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tv   2014 Miami Book Fair International Sunday  CSPAN  November 24, 2014 1:00am-8:31am EST

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but there's plenty of great reporting -- the networks and pointline and hbo size and project censored and center for public integrity. you have to fiend and it people will find new ways to find the truth about issues they care about. just not the same way they did before. ... kend
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for our live coverage of the miami book fair.
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>> and welcome to day to a's live coverage of the 2014 miami book fair civil. this weekend our 17th year in a row of live coverage by the way, 25 authors in 20 hours of live coverage. today, panelists include "new york times" book review editor pamela paul, walter mosley, matt bai, charles grow, among others, and to offer college opportunities for you today. randall kennedy of harvard is most recent book is called for discrimination and david rothkopf iran's "foreign policy" magazine will be talking about u.s. foreign policy. full schedule of today's live coverage from miami is available at our website, booktv.org. all they wanted and get updates of behind the scenes photos at booktv. .org twitter handle. you can also join us at facebook.com/booktv. if you're in the area, come on
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down. c-span bus is here, we are passing a great book bags and some other things. would love to have you come and say hi at the chamber of commerce day here in miami. the sun is shining. it's about 83 degrees. a little breezy but otherwise it's a great day for the street fair that happens here at the miami book fair. opec chapman hall which is at miami-dade college which is where the book fair is held, there's the room that we will be broadcasting live from all day long. the first panel is just about to start. you can see a full room in there. pamela paul will be leading the discussion to new times book review editor, walter mosley is participating. this is live coverage. the panel will begin in just a minute. booktv on c-span2, 40 hours of nonfiction books every weekend.
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> and its book review literary life panel will begin in just a minute. they are running a minute or two behind. this is live coverage on booktv on c-span2. this is the first panel of the day. pamela paul, book times editor will be there. walter mosley will be fair, ann patchett as well. after.com a call in with randall kennedy for discrimination, race affirmative-action and the law. he is a law professor at harvard. after that, david brock, david rothbard, his most recent book called national insecurity, american leadership in an age of fear. we will do a call-in program
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with them so you will have a chance. this panel is just starting. >> good morning, everyone. good morning and welcome to miami book fair international. this is our 31st year, as you know, and it is truly a pleasure to see all of you here on a wonderful, sunny and bright south florida morning. thank you so much for being here. a special welcome to our friends of miami book fair international for your support it to really goes a very long wait in enabling us your future year. those of you visiting us how about the men we hope to see you many, many more years. this book fair could not take place without the generous bob airship of many, many organizations such as the night down bashan, o. h. l., american
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airlines and so many more that every single year come together to provide support. the book fair is also supported by hundreds of volunteers miami dade college and throughout our community this middle-school, high school, college students and others from our community come together and volunteer their time unselfishly every year. with that, i would like to thank everyone. as you know, booktv is covering this event. i would like to get a especial love him to use. to introduce our panel today, we have judge marsha scott from the u.s. district. please help a welcome edge of. [applause] >> good morning, everyone ended ornate everyone who is watching you take elegy. this morning's panel is going to be fascinating and i know you
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all are going to have a great time. i'm not used to having this many people show up to sing it without a court order, so i'm certain this is going to be fabulous. our panel discussion this morning is "by the book." our moderator a pamela paul. our authors are ann patchett, nicholson baker, transcended and walter mosley. [applause] ms. paul is the editor of "the new york times" book review and that the popular interview column, by the book. her new book, trying to buy "the new york times" book review brings together a guide to the most intriguing and fascinating exchanges over time. she is joined this morning by
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ann patchett, the author of six novels as well as the co-one of the bookstore. yay for bookstores. [applause] her newest book is this is the story of a happy marriage memoir and for the publication of her first novel, she was at 17 magazine. nicholson baker is the author of 10 novels, including human smoke. his latest is then the chronicles were polar protagonists all chowder appears again. he is joined by francine prose who is the author of 20 works of fiction. her latest book is lovers at the chameleon club: paris 1932: a novel, set in paris in the 1920s. also on the panel this morning is walter mosley, who is the author of more than 40 books,
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most notably and i'm certain there are fans in the audience at the easy rollins mystery series. slater is rolled gold and even wrongs mystery here the story takes place during the patty hearst air a radical black nationalism. is an gentle, our panel. [applause] >> so, in 2012 when i started "by the book," i had a few motivations. while i would like to believe as editor of the book review the only reason people up or buy books is based on their book reviews, especially those at "the new york times." occasionally there are other reasons people pick up a book and one of the ones most commonly cited is word-of-mouth. the book everyone is talking about in the office, the butcher veteran recommends, the book that is stirring controversy. so i thought, how do i get at
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that word at the mouth in the book review. i came up with this idea that i kind of think of as a dorky year and she's a red carpet question, what are you wearing, where i would ask the people that we read, what are you breeding and why and what are the books that matter to you quite and i thought of this while at the apollo theater in harlem. david taveras was given a talk and he always when he goes on his speaking tours recommends a book and i thought that is so incredibly kind and generous. it's not always a fine book, but then i thought what are the funniest books you've ever read? though he was actually the first person i announced to do a "by the book," which is now booked through 2015. it has become so popular with authors and also with other on writers like ink sometimes like to show the need to like to
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read. and i feel like one of the times were in it was truly working, other than the fact people wanted to be in the column was on three separate occasions, bookstore owners told me that they had common to -- customers have come into the store with a ann patchett page torn out and titles highlighted fan i want these. one person just that i want everything to ann patchett recommends. so i have four great authors here, all of whom have done "by the book." i feel there is a spectrum of authors, those on the one hand can talk endlessly if you ask them to come to a reading, there will, talk about the book while they are in the bathrooms all. they will talk about their book whenever given an opportunity. on the other end, there are people like thomas pynchon who will never talk about their vote. in the vast middle are people
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who will talk about their books, but also get sick of talking about their books. so this is an occasion for these writers to talk not about their books, but other people's books. i thought i would open it up. we should -- "by the book" is something people have time to think over and come up with an example of what book was the most important as a child and here it is on the spot and nobody has cheat sheets in front of them. as someone with a terrible memory, i just want to issue that excuse for everyone here in case they don't remember the exact answer to their question. here is an easy one i will start with, which is what did you read on your way to the miami book fair? we can go down the line. [inaudible] >> because i own a bookstore, i only read books that won't be out until march. but i am reading the new vichy guru book called the very giant that will be out in march.
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so unlikely. it's medieval. it's got ogres and dragons in it. i would have never wanted to read this book and i can't put it down. i got up to 5:00 this morning so i could read for a couple hours. >> this is how you know ann is a bookseller. within two minutes she was waving the galley at me. >> i want to make sure he gets a good review. >> i was reading -- well, it's nice to have a machine, so i had this path that is now disbanded by the app maker and i was reading george sainsbury's criticism. it was the 19th century ahmed this book reader. he has read everything everyone has written and he has this wonderful kind of flowing style that helps me think.
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so when i want to say things fluently, which i was worried about saying today, i sat by the recent sainsbury. >> well, for reasons that are probably too dark and personal and weird to go to, i have been on a huge thomas burr kicked so i was reading what cutters on the way down. i was reading in a strange way because when i woke up early in the morning i was reading on a kindle that i had a little tiny bar, so i was afraid of is going to run out. so instead of doing the obvious thing, to read until i ran out, i would read a few pages and into a sudoku puzzle an adult magazine magazine and read a few more pages. so going back and forth. i thought thomas braveheart would love it if you loved
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anything. >> yeah, it's hard for me to remember. the war hound in the world's pain by michael moore, which he wrote in 1981. i started reading when i was 16 on american history for an trip to england. i realized when i started reading him that i loved his language. you know, this is one of his books. he's like 100, but this is one of them that i had read. i love it because of his -- he's a science fiction mystery writer, but what he does, he asked these questions, which i've always found really interesting. and this one, there is a soldier who didn't want to be a soldier, but became an evil soldier who somehow came under the purview of. has decided that he doesn't like being anymore. he wants to go back back to
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heaven and he needs this guy took a while to find a way for him to get back into having. i just kind of like that. these are the problems i feel like i live with all the time. [laughter] in a very pedestrian way. but i like to think of it in a larger way. >> these answers are the bookseller's nightmare or the book publicist nightmare that they are either book that came out long ago were not yet out. i am curious because walter consulted a gadget or was that an actual book? >> an actual book. >> you admitted to reading on a kindle. i am curious how people read. do you use a device? to use old-fashioned books? what are your book have this? >> paper always. >> i owned a bookstore, right. you get a vested interest in this. >> well, i have this thing. i get up in the morning and go and drive somewhere and i have a
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stack of books in the backseat and i read aloud from them. and somehow reading aloud in an empty car to myself from the book on paper helps me. in the middle of the night come as a whole different name. because in the middle of an aikido when awake your wife or spouse up, so i usually read in the hours between three, four and five. i read on an iphone because it's a lovely little machine and when it flops over a dozen hits you in the head. >> i get the sales of that that used to be the big thing have probably plummeted. >> i'm sorry for the itty-bitty book light. that was a wonderful thing. >> i only read on a device on an airplane because i used to travel with 100 pounds of books because god for that i got stuck in an airport somewhere, so now i don't have to do that. but actually as i sat in the column, my favorite place to read this in the passenger seat
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of a car going really fast up in new york state. >> ladies and gentlemen, someone who does not get car sick with doing that. >> it is interesting because the question is another question inside of it. you know, it is like loving cell phones, but being against killing people in congo. either you like cell phones or you don't like killing people in congo. you can't like both. if you run your cell phone, you are someone with men. >> what are you talking about? >> the main chemical and cell phones his mind in congo and the reason their polity does that work is because people are making profit off them and they don't want a democratic nation stopping them from getting the
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cheapest possible poll taken to put in their cell phones. i much prefer reading books and paper and i do mostly. but i am so excited about electronic books has children who can't afford books can download thousands of dickens, twain, hugo, all of those things onto their little devices and pretend to not have to pay for them and not order millions of trees. so it goes both ways. >> they can go to the library, too. [laughter] just saying. >> when you live in the hood, there's many other issues that come up that don't come up in other places. >> the thing about murdering trees. i live in maine and there are so many trees. you know, when you stop cutting down the trees and making paperweight done, they are closing big paper manufacturing places. when you cut down the trees --
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when you stop cutting down the trees and a keen paper, what happens is little condominium develops trial. those are the real enemies. those are the real engines of sprawl. you've got to keep buying things on paper in a order to save the forest. >> all the political issues and e-book versus print book or you didn't even think of. walter, this is a bit of a cheap because they are denying your answer to this, but who else reads in the bathtub? who else because i know you do. >> who else reads in the back of? anybody else here? one of time. [inaudible] a drowned kitten all is almost a life-threatening situation. there was a question that someone stopped and asked in my own workload just two weeks ago.
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it was such a basic question and get it stopped all of that. it was in the middle of a heated conversation. and she said, why do you read? why do people read? and i think it is an interesting question, so i want to pose it to all of you. in any order. >> i read because my parents read. very simple. >> i like to read because i am usually a question of some rain. i like to find out something. sometimes in my 20s i was reading because i thought without there. who are my competitors? i was postadolescent competitive thing. now it is that i want to find out something. i want to find out the truth about some name. it is much more fun to have a pursuit, so you are led to books that you never would have looked at otherwise except that you need to find out some tiny piece
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or in my case a buildup to world war ii or whatever it was. so having a quest helps order this impossibly intimidatingly enormous amount of books that help sort names. >> i read because i love to read. as i get older, it is really the most important thing in my life. it is the thing i plan my bare ground, the thing i always want to be doing. it is the thing that i love the most. i don't want to go anywhere anymore. i don't want to travel. i don't want to go out to dinner. i don't want to see friends. i just really want to read. >> there was an author's party here last night. >> i didn't go. >> francine. >> even when i was little kid coming seems so unfair to me that you only get one life. reading in a way takes away the
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sting of that. you can all these others you get to inhabit. >> one of the things that came on in the conversation in my book club is that answer can change depending where you are in your own life, that a certain point maybe after a tragedy you only want to read to escape or you want to read to be transported. other times you want to read about people going through a similar thing. i wonder if you have found that your needs, your reading needs or desires have shifted over the course of your life. >> i am not sure i'm going to answer that question, but something you just said you my brother-in-law died. my sister's husband died in january and he was one of my best friends. it was just a horrible loss. and i started reading the saddest books i could find. waves. so helpful. so helpful to just sink in with other people sadnesses and loss.
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rather, i am dying, and the suicide index, john wicker sun, which is such a fantastic work. i can't recommend it enough. it was like going to see your friends in saying we are just going to stick together. >> raise your hand if you misery read. does anyone else out there? misery read. you read about people that are more trouble than you are. i am going to go back to the question. is the reason you read change depend on where you are in your life? >> i really like reading -- i like to dip into things and there is this writer used to write for "the new yorker" named mays brand name. she was a long-winded baby. i love this woman. she would write a blog, blog paragraph.
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usually one paragraph and she would just go into a restaurant and a scribe who walked into the restaurant. she wouldn't actually talk to them. she would just as speculations about them for she would be riding the subway and see someone reading a magazine. and she has such a beautiful, beautiful describer. it is really thrilling to see somebody. so i think that my motive and reading the long-windlong-wind ed lady is just to imagine myself back in new york city in the 60s, riding a subway and lucky not new york and feeling "the new yorker" when it was a big-time thing, that feeling new york when i was a different place. so the motive i guess his escape, but it's also this desire to be immediately went a person standing in a subway.
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>> lately, this may have something to do with the thomas bernhard and, i find myself drawn to writers to be outrageous, envelope pushing weirdos because there's so much pressure. >> are we going to name names? >> i could go on. roberta blondel, hans christian andersen, james bowles. on and on. there is so much pressure on braiders now, the way there is pressure on everybody to do some name that is conforming or write tidy, well-made conventional novel. and to read writers who make you say i didn't know you could do that is extremely helpful. >> walter. >> i'm trying to think of an answer to your question. i don't know. i don't feel -- my reading may indeed change because of my situation, but i am not keeping track of it.
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>> to you -- how do you decide what to read next? >> i have some books on my shelf. of course, as you know -- as i said, the big thing about reading is rereading. a wonderful friend who lectures at nyu. one day i was looking on his books and he has read those books, each one a hundred times. when he is rereading it, if i happen to be around him, he starts talking about the book is if you read it for the first time. there is 100 or 200 books that i do a lot of rereading out. i sit down and say it's time for 100 years of solitude again. let me see where i can go with that. i feel the same way about movies. >> what other books do you like to reread? >> there is a few of marquez but i think it's wonderful. dead souls by goebel. i am kind of amazed in some of his short stories.
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only the stranger in the play. i just kind of go over them again and again, always finding new stuff. and poetry. i still haven't understood it, but i really like reading it. and my misunderstanding changes as i reread. >> francine, do you reread? >> yeah. well, yeah. i reread the russians a lot. i check off as often as i can. i'm trying to write some day now and everything else getting in the way. >> we have a russian review coming next weekend, so do thanksgiving counterprogramming and francine wrote an essay about answering the question, what is so great about russian literature? why you keep returning to the 19th century russian
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novelists. do you reread? >> i reread green eggs and ham all the time. actually, my mother taught me to read. i was kind of a late reader and my mother was worried about me. first grade was looming and i couldn't read, so she gave make reneges and ham to read. i had this horrible time with it. i remember crying over the word dark because i learned they were the sounds they made him a racist hybrid salad. i got to the end of it and she made a great next and ham with food coloring and it tasted good, but it looked very strange. no, i like to read. i truly like to go back and read. dr. seuss is good. speak memory is the book that i always go back to. it is actually a supernatural
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book i have to say. it is in accord and book because i have read the book sorted through. i have read every page, but not in order. but i did. and it is as if i haven't read a page. there is always some peace i am reading for the first time. so it is actually a miraculous book that way. >> do you have time to reread, ann? >> i don't anymore. i used to. i used to reread james all the time. and it's gone now. i read not only things that were the -- i don't read things written a long time ago, i've read things that haven't been published yet. >> do you find you do certain reading for work in certain for pleasure or does that totally overlap? >> it is all the same because all books are pleasure for me and if they are not, i sat reading them. we have at the bookstore of first editions club, so we are we thinking about what book we are picking and three or four
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months. everyone in the store is fiercely reading. there is this feeling of trying to hold back a wave all the time. we've got february pics, but what about arch? what about april? >> you brought up it can't be lovey-dovey. you brought three things down you don't love. are you willing to name a book you picked up and couldn't finish or didn't want to? >> i don't even know that i looked at the cover, but it probably happens five times a day. no joke. every single day of my life. people are sending books to my house. people are sending me books to the bookstore. it is never-ending. people want me to read their books. if something doesn't catch me really fast, unless it is a friend or does come with a personal recommendation, i don't give it much of a chance at all. >> nick, what about you? do you feel the need to get to the end of every book or do you put things down?
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>> i love the sound when you're in a bookstore you open a book and read the first lines and then you walk that. now, we've read that. it done. forget it, go back. i do that a lot. but then, i hate saying that it's about looks in any specific way. that is why i stopped writing book reviews. i just think it is unkind. there is a huge world of books and everybody has a different universe of interest. i have gone through phases where i was certain books that i now don't love as much and i've also discovered oxidize it is that i thought i would never, ever read. it is always a mistake to say bad things about other people's books because you never know what saves somebody else is going to be in. i just say yes i do reject a lot of books. >> one of the things about
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negative book reviews is that i think there are occasions, certainly as happened with me that i've read someone and ended up disliking the reviewer more than i dislike the book and actually wanting to read the book week as i disliked was the reviewer had to say. you did not write make a different use for many, many years and have only recently returned to that fire. >> iran middle-age of thinking that is something you people do. they trash everything and have no conscience about it. now it just seems to me -- i will say it. there so many books out there that are taken seriously as great books that i feel i can't not say it. it's some tourette's part of me keeps wanting to say it's bad. >> i want to go back -- >> i want to say something about that. i am here at the yen, but there is a book recently written, a
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so-called nonfiction book, which said all of this really irresponsible stuff about ebola. that you could catch it from the air, that it's about to destroy america. it was a real fear mongering vote and a lot of the things that were not true, written by somebody who had to change his name at least once. and it got really bad reviews. i think it was in salon. i'm not sure. i kind of applauded that review. they're a certain times, certain books that say certain things that maybe you want to say something against. but that is never about technique or story or things that books do that deserve to be countered. >> i want to say something that will give solace to many worried grandparents now about what their little ones are reading. you started operating, looks at
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a child to what was it that appeal to you about comments? >> well, it seems like they understood a life. >> you were a superhero. >> i wanted to be a superhero. spiderman especially. i figured he was a black kid. all this power, all this ability, can't make any money. when he does make money, it is by make and fun of himself. the police are after him, the public fear him. but it does wonderful things in life. i felt the same thing about this thing and the fantastic four. and they are beautiful and artistic. >> what did you read growing up? >> i read comics also. i loved mad magazine when i was a kid. i thought finally, someone has the same sense of humor as me,
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unlike my family. [laughter] i just read everything. i was completely omnivorous. not until i was high school, i don't tank anyone told me or any of the difference between a so-called good look in a so-called bad book you i just didn't care. i'd read all these novels. i thought i did know the difference between james michener and henry james. they both have the same name. later i realized, but i didn't care. i just read everything. >> next. you're right tintin fan. >> yes, that is true. i love the way he drew and when he got drunk, the way he would fly out of the snow and go chasing. so i read a lot. then i was hit by a "lord of the rings" and that was sort of the things that i try to read in second grade and i really, really didn't get it.
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and i was confused, but i have this big book that i carried around and i read it again and to grade. it was really the most incredible reading experience. i remember laying on the couch, this crushed velvet couch that we had and just trying to find different positions and counting the number of pages in the excitement of being in the mid-is something so enormous. i loved that. and then i got into science fiction. a friend of my fathers with a science-fiction guy and he just delivered this massive stack of very well found sites, yearly anthologies, that kinds of things. i remember they were on the ironing board and i just kind of took them away and read them all and loved them. i thought, well i want to be a writer and great science fiction. i actually wrote a couple of stories based on the science-fiction. one was called gasp.
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that was when the worlds atmospheric -- >> who are your favorite nonfiction authors? >> i don't remember now. i loved the guy's name. the guy's name was robert shackley. shards of space. i love that one. >> ann, what rewritten at the time? >> i read whatever my sister had finished reading. i read charlotte's web which is usually important to me and changed my life. still to this day i am living in charlotte's web. i read the little house on the prairie book, nancy drew. nothing interesting, just exactly what everybody was supposed to read. and then when i was 13 i read humboldt's gift. i just went directly from little house on the perry to humbles gift, which was playing around. and i reread that book this last year and it was a canadian because i remembered every word
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of it. it was completely imprinted on my brain. and also when my grandmother was dying 10 years ago, i was having a heart time finding the right and to read to her and i ended up reading her all the little house on the prairie books again, which really have a lot of problems. he was really difficult. again, i could almost close the book and recite the next page. your brain is such a sponge when you are young and those things really stick. >> one of the great things i recommend actually listening to charlotte's web, there is an audio recording that eb white does himself and is so amazing to hear how he imagines the goose in the idiosyncratic speech patterns. when i asked you for your letter wary your letter wary hero was, ann, you said wilbur. >> i lived on a farm in tennessee when i was a kid and i got a pic for my ninth birthday.
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not one of those vietnamese potbelly pics, but the way pigs used to be. it was small for a couple of weeks. and it was my dog in a grew up to be 350 pounds. and i became a vegetarian like three days after my ninth birthday because i would meet my dog and i would meet my and that was it. i had a huge impact on me. >> do you have a literary hero? either then or now? >> i suppose as a child it was airborne stridor and captain had asked in a mixture of the two. >> francine. >> well, i liked all of those very basic, empowered girls, to the longstocking. it was so to speak textbook, but they really meant a lot to me. >> walter. other than spiderman. >> it has to be other than -- no, you know, i always have like
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a problem with talking about writing to readers because readers think a lot about routine. i don't know what writers think, but i don't think a lot about reading. i rarely think that reading has anything to do with writing. i don't equate them. they are two different tanks. i like them both. so the guy who i like the most is homer because not only was he a literate, he was also blind. so while he could do was tell stories about things that he had picked up. and that is kind of the way i think of writing. you are telling this kind of large come of big story in their head. it doesn't have to do with other people telling stories or writing books or anything like that. the books are something different. they are wonderful and they do connect and you tell the story and it gets published.
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that is where it ends. >> i like to believe everyone is readers a month as we know, only 50% of americans have read at least one book for pleasure in the last year and masochistic kind of remain static. so i do think the world divides into people who are readers and those who aren't. do you remember, was very time when you became a reader or someone who would fire due? walter? >> same thing as my parents. they would get there and they would read. that would be the same day they would watch television, tell stories, do all kinds of other things, that they would be reading books. they got me books. there were books everywhere. i just said, this must be important. >> francine, was a preordained with your name? was there a moment? >> well, i was a very early reader. i was just bored and i have learned the way it a lot of kids do, by memorizing and pretending i could read and sadly i could read.
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it was a party trick for me because my parents with a look at her. so there is this weird little or performance and then i discovered i liked it. that is how it happened. >> well, there is nothing wrong with you if you don't like reading. honestly, i think there are lots of people who have very complicated, interesting thought, whom i'd only read a couple of books a year. my father was in a reader. i mean, he was a reader. the red words, but he wasn't a book reader. i was amazed by how much he knew by reading the kinds of things he read. art, catalogs, "new york times" and just more ephemeral things. i don't think people necessarily have to read books. i am not a very good reader, honestly. i am not a terribly good reader.
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i read a lot, but i look the way my wife reads books that she has read all of trollope and she reads it and there is a kind of joy and it sorts out her life as she is reading the book in a way that doesn't happen for me. i am very jealous of it in fact. i am not that kind of reader and yet i manage to survive. it is okay. you know, what i have been hit with recently is the flashman series. george met donald fraser is a terribly actionable, british empire and he goes around doing terrible things all over the world. and he is sort of a pg woodhouse combined with the sharpe novels. he is funny and objectionable and i actually felt some of that feeling of wanting to go from book to book the real readers feel in reading these flashman
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series. >> ann chimera doris karen goodwins completeness. are there other writers you feel you have to read every single thing they write? >> ask somebody else when we think i'm not. >> i'll let you think i'm not. the cheaper up surrounded by books? did you come from a reading family? how did you become a reader? >> my parents were great readers. i have no memory of either of my parents ever reading to us, but they were always saying go away, we are reading. and i can remember -- >> that's the way to do it. >> i think that actually is the way to do it, that show the child you are in an important relationship of the book. my parents were divorced when we were very young and we only saw our father a week a year. long, sad story. it has something to do with the price of plane tickets. i remember when a spirit of going to visit my father and he was reading the godfather, the first godfather and he couldn't
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even look. he loved us. he was really happy we were there, but he was so stuck with it. i remember so well. i was eight or something insane he cut the head off the horrors and he put the head in the guy's bed. my father was a cop in los angeles. we were like no, they cut the head off the horrors and somehow i think that was better than him reading green eggs and ham. last mac >> i have to say i feel that is one of the beautiful points to reach in parenthood, where your child is independently reading so at night as they would you like me to read to you or should we read our own book side-by-side? >> it is bittersweet. do you have a favorite author? this is such a month such a man for questioning. everyone is probably going to name someone dead. nick. you can answer with like five names.
