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tv   Deborah Baker The Last Englishmen  CSPAN  November 25, 2018 1:33am-2:18am EST

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national that. you have to agree with that eight out of ten. summary pointed out, ronald reagan would not have qualified. he didn't agree with eight out of ten. that's a movement. the movement, that's an example of a movement i know of. not a tea party. they said, you have to agree with us on everything or we are going to go you out. they did with a lot of republicans. they were defeated at the polls. movement coalition. our parties are coalitions. they are supposed to be diverse. jumps -- he's closer to a movement leader because his people, his base is supposed to agree on everything. including some things that republicans have not agreed -- a great deal with. like the wall. protectionism, which is not part of a conservative tradition. that's a different kind of president. any president of either party, in recent years. >> thank you to our speakers. [applause]
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>> asked from the fall for the book festival in virginia. she talks about her book, the last englishman. love, or in the end of empire. >> thank you for coming today. i'm an author and writer. we are happy to see you all here. the festival is, information is available online. it's entirely supported through donations so if you would like to become friends, but to befriend with you.
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but for the book.org.back/friends. i'm required by state and federal law to ask you to silence your cell phones. if you can fill out the surveys, that would be great. that determines, programs for the festivals. debra will be signing books in the lobby outside once this i is -- her talk is finished. many introduced you to debra. she is author of making if i'm an extremist for the finalists for the polls -- up for biography. she's the author of blue hand and the convert. the finalist for the national book award. her surprise in national book award finalist, the last enlightened. love war and the end of empire. covers the true story of the liability between pioneer geologist john and pioneering photographer, michael spender. reviews said the book takes readers on a journey through the continent at the closing of the british empire. seemingly covered different
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topics. they politically clinic them all with clear writing style and short descriptions of the terrain. how me in welcoming debra. [applause] >> thank you all for being here. nice and cozy. i'm going to give a talk and i'm going to have some pictures. there's a brief little clip in the middle. of a recently discovered footage from 1937 in the care . a writer between projects, faces a question. what story do i need to tell next? this dilemma is not unlike when asked by a reader between books. or a moviegoer on a friday night. on times like this, this question takes on an ad urgency. as if our choice my provide a remedy for r whatever keeps us
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awake at night. the 1930s, another decade when a liberal were every where. l it's hard not to resist noting that on the president -- to our own days, the english writers, stephen spender and christopher, with the most politically outspoken. they make the most urgent threats in ways thatt provided a distant era to our own concerns and evolving sense of alarm. collectively, they were known as the audit generation. that's a picture of them. stephen is the tall one. he's on the bench. these writers came in age and time of an increasingly assertive working class. in our times, a debate
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inequality and white privilege. they were raised in the shadow of a war their fathers fought. we live in the shadow of 9/11 and the war on terror. many of the justifications for the great war and how it was conducted by the park. we learned there was never any loop between al qaeda and saddam hussein. nor any weapons of mass destruction in iraq. all of them witnessed the rise isof hitler in germany and euro. we are seeing similarly ominous developments. in 1937, a writer duty is to make action urgent and its need clear. what duty or urgent action did they take? what action do we as writers and -? stephen spender became a commonest and went to madrid to broadcast propaganda on behalf of the anti- assist republicansp fighting a proxy war against
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hitlerer. before madrid, he wrote the poem, spain. identifying the critical construction of his generation. they stayed didid not stay long. he never spoke of what he wrote -- rate used in spain. with the benefit of hindsight, we have asked of this generation, how much press it, today a convey about the clouds, gathering over europe? who of them, was the most courageous? the most naïve? were worthy in september 1939 when england declared war on germany? hindsight has imposed a simple plot on that decade. when to set the stage for world war ii. the genocide, the area around of european cities, billions of refugees and the dropping of the atomic bomb.
