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tv   Today in Washington  CSPAN  September 5, 2012 7:30am-9:00am EDT

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a strictly factual as possible your this country after all is literally coming apart. they're going to start shooting at each other at the end of the 1850s. and he said that was his great challenge and struggle to and he's the one who also stood through the war, stay at his post and was there in april of 1865 when lincoln was shot. gobright household from the hotel across the street from the theater over to the telegraph office, and spread the news while the president was still wavering between life and death. he wrote his classic hard news summary style, beginning of a story, the president was shot in the theater tonight, and perhaps mortally wounded. spent good lead. >> and 12 were encapsulated the
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whole -- there's a great example of someone i certainly was not aware of, and yet played a very big part. he also come into effect, was helping to define a kind of politically neutral journalism that was indeed a new thing. and became the hallmark of "the associated press" and became one of the things that the ap inculcated in all the new recruits is how to write in a way that was politically neutral, shall we say. >> one last question from me, and i hope you all are thinking of questions when we switch over, when you and i were starting out, and for some years thereafter, i guess as a look back on it, we had sort of a view of journalism, if you ask typical working journalists, you know, who do we really count on to ensure our field continued good health, well, there's these wonderful dynasties that a very
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public spirited, and they value news over profits, the sulfurous, the greens and the channels, and we will only be safe if one of these biases exist. as i look back, i totally believe this at the time. i look back on, if you came into my airspace and proposed, and not only that, public spirited doctors will provide people with health care out of the goodness of their heart, i wouldn't have -- the argument, now those families are either out of business or very stressed. so if you had to answer the question, who would be responsible for the sort of institutional and economic health of our field going forward, what's the answer? >> well, i guess the glib answer would be i don't know and i don't have to because you know,
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i presented myself here as a historian, not as a futurologist. i don't know -- i emphasized that i do not know the future. it's hard enough to learn about the past. i do think that people have long been involved in journalism for noneconomic reasons. so those reasons might be partisan. they might be psychic. there may be some great reward to them of the steam, or they may have some other cause in mind. and we just saw the other day that "the new republic," you know, esteemed institution in american journalism was just bought by a young internet -- [inaudible] so there's a passing of the torch. i think this new buyer is smart enough business person to know this is not a moneymaking venture. owning "the new republic" is not going to add to the pile of wealth. but it is something that people
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have often decided to take a flyer on, and made to always be more of them. >> let's go to audience participation now. i have to ask you one obviously owners of things can which is where these two mics set up and if you can bear going to the mic and ask your question from the mic, then all generations of humans from here forward will be able to hear your question, not just us. >> to those mics traveled? brought to people, that might help. might move things along. >> following up on the last question, i think a lot of us are concerned that as newspapers get economically weaker, the people who are buying them are buying enough for economic reasons, but for hard right or hard left political reasons.
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is that a concern? is that a valid concern that newspapers will become a political instruments again solely? >> that's a really important question and i think it is connected, the question of the business model. it was a period i think occurring, it's most clear in the 20th century when you had institutions like the three television networks that had news divisions. their goal was to reach 100% of the audience, actually, and to put the other two out of business. they were like the big three automakers. they wanted to sell to everybody so they had, they were trying to have a universal appeal. that makes sense if you have a huge enterprise and a lot of capital invested in it. of course, you want to max out. but i think in the new economics of presenting material online you can be successful by your
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own economic terms. with a much smaller audience, with an audience that is not aimed, you're not trying to bring in the big center, but you can make money and make a name for yourself working the corners of the room, and polling that audience apart. and i think we may be going through a big what is more polarization. it's not the first. that's one of things i did find in a research was that the country has been divided before, and may well be divided again by don't think we should shoot the messenger over that and i don't think should despair. i think there's a lot of things that will keep the country going. >> if i can just add, first of all, as chris noted, there's always been politician publishers, horace greeley ran for president in 1872, for
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example. i mentioned with the conventional wisdom, we journalism had -- were coming up in the world when a company like gannett would buy a newspaper firm one of his dynasty type families, we would be very bit upset and we would say the newspaper has passed in the hands of people who only think of it as business. now those copies are getting out and selling it off in these papers the people we think have political motivation, and we say oh, oh for the days when it was owned by -- >> maximize it. >> and now by politicians. you know, all these strands run through the whole history of the field. spent other questions? >> this is so interesting. tom brokaw wrote about the greatest generation and i was wondering if you have opinions
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on whether a greatest generation of journalists? the you have anything on that? >> wow. one thing that struck me in the writing of this book was, it's funny you should bring up in that way, about the greatest generation, because i was a the journalism that was done during world war ii was phenomenally powerful, eloquent, important. there could probably have been no more important time with, you know, so much conflict in the world, so much at stake. i would see a press corps, especially from the united states which had really not very much experience to draw on, most of that world war ii cohort, like ernie pyle, john hersey, edward r. murrow, martha kilbourne, a lot of these folks
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had very little experience as war correspondent. some of them had experience as a journalist, but very few of them had been covering world war i. and so for them it was all new. and i was really, really impressed with the quality and the beauty indeed of some the things they wrote. ernie pyle, you know, jimmy had always been kind of a cartoon character. you know, the journalist in the foxhole. but some of the things he wrote were choose, i would love to share. >> that would be great spent see if i can put my finger on it passage here that i think really evokes his finest work. and it was the kind of thing he wrote that cat people, let's see, in the service at that time. some of the soldiers would send letters back home to the family
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and say i'm not going to bother sending you any more letters. if you really want to know what the war is like you should read ernie pyle because it's all there in his columns. and let me just see. yes, this is from a piece he wrote in very early 1944 during the italian campaign. he was right with the leading edge of u.s. troops as they battled their way up the italian peninsula. this one ran in the new service and hundreds and hundreds of daily newspapers, and thousands of weekly newspapers around the country. january 1944 under the heading this one is captain's -- he wrote dead men had been coming down the mountain all evening, lashed onto the backs of mules. they came lying belly down across the wooden pack saddle. the first one came early in the morning.
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they slid him down from the mule. been a soldier came into the cowshed and said there were some more bodies outside. we went out into the road. for mules stood there in the moonlight, in the road where the trail came down off the mountain. soldiers who led them were waiting. this one is captain lackstown one of them said quickly. the mules moved off to the olive grove. the men in the road seemed reluctant to lead. they stood around and gradually i could sense the moving one by one, close to the captain's body. not so much to look i think as to say something in finality to him and to themselves. i stood close by and i could hear, one soldier came and looked down and said out loud, god dammit. another one came and he said, god dammit to hell anyway.
