tv History Bookshelf CSPAN June 13, 2015 4:00pm-5:01pm EDT
>> history book shelf features popular riders and airs every week and on tv at this time. next, a discussion of books on fugitives histories. recorded at the texas book festival in 2010, this program is a little over one hour. skip: hello, everyone. i'm skip hollandsworth. and i have the grand privilege of introducing you to four men who spent the last few years of their years chronicling some of the darkest hours in american history, gangster who have been which i say cheesed by bullets
mexican drug lords who are beheaded in the middle of the night. civil war conspiracies and to bring down the late martin luther king. let me introduce you to this cheery, cheery group of guys. [laughter] i'll be going in no particular order so the c-span cameraman will have to move around. this is the first complete biography of the great gangster that cuts down all the hollywood myth about capone and even about the great heroic, absolutely now as we know nonheroic elliott ness as the gman who brought him down. hampton sides author of hell hound on his trail has pieced together a dramatic ticking clock narrative of the last days of martin luther king going back and forth from the days of king's life to his funeral. to the manhunt which at the time
was the largest in history for his assassin james earl ray. and most amazing hampton took the title of his book from a robert johnson song, probably the first time ever that's been done in american literature. and speaking of titles, we now have james l. swanson author of the book with undoubtedbly the longest title of 2010 bloody crimes the chase for jefferson davis and the death pageant of lincoln's corpse. it's in many ways a sequel to manhunt the novel, bestselling nonfiction book that he came out a few years ago about the 12-day hunt for james wilkes booth the assassin of lincoln. he follows stories of lincoln and davis as the civil war end. the trajectory in which lincoln follows the body before being buried in illinois while at the same time there's a hunt for jefferson davis, the head of the confederacy, who is attempting
, and this i never knew, to perhaps make his way to texas according to some accounts to rebuild the confederacy there. finally, malcolm beat has written a book on joaquin posa. entitled the last narco. it traces his rise to power and the futile attempts to get at him. please note everyone that the first three authors i've introduced have written about historical figures, long dead. mr. beith has written about figures who are very much alive and perhaps willing to come across the border even to a sweet little spot in austin on a sunday morning to kill us all. thank you, malcolm. [laughter] >> everybody here has had serious careers. big has written for the "wall street journal."
hampton has written for outside magazine. beith has written for "newsweek," slate.com, foreign policy, james intelligence weekly and the soldier of "fortune" magazine? what did you write a story about how to buy bazookas? and then swanson is a very respected attorney who's worked for respected think tanks who out of the blue when there have been 15,000 titles on lincoln alone so far, figured out a seam that has never before been mind, mined, the hunt for booth and turns the thing into an international bestseller called manhunt and now is back with another one. around the country lots of
writers, would-be-book-writers that would seethe with fury that the son of a bitch pulled off one. these guys are authors even if they are on the top of the bestseller list they have got to pay up their books every few years to pay the mortgage and send their kids off to school so that's my first question. i write books on lou gehrig and jakie robinson, heroes of american life. hampson's last book was on kit carson, the great heroic western hero. go up and down the table and explain before you even did research why you chose the subject in this characters that you did? jonathan: well, i wrote these two books about these great guys, these heroic men, action figures, baseball players, lou gehrig and jackie robinson. i knew i didn't want to do a third baseball player and i thought who else used baseball bats? al capone? [laughter] it just seemed like a natural. i like stories with action.
i'm not sure i could write a biography of a writer or a scientist. i don't know if i could do it but these are stories that have a lot of action and a lot of drama and i've kind of tried to think about personalities who maybe we think we know but we really don't. and capone fit that category and i found a ton of new material that really told the story in a new different way and challenged a lot of preconceptions. it wasn't elliott ness. and he wasn't is psychopath that robert de niro made him out to be. malcolm: i was in mexico covering -- i had to cover the drug war. it was the big story and i knew -- right now going on in mexico besides the violence that's going on, there's a battle in society between the government trying to convince the people that there for the
first time in mexican history they are the good days, but you have people like el-chappo the impoverished and the disenfranchised looked to him as their hero. it's a struggle of the two elements of society, who's going to win. it's more than just a manhunt for him. it's luring people over to effectively the good side. james: in approximate my case, it was really fate or destiny. i was born on february 12th, abraham lincoln's birthday. in chicago, illinois, lincoln country. and as a boy people gave me lincoln trinkets, souvenirs.