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>> to be honest, as soon as you said they've are not there, it was like the old eightball toy, where something comes up. it has to be in a block off. he is not an idiomatic writer of english and yet he had the desire to match up words with being sent away that just so when i read them, i think oh my god. when it was 15, i read this description he made a riding in a train, looking at telegraph wires in the telegraph wires were beaten down every so often and i thought my god, i know i've written in the back of a car that looked at the cars and telephone poles and they do the exact same thing in the exciting feeling that somebody is able to look at the world, pull it down and put it into words and it goes into my mind in the same thing happens. so he has to be still my favorite writer.
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>> francine. >> i couldn't possibly. that question -- every time i've ever written i feel than circling the drain in going down. >> that is like when someone comes up to you and says what should i read next in your mind just and devout. >> bread in a good books lately? there are hundreds of them. there are hundreds. >> i don't think i've read any good books with lately. that means they want sex with you? write? last mac for me, it is never authors. it is always books. i love cortés, but not t.s. eliot. this is just an incredible book, but when everything was that i don't love, i really like david copperfield, but that doesn't mean that i am reading everything dickens wrote.
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he does writers are anything. writers have different interests like me. so there are books that i like and i have nice feelings towards the writers because i wrote them, but it's not like everything somebody wrote is going to be mine. >> i love that questions, which is one of the reasons i started the q&a. i have five other index cards here, each with five questions on them. given the constraints of time, i want to invite everyone to ask your questions. if you want to go to the microphone, if you have any questions. >> while they are doing that, can answer the last question? because with the writers that i read when i was growing up, who are the people that by mother and stepfather read, who i read through high school and college and graduate school, this is so weird, but is bellow, updike and roth for me. even though there are good books and guidebooks, my very favorite books are really those three.
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the human steam and rabbit at rest and humboldt's gift. >> that is like a literary showdown kind of question. where you go fallow, rock or updike. >> into such a a cliché. these are my guys. >> we will turn to your questions. >> i need recommendations. having exhausted anthony trollope and jane austen, who would be in that world that i could read? >> we are going back to 19th century england. >> with some wit had >> it doesn't have to be england. >> read nancy mitford could love in a cold climate and pursued a love. you are not in because you party that done. you haven't? also, a book i finished a couple days ago, barbara trippi dio, brother to the more famous jacks. i can't explain to you why that connects. but it does. these are new books.
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barbara trippi dio. if you go to pronounce this books.net, i write all of these things down and they are all bare. also, if you let these books come you should read liz gilbert, signature of all things because she goes back and reimagines the heroines in a really meaningful way. >> would have been to jerzy kozinski? i can probably find out on the internet. is he still with us? >> no, he killed himself. >> he was -- somebody said he had help with one of his books, translational health that, translational hope that maybe verged into other kinds of. he seemed to be depressed than i think he felt his work was done. so he just checked out. >> please tell us about your book. i have a red one in almost 40 years good
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>> this is something i was going to bring up later, which are the literary controversies and should one read books for children if one is not a child. i belong actually to a children's book club for several reasons. one, because the books are short and therefore i am never asked you read nascar volume three night next month. i have a lot of books to read for work. the second reason is because the people in it, this is a book club that had been in existence. it was formed under the author gretchen rubin who wrote the happiness project and several other books. the book club has become so popular there are now three branches. next week we have a holiday book party and the people in that our authors of literary critics, people who work within publishing. many of whom don't have children, but for me, one of the things that i love about children's literature is that
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these are the books that made us readers. these are the books that hooked us. there is an unprecedented on story and on the themes that touch the human heart in children's literature and also enabled me to say in my world i have three children and i used to be the children's book editor at the time before as my children say, denoted. so that is my book to. >> question for transport. has owning a bookstore changed u.s.a. writer and if so, how? >> it probably has because i don't have as much time to write. my new book is a book of essays. i wrote the book because i had a bookstore and i couldn't just disappear in the same way that i do when i write a novel. i am trying to get a hold of my life and i am writing a novel
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now. when i opened this bookstore, it became such a big heart of my community in nashville and i started again at schools than rotary clubs and whose lodges and hosting the homeless shelter fundraiser and the library love. so that is how it changed my life. this shows how much a bookstore really serves that function in the community. >> it is true. >> so i apologize if you party answered this question, do you have thrown around the term good luck, bad book, what makes a good book for each of you i shall we start with walter. >> the first thing that makes a book of good for me is the language itself. if i am enjoying the language, the subscriptions come in the dialogue. after that comes character and story. i am really political, so at some point during other
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something can go awry politically it might turn me away. but if that doesn't happen, it is basically -- it is not just craft, not always, it is how the language and how well it flows forward for me. >> yeah, i agree with walter. it is all about sentences for me. >> i like when somebody is funny and what i like a person. if i like the guy or gal writing the book i think okay, i am willing to spend some time with this person. and i often have a sort of subversive streak where you want to read a better chandra burks or things that are not considered high literary books because i've heard those things so often i want to find out what people are doing who are less celebrated. >> nicholson baker reads romance novels.
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>> yeah, i love reading romance novels. they are dirty now. >> for me, it is when i forget i am reading. it's when i stop looking at a book and again that it's amazing the way they did that. that was so clever. i was a really smart idea. i'm not part of my brain shuts off and i start analyzing the books and figuring out how they did it and i just fully enter into it, then it becomes a truly great book. i just finished reading bras chat spoke. can we talk about something more pleasant? and i never read graphic models. to be reading a graphic novel and how that part of my brain clicked off, i was just with her every second. >> for me, it is about being transported. i don't want to read about other people my age in new york dealing with family and work. i want to be off in the congo.
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>> and i recommended ishiguro novel named as her. the mac yesterday we heard a wonderful presentation from walter isakson on his new book, the innovators. and i was curious if any of you spend much time reading nonfiction looks. >> i probably read more nonfiction than fiction. >> well, i write nonfiction, so i have to read a lot of nonfiction books in order to sit through what other people have said. and it is also -- it is kind of nice to alternate i think. being in an imagined world is kind of enveloping in a different way. when you are reading a nonfiction book, the person gets all sorts of points for telling the truth and i like the truth.
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i read probably as much or more nonfiction. >> i read about. when you have been out of school for a million years, if you're going to learn anything, you have to keep up your reading. >> reselling i bought this thing that was published in the 30s called the educator library. it is 11 volume college education for soldiers who went to war and couldn't -- because you could only go to school when you were 18 at some point, so if you're 25 euros old guy and couldn't go. the whole college education. as this before computers and the four jet engines come and explain the lost everything you can do. how to build a plane. it's kind of wonderful. i love stuff like that. i love history, too. but in the story of civilization kind of wonderful. >> i read a lot of nonfiction. i also listened to a lot of
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nonfiction. i am not so good at listening to fiction, but i'm good at nonfiction. this series deep down dark, the story of the land minors. really and, brilliant book. >> thank you. we have to bring the session to a close. i didn't know if he wanted to wrap it up. >> no. >> no wrapping. >> the audience looks bad. >> they do. you can still hang out here and ask questions except for nicholson baker who has to go to his next session. >> thank you so much. >> a round of applause for our panelists. [applause] and our panel will be signing books on this floor on the other side of the elevator. so please proceed to bear if you would like your book signed.
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if you have a ticket for the next session, you can stay in the room. just get your tickets now. if you don't, please exit to the left. thank you. .. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] ..
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[inaudible conversations] >> you are watching booktv on c-span2. live live coverage of the miami book festival, 17th year in a row that booktv has come to
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miami and brought this lives. we are in chapman hall were a lot of the non-fiction authors are here at miami-dade college and we will be live all day long. go to booktv.org and get the full schedule. you can see the street fair is going on here at miami-dade. about 250,000 people expected over the week that the miami book fair is held. joining us now on our outdoor set is harvard professor randall kennedy, a frequent guest on booktv and on c-span. his most recent book which came out last year which is talking about, "for discrimination: race, affirmative action, and the law" professor kennedy, has a affirmative action been successful in this country? >> i think it's been very successful over the past several decades. it has helped with the
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desegregation of american life, particularly in higher education and in employment. and i think that it has done a very good job in a variety of ways. it is help to rectify past injustice. it is help to bring into important discussions, people have been excluded and, therefore, enriched or public debate and our learning in various schools. so i think it has been a success. that's certain what our gym about. >> host: where did you come up with the title? >> guest: it was the last thing that was part of this project. i did not have a working title. the book at to be published. i needed a title. and actually the person who came up with the title was my editor. i had come up with a couple of
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titles. they were pretty flat. he came up with and he said what about for discrimination? usually people use the word discrimination it is a bad thing, but it grew on me and i've come to like it. >> host: is their stigma attached to affirmative action? >> guest: yes. affirmative action with many social policies house costs, and certain one cost of affirmative action is the idea that its beneficiaries or people who come even if they're not beneficiaries, if you thought to be beneficiaries, i think many people think that, well, so-and-so is a beneficiary of affirmative action. they probably are a little less good than people who did not have affirmative action. because affirmative action means giving people a helping hand, a boost. if you need a helping hand, if you need a boost, that suggest maybe are not as good as others.
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so yes, there is a stigma cost. >> host: randall kennedy, harvard law is our guest for the next half hour or so. it would like to call into talk to him about some issues we started talking about, (202)585-3890. (282)585-3891. dial in and we'll get your calls as quickly as possible. professor, are you a recipient of affirmative action? >> guest: yes. i am an affirmative action baby. i was told by affirmative action in terms of my education. one doesn't know for sure but i feel virtually certain that affirmative action helped enable me to go to yale law school. i think that affirmative action will likely help me secure a job
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at harvard law school. i was a very fine student. i've been very hard-working. i think that, i think that my record speaks for itself and that i've been able to be a real contributor to legal academia. but have i been helped, like so many other african-americans over the past 30 years in elite institutions? have i've been helped by affirmative action? yes. >> host: wended affirmative action begin? >> guest: , it all depends on how you define a affirmative action. for instance, i mean, there is a way of saying affirmative action has been part of american life since the civil war. the nation's first federal civil rights statute, civil rights act
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of 1866 was vetoed by the president of the united states, andrew johnson, the successor to abraham lincoln. and andrew johnson vetoed the civil rights act of 1866 because he said it would give quote discriminating texture, and textured african-americans. he thought he was giving an illicit, i'm just helping hand to african-americans because it allowed african-americans to be, citizens of the united states immediately. he thought that was a sort of illicit reverse discrimination. he thought it was reverse discrimination for federal law to say that african-americans, in fact all people, had to have the same rights to enter into contracts and own property on the same basis as white people. he viewed that as a type of quote of affirmative action. people nowadays don't view that as affirmative action. they view that as
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anti-discrimination law. the affirmative action we're used to, the affirmative action i mainly talk about in my book mainly came about in the late 1960s and early 1970s. the reason why it came about is because of a widespread feeling that anti-discrimination laws alone would not be enough to quickly desegregate american life. >> host: what about court cases? >> guest: there have been many court cases and wil there will e many more. just this past week and anti-affirmative action organization filed a court case against my university, harvard university, asserting that harvard university was discriminating against asian americans in particular. there was a court case filed by the university of north carolina claiming that their asian americans and whites were being discriminated against. so affirmative action, it's been controversial since the late
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1960s and remains controversial to they. >> host: what was the pocky taste? >> guest: it was the first time that the supreme court of the united states fully grappled with affirmative action. it was the early 70s. in fact, it was 1975 or 1976 as i recall. what happens in that case was it was a class of compromise. it was a case that involved are from an action at the university of california-davis medical school. this medical school set aside a certain number of places, i think it was 16 places, for disadvantaged minority, racial minorities. what the supreme court said was that it was unconstitutional for a public institution of higher education to set aside a certain number of places. they said that is to quota like,
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so they struck that down. the supreme court also said that universities could take race into account along with other things in determining who they were going to admit to these educational institutions. by the way that was a very interesting case because it really came down to just one justice. it was a split case and one justice, lewis powell, was this one justice who said that you cannot have quotas but you can take race into account as one of many factors. and by the way, that's the law of bakke is still the reigning law of the supreme court. it might change a bakke still holds. >> host: do we have an active what happened to alan bakke country yes, we do. he went to medical school and
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he's become a doctor. from what i can tell he has led a painful, productive life. >> host: al franken to be in discussions about race and the law with your students at harvard? >> guest: i am very frank. -- how frank lex in all of my books i have attempted to be frank. i take my position. i take my position. i argue my position strongly. i am pro-affirmative action, for instance. but in my book i also talk about the costs. in fact, so my friends give a little -- get a little bit miffed with me because they think a give away too much. they think maybe i talk about the cost too much, but i think people are smart. i don't think it's useful to try to hide the ball. i take a position. i believe information is my
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friend. i want people who have information. i want people to have all the argument. i think when people of all the arguments, they will, when armed with all the arguments, embrace my position. i am like that in class. i am like that when i write. >> host: uk met with a book a couple years ago, the n-word. what was the reaction to that? >> guest: the name of the book was strange career, troublesome career. it is a book that sold more copies to all of my other books combined. i got a lot of criticism from that book turn one from african-americans, whites, liberals, conservatives tried to liberals, concerns, white,
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blacks, asian-americans. there were people, i don't want to make it seem like everybody who disliked the book. there were people who liked the book but it did get a lot of criticism. i figure a number of people who did not like the title, for instance. didn't like the fact i spell out the word. and they didn't like some of the positions i took but there again i thought, you know, i said what i believed and i put all the arguments out there. a person -- is one thing i do when i write my book. i want to arm a person who disagrees with me. i wan wanted person who disagres with me to read my book and see all of his or her arguments. so nobody can read a book of mine and say, well, kennedy didn't bring up this argument against this position. i bring up all the arguments. >> host: the "washington post" did a series on the n-word. >> guest: i saw that. >> host: hasn't been destigmatize in a sense?
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>> guest: that's a good argument because there are some people who say that one way of dealing with this word is to make a big deal of it. don't make a big deal of it people just use it, let it roll off your back. it will lose its status and difference lose its status able to some of its attraction and it would lose its ability to hurt. america is so large that i think it's taboo in certain circles, for instance, you will never hear any politician using this word under any circumstances. if you had a serious politician on our show right now, they would not repeat the name of my book. they would not even repeated. they would not even say quote this guy randall kennedy wrote a book called -- for you to say
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that word is to discredit yourself. if we go to other realms, if we're talking about comedy, popular culture, people do use the word. so it's a word that is complicated you can use it in some forms, but even in those the forms you take a risk. i think that's as it should be, frankly. i think the n-word is a word that has been used and it is still used to hurt people. i think whenever you use that word, you should be using it advisedly. you should be in a sense, you should be using this word in full recognition that a lot of people find it hurtful. >> host: randall kennedy, harvard law is our guest your body and rock island illinois, you are the first caller.
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>> caller: thank you for taking my call. i do want to make the comment, discrimination does not only include race and religion but also life experiences. there is a great need for educators who are we tired to dedicate themselves to volunteer to educate those incarcerated with the basics of reading and math. those who have been incarcerated are, even after release, discriminated for the rest of their lives. and i wanted to ask mr. kennedy what his thoughts were on that? i will take my answer off the call. >> guest: i think you make an excellent point, the fact of the matter is that the united states of america incarcerates a large percentage of its population than any advance industrialized democracy. that is a shame. it is a disgrace. it is really an open scandal.
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and we need to do something about that. i would totally embrace the comment that we need you as much as we can, first of all to change our policies we don't incarcerate so many people. and secondly for those people have been incarcerated i think we do over stigmatize them. we do hurt their ability to come out of prison and get on with the gainful, productive life. i wholeheartedly embrace the sentiment of that collect. >> host: gelled in florida. >> caller: good morning. i have a question for professor kennedy. some of us look towards affirmative action us to blacks entering university circuit. i happened to be one who graduated from a major university, white major
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university in the state of ohio. this was before affirmative action. far too many times there is nothing said about those of us who were participants in the collegiate atmosphere, collegiate i guess academia, that existed before affirmative action. what is his position? what is his position on some of us? >> host: joe, tell us your experience. what you're did you graduate? where did you go to school? what was it like for you? >> caller: i graduated in 1959 from kent state university, and the makeup of the school at that time, i guess it was probably around 7000 students which there was no more than a maximum at best 100 minority afro-american
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students from ohio and the surrounding area. state rather. but the experience was one of high, a highly competitive environment, that there was no assistance provided to us with respect to holding hands and what you might call a mentor. but we were there just to survive, of which we did. so i was wondering what his take would be on that kind of situation that prevailed before affirmative action and in a totally white environment? >> guest: it's a wonderful comment. of course, it's true that african-americans and other racial minorities attended predominantly white institutions before the onset of affirmative
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action. they did a much smaller numbers, however, as the caller indicated. one of the things affirmative-action did in the late '60s, the early '70s, was too great larger cadres of racial minorities at these predominantly white institutions. and with the idea of being in mind, again that the desegregation of american life was simply proceeding too slowly under the old rules, the old regime. as for these circumstances of racial minorities before the advent of affirmative action, i would agree. that history does need to be more known. i think there are good aspects and bad aspects to it. there are plenty of instances, plenty of stories of
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african-americans and other racial minorities who are predominantly white institutions who did not have the benefit of affirmative action and created wonderful careers for themselves, and what they were able to achieve needs to be saluted. i don't think -- i think one can say that and also say at the same time, however, that what has occurred over the past several decades has been good. that larger numbers of racial minorities at these institutions has been good, but only for themselves but for the country as a whole. >> host: the n-word, ma the persistence of the color line, other books written by professor randall kennedy. is the cover of "for discrimination: race, affirmative action, and the law." tonia, san diego, good morning to you. you were on with professor randall kennedy. >> caller: good morning. it's an honor to speak to you. i was wondering what you think the president and gym has ignored the fact that the main
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beneficiary of affirmative action franklin has been white women? or it's always a very interesting experience when my coworkers realize they are the main beneficiaries of affirmative action. >> host: tonya, do you favor affirmative action laws? >> caller: idea but i just wish people were more educated on the fact that a lot of people who are getting the benefits of it do not say that they're getting the benefits of it, and many of them don't even know that because, in my job environment i would say that publicly seven of the 40 people definitely were helped because they were white women, because they're not as even qualified as some of the black men who try to get the same job. >> host: thank you, ma'am trend to i think the caller
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makes an excellent point. the fact of the matter is that in american lives there and many groups who get all sorts of benefits, sometimes informally, sometimes formally. clearly women. what about all these people who get benefits because their parents happen to go to a particular university, legacies for instance? what about the benefits that athletes get -- as far as i'm concerned there are probably good reasons for aiding all of these there is a groups. shouldn't be, nobody should be under the delusion that it's only racial minorities that get there is benefits. farmers get benefits. people increased benefits -- regions get benefits. what about the fact that public institutions there's a tremendous benefit given to same state students as those out of state students? that's a preference but there's all sorts of preferences, so
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long as preferences have a good, sensible basis, as far as i'm concerned they should be allowed. after all, racial affirmative action is nowhere except as a remedy for judicial impose remedy, outside of that. affirmative action is something that politicians permit. racial affirmative action is permissive. it's not required. and so if people commit it, and it's usually the majority that is committing it in any event, it seems to me it should be a loud. if the majority of people in a particular state don't want to have a, for instance, the people of california got rid of racial affirmative action. the people in michigan got rid of racial affirmative action but if they want to get rid of it they can. but if people want to have it seems they they should be able to have it. there is good reason to have it as i argue in my book. >> host: diego, colorado.
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diego, i'm going -- will have to let that go. i apologize. that connection is not working so we will move on to lynn in parkersburg pennsylvania. randall kennedy is our guest on booktv. >> caller: hello, doctor kennedy. as one involved with discrimination and education, are you aware of anyone looking into the fact that all higher, from what i experienced, higher education, when you are accepted as astute it is not a contractual agreement? you can complete all requirements for a degree. the entire syllabus with a 4.0 average, have paid all your tuition, perhaps with government
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grants. and they can choose whether they feel like giving you your diploma or not. you may not get your diploma. you have no legal recourse. it was not a contractual agreement. so that students have no anti-discrimination protection for graduation and getting a diploma. therefore, they can't -- >> host: why do you ask that question? >> caller: because it happened to me. i could not go out and get a job in my field. and pay back my government loans. so that all these pop-up -- i would deliver a prominent university in philadelphia for a masters to become a teacher for a second career. and, you know, old white women
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are not -- >> host: all right. thank you. randall kennedy? >> guest: i'm really sorry to hear about your unfortunate situation. i must say though that i don't think that you're correct in saying that a student who goes to an institution is without recourse if that institution arbitrarily with holds a diploma. in fact, i think that any student who goes to a public or a private institution, in fact, does have a contractual relationship with the institution. and if this institution acts arbitrarily, i think that they are in breach of contract and are also probably in breach of a whole set of state and federal laws. so if you have been treated arbitrarily by that institution, i would suggest that you consult with a lawyer because i think he
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would, in fact, have recourse. >> host: professor kennedy, because of the nature of your books do you get a lot of people get a lot of people the daily news, contacting you, this happened to me type cases? >> guest: i do. with all of my books, i've gotten lots of e-mails. and, frankly, one of the things that's most gratifying about writing my books is that it does trigger telephone calls. it triggers e-mails. it triggers letters. obviously, i'm in no position to help out everyone, but i would say a couple times a year that or people who get in touch with me, or their lawyers get in touch with me, and i've been able to assist people. and i'm very happy about that. >> host: were you surprised by what happened to your colleague, henry louis gates? >> guest: do you mean the instance where henry louis gates was restless police officer?
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yes, i was surprised by that. frankly, here you have this very esteemed, very famous law, excuse me, university professor at harvard who was arrested in his own house after proving that it is his own house. this was an instance of reality outdoing anybody's imagination. i mean, i wouldn't have thought that up for law school hypothetical. so i was a bit surprised by it but, of course, what happened, you know, a little bit of an insight about the problems and that african-americans at every level. he is at the very elite level. he went to the station house in handcuffs. you know, nothing ultimately have happened to them. the charges were dropped, but
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what about a younger person, let's say, who did not have the resources that he had, a younger person who did not have the resources maybe to become a person who might have gotten angry and might of lashed out at the police officer? that sort of case turns out not to be a case where the person is just at the station house for a matter of hours. that is the sort of case that ends up with somebody badly hurt or killed. so the henry louis gates episode was a very sobering episode. ..
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>> caller: yes, you did. my comment is simply this. and here it and not having had the opportunity to read the book, i thought how wonderful it is in this country because it solidifies the heart and soul of what we like to think america is, integrity. that is what i wanted to say. this book calls to mind the
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patcher itself is about integrity. >> guest: well, thank you very much. i appreciate that. >> host: professor, if someone were to pick up one of your books, which one would you recommend today? >> guest: the book that i had the most fun writing, the one i had the most time right he was a book called interracial intimacies. sex, marriage, adoption and identity. it was a book about the way in which the legal system has regulated interracial intimacy over the course of american history. that was my favorite book. the trouble with the book is it is long. it is 600 page is. if i was redoing the book now, i would split it into two books. you have to be a rather
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committed reader to read that entire volume. but for me, that was the book that i think is the best everett. >> host: is a little off your beaten path as law professor, is the net? >> guest: no, no it is full of law. the first racial laws in america were laws that regulated interracial sex in interracial marriage. and the last of the jim crow laws was the law that prohibited across the baseline, start anonymous at the title case in all of american constitutional law, loving versus the commonwecommonwe alth of virginia. not another reason i like that book if it goes to an earlier question is whether people get in touch with me because a big
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portion had to do with interracial adoption. there's lots of people who read the book and now they were being frustrated by their ability to a drop across the race line and that book made the argument that nobody in the states ought not get in the way of people who want to adopt across the baseline and that book has been used very widely and legislation. it has been used in litigation. it has been used to in courage people to adopt interracially and i am very happy about that. >> host: randall kennedy occurred on a tv in depth program. he discussed his entire body of work and we discussed that one as well. if you'd like to watch a three-hour program or parts of it, go to booktv.org. in the upper left-hand function
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function -- corner is a search function. watch it online at your leisure. peter is then used the dough, california. peter, did i say a right? >> caller: hi, yes. it is california and i'm honored to be speaking with dr. randall kennedy this morning. i just had a question. can you hear me? >> host: go ahead. >> caller: yes, i wanted to ask, do you believe that affirmative action in great measure to leveling the playing field and americans to begin with for african-americans, each of those were turned affirmative action and do you think americans will ever see steep restitution? if not or if so, why? >> guest: in my view, affirmative action is at least in part a type of reparations.