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when military strength and ironclad for conviction, were required to meet the threat of hitler and fascism, in the end, it seemed that the 1930s english writer, much like the 1930s english statesman, educated. this has been the postwar's consensus. ii the global p conflict, the war against nazi germany's, still holds center stage in the west popular imagination. for decades, american and english film makers have packaged and repackaged the narrative from the 1930s confusion to the clarity that suddenly arrived in 1940 when winston churchill was appointed minister. this is the backdrop to the cinematic spectacles of kirk and debate. in a similar fashion, they set their work romances in london. their spies and occupied paris and wartime berlin.
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every generation since, has been completed two new and compelling variations on this morality play. in these dramas, the leaders of the atlantic alliance, the anti- in pisa, winston churchill and later, hisil alley, the uncontested heroes. hitler and his minions, hardly reference. though the plots for, vantage points remain unchanged. until very recently, this is also been the underlying of the western political consensus. invoking the holocaust and neveo again, we congratulate ourselves on victory over nazi germany's particular order. thisis victory forged a shared value system and not incidentally, enhanced america's global power. we have used the memory of the holocaust to not just the
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purveyors of anti-semitism but also extreme nationalist in the perpetrators of genocide. yet, this consensus no longer seems to be holding. we are compelled to ask, can this bear a re- sinking before it disappears altogether? if we don't sign a drama of the 20th century, others will. in the memoirs, winston churchill presented himself assuredly and single-handedly orchestrating the war from his underground bunker. standing in front of naps on the walls, reading intelligence cables and dictating anthems. aerial photographs laid out on edbles, provided him with the next installment in the game of ships. separates, armies and aircraft. he moved like pieces over a vast board of land and water. this was the war from above. the view from the interior summits. churchill himself, has become a character of shakespearean
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dimensions.. impossible, but always scriptable.. i church two, and gary, churchill. he is charmed, to bring america into england solitary fight against nazi and. his memoirs about how he played by staging tantrum. for children's ministry of information, there was no better propaganda for visiting american. be legitimacy of british empire. the night of the blitz in the company of londoners. prepared to meet an invasion with hand to hand fighting. in this way, the global empire, masquerading the indomitable island. the diehard terry list imposing as a descendent ofed freedom and democracy. while both views have elements
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truth to them, in times of stress, sentimental understanding of history tends tont prevail. to truly reckon our desire to see the war and pardon it, only in the most favorable light, we must look at the war outside occupied europe. the war as it was experienced on other home fronts, the fault of hong kong and the disaster surrenderav as singapore, have t to receive widescreen treatment. these were not the victories snatched from jaws of defeat. they were routes. the absence here is partly due to the fact that the soldiers on the front, as well asia in the deserts of north africa, syria and the oilfields of persia, were in good part, subjects. the colonial soldiers could be found among the liberation of occupied europe. to avoid even the bootable
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cognitive dissonance. they have been out of our scripts. we do not see them. that's north africa. the existence of these troop, complicate feasible idea thator world war ii was a war against to tara nanson. in less you are readydy to belie that indian african troops all volunteered in a burst of democratic outrage, a german is invasion in poland. two novels, the english patients, and it explores the war only to the eyes of indian soldiers. for those who wish keeping peoples, as a struggle between the democracies and to terrorism, i count myself among them, these were along with recent histories, the financial
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military contusions to the allied cause, a reminder that for many millions of colonials subjects, the defeat of hitler and japan, was not theot most he for outcome of the war. the end of british imperialism was. how does view war from the perspective of an indian change what we ines the west see of ourselves the rear view mere? before i address this, i want to first give you a background on this economic impact of the war on india. later, i'll try to capture the lived experience. i promise i'll only show one graph. first of all, for six years, india was forced to advance to great britain, a good part of cost of its wartime. this included the defense of its colonial territories, the policing of civil unrest and the
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wages of two and a half million indian soldiers and support personnel. fronts in europe and elsewhere. india also supplied food, uniforms, blankets, parachutes, ammunitions, in north africa, the middle east and china. later, fighter planes. the understanding was that india would recoup these monies after the war. what does this mean for india? it meant first, that andrea became a japanese military target. more important, but less dramatic was up by 1943, inflation rose before -- four 100%. having no means to raise the money to fund the war economy, the government simply printed it. in the first three years of the war, india's long-term debt to england kept glenn's own debts to india in check. but in mid- 1943, england balances exploded.