and it really began -- when my grandmother who is a veteran of the old chicago tabloid newspaper era gave me for a tenth birthday a framed engaving of the pistol. and framed with that engaving was part a of clipping from the "chicago tribune," the morning that lincoln died, and i remember reading those headlines over and over again. the president shot. both, the actor, assassin. jumps to the stage, cries out and runs out the back door and at that point someone had cut off the clipping in midsentence. and i remember as a boy when that clipping was hanging on my wall i said to myself, must be 100 times. i want to know what happened. what's the rest of the story. i've got to know. manhunt was the book i really wanted to write. my parents kidded me. it's a good thing they didn't have me on grover cleveland's birthday or adolph hitler's birthday. and what else happened you mentioned in manhunt there was this chase for davis. you mentioned in a sentence or two there's a long funeral pageant for lincoln. so i decided manhunt was first part of the trigology of three great stories of the end of the year and three important journeys that effect history to this day. the chase for booth, the funeral
journey that made lincoln from man to american saint and the , incredible six week hunt for jefferson davis. ultimately i view them as one story with three great parts. hampton: i guess in my case, i was interested in going back to my hometown. i grew up in memphis and had left memphis and hadn't been there for many years and wanted to go back and understand this pivotal moment in memphis' history that the assassination of martin luther king probably the most devastating most episode in america's history. i wanted to write about blues be the cotton, the mississippi river, important subjects like barbecue. and this is sort of what initially gravitated -- why i gravitated towards this story. but then james earl ray sort of took over. this guy who kept -- he keeps making left turns. he is into locksmithing courses, ballroom dancing, trying to become a porn director.
he is -- he's taking hypnosis, undergoing hypnosis. he gets a nose job one month before the assassination. you know, this james earl ray in narrative terms became a gift that kept on giving. and kept me occupied for a couple of years. skip: what then happens because you're looking at the subjects all of which have been written about extensively including ray. and except for you're the only guy, malcolm, that had really touched the subject unknown to anybody, really. what was the moment -- the a-ha moment where you went i've got some research here that no one else has? what did you find that made you think, this is going to be better than just another book about the assassination, another book about capone? another book about lincoln? and by the way, all you would-be
writers, the key is to start collecting memorabilia from the cradle. is that it? so what was it? malcolm: for myself it was actually -- in the mexican press there's a lot about written about him. the key was filtering through and finding what was real and what was not. this is a man -- like many fugitives a lot of mythology surrounding him. what i found through talking through law enforcement, mexican military, official sources and then low level traffickers people on the ground, i could actually -- i had a moment where i realized i know more about this guy than the authorities do. and then, you know, we started talking and they'd ask me whether i could share any information. they shared it back and it was a sort of -- i was almost on their -- you know, on their team but as a journalist, of course detached.
skip: malcolm was described as risking life and limb to get these stories? malcolm: to a point. i like my life. there are a lot of mexican journalists who are daily trying to report on this stuff and get in deep. we're talking about serious organized crime and about 45 journalists have been killed since 2000. so i risk my life to a certain point. they are risking their lives every day much further. jonathan: i definitely did not risk my life in writing about capone. all of his relatives who i interviewed are really old now. [laughter] i'm pretty sure they're not really connected anymore. they're really sweet people. for me the a-ha moment and as you said there was a huge amount of stories written about capone over the years, movies, tv shows, but early in my research, was there anything new to say about this guy because he had become a cartoon character. i decided very quickly that
elliott ness would not be the hero of the story. the guy who i identified as the hero was george e.q. johnson. anybody heard of george e.q. johnson? not -- i saw one hand. that's more than i usually get. he was the u.s. attorney who prosecuted capone. and i very quickly just checked to see if any of his kids are alive. it turns out his son was still alive. he was 95 years old. i found an article in 1980s where he said trying to get somebody to write his father's story. and he'd given all his papers to this college professor in nebraska in the hopes somebody would finally tell his father's story. i contacted this college professor. he had still all of these original materials from the capone trial. things that were not in the national archives. not in the library congress. nobody had this stuff except for this college professor who was collecting dust in his office for 25 years. not just new material, new material that told a story. told a story that capone was a
scapegoat and the federal government was hell bent to put him away, and part because herbert hoover needed some kind of public relations score. and they wanted to make an example of the nation's most famous bootlegger. and a guy who admitted he was a criminal and yet they couldn't put him away all these years. suddenly i had a story. i had a story about this notorious criminal guilty of so many things and the government can't put him away for even the least of these crimes, tax evasion. and that was it for me. that was the moment where i found found my theme as you put it. hampton: i had a moment very similar to that. early in the research for hell hound i was in memphis at the university of memphis. and a curator at the rare book and manuscript collections there said there's a gentleman by the name of vince that you might
want to contact. and he gave me business card. i thought some guy had some stuff. about a year later i finally did get around to calling vince and he was very suspicious of me at first. he didn't know what i was up to. he said all right. i'll meet you in a back room of a back room of a back room of the memphis public library and i want you to know that everything i have is backed up on multiple hard drives in various bank vaults around the city. in case i was going to pick him off or something. and we met. and he showed me what he had. and what he had was the preeminent digital archive of the king assassination. more than 20,000 documents. many, many videos. photographs, crime scene analysis. unredacted fbi stuff. and also stuff from scotland yard, from the royal canadian mounted police, the mexican federal raleigh's -- i mean, all this stuff all in one place. in digital form that could be very conveniently emailed to me. and so everywhere i go on this book tour i speak about this man, vince hughes, who was the dispatcher on duty on april 4th,
1968. he was the guy that said, white mustang heading north on is out -- on south main. and this event touched his life profoundly and he decided to devote the rest of his -- his entire retirement to putting together this digital archive which eventually will be put , online and open to the public. so this was sort of the first book that would make use of the vince hughes collection. so when you find somebody named vince and if you're a writer -- i mean, i think we all need a vince and thank god i found mine. james: i found my way in, in each book in a couple ways. when i do my books, the original materials are very important to me.
