships. and that person is taking us into the times. try as best i can to be the moment and how human returning the moment because i think is
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intellectually more honest no way i'd and that these people don't know what is going to happen next anymore than we do in our time. the docent with the outcomes going to be pretty a non- don't know that alexander hamilton will be secretary-treasurer print but he can even thinking about that pretty they're thinking tysabri the next hour. in the very often the situation they don't know what is going to happen. infusion rains all around. that's important to remember if you're trying to get inside of that time and understand the humans and situation and to feel it. i don't think you can really know anything until you feel that. i think you have got to care. otherwise you can get all the facts and figures and statistics and insights, they are necessarily the truth.
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... ... >> it is those people. will they read what i wrote? yes. you got it. that's the way it was. or will they say, luck. you are way off mark here. that's not what it was like. let me tell you what it was like. and if there is a hereafter
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, he did all right. >>cspan2: when did you decide there would be a book 1776? >> when i was writing john adams. he was in philadelphia and they get reports of what was happening in new york. when it comes back the battle of long island is a fiasco. 1000 americans taken prisoner and 300 killed washington has been outflanked and outsmarted and then they escape from brooklyn when i read all of that which was happening and writing a biography you cannot stray off ten pages he has no involvement in i thought i would like to write about all that was going on besides and independence hall in philadelphia and how much of what was happening and that
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depended on this ragtag army under washington and how they were performing and how much of a chance they had. >> when did you decide to call it that? >> people say the revolutionary war in the year 1776 what is your theme? i have no idea what my theme is. i hope by the time i finish writing the book i would know what it is but also that i can step back and look at it and that this might be the title. >> what is your reaction? >> it took my breath away. it was extraordinary.
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>> it is in the ninth printing now. >> how many books? >> one.5 million. >> the first printing was 1 million copies. when the publisher told me tha that, i said i don't know what you're doing. i couldn't believe it. but the reward and the pleasure is in the work. really that is what matters. >> when did you finish? >> november 2004. >> you said made a decision when you are of john adams did you make the decision about that book? >> no i have not of still thinking about it. >>cspan2: what on - - how they wish her book tour? >> 20 for cities.
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>>cspan2: what is a 72 -year-old man going to 20 for cities when you didn't have to? >> i enjoy it. i thought i can't do this with an i thought let's go. >> i like meeting people i like seeing what's happening in the country. i can tell you i went to many of the same cities five years ago when adams was published to see how they are changing and what exciting things are going on new libraries and convention centers and cities look better than i have seen them look, there is much to be encouraged about by modern present-day america i really do and people are proud of their cities. and optimistic it is very
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reassuring that i have come back feeling better about the country and the time we live in and more confident about the future. >> what next book do you thank you want to do? so what kind of a book does the country need? >> i never think about that. that's it because you have to live with the subjects day after day if you are not enthusiastic about their work what is your inclination right now? >> this morning i had 24 ideas for a book i would like to
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read. books that don't exist that i would love to read which is part of why i have gone about it my full writing career in life i've been doing it 40 years and i just trusted you could say something this morning i would say that's what i want to do and i don't push it i don't just get going for the sake of getting going. so to give you an example you are to got a guy not to give you one example. >> i would love to read a book everything going on in london during the revolution the loyalist thousands of
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americans who were there people of considerable consequence trouble goes over during the war they think he's a spy he might have been put them in the tower of london for a little while. there was a lot of spies french, british, great material and of course all the politics of the time and others who are on that point of view, to a point. but the same kind of book could be written about the civil war for all that was going on. i would love to read a book
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about charles wilson peel the philadelphia painter who was into everything. talk about the 18th surgery century enthusiast who was a painter and tinker of mechanical advice on - - devices and an archaeologist a soldier and politician. he knew everybody. and the idea who is not a general or a politician or soldier appeals to me. >>cspan2: no interest in the present? or in your lifetime or truman? >> no. that wasn't quite present. >>cspan2: in your lifetime? >> not particular i will stay in the 18th century. i like it there and i'm starting to know everybody i
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like the change in the literature. >> how did you get to know henry knox? >> to his letters. they are in a variety of places. most of those are at the morgan library in new york but the diary of his track from ticonderoga which i have reproduced in the book in the picture section of the book in its actual size that's at the massachusetts historical society. >>cspan2: are you on the board? >> i've never been on the board but i'm actively involved. that's one of the most wonderful collections in the country three presidential libraries in one all of adam's papers, john adams and john
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quincy adams and then jefferson papers. >> you pop up everybody wants you on their historical boards how many do you serve on now? >> at the moment i'm on none but as i can stay working for mount vernon and the library of congress and the massachusetts historical society interest for preservation, the new york historical society, monticello public libraries in general. i do as much as i can to support and help and make known the opportunities presented by public libraries
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but also responsibility communities out to support them i'm an honorary member for a big drive for the pittsburgh carnegie library which was the first public library ever went to. also the library of congress i will do what i can to help the library of congress as long as i can. >>cspan2: you probably gave henry more publicity than he ever had in his life with your book? >> i don't know. >>cspan2: this has 14000 visitors in the last year that is relatively small but allied of libraries are going down the new lincoln library but what do you have for a place like this route one in maine? easy to see montpelier to get people to come here?
