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tv   Book Discussion on Last to Die  CSPAN  August 24, 2015 10:04pm-11:01pm EDT

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surviving into maturity then his sickly brother jack, his younger brother. moreover, based on iq test and performance in school, they thought joe was far more intelligent and jack not so much. they certainly love jack and they gave him a good education but they did not anticipate that he would enter into public life. joe junior was to fulfill the unfulfilled political ambition of his father, these were ambitions that his father had forever destroyed by essentially, while his two years as ambassador to to the court of st. james is saying that
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democracy is over, the world is coming to an end, the germans are going to win, and we in the united states better adopt fascism and get rid of democracy if you want to survive. he said this publicly in a news paper so he wasn't going to get elected and he knew it. >> had they ever considered using a different plane for a very explosive mission, it seemed like it was a very not well constructed for what they were wanting to do. what was the rationale for using the plane that they did? >> the air force, they did something that was even riskier, they used war were warriors, that means planes that have been through a lot of combats but were not combat worthy anymore. they loaded them with explosives. the pd for why one, that the the navy used was pretty much brand-new, the reason it was
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used, both of these at aircraft's quite sturdy, but the real reason was it was the biggest thing they had. you could just pilot full of explosives. one of the problems they had was that these planes weren't intended to carry very expensive loads but in the bombay, and the bottom of the plane there are stacks and stacks of weights that were piled up to the overhead, there is a real problem implying these planes with the center of gravity being altered. there were problems, this was a mission that was done in the same spirit as jimmy doolittle tokyo raid at the beginning of the war. it was was done in a kind of improvised way and taking weapons that were not intended to be use this way and using them, in in the hopes that it would work.
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in fact, the air force one and to keep this program going and use it against japan because they figured it would save pilots lives during what they thought would be the invasion of japan. >> was the celeb attempt, or were they ever successful in attacking the missile base question mark. >> this was the second to last attempt the navy made. there were several more, in all there were 18 attempts. the last of them, they gave up trying to hit the bunkers because they realize, this is a great tragic irony of the story, which i explain in the book, these bunkers they were trying to hit had already been abandoned by the germans. from the air, from aerial
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reconnaissance, they are built in such a way that they looked like they were still functional and the germans, realizing this put people out there to do busy work and to decoy these bombers. it wasn't with the eye toward doing a suicide mission or a drone, but to decoy bombing missions over it. there is one there is one german general who said he wanted to turn it into the graveyard, he wanted to fly over there so they could shoot them down. what the air force did, the navy gave up after one more time to, the air force started sending drones after factories, germane factories, cities, they never ask succeeded in doing any damage to anything. in the end you had several injuries, most fairly minor, but
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one amputation, midair amputation. four fatalities. >> did the ever determine what caused it to explode, was it a short of some kind question marks. >> not with any certainty at all, in fact there is much talk about a cover up. the cover-up may actually have originated with joe senior who perhaps who had wanted his son to be known as a war hero, they did not want him associate with a failure. what what is likely, is two things. one is that this a breadboard, this ply wood circuitboard that had the arming controls was so poorly constructed that it
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shorted out and prematurely detonated everything. another possibility is that a stray fm radio signal, it was very crowded eight airwaves, and this is before the day of digital tuning so there's all kinds of overlap, that could have detonated something. it could have been they were some instant ability that could have vibrated a certain way and could've just blown up. it could also have been there was a safety device, i won't i won't go into the explanation, there is a safety device that was supposed to hold back isil annoyed, like a a electromagnet that has a twitch in it, the safety device was supposed to mechanically hold back the solenoid precisely to prevent a premature detonation but in holding back the solenoid while it was energized, while current was going through it it would get very hot, if you plug in an iron and you have a bad circuit that your going into the hanford
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the wire from the iron gets hot. the wire from the solenoid went right to a fuse in the tour packs. if that wire over heated it could ignite. there's probably half half a dozen things that could have gone wrong. you're sitting on 12-ton of high explosives in an airplane not built to do that. , with a lot of crappy circuit board and radio that is in primitive shape. it's amazing it did not happen more often. >> how did the family received the news of his death. >> it's very well documented, they received it at least according to memoirs of teddy kennedy, edward kennedy. they were in the port, jfk was
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still recovering from the pt 109 experience, back injured, all kinds of stomach problems. they are all sitting out on the porch, bing crosby crooning we will meet again was in the background, and two navy chaplains and a civilian priest came up the driveway and they knew what was going to be set. joe senior was in the bedroom at the time napping, his wife got him and according to teddy he just fought back tears and ran back upstairs. there is this great concern in the navy community that joe, who is is antiwar even at this point, that joe was going to
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find gate goats to punish for the death of his son. he didn't seem to even make inquiries about what exactly happened. it is a strange kind of thing, they took it, they accepted it, but joe was very much a changed man afterwards. he lost all interest in politics and public speaking, he never talked on the phone again, he was always on the phone before that, never wrote letters, he was clearly a broken man. >> it is a fascinating story, we have copies of lost destiny for sale in the lobby, he will be signing copies and if you i'm more than one he will sign every one of them. please join me and thank you and coming today. >> thank you very much.
