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tv   Book TV In Depth  CSPAN  May 12, 2012 9:00am-12:00pm EDT

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>> host: tom brokaw, what was your reaction when you were asked to be president mix son's press secretary? -- nixon's press secretary? >> guest: startled, i suppose, is the best way of describe describing it and hoping i would be up to it. >> host: what were you doing at the time? >> guest: you know, i don't actually remember that very moment what i was doing at the time. >> host: no, no, i mean, what were you doing professionally at the time? where were you with nbc? .. it was a very unsettling moment for me. i actually just recently reunited with the man who took me to lunch and made the offer. >> who was that? >> guest: his name was cliff miller. he looked into his ice he is not going to do this. you're always flattered when
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some one in the white house want you to serve in an important role. my family were not nixon people. to put my family were not nixon people to put it mildly. at the same time i covered him. i knew he had extraordinary political skills. he was a very complicated man in so many ways. can be passed across my consciousness. and there was some anxiety, i was starting my career as a political reporter. for a kennedy person or a johnson person. and you got to get me out of this. and nbc, head of the network, he went quietly and privately and
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-- to pursue his career and it went away. you want to hear the follow-up? there are two that are pretty intriguing. after the resignation of the president, and in the nixon years and water bait, i was embrace from behind a big bear hug. i was bob haldeman who could have sent him to jail. it never comes up again. there was a camera crew to get the reaction to a lot of people and a camera crew came back to my office, and richard nixon standing in front of a flag, nixon saying i thought tom brokaw was a man of good
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judgment. never showed better judgment than when i offered the bipartisan return. the history worked out fine for me. i didn't get the job. i don't think i would have been very good at it. i would have had journalistic instincts and said one of the reporters you got a point. a special kind of job. i was not equipped for it. >> host: tom brokaw talks about that incident in "boom!: talking about the sixties--what happened, how it shaped today, lessons for tomorrow". how many presidents have you covered? >> guest: the first campaign i covered was lyndon johnson. i covered the minor leagues out of the midwest. when it comes to presidents i had several encounters with white eisenhower and i had forgotten about that. he came along for barry goldwater in '64. when ronald reagan got elected
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he went down to see what lies an hour in the palm desert and at the time we knew that richard nixon wanted to run again in 68 and reagan was the new star of the west. reagan went down to spend time with white eisenhower and as the limousine pull out of the country club, the press surrounded them and out of the car popped ronald reagan and dwight eisenhower. reagan -- you can see how the country gravitated to him in california. he was so in command of who he was and then there was a taker. i had grown up during world war ii. he was the biggest hero of my young forces and became president of the united states. for some reason los angeles press corps was paralyzed in place so i stepped forward and
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began asking questions of what i called general eisenhower. i didn't call him the president because he had always been a general to me. a really good exchange in which he said he wanted reagan to run as a favorite son in 68. he thought that would be good for the party and good for the country. that was a kind of shot at richard >> host: baucus -- "boom!: talking about the sixties--what happened, how it shaped today, lessons for tomorrow" you write one suit in a lonely crowd and the next it was time to turn on, to in in, time for we shall overcome and burn baby berm. while americans were walking on the moon americans were dying in vietnam. there were assassinations and riots. jackie kennedy became jackie o. there were tied dye shirts and hard hats, black power and law and order, are licking jr. and george wallace legal ronald reagan and tom hayden, mick jagger and wayne newton.
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you get the idea. >> guest: i don't want to overstate this. seldom in recent history has there been such a fast forward to a new reality as we went from the end of the eisenhower years and the beginning of the kennedy years which were traditional, it was a new generation. an entirely different generation. jack kennedy didn't wear a hat or button-down shirts and had stylish 34-year-old first lady of the united states surrounded by all these catching people. that came to an end. will war began to heat up and suddenly the country seemed to come unhinged in a way. all the values of the world war ii generation were challenged within their own families. loyalty and patriotism went out the window. the civil rights movement went
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from a non-violent movement depending on the rule of law to the streets. violence in america is as american as cherry pie. it was a head snapping time. no question about it. the fact that we emerged from it in reasonably good shape is astonishing to me. a real tribute to the tense i'll strength of this country and a lot of ways. >> host: i began my marriage and my career as a journalist in 1962, a straight arrow product of the 50s. by the time the decade was over i had my first taste of marijuana. i had long hair and i wore bell bottoms, we went to hit the arts festivals in the hills north of l.a. but meredith and i were raising our children essentially as we had been raised by our great depression and world war ii parents in the midwest. >> we went on to raise our children in new york and our
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close friends raising his children simultaneously, in greenwich village and the two families were close and budd had the line we adopted. he would look at his kids from time to time and say all appearances the contrary you are being raised in kansas city. we tried to retained the values with which we had been raised. the manner in which we were raised. kids would go to south carolina and spend time with their grandparents. we sent them to minnesota because we wanted them to have some appreciation of the culture from which they came. it was a heady time. steve roberts and cokie roberts were close friends of ours. they were doing the same thing we were. raising their children in traditional fashion but we often talked on weekends that you could put on costumes and the if not part time hippies you could skirt around the edge of what appeared to be a liberation movement of some kind.
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wasn't true for every one. there was the silent majority. a lot of people like ron ziegler and haldeman and dwight shaven. they were the straight arrow country club set. there were lots of cultures in play in california in those days but on monday morning i would put on a shirt and tie and jacket and pursue my career as a journalist. >> host: are the parallels to be drawn from the 60s to today? >> guest: there are some. the separation between the values of the parents and many of their children were not -- are not as great today as they were then. i had this mythical family i describe. imagine someone joining the marine corps at the age of 18 and went off and fought across the state and came home and married his high school sweetheart and got a good job in
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detroit, caught the wave of spirit with working-class families and the cabinet on the upper peninsula and one day he came home and sitting at the table was his daughter. not wearing a brassiere, having hair under her arms and with a guy she identified as zeke who had read the hair and a guitar. we are going to move in together. no one does that any more. he looks to his son looking for some reinforcement. his son has got the united states flag with a swastika over it and the suns as i am going to canada. and won't fight. this is someone else's war and when he turns to get help from his wife she is standing at the kitchen stove saying to him ok, big guy, how come i am the only one in the house to cook meals or those dishes anymore. it was that kind of 180 from how a lot of that generation had
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been raised and what they were experiencing in their own families. >> host: one "boom!: talking about the sixties--what happened, how it shaped today, lessons for tomorrow". as a reporter and was fascinated by what was passed spending but not tempted to dive into that pool. my ambition for counter to the counterculture. i let my hair grow long and abandoned by straighter wardrobe on weekends i always felt i were at a costume just playing a role. >> it was intriguing. you could do things you never expected to do. for example some experimentation on weekends with marijuana. i was being raised, that was the devil weed. there privies kinds of horror films about one hit on a marijuana weed would do to you. it was so prevalent. it was part of the california social scene even among the old hollywood crowd. there were reports that some were taken with marijuana. i got out of it after couple
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experiments. that was as much as i wanted to try. there were lots of people who shared my view of that. then you move on with your life and circled back and say what is along all? what we going to do. >> host: your father? >> guest: my father was a working-class kid. he had struggled childhood. he came from a large family. they ran a hotel from the northern prairie. conditions were very harsh. his mother died when he was about 8. his dad was and never do well in town. he was effectively turned out and left to his own devices and taken in by a swedish homesteader. offered johnson who if you look back on it, technically he was guilty of violating every child labor law that had ever been
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imagined but he gave my dad a life. a him how to deliver coal and move houses and drill wells. he also learned that he had an extraordinarily defined property, have the equipment. a construction crew came to town wanting to use his team of horses. he said i will show you how to use them if you teach me to operate that with a caterpillar and the rest of his life he made a good living as a man who was a master of anything that was mechanical. my mother jean was something entirely different in an irish-american family out of a hardscrabble farm south of bristol with prosperity in the 20s and they lost everything. they went to a 1-room school and to the day she died a couple months ago, one of the most intuitively bright people i had ever known.
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she wanted to become a journalist. she was 16 when she graduated from high school. it was completely out of reach. she went to work for $1 day. here is my motorcycle riding red-haired father, no education whatsoever but he spotted my mother and she spotted him and between the two of them they became more than the sum of their parts. the muscular guy with a great sense of humor. my mother who was not athletic all but was bookish and in our family was a centrifuge for feasibility and good manners. they put together working-class life and managed to save out of every paycheck x amount of money. they decided at the end of the first year they would try to have $1,000 -- very fortunate in those days. they lived in two wheel trailers and roomy house as as they chase across the midwest and they had me in 1940 and we moved to an
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army base and two other brothers in succession. mother held a fall together. my dad was raised in part by his sisters and had enormous regard for my mother and the place of women in life. i grew up with what a lot of young men my age did, my mother made me learn how to sew on a button. iron my own shirts and pants and make dinner if necessary if there was no one else at home. it was part of the deal. >> host: had the end up in south dakota? >> guest: after the war my dad wanted to go to texas and the oil patch and chase third. he was good at getting good construction jobs. my mother thought it would take us out of our comfort zone in south dakota and she knew they were building these big dams on the missouri river and there would be good jobs and government benefits. this was the era of great public
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works project. interstate highways were being built and the big dams were being built. we moved to the middle of the stage to a very forlorn part of south dakota. part of an indian reservation. i remember standing there and my dad said they would build the biggest dam in the world right here. within two years there were 3,000 people living in a shake and bake town like an army base. we live for half for a little more than that in two buildings and no housing. it was very exciting. it was farm life and i still have friends from that time. we moved to the town and when i look back on at my wife -- it was in a way bargain because working-class families in postwar years came into the town and had good government housing or big trailer housing of some kind and good jobs at good wages. the dam was being built 24/7
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over a period of eight years. it was a massive dam. they came from california and oklahoma and mississippi and minnesota and they would be gone after nine months because the work had been completed and a new group would move in. with an exciting place to live. we had a state of the art movie house. extremely elegant way out of the town, and people thought they had died and gone to heaven. that many years out of the great depression serving on the front lines. it was no longer really there. and people come from south dakota to drive through the town. it popped up overnight. it came to an end. my mother and dad came to this camp where i was working in
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minnesota. and another dam was put >> host: from "a long way from home: growing up in the american heartland in the forties and fifties," tom brokaw rights as a young white male in the 50s i was a member of the ruling class. my qualifications are uncertain. my prospect, it was a white man's and white boy's world. >> guest: a successful york executive said what the right about our generation? the luckiest generation? we happened to be the kings of the generation because we were white males. it was a white male-dominated world. when i graduated from college in the 1916s after what can be euphemistically described as the starter start, i went off the rails for a couple years but when i graduated from college everyone that i knew was getting a job whatever their college
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record happened to be. still big corporations. friends went to work for ibm or xerox or john dear and went to law school there was a law practice for them to join and it was all affordable. there was a time when white males in america had a clear field before them. and parallel opportunities. i am always conscious of >> host: from "a long way from home: growing up in the american heartland in the forties and fifties," failure is an option. if i were equipped with one of those black boxes so useful in determining what went wrong in an airplane crash i might be able to cite a moment or incident when my personal flight plan suddenly veered off course and careened along a dangerous trajectory for two years. in my senior year when i turned 18 i began a steady descent into self the section, conceit and
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irresponsibility. >> guest: i cannot completely understand where my compass went awry. up until then i was not just a good t2 issues. i was as mischievous as most teenagers. i had always managed to accomplish things academically and socially and politically. by the time i got to be a senior i took that for granted. i thought i was on autopilot. it would come my way no matter what i did. i suspect i was a little board. my mother said you have always done everything pretty much the right way and maybe too much confidence that when you began to go off the rails we should have put the braces on a lot harder than we did. i dropped out of school at one point. i wandered around the landscape in a way that many of my friends were troubled, extremely
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disappointed and will lead to the my had been married 50 years now, meredith, played a pivotal role in getting me out of it. i was interested in her so i thought she would be interested in me and she wrote me the harshest weather i have ever gotten saying don't want to hear from you. don't want you to show up at the door. you are not going anywhere. >> host: good afternoon and welcome to booktv on c-span2. this is our monthly "in depth" program one week feature one author and his or her body of work. this month it is nbc journalist and author tom brokaw, author of six books. here are his books. we begin with "the greatest generation" from 1998, followed by "the greatest generation speaks: letters and reflections" in 1999, "an album of memories: personal histories from the greatest generation," another follow-up to "the greatest generation" in 2001, "a long way from home: growing up in the american heartland in the forties and fifties," autobiography of growing up in south dakota 2002, "boom!:
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talking about the sixties--what happened, how it shaped today, lessons for tomorrow" came out in 2007 and finally his most recent book is "the time of our lives: a conversation about america". mr. brokaw, what got you to write? >> there was a seminal moment in the spring of 2009. i had gone to the sixty-fifth anniversary of the d-day landing. i go back every five years and i went from there to germany to meet with the new president of the united states. the african-american. i went on the way. the wall came down. i had a felicitous experience of being the only correspondent with live capacity and reporting and one of the memorable moments of my professional career. i was interviewing the president and i said to him i have been over berlin when the ball came down. i remember i was in law school at the time. was in law school. seems like it was yesterday.
