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tv   In Depth Jill Lepore  CSPAN  October 4, 2020 10:00pm-12:01am EDT

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.. host: harvard professor jill lapore is our guest before again to the substance of your
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books as a historian what is your contemporary view of how our world will be viewed? >> we have so little perspective on this moment is quite impossible to say but the perceptionptio t many peopln the united states and around the worldha have the extraordinary initial time. in a way that was experiencing. host: thinking about today do compared to any other period of history? guest: know. as a historian i think we have a cognitive tendency to enjoy analogies to be thing like anotherre f.
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and then to say that looks just like my great grandma with the baby but then also with my need for familiarity so as my career as a historian that is a journalistic tick to understand there's a whole crop (-left-parenthesis presidential beyond the one - - biographers as a way to contain that chaos as a way to avoid with that moment in time. host: you gave a talk on your
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book what do we mean in american history? how do we reckon that it is two different as to share a common ancestry as a people and it seems a fairly perilous state of affairs. >> i still stand by that statement we are just as polarized our past is not change but our perception is more divided. and with that bipartisan fashion. that is been obvious as a historian of what the
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confederate monuments shoulds stand. g and to occupy the attention ofhe the media and then really than just thehi last year with other controversies in the past and of the 19 nineties with a history of a particular era. but now we have the daily sense with that crazy goofy internet meme some people saw it as blue or gold. that is the world in which we live now that it is what can
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be seen a little differently them interesting how you got here and that is really most of the stories. and then like you find with justifiable politics. host: i was going to close their thatut in
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this forever and revolution lover struggle against chaos. guest: yes. in the course of conversation you say something to me which i have changed my mind and i will not stand the nations don't exist in nature. but in those natural communities is that humans have invented as a category that has proven extremely important because the liberal nationstates only one i cannt guarantee to people and as a particular place with the rise of the liberal nationstate due to the consent of the people and with the guaranteeee of
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rates less anyone a shared languagea. and that is just the daily english of people of what will happen if people don't believe in the idea anymore with the constant edginess of that chaos. >> so appointed you say one
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way history of the united states with a hundred pages spent i been asked to write us history textbooks throughout my career they are cs jointly written and those that specialize it's like a 20th century local historian. so it takes a team of scholars to playtex back and a textbook but i would write anything
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that would be very interested in doing that at a certain point in every career men were late this is a public service to offer up in this moment in time and then quite violently repudiated so it seemed to me something of the day or to resurrect this loss tradition
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and they worked with the publisher that i usually admire they let me write theed book the account that i thought needed to be written decades of teaching american history and writing essays. so yes i said okay i will do itit for me it's important to write it quickly i get bored with looks very fast. they had this idea and those who have read the book i guess i thought if i wrote it fast it would read fast like that momentum to it. and then to move on.
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writing history in the united states you can spend ten years onn it. host: do you start chronologically with a project like that quick. >> it is not a compendium each chapter makes an argument it is not an encyclopedia made it is significant in its ability each part has four chapters there's a lot of symmetry to the organization. and then i went to the library and checked out and in a stack in my office on chapter one in
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chapters two and three and four i may get to the bottom of theoo stack and then i get the stack for the next pile day by day i teach the word in my office isn't too far from the library building. if you check out books at theks circulation desk just to make sure the been properly checked out and then you can leave the building i know the security guards pretty well but they also came to know what i was doing so the new deal i can't
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wait till we get to truman. and then we recommend books. host: what got left out? guest: a lot. and ray in the united states and that stork in the academy in the last half-century and in that scholars that is really quite potential with the demographic group and no other. a and we have a very narrow
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understanding of politics is when women and people of color and the women's studies program which is lgbt cues sex and gender studies. this incredible expansion with those groups and topics from american history but that changed from those that exploded give and now we have such a broad understanding of the diversity of the american experience how do you cram all that into a single volume? with a rhetorical act of violence and exclusion in any
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case been up there was an academic scholarship and it was the disincentive for this type of work and also thehe idea you will be promoting the action that could be reduced to one story that these are the years of intellectual ferment and the academy and increasing diversity is the like the untenable project that's via did not get done for a long time.
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there were many nights i lay in bed and a reader needs to know why and to be in support of this claim and for needs to be there that they all can't be second-guessed this is not the lab last definitive account to that other people come along and that is how
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historical scholarship works. is meant to be a beginning. host: what prompted your follow-up book? >>. >> so i was asked to write an essay and there was a time in 2018 and at a campaign rally and said im a nationalist i guess i'm not supposed to use that word.