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he looked down for a few last month and then turned and left. been the first man squatted down and reached down and took the captain's hand, and he sat there for a full five minutes holding the dead hand in his own. and looking intently into the dead face, and he never uttered a sound all the time he sat there. finally, he put a hand down. he reached up and gently straightened the points of the captain's shirt collar. and then he sort of rearranged the tattered edges of his uniform around the wound, and then he got up, walked away down the road in the moonlight all alone. and in credible, a miniature masterpiece of restraints of observation. and all this while battle is searching around him.
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pyle has the presence of mind to notice this very special quiet moment, almost like a mother fixing a shirt collar of his dead soldier. incredible. >> you talk about objectivity, and the growth, the birthrate of objectivity in the 1840s, '30s because i was at about 1850s "the associated press" gets that idea. started it. it's a long pass from there. >> one of the striking features i think about -- the kind of conformism. how people come upon, after a little carried of confusion, people come up on a narrative that fits and tend to stick with that narrative.
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and when i was a journalist i notice that happened to me, too, that people would find something that would seem to make sense. and if someone else came with the -- came up with an idea, it would tend to be looked at -- my question is do you have any idea whether in this modern world we are now living in and moving into, including a world of journalism school, journalism school graduates, most journalists, this tendency, there's less of a tendency to this conformism, is there more or is it the same? >> i think in line with what i was saying earlier, we are seeing now i think an explosion of new independent, original voices on the internet. certainly where there are hardly
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any editors or bosses or sensors. you know, i think so much of the journalism that we are familiar with for the 20th century was based on that idea of mass marketing, mass circulation. so there was a tendency to be conformists, only in the sense that you are seeking the lowest common denominator. i think a lot of news institutions were trying to do the equivalent of building a chevy. they wanted to build something that most people would like and feel comfortable with. and so that drive to satisfy most people that i think, you know, tends to rule out certain points of view. now, without the imperative to bring most people into your business, whose to say? i think we may be seeing a period now where many, many more things are possible.
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spent i don't know if you saw a couple years ago, there was a cover story in "the new republic" by paul starr, a sociologist and princeton. what he says is when the process you're describing happened, replacing mass audiences, something precious is lost in american democracy because the act of bringing large in number so people together around sort of chevrolet like news products is itself democracy. in other words, other wants and goes off into the corner. do you buy that argument? >> i would be careful. just again, wondering when were those good old days. in 1923, in new york city there were 17 english-language newspapers. 17 different newspapers. that's including am and pm. people were not all reading the
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same thing. they were in a segment in market to be sure and that's not even counting the weeklies and the foreign-language newspapers and the union papers and, you know, political party papers. so there was, there was a pulling apart at the same time as there was this effort to have a common conversation. but i think that's a tension that is built-in. >> just to interject. one of the things that is sort of counterintuitive today is through the 20th century, newspaper circulation went straight down, and it wasn't because individual newspapers were losing circulation. it was because so many newspapers were going out of business. and every big city had many dailies the start of the 20th century, and usually one daily or maybe two at the end of the 20th century. >> exactly right.
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so these became local monopolies, and they did not get better as a result. they got to be, they were as good as the publisher felt like spent i think we have another question. >> a future question. spent out do my best. >> so, the united states has had a free and open press by and large for a long time and it's been a very successful country. and a lot of people, that's a correlation a lot of people attribute causality to the correlation and they could be right. but at the same time, in current times, take an example of china, there is on the economic side much more controlled economy that is apparently being very
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successful in these times. and there's an argument that the free for all capitalism, not without way but to the extent it is in the united states might not be able to compete against the well-planned economy. and the same time the chinese are obviously controlling information as tightly as they can, and they would argue, could you argue that, allowing unlimited number of "american idol" type shows will not help the. and a lot of other things will not help them. so there's history in this country of controlling information. sochi think the chinese are onto something? >> well, now, one of the privileges i have any teaching id with boston university is i work with the new group of graduate students who arrive every september, and i work with want to come from other countries. in recent years more and more of
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the students are from china. so i have this great privilege of teaching these chinese students, and i learned a lot from them. and one thing i noticed is that we are americans are concerned about issues such as liberty and their personal freedoms, many of the chinese students are more concerned about the issue like order, and order in their society is something they think about as a problem, or as something that their news media are going to be there improve or threatened. now, i don't know a single young american who thinks about order as a problem in american society. so they are coming at it from very, very different points of view. and i think the chinese have a system of news media that is
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linked bring much to their own history, their own expense, their own culture. now, having said that they are also connected to the world economy, and they are moving and changing, and their institutions are developing in a chinese way, but i think, you know, in a direction that will probably eventually undermined that, the kind of control you're talking about. i do see that technology will ultimately -- i don't see that technology will ultimately favor a command economy. >> a question over here. >> but, you know, what do i know about the future? that's a wide open area. >> i have another question with regards to the future. anyone can put anything they want on the internet. but if you open up the paper
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today, there's a front-page article about about how the economic recovery is not affecting the rest of the united states. imagine a world where the new time zone longer exists. how are we going to get the resources to cover complicated stories question anytime a want to know about something, for example, a shooting in florida, they did an exhaustive story on yesterday. i didn't see anywhere in detail in depth the times did. so that's my question, thank you. >> well, let me start with a tip of the hat to "the new york times," which, since the purchase of the paper in 1896 by the patriarch of the current ownership family, you know, the family has done a tremendous public service for the country by investing in the resources of the newspaper, staff, equipment all of these things, foreign bureaus, all the most expensive things that you can ask of a journalistic enterprise.