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i had breakfast with allard basel --buzeel who was with angela merkel one of wall came down and walk from the east where she had been living to the west as a laboratory technician and a first woman chancellor of germany and my mind was reeling by the time my left and i went to the coast of turkey to join some friends on a cruise who were all contemporaries of mine i did i began to talk about what we had been witnessed to in the last seismic changes in our life and how quickly they had come and they seemed to be coming at a faster pace. and i thought what is our legacy? i have written about "the greatest generation". what about the boomers and those of us a couple years behind? a lot of us are grandparents now. we are looking at these -- some of them are now teenagers and how bright they are and how
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eager they are and what will they say it was four years from now in a matter of speaking? what will historians say about our unparalleled opportunity that we had to have a chance to have a big impact on the world if we take advantage of it and that is when i began to write "the time of our lives: a conversation about america". i write about people doing the right things and there are many of them. i see a big shift in america to more public/private enterprise to address a lot of issues we're talking about and i thought we need to have some big ideas in place. politics has become a small and it should be more about big ideas. >> host: 202 if you would like to participate with tom brokaw, 727-0001. zero 002 for those of you in the mountain and pacific.
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you can contact as electronically. you can send an e-mail to or make a comment on twitter, mr. brokaw, you call for national conversations and one of those national conversations you call for is one on technology. you write you cannot reverse global warming by striking back legal and nuclear proliferation, religious imperialism and natural disasters won't disappear when you hit delete. it will do us a little good to wire the world if we short circuit our souls. >> guest: i do commencements every year for two reasons. one is not want to know what i think and writing a commencement speech forces you to evaluate where you are and what it is you think and what you want to say to a new generation. because this new technology
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which is so exciting and so transforming live and having such a positive impact in so many areas is oxygen to this new generation. it is the first generation teaching their parents about new technology. i try to get beyond the social uses. a prospective stanford law student said two years ago, i have written a lot about generations. what about my generation and the definition of friend? friend has become a verb. are we going to lose the real meaning of friend? i thought that was an insightful question and one worth exploring. we have not had much dialogue about the best use of this technology. that is a subject of a judgment or even about what are the other
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uses we ought to be thinking about from a political and cultural point of view and try to get a dialogue between generations. there are more people my age using this. is growing pretty quickly because the ease of use has made it possible. the ipad is a clear demonstration of how you can have a portable newspaper magazine, library of books and still get your e-mail on a handsome screen. you have got one right there. so we should be thinking about we know what the instrumentation is. out to we have-add to the quality of our lives? >> guest: >> host: where did you come of with the term "the greatest generation"? >> guest: i have gone back and faced the moment it came up. i went to the 40th anniversary of d-day.
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that is when the plot began to take hold in my mind and consciousness and ten years later the 50th anniversary and collect a lot of stories and thinking about a lot more and i was going to be on with katie couric on the today show, the night before i was reviewing in my own mind what i might and i thought about the it history of that generation, short history they came of age doing sacrifice, deprivation, common cause and asked to fight the greatest war in the history of mankind against the two most powerful military machine ever assembled and they prevailed and came home and gave us the lives we have. i said that to katie on the air and i said that is the greatest generation any society has produced and repeated it on meet the press. stephen ambrose, historian who was there at the time. we didn't know each other that well but he pounded me on the back and said that is the
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phrase. if you don't write that i will. it took me a while longer but i stuck with it. i used in commencement addresses and civic lectures and people began to say including my editor some members of my family, might be going too far. my ultimate wine that is my story and i'm sticking to it. it is now part of the language. has nothing to do with the fact that i claimed the phrase but everything to do with people taking a look at that generation and realizing how many achievements they were able to get on the board and to improve our lives. wasn't a perfect generation because members of that generation also resisted the civil-rights movement for example or launch the vietnam war. taken as a whole with a rise of women and the participation of all the parts of that generation including african-americans i think it is the greatest generation. >> host: how did you find all
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these people such as margaret? >> guest: my editor had a wonderful idea. she said when i went to them and said this is what i would like to do, to give a structure let's make it the american family. we are going to think of it as a big family reunion and have -- that will also mean bringing in women who are unusual in what they did. gratefully i found through some friends one of the greatest researchers an offer could ever have in a woman named elizabeth lawyer who deferred during to law school for a year so she could help me with the book and she quickly became absorbed in the idea of it so i can say to her a woman who had been in combat, she came up with that. we didn't know about the wasps which is what margaret had been a part of when we launched the book and quickly found out the
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women auxiliary service pilots who are tomboys, many of them who learned to fly in farm country and small towns in america were hired by the government to go down and replace the pilots being shipped overseas for combat duty so they could ferry airplanes and all targets and that shot at themselves because not all these guys were so good with aerial gunnery. margaret was one of them. she learned to fly at an early age. she was from indiana, fort wayne and she went on after the war to become internationally known for flying small airplanes long-distance and speed raises. when the watts got sent home by the government because they were able to fulfil the quota which men they were not given any recognition for their service. no benefits whatsoever. it was an outrage. couple of them had been killed. after the war they got together,
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and number of them and began to petition the government for recognition and veterans' benefits. two years ago i was on capitol hill when the congressional leadership was -- one of the few times you saw on the same stage nancy pelosi and john boehner and mitch mcconnell and senator reid together in a common cause and the these waspss at come back to get the congressional medal in the new visitor center. i had gotten to know a lot of them over the years and they were as feisty as ever. several of them still fit into the uniforms. when i wrote about margaret i went and flew in a plane with her and she gave some lessons in the air. >> host: the first time you flew a plane? >> guest: she figured that out right away. she had done this before. she was a great lady. she got back to fort wayne and the day the war ended she flew
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over fort wayne and dumped them out and said germany surrenders. an amazing time. >> host: do they reference the greatest generation more than nbc? >> guest: combination of the two but consistently "the greatest generation". i rode "the greatest generation" in 1998 and this is not humility but the anniversary of being true. what i really did was just open the door or as ken burns said, you gave them permission to talk. everywhere i go two or four times a week in an airport or on college campus or some civic gatherings for walking out in a street, either of baby boomer will come up with tears in her eyes and say i didn't understand
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my dad until i read your book or somebody would come up and say i read my life story about my days in the war. how do i get it published? i didn't do that before you wrote that book and what i say to them is publish it for your family. go to king goes and get it bound and distribute it and the lot of people will say i can't get my dad to tell the story to me. get your grandson to sit with your daughter with a paper order, record all memoirs and distributes it to the family. pride is not the right word but it is so satisfying and gratifying to know that i have some small role in connecting these generations, remember the great work done by so many members of the generation and the sacrifices they made. we would be a different place to them if not for them. >> guest: >> host: tom brokaw is dark in
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death guest. martha's vineyard, barbara, you are on the air. >> caller: thank you so much for your incredibly wonderful career and in particular the tone of your reporting and your self expression. it is much valued in bizet's of hyper politics. i am 64 years old. that my father died age 78, the greatest generation, world war ii in london. i came up with the appellation for the boomers to follow on your greatest generation. it is called grateful generation. i can see for myself and a lot of my other bloomer colleagues i leave in saying we are immensely grateful for all that we have
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been given by howard greatest generation, parents and immigrant parents before them. we got a bad rap, naval gazing the version reasons to display that stuff but we use incredible opportunities given to us for the good of the country and the future. >> host: we will leave it there. >> guest: that is a great phrase, the great full generation. i don't want to shortchange the baby boomer generation. the baby boomer generation did go to the south and march with their fellow citizens who happen to be african-american and push hard for the civil-rights act and change. there is no greater exposure will change in my lifetime than that. the rise of women and every
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aspect of american life is a greater tolerance socially, ethnically across the board in this country and when i was coming of age, could get a job, the idea would be you have to stand in line and you would be slaughtered to a big corporation or in my case into the network. now at age 22 or younger than that you can be very entrepreneur real. you can break the old rules. the baby boomer generation helped do that. some have acknowledged they took their eye off the ball. they forced the country to think much more deeply about how we go to war and what the consequences are and somewhere along the line they lost their passion for that issue and went to war the same way in iraq and afghanistan but now we do it with less than 1%
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of the population. they began their lives by demonstrating against the war, they have been absent without leave if you will during the course of any debate about these >> host: from "boom!: talking about the sixties--what happened, how it shaped today, lessons for tomorrow" setting gains for african-americans and other minorities as a result of the civil-rights movement the ever expanding opportunities for women in the economy, the entrepreneur real spirit of the young. freedom to step out of the closet. a chance to escape a world of button-down collars and panty girdles. all of that came from the 60s. to follow-up on that caller, my father and his friends tell me our generation messed things up. what are the baby boomers most significant errors and how do you hope the next generation is different? >> guest: the errors of self
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indulgence. i wasn't a member of the boomers in terms of demographics but i was a long for the ride as well. we have the issues that are facing us now. a lot of discussion as there should be about entitlement programs. we are the biggest bulge coming in to the american entitlement programs sins they were created. then we have to ask ourselves do we all deserve the same levels of support? couldn't we for example on social security advance the retirement age or make a choice about advancing it? if you have been fortunate enough to earn x amount of money in american life and have a net worth we ought to be thinking about medicare. we can say to our grandchildren i have done something for you, you are really going to carry me through the last days of my life. these are the discussions that are real that we ought to be
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having and we are not having. >> host: j. in north carolina. >> caller: yes. thanks for taking my call. a real pleasure to speak with you. i have a short comment and a question. we have been involved in this afghanistan cesspool for ten years. if we had had a military draft, because right now only a minuscule percentage of our population has anything to do with the military but if we had a draft all along, do you not think that our involvement in afghanistan would have ended a long time ago? a great many mothers and fathers had to face the prospect that their son or daughter would be over the all and be killed or maimed for essentials in nothing. do you not think the war would
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have ended a long time ago? >> guest: not sure if it would have ended a long time ago but you put your finger on the essential point that we need to get corrected in this country. less than 1 population% of the -- many from rural areas and working-class families. too few with any training beyond high school. that does not relieve the rest of us of the obligation to be a citizen and to be aware of what they are going through. nor does it excuse us from taking a very active participation in the debate about when and how we go to war and how well that war is going. when wars blow up in a hurry and they often do, there is this excess of jingoism. we want to back the troops. i get that. at the same time we have to have some distance and do a clinical analysis what the prospects are
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bleak original motivation this for war and have accountability along the way. that has been very uneven in iraq and afghanistan. there is a new book by terry anderson talking about decisions made along the way in the bush did ministration about something they should have seen when they didn't work out the way they promised. these books, retrospectives if you will to prepare the country for the next debate because we will go to war again. let me say one other thing. tomorrow in new york i will be part of a national summit on the reintegration -- there are a lot of good programs under way in the private sector and public sector as well. we bring to the same table in
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new york's corporate chieftains and working for ngos and nonprofits to try to establish a template and have it become part of the systematic approach to how we have a military and civilian population in america. in the future when young people come back from worse we will be aware what their needs are. they will be more aware of how they can adapt from a military culture to a civilian culture. no society has done that successfully from the time of the greeks. we did well after world war ii because they were involved but 99% of this it doesn't affect our daily lives. no sacrifices have been made. if we know someone who is not interested we turn our heads away. that is unjust. >> guest: >> host: did you serve in the military? >> guest: i did not. i always assumed i would. i grew up in a quasi military
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environment. my coaches and my high school teachers and ministers were all military people and i wanted to be a navy officer. i grew up in a high school or college and heavy on the army rotc and chose not to go into the advanced rotc because i wanted to be a navy guy. the navy guy was happy to see me because all the fruit had gone off if you will to the army. i went to omaha and past the metal examination. i was charging right through the physical part. counting on getting the commission to get married. it was a job. i got the last station with flat feet. i had been an athlete and outdoorsman and i will never forget the navy guy from kansas those are flat fee. i said they really are. i had them for a long time. he said we can't take your the recruiter said what? that is not possible.
