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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  March 14, 2010 10:00pm-11:00pm EDT

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they are not tied down. they are not carrying this heavy load. >> guest: and that is good. but they should remember that the baggage was carried. they should not forget that it could not come back. we, we have to do is remember the shooting at the museum. it is just underground. it never goes away. we have to be vigilant. freedom is in free. we have to fight for it every day. >> host: i want to come back to the plate. i fink as important play to have people to save, have this conversation between anne frank. ..
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but there isn't a simple. races ... and it persists and at some point parents are going to have to determine when they share this burden of history, this societal problem, this cancer that we have called racism in our society jim crow has been redesigned. it's more often to something else. we called it something when you and i were kids and now it is called something else, so -- >> host: michele at our last conference has written a book called the new of jim crow incarcerations in the age of color blindness. it's a very powerful book talking about the jim crow left since incarceration as opposed to. >> host: so its in a different form. >> guest: so we have lots of work to do. >> host: we must continue to work and i really want to thank the two of you for your great work, your greek leadership,
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your vision, your inspiration and i have enjoyed being with you and continue to tell the story, continue to build one america for we are one people, one family, the american people. >> guest: you keep working on the capi hill to meet that reality. >> host: thank you. >> guest: thank you. from booktv coverage today of the tucson festival of books a panel on how to write history for a popular audience including all side magazine editor-at-large former for porth start editor-at-large jeff guinn and literary agent founder james donovan. my name is paul hutton, professor at the university of mexico which i hope he will hold
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against me. i am the executive director of the western writers of america and our topic today is indeed the american west and history as a best seller. this particular session is sponsored by the alliance bank of arizona and we want to thank them and the presentation will last approximately one hour and a book about 40 minutes and open to questions. if you have questions you need to come up here to the microphone and ask your question at the microphone. so i will give you kind of a high sign you can form a line if you want to and we need to do that because we want to welcome c-span to the session. they are broadcasting this today and we of course are eternally grateful to c-span and all the do to keep the book of life and literacy alive and especially american history alive in our country. so we welcome them. at the conclusion of our session, please join us and the
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authors assigning area which is area one tent b and while you are writing that down and reaching for your pen reach over and turn the cell phone off a few wood, too. i actually remembered to do mine and area of one tent b is located south and west of the student union and the authors will be autographing their books. let me introduce to you to our panel all of whom had great success recently with history books and books about the american west. at the end of the table is jim donovan the founder and president of donelson literary of dallas texas. he is a graduate of the university of texas. we take that kind of hard in new mexico where i'm from the that's all right. he has worn many hats in his life and the publishing business beginning his career in
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publishing in an allston bookstore back in 1981. we went to dallas and 84 to become a buyer for a regional bookstore chain and he's been an editor and of course now an agent and more importantly for our purpose of course is a best-selling author max with his recent book "a terrible glory" published by little brown on custer and the little big horn which the "los angeles times" said was the last word on the last stand. somehow donovan and i both know that is not true and will never be the last word on the last stand. and now since he is absolutely evidently infatuated with people invading other people's countries and getting wiped out, he's doing the alamo. [laughter] i always like to go to someone's backyard and the shoot you and then you are a hero. it's good. jeff guinn has written 15 books
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in his career. he's also a graduate of the university of texas. for six years the book editor at the fort worth star-telegram and now he just informed me that his publisher informed him that his book the autobiography of santa claus published in 2003 has now 500,000 copies sold which is pretty sweet so congratulations on that. and naturally once you've read about santa claus and have a huge success you want to write about psychotic killers. [laughter] so he then turned down to go down together the untold story of bonnie and clyde published by simon and schuster in 2009 and he is currently working deciding to switch sides and go with fell after seeing what happened to bonnie and clyde he's now working on why it occurred. at the end of the table is hampton sides who did not go to the university of texas but did
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barely crawl through yale university and by of actually seen the paper to read i didn't believe it until he showed it to me. he is from memphis where he is born and raised and he has had a very successful career in journalism. he is editor-at-large and outside magazine which many of you read. his book ghost soldiers in 2001 about the death march and heroic rescue attempt in the philippine campaign made into a motion picture and his blood and thunder of carson and the american west published by doubleday in 2006 has been enormous success and has resurrected the name of carson in american history. hampton now reside in santa fe and followed carson west and settled right where cape did and he has just completed "hellhound on his trail" which is of the king assassination and the