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>> thank you if you will join us in the lobby, thank you all very much. >> book tv and primetime continues with books from current and former members of congress. at eight pm formers house financial services barney frank on his memoir, frank. at 8:50 pm oklahoma congressman 50:00 p.m. oklahoma congressman steve russell on his book, we got him. at 9:25 p.m. utah senator discusses our lost constitution. former oklahoma congressman mickey edwards, the party versus the people. a10:15 p.m. plenty ladylike. books by current and former members of congress, a a p.m. eastern here in c-span2. >> congressional budget office
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director holds a briefing tuesday to give an update to the budget and economic outlook for 2015 to 2025. see it five. see it live starting at 11:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. >> saturday, august 29 of march 10 anniversary of hurricane katrina, one of the five deadly storms in u.s. history. tuesday night at eight c-span2 thousand six tour of hurricane damage in recovery effort. >> they told us they would take us to shelters where we could get help and get the seniors to help, they loaded us up on these military trucks, then they declared the city of new orleans a war zone and it still didn't sink in that we were the
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prisoners of war. >> on wednesday night at 8:00 p.m. the 2006 tour of hurricane damage and recovery in louisiana. >> that's your whole life gone, completely. i not all your house but your whole community, all your friends, family everyone is gone. it's going to be a year later and still your family friends you don't see anymore. it's a terrible feeling, you don't forget it. >> followed at 9:00 p.m. the 2005 town hall meeting moderated by then mayor,. >> i'm relying on you, i know all this is state level, federal level and all other levels. i don't have them. i voted for you. i want you to represent me in the local level, i don't don't know where else to go, i don't know where else to do. >> more from the alanna
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conference. at nine pm will show you president obama stripped of the region and recovery efforts ten years after. >> hello everybody welcome tonight this is politics and prose. my name is davis and i'm here hosting the event was stephen harding and his book the last to die. i want to make a short note, we have c-span live here filming
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the event, it's good to have them here. also to make you aware, we are politics and prose sponsoring this event, we are in three new locations, we sell the books and host events here, we are here ar the tacoma location we are alsoc at the brooklyn location you can see is there as well.entiononigt one of the great benefits of being here as you can order food throughout the events and we would love to have you do that, you can purchase the of books afterward at the front of thecei tonight we have stephen harding here. world war ii has officially ended in seats fire there's still a few stories to b ehold told. he chronicles an american soldierhe and his final flight a japan in his book lost to die. >> the tale is impressive andhim
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inspiring as is the determination to tell it. as a commitment of a journalist and the remaining objectives and not emotionally attached to the individual stories to be told, he admits admits his personal connection to tony from his service in vietnam to detailedlh journalism, stephen harding isei the author of a previous booksof including the last battle. he is a longtime journalist specializing in military affairs. for two decades he was reporting from northern ireland, bosnia,os kuwait, iraq and others.g. he currently lives in northern
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virginia. without further ado, stephen harding. [applause]. wto t >> that was impressive. thank you very much, i want want to thank davis for that nicn'e introduction, and a course for"e having me here tonight. i don't know how much you know about brf this story that makes up left tk die. i want to give you a briefn overview of that and then tell you two things about how i brought the story in a nutshell, this the book is the story of a last american killed in combat in world war ii. his name was tony marchione, he was from pennsylvania, he was about a week passed his 20th birthday. he was a an obscure american