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i wish them well. but i would say this. if you talk to an intelligent well-educated, prosperous american in the late 1950s, they would have said well, what do they rely on? they rely on cbs, radio. they relied on "life" magazine. they depended on the "saturday evening post." they loved "the new york herald tribune," which was the best newspaper in the country at the time. they are all gone, everyone of those institutions is completely vanished. and yet, you know, others took up the slack and made those investments and did the hard work. you know, i think we have to be, you know, we have to treasure these institutions and celebrate
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them, but we can't expect that they will always remain forever unchanged. that's what i will venture to say about the future is that it will be a little different. [laughter] >> more questions? yes. >> chris, could you talk a little bit about the journalistic -- i teach as a librarian, and they teach information literacy, and my students and my children and their friends tell me that they get their news and john stewart and stephen colbert. and twitter, which i really don't understand. but could you talk about the history of parity in journalism? >> great, wonderful subject. you know, there have been
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lampooned, there have been satires. there have been hoaxes going way, way back. in fact, one of the discoveries that it did make doing the research of this book was the amount of satire and fantastic degree of indirection in the journalism of the 18th century. when we read newspapers from ben franklin's time, and i couldn't in franklin's own newspaper is a great example, you know, a tremendous amount of that material is not straightforward, candid, and it's certainly not object if reporting. most of it is very snarky and very, it's very funny when you understand all the context and get all the references. but most of it was meant to make a political point, or to make a point at the expense of their journalistic rifles. so almost as soon as you have
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two newspaper towns, the first one being boston, by the 1720s this competition. and one of the first things those newspapers do is start a mock each other and belittle the editor of the other paper and not got each other's stories. cellular, it is a great tradition. i would like to see, you, more of it. i think jon stewart does a fantastic job of commenting on the news. and i think his staff does an amazing job of finding video to make all these points. it's a tremendous public service. i'm so glad it is there. but i think, i think the spirit of satire has been loose in the land for a long time. and it's an important way to
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bring powerful people and institutions down a bit. >> chris, final thoughts? >> well, i'm tremendously pleased that everyone he was here managed to make it, and i really do appreciate it. i guess what i would say is that i would welcome anybody who's not familiar with this material to plunge in, and i hope it finds unexpected pleasures along the way, as i did. you know, i found this incredibly gratifying and stimulating to me, you know, professionally and all that. but the best part, the biggest payout was discovering the wonderful work that people have been doing for centuries before i started wising up to how good that was. so i would say, you know, please enjoy the book, discover these
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people, and go and plunge into their work in turn and get to know them better. >> thanks a lot. congratulations on the book. thanks everyone for coming. [applause] >> all this week turn to c-span for live gavel to gavel coverage of the democratic national convention in charlotte, north carolina. this evening, see speeches from massachusetts senate candidate elizabeth warren and former president bill clinton. watch every minute, every speech over on c-span. here on c-span2, it's the tv all day everyday throughout the convention with highlights of nonfiction authors and books from this past year. and on c-span3, also throughout the convention 24 hours american history tv with lectures, oral histories and they look at historical american sites and artifacts. >> tonight in prime time on booktv, former national intelligence officer discusses his biography about transformational chinese leader
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deng xiaoping. >> because the idea of reform and opening was not yet an idea to deng xiaoping. and was criticized, joe's mouth to be his successor, who turned out not to be rude a great strong leader, was in favor of a lot of this reform. and a lot of the senior officials were in favor of a lot of those reforms. to some extent, he did have a very long time perspective. i don't know whether visionary is the right word, but when you thought about hong kong, he said for 50 years they can keep the present system. if you asked obama what he plans to do for the next 50 years for his country, that would hardly be a serious question. i mean, no american leader, nina, four years is long term. and think to the end of their term to the next election. so i think he did have a long-term perspective.
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at the same time he was experimental. and he didn't have fixed notion. and he was across the river for groping first dose. again, that term was somehow attributed but it was a unique and. he didn't invent the term. he used the term, use the ideas that he was a manager who put it all together and provide the direction, firm and that made it all happen. >> watch the entire interview with ezra vogel and his biography, "deng xiaoping and the transformation of china," tonight at 8 p.m. eastern here on c-span2. ..
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there is one line i have right here. apparently in a meeting at the conference boehner told people, get your ads in line and i think that is how congress has been so polarizing and so effective that a book like this would be great for summer reading just to kick back and figure out some of the dramas that are actually going on as we watch nothing happened. another book i would let to read is called -- [inaudible] and it's written by someone who worked for "rolling stone" and
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about how he fell in love and they were a very unlikely pair. and from what i understand she died and he is devastated but then they used to make each other mixed tapes which is something i did four years and years and years with all my exes, but he basically writes a book that is essentially i's tape to her in her honor because he loved her and he was devastated. it sounds like it was his mixed tape entitlement to her and i can't wait to read that one so that's what i'm going to read this summer. wenguang huang appeared at the chicago printers row lit fest to discuss his book, "the little
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red guard," has memoir of growing up in central china during the 1970s. it's 45 minutes. [applause] >> good afternoon everybody. is this on?eat okay.o sa itel gives me great pleasure to say hello to you at the lit fest today and to be on stage here with a terrific writer, whonalist and a man of often he's a reporter and writer and journalist who has been doing national and international reporting, let's say since 1990, i think it's fair to say? >> yeah. >> he is now writing besides the book that we're going to talk about today, he's now writing for "fortun magazine, he writes for "the new york times," christian science monitor. he's also written for printers row journal which some of you may be aware of that is part of
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a membership program that we have at "the chicago tribune." and he is a translator of several works. he's worked with the author of the corpse walker, and wen translated that here, and i think the other is "god is red." >> yeah. >> which is about christianity in china, in today's china. we're here to talk today about "little red guard." and "little red guard" is a memoir by wen. it's been reviewed very positively in not only "the chicago tribune", but in the new yorker, in "the new york times" and, i believe, that this weekend a review is coming out in "the washington post." do i have that right? >> yeah. >> so, um, thanks for coming and, again, it's a privilege to be here with wen and hear him talk about this book that has been greeted with such acclaim. so welcome, wen. >> thank you. [applause] thank you very much for coming.