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but in an interview someone talked about nationalism and the history of the world and its meaning and implications. and then the way he wanted to define it. so in 2018 there was a lot of discussion. so i was asked to write an account of the history of american nationalism in the context of the nationalist movement the idea of america as a nation for the national history does what they can do to pose a problem. and then i turn that into a short book.
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i think i say in the process i wanted to explain what a nation is and what liberal nationalism is and why it matters and how it is that in the absence of the defense that poses a danger. host: we will get into those definitions in a minute but we happen have aon video of president trump 2018 in houston yays and nays all globalist? a globalist is a person who wants to the globe to do well but not caring about our country so much. i have a word that is called a
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nationalist really we're not supposed to use that word i am a nationalist. [cheers and applause] >> use that word. host: assert jill lapore when the president says i'm a nationalist what does that say to you? guest: it is so interesting to hear that. i don't have a video in this exchange not looking at what the viewers are looking at and the video is probably significant richer in the spirit of the occasion because it talks about salad on - - celebrating nationalism before the adoring crowd that a lot of people who have watched national rise to power the unflinching fidelity of the people with acts of aggression
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it's a very unsettling if not terrifying to bear witness to. ai am stricken i had forgotten to identify a globalist which is interesting because the rhetoric of globalism in particular is anti- somatic in the history of nationstates these are people without a nation and nationalism the fidelity to a nationstate as a core commitment of many people around the world tends to set to one side the black sort of the jews and a lot of the conspiracy theories have
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fundamentally anti- somatic there is a secret cabal of jewish people who control all the money and they have no national attachment and those ties under national borders so sthe rhetoric of a globalist comes back and it it harkens back to the invocation and that is something really interesting about that. they are very strenuous and critiques of globalization one of those chief criticism of liberals even into the late
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1980s is the kind i am thinking of globalism and the sense that certainty would be left behind but that's okay. but it's for the best and with the number of financiers. that people watching trump feel recognized and seen by him are thinking about how globalization has been responsible for a great deal of income inequality around the world. that's an interesting mix people are really angry of what's going on beginning in the nineties with the fantasy of globalization. but for trump to invoke t nationalism the way he does and then to applied is a
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classic work one of thee important things so define a globalist with the anti- somatic history with the bad people and they are the good people and another form of patriotism that is an essential step urging people to make sacrifices for the nation that can only be asked in the authoritarian there is a messy history behind that. one of the things i try to do
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is pause what's the difference when people say nationalism now they only ever mean the liberalde and i will i do think it's important i think it's important to be willing to think about your obligations to your country and the civic duty that we owe to one another. that is something that is central to the nationstate. and it's a vanishingly small spaceut to occupy talking about hating others and loving those of your own country. guest: the difference between a nationalist and a populist?
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guest: i want to be semantic i don't think it's that interesting people use the terms of all different kinds of ways there is no simple definition that to makes appeals directly to the people rather than the policies and the fellow elected officials and they appeal to congress for support and that it is in the people's interest so we live in a democracy so that would certainly be appealing to the people but if you have a negative connotation in the way that many scholars use the term they need to think about those institutions with the
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emotional support of the people with a political agenda in a meaningful way and in their own interest so talk about them to reengage listing the support of the people which may or may not be a fair definition because progresses did a lot of things but then they never delivered those things. because that's not a populist nature. host: good afternoon thank you for spending time with us on tv this is in depth program a monthly program with one author and his or her body of
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work we are pleased to have join us from cambridge harvard assert jill lapore author of many books and received her phd in american5 h studies 1995 the first book 1998 king philip's war and the origins of identity the second book 2002, a is for american. new york burning came out in 2005 the whites of theirea eyes in the battle of american history in 2010 and the mention of happiness in 2012 the story of america. in the book of ages the life of ben franklin 2013 i believe
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it won the national book award secret history of wonder woman 2014. these truths we talked about the history of the uss in 2018 in the most recent book is how that corporation invented the future it's a brand-new book we will talk about that in just a minute want to involve you in this conversation as well have a question or comment dial in or contact via social media eastern central time zone that's the number to dial.