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bomber that was fine over tokyo on august 18, 1945, just over 70 years ago. the aircraft was attacked by japanese fighters and tony died, to other people on the plane were seriouslyrlop wounded. tony's death was a tragedy, obviously for his family and for the country as a whole, but it would've been a little more than a footnote ofrh would've been a little more than a footnote of history except for the fact that his death could very well have brought about the prolonging of world war ii. a a war that most people assumed wa. over. san die a little background, i first heardgo a tony's story about 30 years ago, i was working in san diego and i cowrote a book on this airplane, the b32 was built about the same time as the b-29. the difference was there several thousand b-29s built in only aat hundred and 18b32's. ene
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the b32 was a good good airplane when it worked, it often did noh work, it had issues such as engine fires, landing gear that wouldn't work, but when itth pac worked it was certainly comparable to the b-29. only a handful of b 32's ever made it to the pacific, literally within the last weeks of world war ii. when i was writing this book i heard the story about this young guy from pennsylvania who is unfortunate enough to be the ii.aruy killed in world war i thought, that's a great story i really want to tell it. i waited 30 years to do that because life gets in the way, a you have family, i did a lot of reporting from various parts of the world and finally a few years ago i thought this was the time to tell it. we are coming up with the anniversary of the end of the war. most americans have a slightly incorrect view of how world war.
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ii in the pacific ended. if i asked most of you when you thought bj day was if you understand what that means, you would probably say august 18, whatever year but that's not entirely accurate. world war ii ended on s september 2, 1945 whn they surrender document was signed by the japanese aboard the u.s. misso5 uri. august 18 comes up most people's minds, or minds, or august 15 because those two dates areemeeo significant. the f they are dealt with inir the bo. if you remember on august 6, 1945 the first five the first t atomic bomb was dropped on watc hiroshima, freeto days later august 9, on nagasaki.anese end you would think that watching two major cities in japan disappear would have prompted the japanese to end the war at that time,le it didn't, there ia
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strong movement within the senior leadership of the japanese military government to continue the war, not because the japanese that they could actually win, but they thought if they could inflict enough casualties on the allied forces they could win a negotiated settlement. if you remember at the conference, the allies declared the goal of unconditional surrender of japan, no conditions at all so these japanese diehards figured if they caused enough troubles for the allied forces we would negotiate. edward on the other hand saw t r differently. he had seven scene 700,000 people of vaporize, he, like
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most knowledgeable japanese assume that a ground invasion of japan was in the planning stages, and it was, it was called operation downfall. it had two parts, one would've started in late 1945 in the inuc late 1945 in the second part in early 1946. it would have been the largest invasion in history and it would have been, even if it had been successful disastrous for the allies and the defendant japanese. the casualty estimates among the allies invasion troops and these were americans, australians, brits, were in the hundreds of thousands, in terms of japanese casualties, it could've been at 1 million because of the resistance that would've been offered. y decided that he would go against literally hundreds of years of japanese tradition and against the japanese militarists in the 1930s, as theyab and jap interpreted it surrender was always shameful, never acceptable and japan would have to fight on until victory.