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he said we have four degrees and this is 4 plus. so i went back to my draft board to see if it would have an impact on whether or not i would be taken in the army and they had the same conclusion. if they said they would take me i would say i would get congressional intervention to get a navy commission which i really wanted to do. two years later vietnam heated up. my brother had the same condition. he was drafted and sent to europe and my youngest brother went to vietnam as a marine and came home. >> host: next call from salt lake city. >> caller: thank you. i was wondering. do you think racial hatred would be a major factor in the upcoming presidential election? >> i think the race will always play a part. when race is involved at some level it will affect how some people judge people, judge
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candidates and business executives and detainers damage entertainers. we have come a long way but haven't resolved all the issues. it is almost impossible to measure because people are seldom truthful about racial feelings but obviously race will be to some degree a factor. it will also be a factor on the other side. there will be african-americans who out of a sense of ethnic pride will say i am not entirely crazy but he is one of us. he is our guy. we have to work our way through that and i would hope we have the confidence to talk about that and keep moving beyond it. i think we are. if you look at television commercials which is one of the barometers of how america sees how we see each other the people who do the marketing for big corporations or product lines
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now have african-american men standing in a yard advising a white guy across the hedge on how to prepare for his retirement. that would have been unheard of when i was coming of age. you see african-american families as the stars of ads. we have a long way to go but perceptions are getting better and better. my own grandchildren are in integrated classrooms. when i went out in seventh grade in san francisco to grandparents' day the teacher did a very smart thing. let's talk about the difference -- we wrote down with. they wrote down the same thing. we lived in a segregated society. we had to explain to the grandchildren what that meant. segregated society is not just in the south but the industrial north as well and their
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grandchildren were startled by that. was not part of their reality >> host: from "a long way from home: growing up in the american heartland in the forties and fifties," tom brokaw rights when americans began to seriously confront racial inequities in the 60s mobilized by dr. martin luther king jr. i believed we would clear the cantors effect of life--racism within my lifetime. we now know this is not true. race remains a central issue in the evolution of our political leaders and the economic and cultural environment and continues to haunt me personally. >> guest: it does in so many ways. i was on a panel recently about the early days of john f. kennedy and some people may remember he was not an enthusiastic warrior when it came to the civil-rights movement because of the political consequences in the south but he ended up doing the right thing.
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the had great men like john boruk and nick katzenbach. he said the 80 second airborne to protect james meredith. we have a panel about that. our un ambassador was there and talked about her children in school and washington very much aware of what their race is and she said we have not gotten beyond that. i do have hope that it will change that takes the best efforts of all of us to do that. it is unique to this country because of the nature of slavery and the fact that we are an immigrant nation. we came from all these other places. we have these tribal subset in america and we have to work hard at making sure you can have pride in who you are and where you came from but at the same time not be blindly judgmental on the wrong
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>> host: in "a long way from home: growing up in the american heartland in the forties and fifties" you have a chapter on race. why did you separate it out? >> guest: i separated it out because where i grew up i thought of ourselves as -- we were surrounded by native americans. they're with a racial component to my upbringing. a lot of my close friends when i was a teenager and before that, members of the sioux nation. in high school that went way. they went off the reservation and went to boarding schools and i lost sight of that. then i began to think as i was coming of age of race in america. i had been raised in a racially tolerant household and moved to omaha where there was a racial component on the north side, primarily african-american and there were no black clerks downtown and no one working the radio station or television station except the janitor who was a person of color and that
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troubled me. i would raise him and set off a heated arguments. at that point really beginning to reach its apogee. i found a member of the omaha city government who ran parks and recreation. he had an appropriate name, malcolm bryant. he was a really happy engaged guy. i called him and talked about race in omaha. he said i have been waiting for someone to ask. he said you won't be happy in my neighborhood. we will ride around and talk about it. we rode around in omaha and said if you come to the north side and if you want to know what is going on the barbershop or the insurance office. those are the social centers that are male-dominated. he said we don't understand in omaha why on the air you pay so much attention to what is going on in montgomery, alabama were birmingham. we have the same conditions that exist here and are not getting
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addressed at all. not long after that i moved to atlanta and covered the civil rights movement and not long after that omaha blew up. they had a very lethal race riot going on in that town and a lot of tension. it just exploded because of the northern ghettos that existed and the north refused to acknowledge that. it was a big issue in my formative years, how we were going to resolve and deal with it. my dad i thought was a man who intuitively understood what was going on with discrimination because he had been raised with some learning disabilities and tossed out of the house that can. everybody thought he would end up in jail or be a tough kid the rest of his life. he left his memoirs and there was a whole other side to him we never knew about. he was constantly aware of
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people saying you won't be successful which made him all the more determined to become that. his hero's growing up were jesse owens, joe lewis and jackie robinson. i think he was not a sports fan. he did go to ballgames. he didn't do all that but he understood what they were going through. people were prejudging. as a result i grew up in a household in which jack robinson who was as close to a deity as you can imagine. we lived and breathed the reason he did. that was unusual in those days. >> host: next call from john in connecticut. go ahead. >> caller: hello. you mentioned -- you answered my first question with the story about a flat fee. because i had a worry about the draft. i think i might not have had to worry about the draft. i had an exam and i think i have flat feet too but i have another
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question about social security. that is the feeling that $108,000 or so above which no social security has taken pay for the social security trust fund. it is all burden on the lower -- the people below that line. they carry the whole burden of social security. if that ceiling were removed there would be no problem with social security. what do you think about that? >> there will be more contributions that have to be made in the future. i think people in the system now get to retire at the present retirement age but we ought to be thinking about staggering it along the way as well.
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i know a lot of very conservative people who say i don't need social security. i am happy to pay into it. would rather have it distributed to others who could use it. these are the issues we are not talking enough about which leads me to something else. i really believe -- i said this this morning on meet the press we are about to see simpson bowls come again with the retelling -- in a bipartisan way. of with a condition that was a big miss on the president's part in not putting it on the table right away. we will hear more about that in coming months because it is a place where everyone can begin. simpson was a certified republican and erskine bowles same and the democratic side. it was evenly distributed. that gives us a place to begin the discussion about entitlements and tried to get deficit reduction back into the
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appropriate proportion when it comes to the gdp. >> host: from "the time of our lives: a conversation about america" it is jon corzine framework the on the military uniform and provide a long-term benefit for the country. it is fundamentally unfair to expect a small percentage of the population from largely from the middle and working-class to carry the burden and pay the price of fighting wars that are always initiated in the national interest leader the however credible or contrived the threat. >> guest: i am proposing what i think is a big idea and have no illusions about how easy it will be to get it done. it grew really out of my experience being embedded on short-term basis with troops in afghanistan and iraq but especially afghanistan. with special forces. we would going to these villages after these guys and really remote bases and fighting the
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bad guys and going off long-range patrols and coming back. now they going to villages which are addressed and the bully worried because we come in in our kevlar vests and bottles and helmets and weapons and they shake down the village before they do the patrol and go through vehicles to make sure they don't have contraband weapons and go to village elders and say we are here to help. the village elders don't see it that way. they see these guys in a different prism. this is a country that has been invaded. so many times over 2,000 years. nivens that we don't need more men with funds telling me what to do. how could we change that equation? i began to think about diplomatic special forces in which you have highly trained adventurous young men and women who could do that peace of what
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they call soft power, winning hearts and minds. you could put in satellite dishes that have portable generators and carpentry and language skills and the fundamentals of good health and nutrition. i went from their, while we have six public service academies attached to a land grant schools and have a number of disciplines. when i raised this with friends of mine and one of the people in our company that night was very conservative successful man and he said make it public/private. get the private sector involved. what i proposed in the book six public service academies attached to a land grant schools and disciplines like medicine, broadly speaking leaders opposed graduate work for nurse practitioners and technicians. they become johnson and johnson or siemens for ge because we
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have big health care system is. g e fellows. you share the cost of training and they go off from that public service academy after a three year training program. they are signed domestically or internationally and have three or four years to come home to the home office and have two years to prove themselves up. is a win/win. it gives young people who want to serve but not in military uniform chance to do something for their country and simultaneously develop a new skill set that will be advantageous for them long-term. it also gives the private sector a chance to develop a work force that has spread around the world. the culture and politics and language and they know how to get the job done and they get to share that cost with the government. i think it would lift this country and tie it together in a way that there's a great longing to have happen right now.
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>> host: what was the reaction when you came out with "the time of our lives: a conversation about america"? >> guest: it is understandable in the current climate. when i roll it out most people nod their heads and say that is a really good idea but we have to get the economy repaired first. the concentration on this country is how do we get back to ground level? .. as i describe it, most folks are happy, not only do they have a bias, they have no money for a couple of years. but viruses are no g e >> guest: and then we've had aet backslide, or we've stalled in the recovery because we're allow hostage to not just what goes oa
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in this country, but what goes on internationally. >> host: the picture on thei front of "the time of our lives," was that taken at your ranch? your book? >> yes, it is in montana. we are very spoiled out there. we are in a valley where we don't get a lot of traffic. i would say it is in south-central montana. you can show that. it is north of yellowstone park about 40 miles on the edge. you will risk having a lot of fun getting to where we are. >> host: how much time he's been in montana? >> debtsmac my wife has been spending long summers there. in the last two years i have been able to it saddled -- we ct
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get satellite. then we wanted to get broadband. and we have gotten broadband through a satellite as well. so i can function pretty well there i wrote "the time of our lives" out there and also "boom!." it is parked by the river. it's a great way of life. i think in "the time of our lives" you write to your that your entire ranch is 1100 square feet? >> guest: that's right. period it might be that big. the ranch is big. >> host: the ranch house as a reminder of how i lived when i was a kid. it is all that we need. we have a good kitchen and the living room and an area that looks the river. we have a spare bedroom in a bedroom upstairs. when i think back about where the five of us lived, and houses
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there were 800 square feet, we went in this country from having square footage and an average house of about 1400 square feet going to 2500 square feet. you had entire neighborhoods with three big garages and living rooms and both parents working trying to keep up the mortgage. that is part of the reason that we got in trouble. >> host: we have an e-mail. brian in north dakota. he was drafted and spent two years in the marine corps. i'm news director of northern news network. we cover montana, including your ranch. my question is, what will the. [inaudible] due to montana? >> guest: that is the shale. there is debate and anxiety and
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a lot of enthusiasm for whether it reaches far enough in montana for to be productive. we don't know. it doesn't reach to exactly where we are. my wife had some property. there are rigs all over that part of montana. energy companies dropping letters in mailboxes and we will give you $10,000 cash for energy and rights to your ranch. what is going on in north dakota is not getting enough attention in my judgment. it is a real boom. the california 40 niner boom -- it is by and large, generating a lot of money. but also a lot of social problems as well. elderly people cannot afford to live in their areas anymore because the workers are moving about to some of the smaller towns. they don't have medical and social services that they need.