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manhunt which will be published by doubleday next month coming out so we are all looking forward to that. i think a good place to start a discussion like this we will start with jim is why did you select this topic? i actually know why donovan selected it. he has the same tragic addition i have to costar. there are no 12 step programs. georgia and for life. but how in the world do you take something that you love, a story that you've left and have always been fascinated with and turn it into a best seller and in fact contains a publisher the need to publish a book on something that everyone believes they already know about? >> are you finished? >> i'm finished. [laughter] >> we might get a word in. [laughter] >> i had done an earlier book -- coffee table book on the subject
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of a battle of little bighorn and as you know coffee table books are not by nature very extensive or in depth but doing that book about ten years ago i realized there have been so much written, so much research done on this battle recently in the past 20 years especially archaeological forensic results that hadn't been integrated into one negative, so of course once you get going on custer you get hooked so that's the answer to that. i persuade my publisher that even though there had been how many, paul, for a zillion on the subject? that one more, the market could bear one more. and spend about three or four years researching the book and i am totally hooked now on last stands as you can see. [laughter] >> being last stands and people who didn't quite make out of the building, jeff, why in the world
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did you go from santa claus -- i believe everyone in this room linus -- [laughter] -- to a controversy here like bonnie and clyde. >> i didn't realize for a long time all of my books seem to be about the reality of a person or people and the myth that grow up around them. and i think it's important for us to understand not just that it of the history we believe is mostly ecology but what it tells us about ourselves that we created these myths and we believe in them and love them. in the case of bonnie and clyde i was wondering how could to of the most and that criminals who ever lived -- and they were in net. most of the time they had to break into the gum machines for meal money. but you take these kids from a disparate dallas slum doomed the minute of professional lawman
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really decides to hunt them down and how did we come to believe in them as these glamorous figures that seem to represent romantic versions of depression america. that was the question that i wanted to answer and that is the book i in that riding. >> and hampton, you and i of course know that christopher kit carson, is indeed probably in terms of american history the most -- bulkeley crockett, carson and cody -- but he's the one last known. i have about six months before your book cannot cover a story in true west magazine title why is this man forgotten and of course he's not forgotten any more thanks to blood and thunder and hollywood is counting on your door to perhaps make it into a movie which will finally bring the carson story to international audience. why did you pick to carson and how did you sell that idea to your publisher?
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>> well i live in santa fe and anywhere you go in a mexico you see his name. there's the kit carson national forest and carson's house where he is buried and carson's park avenue and also for the rest carson city, rivers, streams, trailblazing after this guy. he's sort of the jack in the box of american history sort of fizzled figure or something and i just ask stupid questions. who was this guy? i really didn't know who he was. was the villain, was he a hero? i get into the cannon in arizona and heard one version that he is a genocidal media and tried to reconcile that with what little i remembered from reading juvenile biographies he was supposedly a great, plucky interpol hugo from the books that i vaguely remembered reading. so i was interested in how do
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you reconcile the genocidal of maniac with great american folk hero and of course down along the way that truth was somewhere in the middle. that he had this incredible varied -- and getting into what you were talking about with bonnie and clyde, you know, he was a legend, he was a myth in his own time because of all of these blood and thunder that were published. these books that were essentially the first donner novels come first mass literature and he was portrayed as this action figure hero 10 feet tall, always said he would kill to indians before breakfast and this was considered a good thing back then. so there was a mess even in his own lifetime, herman melville actually in one passage of moby compares unfavorably to hercules. so in his own lifetime he had to live with this lithology and i guess like jeff i was interested in sort of the contrast between
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them left and real person and that is what fuelled and animated the book. >> we are finding in the time that we live the story of the west and western history is very much contested ground in america and part of what a lot of people called cultural war is going on for a heart and soul of our national identity and all of these characters are western characters. i consider bonnie and clyde with pretty boy floyd and the clincher captured by the arizona authorities not far from where we are sitting back to indiana. i certainly consider bonnie and clyde the last of the western out walls and mobility and they were very identified with the west but the worst in the current controversy we see in western history today and so of course certainly custer who ase at the center and has been for 50 years now the sort of struggle for ownership of the
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story of the american west. how did you deal with that, jim, the controversy of custer? >> well, what i wanted to do is tell the story and samuel eliot morison the nonfiction history writer we have ever had, he's a good writer of history should observe the three things, accuracy, vicar and object to the. i thought that if i tried to write the story and research it thoroughly and let the story tells itself and what kind of take care of itself. i think if you start worrying about what group, which of these groups is going to be bothered by what you write it can get in the way to read what i wanted to do besides told the story you is it my research for the earlier book i read a lot of the books out there and noticed that a lot of them had kind of just assumed