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he surprised his advisors by agreeing to the terms of the rclaration, on august 14, he recorded an audio message those to be broadcast the following day to the japanese people in which he announced k his intention. that recording and the knowledg. within the diehard militaristely section of the government andfom military triggered, it wasokyo ultimately unsuccessful but for some number of hours the complex in tokyo was in play.. there was a royal troops, people were dying, very senior general was shot and then decapitated because he failed to go along with the coup. ultimately the japanese lad announced to the allies their acceptance for surrender,ic
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although in his radio broadcast he never actually said the word surrender. he said things like we have to endure the unendurable, we have to accept the unacceptable but he never said we have to surrender. two military organizations now come into play. there's two imperial japanesed e fighters, one was the 302nd fire squadron and the other was the acoustical air force it wast based in japan, these two groupy for very different reasons that decide not to go along with emperors order to lay down their arms and accept the cease-fire and surrender. the people at the trio were driven by their commander,he wlo captain who was a diehard driven
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militarist, he was also undergoing a relapse of malaria so he wasn'tr thinking very clearly. he told his troops that we woulr shame our country, so his cviore group of fighter pilots who included some of the best fighter pilots and they had some of theou few surviving fighter planes decided they would not go along with the surrender and they would attacked any allied aircraft that showed up over japan. down theer road, the mood was somewhat different, their fighter pilots there and theyuet decided they would resist for a different reason. they sought as a question of national sovereignty. japan had until not surrendered yet, no surrenderth sign so they thought as a question of defending the a
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sovereign air space until the country surrender. so they decided they would attack any aircraft that looked hostile. the important to remember here in both of the atomic bombings in japan had been conducted by two aircraft, both b-29s on each the japanese, b-29 and the b32 i were identical, for engine bombers, big tall for ed august 16, general macarthur who would ultimately become the supreme commander wanted to tesn the fidelity of the japanese.2 >> .. parts of the area around metropolitan tokyo to photographic airfields as part of the cease-fire fighter aircraft were supposed to have propellers from it so they can fly. he wanted to see if that was actually happening. on august 16 before b. 32's
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cruised leisurely over tokyo and took pictures and flew back to open outlook. on august 17 he decided to dispatch another for four specific set of missions. these poor aircraft on the other hand encountered intense antiaircraft fire which implies collusion between the governors and the radar operators and more importantly they were attacked by japanese fire. there were no casualties but some of the aircraft were damaged so they can flew back to okinawa at this point douglas >> >> or was it the work of diehards? something that military commanders have throughout history had to make a very hard decision to go back
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into harm's way to find out what happened and really it was that simple. the b32 odometer's checkoff headed toward japan ended two hours into the flight to of them had to abort because of mechanical difficulties at that point the other two continue toward japan which in retrospect may not seem like a decision but they were taken under anti-aircraft fire by japanese fighter planes and at this point things go from bad to worse. tony had wanted to be a pilot and when he enlisted november 43 the intent was to be a private but unfortunately that did not
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work out. he trained with the crew that was supposed to go to italy to bomb the germans that the last moment it was converted from a bombardments unit flying a liberator and switch from a reconnaissance version. so they get to okinawa. there is very few japanese aircraft anywhere. so the need for aerial gunners had fallen off significantly. soto any of the fellow gunners were dragged into be a photographer's assistant on august 59 actually the 14th he volunteered for any reconnaissance flight over tokyo. the worst decision he ever
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made. how soon you went home depended on the number of points that you have come with a style territory that to pay an was. in the emperors' acceptance of this order conditions made it look like the war would be over. nine he volunteered what he thought would be a fairly long but and involves mission when debbie 30 two's came back i can imagine regretting dutch race that he made. he was working as an assistant from holyoke
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massachusetts he had ben day photographer in civilian life than they sort of work together they knew each other there is another man from their unit it wouldn't be the savior unit it would be the reconnaissance squadron. he had never seen the be 32 until the first day he got on and was amazed at the size. in was of a product of the consolidated but it was to give tech a slight eight hours to tokyo but the irony is that it did not work the
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aerial camera when day jury rig to the way it would not work. so they fly back and forth over tokyo when they are attacked. so they decided they could not take pictures to spot the incoming fire. and a fighter came in and but then lifted him up on this side of the fuselage. then hit him square in in the chest not to cross the airplane but his death was
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the tragedy but the radio message that went out back to okinawa makes it a large part of what i deal with in the book because the message was immediately from manila. the id before there was an attack but no injuries so macarthur at that point could has started against japan. with one with the
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opportunity to drop the third atomic bomb. and depending on which sources and probably would not have been ready for weeks so in the meantime the japanese may be not surrendering the united states or its allies to continue the air war of japan but a significant chapter. that if there is to have a surrender delegation by air with a stop at american occupied island, if those two airplanes were marked marked, if they take off then we know of these the japanese government is serious.
