tv Book Discussion Havel CSPAN January 18, 2015 5:30pm-6:34pm EST
>> good evening, everyone. thank you for coming out. you are all very wise to be here. i am one of the co-owners of politics and prose. all these new terms for each other. unfortunately he is not here, but he would welcome you as well. before we get started couple of housekeeping items. our guests will be in conversation for a a good portion of our time together they will then be happy to take questions. if you have a question and could please try to make it to the mic it helps. the ambassador will stay and will sign books but we have some that has already signed
do not fear you can find some of her books as well. if you could also just full of pictures and put them to the side problem would be grateful for that. that. we're selling beer and wine tonight back to my left a little bit behind you. lastly if you have a cell phone on and will be kind enough to silence it, that would help us also thank you for your attention to detail. i just want to say what an incredible pleasure it is for us to post ambassador michael. they will be in conversation about the knew book. already having excellent reviews. the publication coincides with the 25th anniversary of velvet revolution.
we are especially delighted to provide a forum for discussing is a store defense amendment of the center. a biography. i am not quite pronouncing it right. few authors have had such close proximity to their subjects. the two were friends and associates for many years. when when he became president of the newly democratic czech republic in 1989 he served for several years as press secretary and advisor. since that time he has held key ambassadorial posts as the top posts as the top checked out of washington and currently as his country's country's ambassador to the court of st. james in london. i think it is worth noting that critics and reviewers are often skeptical when
they pick up a a book written by author who knows his subject so well. you know the questions are always going to be blindly adoring too superficial, avoid words and bones, but if you have read enough that he has not succumbed to the tendency often common in today's popular culture of assuming that heroes can only be bland perfectionists by the way, that that is a term that i borrowed without asking from the filmmaker ken burns who has said that we here in making our heroes bland perfectionists assuming they must be. certainly he was not. he has produced a lively thorough an unvarnished look at his friend and colleague. his book reminds us that great public figures are sold in one-dimensional but complicated, complementary, and even paradoxical people and we do
a disservice to them and history if we do not present them in the fullest light. in conversation tonight is one of our nation's most respected diplomats and one of my all-time favorite people in the whole world. in fact we were just reminiscing about the fact that is out of the 1st time we have met for the 1st time we had a long conversation was in prague. madeline albright was the 64th secretary of state before that us ambassador to the united nations. along with her diplomatic work she is professor and unrelenting democracy advocate and chairman of the albright stonebridge group but perhaps most important to us is that she is the author of very fine books. five new york times bestsellers. by the way, she only she only began writing 12 years ago in 2,005. i could recommend each title to you with great enthusiasm
but should note that her most recent book makes an especially excellent companion, and we just just happen to have plans him both on hand. so if you have not gotten a copy of either as i said i said, kind enough to sign has out of time and there are plenty of the front. i hope you can pick up a copy of each. in any case we are on or to have you here tonight. thank you. try you. try me in welcoming the ambassador and secretary albright. [applause] >> thank you very much. please much. please give my love. anyway, we are very good friends. it is amazing. amazing. it is a jewel in the gym. area. all right. there. i'll say it again.
it met the 1st time sometime in the 80s. you had curly hair after the prague spring and there were pockets of people that were activists in a number of ways working in their circles to try to give power to the powerless. describe how you met and get to the end of the 80s. washington has ambassador i left 17 years ago.
this bookstore is one of my fondest memories in the late 1990s three after he was released from jail spent almost five years and we met in those days at the party. we developed a liking for each other that we have not missed much so far. one thing led to another. it also started working together on a few things
that my father had been an absent shift. sentenced share. sentenced to death under the navigation go back once i was under the protection of the united states government. and that the embassy the american embassy abroad was really a place where dissidents went and felt very comfortable. being on the fourth of july was always, traveled around congress country. i was in washington.
and it really did take the checks a while. they were usually lasted things the things, the last to really have communism be taken in the last to hold the show trial. and so it was in this case they were the last but it was the most amazing revolution and that is what we have been celebrating this week. the crowds as a leader. i went back in january 1990 representing the national democratic institute and i 1st had a meeting with usually gains. at that stage was foreign minister. would you like to go? and i never expected that that would be possible. i said we go over. he knew he was meeting with some american delegation.