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mistakes parts of the myths and legends were wrong one person writes it somewhere somebody else writes it incorporates to restoring and after awhile it is accepted as truth. i wanted to commit scrape off those barnacles off of this vessel the battle of little bighorn, and of course one of the things that is the most fascinating about this battle is it is a mystery. i think that's one of the reasons that it's been written about more than gettysburg is there is a mystery about what happened specifically with custer's battalion of five companies and how they got massacred and there were indian witnesses but for 100 years nobody took those seriously. as paul knows they were dismissed as being irreconcilable but a lot of work is been done to sort of examine those and realize they did have a lot of very reliable
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information to tell about the battle and that is the other reason i wanted to write this was to see if i could find out what really happened to custer's command specifically and how they actually got to where the end that and were massacred on the hill and i think i did and i think there is enough material from the indian accounts that have been -- that were not taken seriously for a hundred years and the new friends again archaeological research that the head on the past 20, 25 years to do that. >> would custer confronted a character who once was highly regarded and whose reputation has fallen precipitously and now is almost viewed as a sort of punchline in fleet light comedy. bonnie and clyde are just -- you are treating them quite positive the house -- >> not completely i hope. >> not as a buffoon but bonnie and clyde are the opposite and there is a whole aura of romance
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that surrounds them of course. all of this driven by hollywood and the fatta inouye warren beatty movie was the first. they are long fascinated artists. your book kind of brings them down a that. how did you deal with that? >> i don't know if it brings them down. one of the mistakes i think a lot of a snake when we are writing history is we tend to try to apply modern perceptions and modern believe to a time that has been entirely different and so writing about bonnie and clyde i tried to keep in mind that i wanted readers to have context to be. you don't just write what people did. if you did that you have written a textbook. what you try to help the readers understand is how they did things and why they did things. and to do that you have to try to understand the time and the place.
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is the modern-day bonnie and clyde fans that believed they look like warren beatty and faye dunaway the fact remains bonnie and clyde deemed their initial notoriety in america. they were really the first electronic media icons because with wire services those goofy pictures they posed for could be in newspapers all over the country. so, have to do to understand the initial appeal is they were the late 1920's and early 1930's ancestors of brangelina and for but was speculating on their love affair and everything else. so once you understand the time, when you understand the attitude of little but i think that always gives a clear perspective who people really were. >> hampton, kit carson may have
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been forgotten in the country but certainly in new mexico he is a memory and is not a positive figure at all and so you began a journey that led to have to read imagine carson and re-ride the southwestern met. >> i think it is possible that he is eclipse custer as the most hated man in america. he's kind of shorthand for genocidal campaigns were scorched earth campaign durham, but the navajo people but carson is a very interesting guy full of surprises. this great indy 500 and peter supposedly spoke something like six or seven indian languages. his first wife was in the end or at the home. the two children, she died in childbirth. his second wife was shy and. the marriage didn't last long,
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she -- she kicked him out of the tepee. nonetheless this was a man that understood american indian culture and lived much of his young adulthood more like a native american than a white guy. but he also spoke french and spanish and his final wife was spanish. he converted to catholicism and lived and married into a spanish families of this was kind of a multicultural guide before that was overturned. he moved three's ackley easily d organically. the plains indians, he was close to the ute indians. so this great and again hunter becomes much more complicated than this person who is eclipse customer becomes complicated and interesting when you begin to see the totality of his life and not just focus on the one campaign, the navajo campaign that has eclipsed his reputation has become so intimately tied to
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the long campaign to get really interesting, and i also use him as a -- a way to talk about the larger story of manifest destiny and conquest of the west because this one guy, this a little bit backwoodsman from missouri who had run away at age 16 is like a zoellick character. he keeps cropping up and bumping into history and intersecting with the destiny of generals and writers and all the movers and shakers of the westward push. he is this a little through line and it's kind of a joy for writer to come across a character like that who can kind of pulled altogether and so it's not ideography of carson. blood and thunder is a story about the american west and which he is the central through line with the person that connects the dots. >> all these characters and i think it is something the we notice with a lot of western