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if they don't we know they have decided to continue the war and at that point the would have decided with authorization from washington how far to go to resume the air campaign against japan. if that had gone on ultimately would the of the ant invasion. my father in my wife's father both scheduled to be there. i can honestly say that it would have changed life considerably. so macarthur waded about 12 hours and low and behold it took off from japan and ultimately made the way to manila. but the air group pilots they heard down the surrender flight to imagine
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what would happen then carrying senior military commanders, diplomatic personnel down in flames over japan shot down over the naval air force would have been seen as a complete revocation of the surrender agreement to trigger all of these things. that is the crux of the story of a lot of the meat is about the personalities. a japanese naval captain who led the first wave of the japanese attacks on pearl harbor. originally was going to support the coup did realized to do so would be in validate everything he
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believed as a naval officers so he decided not to. with one of high-scoring from world war ii of course, now known as emperor showoff. and to research the book toady was the oldest of three children he had to younger sisters. and two years ago my wife and i spent an incredibly emotional day. tony's death happened yesterday to them. in with the letters and photographs that it was
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tabled because august 13th were cabled that japanese was surrender but then came the announcement that their brother was killed in combat it completed the devastated tony's parents pahang and then be added to and final pain he was interred in okinawa in the individual grave and his remains were not repatriated to the dead is states in july 1949 and they conducted a full military funeral followed by a complete catholic funeral and mass. it was tremendously moving to talk to his sisters about those events and to find people like that which makes
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the story real. with military history you get wrapped up in commanders and maneuvers and a sweeping strategy when the reality is more is about millions of individual people and by being able to talk they brought that home to me. i have not told everything about the book so you have to read it. you don't have to. i would appreciate it if you did. [laughter] at this point there would be happy to entertain questions >> having spent time in god and love philippines with holdout japanese soldiers there do you choose to cut
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off at the time they surrendered or how did you pick? >> the way i came to the conclusion was the last american killed in combat and u.s. center of military history where i was in established historian a long time ago. it was a judgment call. the lot of american service personnel died after the cease-fire from wounds suffered previously, injuries, a disease but he was the last american service members killed by a direct any reaction in combat action that he and his comrades were shooting back. you are right there were holdouts in the philippines if the last gave out 1976.
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but the less people was tony and a naval aviator before they got the ceasefire order that is how the determination was made. >> i am tremendously informed but where do you sort out? to of my dearest friends went to jail for three years for getting into our armory
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in tennessee. and tom was it that i gave him the title the of the retired fired auxiliary bishop of detroit. [laughter] these are two of the most highly motivated people i know. megan just move to washington last weekend was the person in 83 years old that broken to the safe storage area in tennessee. and tom is a co-founder of the united states.
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-- how would you hear about those people and sort them out? >> i think everybody. >> [inaudible] >> but i think any rational human being begats violence if at all possible but in terms of world war ii, in writing about the last days which was something i didn't know a lot about before writing this book. you find out the japanese were equally separated by ideology about though for but after dropping the two atomic bombs the leadership was equally divided whether to continue or not because
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again they didn't know how many we had. and almost certainly if a third was used it would be tokyo if there was the fifth or sixth or seventh what would modern japan be like now if tokyo was vaporized 1945? so it is probably a good thing it would take additional time but in that sense, the question of world war ii history was unnecessary? or not? i thank you can find arguments of bull's-eyes but had the japanese not been shoved rather brutal the into thinking about surrender, at the consequences could have been worse in terms of
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casualties. one quick story about that. treasury -- and treasure island san francisco baby were offered a mockup of the little bomb to be put on display we thought about that long and hard to really want to put an atomic bomb on display in sampras's during the late 1970's? i chickened out and i said no. here it was a provocative message and with this book honestly the atomic bomb is the background story. but you could write volumes about what might have happened. of book came across my desk at the magazine the other day someone said there are seven atomic bombs.