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i mean, i think there're bunch of reasons and good reasons to support affirmative action. but i think reparations is one of them. reparative justice. i think this is one way -- we don't color preparations, but i think it has been a type of reparations and it is entirely justifiable. >> host: how do you think president obama has been on the issue of race? >> guest: well, he has been a very tough position as the first black president. and i think that being the first black president, he has felt inhibited. i think he is keenly attuned to the feared allegation that he is showing racial favoritism to his
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people, so to speak. and so i think you sort of bent over backwards to avoid that sort of allegation. he's in a very difficult position. obviously, he has lots of opposition. obviously, he is an historical first. i think when you are an historical first, like the great jackie robinson, in a way, barack obama is the jackie robinson of the higher echelons of american politics. and just like jackie robinson, just like jackie robinson had to take it, just like jackie robinson had to be twice as disciplined as anybody else, had to go for it may be saying some of the things that were on his mind, i think barack obama is in the same position. and that is what happens. so why give him -- i respect
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him. i admire him. has he done everything perfectly? of course not. that i think a given circumstance is, he has done in our world job. >> host: josh is in carbondale, illinois. josh, go ahead. >> guest: good morning. professor kennedy, i read several books and articles. i'm a big fan of your work. my question is i have a concern about some of the trends in higher education when it comes to affirmative action, were essentially institutions of higher learning are really concerned about the racial cheyenne accent diversity of the freshman class. but they are not really tracking and looking at the graduation class. when you look at graduation trends, why students might graduate of 55% from a 60%, and african-americans might graduate
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a 25% or 30%. there has been to discussions on things like mismatch theory, which some of them are policies that actually for students of color, african american students, hispanic students into situations they are not yet prepared for. i am interested in hearing some of your comments on not. >> host: >> host: josh come >> host: josh, are you a college student? >> guest: i am a college professor. >> host: what you teach? >> guest: >> caller: intercultural communication. >> guest: first of all, that is a nice point of getting into an institution. and graduating for destitution. they aren't have to be a tennis to off assets and off assets of collegiate life. college is seen to be falling down and not attending to the
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needs of the students. we need to be attentive to that. do i think affirmative action is going to change over time quite sure, affirmative action is going to change over time. the demographics of america change over time and with a change in demographics, we are going to see changes in affirmative action. very intelligent people who want to tweet affirmative action in various ways. one for instance to be more attentive to the issues of class. i welcome that. i think we should be experimental. i don't think that because something has worked well in the past we should leave it alone. we should always be re-examining. so i haven't favor of racial affirmative-action. at the same time we should be re-examining our policies. one of the things we should take into account is the very issue
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we make. >> host: martin luther king, without regard to race or color. did i quote him correctly? >> guest: you know, martin luther king jr., it seems to me, is often misunderstood on this. there were certain things he said, for instance, his great i have a dream speech, in which i live in a society in which my children will be as fast on the basis of their character, not their color. that sounds like quote, color blindness. at the same time, i say the number of times in my book, martin at the king junior stated on many occasions been insofar as black people have been held down, there needs to be special efforts to assist them in elevating themselves. so martin luther king jr. was in fact, in his own time, a proponent of what we now call affirmative action.
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>> host: randall kennedy is standing out here in the miami heat with us. we appreciate that very much. we've got more phone calls if you would like. >> guest: absolutely. >> host: marcel in goodyear, arizona. marcel. >> caller: thank you, mr. kennedy. i have one question for you. do you think it has benefited the african-american people at all? i work for the federal government and i see the federal government is the biggest violation of racism. you know, when i am when i am there working and i see the number of african-americans employed by the federal government, if you're in washington d.c. or baltimore area, there's a lot more african-americans that are promoted up in hierarchy positions. but if you go maybe to the south and the west, that is not the case. so as out here on the west kind of struggle with the fact that in city government, federal
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government, we are not getting promoted to the level we should be. we are very capable people with college degrees and people come in have been in the system one or two years and make it over us. >> guest: a couple of things. number one, it's really a huge, huge, huge country. you know, different parts of the country i am sure there are different levels of affirmative action. inside different in different places. affirmative action by and large has beneficial, not only to african-americans but countries as a whole. having said that, i've said several times in the past half hour. it's not like affirmative-action is a great panacea. it's not like affirmative action is to the great cure-all.
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affirmative action is going to only be helpful to people who get into college in the first place. frankly, if you are a plausible candidate for college, you are already doing pretty well. one problem frankly is it tends to how people who are already doing pretty well. affirmative action does not help in a strong way people further down on the socioeconomic ladder. before that, we need other programs. so while in favor of affirmative action, i don't affirmative-action can do the whole thing. it's one of many things that has helped america get older some of these inequities in american history and some of the current
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inequities. >> host: "glee" in rockville, maryland. good afternoon. >> caller: gas, good morning, professor kennedy. enjoy the show. professor, i would like to ask you something. i live in rockville, maryland rapier washington d.c. and like most people, many people the washington area work for the federal government. i was perusing the vacancy announcements. i applied for this job at the government agency that i work for and i got an interview in a few months late i got a letter back saying thank you for applying. we've selected someone else. and then in the newsletter, the agency newsletter, they had the announcement of the position being filled. the woman that got the job was an african-american woman with no college degree, no college
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degree. i of course have a bachelors degree from a very good university, a masters degree in business administration from a very good university. i'm also an adjunct professor of one of the local communities in the maryland suburbs. this woman who did not have college degree in opposition. i was wondering how they could defend affirmative action. when this thing goes on. do you believe in easter by nancy in a cause. this goes all the time. >> host: lee, i'll tell you why. stay on the line. let's hear from professor kennedy and we will let you give a quick response.
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>> guest: number one, i defend affirmative action in principle. i do not defend affirmative action in every instance. i am quite sure there are mistakes made. and there are some places that have done that teams. any other programs. i will not expand in every other instance. it may very well be the episode you just mentioned is terrible and if that is the case, that is very bad. at the same time, i don't think that you can use an instance or give me 20 instances. this is a huge country. it was a huge country, a program that involves many tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people, 50 instance is not
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characteristic of the way affirmative action has been practiced across american life. so i found something is askew here. this is a sort of thing that can actually discredit affirmative-action and that is bad. you can't expect of a policy that it will be perfectly done or even satisfactorily done in every instance. >> host: lee, very quick response. >> caller: i understand your point. but anytime you start judging people on the basis of the color of their skin and not on the content of their character like martin luther king said. you are asking for trouble. you're asking for trouble. that is all i have to say. >> host:
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>> guest: okay, let me respond by saying martin luther king jr., you just alluded to martin luther king jr. take a look at my book. and make a big deal of this because again, martin luther king jr. is often cited as a person whose ideas were against affirmative-action. martin luther king jr. said expressly that reparative justice demands the special efforts be made on those who have been kept out of american life. the fact of the matter is across america, i could give you many instances of people who occupy positions in government, who occupy positions in educational whatsit tuitions, high and low, who would not have occupied those positions but for affirmative-action. they got in because of affirmative because of affirmative-action and they have been important, positive contributors to american life.
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>> caller: yes, thank you for taking my call. it's been affected as you see berkeley after high school. my question to dr. kennedy is not far i think i got his name right, who understand is totally against affirmative-action. >> in my book i talk about a leading anti-affirmative activist. i disagree very strongly with connolly and make my arguments against his arguments. now, i want to say, i argue
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strongly in favor of affirmative-action. at the same time, there are people who i think are perfectly good people, perfectly reasonable people who disagree with me. you know, i don't think that people who aren't not all people in the affirmative-action in my view are unreasonable or evil or anything like that. we are talking about a public policy about which people can agree and disagree. i think there are people who are sincere sleigh against racial oppression who want to elevate america to a higher level, who is against affirmative-action because they think that the drawbacks of affirmative-action outweigh the benefits of affirmative-action. i disagree with them, but i want to caution people against thinking that anybody who disagrees with this point of
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view has to be malevolent or has to be ignorant. i don't believe that. >> host: what is your take on what is happening in ferguson? >> guest: my take on what is happening as ferguson is that it is an american tragedy. it's terrible. it shows one of the great weaknesses in the american legal system, which is lack of regulation of the police. now, that should have been evident before ferguson. it is evident today after ferguson that a nation that prizes itself on being law-abiding needs to be much more attentive to regulating the agent of the government that most people come into contact with day in and day out.
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we are talking about people who have guns on their hips and the authority to use those guns and our legal system does a very bad job of policing the police. for me, that is certainly one of the sobering lessons of ferguson. >> host: so, the grand jury doesn't indict? >> guest: i would say frankly it grand jury indicts or does not indict, my scheme that would remain free of the same. in any event, whatever happens in ferguson, we have a problem across the united states. it's not a regional problem. it is a national problem at every level the police are not held sufficiently to account and that poses a danger to all
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americans. >> host: three more calls. you've been very patient out here in the miami heat. rené is in dallas. >> caller: hello, hi, mr. kennedy, professor kennedy, excuse me. i am actually calling about. i am actually calling about one case that i have the luxury of sitting in on. it was out in san antonio texas. it involves a young man who's never been in trouble before, part of a fraternity, and it was an incident from the uncle in the military never been in trouble before, but was very dicey to a captain or something of that store.
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it was an incident where he got angry at the wife. on the military base, unfortunately, decided afterwards to go ahead and go when she was incarcerated. you know, he called out to a nephew who of course has never been in trouble before. the family also military. and ended up being incarcerated or trusted because he had gone to the aid of this uncle. once he had gone to the uncle, a lot of the information that exchanged because the sad story of okay, i have this one wife that was unfaithful.
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so needless to say -- >> host: b'nai, this is getting a little bit complicated for a call-in program. can you cut to the chase for the add? >> caller: i'm so sorry. i'll go ahead and cut to the chase. needless to say, needless to say, this is a young man that was a folk star and had all-white jury and that's no offense to anyone. all white jury. the jury found this particular kid guilty of conspiracy to shoot or kill. forgive me. i don't know the legal terms. >> host: okay, you know what, i am sorry. we are going to have to let you go. i think that's going to go on a little bit long. any response, do you know where she's going with this? >> guest: i'm not altogether sure. the fact of the matter is the
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administration of criminal justice, the subject of my first book is still in the area of the racial context is very unsatisfactory. we need as a society to reevaluate how we punish people commend the extent to which we punish people. we live in a society in my view, which is just hyper punitive. and we are wasting unnecessarily -- they're some people who do terrible things. we need to be protected. some people i really dangerous enemy to be protected against dangerous people. on the other hand, we have in our prisons for far too long, people who really represent the
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danger. this is an area that really bags for more study and for reform. >> host: what do you tell your kids? what do you tell your kids about interactions with race? >> guest: i have two boys. i have two boys and a girl. and i have had a talk that black people have had. unfortunately, i have told my children that they should be respectful to police. the police have a difficult job. in my life i usually had good interaction with the police. on the other hand, anybody who reads the newspaper knows that black young man argued differently than others by police. and by the way, police of all
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backgrounds. i'm not just talking about by police. i'm talking about lack police, too. not only are they viewed as relayed by police, but as a matter of policy. so i told my sons that they have to be on their peas and keys. i told them that they should be respectful. i told them that if they are approached, if they are, you know, if the police stopped them, they should not argue, that they should do what they are told. even if they are being treated wrongly, be quiet, just do what you are told. and something bad happens and a porch light the legal system is
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not going to do much to assist you. that is a sobering fact of life and is a fact of life that i have conveyed to my boys on a number of occasions. >> host: all right. ron in harbor city, california. they get quake. we are running out of time. >> caller: quick is good. i just wondered what your opinion would be about the president who is african, but he is way. and the one thing, the people he sees one person with reverend al sharpton. they came from slavery. but the president didn't. he has no connection with slavery. i want to know, do you think that's how he got to be
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president in the sense that he beat hillary and that is what really happened to hillary. >> host: anything you would like to respond to their? >> guest: yeah, the caller makes a good point. my book before this one was the persistence of the things i point out is barack obama made a fateful decision about a young adult and that is what did he have to do himself. he could have called themselves many innings. he could've called himself a variety of things. he decided to continue himself an african american or black. it is found that identity that he advanced his lies and that is what most people see a nonce. >> guest: before i go, let me
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say how happy i have to be on the show with you and how great a service that you provide. thank you. >> host: one more call. drinks are without water, please. you have been standing out here for an hour in the heat with us. domaine carlton, texas. you've got the last word. >> caller: i'm so sorry to hear the parity that went before me about the importance of immigration reform in states like texas that have been making legislation through the judicial system. also, if you could use the analogy of little steps made by small feat. ..
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i think that all of us, no matter where we are situated, no matter what, there are things day by day that can be done to better not only ourselves but better our neighbors, better our society as a whole. and thankfully the secretion of those small steps that make a huge difference over time. >> host: what's the next book? >> guest: i'm writing a book, a legal history of the civil rights revolution. that's going to be a big book. it's going to take a while to complete but i'm having a lot of fun doing it. one of the reasons why i'm
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having a lot of fun doing it has to do with the last caller's point. i get tremendous inspiration in doing research about the civil rights movement precisely because so many people very modest people, very modest people did things day by day that have made a huge difference here so this is a book that i do, i have a smile on my face. it really is inspiring, and i want to tell their story so that's my next book. >> host: randall kennedy, if you want to watch any of his previous times on booktv coda booktv.org, search in the upper left hand corner, type in his name and whic we've covered several of his books. as always, thank you. >> guest: thank you to them on booktv's live coverage from the miami book festival continues. we have several hours ahead of
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coverage. that includes our next panel which is met by an bob herbert of "the new york times." they will be on a panel together but after that charles blow, "new york times" columnist and richard blanco whose the new poet laureate of the united states would a book about his miami childhood. he was going up here in miami. we're going to talk to dana goldstein. you'll get a chance to listen to or. then there's another panel this afternoon, a panel on books and e-commerce. ahead of your booksellers association will be on that. the editor of "the new republic" will be on the panel as well. you will be able to watch that.
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if you're in the area come on down. the c-span bus is here. were passing a book bags and all sorts of things. no, on down, say hi and grabbed a book bag. this is the 17th year in a row that booktv has covered the miami book festival live. and even though we're covering 25 authors and putting on 20 hours of programming, we are just a small part of what the book fair offers. offers. 600 offers a bishop invited and are speaking of the book fair. about 250,000 people over these three days of the street there at miami-dade college are down as well. just want to let you know that coming up next week to musa booktv is 40 hours of nonfiction books and weekend, but beginning thanksgiving day it is four days of nonfiction books and authors. so you will get booktv on
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c-span2 for four days beginning thanksgiving morning. make sure to join us it has always booktv.org. you can get the full schedule and everything like that. final little promo, go ahead and follow was at booktv on twitter or on facebook, facebook.com/booktv. we have been doing some behind the scenes video and photos from down here, and you can stay updated on schedule and things like that. we are continuing our live conversation down here at miami. david rothkopf who heads the foreign policy magazine group and the author of several books including his newest, "national insecurity: american leadership in the age of fear." are we living in an age of fear when economists to foreign policy? >> guest: i think we have been since 9/11. i think that was a body blow to the united states that gives a sense of vulnerability we have
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had perhaps ever. we feared the cold war but most of the times we have had a threat in the past it has been remote when we been attacked as in pearl harbor and the people who read about in the newspaper. they processed this through their cerebral cortex. you look at things on television and nobody looks at what happened on nine 9/11 on television, it hits you is it all of a sudden there was this national sense of vulnerability and it was compounded by politicians and others capitalizcapitaliz ing o on it. we sort of plays into the hands of terrorists by saying this is the great threat. you read ordered held national security process that once was focused on the cold war, and we focused on terrorists come essential a few hundred people living in caves in afghanistan and in pakistan. and from there the threats
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build. it was compounded, compounded by the financial crisis, has been compounded by things like ebola. we have a sense of vulnerability that we have had as a country in a long longtime. >> host: you write in your book about september 11 itself. you're sitting at a restaurant in washington with a couple of folks including susan rice. did you have those thoughts at that point that, all mike honda come we can't react this way? we have to think about this. we can focus our foreign policy? >> guest: as it happens i did. in fact i wrote a column about two weeks after 9/11 for "usa today." i said it's dangerous to fall into the trap of overreaction really end up having a global at the father we choose the confrontation ahead in israel we have the powerful israeli army
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respond -- what's happened is we've gone overreaction come here some of the other measures. we've seen a proliferation of terror. by the calculator the state department right now more terrorists in more places, more casualties than there has been any time in history right now. >> host: america's role in the world, u.s. foreign policy. our guest david rothkopf author of several books, and ceo and editor of the group which publishes foreign policy magazine among many other things that he does. we will let him tell you in just a minute. (202) 585-3890 if you live in the central and eastern time zone. (282) 585-3891 for those of you in the mountain and pacific time zones. what was the reaction to that
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column that you wrote? was a pretty strongly anti, just because we're in an emotional time? >> guest: i don't remember. i think the general mood at the moment, however, suggests that we wanted revenge, we wanted to get back in. i think president bush did initially, singh is going to go into afghanistan and go after the perpetrators of the attack is what any president would've done. it was when his advisers any kind of broken national security system guided him towards iraq, guided him towards a war which we later learned took place for no reason, nothing to do with the attacks, that drew as soon too and it created conflict and crisis that we are still fighting today. it's 13 years later and we're still in their now in iraq
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adding more troops in iraq against new terrorists in iraq but i think it's fair to say we might not have been doing that if we had been made this mistake in iraq back in 2001. >> host: in "national insecurity" you also read about the issue of perspective. that because of our polarized washington, or polarized political situation, that we don't get the benefit of perspective. >> guest: washington is broken. it's broken in a lot of ways. it's broken in terms of campaign finance. broken because incumbents are the only people who end up with their jobs. we reelect more incumbents to the congress and the supreme soviet union did during the soviet era. but is most a broken right now because the states are so polarized. that everybody sort of goes into the clubs. they do the other side as the
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enemy. they attack before they stop to process. one of the things i tried to do in the book, i would to 50 or 60 people from the bush administration, 50 or 60 able from the obama administration. what the tragedy was have him tell in their own words. one of the things you find when you talk to these people is most of the people who do national security work for the u.s. government, republican or democrat, are good people. instead of looking at it from a political lens they are looking through the lens of what's working, what's not working, how did we get to the mess we got into? if you look back at the past 11, 12, 13, 14 years, this is not going to be a golden age for u.s. foreign politics. history will never look back at barack will -- barack obama or george bush is a these were extremely successful foreign policy president. if you want to break out of
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this, in the series, we go to strip away that political view. we have to look at in terms of what's working, what's not working. that's what i did in the book try how are the reactions of? >> guest: i think george bush was reacted to the crisis that took place in 2001, editing barack obama was reacted to the policies of george bush. we went from one extreme, george bush's overreaction, to another extreme, rock obama's under reaction in places like syria where we waited too long. where we'd have a situation where, according to the administration, we could be in iraq and syria for the next four or five or six years dealing with isis and other terrorist organizations. >> host: from your book, george w. bush will never be seen as a great president. but if there were a grade for the greatest growth in the
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office he would score what? >> guest: that's one of the things again if we look at through the lens of polarizing cable news network some of the kinds of things, we get this cartoonish view of george bush, and articulate, frat boy president if anything an ideologue who was a puppet of dick cheney. by the time he got to 2005, 2006 he started to realize that wasn't working. the thing about george bush's life, he failed in business. he failed in a run for congress. he failed as a baseball manager. he got over it. he knew when he was wrong and he wouldn't have gotten anywhere if he couldn't -- admit when he was wrong and change. he had meetings with his staff and realize they have to change the team.
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he replaced donald rumsfeld with bob gates. he moved condoleezza rice from ashes could advisor to the state department. got colin powell out. he promoted steve hadley as national security advisor. he changed the generals. you look at the result in iraq and one of the things he said was, this is a working. getting another strategy. he brought in to search. he brought in david petraeus to add a whole set of other things took place after that. for american foreign policy in the last couple years of george bush, his effort in africa and for, the indian nuclear deal, with outreach to our allies, with the surge and improve performance in afghanistan. that whole couple of years was published the high water mark for u.s. foreign policy from 2001 through now. so here is a guy who most people are thinking bungled in his
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first of their session, made some terrible mistakes. but by the time he got to the end of the second administration things were working pretty well. we've got to give them points for that willingness to acknowledge where he was wrong and to do something about it. >> host: david rothkopf, what is your background? how did you get involved in these issues? >> guest: my background was that when i get my first job was as secretary for government -- congressman. i was in the media business forr a bit and about about these things and then i was invited to go in the clinton administration to start out as deputy under secretary for commerce, then for a while was the acting under sector for international trade. i would to be the managing director for kissinger. set up a firm with tony lake, susan wright, john deutch that it international advisory work. and from there moved on and ultimately now am the editor of
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the fp group and and advisory firm. a couple of years i tried to write a book i can come back and talk to you in miami. >> host: (202) 585-3890 for those of you in the eastern/central time zones. (282) 585-3891 him about the pacific are talking about america's role in the world, u.s. foreign policy with david rothkopf. will begin with leo in the bronx. you are on the booktv. please go ahead. >> caller: thanks for having me. my question is, you made a statement that barack obama is under involved in iraq and syria. i want to remind you of ronald reagan in 1983 when 240 marines were killed in a terrorist bombing in beirut, and his response was to withdraw those marines. lebanon had a civil war which went from 1975-1990 so do you
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think that barack obama is taking a page out of ronald reagan's book? and the other part of the question is, how do you weight intervention versus containment? >> guest: well, i don't know barack obama is generally taken a page out of ronald reagan's book. there are many examples in u.s. history of presidents not responding to overseas crises, and i think it's appropriate. there's no reason why the united states should get involved and beaten the world's sheriff. but there are some circumstances that require our involvement because if we act, particularly if we act early, you can protect our national interest. i think what happened was in syria where there was a huge election crisis come over 200,000 people have died in syria. we failed to actually follow through on what we said we're going to do.
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we didn't support the free syrian army. we didn't give them the arms and the support they needed. three or four years ago isis was essentially a straigh street ga. had we intervened back then, had we pushed our allies not to support radical groups back then, had we done more on jeanette tang front back then, quite likely we would have a crisis to the degree we have today. as for the distinction between intervention and containment, those are two different things to use in two different kinds of circumstances. i think we discovered that containment was a formula that worked well during the cold war because confronting the soviet union, particularly when there was the threat of the air war, would've produced a catastrophic results. we intervened when is essential for us to do so. ideally when we can do so with allies, ideally when we can advance our national interests. and inept the crisis in the bud. obviously, we have done this in
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world wars as well but these are rare circumstances and hopefully we won't face those again try ron is calling in from always massachusetts. go ahead. okay, we will let him go. you've got to turn down the volume on your tv and just listen to vote otherwise you get a delay. bob is in the middle of the country in overland park, kansas. >> caller: i make a some years back. -- i met you some years back to my question is related to the new environment we have close to the eric snowden revelation about nsa and what the applications are for the future of the internet, the global village and impact it may have had on freedom in the use of the internet, looking at
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cyberattacks and increase lean other countries are creating their digital operatives. what are your thoughts on that in terms of -- >> host: i think we got the point, bob. thank you very much trying to i think you are right to raise this issue. you asked earlier about the age of fear. one of the clearest manifestations of the agency or comes with the expansion of surveillance around the world. a couple dozen people could go -- we bought into the concept that a few people could do great damage. impacin fact there's even this a of the lone wolf who carries and a backpack a bio weapon, a nuclear weapon who could do great damage. what this did was it put us in a situation where we went from having a civil union, a great nation as an adversary to a situation where we saw literally
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every person in the world is a potential threat. that's impossible. it's an impossible situation to begin. what did did it lead to? it led to policies where we literally scooped up every phone call from an entire country. hundreds of millions of phone calls. hundreds of millions of perceived threats out there, and in so doing we essentially set aside the constitution of the united states. there's an argument about whether metadata which is the sensitive data which is where your enough came from and when it came into came from is covered by the fourth amendment of the constitution. if you wrote that data into datebook it would be covered by the constitution. the notion exist in electronic passports were some lawyers that it's not. i think that's nonsense. i think we overreach. i think this fear drove us to overreaching. we alienated our allies but the thing that's most important to deliver home as a message is
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this is the early days. this is the early days. every country in the world is going to look at the internet and say we can conduct offensive operations, we have to have new defenses, that there are new threats out there. just a couple of weeks ago we passed a big water mark in history of the world. that are now more cell phones than there are people. in other words, every human being on the planet is connected in a man-made system for the first time in history of the planet. it creates vast data flows that becomes mobile to this kind of attacks, either by criminals or by terrorists and creates new vulnerabilities he was. i can over the course of the next several years some of the biggest terror threats we're going to see our cyber terror threats. they are not traditional threats with explosives and the like. >> host: next call for david rothkopf comes from alan from
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scottsdale, arizona. >> caller: thank you so much for booktv. thank you so much. really appreciated. this is a fairly deep question but this has to do with the military complex, and a side of it with all these different parts of the military, nsa, cia, the military itself having its own different divisions within the military. and the part about top secrets. the military keeping from the american people the truth. it just seems so overwhelming, even though people are saying we need congress is saying we need to fund the military more, but then you see all these different departments having all this money that's never ever scrutinized. i would like to do a follow-up question to his answer.
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>> host: allen, why don't you go ahead and do your follow-up now, okay? >> caller: it's hard to do a follow-up because i would like his opinion. and the fact is that i think spending has never been scrutinized. that's my point. i mean, it's just the from the billions of dollars have never been scrutinized. it's worse than the department of education where they've never even balanced the budget time when we got the point. thank you, sir. let's hear from david rothkopf try to look, you know, after the second world war when the economy grew and grew and grew because our investment, there's a fear that if we sort of turned off in the investor complex and outback we would end up in a recession. so that led us to build up our spending again to fight the cold war. that went on for years and years and years. than in the wake of the cold weather was severe that again that again we could produce a recession.
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what happened? 9/11 happened at the military and test a complex use that as an excuse to spend at huge levels to protect against the threat for terrorists and other kinds of groups. there are real threats what are the threats that weren't the united states spen spending as h money on defense as the next 14, 15 countries added up? of course not. particularly since both of those countries are allies and don't pose any threat at all. the united states has made a choice. we now spend six or $700 billion a year on defense instead of spending it on education instead of on roads, health care. could we spent half as much, say as much of the next five, six or seven coaches in the world and still be a safe country? of course we couldn't. but we don't have this debate. we have grown dependent on the size of this apparatus, and i think it's a particular irony that this particular moment
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because of the wars we have gone through, we actually are unable even with the huge apparatus to feel the kind of forces we need to against the small threats in the middle east. not only have the overspent, we have misspent. i think the call is right. i think it's time to renewed debate about this and to consider how we can do this anymore intelligent way. >> host: 6-under, 700 billion defense. october the how must we spend on the national security structure transfer it depends on how you define the structure. take intelligence, take the state department, let's take a and so forth, it's another couple hundred billion on top of that. the point is whatever the size, even if it's just the six or seven, it's much, much more than any country. china is currently estimated to spend 65, $75 billion. they are our next biggest rival.