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characters. is anybody self-conscious -- carson perhaps the least but one of the things that struck me in jeff's book is the famous def car with bullets where bonnie and clyde were finally shot down by that policy there was a copy of the biography brand new biography of billy the kid in the back seat and a balmy of course talked about jesse james at one time in poetry she wrote i would like all three of you to talk about that self-conscious nature of these characters. do you want to start, jeff? bonnie and clyde? >> nobody left the notoriety more than that bonnie and clyde. they wanted to be famous to give the the of the stories written about them had no basis in reality and they were still pleased. the only thing they were good at and this was quite was stealing
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cars. they would steal a car every few days and they would abandon it, the police would find it and in the car they would always find the latest newspapers and true crime magazines with stories of their gang. they try to encourage the right perception of themselves. bonnie was applied to the coke appalled people thought she smoked cigars. clyde sent a threatening letter to the publisher of the fort worth star-telegram saying if you ever print another story that says that lie under will meet smokes cigars and i know where do we and your reporters live and the telegram until after the bodies were certified as did in the louisianan never printed another mention of bonnie with a cigar. [laughter] but again they were trying to overcome what they really were. they were both crippled in the
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last year of their lives. clyde had been crippled letters since he cut off two of his own toes it prison duty and bonnie actually could not walk the last year of her life because her leg was terribly damaged in a car wreck. they lived mostly in self camping in their cars by rivers said it take baths and to them the exciting thing was at least they were known for something. they knew they were going to die. the expected and wanted it to be a spectacular runup to that which of course wasn't the case with kit carson or custer i don't think. >> will of course i think we all know that custer was kind of a glory hound. loved the attention of persons he was a young captain in the civil war who was bumped right up to brigadier general a few days before it east burke and
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adopted, that was back when you could dress a little differently and he certainly did. somebody described him, a fellow officer as a circus performer gone mad because he had a bright red profit and a sailor stopped sood in a way but he wasn't the only one that was like that. just to work who was the counterpart in the self, agreed calvary commander also dressed quite strikingly but i think he got a taste for the press than because of course they left covering him because he was a colorful and this was before the published photographs that was in the 1890's in newspapers and magazines. but they used woodcuts and harbors and frank leslie -- is that right? and of course people got a sense of who he was and newspapers and magazines left him because of
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him and fell off of it and he became a very good writer. his material was still easy to read. it's not too overburdened with those victorian that makes some of the stuff, most of the stuff on their noble, anything before about 1880 or 1890. on the last campaigns the little bighorn campaign he actually filed stories for a new york newspaper but it was the herald tribune anonymously. so he was aware of what the press could do. >> carson and a lot of ways was the anticuster. he was very uncomfortable with his celebrity from most of his life. he didn't understand where it was coming from that people back east needed his hero to personify and just destiny. he certainly didn't know what manifest destiny was. he didn't use that word. it was too highfalutin the term for him. he was also a literate so he couldn't read these portable
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books. i dare you to read the blood and thunder. they're terrible. i went to the library of congress and read some of them. they're absolutely horrible pulp fiction books. some of the precursors to the modern western, but he didn't get them. he didn't understand why these writers were writing the stories come he didn't get money from them, he didn't get any consent to use his name. they painted a character that he had spent his whole life trying to live down and then there was a clipper ship named the kit carson and a steamboat named kit carson in broadway plays. there was the mention in moby. the thing just blew up and a certain point in his career keeping the lights team need to seize control all of this press and he tried to hire a writer to tell his story. and washington irving came close to saying yes to doing a definitive book about kit
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carson. if he had probably never would have written blood and thunder. instead they got a series of talks that work on the story and he wrote and dictated by should say because he couldn't write an autobiography which is very bear bones but this is the opposite of custer or the opposite of buffalo bill. somebody that was never successful turning his fame into something bigger. he died a pauper and could never seem to capitalize nor did he have the inclination to capitalize on his fame but it's certainly something he spent his whole career grappling with trying to figure out why does this country back east that i ran away from seem to need a super hero? to personify this movement. >> it's of course could custer wrote his autobiography when he was 34 since he was dead at 36. it's good to get the record before you checkout. >> nada as early as william
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travis who wrote about 24, 23. >> welcome his was a diary but yeah, for your next book soon. [laughter] >> there is a mention by someone else who clerked for him that he had written an autobiography, short autobiography at the age of 24. >> well it's always good to get those done quickly. [laughter] negative in the business, in the academy and oftentimes i'm kind of struck by the fact that many of my colleagues in fact a large number seem to believe that if you would sell a book in a bookstore, like real humans that want to read that you have sold out. the kind of commercials these gentlemen have had as writers were pretty well do in the career of any academic historian. and the gentleman in particular wanted to talk about that.