i don't want photocopies. i don't want to read photographs of things or relics. i want to hold in my hand the original civil war newspaper from washington and richmond. i want to feel that rag paper. its texture. i want to see where the ads are laid out and i want to look at their civil war photographs and look at their sepia tone and if anyone had written information on the back. i want look at the original photographs and go to places where it happened. and in manhunt it was too relics i just stared at for a couple hours and then i thought i found the way in. one was a lock of hair with abraham lincoln cut by secretary of war stanton. he gave that lock of hair to the wife of the secretary of the navy and she framed it with flowers that had adorned abraham lincoln's coffin at the white house funeral on april 19. and i have it in my hands and i looked at it. and i thought about it for an hour just staring at it. and i thought now i'm in the peterson house. now i know exactly what happened. now i can feel what happened. and i can convey to the reader what happened. i did the same thing in ford's theatre. when i had in my hands a piece of laura keen's costume. the actress in the play who held lincoln's bleeding head in her lap and i had the dress screened
-- stained with his blood and brain matter and i'm in that theater box right now i can see what's happening. and in the case of the new book, bloody crimes, i went to the cemetery in georgetown where abraham lincoln buried his son for three years, willy, who died in 1862. it's an above-ground tomb. lincoln would often go there alone and apparently even have the coffin removed from its spot and look at his son's embalmed body. i discovered when i went to that cemetery jefferson davis' son , was buried just a few yards from where willy lincoln had died. that boy died in washington in the and i suddenly had an image 1850's, of abraham lincoln walking alone down that desolate path of the far corner of the cemetery near rock creek and the trees walking past the grave of , jefferson davis' boy to visit his own. it was amazing. and then the other relic that meant so much to me in this book was the series of letters during
jefferson and marina davis during his time in captivity. the letters between them totally forgotten today are to me like the love letters between john and abigail adams. so it was through these original places and things that i felt i gained my point of entry and i could see the story in a way that i'd never read in a book before. skip: and you guys think writers are not obsessed. [laughter] but it's an interesting point that james brings out. he immerses himself by staring at lincoln's lock of hair. what do the rest of you guys do to it immerse yourself in that time period? like jonathan, i saw that youtube thing you did where you're walking past capone's original saloon but, of course it's an empty lot now. so how do you -- the other three of you get into the era you write about?
jonathan: well, for me living in chicago helps 'cause i'm literally walking down the streets where capone walked and there are still a few places where you can find places that he visited that are very much the same. the house where he lives -- the house that he bought for his mother and for his family when he first started to make a little bit of money is a really revealing place. and i spent time there. i got to know the woman who lives there and i would go in the house and i would look in the basement and see the little crucifix up to where she said was the wine cellar. you get a feel for this family by seeing this very modest working class house that he bought in 1924 when he was unknown and was just starting to make money as a bootlegger and making more money than he dreamed. what we forget about guys like capone they were a product of their culture and family. but more than anything, he's a product of prohibition. and when booze became illegal suddenly guys who thought all their lives they were going to be maybe a truck drivers or pick pockets or, you know, just tough
guys who worked in bars, which was what capone was doing , and suddenly they have a chance to start raking in money like they never dreamed in. and suddenly he buys this house and he doesn't buy a mansion on the lake he buys this working class house in a working class community across the street from the street that his mother wants to attend and where her mother goes to say mass every day. so you do start living with these people and you start having dreams about them, i found. i don't know -- i don't know if any of my panelists frequently dreamed about their subject. hampton: i think it's really important, you know, physically to go to these places like
you're talking about. this is the fun part because once we get into the writing the writing is kind of sometimes drudgery. but to physically go to where james earl ray went was an interesting proposition for me. and i did dream about him, too. nightmares, mostly. but james earl ray went to so many interesting places and afforded some very interesting vacations for me and my wife and kids. he was in lisbon, he was in london. montreal, toronto and so to physically go to these places and literally go to the flop houses, go to the addresses but one thing that was interesting and kind of gets back to the dream idea is that we stayed in a hotel in london and we were staying in this place not knowing that -- it was a couple of weeks later when i found out this was actually the hotel where james earl ray had stayed and we stayed in the same room where james earl ray had stayed. so, you know, i was probably sleeping on his -- on the same pillow and dreaming the same dreams. but it is -- the point is, it's really important, too, when you're writing these kinds of narratives to physically go to these places and, you know, get the textures and get the weather and get the architecture and the lay of the land. otherwise, it's a very dry document. skip: well, let me reset it up for you, malcolm because you can't exactly go to the poppy fields. you can't exactly go to the drug lord's house and i remember this thing you wrote in your book in which you try to drive around the little town where chapo