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north dakota is doing the best that they can to come to grips with all these issues. but it is a very big deal. >> host: bill in mobile, alabama, you are on the air on booktv on c-span 2 at tom brokaw. >> caller: thank you very much. political question with three parts. have you ever seen in your view of history a president like george w. bush, telling the american people when he's were selected that we inherited too much money from the previous administration, we're going to give it back to the people in tax cuts, and then lower the rates for the wealthy. number one. number two. have you ever seen a character like grover norquist who coerces republican legislators to promise not to pass -- to tax the american people, because if they don't come it will and they will make sure that they are not reelected. and don't you think that george h. abby bush had integrity, he
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said read my lips, no new taxes. he didn't come director his own jeopardy of being reelected. thank you very much. >> guest: grover norquist is absolutely entitled to pursue what he believes to be the best interest of the country. i do feel very strongly that we are entitled to have representatives as the senators have the courage to stand up what they believe in. not what an outside force so that you have to do this and sign the pledge. because they are elected to represent the fabric of their constituency. grover norquist has the ability to unleash, and i mean this metaphorically, apolitical jihad who doesn't go along with his view of the world. you can organize an internet
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blogging campaign very quickly against people who exist with the special interests. grover norquist has been at this for some time and continues to defend his place in the political firmament of the city in the nation. that is his right, as a citizen. but just because he has that right doesn't mean that everyone has to follow him. president bush 43 come in the tax cut -- that is something that is hotly debated in the fall about whether or not it is extended i do think there was a missed chance for that president is the one we went to war, there were no sacrifices whatsoever. in fact, people did get a big tax cut. i was one of them. i think it would've been better for us to have been asked to contribute more to what turned out to be a gross and account untrimmed miscalculation of the
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ultimate costs of a war would be. his father paid a big price for saying read my lips, no new taxes, and then he did have to deal with the deficit when they have an economic downturn in his first administration. this will all play out in the fall, and i think we should have a big debate on it. >> host: tom brokaw is the author of six books beginning with "the greatest generation" in 1998, follow-up with "the greatest generation speaks" letters and reflections, and transport came out in 2001. "a long way from home" is an autobiography about growing up in south dakota, talking about the 60s, "boom!", and "the time of our lives" came out in 2011. are you writing another book currently? >> guest: i haven't settled on anything. i'm still talking about "the time of our lives." it seems to me that what i have
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written, tom friedman and bill bradley have written are the kinds of books that i would hope to get some attention because what we are trying to do is put on the table some issues that we think needs some attention. and to be provocative in a way about where the country should be going throughout this campaign. >> host: kansas city missouri e-mail. could you please describe the press conference you attended that preceded the fall of the berlin wall in germany? >> guest: it was one of those great happenstance is in my life. i have to give full credit to one of my colleagues, it an editor of nbc news. on monday morning, he said to me, there is a lot going on in germany and not much going on here. why don't you go to germany? and i thought, that's a pretty good notion.
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when you leave "nbc nightly news", a lot of wheels go into motion. i said let me think about it. i went to lunch. i haven't run into my old friend dick holbrook, richard holbrook, well-known ambassador in this town. mad hatter, very keen new sense as well. until them i'm thinking about going to germany. he said, that is a great idea. something's going on over there. we had no idea the walls were to come down. so i took off. we had very enterprising bureaus, thankfully in those days, and also a team out there ahead of me. one of them made arrangements for me to interview propaganda cheap for east germany on a wednesday night. are they to say i was operating out of the eastern sector. that was pretty unique. what was happening in those days is that ger was sending people outside to the normal northern
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borders near czechoslovakia. they were not letting people comment. the checks were not happy about that. there was a fair amount of chaos going on. at the end of tuesday, we put on an interesting program. this situation is very interesting here. gorbachev was remaining neutral. he wasn't sending tanks or russian signals or even anonymous signals. on wednesday i went out to work again. late in the afternoon i went to a news conference. with the propaganda cheap in the east. it was a hot and crowded room. for this first time, east german journalists, who had been controlled by the state come up felt unleashed. and they are asking very tough questions of source data. he was dismissing of them. someone handed him a piece of paper and he read it, all
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citizens of the ger, based on the decision of the bureau, can now leave and return into the ger to any of the portals and the berlin wall. and i was in a room filled with people covering germany for a long time, including my camera crew, i had two people that have done that. and we all looked at each other like there had been a signal from venus. we didn't expect to hear that. he folds the paper and walks off the stage. there was chaos in the room. the ap was going for the phones. it was like a scene out of a movie. i went upstairs because i had this prearranged appointment with him. and i said, would you take that paper out of your pocket and read it for me again on camera so that we can talk about what it really means? and he said i would be happy to. he read it. i said that means that any citizens of your country can come and go to the berlin wall,
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including into germany -- west germany. he said yes, and that's what it means. and i ran downstairs to my american colleagues, and i said it's over. i think the wall is coming down. by the time i got to that area, the guard who had been typical with us gave me a way to go through. i stopped him and said have you just heard what was announced? and he said no. and i said well, what you think? and she looked at me and said through the translator, i'm not prepared, i'm not paid to think. you can go now. i got back to the office, alerted everybody of what was going on. we did bulletins back here. now we are preparing for a midnight broadcast from the brandenburg gate, and one of my colleagues came in, operating and thinking it was chaos, she
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said there was a huge crowd at the brandenburg gate where you're going to be broadcasting. i had to get security to get clearance to go there -- and that's what it was about. at the time i got out there, there was this enormous crowd, mostly from the west. and i went with cheryl gold, who is my producer in new york, said you're going to stay with me. there is no way we can do this on a scripted basis. i want to ad lib. as much as i can. at the last moment, i had an outdoor jacket on from l.l. bean that i would wear when i would go on these quick tips. and it was not as handsome as i thought it should be for a videotape. so when my colleagues had a very good-looking topcoat on, and that's what you see in the video tape. i made him give me his topcoat. the last call for tom brokaw comes from montgomery, alabama. >> caller: mr. brokaw. a pleasure to speak with you today. i'm looking forward to hearing
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you speak at the conference next month in atlanta. just to reflect, my dad passed away when i was six years -- i was 28 at the time. he was named to the all-state football team in 1942. he listed in the marines and fought with the. [inaudible] when i read the greatest generation 14 years ago, and what you did, you reset my baseline. you helped me live my day-to-day challenges from working out issues in the workplace to this day, i sold back with situations that are arise, and ask what that would've done what it is a young man serving in the south pacific. i commend you with your book and
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i'm looking forward to your next one. it is a pleasure again, sir. >> guest: thank you so much. those are the kinds of calls that have so much meaning for me. i get emotional. i went out to ohio state with john glenn, and i finished my lecture at the john glenn policy center. a man stood up and saluted both of us in his vfw cap and i lost it. there are lessons that continue to give us hope, and they are, if you will, markers for us, the manner in which you should lead our lives. >> host: from your follow-up, an album of memories, "an album of memories", these are letters that people wrote to you from "the greatest generation." i'm going to read you just a little bit of one. dear mr. brokaw, i was born in 1929 in düsseldorf germany. i would like to try to give you a perspective on life in germany during those years.
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etc. he talks about me being a member of the hitler youth. and his retirement spent in florida. >> guest: i don't frankly fully come to grips with how world war ii royal the world. john keegan said it is the greatest single event in the history of mankind. from outside the areas of faith, because christians will say the birth of jesus was the greatest single event, and the place of moses or the place of the koran. when it comes to a momentary political development, there has been nothing like world war ii where it involves so many people. the stories continue to come. there are some recent stories, books, for example, written about what it was like for americans to be in germany leading up to world war ii, the garden of garden of the beast by erik larson.
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there is another book called hitler land. i can't get enough of them. i am utterly fascinated. i think one of the greatest books of the 20th century was the rise and fall by william shire. he was writing it on real-time as he was there. you think about what was there. by the time we got involved in the war, germany had already dominated poland. they were beginning to take on russia at that point. they slept through most of central europe and into france, and hitler had no rest and ambition than to occupy this country. thank goodness for britain, they hung on. i'm preparing an essay about what it was like in britain in 1941 and there's another book written about the american
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ambassador and how they were so helpful to winston churchill. we went back and tried to re-create the climate that existed then. it is so evocative to stand in this extraordinarily modern city of wonder. and also to remember that during the firebombing, the hundred thousand people were killed, and the model was keep going, carry on. and they would walk through the streets to the shelters when there was a bombing raid. and it was that that the author would record in the background of all that, which was winston churchill and his radio messages. i went back and found many people who remember that, and they said every night we waited to hear from the prime minister to hear what he had to say. as john f. kennedy said, he mobilize the english language into a fighting force.
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he made it possible for us to get involved in the war and to have a launching pad in great britain for normandy, eventually. >> host: josten, succulent. which one of your books is the best from the a literary analysis? story aside, the best writing. >> guest: i think the last book is. i wrote "the greatest generation" in a hurry. it was done in less than a year. i've often thought, gee, i'd like to have one more pass at it, frankly. in part because there are people who emerged that we didn't know about that i would like to have included or not. that is part of the reason that i came up with the idea for "the greatest generation speaks" letters and reflections, so that we can could give more weight to what was going on. it's interesting.
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i grew up as a broadcaster primarily. in broadcast journalism, we write differently than you do for the print. we really right to complement imagery, and it is more conversational. and it tends to be shorter. books are long. i was have to shift gears from writing short to writing long. now, number of my friends have said to me that i can hear your voice and all of your books. it is how you talk. i've written a lot of magazine essays and articles. writing a book is a different proposition altogether. next call. >> host: scott, you're on the air. >> caller: good afternoon, gentlemen. tom, my name is scott, about four years ago, you were good enough let me interview you for a piece i did for a magazine called [inaudible name]. and i interviewed you and david
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roper and ben bradlee. you, to your credit, were the only person from nbc who led me to engage with you about this issue. in the article, i made the point that although "meet the press" was developed and started by a woman in 1947, it has been on for 65 years, there have been 10 permanent hosts, all of them white males. i made the point of view this is before david gregory was picking you are the interim post, i said why can't you say publicly that there has been enough desegregation here. they are brilliant black journalists black journalists who have been turned on for years, why can't we say the next journalist doesn't have to be a white male? even a white female would be okay. but why does it always have to be a white male. >> host: let's get a response from tom brokaw. >> guest: that is not a condition of the job. we try to pick the best journalist that is available to us who has a combination of skills, political knowledge, broadcasting skills, at least in the studio.
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in this case, david gregory turned up on top. there were lots of candidates for the job, including women. but david gregory seemed to be the best equipped for the job. it was not a decision i made. at the same time, there have been a number of women, honestly, who have gravitated to the top in what were traditionally male anchor jobs in america. diane sawyer is now doing abc. before that, katie was at cbs. so we do have more female participation going on. i happen to believe that the 21st century will be the century of women. half of the company presents are women. still, only 3% and the ceo in the fortune 500 report women. one woman is an important executive in silicon valley. missile burns is an african-american woman at a
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technology company, xerox. we are making slow progress. but with each success, i think it inspires others to step up. more than half of the students now enrolled in medical school and law schools are women. that will have a big impact on our society. >> host: several e-mails and tweets on this one. can you please discuss the print journalism future and broadcast journalism future? >> guest: we are going through transition, obviously. it is very hard for me to see how it's all going to turn out, say 20 years from now. say when my eldest granddaughter is in her mid- '30s. what will she be getting her news from on a daily basis? she's always a part of the information technology generation, very actively involved. but stills still pays attention to books. she reads a lot of them.