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reaching 800 million pounds sterling. there comes the graph.es by then, england had extracted more from india than the secretary for state ever imagined possible. even the judge at the breaking. the new idea that the british empire might go india money, was inconceivable to winston chilton. victory seems to be within sites. he became unhinged when the subject of sterling balances rose. his first instinct was demand that india be charged back 800 million for having been saved by britain by the japanese. so india actually paid for its own defense. while churchill considered india a jewel in the crown of the empire, he considered indians the beastly people in the world next to the germans.
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in long, churchill described how the british workingman would become inflated to filthy rich indian merchants. the deficit balances to be honored. the ground might pda to death arrived at some scale bound after the war. churchill reserved the right to renege. so what makes these rants historically significant? their timing. it must be said that churchill's greatest gift was his presence. as a former chancellor, he knew that would be the end of the war, that's to india would come, too. the end was coming. d
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it is the reigning power, that turns most readily to violence. in response to his call, for great britain to quit india, churchill said that if he could have spared the bombers, he would have done to india what he had done there. instead, he facilitated a quiet and bloodless genocide. in may 1943, just as those sterling balances were exploding, just when churchill began accusing india of starving england, the province was six months into a famine. a famine that the city's newspapers had yet to acknowledge. if human that hadn't even been declared. by then, india's has been forcibly exploited two other friends. australian wheat, which might have gone, diverted to europe. request for additional shipments, even when demanded by the price of india, was stonewalled by churchill in the war cabinet. the famine would eventually take the lives of an estimated three and a half million people.
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this was power in the shadow of its and. so to sum up all of this about india, is a long sort of introduction to talking about my book, india paid a steep price to help when a war it had no stake in. it war on nations and had no argument with, but it was also the cost of putting an end to british rule. there were other contributing factors including british public exhausted by six years of war. but it's critical to realize that india's independence in 1947, came about not because his majesty's government had decided to uphold the principles laid out in the atlantic charter, it came about because at the end of the day, great britain was forced to honor its debt to india. churchill bitterly foreseen, the british lost was brought to an end. the revelation of india's wartime role, invites readings
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of the war. its long aftereffects. not only in our politics, but in our imagination. how do we do this? this was the first question i wanted to answer when i firsthe began research for what became my book, the last which men. the distance between the west, received view of the war and india's experience of it, i decided to set my book partly in london. the first city of empire. probably in calcutta, the provincial capital of eagle, once known as the second city of empire. i chose london because we are generally familiar with its experience during the war. i chose calcutta because i lived there. and because that is where the british empire had its beginnings in 1793. calcutta was also the impact and direct experience of the war was the most profound. if i were a novelist, i would c simply invent characters in both
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london and calcutta and apply that would bring them together in the 1930s and have the war drive them apart. since i am not a novelist, i had to find them. i'm drawn to man and woman on the edges of history. from the images of a objects and writings they leave behind. my last book, due on letters, at the public library. that's what that look like. i also find the employed by biographers, and historians limited. i want my readers to draw their own understanding of human nature. for the last englishman, i decided to let my subject, whenever i found them, speak for themselves. my part would be in directing their entrances and exits from the story dividing scenes setting in context from backstage when necessary.n
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by train deleting a view of the war from calcutta, and a competing view from london, id hope to convey a nuanced understanding of the power politics underlying the war in the decades leading up to it. i like the idea capturing hnflicting view points, unfiltered by hindsight. the history that we think we know. there is, i t think, i drama and witnessing real human beings struggling to make sense of ngtheir moment in time. without knowing how it will all turn out. as i think we allll are now struggling. so that was my fear. the first two years of the war, some cases of the calcutta state, a blow-by-blow account battlefield development in the europe and middle east. soon after the attack on pearl harbor in december 1941,
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calcutta became the staging ground in the war against japan. only then, did the war truly arrive in the city. after the fall of berman, march 1942,f streams of refugees pourd into the city. all have been very core thick tales of a real compartment. and of the long death march. hundreds of miles over mountains and through jungles to calcutta. then, the fleet of japanese aircraft carriers, carrying the planes y that bombed harbor, appeared in the bank of bengal. i don't know if you can see that clearly but it's over there. on the edge. i think. the thing and invasion like those that had taken place in hong kong and singapore. over christmas, 1942, calcutta was bombed. 1943, 44 for the years of the famine. then in august 1946, 2 years after famine came to an end, a year after the surrender of japan, a horrific massacre took place in calcutta. the prospect of independence finally graphed.