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>> will also scroll through social media facebook, comment, facebook, comment, e-mail remember at the tv. what is a civil maddix corporation founded in new york 1959 the pioneering of the data science corporation by a man named ed greenfield it was a danny ocean of the
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company. and computer scientist and the best and the brightest and then with the early mainframe computers and using a new computer language with the democratic nominee they expected to be at allied stevenson and those that had worked in 1956 and raised against right eisenhower and in 1960 and they expected
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nixon to run empty he did apply he be a formidable candidate and as a liberal candidate but the democrats will liberal because of the commission on civil rights and greenfield and his colleagues put this machine the people machine in order to the importancein of engaging the black voters in the north. that's how the company t was founded and then with the democratic nominee and then went to do pioneering work is like the cambridged analytica a of the cold war how it
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significantly served and is the back story to facebook that does the data mining and that's the great-grandfather or the great granddaddy of those data mining companies today. host: where did you find the story? >> a staff for the new yorker magazine for a long time and those that provide the history of institution and that was very much in the news but it
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became pretty quickly the industry is and decline and in crisis why would you thousand people on the phone asked them a bunch of questions and higher a staff to do that if you could do that online and then got the political considers without having to do that the data science makes pulling industry obsolete so then i got interested in when that happenedha during the election simulation so that i wrote the article why is nobody ever heard of this company and with those
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corporate records they don't exist they are nonexistent i did find the largest path of material and those are political scientists at mit so i live in cambridge and then there's these on catalogued papers and then there's a lot of different thingst that that this company had done to have those that is done now that i never thought of and to explain to me but it is a
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compelling story. host: the corporate records don't exist is nefarious? >> it was headquartered in new york and went bankrupt in 70 they are fell into considerable the solution his estranged wife died was tragic circumstances and then he took to drinking heavily and basically sleeping on couches i'm sure he just didn't pay the rent and he was shredded people lose their records all the time.
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and with the people had done in 1977 is a political scientist to say and then they start asking them and then they get trashed. >> the novel written about the civil not ask corporation. >> and coming out and 19641 was a new york times bestseller everybody expected it would be made into a film and the other was a science fiction novel that disappeared
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into obscurity but it was made in the 1970s and then we made into the matrix so this is a world living in the simulation from this 1964 novel with a sophisticated story in the 1964 because it sorted into 480 stereotypes. and with that presidential election with a very admirable
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presidential candidate with the best of intentions required to run for president and expected tosi lose in a way to help the pot on - - the party prevailed 1968 his campaign is conducted by computer simulation everything is told to do is buy a computer written by this guy like a california surfer and beach boy like a nav war hero and became a writer and then got a phd from university of california berkeley that was
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an astonishing success and coming out during the cuban missile crisis so working in 1956 on the adelaide stevenson campaign and try to help when the california primary against the democratic competitors and then he asked to join and he said no and with this famous celebrity but was fascinated
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and that would it would destroy american politics so we got these top-secret documents and for the kennedy campaign and then use that stuff to write a really distressing novel and then dies really young the next year with a terrible her condition so people don't know about that anymore but he was a public intellectual and that he was aba celebrity spokesman and then to be the most manly
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on american political scientist figure. >> let's hear from our viewers is began with alberto in w arlington virginia you are in with harvard jill lapore. >>caller: hello to tv talking about nationalism and i think our country as a country of immigrants and it was american id how do you think of a country of all face is this about the same my only
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example when president washington was a day of thanksgiving and then and 1863 made a proclamation. so thank you. >> so to get to the question and of american history when we describe as a nation of immigrants po for each of those expressions of john f. kennedy and the melting pot each of those expressions with people and the nation say havest a history and emerged from political battles of their own day we carried forward this is
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not used in 1960 and with that originalist interpretation in the opposition to the constitution. as people have alwaysg said that so that we all need to know where follows in the wake of where those things come from the without perception in particular of ethnic diversity which is interesting and wrong history and when that crisis of immigration and the constitution of the people so
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what is interesting to me is religious pluralism one - - pluralism and a deep historical way and with freedom of religion and battles of secularism and i spent time in this argument that our commitment is to inequality with more than one where people can speak against the government that political defenses accepted and called for the comes from the establishment of religious toleration mann --dash and then tolerating religious views that makesak possible
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historically people's different political views that the defense of the 17th century and english civil war. but the political philosophy emerges from people coming to see the protestant reformation and for someone like locke or nelson because the truth is always the idea people can do whatever they want but they do believe there is a truth in the divine sense and it will prevail there is no way for
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them and it makes possible and the's t english colonists one - - these colonies that they were founded c in the first place with the puritan new england colonies maryland is a catholic colony many of these were founded by people who cannots express their religion in england before 1641 when they practice their religious views and worship the way they pleased with a were distant from the enforcement of the church of england and then
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that eases up over the 17th century so by the 17 thirties is appropriation of the religious sect and also the emergence of this like a thomas pena 1776 and in the 17 eighties and saying that he has no church so this is just fundamental word emerges as a commitment to toleration people can believe whatever they want to believe. they can vote who they will vote for an even organize as a political party and disagree with the people in power.