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it seems to me that one will not replace the other. there will still be a place for print and paper. an author and i have books coming out on the same time. it's a book on steve jobs, and it's a great book. we were on "meet the press" the same weekend. and walter said, you know, i want hardbound books for the rest my life in my library. because it's unlikely that i'm going to go back to my ipad or my kindle or to any of the other electronic devices and retrieve a book. you know, when i want to read something. so my guess is that print will be for some time. it's interesting in journalism what is going on. and nbc news, we have spread the
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field. we still have the traditional forms of the "nbc nightly news" with brian williams, who is doing so well, and "the today show." we have all of our cable outlets. they also have ancillary parts. they all have websites and broadcast will continue with more information. i was on "meet the press" this morning with david reverie. after he talked about what else he would be able to find on the "meet the meet the press website, there is a mix going on right now. there's a lot moving around and how it is all at this point. >> host: what is your role now and nbc? >> guest: i'm a cranky old uncle at the table. [laughter] i'm very actively involved in a
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lot of our daily and weekly programming and our cable programming. i'm going to be on a morning show on tuesday i know for sure. i'm going to do an update on the aaron walls and story. i did a story on the young man who cut his arm off to get out of the canyon. i have two documentaries that are in play for the fall. i'm going to take a more active role in the fall in politics, probably, possibly team up with chuck to do todd and broke off, i don't want to give away too many details, we will cover a piece of that for ourselves. what happens in any news organization is that people responsible for putting up the daily products sometimes get their heads so absorbed, and just the process of getting it out. they don't allow themselves to have a perspective of standing
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back. i'm a doer. i now get to watch. so i wait in the -- by way in every now and then and make suggestions. technology is driving everything in our lives, and yet we are not covering it for what it is. which is a huge part of our economy. it is a life changing development of some kind. and it is a cultural phenomenon. yet, because of what happened in silicon valley, and it is hard to understand, we stay away from it. then there is a cardassians, some bright young and men and women operating a storefront in palo alto, and they are going to end up changing the world. >> host: carlsbad, california. go ahead. >> caller: i'm one of the
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greatest generation. and i want to thank you for your knowledge and acknowledgment of us. and also, your support on the emphasis on education. i am from the lower east side in new york with seven kids. i had a one bedroom apartment. i ended up on the left coast in california. america has been marvelous to us. marvelous to us immigrants who came over with nothing but hope. and all that hope of that hope has been filled, and i agree with you, education is the most important thing of all. and it was free for us, and that is what helped.
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that is what made us what we are, we could not have done it without that. >> guest: thank you so much. that is so characteristic of so many of them that i hear from, and that is also worth hearing again and again and again for future generations and generations who are in place now, wondering whether they will go up with their lives and where they will go. a lot of the immigration talk is entirely legitimate. something has to be resolved in a way that we don't blow ourselves up. we are an immigrant nation. what i say in the books and in other places, is that this immigrant nation which brings so many strings from so many places and comes here because the american dream is they can have a better life and enjoy the fruits of the economy and be protected by the rule of law, that when we take advantage of other things.
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>> host: and "the time of our lives", the time for the nine or 10 months school term has come to an end. if american education is to measure up against global competition, time spent in the classroom or in some form of learning environment must be extended. in a society where more and more families and both parents working, we have a vast population of unsupervised kids disconnected from adult supervision and from the discipline of learning for two or three months a year. >> guest: that is a tough sell. what i find increasingly in american education now is that it is on the agenda now. people are talking about. and by the changes in the last 10 years. charter schools and schools that go not one through 1201 through 14. the enormous new emphasis on community colleges in america to develop a skill set for the modern workplace, instead of someone going off and spending four years and not knowing what
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they're going to do the end of it. now you have a more focused education at a community college, two years in which to get the kinds of skills that modern manufacturing or health care services require. there is going to be a big boom in that kind of education. what i am suggesting is that we also have to look at the link length of the school term, because any teacher or school administrator will tell you that a two-month gap is a falling back if they don't live in a household where education or breeding or constantly advancing their mental skill set is not part of everyday life. >> host: tom brokaw is the author of six books. "the greatest generation", and "the greatest generation speaks" letters and reflections, "an album of memories", along with "a long way from home." also, "boom!", talking that the
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60s and "the time of our lives" came out last year. we have in our have to go on our in-depth program with tom brokaw. a producer visited him in his office at 30 rock. here's a little bit of that. >> guest: i always wanted to write a book. i was very busy with my broadcaster mbc, and i was doing a lot of writing at sa link. i did a lot of magazine articles, a lot of little pieces, and written about other people. the idea entire book was a little daunting. i had never written about before. and because my editor, who had been courting me for some time, had a real tragedy going on in her family. her husband became permanently ill. i was at sea, if you will, about how he write a book.
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i knew it had to have a beginning and end, but what about the research? and what about approving of it when you are all done? i was desperate to find somebody to help me with a research piece of it. i had a very good fortune to find a woman by the name of elizabeth boyer who deferred a year of law school. she was getting ready to go to law school and had been working for hillary clinton. she was beyond solid gold. she was as good of a researcher is anybody could find anytime anywhere. she helped me put together this book, finding characters that fit with the category that we needed. right here, this is my nbc office. but i do a lot of writing at this cabin in montana. this is an older dugout. it has the dirt roof and 110-year-old laws. i keep my fly rods on those
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horns in the summertime so i can walk out and go fishing. inside, my wife, as a gift to me, did a great job of giving me space that i wanted to do work in. i have written four books in that setting. i have my serious radio over here, i have my computer and printer and some favorite artwork as well. but i do a lot of work at 5:00 o'clock a.m. or 5:30 a.m., until about 9:00 a.m. when the fish may be rising. three of my heroes are abraham lincoln, winston churchill, who is was an important figure in the 20th century and in world war ii, and this is bill farber, he was ahead of the clinical
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nice apartment in the university of dakota. he was a legendary figure and academic. he turned out governors and senators and he had a distinguished career. i was known as one of barbers voice. at one point in my life, i was not a very good student. i'm spending more time on the social scene. and he insisted that i dropped out of school and come back when i could do them some good. and i did. it worked out very well. now, i think having written these books, that they'll probably would give me a passing grade.
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>> host: we are back in her studio with tom brokaw. we are going to put the numbers on the screen in a moment. we just saw mr. brokaw in his office at 30 rock. and you talked about one of your professors at the university of south dakota. this e-mail has come in from mr. letterman. mr. brokaw, would you comment on the benefits of a political science or economic degree over a communications degree for inspiring broadcast journalists? >> guest: i think there are some very good communities and schools in the country, always beginning with colombia, also i was at arizona state over the weekend. they have the cronkite school down there.
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they have a new digital platform. the former managing editor of the "washington post" is teaching there. they have a state-of-the-art facility. al newhart has created the modern university of south cutty, the new heart center. but all journalists should have a greater investment, i suppose, in other disciplines. i think it is important to note the tools and techniques of journalism. but it is much more important in a way to know about what you are talking about. if you are a science major for example, or an economic or political science and economics major, that gives you a leg up in covering critical issues of our day. i say to young people that science is an area ripe for taking for journalists. it is going to find more and more of our world, and we need more people to be able to understand what is happening in science, to be able to translate
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it can convey it. >> host: if you live in the eastern central timezone, call our number to speak with tom brokaw. we are going to put the e-mail address as well. "book tv" at order our twitter address. make a comment on it's a white horse and 10 house correspondent job easier nowadays? >> guest: no, it's not. at 7:00 o'clock at night when i finish with nightly news, i didn't have cable requirements, i didn't have to go on rachel matteau or one of the other cable shows. i had to find out what was going to say the max morning on "the today show." in addition to that, chuck has a
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daily rundown of his own that he has to get ready for. so you are working the phones, and also preparing for your own show. the instrumentation, he can carry his phone around in his pocket. i didn't have a cell phone. i had to get to a payphone to make a call. that is an enormous help. you can now e-mail your sources and stay in touch with them that way. when i was -- earlier this year, doing morning show with some regularity, there were people in the white house commenting on what it was you were saying. we could have these exchanges. on capitol hill, and in the military, people i have had these exchanges with. the speed at which you can retrieve information, put things in context, ask a question, it's very helpful. >> host: did you enjoy hosting "the today show"? >> guest: i did. it was a different show in those days. i think matt lauer is fairly
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static. thank goodness he's just renewed. i went from being a white house correspondent in the greatest political crisis in this country's history, the constitutional crisis, to being the host of "the today show." in the first week, i may have interviewed the new miss america by asking whether or not she could produce the title for that year that she was wearing. it was that kind of mindset that i brought to it. and it took me a while to adjust. by the end of the five years, i was grateful for the chance to meet more authors than i would've otherwise. i made friends in show business and entertainment. i reminded george lucas was pretty much unknown, but he launched star wars on "the today show." in agreement, he could walk in and there would be harrison ford and george lucas sitting around. we would just talk about this film and how it is a
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breakthrough kind of film. i think we did the first interview with lester sloan after rocky. it was a breakthrough film. he came and stayed on with us. in the 1980 election, i was working 24/7. as racing off to every primary. "the today show" became my stop in the morning for political coverage. now it has gravitated to morning joe. they have political talk going on there, and they have time for discussion and they bring in the principles, and i think that has been helpful. >> host: while we were watching a video from 30 rock, as are brokaw was checking his e-mail that he got an announcement. >> guest: yes, sarkozy, it looks
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like sarkozy has beaten michael allen. so i think that sarkozy is in some trouble. >> host: back to your calls. chris and connecticut. please ask your question for tom brokaw. >> caller: congratulations on a great body of work. i really started my call about my generation, how we did so little work, we didn't volunteer enough, i did, but of course,. [inaudible conversations] what i really thought to talk about right now is the idea of people educating themselves. when i was a kid growing up, my dad had a high school that was
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self taught with the 1930 judiciary. later on, my next white is actually -- my ex-wife got her high school ged. people need to concentrate on educating themselves, and i was hoping you could encourage that. >> guest: i'm very happy to. i think that we all doing away that we may not even be thinking about. if you google something everyday to find out some piece of information, that is a form of self education. this is about to explode into a new universe in america. harvard, mit and stanford are cooperating in online courses. bill gates talks about the courses that he pays attention to him almost every day that he is in constant pursuit of information. honestly a great mind. he said that most americans underestimate what is available on the internet for free but you can get.
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there are a lot of math programs, for example. that is an area where i could use additional help. one of them happened to involve a map was -- a math wizard who said i could make this into a website, and he did that. the opportunity depends on the initiative of individual. as that technology becomes easier to use and becomes more prevalent in society, and more people will be going to it for education. >> host: tom brokaw come how to organize the structure in "boom!"? >> guest: i organize it around people and my own experiences. i lived through the 60s. it was such a sea change for how most of us have been raised. again, i was a little bit older. so when 1968 hit, i was 3020 years of age. i wasn't 22 or 20 or 18.
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my life had been formed by the values of the greatest generation in the 50s culture. i was absolutely intrigued by what was going on. everything from jim lovell, the astronaut, and what he was doing, and other people that were active in the movement, and joan baez, have a long talk with her about what she was thinking. john young and the other young people who were a part of the coordinating committee. i was working in the win atlanta at the time. ira member the day that the committee -- it actually had been written by -- i'm trying to remember -- it came out under julian bond's name.
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julian bond had been elected to the georgia assembly. at that point, they decided to deny him the sea. they could identify with the goals of the vietcong. >> host: who is sheriff tom gilmore of alabama? >> guest: he is an interesting case. he is an african-american church within were gone. he represented a sea change in alabama. a law enforcement officer with a badge and the authority of the law who happened to be an african-american. and that was, again, one of the changes that occurred that probably didn't get enough notice. >> host: macs coming you are on booktv on c-span 2. please go ahead. >> caller: hello, they are. before my question, i would like to just be earlier. tom, you were asked about desegregation of meet the press.