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of the congress party and the muslim lead were unable to come to an agreement as to what form industry would take. in response to his call, for direct action, to further his plan to provide india and create a muslim majority state of pakistan, the protest turned violent. fortys and nights, hindus and muslims attacked each other neighborhoods and shops. while the police, politicians and punish military officials be underway. by the time the massacre was over, over 5000 corpses littered calcutta's streets. you can see the voters on the rooftops. thisn is burned body in it. this event, called the great calcutta killing, put in and to the idea of undivided india. the violence with that would swallow 1947 partition of the subcontinent one year later.
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those are the major events of the war's aftermath in calcutta. by refugees in vermont, aerial bombardment by the japanese, massive famine, massacre and finally, 1947, the end of emporio rule. india doesn't have the equipment to a british library or imperial war museum at the newark public library. as the calcutta, distinguished themselves as writers and intellectuals, i was counting on them to kept records and experiences. diaries and letters that survived the war, if they exist at all, would either be in private hands or exist as intercepted letters in the intelligence branch file at the local police museum in calcutta. but after weeks spending file after file intercepted letters, i found little of years. most of them scarcely mentioned
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current events. perhaps because their writers view that their letters were being opened.au i turned to memoirs published after the war in the 50s, 60s and 70s. these books were largely focused on an entirely different fund. india's struggle to free itself from british world. for these memoirs, hindsight was india's independence in 1947. freedom was the event that determined the plot of their lives. the war, however, devastating, the slideshow. finally, the collection in english and american literature, at the library, it came across the papers of autumn. the elder brother of the other -- and explorer of the himalayas and my first character. 1926, john left and went to work for the geological survey of india. based in calcutta.
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survey and map for extraction. right up engineering reports for large public works. that is john autumn. as a boy, he had a attended a lecture. at this lecture, he screened footage from the first ever expedition to mount everest. i found this pamphlet among professional papers. so he became a himalayan explorer in part because he wanted to escape the oppressive calcutta and partly because he wanted to understand the tectonic forces. he raised the himalaya to the heights. it was the dream of being the
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first man to reach everest summit that brought him first to india. in 1924, two years after his talk at school, george mallory bolland to his death on his final approach to the summit. he wanted to succeed where mallory had failed. like this race of the cold war, in those years, every major european power wanted to claim a first ascent on a peek over those meters.n in the western himalaya, germany's). it's a mountain of destiny. he was francis. of course, everest, the highest mountain in the world, was reserved for great britain. indeed, like i'm everest if not to assert great britain's power over the power of nature to raise a mountain beyond its reach? ...