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people say they are under estimating it. so they're out of as many of by 100%. they are still spinning 75% less than we are on that. it's completely out of whack. our whole sense of the nature of threat and what we must do to respond to the of is out of whack, particularly since the market people don't have an appetite to get involved overseas as much as they once did. and particularly because the threats are also changing, cyber threats and other kinds of new threats require a different kind of response than the traditional military apparatus we built our. >> host: you adjust the national security but how do you think -- how to change the conversation what comes to election, soft on terror has been a phrase that's been used. how do we get politicians away from the fear factor? >> guest: first of all as i was saying earlier, the political system is deeply broken. right now the system is driven
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by money. these big enterprises that have a lot of money are able to give money to these campaigns and they drive the apparatus. you can't run to be president unless you're going to raise seven, 800, $900 million. what does that mean? the primaries we talk about, in new hampshire, the iowa caucus, they're not in the important primaries. the important primary is the money primary that takes place earlier when candidates go out and determine whether or not they going to be able to raise hundreds of millions they need to compete. where does that money come from? it comes from big enterprises. so whose agenda get sick and who's agenda drives the debate. the enterprises. you have a system set up whereby because of gerrymandering, for example, incumbents get reelected because you'd designed a distance to go all republican or a democrat. what does that mean? that means jenna election so mad because you know it will be a republican or democrat.
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only the primaries met. who is in the primary election? who votes? only the more extreme members of the party so that colors of the debate further. you've got money, you've got the wings of the party the more extreme driving the debate. what you end up with? you end up with the system we have where we don't actually have these debates. unique campaign finance reform. any people using technology to get the voices out there and getting people like your viewers who care about these things, getting up off the couch, eating out, involved in politics and trying to make a difference on their own. >> host: dekalb illinois. steve, you are on booktv with david rothkopf. >> caller: i would like to address syria. if the u.s. had not sent, or had sent weapons to the syrian opposition earlier, what makes you think those weapons would not have fallen into isil's or some other extreme is hands?
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and if president obama had bombed series last year he would not have gotten the assad regime to give up its chemical weapons which also could have fallen into isil's hands? please comment. >> guest: well, first of all i don't think sending weapons to the free syrian army alone wouldn't touch that would've done the trick. i think we would've had to put pressure on qatar and turkey and other countries that were supporting extremists to stop the funny for them. i think we would've had to put pressure on the turks and others to allow the kurds to fight as a been doing very valiantly thus far but i think we would've had to do something on the humankind site, not just about the people on the humankind basis but also to see what we could do to build up political opposition within se ri pak as far as the bombing goes, the damage done by saying we're going to bomb and not
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bombing, damaged the credibility the present. when he said there was a red line that couldn't be crossed because of chemical weapons, and then that line was crossed not once but a dozen or 13 times, the world got the message that the president was in serious. we need instead is going to take action and then he said he wasn't going to take action, the world got that message and it wasn't just a side who got the message. putin got the message. kim jong-un got the message as well. having said that, you don't know what would've happened if we would have struck a blow. is very well possible that no one would've had more leverage with assad to reach a chemical weapons deal that assad might be weakened. the president's own chief intelligence adviser in testifying in front of the congress a couple of months ago said -- bashar al-assad has gotten stronger, a stronger assad is very dangerous for us, given the president with the
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past couple of weeks has come around to recognizing that what we have to be dashed it will have to do to be successful is not just defeating isil. we have to get rid of assad, in desperate who is responsible in large part for the deaths of two or thousand of his own people and another six or seven when people dislocated, really one of the great humanitarian tragedies of our time. >> host: haven't we though in the past practice of foreign policy of we know who this enemy is, let's keep him in place, we don't know what would come next? >> guest: sure. we don't have a lot of times. we've also gotten a lot of attacks subsequent for doing that. in the '60s and '70s when we supported a military dictators, and we later found that they create opposition. look at mubarak.
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we supported him. the next thing that happened after that was that there was opposition, and from the opposition you people in egypt and we don't know where things are going to go in egypt today or in the region because of the. we have learned that lesson. i think there's a big lesson that goes along with it. when we lea leaned back and whee say we're not going to get involved, when those guys, that kind of pressure talking about, they seem a lot more appealing. windows guys were stabilizers, we will not be drawn into this kind of the crisis, we will compromise the thing. and essentially what we've discovered, whether it was in vietnam or in egypt or with the shah of iran, it invites bigger problems down the road. we need a balance but on that same one has to be reckless like george bush was in his first drum but there are situations where we need to lean in a little bit, have a foreign policy based on aspirations were we can work with our allies to
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improve the situation on the ground. because with the thing that promotes stability is not a strong man for much as people think that working within their own system to advance their way of life. that means we need to work on fixing those systems more. you can't do that by folding up your tent, going home, building a gated commute on foreign policy and hoping the world will take care of itself jade in wheatland new york. you get the last word. >> caller: hello? tremont we are listing. go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: i do have a few question. i will be brief. first of all thank you all for booktv and thank you julie. number one is -- the program. negotiations are feeling. how are they going to contain that? what is going to be moving had? number two question is as we know pakistan is already a nuclear power, and radicals and
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extreme as to we supply them with millions of dollars of aid and all the. do we have monitoring their nuclear devices? and then in africa -- [inaudible] also boko haram in nigeria. what is going to be our foreign policy? and china with its care to -- and what do you know what? we will leave it there. by the time we're finished with iran, pakistan and africa it's going to be about 8:00 this evening. you have about a minute and have to answer those questions try to to solve those problems come not a problem. in the context of iran, negotiations are in a very sensitive place. there's a deadline tomorrow. my sense is even if the deal is not reached by tomorrow, there will be an extension.
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told the obama administration, the iranians wanted you very much. i think they will get a framework agreement or some kind of extension and ultimately i think you end up with a deal there, although it will be quite controversial. i think the issue in africa raises a bigger problem. the problem is that with isil. it is with extremism. there are extremist groups like al-shabaab or boko haram or hamas or the muslim brotherhood or al-nusra, in addition to i suspect some of those are in pakistan. one of the reasons why pakistan is a worrisome is that the country is not very well controlled by the government. those hundred plus nuclear weapons are not very well controlled. we try to be involved in that pakistan is a country that has been distracted elsewhere. it is sliding further and further towards more unrest, more extremism and less control of those weapons. i'm pretty sure that when the next couple of years our
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attention will turn abruptly back there because a pakistan crisis, given that it our has over 100 nuclear weapons, is a global crisis of the first order. we turn our attention away from that a little bit too much, the situation there is extremely volatile and dangerous. you know, within a minute and half will not solve this problem but in a decade enough we will not solve these problems. but the key is to try to put them in perspective, to try to understand, take away the political lens and most of the tools we've gotten and how to use them effectively, and that's what i tried to do in the book. i tried to look at the past few years of what has worked and what is not and will look forward at the issues that are coming and see what we need to do to address to better be able to do with him on one david rothkopf, and "national insecurity," thank you for being on booktv.
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>> guest: my pleasure to live coverage from the miami book fair continued. up next is matt bai who is an author, "all the truth is out" is his most recent book. it's called "all the truth is out: the week politics went tabloid," about politics and tabloid. gary hart consider. he will be speaking about chapman hall in miami-dade college and as you can see the room is starting to fill up a little bit and we'll bring that to you live. after that we'll talk with some more officer on our outdoor set and then charles blow, "new york times" columnist and richard blunk of whose the poet laureate of united states will be on a panel a little bit later. full schedule available at booktv.org. live coverage of the '70s year in a row at the miami book fair. [inaudible conversations]
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>> good afternoon, everyone. please take your seats. we are about to begin. for those of you who are just joining us, well, to miami book fair international at miami-dade college. for those of you have been with us, welcome back. truly why cannot believe it's already afternoon. so welcome to all of you. as you know this book fair would not be possible without sponsors, very generous sponsors such as the knight foundation, and also american airlines. and so many more sponsors come including volunteers. young ones, more senior ones,
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those in the middle. we all come together at miami-dade college, students, faculty and staff. and many members of our community to volunteer in various areas throughout this affair. so thank you to all of our volunteers. i would also like to thank our friends, many of whom are sitting in our first few rows here. would you wave so we can thank you and recognize you for your support of miami book fair international. thank you so much. and without further ado let's get this session going. i would like to bring on someone who is a wonderful friend of the affair, he will introduce our offer today. please join in welcoming doctor austin, a radiology oncologist here in our commute and he will introduce our author. thank you. [applause]
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>> good afternoon. it's a pleasure for me to be here today. i am an oncologist but i think we would treat a few hundred people a year. and even though it's gratifying, i actually think policy and politics are much more important. so with that in mind i want to present the offer today. in 1987, gary hart it was an articulate, dashing, refreshingly progressive politician who seem to be a shoe in for the democratic nomination for president, everything was going well intel his campaign came off the rails. there were rumors of marital
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infidelity, and the picture that those of us in south florida probably remember of gary hart with a model on the yacht named monkey business. and the scandal erupted in a blaze a 24 hour news cycle, tabloid speculation, and late-night farce, and our author i think he's uniquely qualified to present the story of politics meeting media. is a national call this for yahoo! news. for more than a decade he was a political correspondent for "the new york times" magazine, and he covered three presidential campaigns. in "all the truth is out: the week politics went tabloid,"
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matt bai shows how the gary hart that there showed a crucial turning point, and by extension of politics itself, as the candidates a character begin to draw more fixation and their political experience. so i think for those of us in south florida because of the history, it's a must read for all of us. so i'm proud and happy today to present the offer of "all the truth is out: the week politics went tabloid," mr. bai. [applause] >> hi. what an awesome event. what a great crowd. thank you for coming.
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for so i want to thank dr. austin for the terrific introduction but he's being modest but he does the really important work. and if i had been a little bit smarter a little bit more attention in math, think of my to balance the other way. i'm very honored to have his introduction. i know bob herbert was supposed to be here today, another former times personally was under the leave there was an illness in the feminine he could make it so i will close my eyes for five seconds and all of you who came just for bob herbert cancer trickle up. i'm not good at it because the we nobody left for not going to close my eyes. this book came out at the end of september, the very last of september so i've been all over the country at this point, los angeles, san francisco, seattle, denver, austin, a bunch of times in europe. it's terrific to come your to this, the premier book even in the country. it's also -- [applause] and i've never been so totally cool. i've only heard about it. it's also ironic to come back
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here because this is largely where this story began here in miami. it's the story, it's that part of the story that people remember. it was sort of interesting period i know in miami's life and a story in some way that brought "the miami herald" to national prominence as, you know, as a great newspaper. i understand they are taking the building down. am i right about that? it's a weird time in history. as dr. austin mentioned i'm now the national political columnist for yahoo!. we would account weeks ago to the building on 43rd street that was "the new york times" when i started working for the magazine, and now yahoo! building. it's a weird time in industry. i love all these old billings and i was argued that. any event this book is a journey for me. for me it didn't begin in miami. hopefully it doesn't end in miami either but it didn't begin in miami.
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for me it's a journey that started at the end of 2002 when i was a brand-new writer for "the new york times" magazine. and i noticed an item in the newspaper, our newspaper, just a couple of paragraphs and it said gary hart was thinking about running for president. how many people here remember hart? this is not a college audience. [laughter] i usually see not a single hand anywhere. i know i'm in for a rough road. so like me many of you are probably, like me remember this kind they could. i was in my college dorm room and i was reading "newsweek" magazine i would later work for, and i remember, i remembered vaguely this incredible star of the moment, how cute she was in a quickly he was gone, and really gone. i thought why would a guy who went through something that awful and humiliate want to go through that again?
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one of the great things about being a magazine writer and columnist, i called him up and i said hi, can i can see you? he said sure. i got on a plane and went to denver adamantine. a few things struck me. first of all he was and remains and is and is not actually working again in diplomacy, new special envoy to northern ireland. hart is a flat-out brilliant man. who can draw from all measure of literature and politics. i realized he a great sense of humor which i think he did not have the system in his day as a politician. i think he has mellowed over the years, but also he was not going to run for president. it became quickly pretty quickly that what hart really wanted was to serve, was dramatic, was to be taken seriously and have some value to his country. it struck as a poignant story. i wrote a story about it. he didn't like the story.
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not a story particularly should've liked, and i went away and that was that. except it wasn't that because it haunted me over the years but i think as a writer, and if the right will know, you hate the feeling that something is left, not excavated, you level your gotten too. i felt was a level of the store had got to do something that bothered me. i wanted to cover to the presidential campaigns of us all the way the candidates regarding across the table like a hired assassin. why would be sitting across in some who wanted to kill them? and how frightened they were and how little they would offer by way of ideas and how much of our campaigns were given over as doctor also said to these discussions of character, this broad discussiodiscussio n of personality an unless the issues the of of of the connection between hart's moment of what i was living in and my mounting frustration was trying to write about politics.
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i went back to a. i started to look back at it, talk to people about it. one of the things i think what is that just about everything we think we remember about that moment turns out to be wrong. in a remarkable way, we all know that hart was driven out of the race by this photograph. you on the idea of donna rice sitting on hart's lap on the boat. in fact that's not to actually the picture was taken on the bot touched on the dock, not on a boat. it didn't come out for weeks ago after these after the campaign and nothing to do with the end of his presidential aspirations. we all thought we remember, i thought we remembered he had child's immediate to follow him around and then in an explicitly and foolishly gone out and had this tryst when you just told tryst when you just told tryst when you choose to give the fallen. that's not what happened at all. he did give that quote. he said it to a single reporter.
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had not been published. first of all he did was hit as it shall. hart didn't see it as a challenge. it wasn't published when the "herald" start pursuing this story but it wasn't published when they planned their surveillance. there's no bit of controversy around it is to commit seen some inventive memory around this but the rail is no matter how you look at it that quote had nothing to do with starting the "herald" story or the investigation of hart and was completed several. that decision was made by the miami hill. that decision was made by us as an issue and we never talk about that would. i started interest in this because anytime as a journalist you see things that are wrong proceed or numbered, and you notice something else going on. i starts to talk people at bottom i want to write a book. most everybody in washington that was crazy. why would you write a book about gary hart? barack obama was being elected. we were all looking forward and
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not looking back. as i told my wife at the time, i said many times i said in introduction to the book i think there's a fine line between obstinance and visionary, and hart was often on the wrong side of it and i di didn't want to bn the wrong side of it. iron emir i went to see richard ben cramer who had written what it takes, sadly we lost in the last couple of years, and should've been here. is tremendous force for this generation but someone had gotten to know and to get to know much better, though i really admired more than any other ride of the day works on politics but i told richard, i want to do the book and no one thinks it's a good idea. richard said to me, essentially he said the first thing he said was you don't want my advice to you on my permission, which was true. he said, you don't write a great book by giving people the book they are claiming to read the details in the story they need.
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i believe this is a story that we as a country need to hear. i will go to in all the details of what that story is obviously. decent sized book and i love you to read it but i'll talk about the characters to at the heart of the store and sometimes it gets discussed in my frustration, i'm glad it is being discussed but it gets an argument and it's not. it is at its core a story, of how this moment reverberated but it's also a story about this man and his family, and what he went through. there are characters who make up the story that are quite fascinating to the main character, the first we have to talk about is hart himself. hart is a fascinating guy. he's an absolute visionary politician. by the time, this moment in 1987 to try to get in a dig at you remember kind of hastily but he is the hillary clinton of this
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day. he is 20 points at of the next democratic. he's got to the 1984 campaign where he very nearly stole the nomination from walter mondale. he came from nowhere to win every state west of the mississippi. if not for the superdelegates might have had that. 20 plus points ahead of the next two democrats and neither of them are running. one of them is lee iacocca. i'm not even sure he was a democratic i'm not sure anyone you. he is a double digits ahead of george h. w. bush, he is going democrat of his day. the thing about hart is in the mid 1980s he's talking about, think about this, stateless terrorism. he's talking about energy independence as a national security issue, oil leading to war. it's about the transformation of a -- is a visionary.
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this is the thing that fascinates me about hart as a character. this is the contradiction that really makes them so compelling to me as he can see around corners with greater clarity for any national politician of the day. i can tell you having a just about every leading national politician, as well as anyone who's run during the time i've written about politics, there's only one corner of hart can't see around. that is the core that the culture is turning towards celebrities asian. because he grows up. he's not a boomer although he represents in the public mind at the time the advance of the boomer generation. he was born in 1936 imposed depression came to the imposed depression chances you didn't talk very much about your emotions. he don't hit our goals who fought in a battle of the bolt and they back and go drink a lot of time and go and ride the rails for weeks and they were his heroes. he never asked them what they did seem to get in as question
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and let someone to volunteer. thank you goes to the cultural revolution of the '60s and he's a political celebrity by the 1970s because he manages george mcgovern's campaign. everybody washington does what hart is about. he is still married and has been married to his wife for more than 50 years, but he separates twice from his wife in the '80s while he's innocent of the once he sleeps on bob woodward's account. nobody writes about it. he served on the church committee, the youngest members who knows what john kennedy was up to. he knows nobody wrote about that. he's been now by 1984 he is spent time, weeks in 1984 as the most closely watched, most focus on politician in the country, surrounded by reporters. nobody has talked about his well-known getting life in washington. so hart can't see that this is going to matter. even if he can be made to believe by his younger aided that someone will care about his social life, his personal life,
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he certainly can't imagine that anybody is going to go searching for the evidence any more than you can imagine somebody in and out from mars. this is part of the following the comment. if you understand what hart comecomes from, no one who sayst could mean as a challenge. it was inconceivable to him. there's a moment in the story were hart, the full force of this should be apparent to them. he's in new york and he's just given a speech and he's rushing, he is experiencing now the intrusion of tabloid me into politics in a way that no politician in america has ever experienced the they have photographers hurling insults at windows, they have new satellite trucks followed him. they drive away in new york on park avenue, trying to get away from these media fans. one of the bands jumps in meeting divide on park avenue to catch them.
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and hart is cower in the backseat of the corporate he is afraid and confused. he says to the people in the car, why did he have to chase me? he can't understand what's happening in politics, like nothing in his experience. i think this makes him a very compelling character. a couple of the characters who are really interesting in this our reporters, some of whom you may know. one of them is tom fiedler who was the lead reporter for the miami come on this story. he is now the dean of the concert indication that austin university and an eminent figure in my business. he gets the call in 1987 from a woman who says, my friend is getting very hard. he writes the piece defending hart and this woman calls us as it's not just rumor and innuendo and he's going to go meet his friend of mine. by the way i uncover the identity of this woman, dana come in the book, she's here in miami. was not to talk to do with frankly, i can do how hard it
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was but 20 so here's what it really wasn't that hard. it turns out like most stories of history in a weird way it turns on really kind of pettiness and jealousy. donna was her friend and they were kind of rivals in modeling. she clearly has and jealousy about it intention into such is going, tired of hearing her about her and the center, and so history goes. ..
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literally penned up pinned up against a brick wall, wearing a white hoodie. for reporters and a photographer's around him and say, who is that woman? have you had sex with that woman? and in that alley next to his house the ground for politics shifts forever. and then you have paul taylor who was one of the lead political persons at the "washington post", the heir apparent. taylor comes to the news conference three days after that with evidence of another affair that the post has dug up. frankly, not that not that hard to find at that time. he is in a packed, sweat
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soaked room for a news conference. in politics up to that time things had been pretty genteel. no one knows about setting up perimeters, but you have the tabloid media, this huge bank of cameras and reporters. there is an an aide who gets down on all fours to act as a human table. and he is doing great, carrying all of the questions. as is later written, he is firing on all cylinders. he is feeling pretty good about his chances. don't you think you should take a lie detector test? and he says, i think the voters are a pretty good a lie detector. taylor speaks
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in a very raspy, quiet, tense voice. i would like to lead you through a series of questions. i get a kick out out of this. i would like to lead you through a series of questions. okay. and he essentially says, you said you would be a moral leader. yes. i said i would hold myself to a high moral standard. do you believe adultery is in moral? yes, i believe it is. is. have you ever committed adultery? the people in that room were absolutely aghast at that. it was a watershed moment. and he looks out, as i am at you, and he sees them that
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split-second of hesitation reporters who were with him in 84, 84, and he knows who was having affairs. they are looking at him in this defiant, angry, demanding way. and he runs through his head, what is the biblical definition of adultery? finally he says, i don't think that is a fair question. an interesting.at the end of that exchange. well, senator, do you have a nontraditional marriage with your wife? and his responses, my inclination is to say, no, you can't ask me that question, but i will we will just say we have a loving relationship. it is an interesting moment because he accepts that things have changed. his changed. his inclination is the same,
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but he now understands. interesting that he had been prepped for the adultery question and had told his press secretary, i'm not going to answer that question. and his press secretary said, that is exactly the right answer. the effect of it is devastating, and with a day after he is out of the presidential race. the other person i think is worth talking about is donna rice whose ties were deep in this community. donna is remembered as a remarkable person, model actress, loose woman. in fact, she was a phi beta kappa, one of the leading sales people for pharmaceuticals. when this scandal happens and it comes out, the
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"herald" investigation begins to unfold, all she wants is for hard to no she had nothing to do with it, which is a real question at the time. then she wants to go home and resume her life. they say to her, you can go home, but you have to stick around and answer some questions. she tells she tells them the most embarrassing thing they can think of. within hours her mother is saying to her, why are you all over tv? and ultimately they put that information out there. finally, they send her back. again, she just wants to go home. you have to go to a lawyer office and do a a news conference. a huge figure in south florida she has asked three times.
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finally they tell her, okay. if you want to go home you can. what she finds is, media organizations had rented boats in the harbor. neighbors had neighbors had rented out there places to reporters and photographers. she orders a pizza and he cannot get through the lobby. she realizes sitting alone in her condo that she can never go home again is what they have been trying to tell her. her. her life as she has known it is over. he charters a plane to get her out of miami away from this life. they take her the next day in this van. they whisk her away from the building pursued by news vans. they they get to the
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airport, put her on this plane. she straps herself and, engine, engine revs, no idea where she is going. part of what i do is follow that story of how she rebuilds her life. now a very prominent advocate against internet pornography. i follow the other characters in this book. what it meant for these people, the story of their lives and what it meant for journalism and for politics and the campaigns that you and i pay i pay attention to and experience because in those years after the undoing, the guiding pieces of political journalism, what happened in society that would have happened regardless, but the ethos of journalism changes from an exploration and elimination of ideas and worldviews and agendas to a simple matter
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of we no you are a liar, a liar, hypocrite. our job is to find out how and bring it to the voters. we create a very unforgiving culture. bob kerrey, the former senator says to me, we are not the worst things we have ever done in our lives. i think we created a culture in my industry that does say, you are the worst thing you have ever done lately. when you do that, when you change the standard for candidates that way you have a couple of the fax. you drive people out of politics who have something to contribute. you keep people out of politics who won't subject there family to that level of scrutiny because they have some inner dignity and do not need the approval, and i think significantly
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you let a lot of people through the process and into the halls of power who probably have no business being there. when you do not focus on policy and worldview it is possible to skate through the process without ever telling you what they believed or how they came to believe it. there is an interesting moment in the book and in our history that has been forgotten. 1987, he decides to withdraw , and his aides write him a speech. a speech. it is what you would expect, contrite. he takes responsibility and says he is sorry. he said it made him want to vomit. he did not feel like he had to ask forgiveness. he stayed up late at night
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and talked to his friend, warren beatty, probably not the best advice to seek. he writes his own speech. he comes down to this hotel in denver and gives this incredibly defiant to me3 to me it rings almost like eisenhower's military complex. you can find it on c-span. what he says in that speech, in part, we we will have to seriously question the system for selecting our national leaders. he says, too much of it is mockery, and if it continues to destroy integrity and honor the system will eventually destroy itself. politics politics is on the
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verge of becoming another competition or sporting match. i tremble for my country when i think we may get the kind of leaders we deserve. he was immediately and universally mocked and ridiculed. from from the editorial page of the new york times on down because it was said he was not taking responsibility for his actions and blaming everyone else. i have been covering national politics for 15 years, for presidential campaigns. i have met an awful lot of voters. i don't think their are very many people laughing at that idea. i want to thank you for being at this terrific event. we have a little more time. i can answer way too many
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questions. so ask whatever you like. i will answer as many as are asked. thank you. [applauding] >> all right. shoot. >> what do you think it is in the 20 years or so between jfk and the mid-80s in addition to telling the story, the context in the prior ten, 15 years, what changes to make it possible to go on this hunt? how do you feel in general about what they did? >> you are leaving me through a a series of questions. what was your name? steve? thank you for asking that question.
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i am happy to get into it. there are a a bunch of things that change. the principal things, first of all, all, you are now 12 years after the resignation of nixon. it is almost impossible to overstate the significance of all the presidents men, the movie, in my industry. the movie, the personification of reporters by movie stars on the big screen has a massive psychological effect. this new generation has a genuine and legitimate fear about another liar in the white house. and i take this very seriously. generally there is a genuine desire to protect the public it is a moral failure.