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you chose to divert it to the attention of women. you are asked, why are there not black people that were in "meet the press." there so many lack journalist i could do this. mary mitchell from the chicago sun-times, other names come all these brilliant black journalists treated every time there is a new host on "meet th press", it always goes to a white male. >> guest: yes, that is in fact the case, and it probably won't be that way forever. by the way, i did have mary mitchell as a panelist when i took over temporarily. she wrote one of the best profiles i have seen over michele obama. this is a slow rising tide. david gregory didn't get the job just because he was a white male. he is someone who had been a white house correspondent for nbc. he had the skills that were necessary to be a good
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broadcaster and a good interviewer. the time will come when those jobs will be again available, and there will be a much wider range of people who will be eligible for them. one of them could very well be an african-american. it may be an asian american. i'm not sure. it may be a hispanic american. we are seeing more presents of people with different ethnic backgrounds than just white, anglo and protestant. bryant gumbel succeeded me on "the today show" as the african-american host of "the today show", for example. >> host: for scrotal organ, please go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: i come from a different journalist background than you, but i feel equally crucial to americans and how they should know what is going on in their world. i was a reporter and an editor at a small, medium-sized weeklies in dailies over the
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nation for years. including the editor of the yankton daily press in north dakota for a couple of years. i am so concerned about the demise of newspapers in this country. we touched a little bit before, having to do with books. which i hope hardbound and print paper last forever. the demise of newspapers, i feel, is a very dangerous thing to the public's -- the public's awareness of what is going on in our country. without newspapers, i think that it lowers the chance that people really understand what is going on in this nation. i think the news does a great job. >> host: i think we have the point, mr. brokaw? >> guest: i think i got a point
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and we are now going in that direction. the readership on a daily basis of newspapers, there is a riot, if you will, in the number of people who are getting the same kind of information off the internet. i was just referring to a site that is very popular in this town. i recommended it to you, it's called politico. there is something called an investigative unit in washington that is all mine, and the man who organized that was a former managing editor of "the wall street journal." so we are in transition. that doesn't mean one will go away quickly and be replaced by nothing. journalism is always going to be critical to any free society. we need to have a way for folks
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to get information that they can use to make decisions about their lives and about learning what is going on in their nation, and to exercise their influence either by voting or by joining movements of one kind or another. >> host: amy e-mails into you. in your writings about world war ii, have you discussed the forced imprisonment of japanese-americans in pearl harbor. my parents and grand parents were interned at two of the so-called relocation camps. >> guest: yes, actually have. there is a discussion in "the greatest generation" of that. i went to a remarkable union last summer of those who move to place called turtle mountain in wyoming, which is just north of cody wyoming. it was fascinating to see -- these were people who came from san jose and san francisco area, and were put in this godforsaken
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place with very little heat. they were bewildered about why they had been sent in the first place. they had abandoned their homes, businesses, too, very swiftly. it was very striking to see how they had emerged from that experience and had children and grandchildren. how so many of them had succeeded in so many different levels. when they came back, the original detainees, people who had been imprisoned there, were spry and hilarious and insightful. and they were, in my judgment, the personification of the greatest generation. for all the injustices that had been done to them, they emerged from that experience more determined to be better citizens than ever and to be a better citizen which meant you could not allow that to happen in this country again. a lot of people learn from their painful experiences. african-americans went in and suffered great dissemination and world war ii came back and they
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helped form the underpinning for the civil rights movement. they said we thought that these freedoms. this is our country. they were being denied to us, and we must change that. >> host: in other news this weekend, joe biden announcing that he is comfortable with gay marriage. this e-mail from you from brett scofield from iowa. do you see any parallels with today's same sex marriage movement and that of the 60s? >> guest: i think it is moving in the same direction, but there is still a great deal of resistance. family by family and state-by-state and institution by institution, there is a lowering of resistance to the idea of gay marriage, it is a very big case in california that may or may not get to the supreme court and proposition eight, which you are finding more tolerance for all the time. >> host: martin in san
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francisco, good afternoon. >> caller: i'm glad to be able to speak to mr. brokaw. part of my question is, is a baby boomer, i grew up and talk to my parents, my aunts and uncles, but we learned very little, really, from the personal interactions as far as disabilities go. i was cares about this. the veterans didn't talk about the war. the high school dropouts didn't talk about how difficult it was to succeed him what they had to go through in order to succeed. it is a very unassuming kind of biography -- in biographies that we learn about the generation. i was wondering how you were able to develop and enrich the
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oral histories in the way that you have, so that we are able to look at it. one of the thoughts of my generation, the way i see it, we were always critical -- everything that we were so critical of, and yet the generation seems have to have carried so much weight on their shoulders without the criticisms -- you know, without the minute chat. >> host: we have the point, thank you. >> guest: i did have a hard time getting many of them to talk about wartime experiences. in part, it's too painful to go back. they lost friends come and in and saw terrible events happen before their eyes. the families at home went through enormous sacrifices. long separations, marriages were under strain. children who were born before a father went off to war may have lost that father without ever getting to know them. george bush 41 was a perfect
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example. he was a fighter pilot, effectively, out in the pacific. and he just wouldn't give up. they kept going back to him and finally, he told me to remarkable stories. one was about him being an officer. he had to make sure that they didn't give up the location and what they were doing. he had been raised in a very privileged background and connecticut. he said for the first time, really learned about domestic strain in marriage and what it was like to live in a city without air-conditioning. how hard life was on the farm. then there was a terrible accident on the deck of his ship in which body parts were everywhere. and everybody was just paralyzed with shock and fear, and he said chief petty officer -- he came right away and we have to get a
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plane ticket out of here. and he says we have to focus on the mission we have to get done. when you're 19 years old, that leaves a lasting impression on you. i had a friend i grew up with, and i didn't even know that in the war he had a terrible, terrible time. he said he would go into a bar and talk about combat, and he would walk out -- he just didn't talk about it -- as i said earlier, can said to me when i wrote the book, it gave them permission to talk. so many of them said to me when i asked how did you deal with combat stress, with what we now call postmen stress disorder, they said we didn't go to anybody because it was her bravado generation. i slept on the floor for two years and my wife got down beside me. she was there to comfort me. they didn't have doctor phil and oprah and all the other self-help programs that we have now. ..
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.. .. how subsequently as a young member of the vice mayor a i had the privilege of elevating the schools peacefully in jackson, tennessee and transferred three students to tie reid jr. high school and got a call from the attorney general and said they were monitoring us and we had no problems.
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the biggest threat in my life but let me just say this to you. i had the privilege of college football 20 years. i am talking fast and supervised and the college football hall of fame modestly in new york. i had the privilege of going to germany in 2000-2001 to deuce seminars for the german football officials. i was so impressed with these young men. they accepted the breaks that speak german. >> host: could you wrap this up? >> caller: i was so impressed with their attitude toward the third reich and it is ashamed -- i want to commend you for all you have done. i have your books. thank you so much for being patient with me. >> guest: the insurance they had in germany is interesting to me. when i go to germany and run
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into young people were even people my age and in some fashion the war comes up their complexion changes. imagine what it is like to be a german and trying to understand what went on in the name of german nationalism and probably involves and uncles and grandmothers and other members of your own family. that terrible time in world history. there has never been a more evil time -- kind of m higher than what hitler somehow managed to persuade the german people was in their best interests to have the holocaust for example, to have a military nation, that would run rampant through europe and attempt to get to the west as well. >> host: i you recognize in germany and the people open up to you? >> guest: in some degree.
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in part because most american television programs are played later over there so i often have people say -- when i left nightly news i was surprised the following week the british ambassador to saudi arabia after a finished the interview said i was posted for a time in washington. my wife and i stayed up the other night to watch your broadcast on nightly news. i said in riyadh? he said we have a channel that carries the american broadcast. there was a time you could go abroad and have anonymity. it just comes with the territory. most people a generous what they have to say and those who are not keep on moving. >> host: last, within could germany i wanted to talk to them about world war ii and certainly -- >> guest: very hard. >> host: i wanted to hear what they were doing. >> guest: the most touching
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stories in a way are not just the germans but the japanese in which combatants have got to get a. german scheduled -- soldiers have done together with people they face at close range or japanese soldiers. a touching and haunting story about a man that i knew, i think it was on iwo jima, he took off a dead japanese soldier which he had a face-to-face confrontation with. and realized there were letters from his wife and pictures of his children. when he got back it haunted him for years. found the white and flew to japan and returned the pictures. that kind of reconciliation grows out of the magnitude of the madness we are going to that gives you hope. >> host: victoria, texas. good afternoon. >> caller: thank you so much. of big honor to speak to you.
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an immigrant from india into this country in 1974 at the age of 21 as an electrical engineer student and had a great career sins then and reflecting back on another student of history but your book has got me thinking about. you wondered earlier in the program what this generation would think of your generation. just as you thought highly of the greatest generation. i want to say -- it can debate the regeneration, that you advanced and promoted the cause of liberty and freedom throughout the world. i grew up in the 60s in india and it was a destitute country. we didn't have enough to eat. there was a program which may
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not mean anything to americans but to the indian people it means a lot because in that program, america said india week. said india week --fed idnida a whe wheat. >> guest: insult flagellation we don't give ourselves enough credit. no other country is as generous as this one. china is developing cavs to extract natural resources in western africa. they were taking the riches of those countries where they were. the united states has always
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been -- the greatest. if you look at haiti and other agencies i have been involved in the international rescue committee and by albert einstein to help refugees from nazi germany. it kick started the hungarian revolt. very active in southeast asia. now in the middle east and we are all over africa with medical programs, resettlement programs, getting these ofs from people who need to get here. highly congressional staff that operates around the world. one of many. doctors without borders is another one. save the children. no other country in the world is as generous or proactive in advancing human rights. >> host: wendy haze radius in
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your achene watcher international development and i would like to know what you think about the changes in burma. >> guest: it is very heartening and a perfect example of what happens if you keep the pressure on for a long time. a new country in a global economy completely can completely isolate itself. i went to south africa when we had sanctions against south africa and nelson mandela was still in jail and the argument would be you are only hurting the people at the lower end of the food chain in this country because they can't get the job they might have gotten otherwise but it did work. it really forced the south african government to think about what their future would be in terms of participation of all citizens and the legacy of that country. once he got to be the president of south africa, had a real
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crisis of conscience and realized having been raised as the champion of apartheid he was destroying the future of that country and denying this great man his place in leadership so he has gotten not enough attention in my judgment for the conversion that he had and he was responsible for getting mandela released. >> host: larry e-mails you are a westerner and seem to be comfortable backpacking and hiking. these might be unique among national journalists. how can the n.y.-based national press become more in touch with the west? >> by getting out of it more often. i live in new york more than half my life. i love new york. my wife and i dead center in the heart of manhattan, the museum of natural history, involved in
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this city. what gives that experience richness is the time we spend out west. we find ourselves longing for the great restaurants of new york. it was the right cocktail's of experiences. part west, part urban and the lot of international travel. >> next call from portland, main. >> caller: it is an honor to be on the phone with you. forgive me. i am a little bit in development right now. >> guest: you live in a great city. >> it is a wonderful place. i am calling because i once sent to your office of press release about to best. your office was one of the few places that called me right back
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the next day. i was wondering, what about the issue of tibet sewed through you to it, it seems you are so interested in what my grandfather's generation wanted to do -- what they have been able to achieve. i would like to know what drew you to the tibetan issue. >> guest: there was a week-long investment called changing china. i wanted it not to just be a travel log but to deal with some of the outstanding issues of human rights. nothing was more exotic to me than to bet. first of all i was drawn to the geography as one of the most stunning places in the world. and at 14,000 feet it goes up from there.