i have a copy of books of my father had written on 4th century czechoslovakia. and he says i know you are. you are misses fulbright. i said no misses, mrs. albright. michael was there, as were a few other people. they all had on black jeans and black turtleneck sweaters. would you go with my advisors to this restaurant nearby and explain to them what the presidential office would be like which is really did. the last communist president did not really rule from the president. secretary-general's office.
still better off. but, you know, it was fun. >> it definitely was. it was january, and it was snowing and i had to walk back to my hotel. if you go down the stairs. i had a genuine out of body experience. i thought i had never left so i got my head back together. coming to the united states on their 1st trip told you that you're going to the united states. >> i have to tell you they were really nice to me. they treat me as some combination of a clean and
an irritating older sister. >> not true. they came with the united states. a lot of the aspects of the trip took place in my basement getting things together. then last night at the check embassy here and for the joint session and what was really fun was to liberate the embassy because it had all this horrible socialist realist art. we got rid of all that, great picture of everybody, students details getting ready for the speech.
staying at their house. but it has been gentrified. the people in the embassy there was no time to replace the people. for the 1st time in 20 years there told us a crowd of refugees, dissidents and they were visibly scared for their lives. it was like the barbarian coming in. in. so that was the party. i will never forget that.
he gave up after the 1st paragraph he wants to do a joint session of the congress. >> michael was his voice. he gained his speech and check him, and micro is the one that read it in english. and so i think i think that was a very appropriate linkage of the two of them, and then he gave this incredible speech. remembering that moment and the importance of the speech the messages that he delivered. kidding about the fact that we were not sure that everyone understood what he meant when he said consciousness precedes being i should really explain what
it meant. >> well, what it meant was that we all grew up on the communist indoctrination that we had all the years of school still remember this. that was the basis of all existence and being, and that was the material physical, economic routes economic routes and that was the basis command and there was superstructure superstructure, and that was, you know, the rubbish idea the art and the culture. before being comes. that was his way of
expressing it. and in his speech he refuted and said no consciousness comes before being. [laughter] the congress. and so there was a a reception after the speech and a few of the senators and representatives came up to us and asked what would you really mean by that. the parts of the speech which were quite clear to everybody. and so, you know may i follow up on that 25 almost
are talking about is a bit of a counterpart. and i could not create a sculpture so what i try i try to do with the book is to re-create as much as i was able with my poor english and poor writing skills the man who could not be reduced to a sculpture because he was so multifaceted, interesting and so many ways. contradictory as madeleine said. it requires because we all go through our lives playing
various roles. the office throughout the day and come back home. the wife and the children can change the language, change the demeanor and this was a man who was a person, friend of president and he was probably the only person i've met in my life did not change language and sometimes it was not his benefit.
and for me this is the most fascinating part about it. i accompanied him once when he was president. and probably it is a tradition for president to go to a school on the 1st day of the school year. children caps off. and so he spoke about -- and about the non- self-evident nature. and let me to tell you the kids loved it, they cannot get enough of it. he was someone who did not read them -- feel that they
were serious. he treated them as adults because they never seen anything like this before. like e.g., i told him. so -- and it is impossible to re-create even in the book. >> the multifaceted part of the dedication how do you think, what do you think with the parts of this upbringing that led him to take level. it was obviously very difficult throughout the time. what is it that made him become a great moral leader that he was? >> well, he had barely owned to to experiences.