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this is exactly the same basic idea of the same religion benjamin franklin writes his apologies in 1731 that is to plant everyone's view when truth and error have a fight truth always wins a fundamental idea behind the jury trial like fairfield people have the argument and of reasonable people can decide which is right. was a printer franklin said i will print diversity of views my readers could tell just like a juror could tell that is how ideas of expression and political expression emerge and we see it down this is the
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two century long tradition there is no religious test it is the case beginning 1971 with the moral majority with the evangelical christians have shown it has always been a christian nation with that evidence all along and those of the practices and that foundational commitment our
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commitment to freedom of etexpression. it was among the tragedies of the 21st century. >>caller: how are you? i appreciate it very much. i was at the state legislature of georgia and we just finished a 50 or 60 year project in civics it will be rolled out the beginning of this year and during with recreational vehicles traveling to every state capital it has to do with what i had you say when you first started to talk today it would be good if the americans knew more and got more involved
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this is designed to get 100 percent of the people to address the number one problem which is civic illiteracy of all of us and practicing democracy when we do the pledge of allegiance and we are supposed to be the republican form and this is such a serious matter that many years ago thurgood marshall was on the supreme court i cannot think of his name right now but the chief justice, warren burger. he told us and said literacy is so encased the problem is we don't know that we don't know. host: we will have asserted
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third one - - jill lapore respond to the idea of civic literacy. guest: thank you. was going to ask him what he thinks who is responsible for this. i agree there is a lack of education there are a number of programs some which are incredibly exciting for my colleague at harvard with the democratic knowledge project and those doing civics education ever in the book as a civics textbook i fully support the idea in civics education so i am curious to
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ask there's always that narrative and now to be urgently. needed but in the current political environment so what do we mean when we say this the president calls in this year earlier with patriotic education civics education is not partisan but they don't know the meaning of the word anymore and i would say i see a lot of evidence the emphasis of stem education which is the
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follow-on the inevitable consequencee with that narrow research at university to advance the national security interest in the cold war with every other field in the arts and languages in particular that trickles down through k-3 - - k-12 and in complete disarray it is not the fact of public school teachers those that make authority of the subjects and for these changes
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over time. host: this is a text and a reminder please include your first name and city what does she think of the recent white house sponsored conference examining liberal bias to teach american history? guest: was at a conference i thought it was just a speech. do you know peter? host: i do think there was a meeting. guest: we don't have the caller on the line but there was a call for national commission to do fall the 1776 project with the 1619 project i could be wrong is too exhausting to follow those
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media stunts but i don't know what do i think of it? and in 1965 to set up a bicentennial commission and that's from 1776. and then to do some work with the 200th anniversary in 1776 between 75 and 76 but then what we do in the seventies or what would you do and 73 with the boston tea
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party with the anniversary and congress? setting up the commission in 1970 and 1965 with the voting rights act it's a heyday of the civil rights movement with the johnson administration and determines in the sixties and seventies should take stock of the struggle for civil rights when james baldwin is asking the american people to do with the nations history and and brutality based on race but those indigenous peoples movement to reach the attention and we are not too
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far from the alcatraz action that we are much at the early years of the chicano movement movement so johnson bicentennial commission it is a new big story. but nixon looks at johnson's commission and says basically what trump said what he thinks is a conspiracy to indoctrinate american schoolchildren. so this is also the viewers will say that nixon basically
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establishes his own commission not unlike i would have imagined so it is the nice analog versus the 17 seventies. and actual historians, that is a joke. . . . . or nixon's depaf
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defense or civil rights activist and antiwar activist. so there is a huge paddle about which version we begin this conversation there is a big celebration in boston.
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it looks like an 18th century boat and they sailed over from england and a there's going to e a ceremonial dumping in with thousands of people there but the whole thing is protested so there's a bunch a of people. this is like watergate. there is a bunch of indigenous people from new england who show up to protest and actors dressed up as mohawks. then there's like a flotilla and a big march of vietnam veterans against the war who are protesting the militarization of the protest.