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buddhist culture and way of life has always been intriguing to me. i have friends who are buddhist and if they are not full-time practicing buddhist, living lightly out of europe and i went to to batch and the chinese thought i was doing a tourism -- i was going to document what was in fact going on in the country and determination of the beijing regime to eliminate all traces of buddhist history and if you will the deity and theocracy that had existed. it is a complex situation but i did get around a lot and the chinese caught on. they were very unhappy with me. i spent three days selling up -- found not only a wise man but reasonable and level and almost
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about ego entirely. couldn't have been more charming. it became an important part of my interest in life and i continue to follow developments and i have the chance to see his holiness on many occasions when he has been back here. wheat gave him -- gave my wife a ring. i always said she was engaged to two men in her >> host: in "boom!: talking about the sixties--what happened, how it shaped today, lessons for tomorrow," roker writes about his visit to new york where he currently lives. he went to the world fair in flushing meadows. still built by the convention of upbringing and the custom of the time i put on a jacket and tie and meredith wore high heels despite the sweltering midsummer heat. one night we spend a third of the weekly salary on two drinks and small crab cakes on large
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plates and the rainbow room and 30 rockefeller plaza which is the address of nbc news. that was in 1964. next call from california. richard. >> an honor to be speaking with you. regional the i am from los angeles, calif.. i used to watch you on the 6:00 news on channel 4. the reason is my dad made us always watch the tv news and read the herald examiner paper and all broadcasters i ever saw, you are the one who has always intrigued me the most and my question is of all the presidents you ever met, which president intrigued you the most and what lessons did we learn from watergate? >> guest: rule of law should be
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front and center including the oval office. no president now matter how skilled he or she may be has a right to run roughshod over the establishment of principles of law enforcement procedures in this country. richard nixon and the rest of us will spend our lives trying to figure out who he really was. it was just the 40th anniversary of the opening of china. no more diplomatic brilliant stroke than the postwar years. here was the man who was so paranoid and had such a dark side that by commission he would let it be known to his aides they could break into other people's places to get information that might be helpful and try to cover it up by using the cia and the fbi and lying about it and throwing overboard one after another in
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an attempt to save himself. that was an astonishing time. i do think we learned a lot about hubris in the course of watergate and we have to be on constant alert for it. the most intriguing president would be impossible for me to say. they all brought such interesting qualities to the job. it is the hardest thing in the world to run successfully for president. a lot of people have not been successful and it is in part because they were not up to it. those who eventually get to the oval office however successful or unsuccessful they may have been in their administration always bring unique qualities to the assignment of being a candidate. >> host: where real on august 9th, 1974. >> guest: the white house lawn.
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i was a mechanical -- serve-a was an explosive development. we knew it was over by that point. the tapes were clean we would have heard them earlier but now the supreme court says we have got to hear them. you could tell through the white house staff they knew this was end game. we flew back to washington. the president flew back. there was this air of unreality because a lot of people was frozen in place. henry kissinger and the president getting together. what was the president going to do? i had been working the hill the last nine months on a regular basis. i opened a line of communication, a senator from michigan was part of the republican leadership. and whoever was on the hill because i thought eventually it will come to that.
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impeachment or not. lately on that monday, 7:38, bob griffin called me which is extremely rare and he said you have been patient with me. the allegation will be coming to the white house tonight to tell the president that it is over. so i called mike renews for the big story. they said you need a second source. i said i can trust this guy. you got to get a second force. this is very big. i scrambled and i won't give up all the details of what i did but i did find a legitimate second force that went on the air to say they were scheduled to come. the meantime the white house called and said it is not necessary. we understand what is going on.
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barry goldwater the next day was very -- the senate chamber floor and took me apart for saying that. he said i am not going. i later went to him and he said i know i felt bad but had to say something. it was no sleep. i was coming home on that occasion. i had the transcripts of the tapes and it was midnight and i had all these transcripts and was standing in the transcript--eating chicken and reading the transcript and she said you can sit down and the next day i looked at the transcripts and they had smudge marks with chicken. these are historic document. maybe i shouldn't have done that but it was a wild time. >> june 4th, 1968. california primary.
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>> guest: california primary. what preceded that also made it so dramatic and so emotional. bobby kennedy -- >> host: you were in l.a. at the time. >> guest: i was up and down california. i had been a young admirers of eugene mccarthy. i thought he was a cerebrum man with great capacity for language. the preceding fall before he announced i was taken with this and deeply involved in both campaigns. a close friend of mine was a chair of the mccarthy campaign in the body kennedy campaign. bobby kennedy loses oregon and california is it before chicago. got to win california if he has any shot at getting the nomination. he has to prove to mayor daley
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can win california. meet the press the sunday before that tuesday was real rock-and-roll between mccarthy and bobby kennedy. i was racing from one end to the other to cover san francisco out at the beach rallies and so on and election day comes. at the studio, the local returns. suddenly there was a delay and somebody said there was a shooting and we had already been through dr. king and had been through the assassination of president kennedy at that point. there were a lot of gunshots and urban riots as well. collectively our hearts sank probably. the first thing that happened was he was shot in the hip and chuck quinn from nbc said he had been shot in the head.
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i took off my microphone. i was in burbank and i knew -- would everett was was a suspect. i raise down and i could see -- close to bobby kennedy the speaker of the california assembly with his head down talking to policeman and his he came out, who is this guy? a mexican-american, he was soir the working in the kitchen which you might have expected. he is some kind of an arab. that was the first we knew. i went from there to the hospital. doing reports. very close to johnson. one of bobby kennedy's closest friends. a remarkable story.
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i went back to interview him for "boom!: talking about the sixties--what happened, how it shaped today, lessons for tomorrow" and he had not talked about this. the russell begun out of the hands, and looked down and bobby's eyes were still open. he stuck a gun in his sports jacket. jumped in the motorcade going to the hospital, stayed until 9:00 in the morning. went home and took off a jacket and slept for two hours and got up to go to the hospital and put on a sports jacket and the gun was still there. something about collecting evidence. assassinated the senator. gave up and 24 hours later body was gone and i remember saying in august of that year you are on the air. lyndon johnson pulling out. 60 people in vietnam that year
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we had the chicago riots and bobby kennedy killed and martin luther king killed in memphis. and in august of that year czechoslovakian was invaded. there was some other big event and the year was not even half over. was an astonishing time in our lives. >> host: tom brokaw writes about his coverage of the chicago convention. 1968 democratic convention. chicago was an exhausting emotional experience for everyone involved and as i learned when i stopped in south dakota to visit my family in california of the emotions were not confined to the windy city. when i visited my parents i thought given their opposition to the vietnam war they would be sympathetic to the protesters. my father was furious with foul language and flag-burning and the defiance of law and order.
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we have allowed bitter argument. this was the most upsetting time in long family relationship. the wounds are democrats carried out of chicago. >> guest: that was a member of the silent majority. working-class guy. he was very unhappy in vietnam. he thought was a class system and raises his voice to me about that and when the demonstrators in chicago the paved the way they did and used the language they did he found that is not how you resolve issues in america. it helped elect nixon that year. >> you think your dad might have voted for nixing? >> i don't think he did.
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my mother had actually an uncle used to -- and in south dakota, i can't imagine they would have voted for that -- for nixon. >> guest: >> host: next call from miami. >> caller: hello, mr. brokaw. it is an honor to speak with you. i have admired you for many years and followed your career and always enjoyed hearing your comments and perspective on the news of the day. i have a question about bias in the media. i watch fox news and considerate almost an arm of the republican party. i watch ms nbc. i consider that an arm of the democrat party.
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it is very frustrating to try to access news that comes through unbiased. i wonder if you could comment on that. >> guest: i hear that a lot. people have accused the press of being biased one where the other. bias is in the eyes of will be older. fox news and msn b.c. when the sun goes down have justin points of view but it is transparent. they don't try to hide it. we note sean hannity and bill o'reilly take pride in their conservative principles. chrismac these and the others on in his nbc of what they like to called progressive. sometimes you can see political coverage in fox news from the night before but breaking
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stories are not ideological. here is my advice. we have to be more proactive as news consumers. there was a time you could just be a couch potato would get up and get the morning paper and watch walter cronkite and david brinkley. i hope dan, peter or taunt and you would be pretty well serve the. their voices are coming at you from 70 directions that you have to get on your toes and the mentally alert to what information holds up and one period of time and one serve as you well and what comes to you and some opprobrious context. if you do that you have a greater range of sources of information than anyone in the history of mankind. you can access all the great newspapers of asia or europe or offerings of the saudi foreign ministry or look at the economic
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report of the department of commerce or finance in brazil and south america. it is astonishing the universe and the reach of it we have available very easily these days but it takes a more vigilant and aggressive role on the part of us. who are consumers of the news. >> guest: >> host: dear mr. brokaw, wanted to thank you for the piece you did on the olympics, people of british columbia and their assistance during 9/11. it was very moving and taught us all we need to care for each other. >> guest: it was newfoundland's. i was in british columbia when i did it. it was a place some people of eastern age will remember, used to stop for refueling on the way to europe especially if you were flying from the west coast. it was built as a long-range bomber base for refueling during world war ii and the
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transatlantic jets, it went into a different year. it sits up on the edge of the atlantic ocean. i have been in and out because i am a fisherman and i like to fish in newfoundland. what happened is when 9/11 happened and they put down all the planes, you are going to have arriving in the next 12 hours -- i forget the exact number -- something like thirtysomething trans-atlantic flights, and double double -- double the population. find out what to do with them. they can't take the luggage of. so these airbuses came in to the wing tip and landed. the town in a heartbeat mobilized. they took the hockey rink and made it into a large refrigeration unit.
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canada converged, people opened their doors and took in folks, pharmacists stayed open for people who couldn't get to their medication to fill prescriptions free. merchants gave away sweatshirts and whatever they needed. couples fell in love. was a whole universe that went on for three days. most in this country didn't know about it because we were so consumed with what was going on here so we did that story with nbc sports and we put it on at the time of the vancouver olympics. i must say the response was phenomenal. people said we need to see more of that. made the folks really proud with good reasons and most of the canadians as well. we ask the mayor of he was nervous about meeting me when he came to interview him, i was for a moment but realized he would be nervous about meeting the. >> host: what time did you go on
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the air on 9/11? >> guest: about 9:20. >> host: were you at home? >> guest: i had just finished my first yoga lesson. my wife gave me a taxing yoga instructor. it helps me get through the day. the phone rang. some plane hit the world trade center. i turned on the tv as i was getting dressed. didn't make sense. ran out the door. as i ran out the door i don't think this is part of my imagination. i heard the sirens at 80 1 and park avenue. of firehouse at 84. the truck was going across town at that point because everybody else in our neighborhood was oblivious to what was happening. they were in the street walking their dogs or whatever and i said to a couple neighbors do you know what happened? the election is not over yet. there has been something of the world trade center. jumped in the cab and on the way downtown the second plane hit. a very good radio reporter in
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new york who i knew i could rely on although i don't know him but i know about his reputation and i knew we were at war. i called my wife in montana and woke her up and said you better get up. don't know when we will fill up again. this is serious. i went on the today show and picked up in the afternoon. >> host: marie in california. >> caller: it is such of pleasure to talk to you. i have admired you for many years. i have a couple quick comments. you are so kind to a young republican group in the 1960s when we were in los angeles and station there. and you gave us have an hour talking with us. i wanted to express my sympathies about your mother. i was doing a register every
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morning. i want your opinion on what you think of some of these people, this candidate doesn't become a candidate. when my son asked me what would you do if al gore wins, knowing we support president bush, you support the president. this is what we do in this country. we are supposed to support the president. even today i still hear people say i am going to leave the country if this candidate comes in. i will hang up to listen to you. thank you for many years of service. always enjoyed watching you. >> guest: one of the secrets of southern california -- the fact is people made those threats and almost never carry them out.
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it is all bombast that you feel in every election cycle. you go through blotters and talk radio and the other outlets that we lowered public discourse. and the democratic senator from vermont for so long, a republican father, when fdr came through town, his father took off his catch and one of his friends said you don't like fdr, he is the president of the united states. how you choose that story is an example of that rarely happens anymore. it doesn't mean you have unquestioning honor for the
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president but you honor the office and keep a level of respect. >> host: in "the time of our lives: a conversation about america" tom brokaw has a chapter called everyone is a journalist and this e-mail has come in for him from david yates. everyone can use mobile devices to create their own me the and publish what they have to say the of the general internet. what impact does this democratization of media creation and media use having on professional journalism? >> guest: one of my friends in montana who read the internet a lot will come to me and say you won't believe what i read on the internet and i always say the same thing. i won't believe what i read on the internet today. i tell audiences you have to have the same test for what you get from the internet and the same skepticism sir -- as when you buy a flat screen television at best buy or you go into a bank to buy a shirt.