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it seems to be something that festers. i don't understand it at all. but there was an academic approach to history and its different from the kind of popular approach and history books and a biography sell very well in america and yet the academy and especially this is troubling in western history pulling back from trying to write for a great audience and you gentlemen all self-conscious be right for the great audience. how do you see yourselves? we will start with you, hampton, since he went to yale as different from your academic colleague historians. >> well, i did go to yale and at the time it really had one of the heavyweight history department. it probably still does. it was really, really packed with talent. but the four years i was there i do not recall ever hearing the word pressure ever being uttered. history was not supposed to be
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pleasurable. historians are deadly serious people. we put on the ropes and commune with dead people. we are true which essentially and we going to the stacks and have secret mythologies that no one else is said mr. know about. that is just the way that was taught and the writing of history and the appreciation of history as it was taught to me in college was essentially argumentation you have an argument, you have a thesis and to state your thesis and then marshall your evidence and argue your points and then build towards the summation and have a closing argument and then go before your professor and defend your thesis in person. this is very legalistic. i think a bunch of lawyers early on hijacked the history departments of most universities
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and the idea of telling stories, the idea of actually having stories to the plot and character and suspense and dialogue and all these attributes of storytelling that we know from fiction and movies and television and all the other modes of communication never ventured very well into the history departments. although i know two things. one is there are a lot of academic historians who do secretly go home at night without telling anyone and the read shelby foote or david mccullough or barbara tuchman and they don't like to admit by steven paul does this. so the hostility that exists between the professional academic historians and professional popular historians is kind of contrived. it shouldn't exist. there's a place for narrative history in the university's
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perhaps as a multidisciplinary approach you can get a major narrative of history that would be english department as a mixed major something like that. i think there's a place for it and i think the hostility that exists is unfortunate and there is a place for all kind of history and i think also the history as we know what is going to die as a discipline unless we do inject life into it by having a greater primacy of narrative history but in the overall academy of history. but that is just kind of my own little private theory. i don't know if you guys see that we were not. >> there are two things all of us who write history have to keep in mind. the first thing is we are not finding the to writing books to propose mark br. we are trying to write books that we can share some information we have a positive way that will interest not just another added historians but
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general readers and lowercase as i think what happens to folks who are academics is they are extending their doctoral thesis and of writing something that they believe they will be able to defend your other colleagues on the faculty and not writing a book on a fascinating subject for folks who know something and would like to know more and expand their own knowledge. if you are writing to impress your friends and yourself, then just keep a blog online. cory diary that you xerox and senter done. [laughter] otherwise try to remember the folks you were writing for who are interested in the subject who want to know more who have a jobs and maybe only 30 minutes to read am i ander going to try to grab an hour or two with a book on a plan on a business trip or on a vacation.
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if you're not trying to reach out to as many readers as you can, if you are not trying to share information, spread the word, get people thinking, and by that everybody in this room leads because you like to think and you like to learn. if you are just going to try to impress the people that you already know and make yourself look good to them it is an invalid exercise. writing history is storytelling and q1 to tell the story to the widest number of people and shared in a positive informed way. >> one question. paul, did you wear that tweed jacket just to provoke us? [laughter] >> i haven't put on a tashi in years being a southwesterner but i did this and i decided to look like a professor. you actually make me want to defend the academy as was a very uncomfortable position for me. [laughter] >> jeff touched on a few things.