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[applause] >> i'd like to start off by talking about the kind of coming off of the introduction, um, done a lot of journalism in your career. you are a reporter, a translator of nonfiction, you've done some translating and written and done books for that, but your first book you chose to be a memoir rather than a piece of reportage. why was that decision made? >> i think this has lots to do with the immigrant experience. as some of you are my friends here today know that i came to chicago in 1990 acting like most immigrants who first arrived in this country, and you try to get yourself assimilated, and you try to be just like any other americans. and for the first ten years i was here, i work as a journalist. you feel very comfortable interviewing other people about their life stories and about
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their life in chicago, and i tried very hard to be a good american. and i felt like i tried very hard to overcome my chinese accept, i -- accept, i tried to imitate npr. [laughter] i didn't want even go to china town because it was related too much to my past. you know, all these efforts to forget about your past and then try to start a new life here. and after about 15 years i felt like i'd been very successfully career wise or life, i have a house here in chicago, i felt like each time i come to chicago, i feel very much at home. but when there is a certain stage where you feel like you are assimilated, but on the other hand, the past keeps coming back to me. and i'm sure a lot of people who have gone through the same experience will have similar feeling that the first part of
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your life, i came here when i was 25. and the past started to come back, i started to wrestle with the questions about my grandmother who raised me when i was a little boy and about my parents, my mom and father especially. i had a difficult relationship with my father for years. there was a certain tension. i felt like he was too old-fashioned, and i always wanted to be somebody completely different from him. i strove very hard to do that. and then when you reach a certain age, you get -- you're looking back, you say, wow, there is that genetic factor that i can't really be somebody else different. even i started to talk like him, and i start to -- you look at yourself in the mirror, people say, wow, i just look like my father. so at this point, you know, and then i felt very strongly that i had to write something about it. and also i've noticed that while writing the memoir is that you have a story, and you want to
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write about it. i thought about this for years, but then it has to be sometimes like stating your mind, letting it ferment for a while. sometimes you have to remain ferments to reach the certain pungent and spicy flavor. and it took me years, i've been thinking about this, these stories for a long time, and sometimes i talk with other journalists. they would talk about birthdays. oh, when i was young, i had a birthday, we use a hard boiled egg. they loved the stories, they say, oh, you should write something about it. but you always wait, wait until two years ago i felt like i was ready. and i was laid off from a corporate job that i worked for. i said, i'll have the one year to work about it, to work on the book. and then when it's ready, it came out very quickly. it was very hard to find the structure. and once i found the structure, it took me a month and a half, it just poured out.
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and then i kept revising it. and that was the reason -- it was a lot of of uncomfortable moments, like you talk about the inner journalist and writing about your own. it's great to hear other people tell their stories, you know, you feel detached, jot down and write good stories. when it came to my own, it was very hard because when i decide to write about it, it's a lot of uncomfortable moments about my relationship with my grandma, with my mother and my father and all the memories started come out. and for about two to three weeks, i couldn't sleep until sometimes before i went to bed, i would say, oh, i need to go to bed early, and i'd start to think about what to put in the book. and the past came up, and the next thing i knew it was 5:00 in the morning or 6:00 in the morning. it was very painful. but once everything came out, i tried to find a structure. once that was done, it's very therapeutic. >> so let's talk about the
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structure. "little red guard" refers to children in communist china when the time wen was growing up, the time of chairman mao. they were the students who were considered the defenders of the revolution and the defenders of mao's principles, kind of like the pioneers in the soviet union that kind of inculcated the ideology into the young. but the conceit or the structure, let's say, that runs throughout the book is about wen's grandmother and her fear of death and her insistence that she be buried in the old ways with the old traditions rather than cremated which was what the communist authorities had demanded all people do during that time. and so the conceit is the tension in the household between the grandmother and the father and wen's mother and how that played out for wen. so when you talk about the structure, you're talking about
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using that, your grandmother's fears about death and desires about death and the coffin as the through line, is that right? >> right. >> do you want to talk a little bit ant how you came upon -- about how you came upon that? >> great. when i first start thinking about writing the book, there was so many stories that were floating around. and i couldn't find out way to put them in a proper structure. and one day i was walking, and then i suddenly thought my grandma's coffin, because for years and years i thought i'd forgotten about it, but it just kept coming up. it was when my grandma, when she was 73, and she suddenly became obsessed with death. and then she just, she was very healthy, but there was a chinese saying, saying that 73 and 84 are the two thresholds, that a lot of people die during these two years. she just suddenly told my father she wanted to be ready, and she wanted a grand sendoff.
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she wanted a coffin, and she wanted to have a barrel. and my father was a communist party member. of course, he was very torn because if this had been this country, it wouldn't be very difficult. but in china even now a burial in major cities is banned because of practical reasons, of course, you don't have enough space. and the other one is for ideological reasons. during the 1970s all the coffins associated with all the bad things about the past, the traditions were considered not revolutionary enough. so that, that whole coffin caused so much tension, and my father spend the next 17 years preparing for the coffin. and we, the whole family was impacted. so when i hit upon this, i said maybe i should use this coffin to start out and then string everything about china around this how we prepared this coffin
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and give people an idea of what china was like in the '70s, '80s and even now. so once i found the structure, it came very easily. so throughout the whole thing i use the coffin as a metaphor for what's, what was china then and what is china now. i would just use a very simple one talking about in the old days coffin was this black, sinister thing, and everybody, you have to be hided away from the public, and my family used to put it in my bedroom, would cover it up with a different table cloth or with a newspaper so people wouldn't see. and everything build. if you got caught and then they would, my father could have lost his job, and all the punishment. but nowadays coffin suddenly becomes a very auspicious symbol because coffin, the chinese word also rhymes with the word
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fortune and promotions. so sometimes everybody in china today in their relentless pursuit of money, material wealth right now, we're going through all capitalistic. and the coffin suddenly becomes this very auspicious thing. i heard that sometimes if you give a gift to somebody, government official be, you just give them a little miniature coffin. they put it on your, they put it on their desk. [laughter] it's a reminder of their fortune and upcoming promotion. [laughter] >> so if you have a meeting with mayor emanuel, don't follow that. [laughter] >> that's why we were joking when the original title of my book was called "coffin keeper." and i thought it would be great for the chinese readers when they read "the coffin keeper" is such an auspicious thing if you give someone a copy. but my publisher said, well, it's kind of a little different