first of all, his uncle was the founder one of the founders of the check. the check film studios not only did it not accept him to the film school that would not accept them into the theater school. and you miss school they were willing to accept them into was the school of engineering a transportation so you asked about you and a half years and then he quit. so he had early on the experience of life as it could be and of life as it
is the 60s came. he was the cultural renaissance and is 1st place became successful and popular. alice. i was 15. play the garden party. i saw maybe seven or eight times in six months. it was a revelation. a revelation. and all of a sudden he was not an undesirable and he was one of the most popular people of the error. error. he enjoyed very much the success upon him and his
in the dissident part of his career and became increasingly a pain in the neck of the communist regime and logically ended up in jail and then he was let out of jail and was the uncrowned leader of the opposition and when the revolution came there was no dispute about who the leader was worshiped the. he was a no-brainer as a leader. >> i do think the book describes
it in the most remarkable way kind of walking you through the various stages and exactly as you said, he was always the same person no matter what. we were about the same age and one of the discussions we had he said he was in the united states, and why he went back and the responsibility that he felt being with the czechs and being the intellectual leader we talked about that a lot. i wasn't the one that made the decision to stay in the united states but it certainly made me feel a little bit guilty and then he would say how come he has so much energy and i don't? the fascinating part in terms of being with somebody your own age is a similar background and then
comparing what life was like for him and what life has been like for me. and so i think that you will see the evolution of this in the book. maybe this will come up in a questions because we've been asked this question all week what would he be saying about what is going on in our? and i think we will get to that but i think that we should go to the audience. the microphone is up here and if you have questions. he was my hero i read last week
the subsequent publications in czechoslovakia had adopted his standards and that's what i want to know is how you feel about it personally. >> how did you feel about what is going on in the czech republic in terms of the standards quite >> well, i will have to take a caveat here on the civil servant. i do not feel entirely at liberty about speaking about my own current government. you will understand that. something we seem to be having of 1989 so that is a lively and heated and sometimes adversarial
and his role and his place in history for me because i don't think that his place in history for attend what anyone says. that can be damaged. if people try to use both sides as an argument and sometimes you almost feel like they beat each other over the heads and i know for sure that they wouldn't have it.
he was walking his dog by the national theatre in part where they just emerged and the onlookers on the street and he seemed to look to the direction where they were standing and waved and the dissident leader of the opposition has been waved back and then we walked back home and saw how confused he was
and what was the motivation? if someone waves at me i waved back. and second, there is nothing wrong with waiting to a liberal or russian who is coming in with some reforms et etc., etc.. then he goes on and says but what is wrong with the cheering of the people expecting from the outside to solve the problems for them and he would say the same thing about the debate today. he cannot solve the problems we have to solve them ourselves. using an instrumental he isn't
going to resolve the issues so that is my take. >> it will be interesting to see the effects of this week and the recognition of how it's important. it has to have an effect. everything must trust streamed in and we celebrated something that happened at 25 years ago but i do think that it will have an effect for the future. >> good evening. my question is the same actually. i am just interested in what you think the reaction. i was in the czech republic when he was elected and everybody was looking around wondering when will they be invited to have a
confronted with the nationalists and they didn't much like harvard or me or most of the others so it's -- it happens to politicians there were different ways to process them. i think it was on that same visit he spoke to congress but also spoke with george washington university where i was working at the time and i attended that. maybe it was a year or two later that he spoke at gw but that was
a memorable day in the history of george washington university. but on the tale about the 1990 visit was at the time the senior george bush, was the president of the country and some of us who are democrats coming coming coming into elizabeth warren supporters look back on the first bush presidency with easter certain nostalgia and aggravation and i just wonder if you would have any sort of particular memories of the senior president bush. >> so with senior president bush i have to tell you when we were at blair house and he said it won't you come with me to see president bush and i said i don't think that's very appropriate.
>> we still have a photograph together with the sun and you and me at the dinner so you didn't eastgate. [laughter] but first of all i should clear this up on the fact that we went to georgetown, you're all modern -- alma mater. he liked bush 41 very much and he is a president who gave him three gracious reception.