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there is also a career ambition, if we are going to be honest about it. it is possible by obtaining the highest honor in political journalism, which is to take someone down. they have a whole new way of looking at career ambition. punditry to my in the crossfire, the mclaughlin group. suddenly there is a whole_. you have the you have the changing attitudes about adultery. feminine -- feminism has changed. women covering news. changing attitudes about moral attitudes on the right, tn revolution. they find common cause. the advent of the satellite dish changes the definition of news. you can go live with
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pictures and interviews from anywhere at anytime. that is a huge thing to deploy. it cries out for an hour by hour story that constantly changes and evolves and will grip you and keep you in your seat. in the months before you head jim and tammy faye bakker, bakker, the preacher and the wife with the mascara. i said this to jon stewart on the daily show, and he said, so much mascara. you also have -- the scandal takes place ironically the week of the opening of the iran-contra scandal. in fact, i can't tell you how many times when you talk about the story people we will say, was that hall? i think those were very much
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omens of what was inevitable you mentioned kennedy. the 51st anniversary of the kennedy assassination. all these disclosures caused a great bit of churning. these are not easy questions. he got away with things that are frightening in retrospect. that had an impact. all of that was happening. you asked me what i would have done. i try not to judge in the moment. i have deployed a lot of the same rationale in my career. it is hard to no what to do in the moment. the one thing i have said, you should take responsibility. there has been too little reflection about what it meant and why it actually happened.
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it was part of digging in and around decisions that were much more complicated. i will get to the next question, i promise. in the years after we erected all of these rationales, and you have heard them all. it is the lie, which we no not to be true. it is already out there, and so we owe it to investigate. you know, i have deployed some of these, and it is not just about sex. in a strip club 12 years ago, whatever whatever it was. we have to take a hard look at our responsibility to exercise judgment on a case-by-case basis.
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the "herald" guys who i respect exercised the best judgment they had or whatever judgment they felt was necessary. i think in the years after we have certainly exceeded any judgment because of these excuses, excuses, and i think we have to take responsibility. >> such a big name down here i am not sure i ever saw a response to what you have written. i think you answered the other part of my question, what you think of his decision. >> what is your name? >> his decision -- >> i understand. i just want want to know your name. >> sullivan. >> tom and i had until very recently a very cordial discussion about all of this. he wrote a response in politico, which i recommend you read.
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i kind of felt like i had written a book. i said what i have have to say. i wrote a response. he had a lot to say. his central., these questions were totally appropriate. appropriate. the real question is, why didn't we ask roosevelt and johnson and kennedy the same questions. my response was, let's get a time machine and go back and ask. i suppose they we will have to obfuscate alive and we we will have to declare them to be morally insufficient to serve. i i guess we would be better off as a country, but i don't think so. i don't think their are many americans who think so.
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i think that is just a defense. i will tell you that tom has changed his story. for 27 years he told a very consistent story to several authors, writers, which was he did not know about that until he got on the plane. he confirmed it to a new york times fact checker. he wrote me e-mails in august and did not raise a problem with the characterization. in fact, we talked about all manner of other things. about three weeks ago he said he was changing his story because some of his colleagues decided he had seen it earlier. he had now recanted.
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publishing a half correction that disappointed me greatly. particularly as a journalist you have a high responsibility. yes, sir? >> i have a two-part question. >> just tell me your name. >> john. do you believe the personal moral shortcomings either for reporters or voters as they are trying to decide who to vote for kumar and why do you think the same issues for years later with bill clinton? >> those are such big questions. i will try to do it quickly. so the first question is, no, i do i do not think they should be off-limits. there are times when it
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really matters. you know, i always go back to the example, and it is kind of mean, but i go back to john edwards who i covered for years and who i knew, thought i knew. i wrote 8,000 words on his platform and its shortcomings. i concluded in that piece that most of his platform was pretty derivative of ideas that had been tried and did not work very well except for a couple of things like his call for responsible fatherhood. meanwhile, he was denying the existence of a child. i i have two children. to me that is a pretty hard transgression to come back from. so i think there is no edict for this. as i said before, we have
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judgment to bring, judgment and context. just because someone does something stupid does not mean it should wash away everything else. there was a piece written that said, if he is a liar clearly there are examples in the public record. let them be produced. he had not ducked tough decisions or told people the things they wanted to hear when it was easy. he told them he was not going to back protectionism or tariffs for american products which was very unpopular, and the context matters. i think it is enough to say, hard to take that apart from everything else, but i think we have enough body of
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knowledge to no that the worst moment is not your defining moment. you asked this question about clinton four years later. so i think many people we will tell you that the clinton thing represents the public working through this issue. the public is a little shocked the first time. you give them all the information that you can't because ultimately they decide what is important. i think that is a nice interpretation. what is the difference? it is not intellect. they are both intellectual giants. it is not worldview. the entire centrist platform of the democratic party came from what was called the
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beginning of the atari democrats. the difference is is clinton will do and say anything. we find out later he we will lie outright under oath. he will submit himself to any line of questioning, come back again and again. what we really did was to change the definition of what was required to be successful. the question the question i would pose is, how are we going to judge character? is it the guy who goes away for 27 years because he says it is none of your damn business? is it the guy who we will evade any trap, any obstacle put in his path because he
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needs the public approbation and power that badly. i i think the latter is where we have gone which does not yield you the kind of leaders that will give you the answers you need to hear when there are no easy answers. >> richard, the future of journalism, what is considered serious journalism versus tabloid journalism. so what do you think is the future of journalism? >> i i wish i knew, richard. i could get rich. i i could chart a pretty good career path. no tech company has figured it out. traditional newspapers are having a hard time.
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i i feel good, bullish about journalism. i i think someone we will come up with an economic model. it is particularly hard for newspapers, regional papers who have to reinvent ideas, but i think their will be successful journalism models it is just going to be a painful transition. a lot of business models that have always worked will die. i think that creates a lot a lot of difficulty and pain. to some extent this is a generational change. think about the miami "herald". if you beamed down from mars today and were tasked with creating information, you would never design a one-stop shop so that you
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had a couple pages of business, arts, sports. that grows from a time when you could only get your information from the news stand on the corner. you have politics. the idea that your local paper needs to do all of these things in a shallow way when you have these easy avenues just does not make a lot of sense. we are in the middle of trying to rethink old models that make sense because we grew up with them but don't make sense anymore. it will ultimately ultimately work and reward a lot of people who are visionary, but it comes with a lot of the transitional pain we are seeing.
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>> i do have a question as a reporter. >> are you a reporter? >> you. >> i am a reporter. >> now, these politicians, these people are subordinate to the commonality. what i perceive is the commonality gives them a vast supply of power. i find that commonality, not aggressive enough to bring them down. do not allow them to commit adultery, immorality, lies and so forth. it has given them this supply of power. and this is why these
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political horrors do what they are doing. >> what was your name? [inaudible] >> thank you for your question. i reject this idea and recognize it is a minority.of view that we are giving the public what they want. look at how the public laughs off a sex scandal story. look look at how much they punish a politician. understand the audience we are talking about. when a cable news station focuses on a tabloid scandal story and sees a jump in ratings, what are we talking about? a tiny number of viewers that spikes to a slightly less tiny number. so i don't believe the
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market dynamic around news of this kind indicates where the american people are at all. most are disgusted. when you go listen to focus groups, a candidate that has been damaged in a scandal, what you hear is not, i could not vote for that candidate because he was caught cheating on his wife. invariably you hear some version of, that guy can't win. i don't believe we are giving the public what they want. we are giving a small number of people who can affect the economics of news what they want. >> i am concerned. immunity and can do these things and get away with it.
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what can be done? >> what kind of people? >> political people who have immunity. we can send ambassadors to other countries. >> ambassadorial immunity. you will have to talk to an international law expert about that. in washington to. i will leave that to an international lawyer. thank you. i appreciate the question. >> i'm dale. i i don't know if you addressed this in your book. i guess i have a comment i would like you to comment on it strikes me that our media outlets are huge corporations, and money,
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profit is a huge motivation. in-depth reporting, investigative journalism takes a long time, is very costly, and the push has been for the scandalous, tabloid compared to other kinds of reporting that is much faster, cheaper, and sells. it seems to me that corporatization is a huge reason for this. >> well, it is interesting. if. you could look at it either way. you kind of. argued both ways. i am very worried about
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tarring corporations and the media with the same brush. i worked as a columnist. the new york times is a corporation, but i don't think there has been a better a better media ownership group in america. in my mind they should have a medal of honor for what they have done. you always have investors jumping up and down screaming that they should sell the company. i think we are seeing more of a trend in that direction you have cities, los angeles , they have a new publisher. but there but there is an increasing push to local ownership. these companies want to offload.
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there there is more of a push toward local responsibility. i think as the profit margins get tighter we are seeing a rededication to journalism for its core purposes. i don't think that has a lot to do with a corporation owning it or a family. indiana 1968. i mentioned this i mentioned this in the book. they literally would not report on robert kennedy's campaign for president. families could do whatever they wanted. i think your problem has been the conglomerate ownership. their days are numbered. i am kind of optimistic
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about getting a better balance over time. we have reached our high water mark of corporate indifference to what media provides to communities, communities, but that is just my $0.2. >> my name is virginia, and i am interested in cause and effect, particularly in terms of low voter turnout reflected in the last election. i i wondered if you had any insight or thought into reversing the trend? >> that is a great question. yes. at that time there was a a historically low voter turnout. what we're seeing now is a knew low. i do not think -- and,
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again,, again, this is just my gut feeling on this. plenty of people we will tell you i am wrong. i do i do not think the system is sustainable. we just don't live in an institutionally loyal society the way we did 50 years ago. how many phone companies. the idea the idea you we will stay with a party for life is not really relevant and people feel ill served. because fewer people are party activists, and therefore those who remain control a lot of the process. it depends on what
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you were looking at. at. i do not think barack obama's increasing turnout and re- energizing politics for that election was about the resurgence. it was about him. it was about the story that he told. i think that is the most powerful impulse. you could co-opt that, but he failed to do so. i so. i think there is a great vacuum in the system. i think the likelihood of getting an independent presidency is very high. the situation is unstable. there is a vacuum. the money is there in a way it never was before because of the internet.
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all you really need is a candidate who does not feel like putting himself through 18 months of primaries. i think i think a shock to the system is inevitable. that, to me, is the most likely form that it would take. >> hello, my name is jason. thank you for this discussion. the imagery that struck me was the moment when he was asked the question about adultery and looked to the reporters who he had witnessed committing adultery. given that kind of dichotomy in the tabloid as a nation, and given that this has now given journalists in general greater power and greater
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ability to affect the discussion about the leaders we deserve. in your discussion with colleagues, do colleagues, do you see that there is any kind of -- i i guess, do people feel that nothing is off limits,, given that they have a lot of power themselves? do they feel that that also applies to them? >> right. >> considering that they have this power. >> they don't think that. we get coverage more now than we ever have before, and we hate it. that scrutiny, until it becomes negative.
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what you here a journalists say is, well, i'm not running for office. and i am sympathetic in the sense that i'm not sure what anybody does in their free time is important, but if you we will.to it, people are trusting you. i have seen something interesting happened with this book since it has come out. i i think it has resonated with younger journalists. i worked at a magazine, at home, very much separate from that. a lot of the younger journalists who have done great work but i don't know. you expect people to react with a certain level of cynicism.
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i i have found there is a generational break down. younger reporters have been talking about it and saying really nice things because i think it resonates for all of us. we know something was wrong. we spend too too much time on things that are trivial. it has struck a chord with journalists under 40. around my age or younger who felt like they missed some better time of political journalism and don't understand why. i think it is moving in the other direction, so that makes me hopeful. >> my name is john. this question is about what you personally would do.
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let's say we had two candidates for president, one you would want to see when and another one like bush, for instance. let's assume for the sake of argument -- >> how do you know i'm not a republican? >> for the sake of argument -- >> i don't i don't like this question. >> information on good candidates. a sexual innuendo,, a question that had nothing to do with whether or not he could govern. govern. what you report on that or hold it back? >> i don't i don't do sexual indiscretion. let me rephrase that. that is that is also true. i don't report on sexual indiscretion. it just does not interest me
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sure. i ultimately think you give the voters the relevant information, not all the information you can dig up in a dossier. i think, i am not in the business of trying to get anyone elected. look it up. i did an 8000 word piece on john kerry and foreign policy. i talk about talk about this in the last chapter of the book. i quoted him as saying we need to reduce it to a nuisance like prostitution are gambling. most readers and editors, people i knew thought that to be an act of heresy. it did not please most
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people at the time. certainly the people i hang around with our mostly liberal. there was a real feeling. i remember going to a party and finding it very unpleasant being harangued for writing a a piece that seemed to hurt john kerry. that was one of the factors i heard mentioned. people were angry. he said it, not me. i did not play it up for value. i put it in context. eliminating ideas is what we do. if you cannot stand behind your view, you have no
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business offering it. that is my job. i have had the opportunity to work in politics. i am not a party guy. i like some more than others i agree with different aspects of platforms and write about some more favorably than others, but i have never been a check the box guy. it comes pretty naturally to me. >> hi. my name is scary. every major network, breaking news, the first one to say, hey, this is what we no. what about accuracy? it seems to be a problem with where they get the information. a reliable resource or just twitter.
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more harmful when they get something wrong and it practically destroys somebody's life. they life. they can never run for office again. it is a little bit ridiculous. it kind of tarnishes the network. i think it is better to get it right the first time. a lot of people lose there job. professional journalist, probably more important than some people using twitter. >> i agree with you. we have gone from a weeklong news cycle to her 24 hour news cycle to an hour news cycle. i don't have that jean. i i have always been more interested in the context of
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things. the good news is, my sense, i i am on social media, twitter, facebook. my sense is particularly younger users growing up with it, they are appropriately skeptical of what flies through the twitter feed. i think people growing up in this kind of fast-moving cycle are learning that first does not mean right. they come they come to things with a little more skepticism. i agree it is troubling. i don't know what the impulse is to have to get things out in a split second. a lot of times it ends up embarrassing media
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organizations that do it. >> i read your book, and and i loved it. >> thank you. i appreciate that. >> you mentioned that you think this would have happened regardless. why do you think it happened specifically? >> as i said, all these things happening in society. the attitude about morality. all of these things churning in the culture. someone would have walked into it. and one of the interesting scenes in the book is tom going down to little rock for a conference and clinton grilling cam in a hotel room about when a private life
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would matter and wanting to understand how to navigate, something he would never have done, but he was uniquely qualified to bring this about. he did he did not because he was from the last era. he refused to believe it was happening. he had old world notions on what should be private and what was not and he was extremely stubborn and magnetic in a way that drew people's attention. he attracted those forces in a a way that metal attracts lightning. it. probably was sort of bound to find himself, interestingly almost because he was blind to it. he represents in that way a
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transitional figure. i think think cultural change always has transitional figures. his circumstance, how much he was forgotten. >> thank you. i know this could go on and on. >> thank you very much. [applauding] >> thank you. i appreciate it. >> and our author will be. [inaudible conversations] >> you have been watching live coverage of the miami book festival. that was matt that was matt bai talking about his most recent book. just outside of chapman hall
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is a street fair going on at miami-dade college. outside said, c-span bias. right now we want to meet and talk with author brian stevenson. i want to learn a little bit about you. >> a private nonprofit human rights organization that provides legal services mostly to incarcerated people in the deep south. we represent children prosecuted as adults and are trying to change the way we talk about race and poverty. we focus mostly on criminal justice reform.
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>> headquartered in montgomery, alabama. how many people on death row? >> actually the largest death row per capita in the country. country. it is unique in that it is the only state that has a provision that allows elected trial judges to override juries. juries. we have about 200 people on death row. >> we invited you want to talk about the book. your first book. >> the story focuses on walter mcmillan. there was a murder. a young white woman was murdered. the police could not solve the crime. a great deal of pressure. they were talking about impeaching the sheriff, sheriff, and we think they
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decided to arrest someone, and walter mcmillan became that man. he was having an interracial affair with a young white woman which brought him to the attention of law enforcement, so he was arrested and put on death row before the trial. the only case where i've had a a client put on death row. i was shocked by that fact. i was shocked by the fact that at the time of the crime he was 11 miles away with 20 people from his church raising money. it would have been so much better if he had been by himself. we feel like we have been convicted. the third the third thing that got me plugged into
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this case,, as soon as i filed a notice of appearance i got a call from the judge who told me he did not want me involved. he was convicted and sentenced to death. we got involved after the sentence. the book is about our efforts to expose his wrongful conviction. i talk about the irony of this case. a beautiful book with an incredible place in american literature. people love that story, but this tragic irony that they were enamored with the story but unwilling to recognize a wrongful conviction. >> he came to the attention of police because of an affair with a white woman?
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>> well, two things. the woman he was having an affair with was married, and her husband found out about it and initiated custody proceedings with their children. and we have a history in this country of not dealing with our legacy of racial inequality. there is a long-standing fear and guilt that gets assigned to men, particularly men of color. decades of lynching around that same issue until the 1970s. dominated by this fear. african-american men convicted of raping white women sometimes under very weak evidence and questionable cases. that narrative was part of the context that made it
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possible. >> when you look at the 200 plus on death row in alabama , are you fighting to end the death penalty itself? >> for me, the death penalty is an issue that has to be answered by asking that the question to people deserve to die for the crimes they commit but do we deserve to kill. in my view we do not have a justice system that is sufficiently fair to carry out the death penalty. we have a criminal justice system that treats you better if you are rich. a system that is politicized. politicized. we make a lot of mistakes. we have now had one innocent person exonerated for every ten.
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we tolerate that error. i do not think we should be executing people in this country with the kind of system that we have. i am also morally opposed, but to me you don't have to be morally opposed. >> who said that capitol punishment means him without capitol. >> that was said to me by steve rice. i was not sure i wanted to be a lawyer. a lawyer. i was a philosophy major in college, and it took me a while to realize no one would pay me to philosophize i went to law school because you don't really have to know anything. i was uncertain until i met
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steve. it was the beginning of an education that changed my world view, since of what is important, priorities as a lawyer. we do have a system where wealth matters more than culpability. and culpability. and i think that is tragic. >> how long has the equal justice initiative been around? >> we started in 1989. we 1989. we have gotten 115 people off of death row. a lot more work to be done. children prosecuted as adults. the us is the only country in the world that condemns children to die in prison. and then conditions of confinement. 2.3 million today.
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that tremendous increase, horrific conditions of confinement. the us has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. it's probably at least 1 million in jail who are not a danger. we are trying to change that because we think it is a horrific waste of money. >> tell us about a case that the equal justice initiative has worked on. >> sure. yes. so actually just yesterday we got a ruling. convicted convicted of two murders in birmingham in 1980, and he was innocent but could not get the legal help that he needed.
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the state said they found the gun that matched these two murders. he needed a gun expert but could not get one. his lawyer found found a guy who was a civil engineer who was blind in one eye to be his expert. of course, he was convicted and sentenced to death. ..
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3000 children have been condemned to die in prison.
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there's a lot more work to do. >> the state of alabama, is about to them whether or not to retry him? >> yes. the court has ordered he is entitled to a new trial and the state won't make a decision about whether to provide better not. we are hoping -- i don't think there is any question that he is innocent. we will be calling on the district attorney to dismiss these charges. i think all a bus would benefit if we prosecutors and judges them on person officers that would own up to their mistakes. we have a political culture in the country where people somehow feel like a give away too much power would make knowledge they've made a mistake and i think that's really tragic. it is a horrible error after error after error. this will be attached for the people of alabama, prosecutors of alabama to make an informed, responsible decision to say we made a mistake. we will at the van gogh home.
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we'll see what they do. >> or people watching this interview thinking if they are a death row, they probably deserve to be, or there's, or there something better. >> actually, i wish that were the case. the truth is we've now got close to 150 nsm people that have been proved innocent. it's really hard to prove somebody hard to person by the msm. not because they are innocent, but we have a system we don't enable ear. you don't get the resources. we are very cynical and dismissive. in this case, they are quite dramatic and quite overwhelming. i wish i could tell people this really isn't as bad as i am saying it is. i actually think it is much worse. because the prison population has gone adult think there's a time in american history where we had more innocent people in jail and prison, including on death row, that we do today. the procedures and they hate in the regard that we have for fair
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and reliable process is actually lower than it was in my opinion then when i started my career 30 years ago. you see things that you didn't see back them in terms of rushing these cases to trial. so unfortunately, no. the firemen and women, just like anybody listening to this program, who don't have resources to protect themselves if they are ever unfairly or wrongfully cruised. these people are accused of something they didn't do an didn't do and it turned into a nightmare that most people don't think it's possible, but i have seen it too often. >> "just mercy: a story of justice and redemption" is the name of the book. how is the justice initiative coming? >> we rely on private donations, individual donors. we are private nonprofit organization. they have a website, ji.org we rely on their support or our work. >> you won a macarthur genius grant. for a while?
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being smart? >> that's a good question. we were really interested in changing races. we've been doing a lot of work on racial history. creating new strategies, we tried to do our work in a way that is client centered, where we meet the needs of clients and talk to people. i've been very encouraged by some of that recognition. >> how many cases are you currently working on? >> we have over 100 death penalty cases that we are working on. we have about 200 kids prosecuted as adults we are currently representing. a couple dozen other civil rights and reform cases they are managing at this point. >> what is the significant been headquartered in montgomery, alabama? >> macomber has a very common for a rich history. if the cradle of the confederacy and the place where the most intimate battles of the civil rights movement took place. and it is also a place that i think could be a really
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important turning point in our conversation about race. we really haven't done a better job of confronting our inequality. this country never dealt with the legacy of slavery. at the end of slavery, slavery in america was than about this forced labor. it was a myth, an ideology behind it and the ideology was addressed by the 13th amendment. in my view, slavery did and, slavery did and come it just evolved into something else from reconstruction into world war ii. african-americans dominate and we didn't talk about that. at terrorism supported jim crow and segregation and humiliation experienced on a daily basis, part of my education. i couldn't go to public schools of the little boy. i thought my parents humiliated on a regular basis and we haven't talked about that. as a result of that, there are
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presumptions of danger and guilt that her people like walter mcmillan and make it easier to have been convicted. so we've got to do some work in montgomery is as great a place as any to do that work because we've actually been there in the middle of the slave trade in the 1840s and 50s. we were there during the terrorism error. i am hoping we will be there when we get to change the talk about these issues and create truth in regulation for all americans. that is my hope, that we can do better to overcome this legacy of racial inequality. >> my guess is a lot of first-time authors don't have tracy kidder and desmond tutu better be in the back of their book with desmond tutu: you america's nelson mandela. >> well, i feel really honored and fortunate to be encouraged by extraordinary people like that. i have been really energized, frankly, by the responses i've
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gotten after writing this book yet i was very ambivalent. it was a good use of time given the cases i have to do, but i have been energized on what i have heard and seen from people who encouraged me to do more. >> year john grisham on the front of your book. >> yes, yes, a wonderful author does a lot about these courtrooms and counties that i work in everyday and every every year of my career. >> bryan stevenson. "just mercy: a story of justice and redemption" is the name of the book. we won't tell the ending. the narrative about walter mcmillan. if you want to see, pick up the book for yourself. thank you for being on booktv. >> you're welcome. >> coming up next, another life panel from the miami book fair. up next is a panel with three authors. richard blanco, poet laureate of the united states, "the prince
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of los cocuyos" is his memoir. richard blanco, "fire shut up in my bones." you might have seen mr. blow from our coverage. and finally, ross chas, a cartoonist for "the new yorker." she just finished a graphic memoir about her appearance and can we talk about something more pleasant with a name of her book. it is about the death of her parents, caring for her parents in their older ages. she was a finalist for the national book award in those three will be coming up in just a minute. here we go. >> to many, many activities and programs that represent for the public today and actually for the past week that miami book fair international has been presented. the knight foundation, a way
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child and american airlines and so many other sponsors that every year, through their generosity, enabled affair to continue. i would like to take a moment to recognize that in the audience today is congressman jay clyburn from south carolina. congressman clyburn, thank you for being with us here. [applause] and the congressman is actually one of our featured authors later on this afternoon. so without further ado, i would like to bring onto the podium, marilyn hollifield, partner at holland and knight and she will introduce the panel. thank you. [applause] >> good afternoon. good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. it is my distinct honor and pleasure to introduce the
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presenters for this program. richard blanco said he was made in cuba, assembled in spain and imported to the u.s. his family fled cuba after the revolution and eventually settled in miami. as a child, he possessed based on creative, but also excelled in math and the sciences. in fact, before obtaining a masters in fine art from florida international university, he worked as a consulting engineer. mr. blanco released his first book of poetry in 1999, which won agnes lynch portrait prize. in 2005, he published directions to the beach of the day, which received the beyond margins award.
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his 2012 -- his 2012 collection of coins titled looking for the gold was how touches on his life as a saturday man between domestic and integrated culture. when he was chose as the fifth poet of the united states for barack obama that cannot duration, mr. blanche go follows in the footsteps of the great alexandra, my angelo and robert frost. he tells the story of that experience for all of us, once a day, and a nonzero poster name. his latest book, the memoir, explores his coming-of-age
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within two imaginary worlds. his parents nostalgic 1950 cuba and has imagined america, the country he saw on reruns of the brady bunch and leave it to beaver. richard blanco's personal narrative is an account of how he discovered his authentic self and ultimately a deeper understanding of what it means to be an american. ross chad is a national book award finalist for nonfiction. her cartoons have been published in many magazines, including "the new yorker," scientific america, harvard business review, redbook and mother jones. she is the author of series of everythineverythin g, selected, collected and held his back a cartoons of ross chad 1978
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through 2006. a compilation of her favorite cartoons. she also illustrated the alphabet from a to y with bonus letters the. the best-selling children's book by steve martin. her awards and honors include honorary doctorates from dartmouth college, lesley university art institute of boston. she is also a member of the american academy of the arts and sciences and a montgomery fellow at dartmouth college. her latest book, can't we talk about something more pleasant, and memoir, told through four-color cartoons, family photos and documents. her memoir is both comfort and
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comic relief. for anyone experiencing the life altering loss of elderly parents. while the particular are chapped skin the idiosyncrasies, the themes are universal. adult children accepting a parental role, e.g. in an unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution, dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacy, managing logistics and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care. a portrait of two lives that their ad in an only child hoping that especially can. can we talk about something more pleasant shows the full range of roz chast's talent as a cartoonist and storyteller.