lives nearby and you, what, you get up 100 yards up the mountain before you get turned away? so how did you create that sense of what a drug lord's life was that you can't even meet? malcolm: right, absolutely. that's the difficult prospect there. what i did do is go -- you can go to the poppy fields, the marijuana fields, the meth labs with the military. so i did that. i got a sense of, you know -- i talked to the military and some, you know, low level farmers who had been caught or i talked to traffickers in prison. i did spend some time up in the northwest of mexico and you get a sense by talking to locals just how powerful el chapo is. he basically controls an area of about 23,000 square miles in the hills of mexico and it's effectively living here in austin and knowing that, you know, in the governor's mansion
there's someone who is a member of organized crime and just -- you live in fear. you don't walk the streets, you don't really mention his name. you just call him, you know, him or they have nicknames for him , so you get this real sense of just the power structure and the power he wields. in other aspects, i mean, for instance he was in prison for eight years, and reading documents, reading newspaper clips talking to authorities you know, i found how his power -- how he reigned in prison. everyone was on his payroll. he had alcohol, drugs, bands his wives visited, prostitutes visited. the guy lived like, you know, an old school mafia lord while he was in prison. so you can draw a picture of just how powerful this guy is. his corruption goes -- the drug czar in mexico two years ago was thrown in jail for taking $450,000 a month from the cartels. so you can see just how powerful
these guys are. skip: ok. writing about villains, in every one of these books, i found myself wanting to flip through the pages about the good guys. and get to the sections about ray, about the hunt for davis, about capone's latest little shenanigan was, about what else chapo was going to do. every one of us in this room deep downloads of villain and , there has to be something when y'all are writing your books where for all of the great stuff you found out about george q. johnson and all the stuff you find out what the fbi did 56,000 fingerprints before they hit on ray. you got to love your villain. true or false? you can start, mr. swanson, because it's an interesting one with you.
james: i sensed a wistfulness in the book about davis in your writing. well, you can't begin a book hating your main protagonist. so i couldn't begin manhunt hating john wilkes booth and i couldn't begin bloody crimes hating jefferson davis. now, they're quite difference. john wilkes booth was a racist and a murderer, but in some ways he's gotten away with the murder of lincoln because we think of him a tragic folk hero or an antihero we don't think of booth in the dark way or our other killers like james earl ray or lee harvey oswald. they are despicable, but somehow booth is fascinating. and at the end of the book i try to take that to task because he's not a hero. yes, i want you to ride in the saddle right next to booth. i want you to know what it's like to be this hunted man on the run, to be trapped in that
burning barn. but in the end i hope you don't love booth in a book-signing a woman approached me and she said i'm mad at you. i got a little afraid because when lewis was nearly stabbed to death and i'm mad. and i thought she was going to pull out a knife. she said, i'm mad at you, and i said why? , you made me love john wilkes booth. and she said i wish i would have been in his hotel room on the morning in 1865 i would have persuaded him not to do that. and i said oh, no he would have seduced you and persuaded you to help him. so i was sensitive to that at the end of that book and i hope you agree when you read it that i don't think booth is a hero. in the case of davis, jefferson davis was not the monster john wilkes booth was. he was a hero in the civil war. he was widely admired. he was more famous, more well trained, more accomplished than abraham lincoln. he conducted himself with honor during the civil war.
and during his escape. and he wasn't fleeing to save his own skin. he was fleeing to keep the confederacy alive, to epicould -- to keep the nation alive and , to save his family. in captivity, he behaved with honor and sought no mercy and his long mysterious after-life and became a great hero in the is out more so than when he was president of the confederacy so davis is a fascinating complex man. so at the end of the book i want you to feel a wistfulness of what could have been or what might have been or what a terrible tragedy this was because in my mind davis was , certainly no john wilkes booth. hampton: well, with ray -- i mean, you know, it is a convention of these stories that you rooting for the villain. i think it's partly a literary thing because you know on some level that as soon as the guy is
caught it's over. the story is over and you want the thing to go on for at least a few hundred pages, but you also identify with the person because everyone in this room has done something wrong. everyone has been pursued by something somewhere along the lines. so you would kind of know how both terrifying and yet strangely thrilling it is to be hunted. to be looking over your soldier, wondering when the story is over. so i think there is that aspect of it. what makes it more complicated is the person doing the hunting in my case is the fbi, this agency that had done everything it possibly could to ruin martin luther king's life to eavesdrop, smear, and buggy telephones and sabotage the movement. so you have a protagonist you kind of spin the first third of the book learning to hate. then you find very reluctantly hoover decides to leave this manhunt.