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i'm also an agent and i deal with this a lot. one of the things the good writers of popular narrative non-fiction in history because we are talking about that, we have to pay more attention to the things that make it more interesting and readable and the main ones i think our story and character. those elements and how they are handled. for instance i know some of us, the best writers use somewhat novelistic techniques and i don't think making things up and fiction i mean how stories are structured and in particular characters because i don't know about you but i think i speak for a lot of people that read if i don't care about who i am reading about, then i'm not going to read very long. and if you don't concentrate on
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character and make us care or understand about these people and their motivations and reasons, then it is a history textbook and i don't know many people who read history textbooks for fun. for instance talking about character, but i try to do in my books is humanize the story and when my research i had a file for every one of custer's 31 support and its officers and after three or four you just don't get much information. when i would find a nugget about a person was like it when they file and somehow i blended into the narrative and gives information about the character and i hope makes you care about the character a little bit more. >> i might add to that a little bit more the style. when i was in college or whenever i have been in an academic setting ijssel a hostility to the idea of style. a historian should have any style. of writing or a voice or a sense
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of kind of unique way of getting their ideas across or telling the story. and what i found you have to do is if you come out of an academic setting is you have to have this scientific term what's known as acorn called ek to me -- corncobectomy. [laughter] i've gone back and looked at my college papers and you assume a voice and this is just history this is all academic. you assume a voice that is it yours it is somebody else comes some proclamation of a person that you envision in your mind and you have to remove that and start telling stories and much more organic or natural way. >> and probably the easiest way to say is you don't want to write a book that is a lecture. you want to write a book that is a conversation review. >> i had to stand up because my
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corncob was hurting as i stood on the bench. [laughter] >> how about the other one? >> i did want to talk more about style. all of your books which i ought to hold up for the audience donovan's "a terrible glory" go down together about bonnie and clyde and of course hampton's "blood and thunder" all available at your local bookstore or of the internet or right when we sign after the session is over. all are written very clearly and forcefully. deer i even say in some cases gracefully and lyrically. >> keep going. [laughter] >> miniet the folks in this room we want to write and struggle with writing and writing is very hard work. tell us this does not just come
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naturally that you actually do have to work at this. >> i was up about a week ago i world the coal that 4:00 in the morning nothing to do with a corn called. i picked up a copy of david mccaul's 1776 which is a wonderful book and in some ways it has some similar structure negative kitfield character themes as i'm working on the alamo a revolutionary leader and i picked up his book then and i spent about one hour just looking through the first 100 pages to see how he handled attributable quote. i spent just an hour work doing that to see how he did because he's one of the models, the gold standard he wrote although he is rapidly approaching that point. >> i will pay you later. [laughter] >> jim, you are my agent. [laughter]
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>> for this i give him 15%. [laughter] >> euskadi secure ego. hampton does. [laughter] >> yeah, i went to the university of texas said that means i got my credentials right out there. >> this was in the 60's and i vaguely remember it. i don't think any of us who write and have kept writing and having some success doesn't have the same had better moments as everyone is trying to write. there are days the magic works and there are lots of days the magic doesn't. my own her technique is when i can't think of how i should be saying something i imagine i'm having dinner with my wife. if i were telling the story to her instead of writing it what are the things i would want to tell her so that she would understand it and then i go back and try to work those things in.