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charles blow is "the new york times" visual op-ed columnist. mr. blow graduated magna laude in the louisiana where he received a ba and mass communications. columbia law professor, columbia university law professor patricia williams got charles blow was only 24 when he was asked by "the new york times" to direct his graphics. apparently the youngest department had in the paper's history. his elegant charm, distillation of political and social complexity jousted readers with their logic, lucidity and sheer beauty. before long, he offended yet
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again, reinventing himself in configuring a new genre of journalists as the paper's visual op-ed columnist. in "fire shut up in my bones," charles blow reveals he was sexually abused at age seven by a cousin who abused and bullied him four years to calm, building a fiery rage that nearly cost him when a college student killed his car then. he realized he had to stop eating his abuser and start loving himself. forgiveness was freedom. he had to let go of his past so he could step into his future. he had to stop romanticizing the man he might have been and be the man that he was.
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not by neatly fitting into the other people definitions of masculinity or constructs of sexuality, but by being uniquely himself. in the words of professor williams, "fire shut up in my bones" is a story that tells and overwhelms, is filled with a gathering war, like an oncoming hurricane. by the last chapter, the tension explodes, then drops into a quiet sea of inter-peace. -- inner peace. with grace and eloquence it resist the exclusions of either or. to present conflict, central to humanity, reconfigured after field a simple possibility of compromise, of forgiveness, of
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eternal incompletion of the fire unleashed at long last from our bones. thank you. [applause] [applause] >> good afternoon. how are you doing? cold enough? it is wonderful to be back home in miami and wonderful to be at miami dade college in another way. not sure if it is really why they know that when i first started writing, the little engineer that could wanted -- was curious about poetry. my first creative writing courses were here in miami-dade utilities called.
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[laughter] i would like to share with you just want excerpt and a few photos. the engineer can't go away for me. i have to do powerpoint. there's no charts and graphs, don't worry. i'll begin by saying something that guided my writing is that i think it was a poet. i tried to research this, but is that every writer, every poet in some way is writing one story or one poem all their life. but that means figuratively of course as we all have a unique sort of central obsession that our whole body of work, but every palm weekend or every story we attempt is to dimension some aspect of the question, to answer them and ask new ones. and for me, that if session comes down to one word, home and all that big word means in terms of family, community, cultural,
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cultural identity, national loyalties, all the rest. it was something that is probably in me before birth is made in cuba, stumbled in spain and imported into the united states. my mother is seven months pregnant and 45 days later we emigrated to the united states. bedtime is 45 years old i belong to three countries. i have lived into world-class cities. this is somewhat of a birth certificate and they threw in there the eiffel tower to screw with me even further. [laughter] that newborn photo you see there was my very first i.d. in the united states. so if that was in a higher power same this is what he's going to be obsessed with when he grows up, home and all sorts of questions. to continue that narrative, we moved him of growing up in miami still is very much going up into
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imaginary worlds. cuba and the stories of my mind with the mango is to see her of assault was sweeter than there were real futures, not that landfill of miami beach that we have to go to every weekend. it felt like a real place that i was from, but i'd never been there. the other imaginary burro world and this is my sad to see for one day, to be an upgrade. i wanted to redo an excerpt that is the real how latinos say it's sort of captures a little bit of the psychological where the book begins as a negotiation between
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the two worlds. you will also be introduced to my grandmother and another discussion of mine. so mythic americana, just like a grocery store to 1970 that we wouldn't dare to go when. so my grandmother in the iran coup as part of the relationship throughout the book. every day after abuela and abuelo picked me up from school, one of three cuban bodegas she frequented. a boiler would pull his trunk and camp under a palm tree in the parking lot, smoking a cigar and reading a spanish translation. some days we went to lock cocina, the smallest of the bodegas.
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for the cuban bread was 10 cents cheaper than anyplace else. other days and after the patroness to cuba, our lady of tyranny, they tyranny, then a young virgin with a flashing halo was so lifelike that abuela would insist before going inside. [laughter] every single week i would go to winn-dixie instead good but she refused to step but in a place. [speaking in spanish] it is too expensive weird she complained dismissing my pleas until the day she spotted a winn-dixie circular nail advertising the special too tempting for a abuela to ignore. a whole roasted chicken, and drumsticks crowned in a banner jump anime it's not so fancy price. twenty-nine cents per pound.
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what does it mean that abuela asked me? [speaking in spanish] she said incredulously. i made her before send. i played on her peak curiosity. it's a great price. you sure can save a lot of money. [laughter] she agreed and let the circular in the kitchen counter instead of tossing it out with the rest of the junk mail that came in english. few things intimidate abuela. among mr. black magic santeria and cars. as for americanos, abuela wouldn't go anywhere she proceeded at least not alone. this included the social security office downtown, any restaurant with english-only menus, even teens chinese palace, fancy department stores like burdines and definitely not
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winn-dixie. but abuela also couldn't resist a bargain. the following week it appeared at 26 pounds per pound, 3 cents cheaper than a week before and then 24 cents a week after that. the friars hunted abuela. her stinginess slowly overcame her fear of americanus until finally she broke. will you go with me shopping a winn-dixie miami? of course, abuela. [speaking in spanish] soon are pantry would be stacked with oreo cookies. our freezers stuffed with swanson and eskimo pie, our fridge filled with hawaiian punch and american cheese. then i stay afterschool abuela and start yesterday to winn-dixie, a gigantic red sign marks the entry of, the letters spelling out winn-dixie.
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they glow even in daylight. what does that mean she questioned me? i struggled for a translation that would make sense, but none did. [speaking in spanish] i finally offered. how can that be abuela said perplexed by her thought of people made as me, which is for my literal translation in spanish. why not the chicken people she amused herself. a abuela toward advertisement for the fryer -- from the flyer and stuffed into her coin purse in her brassiere encased abuelo is a she might not return. god be with us achieve under a she said nothing until we reached the store entrance. now take me straight to those pollio's. no talking. we don't belong here. the electorate doors yawned
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open. i reached for a shopping cart twice, big as the ones, but abuela said don't you dare with her wide-open eyes, too afraid to speak. i could really speak for myself. not from fear, just pure awe. i was finally and winn-dixie. the air-conditioned air smothers crisp and clean as lysol, and each of the checkout lines as numbers with an illuminated sign in the cashiers all wore polyester uniforms instead of warped squares of linoleum, polished floors cleaned and music rain from the speakers on the ceiling. i was finally in america. we stepped into the produce section full of fruits and vegetables i have never eaten or even heard of. squash, apricots, russell
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spouts, squash, apricots. i kept pronouncing them in my mind, trying to imagine the taste is not made, pretending i was looking for the chicken, i deliberately wove abuela to every aisle taking an cartoon faces on the cereal boxes, the frost lake fell in the freezer cases, flavors of jell-o i never knew existed. soup made from cheddar cheese, from potatoes. i wanted to buy everything i saw. but of all the things i had tried at jimmy dawson's house, my absolute favorite was cheese. they're in the snack aisle i saw it. can you buy read this, abuela, i said grabbing a can of the shelf. what is that she asked. it is case so americom l. --
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[speaking in spanish] unable to fathom the idea of cheese in a can. but i can tell from the tone of her voice that she was intrigued. what i said spraining tap on my finger and it off. you don't even need to put it in the refrigerator. [speaking in spanish] she looked at me and my finger and it can in my finger and i can end back at me. [speaking in spanish] she marveled at the ingenuity of americans. they taste she asked holding out her finger. [speaking in spanish] she postern in question. how much? i looked at the price. [speaking in spanish] well, okay, but only if we promise to eat it all. i don't want to waste it. but let's get a fresh one she
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said putting mccann back on the shelf. [laughter] [applause] so yeah, that is my grandma. but apparently that is very universal. apparently everybody in the entire world. it transcends cultures, sexuality, everything you can imagine. some of the characters did the concept of the book, "the prince of los cocuyos" is proverbially the poet to raise a child. so it is a particularly wonderful relationship and amazing to me in my life, sometimes creatively, but nonetheless part of the bering of my site. one of them is my mother of course i'd like to show this side because that is actually a lightweight bag -- lightweight urchin of her 80-pound [speaking in spanish]
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, which means just in case of the flies, which means be prepared for the worse. so she had everything they are from toilet paper to nail polish to tictac to band-aids to mosquito repellent and including i think in chapter for a pistol on our first trip to disney world because you never know if a band of crazy americans is going to attack us north of the city limits. [laughter] but in reality, why a show that picture of my mother was actually a feather and writing the book was a psychological response. the woman left her entire family in cuba. her sense of control, you know, that sense of loss. so there is really this idea that the instability inside anything you do to react to that is to control everything else
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that she could so that her life but had some sense of psychological stability. as my father and also another character called [speaking in spanish] the malibu, the 1970s now abu, my dad first car, first american dream car that he paid more attention to than most of us. this is my older brother who is six and a half years older than me, which i think statistically is exactly the worst years you can have two boys apart. so he is my superhero and my archenemy. he's my baby sitter, my torturer. and i knew how to play baby of the family, but i am not innocent. i would get my mother to dress as alike, just to piss him off. one of the characters is my cat throughout the book because my grandmother was very tomaso of
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course cats were gay, a long with fruit loops and any number of things. so the cat is a friend and a source of comfort and also just to piss her off. i would show miami i grew up or it's not the miami of today, but just like miami of yesteryear. so how are city becomes our place and it contributes to ask. there is a lot of miami like these other kind of stores and i really thought it was important to be an emotional historian of what it felt like to live and grow up in miami. and this is kind of like a firefly. same magic of catching, you know, with your father and also it is the name of my grand
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uncle's store. it is a big turning point in the book because what happens is very key is looking for missing america and easy cheese and the brady bunch. the counter turn if he has this wonderful cultural coming-of-age in discovering cultural coming-of-age and discovering that will essence of the cuban heritage of all of these stories in this history that just are the parents and that happens at the grocery store and i started working there since i was 12 and under sort of where we keep become the prince and a sense of that alleged them through the customers, the regulators that come in three or four times a day, the other employees, the families they are because i think there is a little bit of misunderstanding sometimes that as children of immigrants. i am an immigrant by 45 days. we would grow up on thanksgiving and the process of coming of age culturally is a process really
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coming to terms and maturing into coulter and that is essentially what much of los cocuyos is, the cultural journey and the rest. the last thing i will say is that the book is read in some ways i see it as sort of a great steward of the american dream story because you realize this little kid who grew up behind a red wall with a bookie grandmother who wants easy cheese and nothing else and in some ways it still amazes me that happen to me in my life. so it is a hopeful story in the sense that in the sense that the american dream that the -- wonderful things can still happen and are amazing in this country. so, thank you. [applause]
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[inaudible conversations] >> hi, my name is saturday. i read a memoir called can we talk about something more pleasant. it is about my taking -- it is about taking care of my parents at the end of their life. they grew up in new york, like me and they lived in the same apartment in brooklyn for 59 years. but when they were around 90 they started to fail. i was not living in brooklyn. so this memoir is a little niche
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about my taking care of them and a little bit about who they were and their relationship with one another and their relationship with me. anyway, this is the beginning of the book is a little bit about what my childhood was like here it is stored it explains about what they were like. this is the wheel of doom. no, hold on. [inaudible] davis is advancing all by itself. -- this is advancing all by itself. [inaudible conversations] i'm sorry.
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] it's not working now? okay, okay. this is the wheel of doom. this explains a little bit about
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where my parents were at understory growing up. he saw happening. a friend killed by falling tower pot. headache instead, lump and dad. he was too happy. he jumped off the chair and broke his metatarsal. a guy who almost died after playing the oboe. this was explained to me because my mother's brother played the jazz trumpet and he knew this guy who played the oboe and i was nine years old and i heard him tell my mother, one day he woke up and he was bleeding from every pore. it was explained because play in the oboe was like so much pressure to blow the air on the read. you just like exploded by gas. killed by base ball, until i was about their team, i was afraid to sit directly on the ground because my mother knew a girl who sat directly on the ground and she got in her kidneys and she died.
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just like crazy stories. one time i found this bracelet that had sort of the elastic on it and it was a little bit tight. she said take that off. you're going to get gangrene. your hand will drop off. so this was their orientation to life. so, this takes place, this cartoon takes place. i'm going to read it because it's too far to read. my parents and i never discuss that. so, do you guys ever think about games? my father said what kind of things? you know, things, plans here i have no idea what you guys want. at this point that they are in the early 90s, still living in the apartment. let's say something happened to my mother to universal sign for something as crazy. [laughter] am i the only sane person here?
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you know what, nevermind. forget it. basically it wasn't like i was trying to bring this conversation about their wishes at the end of life and they were ignoring. it was like all three of us had our heads stuck very deep into the sand, so when stuff really started to happen, it was like holy. i was quite aware my parents had tough lives, way, way tougher than mine. you don't know what trouble is. i had heard the stories my whole life about coming over from russia at the turn-of-the-century with nothing, about how my maternal grandfather had been an engineer in russia and the inability to speak english and being jewish and one that barely been able to support by kids and his wife working in the garden district and how bitter and angry he was and how we washed goes for other people and how we been spattered my father stanley was. his mother was one of nine
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children. not only that, but not on the wish of your macro, but she was also the over one of her siblings to survive the russian cholera epidemic. then her father had cut from ear to ear. i don't know what happens to the mother, but she came from new york with just one child. my father but the section in 1912. a horrible ordeal opening her up from her back to her you know what. between one bad thing after another lives, depression and world war ii when holocaust, it was amazing they were crazier than they were. who could blame them for not wanting to talk about -- which is where the title from the memoir comes for my father. let's pick a more pleasant subject. i parents referred to each other without any irony of soulmates. his head matched the holes than
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mine. they were born 11 days apart and they grew up two blocks apart in east harlem new york city. they were the same fifth-grade class. they never dated, much less anything else anyone besides each other. my father said we were too poor. [laughter] plus, we look at our parent so we were married. from world war ii and go into the bathroom we did everything together. hold on, coming through. my mother had been washed my father's hair for him. it's not as if they never thought because they did. don't sit sideways, you're twisting your intestines. but the concept of looking for something better or being happy, dallas for modern people are movie stars, i.e. jack generates. favorite type of the unit. codependent? of course codependent. maybe they believed if they just held onto each other really tightly, nothing would ever
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change. i visited them the first time in years in their apartment in brooklyn where i grew up, but i notice first the level of wine. it's not ordinary datastore assaults up there hasn't been cleaned in a week or two. it is more of a coding, something that happens when people have acclaimed in a really long time. one day my mother told me growing up was you have to dallas. if you don't does come don't dust, dust gets into the furniture and breaks it all apart. it was clear she had stopped worrying about that. but what do you do if you pick up a sponge and start cleaning. look at me, perfect daughter. it would not necessarily be perceived as helpful. the person you help my feel insulted or embarrassed. put that down, leave that alone. don't touch that. daddy and i are fine. i was a great essay caretaker and they were not great at being taken care of. by 2002 there were 90. it's hard not to notice that
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every time i came to visit the grime had grown thicker, the newspapers magazines and junk mail had grown larger and they themselves had grown frailer. i can see they were slowly within the sphere of tv commercial old-age. totally independent, just like a normal adult but with silver hair. this is like the is like the ads you see for insurers. the people are 55. you know, agreements are a part of old age that is scarier, hard to talk about and not part of this culture. extend human lifespan to 140. this guy didn't know anybody over 100. something is coming down the pipe. it is no accident that most of their pitch to people in their 20s and 30s. i am going to take up tennis. i'm going to need a lot of new stuff. let's redecorate the house. one thing they're less likely to have gone through the transformative process of cleaning out their deceased parents start. once you go through that come
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you can never look at your stuff the same way. you start to look at your stuff is little post mystically. if you've lived more than two decades as a consumer come you're quite the accumulation even if you are not in order. ergonomic price, throw pillows, dessert plates and seven travelogue clocks and eight now clippers on a colander of flatiron and barbells and a set of bocce and patio furniture and your old high school and a walk that you never use. this is like a typical thing when i would visit my parents. mom, what is this? it is from the year one. it's disgusting. it is all burnt and ready and have patches on it. these patches come from the skirt made 40 years ago. please let me buy you a new oven mitt. my mother, why would you?
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it still works. i'm going to go little faster so i'm going to skip a couple. this is a typical conversation that i had with my mother over the phone because there were a few years there where i was starting to visit them a lot, but they had no desire to move out of their apartment. things are starting to go downhill. this is me. how is your cataract removal operation recovery coming along? gray. it's like a job film over a rethink and now it's gone. i still have a patch over the ipo, but not to worry. there's unanswered in the house. daddy and i just came back to my father never learned how to drive. he's two inches so my mother drove. so she was the little old lady with the big giant car like this. i don't know if any do know brooklyn, but they have to cross ocean parkway to get to ball valves and this is like a six lane very busy road.
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mom, listen to me. you cannot drive with one eye. you have no depth perception. it's no problem. daddy guided me. last night -- [laughter] these are the things that happened later. at some point i mother did have to go to the hospital and she was there for three weeks and my father came to live with us in connecticut for those weeks because he could not live alone. he had senile dementia, but what happens is sometimes as many of you i know, once they are in their familiar circumstances, a lot of the symptoms -- you are not aware of how demented, how much senility they really have. anyway, i will read it. dad, what do you think of this letter? holding up a red sweater because his closer in tatters. they had gotten close shopping in a really long time and i
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wanted to be the good daughter to buy clothes. i can't wear that. why not? it read. communism. [laughter] my mother had a strong aversion to doctors and hospitals. it didn't surprise me that she didn't want to call the calvary. doctors, they have a god complex. they tell you to do something on the next month never do that day. some people think doctors walk on water, but not me. hospitals, don't get me started. that is where you go to die. the body wants to be well. i'm a jewish christian scientist. [laughter] [applause] i'm sorry. i'm just going to skip a little. finally, i got into an assisted living place. my mother was constantly falling. my father was leaving the stove
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on. i'm terrified to answer the phone because i thought this is going to be the call from the police. so finally, i did get them to an assisted living place about 10 minutes from where i live in connecticut. the first few months were fairly uneventful, although sometimes i had a feeling that my dad was less than 100 senate is aghast at. this place is a. i knew what was it a, but even atop the middle of the line or bottom or top of the line, the place is still an institution in institutions have rules. this is every week like an ethnic meeting with the staff. my mother never called it a, but she had opinions. residents are inmates. i am sure it wasn't easy, but they were adjusting. your father has an ache in his pocket all day yesterday. thank god it turned out to be hard oiled.
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[laughter] this is a typical afternoon at the place. look, dad, i brought you a cheese danish. my favorite. jaime, care to share with me? my mother said no because i ate my lunch unlike some people who were so busy socializing that they neglect their lunch, which is why some people are hungry now. i'll cut it into quarters. that way if you change your mind you can have some good as i told you, i'm still full from lunch come up i will cut it in half and i will eat one half of it the other way for later. and then some people won't be hungry for dinner. and then here is me because i am so brilliant. i don't get why you are dad's danish adjustment. actually, your mother is right. she's a brilliant woman. thank you, elizabeth. [laughter] i always made sure their door had decor. there is little hook on the
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back. this is the door at the assisted living place. indian corn, flowers, things like that. no indian corn. i mean, they lived in brooklyn. people didn't decorate their door. it's very lovely. what is it called again? door decor was not import part of my parents lives. why would anyone want to call attention to their door? besides, waste of money. but when in rome. i didn't want other residents to think they were weird or anti-door decor. these are two other residents. they are from new york. here is what i used to think happened at the yen. one night, old mrs. mcgillicuddy fell unwell at six to her bed. she stayed there for three or four weeks, growing weaker by the day. soon after that she died. the yard.
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what i was starting to understand, a metal panels a lot more painful, humiliating, long-lasting, complicated and hideously expensive. and my father, when he was 95, his tape rope and he started to seriously decline and hospice center of the picture and this is what my mother said. she said the hospice lady has started coming around. she was very nice, but i told her i don't want anyone coming around to what they longside face. i'm a positive thinking, not a bunch of people standing around singing to my. [laughter] and then, my father, he did die at 95 and my mother lived for another two years and with many, many ups and downs.
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and when she was around 97, she was in hospice twice. she was very good at it. the second time she was in hospice, the decline went on a little bit longer. some strange things started to have been. she started to lose her marbles a little bit. and she would tell me these strange stories and i started keeping track of them. dad to dad. your dad died before you were born, when i was pregnant with you. my father, harry, said he would buy me a house while i was at work. mom, that's not true. yes, it is that i should know. okay, full of buckshot. there was a break in it. all the men were moved over to the women's side. i shot the intruder with my bb gun. i gave him an asphalt hotshots. i'd like to put them on stage,
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pulled on his pants and take out the pellets one by one in front of everybody. unusual adoption. did i ever tell you about the milkman? i've heard this story, but it wasn't like this. they went shopping and when they got back to their car there was a grocery bag leaning against an inside the bag was a baby. and then the story stopped and i was continuing to visit her and there was really not much to do besides draw and i guess it is because that is what i do. i really was not aware of why completely was doing it, i just knew i needed to. i think i wanted to look at her and be with her and drawing was a way for me to do that. so i did a lot of sketches. i don't know if you can see them very well here.
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and that is the last one. you know, it was very surreal. her helper called me when my mother was passing and i drove down there as fast as i could and i guess she's sort of just slipped away. when i got down there, you know, there is all this official hustle and bustle that has to happen. they just sort of left me with her for about 15 minutes. so i drew her and that was that. and this is the last one i think.
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on the floor of my closet, l-lima shoes, old photo items, wrapped in paper, sewing machine, shall for teachers, carter makassar perkins and other miscellaneous stuff marked to special boxes. one was my father's remains, the other by mothers. i father's boxes inside a navy blue velvet drawstring bag, which i placed inside the ancient channel 13 bags he took everywhere. my mother's boxes inside a maroon velvet red bag. it is on thin air. until i figure out a better place for them, they are staying in my closet. actually this is the last one. i wish at the end of life would eames were truly done, there is something to look forward to, simply for pleasure oriented, perhaps opium or heroin. so you became addicted, so what. all-you-can-eat ice cream parlors for the external hd or bigger picture books and music, extreme care for when he tied up with everything else.
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the x-rays, mris, boring food in the don't do anything at all. would that be so bad? that is it. [applause] >> i have to adjust this up a little bit. so backstage we were trying to figure what the order was going to be for who's going to go first and i figure since they had slides i should go last. i don't know if i picked that appropriately. we only have about 15 minutes left in this session, so i'm going to go as fast as i can to make sure we've did everything in. the title of my memoir is "fire shut up in my bones," a coming-of-age story about rolling up in north louisiana. a very small town, segregated town, probably about a thousand
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people when i was born. and i am always fascinated by the kind of response to the book. there are a couple of questions that i think people ask all of the time. one of them is, you know, why now, which is a very strange question to answer because if anybody is writing a book coming out takes forever to produce. i started nine years ago. people say why now. i say why not bad. because it really does take everything out of you to complete it. and there are points when you feel like you are literally going to die and it will never fully be finished. james baldwin once was being interviewed by seth mckinsey about finishing his first book. he said i thought i would never finish and he went away to switzerland. you know how he talks.
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it was all -- [inaudible] he said he took with him one typewriter and also one betsy smith album. he said he had never allowed himself to listen to betsy smith and america, but there is switzerland surrounded by these white mountains and white bases, he listened to betsy smith. ..