when the fbi finally gets to doing what is really good at, which is solving complicated national crimes, you find that they are fiercely competent and meticulous, so the villain sort of becomes the protagonist in the last third of the book and it's really hard to figure out who to root for any more. skip: what specifically a was smart for that sick little james earl ray? hampton: well, you a supposedly the smartest guy in his family. his brother, darrell and his other brother, darrell, and then there was james. [laughter] the smart and ambitious one. not in an academic sense, but he was cutting and he was crafty and he had developed in m0 which really specialize in anonymity.
he said that i want to have a face that no one can remember and so he kind the blended in. , no one noticed him when he was there and people didn't miss him when he was gone. that helps to explain a little how he was able to escape from to maximum security prisons. you see a lot of cunning, a lot of ability to plot and plan. he did a lot of reading, but he often does something stupid it in the crime. earlier in his career he robbed a grocery store and forgot to shut the door on the getaway car and fell out on the pavement. [laughter] in the king assassination he brought the gun with him down the stairs and out on the street and saw policemen and jettisoned the gun. on the gun and in the bundle with the gun was everything the fbi needed to solve the case. would take them 65 days and 3,000 agents and many millions of dollars and several continents, but they finally did catch him because of that stupid
thing of leaving the bundle on the streets. jonathan: the irony to jump from this is they wanted to be known and a celebrity. usually a pretty stupid move. and he's getting interviews and his race instantly recognizable around the world before tv and you ask yourself what kind of a person who is out there making his living by committing crimes and some pretty hideous crimes. what kind of person actually welcomes the attention of the spotlight? he is is giving interviews to cosmopolitan magazine about his family live and how he wants his children -- his son to understand him and what he thinks about when violence is required in his line of work. that fascinated me. i certainly was not -- i wasn't thinking people would read this book and think he was a good guy , but you almost have to have some understanding and empathy for the guy when you put him in that context and understand that
even today in chicago when you go into certain italian neighborhoods the man's picture , is on the wall and it is not a joke. he's remembered fondly from the depression and prohibition era because he was doing something and providing a service people needed, held himself up and admitting he was doing and was a certain honor in that. back to the original point, all of us are fascinated with people who commit crimes and get away with it because as you said with -- we all have a little bit of larceny in us i guess. , the was to get away with it and speak openly are really fascinating and that was very much the case with upon. malcolm: i've got to say on the separate one of the bunch partly because the story as ongoing the mexican drug war. it is 30,000 people dead since i'm sure you hear about on the
2006. news. i don't support of chapo -- chapo in any way but there are many elements in society who do and i can understand that. the problem is he and his ilk right now, it is hard and, you can admire the business sensibilities, the agriculture minister last year said that the drug traffickers ran in the agriculture business. we would be in the black. he probably got fired. it is a huge struggle psychologically inside his mind in another world he could have been a ceo or fantastic politician but unfortunately there are ways of doing things. there is no way humanely you can support a guy who orders mass killings in mass beheadings and one of his employees this sold -- dissolved 300 people in a vat of acid. you can identify that and what is going on at the time and it is very hard to show any support. you find yourself rooting for even almost corrupt mexican of -- mexican cops, of which there are many and you find it there
will to do good is almost forgotten. skip: one of the big questions for me reading the books is why. as much as i was fascinated by the details that you all thought about how you're character's lives, what they wore, what they drank, what they put on their salad. i still kept wondering why. why does ray go across the country to kill king and then want to go to rhodesia to kill all black people? why does al capone stay in the game when he knows everyone is after him and he can walk out with millions of dollars? why el chapo, one of the biggest billionaires' in in 2005, why doesn't he say i have got enough i've got to get out? quacks and
why did davis feel this need to get away and restore the confederacy? james: well, one reason davis wanted to get away was two keep the government to live. davis committed everything he had to the cause this reputation was run, his slaves were freed. everything he owned was gone. it costs during his escape he met a poor woman in a log cabin who fellow per infant son and said he is named for you and davis gave her his last gold coin. it's a myth that he was traveling to run away with the confederate gold of six or $8 million. this wasn't for himself. he fled richmond the morning of april 2 when lee sent a telegram i cannot hold petersburg, i , cannot be shielded on the capital. you must lead tonight and he was still in the field, joe johnson's army in north carolina. kirby smith in texas. so jefferson davis and the
confederacy will not fall so he retreated with this cabinet member with documents and several thousand men who were going to be an entourage so he viewed this as simply a strategic surrender of the capital to virginia. then lee surrendered in north carolina and then joe johnson surrendered. some of the troops started to leave and davis and while to fight and the troops in general said that this war is over and davis said what are you with a. they said we're with you for only one reason. two save you and your wife and children from death at the hands of the union. finally, when he was down to his entourage of his wife and children, 20 or 30 men he is accepted their advice but he had to flee. he was trying to head to flora -- to florida and mississippi and when union cavalry captured him. he didn't want his people to say he quit too soon. he looked to the revolutionary war and george washington as an example. washington almost also were many times here washington won the war by not losing too many battles and surviving so davis sought if i could just go as long as many were willing to fight and should leave them and was going up and when he truly