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here. if people buy a book for christmas or for father's day or mother's day, by the way, here is a copy of "the coffin keeper." [laughter] so we decided to change it to "the little red guard," even though people could miscon true it as -- misconstrue it as a political book. even though it's about my family all the way through to the present. so that's how the structure came about. >> i'm going to digress and talk about the corpse walker, and if you could just give a quick synopsis, because i think it's a fascinating book and a fascinating story. it's called the corpse walker, and wen translated it here. what is a corpse walker? >> a corpse walker is another chinese traditional practice, also actually related to the book. in china people believe that if you, you are worn in aville -- born in a village or born in a
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city, and no matter how far away you wander around the world, when you die, you have to be back in the village, you have to be buried just like my grandma, even though she left home when she was young, they moved to a different city, they were there for years and years. but when they die, when you die, you have to come back because there's a chinese saying that all fallen leaves have to return to their roots. so in china in the old days when the business people, when they would go to business in other parts of the country and they would die suddenly, and for the rich people, wealthy people, if you could afford it, you'd hire these people because there was no cars or airplanes to transport these bodies back. so those wealthy people, they would go and hire these kung fu masters. they would go to the certain place where the person died. and then it's normally in the
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fall and winter time, so they would inject some of the mercury into the nose so they won't prevent decay, and then one person will carry the dead body and then cover it up with a black robe. the other person would be the guy to rotate, and it would take, like, a week or 20 days for the person to carry the person all the way back to the village. because otherwise they said you will be a wandering ghost. you could never be reunited with your family in the rest of the life. so this is what the whole book was talking about. one of the stories in the book i translated is about during the transition period when the communists took over china in 1949 during the transition period when the old and new, the new society and the old traditions, how they clashed. but in my book is my grandmother was even though we didn't have to hire a corpse walker to walk her home, but we prepared several ways in case she died f
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she died in the summer -- if she died in the summer, my dad would have bribed some people on the railroad who worked there, and we would cover her up because it was a seven-hour train ride. we'd have to take her home. if it being in the winter time, we would have a truck driver try to take her home. it took years and years to build this network so we could, in case anything happened to grandma. and we would take her home. but then those who have not read the book, i won't tell something. and then throughout the whole process it took a huge toll on our family life. and even now as the eldest son, i was supposed to, if my father pass away, i was supposed to carry around the -- my grand ma still, she's still buried near my hometown, but not her native town because the changes going on in china is like you cannot even go back to china because
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change is taking place so fast, and all the cemeteries are being totally demolished. so that's the sad part of china today. >> so that tension that that caused and grand ma's wish -- grandma's wishes caused within the family, what i find so remarkable and compelling about the book is how that's set within the tension of a family going through the changes in china at the time. and so that conflict between the old-fashioned rules and the old-fashioned ways and what -- and the modern ways whether they were communist or just the modern world is a central part of the book. and i just wanted to ask you, did you, did you see that when you started writing it? did you see that, how that vehicle could work to talk about china as well as your family, or is that something that came to you as you were writing it? >> i saw part of it before i started. because when i started the book, i realized that i wanted to make a family book.
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and we have seen a lot of the books right now, for example, the writer wrote about the families, about the political drama during the cultural revolution. but her family and probably lots of others who had written about how the parents, they were persecuted during the cultural revolution, they represent only a small minority of the people who are directly impacted by the cultural revolution. but most of the people, like my family, they were -- we were just ordinary families. we went to the meetings, and then we shouted the revolutionary slogans. but our families were not directly impacted. but i want to use this cultural revolution is always, the changes in china after mao and during the mao era to use as the background to talk about a universal theme of our relationship with our participants. because when i -- with our parents. during the past 20 years i've been here, i talk with lots of
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friends, we seem to face the same questions. you have the guilt about your mother, you know, i sometimes would tell stories about my mother, and people always laugh because they say, oh, it's just like my mother. and like my mother was here visiting, and then i got this house, i would show off my house, oh, mom, how do you like it? my mom went in and said, it's okay. you just need -- you know. people would say, your mother sounds like my jewish mother. [laughter] the relationship with a mother. and then with my father i talk with people, you always have the tension when you were young, your father was just this horrible figure, and you reach a certain age, you just think your father is so old-fashioned, and you have the tension when i was kid, when i was growing up. and then you wonder how you resolve it when you reach a certain age.
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so i try to focus on this so i can get more of a universal feeling. but the political background is always there. the most important thing i want to use this book as a way to help people understand china. because the chinese not always a, the cultural revolution is not everybody's parent that got beaten up. because most ordinary people, you live the life, the ordinary things, and you do ordinary things. but then during this family tension, that's how you survive. no matter what the revolution is trying to do or what mao tried to eradicate, the family or the traditions, they are always there. you can never eradicate it because people like my parents, they were at work shouting slogans and saying we were going to -- [inaudible] society, and turn around, and the kids, they just life continues as always. >> so that relationship with your father, there is, there are a couple of points in the book where you are that kind of mark twain experience where your father got a lot smarter between your ages of 17 and 21, right? >> right.
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>> and i think one of them is your father was cautioning that during the political changes when there was, there were glimpses of openness from the communist authorities, your father was cautioning you not to jump in. and i think the translation was something like the first bullet hits the head of the flock or something like that. >> right. >> so talk a little bit about that, how you changed your view of your father during the writing of the book. >> yes. that, actually, when, during the writing of the book my views toward my father, including my grandmother and mother, changed dramatically. that's something i really didn't expect. it's like a therapy session. when you walk in there, you have one set of views, and by the time the book ended, i just totally saw things differently. like originally i saw, when i was trying to write the book, i just saw my father as a very tragic figure because he was a
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government official, very educated. a cultural official, and because he offended his boss, he was not connected with any political campaign, but the communist party officials, they asked people to say could you, please, propose some ways how could you improve my work, my dad just said the party official act like a dictator. and because of that one day my grandma became sick, and he went back to take care of my grandmother, and then they immediately used the excuse that he placed the family above revolutionary work. that was big, considered a very sack ri lishes during the revolutionary years. and then he was fired. and then for three years he didn't have a job. and later on he had to start as laborer. by the time i was born, he was a