>> good evening. i would be interested in both of your explanations why he and several societies in several societies in the post-communist societies where people have fell through fascism. you see today a certain nostalgia among not very many people and even up until the high political echelons antitotalitarian regime's and why do you think the membership in the european union living in free societies and open societies isn't replaced the vestiges of the past. how is there a nostalgia for the authoritarian regimes to the european union. i find it hard to understand, and i think that some of it
could be that there is a certain sense of chaos and some of the countries and also the concern about corruption. i think that democracy is a difficult concept in many ways. it's not an event. it's a process. and even in this country there are times that people are discouraged and it's a very hard process. i think also that there are some people who don't have a nostalgia for something that they experienced. they were not alive at the time or they have different recollections because they were a different age and they are there are attitude surveys. people are asking do you like what is going on or do you
in some countries feel as some people not all people but some people feel is threatening them and the result of all of this is the reimagines of some shadows that were put to rest in europe. the effervescent part of him and the vision and the poetry is remarkable and the creative sense into practicality and the steps that he made as president
came from a deep commitment to make sure that would have happened in the past and would not happen again and i've been told. there were the steps into the future. and that was to do three things. this isn't self-serving. it's to get a little piece of confirmation to this that he had three ideas to bring radio free europe two-part step number one. and to gain the entrance and to gain participation in nato and that those were very important because of the previous history especially from 38 and on and i wonder if you could elucidate some of that. >> in the spirit of the full disclosure the question was posed by the former chief
executive of the radio free europe. [laughter] >> i confess. >> michael was a major figure in getting the figure. >> that would have been my next mission. and third, you're absolutely right we felt very strongly about bringing the radios to prague and it wouldn't have happened without them i don't think. and this emanated from the sense of shared responsibility not just for him oneself and the people closest to you but for people in many places in similar situations and he felt that you
know, if we were lucky enough to extricate ourselves from the utilitarian that it was our duty to assist those who are still fighting for the struggle. and what it means to bring a sense of information to the country and therefore for a time they were the only means hard to imagine before the internet and the social network etc. but the radio was the only thing in town.
pleasure than being able to announce. it was really amazing. >> one more quick question that might follow on the last question but i wonder how you would explain the success of the czech republic from the revolution to build or to develop a thriving democracy dynamic economy to join the eu. is it something in that leadership is it something in the spirit of the czech republic and why he was the czech republic successful when other countries were in the former soviet union and have not had that success? >> it was certainly a combination of factors and i would be the first to say that
it is a work in progress because it is not perfect and there are things that we continue to be unhappy about and some of them have been mentioned here and we will have to all work more. but we were lucky in several ways unlike many of the countries in that part of the world. we did have a genuine and indigenous tradition of. we have something to follow up on and we just didn't start from scratch we had the politicians
in a similar type of politician to have that intellectual writer and moralist and we had by the communist standards a reluctant economy in 1989 and founded some were easier than others to make progress. so altogether we did quite well. but then there were times during which we didn't do so well and other countries in the region did as well or better. if you look at poland over the last five or six years is the story at the of the moment and if you look at slovakia from the
czech republic at the end of 92 and many people thought there would find it very difficult to make a go of it sometimes as well or better than we did, so i'm always careful about this first in the class because it only lasts for so long. >> i think what is wonderful in the book are all of the personal relationships and stories. i had come earlier with the% i had come earlier with the general, and president clinton was going to come over and what happened was he planned to get
the saxophone to president clinton that his mother had just died and so the question is they were going to go to a jazz club and the question was whether there was appropriate or not. and we debated about what we should do and so the plan is i was going back to brussels to get president clinton and i was going to ask him when we were coming in on air force one that he wanted to do and if in fact he wanted to go forward when the president greeted me at the bottom of the stairs and i gave him a hug. i was supposed to give him a yes or no so on the plane i did ask the president clinton and he said he would be very happy to do that, that it would be great. and then one of the nice parts i have to say on that trip warren christopher was coming in and he said because this is where you were born i think it makes sense for you to go down the stairs
and into the cost of is obviously ranked so we did come down the stairs and i gave him a hug and i said yes? it was great. so then we had all the meetings and everything and then we did go to a jazz club that night and we walked across the charles bridge and we went to the jazz club and president clinton was given the saxophone and then there was a great saxophonist. that's when he got up and this is when i said he had no rhythm. anyway, he sat down and said you
have no idea how hard it is to play a brand-new saxophone, but it was one of those great evenings. and then when we had an official meeting, we went off to do castle and i set up a couple of times this week that it's a great time to come close this as they were standing there they sang the star-spangled banner and the national anthem which always brings me to tears because as we all know the star-spangled banner says the land of the free end of the home of the brave and the title is where is my home and when they play them together his influence always makes me put those two together. thank you very much for being here. [applause]
>> more from booktv. television for serious readers. timothy shriver talks about what he learned from people with intellectual disabilities including his aunt rosemary kennedy and the athletes that are the chairman of the special olympics. this is about an hour and five minutes. thanks for coming. we are really happy that you joined us to celebrate the great work that timothy shriver has done for his entire career in his entire life and help him launch his book so this is a special event for us and i have a few words to say for those of you that don't know much about mr. shriver to give you an idea