realize the cause is lost and now i have to save my family. skip: but was the cause of that ? was he a really believing that a tender sensibilities today? james: well, davis was willing to sacrifice more lives. lee wrote him a letter after he surrendered imploring davis to surrender the entire confederacy. unfortunately davis didn't receive that letter. i don't know if you would have anyway. i think dave is one of history's judgment to say he did all he can once was asked about davis davis was criticized during his presidency as was a abraham lincoln by his own people and robert e. lee said say what you want about him, chris isi you will, no man could have done better for us then davis. skip:hampton: the question of motive
is the most frustrating question i think when dealing with crimes like this. i think the motive of ray was a cluster of such motivations, he it was not racist, he was ambitious, he considered himself a hustler and a businessman and i think he hopes to hook up with various counties that were out -- and counties that were out there on martin luther king's head. but i really think ultimately it's the thing that drove ray and it is really germane to the topic of this panel was that this is a guy who absolutely love that the chase. he loved the thrill of it. he was never so alive as he was when he was a fugitive. the prison shrinks who interviewed him said that he had something called the duping delight saying that he really , loved to send people off on
this chases. people who are trying to help him like his own attorney is, he likes to confound people and baffle people. i describe him in the book as a squid, basically this guy who throws up this cloud of ink, and he is in there somewhere, but you really can't find him and by the time you thank you have found him he has changed his name, changed his story, he has changed his location. he's always on the move. confounding people. i think that it is manhunt, the part of this life was the happiest ever was. even though he was desperate and running out of ideas and running out of money and terrified that he was going to get caught, he was also absolutely alive. in in a way i think the man hunt is going on because ray changed his story throughout his incarceration. he kept people guessing and talk about a guy named raul, this mysterious other guy that may have actually pulled the trigger. and he went to his grave with a lot of secrets so i think he is
still kind of laughing in his grave because we're still figuring this guy out. still on a chase of some sort tried to catch this guy and that really gets to the heart of his motivation. jonathan: for capone he was an accidental wanted man. he started out with no ambition, nothing suggested he was barred for greatness and then i think it's the money that really attracts them. he is making money so fast taken of this incredibly romantic lifestyle and he beats the system. he figures it out and decides instead of pocketing the money and retiring which he could have done at the age of 25, at the top of his game by the age of 26, but instead he invests. one of the things he buys with the profits, the chicago police department and the chicago courts. at that point, he can pretty much operate with immunity. and so he has got the next three or four years when he can get away with almost everything. he is arrested many times but never serves more than a couple
hours in jail and he laughs his way out. so he has the system began having the time of his life. i think for him is not the idea of the chase but the idea he , beat the system and establish himself in his mind as the ceo in this business of a legitimate organizations have given up alcohol. maybe some gambling and women on the side but nevertheless it is his core business and he likes that celebrity. when the valentine's day massacre occurs and he really starts to come down on him and -- by the way and argue in the book he had nothing to do with the valentine's day massacre but that is the turning point when the feds get involved and then he does become a hunted man. he is not having as much fun at that point. malcolm: i think el chapo situation is quite similar to al capone.
he is a product of his time here . he's 53 years old, 20 years ago when he was hitting the top of this game. the drug war was going on here but in mexico everyone looked the other way. the government's stance was basically if you are flooding drugs into the united states that's fine, just don't sell them here. we basically endorse it. now you have a more provisional stance -- prohibitional stance and the government is cracking down so i think there are several factors. his psychology -- he's an amazingly ambitious, son of a farmer. so to go into the billionaire status the ranking it, the methodology is totally bogus. tests but you can guarantee he is a multimillionaire. he has massive amounts of clout in the region. his organization has expanded the of the united states throughout europe, even in west africa. and there's got to be an element to the ceo of a multinational expanding expanding and hope that i survived this element of the next couple of years of drug war in mexico. the conspiracy theorists' talk about a packedpact being the way
forward, the way between el chapo and the next government. we will see if that happens. it will never really know about it, but it could be a sort of implicit arrangement whereby he gets to grow old, retired, and continue to make money and have more power. skip: perhaps you have noticed the legendary c-span audience microphone has been put into place. you can come down to the front and ask questions. try to not ask the question, what is your next book going to be, because that is my last question. >> the reason i know about it george emerson quincy johnson is because of your book, it's good time in the middle of it. my question is for mr. sides. i was wondering if you are familiar with another book about the king assassination, codename zorro by dick gregory and mark leyna? >> yes. >> what you thought of it?