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i went to consider what would have happened or what the world would look like today if that had happened. >> i am curious about your research process. obviously you have more access to his story but how did you get into the mind of the japanese strategist? >> it is difficult because they destroy data lot of records in a short period of time after the announcement of surrender and there were official records the japanese pilots involved in the attack were essentially told to go home and hide in to destroy their own personal military records the allied bombing of japan destroyed a lot of records as well. the short answer is there is a lot of scholarship over
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the last 10 years to make use of the allied records there is something called strategic bombing that gave a list of all the targets we hit in japan and the greater occupied area. that is the basis for what the japanese are writing about because it was treated by military organizations. also with the release good japanese translator and it turns out like any modern journalism i like to google and i found a very nice gentlemen who buy a complete president's lives in the town in california rye was born and raised. bilingual and born in the united states but grew up in japan had when i first
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contacted him by sheer coincidence was about to leave for japan to do research on a completely different topic. i am a good researcher of military topics but japanese records not so much. so to have him to that and we are fortunate to live near the archives also the history center in alabama and consolidated from san diego. it is all about pulling together the facts based on the most logical conclusions. you can get carried away that is research rapture you get so too did to finding stuff out you have to force yourself to stop researching and start breaking.
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the book that is coming down next summer was a real problem because it was a fascinating story but you really have to be above with what you are writing about or to be fascinated because it takes upon hours of research by only duet by myself with my wife support without that it would not have happened. >> was there a discussion that maybe we should altered around and go home that you were sending out to planes alone and afraid. >> that did come up.
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although i did not start riding i was fortunate enough to start interviewing 25 years ago when they are basically my age now almost all of them are gone now which is sad but i have long hours of personal interviews with the debtors and the pilots so i was able to find out there was a lively discussion between the mission commander of one airplane and the commander of another he was firmly of the opinion they should turn around and head back but mission commander had information the other didn't draw how important this mission would be. so he had to make a decision and said we are going.
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today were supposed to be flying different patterns so they were miles apart so there wasn't the 12:00 to be supported there were all of their own that in retrospect probably helped lead to the tragedy. thank you very much. i appreciate your interest. [applause] >> key will sign the book xanadu can purchase them up at the french. thank you for coming. have a great night.
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>> i'm excited to be here than thank you to seize the and to cover the beautiful sunny day and i hope the camera shows how huge the crowd is. >> and one thing to remember is they are the exception. [laughter] >> thanks for coming today it is a wonderful event they said it is in the library if that is the case at the national book festival. >> i felt at that time to say i am the leader of today. >> in an article ii show we have this map but when you interviewed people the divide was not a chasm in
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the political scientist justin town the idea that the country itself is polarized as washington is wrong. >> to realize whenever they have done in life ought to be recorded and passed on. that is the way we learn to understand. >> and you'll be focused on taipan you did not focus on bomb? why? >> this is a great question almost to heart of all the questions we are talking about and to the point you realize there was no way we could tell the whole story. no way short of the encyclopedia to have the story reads like the telephone book and of course, that isn't a story
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but to do justice to every story. >> there are opportunities now when i was in moscow will there were 13 women in my class of 500 today the law school is 50/50. >> the key to understanding is they didn't like people that were profit above the public good to prolong to the american people and they needed to be handed on to a weakened the spirit. >> i made a career out of my love for books and to help spread that i helped to found the texas book festival than the national book festival. but while i love reading i never thought i would write a book. search of the not one about myself. >> the goal that there is a sense of urgency to find the
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members say get the story before it is too late. a father and daughter in los angeles that both came together and after hearing about the book the daughter said i am taking you to the coffee shop now and you will tell me the story. >> with 30 plus million people with health insurance will be quite a change as the universe been slowly. that was bending towards justice there are things wrong with the health care bill but you know, with johnson would have said just like the civil-rights bill is flawed but it the important thing is to pass a you could always go back to fix


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