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it is god awful hard work but i think i speak for everybody and there are other wonderful writers in this room i should point out some folks who have some valuable works what could be more fun, but could be a bigger thrill than trying hard to learn about things and writing them and sort of carrying of the model will with other people. the joint us overcome the pain that sometimes it hurts a helluva lot. >> it's not very sexy work. my son has watched me work, my seven year old son came to my office one day and watch me holding up a document. then i said the document down and talk a little bit. pick up the same document, look at it again. said it down. pick up another document, put it over on top. this goes on for hours. my son is watching this thinking
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my father is supposed to be a successful writer. this is something i mabey want to do one day or something. but they looked at me and said dad, is always like this? [laughter] and i think my kids think watching me it's the most deadly and dole profession and the world and they would never in a million years want to do it because it is hard work. you just scratch your head and are thinking about structure and plot and when the last introduce this character. the writing process, not just the research but the writing is agony at times been the and it is i think a dream job even though my kids don't believe me. >> someday. >> of course the suicide rate with writers is pretty high. [laughter] and there's nothing to work on your self-esteem so much as looking at a blank page for two or three days coming to realize what the total and complete failure to arcuri at which is never happened to these
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gentlemen and not only have they published these bestsellers now they are off on new projects and we ought to talk about that. hampton, door book is coming out in just a few weeks. >> it is a book about -- i grew up in memphis and i think all characters at some point want to go back to the place they came from and in this case i wanted to go back to the pivotal moment in the place i came from, april of 1968 in memphis and the confluence of the forces that brought king to memphis my father was a lawyer and he worked for the law firm that represented came when he came on the garbage workers that went on strike in the fall or excuse me spring of mike 19th degette. lagat captivated by james earl ray and this became not so much the story of the assassination as how the fbi track down james earl ray the largest manhunt in history at that time $2 million,
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6,000 agents, for different countries. he was finally caught by the scotland yard in london two months after the assassination as he was on route to becoming mercenaries soldier and rhodesia. a very interesting story and i guess and somebody like bonnie and clyde he has his own apology and his own self conscious qualities trying to be kind of a fold hero i guess the jury dark character, somebody who i guess in a way it's kind of a consummate villain in the story and the allin becomes the protagonist because it's about how he gets out of these different situations and assumes different identities and almost gets away with a crime. and you want to talk about "the custer reader" and the title is? >> it's called "hellhound on his
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trail" and it's coming out of the end of april. so i will be going on a book tour and talking about that in the months to come. >> jeff weaver indoors on the grounds just north of tombstone arizona and your next project is why it herb? >> one of the things that surprised me about clyde as he saw himself as the heir of the great western gunslinger. his heroes of life for jesse james and billy the kid. i wanted to know more about the era that spawned the sort of mythology about the gun toting wall men and bad guys and everything else and i am having a fascinating time working on a book that is titled the last gunfight which my new york editors thought would be about this terrific show down in the streets of tombstone but which they are learning as i stand in my draft transfer is actually about the fascinating fabulous history of southeast arizona.
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and the whole westward expansion of america again not writing so much about what people did as how they did things and why they did things and i do want to say the whole city of tucson you have some of the best historians i've ever run into your folks who were dedicated to try to find out information and shared very generously. this is a fun project and when you are trying to decide what to buy every friend you have for christmas next year to keep in mind. [laughter] [applause] for this year copies of "go down together" are still in the bookstore. >> jim, you are moving right on to the alamo is pretty fabulous material. >> something to interject here it see if you don't know that paul hutton is a wonderful writer himself. the book i wanted to right after this was on -- i wanted to write
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a book of the titanic so as you can see i'm kind of the literary equivalent in the body in the car ahead of you who slows down with a horrible accident. there's something about them i guess i fascinated by but i spent several months writing a proposal and my publisher liked it but they fought well there's going to be a lot of titanic books coming out in 2012, the 100th anniversary so do you have anything else? you denigrate western book. is there another subject? and i said well this thing happened down here. i live in dallas. told him a little about it and said i don't know maybe people over the country are not as fascinated as texans because it's religions in texans, the holy trinity is caulkett and travis. bottolfsen my agent who relayed this to him said he jumped out of his seat and was dancing in his office when i told him about
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dewey, crockett and travis and the alamo so now i'm doing a book on the alamo. i'm not doing the last stance or the monopoly muscle that we wanted a subject preferably belabor their people alive i can still talk to about it. [laughter] it drives you crazy as a historian where everybody's been dead for a while because you just think why didn't somebody ask this one question that would have cleared up everything. >> not just did a good and did. >> what was that phrase? >> i don't know the pain cave. >> i just got out of it and jeff is in it. we deal with the set the edge of the spectrum of those kind of subjects that are back there and you see the photographs in said beah cbe. >> some historians suggest their antisocial of course they spend their time locked in rooms writing and they can't deal with