hampton: well, it is a little more plausible of the various conspiracy books. that's probably the most plausible but there are a lot of , conspiracy books, hundreds of them and i read as many as i , could stand. the problem with the conspiracy thing is that i couldn't find any definitive evidence. there are a lot of unanswered questions which in that book raises a lot of the very legitimate unanswered questions and problems of conflicts in testimony and things like that. the problem with conspiracy and i think there's an element of conspiracy theory in most of our stories in some way, shape, or form. with the case of a ray it seems to involve the fbi, the cia, memphis police department. the fire department, mayor's office, the white house, bohemian grove, the trilateral commission, and i am probably involved because i was six years old and living in memphis at the time. we all killed king. the sense of conspiracy that if -- that just spreads almost like
a cancer into the entire society . the book had an element of that. it's like you start questioning one person and then you think, well, we are all in on it. in the end -- i think the theory kind of implodes under its own weight. >> since you are writing about villains and basically live with them for a while, how do you shake them off when you are not working, and how do you leave them behind when you finish your book lacks. >> i can't shake off el chapo. luckily i didn't actually live with him, but the store is still going. i can say some of the rumors there are always rumors he might have been caught. there was just on the other day. it's an ongoing story so i am not letting it go right now. i don't plan to spend the rest of my life covering this but i do know that at some point he
will either because, killed or died. it will be a continuation of the book. i try not to think about it too much because i'm in the united states now. as a journalist it isn't the big story here. but i'm still following id's -- following it from a distance because it's what's going on in , mexico right now. jonathan: i haven't shaken the al capone. i have his bobble head on my desk and it is still there and doesn't bother me and his family calls me all the time. the gossip about what other families are saying. all the internal problems. i am like the cop in the middle of the mob and i don't mind. what i was done i wasn't so sick of him i never wanted to see his face again. i was ok. skip: swanson has a lock of lincoln's hair. [laughter]
james: i can't really shake it off. first because of my lifelong interest in lincoln and the civil war. and i still think about this story is and what they mean it because i think the civil war isn't completely over. we still debate and argue about the issues of the civil war, about a strong sense of federal government, about the state government federalism. we still discuss issues of race and civil rights, equality remembrance. we still live with the legacy of lincoln and davis and all so i tend to go back to the places just a few weeks ago. i took my father to his this trip to willie lincoln's tomb. i took my boys to the grave of jefferson davis a month ago. it and noticed that a mighty oak tree had been twisted out of the crown and almost crushed the trade. a few weeks ago when i spoke in richmond i went at midnight to the davis monument, on monument avenue. i go to the lincoln places in the white house. it is still with me. i think after spending seven or eight years with death assassination, american tragedy, 600,000 men dead in the civil
war, i just went recently to a congressional cemetery in washington again where there's a beautiful monument for 20 young girls as young as 13 who were blown to bits and burned alive at a munitions factory explosion. abraham lincoln presided over there funeral as the mourner in chief and i still go to these , places and think about what remains. of the story is not over in my mind and may be done in the books but i still think about what it means so i will have a different answer for you, skip when you ask what we're doing next. i think i need a break from mass death and destruction. hampton: is equally hard for me to shake ray off because i think ray -- there has been a long line of of people like ray in our history. we have a way of producing james
earl ray. there's almost like a conveyor belt of these guys and throughout our history there have been these guys to think that they can pick up a rifle and change history. so i worry that those guys are still out there and they are out there today. the chatter on the internet which is kind of like an echo chamber for these folks. some of the fringe movements out there. we have a black president was very much like a martin luther king rfk and jfk combined in a very controversial administration, controversial time. so it's very difficult not to think when i was writing this book about 1968 that we do live in similar times and that there is a lot of tension. there undoubtedly are people like ray out there who are hatching plans. >> i'm skipper and i want to thank all of y'all for being here and i bet everybody here is two. [applause]
i've got a comment first and then a question for mr. sides. first, other critics and other people have written about the depth and breadth of your research on your projects and allow the hellhound book is no exception. maybe a bit of a misconception might have been in the events in your life, as who made the book and yet we know at least i know , that's hardly the case of all. the question is this. martin luther king was assassinated in the road well about all of the people in his entourage around him and we know that we have inherited the jesse jacksons in these times and all of the entourage people that were with him. why do you believe -- this is kind of a social comment on you're part if you can -- why do believe that martin luther king's religiosity of which he was immersed completely through the jesus stuff through the
ghandi stuff, before he was assassinated and even turning in his life to making it even more abroad reaching to the poverty element, why the religiosity is not more prominent in his writings? i think about the letter from the birmingham jail for example. that's a classic story and religiosity and they ought to be in the new testament, so would you comment about that, please? hampton: i'm not sure i agree. most of us know that he came very squarely out of the baptist, a black baptist tradition. the last speech he gave the night before he died in memphis and mason temple a was officially a sermon extended. so i don't know, i think there are so many dimensions to king is kind of hard to know what two focus on. he was a great status.