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strip the king emperor naked for all to see. there were four efforts to reach the summit in the 1930s. all failed. among john's papers are found a letter from another explorer. michael spender was the bauer of the poet, stephen spender, in 1935 he was choice ton join the everett reconnaissance of 1935 as its lead surveyor and macmaner. can using the new tech teak of photogrammetry he was able to make a detailed map of everest face. it would hopes that's could figure out the best route to the summit. >> this is so blurry. this is the north everest,
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escape from the north and that's the nor face. like the gsis mineral surveys, surveying and mapmaking were critical tools of imperial rule, expending territorial claims not with an invading army but with surveying equipment. in 1937, michael spender and john orderren and two of the most famous everesters-extended the northern most bother e border of india in the area around k2, the second highest mountain in the world, down to the river in chinese turkeys turkistan. this is a clip thereof at the expedition that will give you the idea of scale and audacity of these undertaking. is this their approach below the tree level. and because they were going to be cut off from civilization they had to hire, like, 100 porters to carry all the food
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and equipment they would need over these humongous passes and put them down on the glaciers. this is only the approach. and then they would send them back because they couldn't feed 100 porters for more than a day. so they had to send them back. but this was moldering in the rgs archives until last year. this was taken by john auden, and presumably he sent the equipment back with some porters. because they would never have been able to carry camera equipment into the area around k2. so this is just the approach. now they're above the tree level. some of these porters are local porters, usually when rest ex-kids you read but sherpas who were of tibetan descent and
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lived in the region around everest but these were local porters from -- they were muslims, not buddh 'tis and they were totally unequipped for this kind of terrain. some of them were barefoot, most most of them wearing shoes made out of i think goat skin. and obviously that -- they don't have very good traction on the ice. you can see them all resting. before they could haul meat being prepared. you can see the english -- see michael -- they went with two very famous everesters and you can sort of see the difference between the sherpas and the baltis. sherpas wear a lot of english
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hand-me-down mounteering clothing and the bbaltes were in more traditional native dress and hats. englishmen with their -- this would have been the last inhabited area before they got up into the high himalaya, and there's a really great scene in a few moments of them crossing this river, which gives you a sense of just how powerful these rivers were. there are fed by bleat grace sures and it's moan for its grace sures. more grace -- play gray sures than outside of the arctic circle. here they are climbing up the --
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time for a smoke. that is eric ship continue next to the guy with the pipe. he was on all four everested expeditions of the 1930s and was slated to lead the expedition in 1953 where they finally reached the summit but he was fired at the last minute because they didn't think he had the killer instinct. so this is this is them making their way across. it's just an amazing landscape, i think. very hard to imagine it.
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>> the sherpas hated the rivers. they hated the river crossings. they were really petrified of the rivers. the baltis didn't have any problem with the rivers. they hated climbing. and you can see this raft, it's on -- those are goat skins that are -- he's blowing it up with air, that they felled with -- filled with air like balloons. it looks like an ocean there. that river. it's really dangerous. very powerful. really cold. yeah. i've been in those. this is getting toward the end.
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i think he sent the camera back across the river. that's -- they'd have to build these ladders to make their way up. nobody had been in -- across the passes, in 50 years. the last person to cross this particular pass, 50 years before. okay. that's pretty much it. so nick the attic and closets of michael's son and john's daughter i fund their expedition journals and photographs which help me understand how the discipline of geology and mapmaking extended the understanding of the world and their place in it. of empire builders. also began to understand the ways in which the skills they had acquired in exploreation, the technologies they used in
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geological survey, and mapmaking, could and would be repurposed for war. so on september 1, 1939, the decade long question was finally upon them and the auden generation, what would they do if there was war? wr auden was in new york when war was declared. john was in calcutta and michael in and stephen in london. did the filed sign up to fight for the little england of their school holidays in he lake district or to defend the british empire? before he left for america, wr auden promised his london friends he would come back if war broke out but he didn't. by 1939, this fame was such that questions were raised in parliament and there was talk of forced repatriation. he was publicly shaped by stephen spender. why didn't auden return? was he a crip cat? a coward? a rat leaving a sinking ship? and what of john auden?