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>> and, you know, maya angelou useo say the bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, the burden sings because it has a song -- the bird sings because it has a song. so in a way, the writing of the memoir becomes the song of the bird. but i do understand what they're saying when they ask why did you where the book, because they're asking about the sociological themes of the book. it is more a marketing question than it is a literary question. however, aye -- i've learned to answer that question because it is true that the memoir, for me, has many sociological themes, and those are themes like family and poverty and race to a certain degree, identity and abuse. and so what i want to do is just
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to talk about those concepts and those constructs as they present themselves in my book. i have a couple of packages here i want to read to you. the first one i want to read is about family. and it is really about -- i always read this, and it's kind of one of the -- [inaudible] of the book. but it says so much to me about the complexities of the intergenerational experiences of families and how all that intersects with things like poverty and our experiences of love and pain and loss. let me just read this peace for you. it's actually chapter one, which is called the house with no steps. the first memory i have in the world is of death and tears. that is how it would mark the beginning of my life the way people mark the end of one. my family had gathered at papa joe's house because ma'am grace was slipping away, only i didn't
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register it that way. for some reason, i thought it was her birthday. papa joe was my great grandfather. ma'am grace was his laid-up wife who passed the days in a hospital bed looking out through a large picture building at a street watching the world she was leaving literally pass her by. we were in the living room when he called to us. i think she about to go. i didn't know what that meant. i thought it was time to give her a gift. with that, my family filed into her room surrounding her with love. their hearts were heavy. mine, though, was light. i thought we were about to give her something special, they knew something special was about to be taken away. she peacefully drew her last breath as her head tilted and she fell still. so dramatic beth battle, so -- death battle, no last minute
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confession. like a raft pushed gently from the shore, she drifted from now into forever, a beautiful life beautifully surrendered. but i recorded it differently. i thought she turned to enjoy a gift that wasn't there. when ma'am grace left the room, she took the air a with her. no one could breathe, they could only scream. my mother was overcome. she ran from the house, and i ran behind her. she threw herself to the ground at the hog pen wailing, her back rocking against it. i shooed the hogs away as they tried to lap at her hair. i was too young to know what it meant to die, but tears i knew. sorrow flowed out of my mother like a dam had broken. it was one, though, that she would soon rebuild taller and stronger than it had been. as a child, i would never see my mother cry again. i spent most of my life
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believing my 3-year-old's version of what happened that day until as an adult i recounted my memory to my mother, and she set the story straight. our gathering at ma'am grace's bedside was not to celebrate the day she was born, but to accept that it was her day to die. [applause] now, part of the reason that my mom had such a strong reaction to that, it was part of the complex of the family. my mom had been raised by my grandmother because my grandmother and my grandfather, you know, these are two people who should have never been married in the first place. you know those couples where they just amp each other up, and it's like does anybody have any control here at all? [laughter] so they were that couple, right? so they moved away to houston, and my mom stayed out there for,
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i think, a month or two, i don't know how long she stayed. i have to get out of here. they put her on a bus, and she came back on a bus as a kid by herself. they put you on the bus or a train with a note, and this is where you were going, and you would arrive like mail or something. laugh- [laughter] so that was kind of her mother. and so she spent her entire life looking up to my great grandmother as if it was her mother, and kind of in a way rebelling against her own mother who was kind of a very different quality of woman and very flamboyant. so my mother is very staid, so she's one of the most conservative women you've ever met. she has four colors in her closet; white, black, brown, navy blue. things that are some combination of those things. there is no red, there is no green, there's one of that. there's no eyebrow plucking
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because her grandmother, my great grandmother told her a woman plucked her eyebrows, she went blind. [laughter] she, you don't start something on a friday that you can't finish because my great grandmother said woman once did that, she tried to make a dress for her little girl, little girl died, had to bury the little girl in no dress. everything my great grandmother said, that's how my mother lived her life which was the opposite of the way my grandmother lived her life. you know, my grandmother is one of these women who has been married, you know, she was married like four times. and, you know, she's not a single girl. she did not like to be without a man. there's some people that could do that, not my grandmother. and she married for the fourth time a man who i considered to be like a father to me because i
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grew up with him and her for the first three years of my life. every time my mother got pregnant, she got dreadfully ill. and so my grandmother would pitch in and say, you know, give me that kid. you can't even get out of bed, and i'll help you with this kid until you get older. so i stayed there with them for three years. but the fourth husband was, to me, just an amazing human being. i'll just read you a quick description of him, and then i'll read you something about one of the other sociological points of the book which i think is really important for me as a writer which was to establish the incredible diversity of masculinity, particularly as it relates to african-american men. because in literature and in film, i think that this is drawn much too narrowly, and we do not see all the fullness that people can be, particularly men can be. and particularly we can't see the gentle person and the person who would do anything for love.
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jed, this is the fourth husband, jed was a chain smoker with a strong back and soft eyes. it was those eyes that struck you, brown, maple-syrup sweet. a hint of gray around the edges, sunrise yellow where the whites should be, deep enough to get lost in. bottomless like martin's pond. damp like the beginning of a good cry or the end of a good laugh. they were the kind of eyes that saw down into the dark of you and drew up the light, the kind that melted worry like a stick of butter near a warm stove. the kind that forgave secret shame before it scarred the throat on the way out. it would take a man with eyes like that to make big mama move to the middle of nowhere and bathe outside. now, big mama, that's my
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grandmother. big mama would not move into the middle of nowhere for anybody other than this man. she lost her third husband because she was using the condo money to buy, you know,s and shoes, and he didn't know it. he was illiterate, and he trusted her with the money, so he said you pay the note. i think she might have paid it one time, so she gave him the receipt, he gave -- you know, she put it away, he put it away, but she would steal it back. every time he put it away, she would go buy clothes and give him the same receipt. and the repo guy comes and says we've got to take the -- he goes into the box where he's been putting the receipt, he can find one. the one she's been recycling. [laughter] my grandmother's not that kind of gal, but jed completely
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changes her. i want to read you this quick little passage. the only remnant of big mama's past was a water-damaged, hand-tinted portrait of a man and her i didn't recognize, both sugar sharp, sitting on a bench in front of a painted backdrop. he was sitting up tall and strong, she was laughing, legs crossed, her head resting delicately on her shoulder. there was a power in his pose, but there was more in hers, a feminine power, the kind that lights a room and buckles a knee, the kind that makes men do things they know they shouldn't; sneak in through open windows, lie to loved ones, give more than they have. i often stared at that picture trying to connect that woman -- then young, radiant, dangerously alluring -- with the woman that i knew now as big mama, but i couldn't do it. she was different now. jed had made her different because he was more powerful than she was. he drew his power from a
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different source. not from hollowness, but from wholeness. it was a grand, simple kind of power. it came from the knowing and accepting and loving of self that made the knowing and accepting and loving of everything else possible. it didn't crush, but accommodated. he hadn't taken away big mama's power, but given her a peaceful place to harness and transform it, to calm down and grow up, to move out of the woman she had been and into the woman she could be. she was like a river, always running, never still, wanting to be somewhere other than where it was that had finally reached the ocean vast and deep and exactly where it was always meant to be. and i -- [applause] thank you.
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i particularly love this, the idea of thinking about masculinity as an ocean, because i think that we as a culture dramas clipty dangerously, precariously narrow and basically weed boys out and make them feel like they are constantly failing because we have defined it as a peak to which we must ascend, a side of a mountain we must scale rather than as the ocean, deep in some places, shallow in some places and roiling in some places and placid in some places and that all of that is part of what it means to be a man. and basically, by removing that we rob these boys of a basic part of humanity. and so they believe that they are constantly failing to be what we have done to them as boys. it is almost like we, you know, the person who writes the note
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of a song so high that only a few people are ever meant to reach the note, and so one is ever meant to hold it? that is what we have done. and that is what we must undo. another kind of one of the sociological themes of the book is poverty, and it's really about what rural poverty looks like. we constantly in our kind of political discourse talk about poverty only as urban poverty. we talk about it only as people who do not work and, therefore, it is an effort deficiency is. you are poor because you did not try hard enough. but that is not the way that i experienced poverty. it was not urban, and everyone worked, and some people worked more than one job. and the poverty that i understood had nothing to do with lack of effort.
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it's just that they did not make enough to lift themselves out of poverty. so i'm going to read this quickly. at the house with no steps, i had not sensed our shortness of money, but now it was all too apparent. we hadn't been well off before, but now we would truly struggle. most of blacks in town lived in some gradation of poverty, some barely eking out an existence, some whose existence could hardly be called living. poor as job's turkey, my mother called it. they were the kind of folks who dud hard jobs and odd -- did hard jobs and odd jobs. any work they could find to keep the lights on and children fed. they were women whose hands stayed damp from being dipped in buckets and dried on aprons. they were men who worked in boots with steel toes, the kind that didn't take shining, the
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kind that leaned over and told stories when you took them off. they were people whose bodies melted every night in a hot bath but stiffened by sunrise, so much so that it took pills to get them out of bed without pain. yet they seemed to me content in what they knew life to be; sharing old stories, deep laughs and sweet tea. as the old folks had imported to me early on, grandeur never witnessed could not be coveted. [applause] another thing that was a big theme of the book that a lot of reviewers have focused on is the abuse piece of it. i was, i'm a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and i
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don't think we fully understand what sexual abuse is in america because we have one concept of what it is. we have the catholic priest/jerry sandusky grown-up, you know, to catch a predator concept of what sexual abuse is. it is a stranger. it is always an adult. it is always towards an older kid. it is penetrative. that is not what sexual abuse is in america, and we have to dispel ourselves of that mythology. very often it is a friend of the family or someone who is in the family. it is not a stranger. very often it is happening in your
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>> i wanted to cry but couldn't. i wanted to scream but couldn't. i was dead now, and dead boys forget how to cry. part of that damage is not even the abuse itself, but it is what society puts onto the abused
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child. they abuse children over again. and a lot of times it is done by the people who care, the people who are outraged by it. because if you dig deep enough into the outrage, a lot of it is laced in misogyny and patriarchy and homophobia. because what society tells the kid is that you are dead because you arer revocably ruined. --er revocably ruined, that you have been spoiled, that you have been destroyed, that your manhood has been taken. and that is, that is not real, and it is not true. it has a lot of very negative connotations in it. what is true is that there has been a betrayal of trust, there has been an exploitation of a power differential, there has been an invasion of your zone of intimacy and sovereignty of your
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most intimate self. those things you can recover from. the suffocation of society that tells you that you are forever broken and beyond repair is much hard orer to recover from -- harder to recover from. and i know we're running out of time, so i'm just going to read this one last piece which is about learning to love yourself and having the courage to confess to yourself and to the world that you are strong and resilient and deserving of the life. concealment makes the soul a
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swamp. confession is how you drain it. daring to step into one's self is the bravest, strangest, most natural, most terrifying thing a person can do. because when you cease to wrap yourself in artifice, you are naked. and when you are naked, you are vulnerable. but vulnerability is the leading edge of truth. being willing to sacrifice a false life is the only way to live a true one. thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you very much to all three of our authors, and they will be autographing their books on this floor on the other side
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of the elevators. you can meet our authors out at the autographing area. if you have a ticket for the next session, you may remain here. if you don't, please exit to my left. thank you very much. [inaudible conversations] >> host: and you're watching live coverage of the miami book fair on book tv on c-span2. that was charles blow and richard blanco who is the poet laureate of the united states talking about their memoirs and, of course, roz's look at her caring for her elderly parents.
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our live coverage from miami continues. as you can see, the street fair is in full swing on this beautiful sunday afternoon in miami. miami-dade college is the headquarters of the miami book father. 600 -- fair. 600 authors down here. we're talking with and seeing about 25 of them over the course of these two days and about 20 hours of live coverage. two more panels coming up. the next one is on books and e-commerce, and you'll see the editor of the new republic along with the head of the american booksellers' association among others, and then the final panel of the day is rebecca goldstein, plato at the google plex, and the republic of imagination. so those two panels are still coming to you this afternoon, but in the meantime, we want to introduce you to dana goldstein. this is her book, "the teacher wars: a history of america's most embattled profession."
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ms. goldstein, when did the concept of public education come into being in the states? >> guest: you know, priest -- previous to about 1830 we did not have public schools in the united states as we would conceive of them today. it was up to individual groups of neighbors, perhaps churches to come together and start schools if that was something that they wanted to do. all that changes in the 1830s with the common schools movement. the group of reformers that went state to state and made the argument we need to raise taxes at the state level, we need to tell parents it's not your choice, you have to send your kids to school. and between about 1830 and eight years after the civil war, each state embraced the idea of a universal public education which was new at the time. >> host: was there resistance to that idea? >> guest: yes, there was. and unsurprisingly, a lot of the resistance was because this was expensive. and one of the early compromises that was made in order to make this affordable, which is one of the stories i tell in the book,
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was bringing female teach's into the classroom. in 1800 19% of schoolteachers were male -- 90% of schoolteachers were male. and, of course, today over three-quarters remain female. so one of the big reasons this was done was because folks were saying, look, we like the idea of public education, we don't want to pay that much for it. at the time you could pay female teachers half as much as a male teacher. >> host: how many public schoolteachers are there today in the united states? >> guest: 3.4 million. >> host: and what's their average salary? >> guest: the median salary is $54,000 per year. >> host: and they -- what do they start? does it range from state to state? give us some specifics. >> guest: in new york city where i live, a teacher with 30 years of experience can make a six-figure salary which sounds really great. the secret is how long it takes
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to get there. teachers, they don't get to have big jumps in salary over the course of their 20s and 30s like many other white collar professionals do. most of them have to wait a very long time. in north carolina, for example, the starting salary for a teacher is $30,000 to advance to $40,000, one has to to work for 15 years. so we're talking about being in your mid to late 30s before you would even make $40,000 in the great state of north carolina. so there's big variation across the country. urban areas, suburban areas, often big variations. but overall it's not paid commensurate with other jobs that often require a master's degree. >> host: are private schools on a different scale? >> guest: private schools actually tend to pay less in many regions, and parking lot of the reason -- part of the reason why is there's fewer kids living in poverty and not as many sort of social challenges that the public schools face. >> host: when you look at the
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figures, how much are we spending on public education in the u.s.? >> guest: i don't have that ballpark figure off the top of my head. what i do know is we spend more per pupil on average than our competitor nations. so we often hear a lot about the schools in south korea, japan, finland. we actually spend a little more than they do, and our outcomes are mediocre. our kids are average in reading, they're below average in math. i often get the question where does our money go to in your system. we have generous pensions and health plans for public schoolteachers. one of the reasons why is we don't have a big social safety net that provides for people's health care and retirement provided by government in this country, so teachers have fought for that to offset the relatively low pay that we were talking about. and the history of how teachers unions have achieved some of that is a story i tell in the book. sports, transportation and international schools do, so
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while we're spending more, it might not necessarily be focused toward achievement or student academics. >> host: so how much of it goes toward the teachers' pensions? and is there an average of what we spend per pupil in the public schools nationwide? 12,000, 10,000? >> guest: yeah. i was going to say between 8-12 fending on the state, the city. a -- depending on the state, the city. a small amount goes to teachers' pensions, but human resources costs are the main costs of our school system. and so a lot of times that's one reason in a time of austerity budgeting in many states that you see finger pointing, i believe up times a little -- oftentimes a little bit unclearly at teachers, as being expensive. so that's a rhetorical argument that's made from the 19th century til today. there's always been resentment about the costs of the teaching profession. although overall when you see what teachers or bring home at the end of the year, it is not
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all that much. >> host: dana goldstein, in your view has the nea and the american teachers federation, have they been positive steps for teachers? >> guest: i think historically their role changes over time. if you go back to the early 1960s before teachers had collective bargaining rights, at the time teachers were making $66 a week. that was the same as a car washer. so we see as teachers unions gained collective bargaining rights, we see teachers' pay rise to middle class standard when it had been conceived in the 19th century as almost a working class type of job. young women would do this job for a few years, it wasn't their career. we didn't have to pay them that much because they were going to do it before marriage. or the idea was they didn't have a family just before it, and it really took the empowerment of the teachers' unions to historically move away from that. and we see that in states where
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collective bargaining for teachers, teachers make on average about 10% more. so i think there were some positive changes that we needed to do as a country for our teachers that the teachers' unions did push for successfully. i think as the teachers unions gained more power, they became less popular, and one of the reasons why is they seemed to powerful, and the process they were sitting with mayors and with governors and with others arguing for their way of looking at schools, and often times people asked where are students at the table? is there as strong of a voice for student means, and i really trace the funneling of that critique in the late 1960s with the black power community control movement which were groups of african-american parents that started to raise this issue. although it was a radical critique in the 1960s, it has become much more mainstream to the point where there's been a bipartisan consensus over the past 20 or 30 years that teachers' unions are too powerful. it's something that a lot of
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centrist democrats and republicans tend to agree about, including president obama, and we need to hold them accountable, and that's why we have standards and accountability form of government today. >> host: do you agree with that? >> guest: i think there's a lot that the movement has done that's been positive. for example, before no child left behind, the law that president george w. bush pushed, we did not have student achievement numbers in every single state broken down by race, by english language learner status, by whether students were living in poverty, by disability status. so now because of some of these accountable measures that have become law, we can actually see how our children are doing in a very detailed way, and we know that we're not doing well in that. we know that we're not closing gaps the way that we want to be closing them. >> host: okay. that's nclb which was supported also by the democrats -- >> guest: yes. ted kennedy was a big supporter. >> host: we've had common core,
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we've had race to the top. are there subtle differences between these programs? are there significant differences? >> guest: a wonderful and important question because no child left behind, it really looked at schools as the most important organizing principle in education. so the idea is you would collect these students' test scores and judge whether the cool was failing -- the school was failing or succeeding. president obama looked at a lot of research, and his administration decided it was not the school, it was the individual teacher and his or her individual classroom, and what president obama's policies have done such as race to the top, the way that this administration has changed no child left behind is to require states if they want federal money to judge and evaluate every single teacher no matter which grade they teach based on kids' test scores. and those have led to a lot of changes that i trace in the
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latter chapters of this book, things like should we do standardized testing in kindergarten, in music, in gym class? because if we're going to judge every teacher based on test scores, well, guess what? a lot of subjects are currently not tested. >> host: dana goldstein, what's your day job, and where did "the teacher wars" come from? >> guest: i've been a magazine journalist for about ten years. i was covering the primary in 2007 and 2008 between barack obama and hillary clinton, and one of the things i noticed was education policy was one of their big dividing lines. president obama went in front of the national teachers' unions and said he supported merit pay, the idea of paying teachers on how they're doing with kids, and he was booed, and he did not get the teachers unions endorsements, hillary clinton did. so this was fascinating to me, you know? the democratic party was so twinned with the teachers unions, what were we going to see from the president on
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education when he came into office? and, inteed, we've seen him -- indeed, we've seen him embrace policy that is the unions are not happy about. only 12 percent of the funding for our public schools does come for the federal -- from the federal government. how was, since the -- however, suns the recession it -- since the recession hit, when the federal government says we'll give you more money if you evaluate teachers using student test scores, the states said, yes, we want to do that, and they passed laws that backenned teacher tenure -- that weakened teacher tenure in response to president obama's policies. >> host: when you talk about the teacher wars, what are you talking about? just the fact that people have criticized public education for a long time? >> guest: yeah. i was interested in this question that was raised,
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actually after the recession hit in late 2008, what job or role can teachers play in closing the equality gap. and i think we have the relatively weak social safety net outside of our schools. we have a fifth of our students living in poverty, again very different from some of our competitors, and where does this uniquely american idea come from that teachers are responsible for closing the gap? whether those gaps are between catholics and protestants, between establish speakers and today we talk about these gaps mostly in terms of incomish equality. we have always been fighting about whether or not teachers are closing these gaps. we've often been disappointed with teachers, and those are the teacher wars as i can see them in the book. >> host: if we were to go about three blocks from here, we'd be in a not so nice neighborhood. if we went three blocks the oh
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way, we'd with in a quite nice neighborhood. can you measure performance by socioeconomic standards? i mean, do can they correlate? >> they do very closely, and three young economists have done some brill brilliant -- [inaudible] they have found that only 7%, 7% of the achievement gaps between poor and middle class kids is driven by teachers. that means that 93% is due to things like current income, neighborhood poverty like you were just mentioning. so we do know that class and achievement are very closely linked to one another. that doesn't mean that teachers don't have a role to play in chosing these gaps. if we could do a better job as a nation in moving our most skilled, best teachers to our neediest kids, we could help close those gaps, and we are not doing that as a country. we have not made that a priority. >> host: at the same time, though, it's often where you're kind of managing kids for a day
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when you're going into a rougher neighborhood? >> guest: unfortunately, i think that has often been the idea. we know now because we've got a great group of successful schools teaching poor children that it doesn't have to be that way. when teachers come into those schools, there's rigor around expectation, they can do a lot more than just manage, that they really can focus on academic curriculum, and that's the standard that we need to be holding those teachers and those schools to, absolutely. >> host: dana goldstein, are charter schools a new concept and have, in your view, they been successful? >> guest: charter school concepts dates back to the 1980s, and originally it was the idea of teachers starting their own schools as laboratories of innovation, and it was something that the president of the union loved the idea. he thought it was going to empower teachers. it didn't take long for
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conservative lawmakers to charter coulds could be exempted from being unionized schools. and there we have the war we've been having since the early '90s about charter schools. northeast of them -- most of them are non-unionized. if we look at the charter school movement as a whole, they're on the same quality curve as the traditional public schools. about the same number of them are very good, the same number are average, and the same number are very poor. but what i will say is among the most successful charter schools we often talk about the knowledge is power schools, those are some of the most successful schools we have in the united states at teaching poor children, and so we can win a lot from them. >> host: your conclusions in "the teacher wars" what are they? >> guest: i'm always asked to boil it down, and i think we've had the conception in american politics that our educational problems are teachers' problems,
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so we need to start with a new group and turn the page. as i explain in the book, with 3.4 million american people, we hire 100,000 new teachers every single year with. there are so many of them, we have so many in our schools, we cannot fire our way to success because there is no proven method of making sure the new people we'd hire would be any better. so we must improve the skill set of the teachers we already have working in our schools. there's a lot of collaborative processes we can use to do that. >> host: dana goldstein is the author, "the teacher wars" is the name of the book. >> thank you so much. >> host: and now back into chapman hall for our next live panel, a panel on books and e-commerce. the introductions are just being made. >> not only for miami book fair international, but its support of miami-dade college as well. and so without further ado, i'd like to introduce -- [inaudible] of the knight foundation, and she will do the introductions of
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our panel. thank you. [applause] >> hello, even. welcome. i'm director of journalism at the knight foundation, and it's so great to see so many of you here at this very important panel called "do monsters live in our laptops." christopher ca neely with the copyright clearance center and host of the beyond the book podcast will be introducing our guests over here, and he'll be also moderating the panel. so without much ado, i'll hand it over to christopher. thank you. [applause] >> well, thank you, indeed, not knight foundation, to everybody from miami-dade college, and to all of you for joining us today. for the book business, this summer was a season of discontent. amazon, the giant online
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retailer, and publishers of the little brown imprint among others had locked horns. at stake for the terms for doing business moving forward. amazon recoiled at being deprived of its trademark deep discounts. while the negotiations went on behind closed corporate doors, authors and readers saw a new and, many thought, darker side of amazon. he shed books became listed as full price, and when readers did order such books, they learned delivery would take weeks. even amazon's recommendation engine got involved, frequently suggesting alternatives to the titles. authors and not only those no, sir, responded with condemnation of amazon as a monopolist and a bully. in the shadow of the ukrainian civil war then raising,
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frustrated readers soon began to reconsider their relationship with amazon and, by extension, with the digital marketplace. even wall street wavered in its longstanding support of amazon's shock. the share price has fallen nearly 20% off its 52-week high. now, just ten days ago the two sides announced a deal which amazon says also encourages the publisher to deliver lower prices. in other words, both publisher and retailer have declared victory and gone home. yet the book community publishers, authors and readers may not be prepared to let them go. at the national book awards on wednesday evening last week, writer ursula he begin chat chiezed -- chastised publishers who put -- [inaudible] before art. and she also called on her colleagues to rise up against
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the prevailing order. she said books aren't just commodities. the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. we live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable. but then so did the divine right of kings. any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. resistance and change often begin in art, she said. very often in our art, the art of words. our panel today will consider that challenge to take up resistance in the digital marketplace, and we will ask if the future of writing, publishing and reading lies in a digital world, who gets to decide what that world looks like? and joining me for that discussion, i want to introduce from the very far end andrew albany, senior writer of publishers' weekly, welcome. he is the author of the kindle e-books single: how apple, amazon and the big six
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publishers changed the e-book business overnight. he's covered the publishing and information technology fields since 19399 is -- 1999 and is a former editor with reagan books. to his right is franklin fore. frank, welcome. editor of the new republic which is celebrating its centennial in 2014. he is editor of insurrections of the mind: 100 years of politics and culture. and founded by herbert crowley and walter lippman in 1914, the new republic gave voice to the growing progressive movement and became a leading left-wing voice in american politics and culture. frank fore's international bestseller, "how soccer explains the world," has been translated into 27 languages. and then to his right is esther taylor, welcome. a writer and documentary film maker, author of "the people's
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platform: taking back power and culture in the digital age," which was a new york times book review editors' choice. her films include documentaries about the world's most famous philosopher and examined life, a series of excursions with contemporary thinkers. and finally to my left here, orr rib -- orrin teicher, ceo of the american booksellers association in 2009. founded in 1900, the aba at bookweb.org is for indidn'tly owned -- independently owned bookstores. he was associate executive director, chief operating officer and in 2013pw named him the pw person of the year for their role in leading the resurgence of independent book selling to so, indeed, a warm welcome to all the panel. andrew, i'd like to start with you because i sketched very
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briefly the impasse that came to everyone's attention this summer. i wonder if you could fill in the details a little bit more. how did we get there, and what does it mean or what did it mean at that time to the book business? >> how did we get here? well, i'm assuming some of you have an idea, and let me just ask a quick question of you first. over the course of this discussion and debate, how how y of you would say you sided with that shed? show of hands. [laughter] and how many of you would say that you were siding with amazon? okay. and most of you, i assume, are thinking it's a little too complicated to wick one side or the other. -- to pick one side or the other. [laughter] and i'm not asking you so i can pander to you. >> there were more show of hands for the publishers' side of things than -- >> boy, you're good. you can count that quickly. good, good. >> it seemed that way to me,
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absolutely. >> well, as somebody who's been covering the industry for a long time, i was a little disappointed in the way this all unfolded over the summer because it was pitched to us sort of as this battle for the future of the book. and in reality what it was was a negotiation between two parties. we knew how that negotiation was going to end. it was going to end with a deal, and as public as the debate has been, it was going to end with a private deal that's confidential. we don't exactly know what's in that contract. and that was a little frustrating to me, because i believed that we need to have a good conversation about future digital reading. we have to talk about digitals management and data and libraries and all of these things, and the confidential end to public book debate made me think we're a long way from giving that conversation. so i was a little disappointed we didn't have a broader conversation about the future of kiplingal reading when we had the chance -- digital reading
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when we had the chance, but now that the negotiation's been ended with a deal and everyone's supposedly thrilled with it, i wonder where we go from here. >> well, i was asking how we got here because for a number of years the book business has been, you know, selling books via amazon, they've had a relationship going back to really the very beginning of e-retailing. why now? why did this come to an impasse this year? it's about e-books really. >> it is about e-books. and we'll put it this way, we often refer to amazon as a retailer, but in reality amazon when it comes to e-books is platform. they invested heavily in inventing the kindle, and they really did create the commercial e-book market that we enjoy today, and that's been a net plus, i think, for people. have we managed that commercial e-book market? it's difficult, and we're having a little bit of a rough start at the beginning here, no question. so i think what the real problem was that if we're going to talk
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about am vonn in terms of monopoly, then we also have to talk about the big five publishers in terms of being a cartel. they control 90% of the bestseller list, one company controls 50%, so i think it's appropriate to ask the question where would the commercial e-book market be if it was just left to those publishers? well, it probably wouldn't be where it is now. so i think we're seeing the beginning stages of a longer battle over who's going to or how we're going to access digital books. >> right. but if it was a conversation and negotiation, i should say, between two private parties in private, why should we care? you know, when they announced the deal just ten days ago, both sides said they were happy. michael peach, who is the ceo of the book group, said he was happy. he also told "the new york times" he was happy about moving out of his private office and moving into a 6x7 cube as well, so you wonder. but if they're happy, if those two parties are happy, why
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shouldn't the people in this room and watching now be happy as well? >> price is a big part of this. we're all talking about what the price of books are dwowpg to be, how authorities are going to be compensated for their work, and that's a big part of it. but if we accept that the future of reading is digital, and i do because i have a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, and they tool around on my ipad like they were born with it, and they also read a lot of other books too, they love books too, but if we accept that the future of reading is digital, then we're accepting a world where platforms are closed, where you have to buy one certain device to access book, and you lose them if they go away. we're talking about our data being mined and privacy. all of these issues are being sorted out behind closed doors, and we really need to have a seat at the table there. so, i mean, i'm just pleased just because there should be some sort of transparent city. your -- transparency. books are different. so i think we need to hold them to a different standard, and we
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need to be in the room when the digital future is being hashed out. >> frank, you want to see amazon held to account for behaving as a monopoly. now, that's going to take some work because of the way antitrust law works. i wonder if you can give your perspective on that, and in your article for the new republic last month, you talked about the size of amazon's dominance, and i think they control 41% of book sales and 67% of e-book sales. not overwhelming but certainly very powerful. >> i mean, i'm sorry to say that is overwhelming. in the history of american political economy and if we step back decades when antitrust was vigorously enforced in this country, those are numbers that would have spurred the government to have intervened to wreak up the company or to -- to break up the company or impose other sorts of remedies. and he me just start -- you described the new republic as
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being left wing. i say that because i believe in capitalism, and i come from a position that doesn't favor the government intervening in the market with a very heavy footprint. on this issue i come down very strongly on the side against amazon. and that's was when i come to this -- because when i come to this festival and i look at what literary culture means to people, and i look at the vibrancy that is here and i see five years down the line that this could be imperilled, the book is under threat right now, and we shouldn't mince words in talking about it. and the reason is simple -- >> well, the book business perhaps -- >> no, no. when the book business is under threat, the book is under threat. and i can start by explaining this as where i come from as an author. when i sit down to write a book,
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i need to have, i need to have somebody sponsoring my project because i'm not independently wealthy. if i want to go take a year or two years or three years out of my life -- which is what is required to produce a quality work of fiction or nonfiction in some cases, some of us are superhuman and raise faster than that. i need to take my time in order to read, to think, to report in order to come up with a book. i can't do that unless somebody helps subsidize that effort. and the relationship that i have with my publisher is that my publisher, i submit an idea to a publisher, and the publisher either likes the idea or doesn't like the idea. and fortunately right now there are at least five different corporations i can sell my work to and a whole variety of smaller publishers and university presses. if one of those people likes my idea, they're willing to give me
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an advance on sales in the future. and it's an incredible act of faith that they take in becoming a creditor in my project. just as it's an incredible act of faith when a bank gives you money to buy a new house. so i depend, i enter into a relationship with the publisher that enables me to go and write that project. what's happening now because of amazon's dominance of this business, amazon is able to exert ever greater power over the publishers. and so amazon, amazon is under pressure from its stockholders to produce ever greater returns to them. and so what the stockholders ask of amazon is show us more revenue. >> right. >> and so the way that they do that is they go to the publishers and they say show us more revenue. so they squeeze the publishers, and when the publishers get squeezed, they end up squeezing the authors, and it makes it
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harder and harder for people to take the types of financial risks that are necessary to produce the types of books that you enjoy at a festival like this. >> someone described the way amazon goes about that price cutting as what a chef does to a chicken, it just sort of cuts away, cuts away, cuts away until every strip of meat is off the bone. and that's the approach that amazon has taken. >> amazon is a fantastic company in so many ways. it's a miracle that you can get any book delivered to your phone whenever you want it. it's a miracle that they're able to get books to you at your home in a day or two when you push a button. that's incredible. but, you know, that's created circumstances though where it's almost impossible for anyone to compete against them. they're leveraging, they're leveraging all these investments that they've made in becoming an everything store, in producing technology, in establishing contracts with the postal service and with ups that make
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it almost impossible for anybody to compete with them. and so if nobody can compete with them and their share of the book market is going to grow every year, we have to either accept that fact and is say that books are going to be dominated by one company and appreciate the dangers that imposes to our literary culture into our very democracy, or we do something about it. >> amazon's not here, as far as i know, but if they were, they might say that the book business is broken and that book publishers are -- i think you used the phrase in your book quoting somebody else, a bunch of anti-diluvian losers. is amazon right? do they have a point that perhaps the way that world worked in the past was great at that moment, but we are in a digital marketplace, and things have changed? >> yeah. there's a lot that i don't like about the publish ors. i don't like that there are five big companies that dominate it. i don't like it that they've been show to adapt to the
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digital marketplace. and i'm sure as corporations they could behave in a much more profit-seeking sort of way. but what i do like about publishers is that they take a lot of intellectual risks, that they have very good with taste, that they're able to subsidize writers in doing projects that take long times to do and that they then in turn help promote works of fiction and nonfiction to -- >> and poetry, by the way, we should point out. right. >> and, you know, the more that we depend on one company and the more that publishing constricts, and what happens is that when you have one big company dominating the market, all the other publishers band together to try to seek safety. so pepping win merges with ran -- penguin merges from random house, and suddenly we go from six publishers to five publishers. ..