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you test consumer goods and do a little research. having said that the democratization of the internet means we get to hear some interesting voices. we have people out there with a different take and cause you to think in different fashion. it doesn't mean you have to be a >> host: in "a long way from home: growing up in the american heartland in the forties and fifties," where did you come up with that title? >> guest: -- >> host: why did you call your autobiography -- >> guest: it is in use by others as well. i am a long way from home. i have been gone from south dakota more than 50 years and they think i will move back any day now. i'm very attached to all that meant to me. going back in a week or so to do
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a benefit for a boy's ranch. i go hunting there every fall and go back for my reunion at my alma mater. looking forward to that. it will always define who i was at one point and what i became. of a long way from home means i long way from how i grew up. they are the voices of my childhood. my dad has been gone since 1969. i can hear him in my head if i do something dumb. what do you think of that? i can almost hear the answer. >> host: who is miss s.d. 1959? >> guest: meredith winall was her name. rand a trombone case, summer camp where i was a tent made from someone in that town before i moved there. she was really cute.
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she wrote that before the end of the summer and she was in my class and was an all-star, very handsome and smart cheerleader and we got the lead in the play and officers in our class and we were great friends but the phrase young people use is i give that guy the heisman, had no interest in me personally because she thought i was too interested in too many other young girls. really close friends. when i expressed interest in her at the nadir of my young years she wrote a devastating letter saying i don't want to hear from you don't show but my door. you are not going anywhere. your friends and family can't understand what is happening to you. it was a turnaround moment but i never thought the two of us
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would get together. typically after a couple months she came to me and said i was out of line. it was not my place to write such a harsh letter. i said i am grateful. it turned me around and was reinforced by another friend of ours who became an important russian studies scholar at columbia and she said she is right and the two of them that i had such a high regard for, brought me back and send me >> host: in "a long way from home: growing up in the american heartland in the forties and fifties" he recount your marriage and your first child in omaha and talk about november 23rd, 1963. >> guest: it was the big reality check for what was to come. the assassination of john f. kennedy which i announced on the air, we were dark. we didn't have nbc programming. it was local programming.
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i ran a garden show, and voice over the fact that shots had been fired at the motorcade in dallas and kept an update going. in the afternoon to the midwestern governor's conference to get the reaction of the russian governors gathered around and one of them was the spokesman -- i shared this with his son mitt romney who was very thoughtful and very comforting in the way he talked about the impact of that assassination. i raised of the strategic air command headquarters to see if they were on extra alert. we didn't know what was going on. no one did. on the way out, i right in the book this doesn't happen in america. this is the end of my age of innocence. that gave way to lyndon johnson and lyndon johnson got civil-rights past and got us involved in vietnam and that cost of the presidency in 1968. the counterculture movement told
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america. richard nixon was able to exploit that appropriately to appeal to what he called the silent majority. build a base in the south as a result of the resistance to the civil rights movement. the got elected president and that gives us watergate. we have gerald ford and our national nightmare is over. we have jimmy carter who is struggling in the presidency and out of the west comes ronald reagan who defines in his own way a moderate republican president and rearrange platters the attitude about the role of the federal government. a lot of things happen as a result of the assassination of john f. kennedy. >> host: you had a forced them career in many ways. >> guest: i have been a lot of ways. i have been in a lot of places. a lot of my friends have been as well. so has dan rather. he was in dallas when john f. kennedy was shot. he was in vietnam.
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i didn't go to vietnam. nbc had a policy not sending family people. it is regret. my friends all say don't regret that. i covered the war at home. i was privileged to be in the right place at the right time. people say what are you most proud of? i always say the same thing. i mostly got it right. these were big stories and i work hard trying to understand what they meant and getting it right. >> host: ten minutes left with tom brokaw. james, thanks for holding. >> caller: from a guy who considers himself part south dakota i know about those lovely women because i married a girl from hunt spring. severe such a blessing for america because you have lived such a great life and jumped at
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the opportunity in the world of communications and now your books filled with history and as i think it was president truman who said the only future we don't know is the history we haven't read. i want to tease you a little bit. >> host: we are running short on time. if you could give a specific question. >> caller: very important in terms of the future of the united states. the marijuana question. our drug question and tie in with the problems we have with mexico. >> caller: >> guest: the the big issues that he is my answer. i have been saying to audiences and individuals to come to me with those questions you have to reenlist as citizens. you have to step forward. an election year is the perfect
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time to do it. the arena is a place we should all have as part of our lives. when an election year comes along with all the issues that are in play that means it is going to require the best participation of all of us to be highly interested in not just adopting the orthodoxy of others but developed for ourselves what is in the best interest of our family and also the common best interests of this country. mexico is underplayed as an issue. we are in danger of a failed state in our southern border with the drug cartels and the mayhem that goes on in that government. if you go to texas or arizona or other places there is a lot of concern. at the same time just yesterday in phoenix i was reading an editorial director that governor brewer from the arizona republic conservative newspaper saying we
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have to pay more attention to the border from economic points of view. you made your case about immigration. texas for example. mexico can still be a robust economy. texas has gone from $57 billion in trade on an annual basis to $80 billion in about three years because they are a productive country. arizona state in first gear at five billion dollars. so it requires a lot of attention on our part and the big hope is the mexican economy will be strong enough that it will provide the opportunities that are now not they're driving young people into the cartel business. finally about mexico, there are cartels and drugs and violence because we are the supermarket for drugs. this is where the drugs are being used and where they're coming from and we can't ignore
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the role of american consumption of illicit drugs in feeding the drug violence and the resentment that goes on along the border. we have to do something. >> host: have you ever thought of running for political office? >> guest: no. i am a journalist. that is an honorable profession. i can already hear people saying wait a minute. why get carried away? it is honorable and you draw attention to issues by doing that and as a journalist and author of these books i had some success in getting people to respond to the issues i raised at that gives me a certain amount of pleasure but i think it is primarily my professional responsibility to do that. >> host: dale potter e-mails where are our statesman and women today? i am of the same generation as you and i do not see the same leadership from any political spectrum. >> guest: that is a common political complaint. we have to create an environment in which other people are willing to step forward to do
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that. every wrinkle, every blemish gets blown out of proportion. the business of running for public office requires you to also have your hand out constantly for the big money to get elected and compromise your principles. these are the issues we should all be able to get together on in some form. >> host: another e-mail. as an author of a book about the american refugee camps for the vietnamese rescued in 1975 i have been told the publishing world still has an aversion to stories about that war. >> guest: not sure that is true. there are successful books written about vietnam in recent years. jim webb, senator from virginia was not only a great war hero but has written some enduring books about his personal experiences and also novels about that war. it was a very difficult time for
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us and it may require more passage of time for people to want to read about vietnam again. >> host: an e-mail from betty. talking about your wife. >> guest: there's a story about that. i forgot to pack dark socks. i carry them wherever i go. my attempt to look-alike david letterman who sometimes wears white sox. >> host: robert, you are on the air. >> caller: thanks for being such a brilliant journalists and wonderful author. my name is robert whiteman. i own liberty magazine rights to everything published in liberty in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. we are trying to put together a reflection of three great decades. 1920s, 30s and 40s and every personality in the world who
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wrote for liberty magazine and we alone over 17,000 stories with authors like franklin roosevelt, albert einstein, dungee, hitler, stalin, everybody wrote for this magazine and it is copyrighted. we , hitler, stalin, everybody wrote for this magazine and it is copyrighted. we have absolutely the greatest ingredients for a wonderful feast at you would be the greatest chef we could choose. we have a web site you could go to bed at taste. >> guest: i am more interested in what i have to say but that's of like a wonderful project and i would hope at some point that we would be able to see what people were writing and thinking especially world leaders you mentioned during that time. i wish you well on that. >> host: in the time of our
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lives, broca writes about the need for a higher level of conversation about higher education. tyler e-mails i'm watching you on booktv. could you comment on the affordability, lexus ability and quality of higher education? >> guest: what i think about hiring education is we have to rethink how we calibrate the needs for the mass of american students. i am more and more inclined to believe we are operating on the theory that everyone -- the needs of society and inclinations of students. i did this commencement at arizona state university. 70,000 students. very innovative president named michael crow. he said i want to create a
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university that has relevance to the modern needs of society. they don't have a centralized campus. they have broken the university of into different parts. they have a major sustainable economics interdisciplinary liberal arts course. many of their young people are getting jobs right out of college because it is more practically oriented. there ought to be institutions like the -- stanford and small schools like cornell where you can go and get a classic liberal arts education of some kind or if you want to go to the sciences you go to cal tech or mit. we need to rewrite the charter for a lot of colleges in america so that they are more user-friendly to people who want to develop skills that will serve them well in the modern workplace. >> host: julie in louisiana.
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a few minutes left. >> caller: i have been trying to get you for an hour because i agree with what you say but i disagree with supporting president obama. we vote on our own interests. wheat were supporters of the clintons and they were not people that looked like us. i would never vote for someone like -- like the guy out of florida. >> guest: herman cain. >> caller: i wouldn't vote -- i wouldn't support -- >> guest: i understand. not saying it is an automatic pass. people are inclined over the years to vote for folks with some identification with their own roots and the culture in
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which they have grown up. there was no secret why the kennedys ran successfully irish-american boston for example. if you grew up in my part of the world and had a candidate with a last name -- a lot of scandinavian population would be inclined. they would know where they came from. what their culture or faith was. i am not making it a rigid thing. the fact is president obama ran extraordinarily heavily on african-americans and that was not surprising to a lot of people with good reason. this is all helping change the american landscape and for kinds of people who do step forward and expect to be successful in some fashion. >> host: linda tweets she enjoys your graduation talk at asu just
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recently. and put wheat that mr. brokaw, what hurt worse? tragedy like 9/11 or scandal like watergate? what hurts society more? tragedy like 9/11 or a scandal like watergate? >> guest: in both cases the pain was evident for what it was but they also provide opportunities to take stock of who we are and how to go on from there and become stronger as a result. in the case of watergate, pay more attention of to the kinds of people who get elected president and the place of the rule of law as it is exercised from the oval office. 9/11 was an example that we are no longer fortress america. we are as vulnerable as any country in the world to these
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kinds of attacks. >> host: last call from milwaukee. >> caller: thank you for taking my call. i have respected you for years. two quick questions. you are a long-term journalist and historian. do you think it is a dying breed in our society? and i am reading a biography -- i am a student of history and reading a biography of kennedy. what is your feeling on the knowledge americans have about international relations and foreign policy and foreign affairs as opposed to europeans are people outside this country. >> guest: very quickly, because of the size of this country and the immigrant population, most folks giving american citizens, a perfect example is two
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wonderful books out about al qaeda and the taliban. seth jones from the rand corporation is working on the other one. and another biography at this time and lots of great books that come out every year by serious journalists/historians and the book on steve jobs is a perfect example on that. and international best-selling novel with good reason because of all we could learn from it. >> host: what are you currently reading? >> guest: i read an eclectic we. i read a wonderful book by a british -- about his father and world war ii. i am reading about the 48 campaign which if you think this is wild that was really wild. harry truman and strom thurmond and tom dewey. first election after the war.
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and terry anderson and a book about george bush and how he decided to go to war. my wife finished catherine the great which was given to me and she picked off. i have to go back and get involved in that. i read a lot of magazine stuff. a lot of essays. i opened up some correspondence with donald hall as a result of what he wrote in the new yorker about growing old and it spoke to me in a way. we have a little exchange and that was gratifying. i am in all of great writers. i don't pretend to be a great writer. i am energetic and pretty good sometimes but the great writers move me in ways. >> host: mr. brokaw mentioned there's a new biography of president obama coming out in june, on june 17th david marines will be here to take your tweets
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and talk about his book on june 17th on booktv on c-span2. that wraps up "in depth" for this month. tom brokaw is the author of six books. "the greatest generation" "the greatest generation speaks: letters and reflections" 99, "an album of memories: personal histories from the greatest generation" came out in the forties and fifties" 2002, "boom!: talking about the sixties--what happened, how it shaped today, lessons for tomorrow" 2007, and finally "the time of our lives: a conversation about america" was his latest book came out last year. tom brokaw has been our guest for the last three hours. thank you, sir. >> is there a nonfiction offer or book you want to see featured on booktv? send us an e-mail at wheat us at >> now on booktv, emmett tyrell jr argues modern liberalism is void of answers for toda


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