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would the man who wanted to be in the first to summit everest fight on behalf of the empire he served? before i answeres need quiz want so introduce one last character. among john auden's paper is found a letter from a bengali poet and with this name i found the calcutta story i had been look for. the first indian with whom john shared anything of himself. he was introduced to a different cal cut could from the english one he now. out of the friendship his aware not what being subject to foreign rule felled lynn. sueden who provided me with perspective on the war as they saw and experienced it. every friday night these men would meet and drink tea and eat sweets to goss ship and argue about lit tour and politics and the parlor floor of students joint family home. in cal cut could such conversations are --
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among the numbers there was a man who kept a diary. unfortunately the diary was lost, fortunately before it was lost, parts were translated into bengali and published so i translated them back into english and from them sketched my story line of calcutta. many of new younger men's attended oxford colleges alongside the auden generation. during the 30s they argued about many of the same political questions. sueden represented an older, less politicized generation. how did the bengali vue of the wore differ from their london co howards? sueden was nearly alone in his support of great britain. was certain if india backed england's war effort itself would be freed after it was over. when great britain refused to grant any such assurance, even after the fall of paris when it was fighting for his v existence, he was undone. and in 1940 he fell into a deep depression. most of the younger auden
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members had buck communists, but unlike their english counterparts they expected the war would bring down both germany and great britain, and enabling the workers of the world to unite and rise up. others admired adolph hitler and egg early followed this triumph's then battlefields or europe and north africa. wherever they stood these younger bengallies were entirely submissive of the political bearing of the odden generation, all their hand wringing on the -- as far as the brutality of british raul in india was conditioned they saw a clear conspiracy among english writers to maintain a deadly silence. odden and spender might dither over whether took become communists or socialists but they were cap to british financial interests, writers were convinced these excursions to pain withfinance its with indian dividends.
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follow the money. and they were right. for all the auden generation's much vaunted political engagement there seemed to have been very little direct grappling with their country's empire in asia and africa. indeed of the auden members pointedly noded the idea that england had am empire barely registered in spender and auden's published work. there was one notable exception and sueden reminded them of it. the assent of f6. not only did this play capture the jockeying for power in the proxy wars of the 1930s but it neatly -- britain's struggle in the quest for everest's submit to project imperial power over india. the play was dedicated to john auden, the mountaineerer hero at its center was based on michael spender. the one thing cal cut to write erred had in common with the london cohort was they were far more focused on what was going
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on in europe than next door, namely, japan's war on china. what was japan up to, they wondered? it wasn't until the attack on pearl harbor that everyone had an answer. japan, too wanted an empire. this bombs started falling on calcutta a year later. if there's anything to be learned from the blood -- blind spots of the auden generation it's how the stories we tell ourselves are changed with the perspective of those on the other end of unchecked power are taken into account. when sueden finally saw that england, even extremists would not loosen its grip on india he threw himself into defending the city he loved, as director or air raid construction he over saw he construction bomb shelters' comment cal cat tut filled up bin's san head turned the shelters into rearrive centers centers and witnessed imprisonment of congress leaders and suffer through aerial bam badderment and famine, he remained local to the liberal
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and democratic ideals he believed great britain had abandoned. while the last englishman is about the end of the british empire it's also my effort to reflect on the power that rose up to take its displays reveal how the lidden structure of an imperial world view can rep mix okay like a ma leg lent strand dna. in america, in our perpetual search for the next hitler to vanquish and our eagerness to strike a pose, has often unmined just those ideals we tell ourselves we're fighting to uphold. to whom does our liberal international rules based order apply? certainly not to the vietnam yes or cam bodessans, iraqis, afghans and libyans. not to mention the countless latin american cubs. hough has the history jim myth of world wore 2 as a good war cost us and cost us at the wrong end up of our power who hold to
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us. like great brian's civilizing mission, america's moral exceptionalin morphs into an ideal of who it victim so i. hurt was a great admirer of the british raj and the american neo-nazi grasped the distinction between race and power remember just as the spanish civil war became a way about not think offering the empire, we changed the subject to darfur or syria or some other humanitarian cries for which we are directly complicit. we mistake forgetfullingfullingr innocence so in choosing the stories we want to hear we must clear space for those stories and perspectives that will upend the ones we have 0 blightly inherited. thanks a lot. [applause] >> i didn't give you any time for questions but maybe you can
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meet me in the lobby. >> now michael hayden, former direct ofow the nsa and cia discuss his book by o'assault on intelligence." >> well good, afternoon. and welcome to this very special program with the general michael hayden as part of our -- this year's fall for the book festival. my name is david myer. i'm in the mayor of the city of fairfax and a member of the board of directors for the fall for the back festival. on behalf of the festival planners, the faculty, staff, and students of george mason university and the citizens of

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