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of numerical i can get one of these guys to buy one of my books but if i'm selling to only one or two of them, then i'm dependent on the whims of those publishers for accepting my ideas. ideas. >> i think that brings us right to the heart of astra's argument in her book, and astra that must sound similar to you. one of the points that you made in the book is i think critical to this discussion right now that coulter is the stage where anxieties about the marketplace sort of have a light shone on so them, we see them in full view.e one of the anxieties about this marketplace that you feel we arr to is rather than giving us a level playing field, the kind of promise of the web is a very sea early days, we see a playing field is a much tilted in favor
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f enormous layers the waytf franklin described in. >> my book is a broad look atla, the meet lansky. someone who is work as amn independent film maker and also towards the last year and a half have been an independent rock a band and looks at some of the mythology the internet was necessary level of the cultural playing field it from the audience rich and giving to the audience poor. so the title the people's platform is aspirational. wouldn't it be great if we had a people's platform in a different space not just commercial publishers or broadcasters but it's also a slightly sarcastic almost because the point is that almost all the spaces that we visit our commercial spaces with the exception of wikipedia which is one of the websites we visit
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in mass. what i look at is the weight of the problems of the old media landscape -- i have someone that became an independent journalist and filmmaker because i was critical of what they were offering out there, but how the problems of consolidation and commercialism carried over and so instead of this thing that was predicted that the media would allow for this competition for issuing what we are seeing is what you are describing in the face of the new digital tie-ins like amazon, the publishers are merging. there is a mistake in my book when i started writing the project there were big record labels and now there are three so i had to correct that. if a controlling overwhelming amount of the music market something like 20 in the last
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year were from the universal music group scum as of this consolidation is in the digital space because there is a tendency to monopolize online that wasn't acknowledged by the people that were describing the wonderful transformations that were supposed to be upon us. >> your book goes into the irony is that this promise of the web in the reality that we see in 2014 and you focus in one place on the word open which has a wonderful communal sound to it but it's also part of the open free market so it is both communal and capitalistic. it seems kind of an oxymoron. >> of the thing about amazon as a platform is it isn't open, yes in the sense people can publish through it but it's also locked into the platform and you cannot take the books but i think in addition to the consolidation into the central commercialism
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there's also the return of the integration that is this feature you have something like amazon and the web hosting companies in the cia uses it for web hosting as do others like pinterest. they are also getting involved in film production. you see this as a documentarian we rely on netflix as the nature or distribution channel is now not just a just the series but the documentary has a front page that is global and they promote the films that they've generated, and has a smaller filmmaker you just have to hope that the personalization algorithm surfaces the project because you're not getting that front page placement so yes there is a kind of paradox that
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we are in different destinies and we can watch whatever we want and have whatever we want done online and there are some counter forces that haven't been totally acknowledged. in the end, ultimately i am wondering why public options aren't on the table. i respect your suspicion of government intervention in the marketplace, the guy that like -- but i would like to see what they look like in a noncommercial alternative because i think that there's been too much emphasis on the website versus consumers and not what is best for us as citizens. [applause] >> and i think that you make the point very strongly in the book that the situation as it prevails today isn't somehow a natural situation that it has to be that way. it can be different and that's why i picked that line from the remarks she was saying things
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can change because human beings can change. or i want to ask how the booksellers felt. they had a bone to pick with amazon for some time. how did it feel to watch somebody else battling with them? >> the title of your session about monsters in laptops is pretty apropos and it's important to disabuse you of the notion that the monsters in this laptop are the kind of market currently kind of folks. these are big, massive companies. andrew referred to the concern about the business in which the large publishers are dominating the business, but a lot of them had some concerns about the recent consolidation between penguin and random house.
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but think about this, the combined global empire of those combined companies do 5% of the sales that amazon does and if you take the big five publishers and put them all together, we are barely in double digits compared with amazon sales are. so this is a real example of size really matters. and this company, amazon and is massive and it influences every about the book business. so, as we watch what happened this summer, frankly we were reminded about something that jeff said he and others from amazon have said. i'm not usually fond of quoting him, but he did say that they started out years ago selling books because you book buyers
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are great consumers. you buy a lot of other stuff coming in with the book business has become has become the lost leader for amazon to be able to sell flatscreen televisions and shoes. there is nothing illegal about that, but those of us in the book business need to understand that our business, and ultimately as frank points out the interest of consumers are being interfered with because there is a company that is using us as collateral damage to do something else. >> from the booksellers perspective it is the nature of that interference, what is amazon giving? >> they are attempting to eliminate any other person in the middle of that transaction.
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frank described the role the publishers play that is indispensable in this process. they are prepared to dispense with that. they want to drive prices down. it isn't a consumer that i don't know that doesn't want to pay lower prices but i would submit and suggest that there is no example over time in american history where that kind of concentration of power ultimately leads to the benefit of consumers. i think size is important and it really is critical to create a diverse culture in which the range of content is going to be available for americans, let alone folks in the world, but we need a diverse culture, diverse publishing community having all the power in one hand. >> would you like to see the government look into this?
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a few years ago when there was the price fixing case we had the government now in the business. would you like to see them get even deeper into publishing? >> i thought the department of justice case against publishers was the most one-sided example of the government looking at one half of the equation. i am not here to suggest amazon is engaging in an illegal practice. i don't believe they are or they are not that they spent a lot of money investigating publishers it seems to me given the relative size of the publishing community and amazon having the government to give up their practices makes sense. >> and you would agree you feel that at least looking at this would be a worthwhile exercise. >> to me this is a ballgame. books are central chu the production of ideas and it's
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central to having educated citizenry and a robust democracy and if we we view that one company is on the brink of owning that industry and on the basis of the tactics then i want my government looking into that. >> regardless of one's position should this be a political issue? >> it's pretty clear there is a democratic administration in power and they have no interest in investigating amazon. and so what is the alternative? readers start to care about what's going to happen in the future of the books they've read so if they go passively into the future and they don't start to ask questions about the future
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of the industry and the future of the industry is inevitable. i don't actually ask -- and as consumers it is and incumbent upon to make the choices that the government should be making for them. i'm sure that everybody, the most anti-amazon people in the room have used amazon. it is a damn good website and it provides the service cheap and efficiently. we all need diversity in the next 24 hours. but the problem is one that only government can effectively address. >> if it is a political issue is >> somebody needs to turn up to a cause and get people to follow them on that. where should the leadership come from? i think you hinted at the readers it isn't their responsibility but the leadership should come from
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where >> it's the responsibility to take the virtuous choices at every turn although i hope they shop at the book shop and politics and prose in washington, d.c. and all the other great independent bookstores because they are kind of of sensual to the sense of community and delivery culture that we have, that i think that the readers should be asking questions of their politician and i think that it's there are a number of politicians that profess to care about antitrust and care about the consumers and i think it is up to us as citizens to try to enlist those politicians to take up the cause. >> this >> abysses and in a satiric argument, it is about whether or not books continue to get
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published in the united states and the fact is anybody that reads and likes to breed has a stake in this debate. now, you can be as a reader or perhaps passive about it, but i would suggest to you that every one of us that cares about the literary culture in this country, who cares about culture in the country has a real stake in this conversation. >> you make the point that it's different from other types of work and so to that treatment whether books are different you would say that if they are. >> i would say that there are reasons to put special protections in the cultural market and to think about other options at the state subsidy. but one thing i would say, and i'm sure that labor is that different in the anti-amazon leader argument to be made and people in the warehouses there is an article in harper's and it
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was recruited to work for $11 an hour because they don't have other options for livelihood. so i wanted i wandered to the labor solidarity between the workers. i do think a little bit too much is that amazon came and changed everything but the publishers are continuing behavior. they've been engaging for a long time in the consolidation. the emphasis on the blockbuster titles these are problems that they wrote about and publishers are continuing a long-standing trend and the same thing in journalism where there was a lot of consolidation in the industry and when the internet came on and transformed the advertising market they sort of knew more of what they were already doing which is cutting expensive foreign bureaus and reporting. so there is a way in which the pressures that have always been there or are intensified by the digital transformation and i think that the response of that
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needs to be to support alternatives and the independent publishers. >> i would like to pick up that point because it is your view that the publishers are in a way complicit in their own predicament because for so long when it came to innovation and finding their footing in the digital marketplace, they outsourced dads and left at all to amazon. >> i think that is true. i agree with everyone on the panel. i just disagree a little bit of using antitrust as a weapon. i do think they have a role, but i do think the questions are old show and constitutional in the church and the regulatory. so i'm afraid that the regulatory antitrust process is not the right weapon of choice to have here. you're right, publishers i would say have in our industry we have a very bad case of stockholm syndrome because we --
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>> you have to tell people what it is. >> you identify with your captor. independent bookstores were having trouble and then defending barnes and noble against amazon. the question that we are asking is how do we pay the authors and writers and to guarantee the robust reading future and these are questions that are well beyond the scope of antitrust. so i would like to see us literally take these up in a broad government even if it isn't the government but a broad cultural way than bringing the lawyers in the room so the one thing that we do know is if you bring them into the room the public conversation stops. >> we are having that conversation right now. i want to ask about the business and how that is different and certainly you want to stress something that's different is a perception that independent bookstores are dying like leaves on the trees in the fall there's been a resurgence and i want to
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give you an opportunity to tell that good message about sort of surviving in the digital marketplace with real products in bricks and mortar stories. >> it is despite the challenges we face. we are actually doing well. i would appreciate the plug and for politics and prose that there are a network of literally thousands of vibrant independent bookstores providing an extraordinarily indispensable function in their communities everywhere across the united states and the good news is that those stores are doing better today than they were a decade ago. now look, you know, owning and operating a small independent retail business of any kind is a challenge. we've got massive competition at amazon does do what they do
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well. but what is clear is that there are millions if not tens of millions of american consumers who value going to a local place interacting with the people who operate in a way that is absolutely revolutionized the business. we come yesterday the 29th of small business saturday. you can express it was cooked up a few years ago. you know that last year across the network it wasn't just bookstores that $5.7 billion spent on independent businesses that that day. so why do they want to separate the locally owned businesses and
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bookstores have been in the forefront so we are in fact hanging on and consumers are responding not without having to be small entrepreneurs and reinventing the businesses and being able to adapt including ways to take advantage of technology. including ways to sell products online to be able to communicate with our customers through social media. we have to do all those things in order to compete today and the good news is that lots of stores are figuring that out. >> they are also hanging on and barely there are writers and artists and physicians and to take the subject from a focus on amazon to the broad picture that you discuss in your book is the way that the web has created the compensation that provided artists and musicians and writers has gone away in favor
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of an excuse of the openness in the collective publishing media environment talk about how that feels as a filmmaker and two the point about how we could change the nature of the web how you could improve the situation for the creators. >> i don't want to define all of the amazing opportunities for someone that wants to communicate ideas and get them out there. the architect of the internet and the fact that it is remarkable and we all know that, but i think that there is some -- we need to look ahead and look at the forces that are shaping it into start actively trying to protect the good things about the new communications platform. so while independent creators into citizens should be concerned about the net neutrality debate which is sort of fundamental to the sort of
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infrastructure. it's about all of us being able to access the internet which is sort of foundational. instead of creating this opportunity to contribute equally we would be able to find our audience and what we are seeing is the missing middle and there is an increasing divide between regulatory people being able to participate and can you get online and then sort of blockbuster. on the celebrity memoirs and all this it is a -- the problem is exacerbated and so what i would like to see is the ways for us to bolster. it's protecting the independent bookstores and because they
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really enable people to discover a far wider range of titles even though amazon might have seemingly everything in its database actually it's been shown that the bricks and mortar bookstores produce a far more heterogeneous purchasing pattern for consumers. so if we are thinking of protecting or institutions. and also from articulating the fact that something that amazon is very critical of publishing the inefficiency. some books don't pay their own way. the books go and profits from those end up paying for a bunch of small or midsize that don't make money. that's actually a good model. it's nothing to be critical of. it it's a cookbook that sells 2 million copies copies are some that are a fiction or politics,
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that is actually a value that we want to, that is a model that we want to keep in favor of everything paying its own way. >> it's not articulating the value is in what we want. >> investigative journalism, cultural criticism, those things have always had a hard time paying their own way but that's because even more difficult to -- >> as a consumer of whether he biography, we've underlined the somebody got paid in 1930 for four the new yorker article or the contribution to the new republic and then i got into the calculators and i could take and calculate what they are in the present value and i'm always amazed at -- we people got paid a lot more than even if they were very small. then you couple that with senator politan areas that have been most affected by economic
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inequality where they are skyrocketed into the price of living is extremely high so we have gotten kind of hit by the double whammy of the way that cities have changed in the way the industries have changed. i do find myself relying on i've never gotten foundation money although i wouldn't mind it, just the kind of journalism i'm extremely concerned by the fact that the writers are turning to that. in 1930 you could live in what paul goodman called peace and poverty in the city and if you wanted to make the noble choice that was experimental it might not sell that much but you could still live in a city where you could send your kid to a decent school and you could live in a
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fine apartment, and that's just not possible anymore. it's not possible to live in peace and poverty as a writer anymore and it has a lot to do with changing the way that it makes me sad. and it all goes back to this fundamental point that if you look at the culture right now, go look at "the new york times" best seller list this morning. there are only two books on that list i'm sorry to say. paraguay to wake up five years from now, ten years from now and say what just happened. we come to processed food for so many years and we thought it tasted pretty good at was convenient and then we woke up and said we are fat and dying of heart disease come and it's going to happen with culture. it's happening right now with culture. [applause] >> i would say that's fair that we not only look up and find ourselves how we felt we were
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that we then chose to go to the farmer's market and big choices regardless. >> it is an elite thing because what i was going to suggest is that consumers make choices and they know where the value lays. we transform the marketplace. there's greater choice than 20 years ago even in the market. so that is because the consumers drove it but i wonder if you think the consumers and authors and publishers can drive that kind of change in the publishing market. >> maybe to some degree that i also look back at the history of publishing and the history of journalism and it is viewed as having certain responsibilities in the culture that they were making money off of and that doesn't exist anymore. and if you look at the "time"
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magazine covers in the 1950s and all of the sociologists and philosophers and composers who were on the covers, but as a culture governed. there were lots of problems with that. lots of problems with that. but there was still some responsibility that the people that but the people that ran the publishing and journalism don't. and they have a sense of that responsibility. publishing for all of its problems, publishing an extraordinary amount of litter a fiction that may or may not provide massive profit margins. it's an extraordinary amount of investigative journalism and it may not produce profit margins. so we will forgive them for publishing editor kardashian in book or whatever they want to publish if it helps to subsidize the good stuff. >> you talk to publishers and predate as part of your job and i wonder wondered if you had any sense that they feel that same responsibility that frank was talking about or had returned to
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the profit motive the way that they were condemning them for? >> it's true they do publish into the model of using those to fund is a model we need to defend the poor and needed to defend in a better way. at the same time we are on the cusp of the golden age for independence literature created you can get a book to market more cheaply but we need to discuss broad solutions to how we fund the artists and institutions in the bookstores and libraries. it's a big conversation we need to have. right now being an author is like the situation in the country. if you are in the .1%, you're doing fine. everyone else, not so much and if you are in the middle, you're screwed. we need to address how we prop up the middle.
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>> how do we do that? is its business practice and technology, both? >> it's important to point out there are countries in the world that do figure out how to support cultural institutions. and a love of western europe. in fact, the government policy allows for a far more competitive cultural business and specifically in the book business. there are different ones that stabilizing to promote a culture. so i agree it doesn't only have to be public policy that forces antitrust laws. that is a piece of it because we can't have blinders on to pretend that doesn't exist, but i think there's lots of other very positive things the government can do to create a level playing field with regard to the way businesses operate.
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in our businesses we've been fighting for a decade of the absurdity that at the absurdity that amazon is being subsidized in many states across the country by not having to collect sales tax because they've cut a deal with some state legislatures to say we will put your warehouse there but we don't have to collect sales tax. you level the playing field and consumers are buying that product why shouldn't the consumers and government be subsiding one group of business over another so i think there are a lot of very constructive things that can be done shy of going to court and spending your life with a bunch of lawyers to help level the playing field with regards to the way the book business operates. >> i just want to make one point which is as somebody in the world of journalism i've watched how there is a set of
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expectations we have as consumers about what we pay for which is that we expect it to be free which is impossible when you get what you pay for. when you don't pay anything and that is no good so as consumers, we have to fight ourselves and when you look at the books that is what scares me about amazon and where this is pushing is the possibility that we devalue books by the actual price that we put on their dust jackets. that to me reflects values we have as a society and i think that ultimately as consumers this is something that we do have to fight. that is self-interest impulse to
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ourselves. >> before we go to questions in the audience which is about values, and i believe it is your point that the valid cultural democracy isn't something about a fight for attention or the contest. it's something more important. >> that is how how we've been dreaming of the landscape. they can bring their hat into the ring into the entry and then made the most succeed. the cultural democracy has what we don't necessarily like and popularity that are not. i think that on the consumer an analogy of food there is something i go to at the end of my book and there is a lot of the cover of the press is real but it's a social problem we can't spend our can spend our way into a coulter was utopia and on the issue of the problem is the subsidy to agricultural businesses. that is what is shaping the whole system. the media landscape is similar.
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internet companies get many subsidies from the tax issue and the fact that so much of the actual technology was actually financed by the state and the corporate sector reaps the rewards, so we need to look at the subsidies going to the private sector and try to at least go through some public interest conditions on them and if not, taking back some of the proceeds and investing them in ways that enhance our culture. >> we are going to turn to the audience to continue to the discussion. if he would step up and if you have a question for a particular member of the panel let us know who it is for. they don't have a question for any particular person. we have been talking a lot about amazon. i am a very big supporter of the arts and the dancers and painters, etc.. but when the local bookstores are taken away from us, i mean i live down in the area i have to
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drive 45 minutes to an hour away to goodwill store -- go to a bookstore to see what i want. how can i go ahead and support the authors and the different publishers when i don't have that ability given to me? there is no place for me to go except amazon. penguin and some of the other publishers that you were talking about i was always under the assumption that i couldn't get any book could get an e-book that i wanted from whatever publisher if i went through amazon since i didn't have a bookstore to be able to go to. so how can i continue to support the local without having to go to the giant. >> so the question is is it a workaround. >> did you know that the books and books can sell you the same
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books that amazon can? our business isn't based on what we do online by any stretch of the imagination but the fact is that there can't be a bookstore everywhere in the country. there are more of us today than there were a decade ago but the fact is that yes there are communities that are underserved we are trying to address that you can shop online -- spin it as long as you know their names. most everybody here in miami knows the books. but, let face it. if you're not in miami and you are in a smaller area in florida word you are in texas and some other place in the country that doesn't have a books and books and they are out of borders, there's no more barnes and noble, there was a kids book store that used to be in walking distance i used to go with my
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children that they are in college right now they are no longer. if you don't know of one that is in your community that you can go online for my name if you don't know a publisher that is of a favorite author that you know is being published by the publisher can you go to the publisher online and buy a book from the publisher directly? the >> you go to the website and look for the local publisher publisher organs re: the local bookseller. >> you started by looking at how they changed the landscape. i guess that is true. how do you answer the argument that amazon could be a wonderful thing for the new and smaller authors that could now self-publishing to get a higher percentage of the royalty than any of royalties and many of the publishers would ever give them.
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>> it's done a lot of good. >> i think that is absolutely true and that is the amazon argument. my problem with amazon is that you can publish a book through amazon and you can use the publishing platforms but if you are a library it is difficult to buy those books and once you buy them on the kindle cannot easily transfer than anywhere else. but if they want to reach the audience they can do so more easily now than anytime in history any time in history and amazon has been a part of that. >> i want to reiterate a couple of questions and with the first
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