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>> to encourage everyone that does come here to tell people it's a worthwhile place to stop and you can't miss it coming up route one. >> anything they should do here to get people in entertain them or inform them? >> i think the people come into the spaces and rooms and know the story that supports people in. if you don't buy a house you say that's a beautiful house and nothing ever happened is not too interesting you could drive firehouse that looks like a shack until the story of what happened and people would be interested. i think our affection as a people for historic landmarks and buildings of all kinds has
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increased tenfold if not more in the last 34 years. and then that movement to protect historic buildings every part of the country isn't just tearing down buildings because their old buildings we lose something of ourselves. and vandals that's not the right thing to do. >>cspan2: you talked a lot lately about teachers he testified in front of congress have to do far better job teaching teach teachers those
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that graduate with degrees with an education they go to school and education a major and they know something called education but they don't know a subject. we have teachers that c-span this summer and they were very happy when they heard you say that. >> there should be a good liberal arts education or spanish or physics or whatever or a young teacher going to work for the first time in a classroom who doesn't know history or biology and is required to teach that subject has a handicap the list to say not because they don't know the subject but they have no enthusiasm for the subject. most of us have been lucky enough to have teachers in our
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experience that were enthusiastic about what they were teaching. it is that love of the subject that is infectious and opens the door or the window for us. furthermore if the teacher doesn't know biology or history or mathematics, then they are much more dependent on textbooks with that are far less that which we would wish some are abysmal some are designed to kill any interest a youngster may have in history you have to have teachers who love what they are teaching and use good books the essential for education is not a fancy building or a lesson plan the essential is a great book a great teacher and the midnight oil of hard work we don't emphasize work enough in teaching.
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these are all generalizations. there are superb teachers and i have said in that same speec speech, there is no more important person in our society than teachers they count more than anybody doing the most important work than anybody in our way of life. i have a son who is a teacher i'm proud as can be he is a teacher and i know how much he has to put up with and it's less then one word want. >> he teaches english literature in high school in massachusetts and he's a very good teacher. >>cspan2: i was sent a lot of questions. what are the rewards for teachers if they have historical knowledge and excellent in their field do they get anything special?
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>> i think they get the same thing no matter what line of work you are in the reward is the work itself with the knowledge they are influencing hundreds, thousands of young americans in the course of their career. i don't know the statistics on how many lives a teacher will touch in the course of a career of 25 or 30 years but it must be a sizable crowd. that's very important. and the love of learning that's the most important. because education only gets rolling after you leave college or graduate school that's when you really began to learn and read. if you have that instilled in you. >>cspan2: some teachers are
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not happy with no child left behind. one asks can any exam give meaningful data of the students understanding and willingness to participate in democracy? >> no. it is simply a measure of how much is known or not known when a youngster cannot tell you or a senior at a good university can't tell you the commanding american general was at cornwallis at yorktown you know there is a problem. weather knowing it was george washington will make a better citizen that's immaterial. but the fact washington was the commanding general they probably don't even know what it is or why it was important
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and clearly doesn't know much about the history of the revolutionary war. and that's a pretty serious flaw and indicates we are not educating our children as well as we should. no question about the historic ignorance of young americans it has been shown in countless studies and surveys and anyone who teaches are lectures to spend time on campus knows that from first-hand experience. >>cspan2: 57 percent and history should start at the dinner table how do you start at the dinner table? >> how do you allocate your time how much time is that
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same family spending watching television? the average family spends three and four hours a day watching television don't tell me you couldn't give up an hour of television to do something of this kind. i think dinner table conversation, i have had many people say they agree their own memories and experience it can be over the lifetime at home could be more important than school. >> what if they don't have a history of knowing history? >> note they know the history of their own lives they know what they are grandfather did where they came from what part they played in american life or american history where they could go to the library and
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get some books. the public library. look at the public library. there they are in every community free. free to the people. all the knowledge, all the information and art and literature and ideas of history of all time are available in the public library to everybody for free no other society or civilization ever had such an advantage and we take that for granted. people say there's not enough money. first there is. do you know what we spend on lawncare or potato chips? of course there is how society spends its money that's also said for how the individual spends their money it's an example of what that matters to them. you to get a complete college
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education graduate school education just by going to the public library for free. which was part of the idea in the first place there should be no lead on people because they can't afford to go to college and university so we will have a public place they can all go. >> when do you expect us to see another david mccullough book? >> i have no idea how long it takes is how long it takes somebody said how long your legs? he said long enough to reach the ground. i have no idea depends on how large the subject is. >> 56 years of his life what one thing looms the most important? >> the man had a capacity for a great idea innovative idea
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and the capacity to make it happen. ideas are pretty easy but doing them as hard. he had the idea and he had it. >>cspan2: thinking mr. mccullough. >> thank you. ♪ q and a programs are available as c-span podcasts. >> the presidents available in paperback, hardcover and e-books from public this
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presenting biographies of every president, inspired by conversations with noted historians about the leadership skills that make successful presidency. in this presidential election year as americans decide who should lead our country this offers perspective into the lives and events that forged each president's leadership style. to learn about our presidents in the book's featured historians visit c-span.org/the presidents available in paperback, hardcover and e-book wherever books are sold. >> booktv on c-span2 has taught nonfiction books and authors every weekend. coming up sunday at 4:55 eastern in the lead up to the republican national convention coverage we are featuring authors have written about

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