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warehouse manager. i always felt like he was so cautious. i tried to be -- i was little red guard, i was very progressive, i was a firm believer of communism, but, you know, he was a party member. i would assume he always supported me, but the time i tried to go to the extreme, he would always bring me back to say, no, don't go too much, you have to hard. politics always very frivolous, very fickle. and i never understood what he meant. and until years later when i started to know about his life, i just realized his whole generation we call it spiritually castrated because those people, they were the ones who suffered so much because sometimes you just said something wrong, or you could end up in jail or just because there was a lot of stories about people that went to the bathroom, and then they accidentally use a newspaper to wipe their bottom, and then on the back of the newspaper was chairman mao's portrait. and then the neighbor found out,
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and the person end up in jail for a year. you know, you live in that constant vibe. that's why i could -- environment. that's why i could understand why my father was like that. for years it was a very contra contradicting, like, my father at work, he was a model communist party member. he said all the right things. and then at home he would teach me a different set of principles, very confusion. say you have to be faithful to your grandma, and you have to work hard no matter what the political circumstances are. your knowledge will be always useful. so i always felt very torn. and i felt like he was such a weak and incompetent worker, or as a father. but during the writing process the more i started to read into it, i talked with a lot of people, went back to china, and i felt like lots of stuff he actually is guiding me. you know, as i grow older, sometimes the decision i make i
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actually thought, yeah, there is something about my father, he's always there. and then the stuff he said, i saw the understanding more better. so that's about my father. and also with my mother. i -- she was very, um, tough with me, harsh with me when i was a kid because i was raised by my grandmother. she was seldom home because she wanted to be a revolutionary. she went to work one month later after i was born, she went to work, and i was wholly in the care of my grandmother. it was very bad the take care of their children rather than go to work. so she did that. and when i was 9 years old, she came back, moved back, and sometimes she would beat me up, corporate punishment. sometimes when i thought about the way she treated me, i felt very bitter about it. but in later years she tried to make up with me but it was very hard because the formative years she wasn't there. and i have this thing, and then the more i wrote about her and my views about my mother changed
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because i had realized that since my grandmother had such a stronghold over me and over my father, too, my father probably never -- she never had a proper relationship with her son. she tried very hard to get back, get back to me, but i couldn't -- i think there was the bitterness. and i felt like, you know, i start to understand my mother more and more. and the same with my grandmother. she raised me, and then she was my surrogate mother. but then you start examine the relationship with my father, her relationship with my father and my mother, and you get a more complex picture. and i just realized my grandmother, she probably -- she lost her husband when she was young, and she raised my father single-handedly. emotionally, she controlled my father. my father probably was never able to love my mother as much because his mother had such a strong influence over him. and also imagine -- and then
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when i was born, and she had such control over me. and probably because she, her own need to protect herself and didn't give my mom too much to have. that was the -- so i was analyzing the those three things, and i started to have, at the end of the book i felt have a more different perception or different understanding of the three of these key characters in the book. >> and the kind of psychological and emotional tensions among the characters in the book, you know, grandmother, father and mother, are plays outside not only in family, but in society. there's this underlying kind of tension between the old ways and the new ways, of course. but the degree to which superstition and old traditions kind of persist during that time i found to be remarkable. i think anybody who reads it, you know, we're talking here in
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the 1970s and some of the things that are still being accepted as truths in the village which are clearly folklore or superstition, and your grandmother and your mother were at odds in that area. so, um, kind of looking back on that where do you see that? you were fighting those superstitions yourself, but later you kind of sought refuge in them a little bit. >> right. you know, when we were kids, probably most people who grow up in china, you will be one of the things that's very annoying but also very fascinating about china is with every weddings, with funerals, and there's all kinds of different rituals. there's a combination of buddhist practices, tooist practices. -- taoist practices. for example, during my father's funeral, and as the eldest son what you do is when -- you
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cannot cry too loud because you cannot allow the tears to fall on the body of the dead. because if they carry your tears, they'll be sad for the rest of their afterlife. and then the day of the funeral, so i have to go there, and they have a big vessel, and it contains all the ashes people pour in the fake paper money, and you have to smash it, smash it. when you smash the urn in this way, it means like his next life can be the body of this life died or shattered, so he can be reincarnated into another cycle of life. so, and then when you're on your way to the funeral house, you have to keep spreading these paper, fake paper money because you are trying to describe the ghosts. so they don't -- they block your
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dad's way into heaven or the other world. sometimes they're kind of a reflection of the current world. everywhere in china now you have to bribe somebody. you have to bribe the ghosts so that they can have transitions very smoothly. [laughter] and even with weddings. and then the day and when the groom comes to pick up the bride, they have to bow to the parents, and then they have to bring gifts like five pounds of pork, the meat, because you are taking the daughter away. it's like taking a piece of flesh from the mother, and you bring that. and you bring some cigarettes or liquor, even though my dad -- they never smoked cigarettes, but it shows you were willing to spend the money, and you are not cheap with the dollar. you know, all these different rituals. and then you have to go up there and hang up the red curtain meaning, like, your life will be for auspicious. and then the night before they sleep, you have to, you put a
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lot of peanuts and walnuts underneath the bed meaning like when you gave birth, and you won't just have boys or girls all the way through, you have a variety of boys and girls. all these different rituals and traditions i always find they're just so burdensome. [laughter] and during my dad's funeral, i actually acted very badly. it was just, it was so ridiculous because the night before we have to, i have to wear this white linen and led a group of -- let a group of people in the neighborhood carry my dad's picture. and you have to howl and cry so loudly, people think that you really love your dad so much. imagine you're 20 years old, you great from a university, you think you can do anything, you are so full of yourself, and then you are carrying this way, walking around the neighborhood, everybody could see you. so that part i ri zest a -- resist a lot. oh, you go to china, everybody
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you ask about that it's very common. but then when i was doing years later and then you find out you reach the mellow aim, i started to -- age, i started to understand why we have those rituals. and sometimes it's actually not doing for the dead, but for the living. i found i guess because we're living we feel so helpless, and you just feel like if you do something, and it makes you feel better. like i wrote in the printers row about my father when the book came out, and i felt very relieved, and be i said maybe this will be, do some justice to my father because for years i, during his -- those who have read the book, you probably know -- during his funeral, and then they asked me to say something about him, i just thought he had such a trivial life, i just didn't felt like there was anything worth saying. i just went there, and i just bowed and then left the stage.