he was such an amazing orator. he was able to speak the vernacular of all at different levels of society. from the white house to press conferences to hanging out with gangs in chicago. so i think that if his religious background has been overlooked or obscured in some books, is -- it is because there's so many other dimensions to this man's life. i think doing this book, being from memphis i was always , ashamed that king was killed in my hometown, and i came with a feeling of greatness, that this was one of the truly great man of american society. although i saw him very much as a human being, with full disabilities and doubts and flaws and indiscretions, i came away from this project with even more profound admiration for kanan and all of this dimension. skip: i thought it was interesting how to discovered
king in the study did george wallace's speeches and actually found them sort of brilliant in what he did and admired and them. let me ask a question everybody. what did you all read the as you wrote your books to get your head in into this world that you are trying to encompass besides the research you are reading? for example, jonathan, you're immersed yourself and try to write like -- did you try to, -- some of you sound like you have been reading paperback thrillers to get that taste of of the drama of the narrative going. so what did you all read? malcolm: i read a bunch of mexican crime books, mainly one. if anybody is adjusted and mexican organized-crime he knows it all.
he has been very close to it as a journalist, not connected legally. he knows how it all works. in terms of other books i read it -- i've been a fan of mark bowden. partly because i speak spanish. i understand mexican and at the end of the day i'm cornyn and mark bowden has had a with black hawk down, killing paulo capturing a foreign story and making it a narrative and that's very readable. part of my goal is to make this everyone should read across the world. jonathan: i also try to read novels from the 1920's and i read some great gangster novels from the 20s including william kennedy's trilogy from albany but as i said i read a lot of pulp fiction and war. how many different ways describing bullet going into a flash and i tried to find my own new ones and that was one of the the real thrills for this book having had written to baseball books i got to get a lot more
pulpy in this. every chance i got i tried to be as gruesome as i could and the descriptions. it was great fun. [laughter] hampton: not to tip my hand too much but i read this guy's book manhunt had come out and i was fascinated with how he was able, how james was able to take a story that we think we all know, we know the ending. we know john wilkes booth, who he was as somehow invested with energy and making it a page turner and the way i think you're able to do that was the compression and focusing just on the 12 days and making these people come alive on the page. i would have to say very influential with manhunt. james: when i was doing "bloody crimes" i didn't have much time for a sign reading because the laws of the middle of researching and writing the book and i thought i made a big mistake, tried to do to stores at the same time. doing this book was harder than doing manhunt because that was one story. i found that i felt like i was
trying to write and research to books at the same time and then plant them seamlessly together. when i do have time at my favorites are people like lee giles, harlan copeland, patricia cornwell, truman capote, i like those books a lot. i like the style a lot. but when i'm in the middle of a project there is not much time to read more than occasional magazine or look at the newspapers because the sources are so immense. the 12 volume collected works of davis, hundreds of books thousands of newspapers, diary entries, transcripts and there was no time. i really had to leave my earth life behind and just focus on a book of the research. skip: by the way patricia cornwell called manhunt one of the two best nonfiction crime books in history. the other in cold-blooded written by truman, what's his name. [laughter] unbelievably we are out of time. so last question hangs in the air, and answered. which means keep going to your
bookstores, and in a couple of years to these guys come out with next. we really enjoyed it, it was a fascinating time. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] >> on history bookshelf, here from the best-known history riders of the past decade every saturday. to watch these programs anytime this is our website c-span.org/history. you're watching american history tv, all we can, every weekend on c-span3. here are some of our featured programs this weekend on the c-span network. on book tv on c-span2, tonight at 10:00 p.m. eastern, foxnews contributor says that although
liberals were once champion's, they are now against tolerance and free speech. on sunday night at 11:00 michael morel on the successes and failures of the cia's war on terror and its current fight against al qaeda and isis. on american history tv on c-span3 tonight at 9:15 p.m., on the strategy behind president nixon's supreme court appointments and the impact he had on the court and american politics. sunday night at 6:00 on american artifacts, we visited the national museum of american history to view the newly restored murals from alabama's tele-they got college depicting a slave revolt and its aftermath. get our complete schedule at c-span.org. mary todd lincoln was known to be well-educated and bright.
she spoke several language fluently and had a strong interest in politics and took an active role and her husband's career. she suffered a series of emotional challenges. three of her four children died before reaching adulthood, and her husband was assassinated while sitting next to her at the theater. mary todd lincoln, this sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's original series "first ladies." >> next, author marilyn irvin holt talks about how the u.s. government became more involved in baby boomers' cold war childhood from regulating comic books to curbing juvenile delicacy, in large part to prepare america's children to compete against their communist peers. this 50-minute