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any humans who were actually alive and appreciate more of the dead who don't usually talk back. if you have any questions please come up to the microphone right here and ask them of the panels. we have about ten, 15 minutes left. yes, sir. >> first of all thank you for coming. i think just to speak on behalf of some of us involved in the festival is terrific to have years of think you. could you speak a moment about your how do you come up with ideas, how many ideas are ahead of you as you are thinking about what you want to write about and also do you think about tv and movies as you are writing? would you hope to see your ideas come out on different screens? >> i think about movies and sinnott in the opposite way. i think i am a product of modern culture and i have seen a lot of movies and i think in terms of
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scenes and in terms of character driven plot so my stories tend to be i've been told very cinematic. it's not that i'm writing for the movie and hope that will become a movie itself actually influenced by that form and that mode of storytelling so all modern narrative writers to a certain extent are. if we go to see thousands of movies over a lifetime you are going to be influenced by that. so no as far as thinking about it, we all hope that a movie can come out of a story. it's nice. you're not supposed to get to be emotionally involved the. i think it was hemingway said you're supposed to try to the nevada california border in the dead of night and go to the trunk and hurl the manuscript over and they go to the trunk and roll over the money and then you part ways. you are not supposed to be emotionally invested because it is nothing but heartbreak. >> i don't think any of us, we
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don't give much thought with our books will be turned into movies and get lots of money, not at all. but i have a degree in film from texas, not yale and that is a good point. i want to reiterate what hampton just said because i like to think seeing those thousands and thousands of movies and writing about them and examining them in detail may be contributed to quote on quote expertise in storytelling and a good way. >> the other thing is when you undertake a project like we do you're going to devote two or three years of your life to it, so you better not just come up with an idea because if you had what you're writing about or find it boring it would be two or three lousy years so the thing we have to start with something we are interested and care about any story that we
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want to tell. >> yes, sir. >> good morning. thank you for coming. i appreciate it. what the band or person inspired you to become writers like for each one on the panel plus mr. hutton to answer the question. >> mr. hutton, you should answer first. i'm sure you've got a good story. >> it was walt disney's television show starring says parker and didn't see the show. i was an inkling that the time that i got the comic book and read that comic book and it truly sounds corny but in spite my love of history by went from there to custer and kept coming following the road and i decided i would become a historian because i loved history so much and it's been a great choice. it's been a great profession. >> for me it was tarzan. [laughter] life was sick one day when i was 9-years-old and my mother bought me tarzan and boom the next two
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or three years i've read every book that existed and read nothing but fantasy and science fiction for the next several years until i was about 16. now i'm allergic to the dragon's wizard of that kind of thing that got me hooked and i don't know how we played here but i felt i was a decent slider in high school and did the newspaper thing, didn't follow into college as these two gentlemen probably did but worked in bookstores obviously and somehow got here. >> i had the meanest fourth grade teacher who ever lived who pointed out my faults regularly and have a right to. one day she made us write a paper, 250 word paper in the fourth grade and we all complain about it and when i got the paperback it was the only a i had forgotten and she wrote in red ink he should be a writer.
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[laughter] i was lying-years-old and decided that's what i had to do or else she would find me. [laughter] we are still in touch and i make acknowledgements every book i write i always think her. >> of the formative experience for use the first writer i ever met was this bearded stage you may remember from the ken burns documentary the great civil war historian shelby foote. he and his son, his son and i were friends, his son was named huggie. names in the south are rather strange. we were at a rock band together in a room that may or may not have been full of smoke cranking up hendricks doing everything we could do to prevent shelby from fetching his 6,000 page trilogy of the war and he would come out and rap on the door and say
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huggie, turn them down i am working on mathematics. [laughter] and we are like yeah, right. [laughter] but later on i got to know shelby and he gave me some very, very great ideas about what narrative history can aspire to be. >> discussing past felonies on national television is usually not a good idea, hampton. [laughter] >> guice it may or may not have been full of smoke. [laughter] >> yes, sir. >> there is a custer book entitled glory hunter. could you comment on the glory hunter? >> that was written by frederick vandals of water that is a stylishly written book that is easy to read. that was the hero in the 30's. a lot of what is the phrase, paul -- >> the dubunkers. >> there was a lot of debunking
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going on. his wife lived at 71 park avenue six days short of her 95th birthday. she died in 33. he started the book a couple of years earlier. that came out in 34. that's a good book while researched but i think it's pretty clear it doesn't take long to show that he was slanted and every instance tried to show how he was just lucky at gettysburg and lucky here, so that's lori hunter. it's a wonderful literary biography and it certainly was the key book in changing custer's image in the united states from this very heroic martyr to the westward expansion into the villain in the insider who brought death to his men in his own search for glory. yes, sir. >> i have a comment for hampton and question


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