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and for years my mother gave me such a hard time and just would never forget my shame. always say, oh, so and so, the person had never been to college, but he delivered such a great eulogy and made everybody cry. and somebody who never, never been to college, she sang a song that was her dad's favorite song. does that sound like all mothers? and it just killed me. but i felt, you know, the guilt my mother put in me, and then i after the book came out and i decided to do something that probably i would never have done many years before. so i took the book to my, i went back to china and visit my parents, their tombs. and i went there, and i actually burn the book because, as a way to pay tribute to my dad. because my sister said, oh, if you burn the book because your father will be able to read it. for the details, you can read the printers row article, but
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i'm just giving you this idea. and then -- >> you have to subscribe though. [laughter] >> and, but for this ritual, when i finished that, i thought it was very -- sometimes i want to smile be. i felt very ridiculous. you would take a whole trip back just to burn the book and say something to my mother. but on the other hand, i found it very soothing. i felt, because there was nothing i could do to make up for what i didn't do, the guilt. and then you create these rituals, i guess i did it, i felt like, oh, finally, i was able to pay my dad off and was able to do something. so that's whole transformation. i got a better understanding about why superstition, all these rituals. i'm sure is we have the same thing in this country when we do certain things. it's not for the dead, but also for our ourselves. -- for ourselves. >> but the extent to which during this time wen's writing about his childhood, the extent to which characters, the people in the village and the
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characters in the family feel that their lives are not in their control. so whether the fates, you know, whether it's the ancestors from the past who are controlling what happened -- being able to control your own destiny, and then your fate is in the hands of other people. when you went to the u.k., you talk about how difficult that was and how kind of alarming it was. and all of a sudden there's all this opportunity and choice available to you. >> correct. >> so how difficult was that for a 20 -- were you 20 at the time? >> 20, yes. >> to make that transition? >> when i was 20 year old, china opened up because after mao died and china started to open up to the outside world -- because it was a very, how do i say it, very hard thing for us to suddenly you grow up in china in
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this isolated world and suddenly enter the u.k. which is wholly different from what you have imagined. for years and years when we were growing up, our per tsengs of the west -- perceptions of the west -- especially the united states and england -- went through two stages. the first thing i remember was a bulletin board in my dad's factory, there was all these black and white pictures. we thought it was present pictures. i remember there was one picture about the streets lining up on the new york, in new york street people back, they were waiting for the food because they were unemployed. and another one, it was this capitalist dumping all this milk into the river to keep the price, but he wouldn't feed ordinary people. and then when we were growing up, i talked to some people many times that my mom would always say that when you have a penny, break it in half. you spend a half and save the other half for the poor people in america. [laughter] so i guess -- so that's what,
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and my first story, english story was i can memorize the whole story. it's called "john smith and his wife, mary, they work for the coal mine." but in the winter it's very cold, but they didn't have enough money to buy coal. so john is, there is a son. his son asks, daddy, why don't we have money to buy coal? he says because we produce too much coal, and the capitalists have us out of a job. still a lot of the stories were written about the great depression. that's how we saw, you poor people in america were starving, and we have to go and save it. there were stories about how american delegation came to china, and then they -- we fed you very, fed the americans some beautiful peking duck. and then the mesh guests were so grateful -- american guests were so grateful, they gave us dark bread.
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dark bread in china, you don't -- you know, very poor people's food. and then the waiter thanks the american guests, and then he turned around the dumped the bread in the garbage can to show how wonderful it was to live in a socialist country. and then suddenly when china opened up to the outside world and we saw these great hollywood movies, i remember the first movie, it was "godfather." [laughter] you know, it's mafia society, but then there was also the glamour to it. and then so it was, we've gone through two extremes. and then i went to the u.k. it was just, i finally realized, wow, there was so much green stuff in there, and people are really very decadent. and then i went to the morrisons, the big supermarket, and then my host family, they told me, they said, oh, these are the biscuits you can go
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through and you can buy be. i said -- i counted at least 30 different count of cookies. and i said, wow, those poor people, we have so many cookies n. china we have almond cookies, and i couldn't even get it all the time. [laughter] so that was an experience. another experience was complete cultural shock. but another thing that struck me, when we were growing up, we always thought all western families were very loose, not like the chinese were close-knit family. so when the children grow up, no matter how far away you go, you always come back. it's a big family. we were told that american parents are very ruthless. they just raise their kids to 18 years old, they kick them out. they come back and charge them represent. you know, that's what everybody -- you know, i remember my mother would be saying, oh, think about how hard they would have to beat you up
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thinking you have to look at the western family, they just kick you out. so this was the impression. even i think a lot of people now in china, they think that american families much more -- chinese are the model families, we're very close. and the way we express ourselves more, the parent makes all kind of sacrifices. even though we said i love you. i never heard my mother throughout her whole life say i love you. but they do love you through other ways. we just feel like so faithful americans, they say, oh, i love you so much, and when they're 18 years old, they kick them out. and when they come back, you know, we say that, oh, the participants of the children -- the parents of the children, they buy a house. they have to borrow money from the parents. so that's the impression i got. and when i was in the u.k., you suddenly realize i went to visit these families, there were these close-knit ties. the more i stayed there, all the propaganda things both in this country, americans i'm sure i've said the same thing about china, right?
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about not finishing of food and people are starving. and the longer i stayed, the longer you feel like there is the values are universal. and also in way i feel like maybe western participants, you have -- parents, you have more closer ties, and china sometimes with the family, with my dad and my grandmother, it's the ritualistic practice, the way you love your parents is not through -- you care about them, but you sacrifice for them. your participants, probably your dad, will be working in a different city, will never see you for 20 years. and then suddenly because he was earning money to support the family. that's the sacrifice, it's considered a kind of love. but it's just different, you know, the different perceptions of families. that, to me, is once i stayed a year in the u.k. and i started to get a more of a realistic picture than most people in
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china. but on the other hand, it's after many years of brainwashing. you always say, oh, this is a decadent, capitalist society, and our socialist system -- you try to justify what china couldn't accomplish. it's either the gap between the rich and the poor. i say, well, at least in china we didn't have a lot of beggars. once we become more and more open, china's just like the west, the gap in the rich and poor. even worse. and then it's acting more and more westernized. but in those years it was just the contradictions when you were taught in china, what you would see, and it's very eye-opening experience. >> let me take that opportunity then to talk about wen's next book. he's got a contract for a book that he's going to co-write about the current government in china and the difference there,
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the political scandals that are ongoing right now, and that's going to be coming out in the fall. >> in the fall. it's very punishing. >> so i have one last question, and it's about the humor in the book. and this book has so many parts that are laugh-out-loud funny, and they're written in a very, it's written in a very deadpan way. but the kind of observations that wen makes and the details that he brings to .. you recognize why that's, um, that would be so funny to a westerner, some of these things? or as you were telling these stories, were you surprised that your friends were saying, wow, that's really funny, you've got to write that down? >> i think initially we didn't think it was funny. you know, it was happening in china, when i came over here we had a lot of friends, and i
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started to tell stories. and there was some ridiculous aspects of china. but when we were there, you felt it was part of your life. i'm sure people here grew up in china, but certain things that when you were there, you just never saw anything funny. even like my grand ma's coffin be. for years and years people said, well, did you ever think you have a disfunctional family, or your family, you're live anything a room with a big coffin in there. [laughter] i never thought, i thought my family was very normal. we just had a big piece of purposeture in there, and it covered up. [laughter] you just take it for granted until many years later. i depress -- i guess the way i could talk with some humor, after 20 years and then you are able to detach yourself and look at what the picture -- especially you are here for a long time -- enables me to go and stand back and then look at the whole, that period of life
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with a little bit of certain detachment. and you can make money of your, the family and also sometimes the sad things about my parents. and then i feel very much at home. i guess a lot of people if you talk about it with everybody will have certain dysfunctional aspects in our family. and, you know, our participants, about our grandparents and that we probly want to share with friends, or i guess i'm just now sharing with the whole america. that's what -- people, some of them ask me what's your dad think about it? i think he would be horrified because in the -- there's a chinese saying, it's called you never air your dirty laundry to the outside world. because my mom used to be like any, i'm sure like all mothers, she likes to gossip with the neighbors x there's something happens. the next thing you would know, she would say, don't tell anybody, and the next thing you know, a lot of people heard it.
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my dad used to call my mom the community radio. [laughter] and imagine, i said now my dad will call me the national public radio, don't you think? [laughter] but, anyway -- >> i'm going to interrupt there because i made this mistake, i always do which is when i'm listening to wendell stories or reading his book, i lose track of time, and i've done it again. we're going to wrap up now. wen, we've run out of time. sorry i didn't want leave time for questions, i'm a bad moderator. thanks so much for coming and sharing these stories with us, and it's a terrific book. >> thank you so much. [applause] thank you. the event takes place at housing works bookstore cafe new york city. >> all this week turned to c-span for live gavel to gavel coverage of the democratic national convention in charlotte, north carolina. this evening see speeches from massachusetts senate candidate elizabeth warren and former president bill clinton. watch every minute, every speech over on c-span.
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here on c-span2, it's booktv all day everyday throughout the convention with highlights of nonfiction authors and books from this past year. and on c-span3, also throughout the convention 24 hours of american history tv with lectures, oral histories and a look at historical american sites and artifacts. >> what are you reading this summer, booktv wants to know? >> i think there's some wonderful political books, and, of course, since that's what i do, i'm always interested in looking at the history and things that have happened. i think certainly robert k. rose book, the third in his series about lbj is worth the read. this one documents his years as vice president, when he was running against president
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kennedy for the nomination, and then president kennedy tapped him for vice president. we all know that was a troubled time, for both lyndon johnson and president kennedy. they were certainly different in just about every aspect. so it was a time of trial certainly in lyndon johnson's life. and then as he is passing into the presidency, this is i think one of the more interesting times to see this from the back ground. i have to say i think robert cairo does an incredible job, having looked at his other books and heard him talk about both this book and the others, he is so nonjudgmental. he tells the good and bad and lets people decide for
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themselves what they think is important to. and i think he has captured so much and done so much research. he went down and lived around johnson city to kind of see in the early growing up years what lyndon johnson's life would have been like. each time he has gone further, he has done just detailed research from amazing amounts of research. so i think he is an excellent writer, and i was privileged to invite him to speak to a group of republican senators at one point. and he came and we had a very interesting back and forth. because the senators, of course were interested in the experiences that lyndon johnson had as majority leader, the tactics he used which are very different from any kind of leadership tactics that you would be able to talk about or
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actually do today. it's a different world. he was very for a strong leader, and also very demanding. so i think i would certainly recommend robert caro's book, and i know that his research is so good that you would enjoy reading it. another book that i have been beginning to read is a book by douglas brinkley. there wasn't a more well-known and loved person in an american news than walter cronkite. we love him come in texas. he went to the university of texas. he grew up in houston. then he was a born correspondent for united press international. got a lot of real reporter experience. he wasn't just the kind of face guy. but then when cbs evening news
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became more important, when the news programs, all the three major networks have them, walter cronkite started as the anchor i think in the '60s and was there for about 20 years until the early '80s. and i just think that it's time, he said he covered eight presidents, his time covering is certainly fascinating, and he was a fascinating person because he was so thoughtful. and i think douglas brinkley is a wonderful historian. he is a history professor at rice university. is also taught at naval academy in princeton. so he's a real historian, also does detailed comprehensive research in his writing. so the biography of cronkite
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that he wrote i think will be the definitive biography of walter cronkite. and i think both the fact that douglas brinkley wrote it, and my high regard for him, and the fact that cronkite of course is a well-known and loved in our country, having this kind of biography is an excellent thing for us to have four historic documentation in the future. the last book, either chapter in this book, it's vital voices. now, "vital voices" is an organization that was formed within senator hillary clinton and myself as honorary co-chairs. and i relate to this and put a chapter in, as did now secretary of state clinton, because i had
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been so impressed by the role that women had taken throughout the world, particularly in countries that are in trouble. and the women's leaders have emerged to create peace or create honesty as integrity. or just to fight for human rights in these countries where it is so lacking. all of us i think were taken with the women, the treatment of women in afghanistan, and what they endured and the treatment they received, and how some of them emerged even in the face of torture and death, to say we can create a society here, and fight for education for girls, which
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the united states has done since we have been in afghanistan trying to help them be free of the taliban and al qaeda's infiltration. we have insisted that all the aid that american puts forward the for girls and women as well as boys and men. and "vital voices" is an organization that came from these experiences, and where "vital voices" honors each year and women who have led in these countries and made a difference. and every year that senator, now secretary of state clinton, and i have been the honorary co-chairs we have come to the award events. they are held at the kennedy center, and these women get a
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validation that helps them pursue what they are doing in their countries or in some cases it's a woman who is building and economy, giving women like her opportunities for micro businesses. and letting them earn for their families. in some cases, it's just standing up. we've had a victim in a village in pakistan who pursued justice and got justice and turned back to create schools for both boys and girls in her village. and she was a woman, i'll never forget. she was so magnificent, even though she was illiterate, but she had a spirit and the wisdom that was so far beyond her
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experience or her education. it was within her, and it is women like that that are honored by "vital voices," and the book that i think is a wonderful book for this summer. it just came out, talked about some of these great stories and what women coming together and honoring these great leaders can do to begin to bring and economy and an equality and a treatment for the women who are in countries that don't have the luxuries of freedom that we have in america. so those are three books that i would highly recommend to the readers this summer. and they are not funny books or the light books that many people read, but they're all very substantive, and i think you
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read a book like biography of walter cronkite or lyndon johnson, or the stories of these women who have done so much, i think it does enrich every one of us. so i'm kay bailey hutchison, and i hope you have a great summer reading. >> for more information on this and other summer reading lists, visit >> on the go, afterwards is available via podcast to itunes and xml. visit and click on cast on the upper left side of the page. during the republican and democratic conventions, we are asking middle and high school students to send a message to the president as part of this years c-span student cam video documentary competition. in a short video students will answer the question, whatth


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