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so, if you wonder where some kind of unitary notion of the american past shattered, it didn't happen two weeks ago when trump said there was a broken spirit. it didn't happen -- it's been going on for a very long time, but in fact it means we don't even have any history of the >> host: when do you find time to synthesize all of this information that you have? >> guest: i teach every day so you know, what you are asked to do when you teach is come up with an explanation and answer and ways to help people think about problems and how to investigate something so mainly
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it is the gift of being able to be in the company of young people with questions. >> host: susie has a question as well a little off topic perhaps that was privileged to hear david discuss frederick douglass and noting his emissions of his wife and his autobiographies, it reminded me of ben franklin's omission of references to jane in any of his public writings so i wonder if this is perhaps typical of the times and not as much of a slight as it seems. >> guest: that's an interesting question. for the viewers that haven't read the wonderful biography of frederick douglass, you absolutely should. david and i have been colleagues for a long time. this is actually an opportunity for me to correct a fact. you had said that my book one in
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national book award but w it waa finalist. i will correct that here. so here it's worthwhile remembering frederick douglass who wrote three autobiographies the first of which was published in 1845, the narrative of the life of frederick douglass was very much influenced by benjamin franklin's autobiography which was published first then in english shortly thereafter, not inin franklin's lifetime. so [inaudible] which is to say franklin established the idea. the story of the although biographer will serve for a much bigger struggle. franklin told the storyca of his life, which is a new thing to
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do. it's like a new genre and he told the story but the expression wasn't quite current. but he said having been born into poverty, i write this book in in order tha an order that pe interested can know how to emulate, how did it go from ignorance to knowledge and from rags to riches, from poverty to prosperity. so, franklin had also written an essay called the way to wealth or advice to a tradesman. his work is about how to become free and prosper. and kind of less about how to do good. so, for franklin, it is the story of a how to start with
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nothing and become somebody. the story is about you do it all on your own. that is crucial. like you shouldn't have to need other people's help in franklin's story because he's talking to people who probably bn't have any help and may not be able to get any. so, his advice is here's how you can do this yourself. we can think about that historically like franklin saying pick yourself up and work harder. economic mobility in his day is almost unheard of. he's an extremely unusual exception but for that story to work and give the advice you could lift yourself up by your own bootstraps as the expression comes to be, the fact franklin had an extraordinary amount of help in that journey, he
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deliberately leaves things out of the story, that includes his sister and there's also a thousand other reasons. she was his closest correspondent and many ways closest friend. it is a plot device necessary for the plot of that story. so, douglas whose story is about the story of slavery to freedom, he went from poverty to wealth. douglas from slavery to freedom. it has not the same structure because doug was in fact did need a lottr of help, but for vy different reasons, douglas can't say who helped him. in 1845 when frederick douglass comes out, he gets caught or anybody that helps him gets caught, he would be returned to slavery and those people could
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face charges. so he can't say what help he got. he can say he was helped but it's like a legal reason he can't say. but he does talk about the white woman who taught him to read. so, i now cannot recall that explanation for why it is part of the story as he tells it. some of it is a 19th century convention but that is absolutely not allll of it. that is quite a long answer to think about but i wouldn't say to the degree that it's a convention of the time that it
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somehow and. you see that with every silicon valleyms entrepreneur inventing himself. it is a big piece. have you seen the movie boy >> guest. >> host: it is on my list. >> guest: it's about how every state has a summer camp there's there isa girl's one and boys o. one of the characters in it, not characters but a person high school boys who want to go into politics and he keeps talking on this campaign speech weeklong running for office about how he's a self-made man and came from nothing and have he got to
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this. he's always on a cell phone talking to his mother. like okay, may you succeed in every way. and in the film he says that but it's so much a part of the atamerican individualism that we do not acknowledge. >> host: that gave us the chance to talk about the national book award finalist the life and opinions of jane franklin that jill published in 2013. monrovia california please go ahead with your question for
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>> guest.jill lepore. >> caller: thank you. i'm a little bit nervous. the first time i've ever called into a television show but i want to thank you because i noticed your books are on audio and for persons like myself with severe dyslexia, it makes it more accessible and even for my friends that are blind. when you go back to harvard, could you ask the other professors to put their books on audio so that it's more accessible for people like myself? >> host: i'm so sorry. i thought you were finished. professor. >> guest: as a person who i guess listens to a lot of books all the time, i love audiobooks and audio storytelling, most of my books i think since i wrote
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the secret history of wonder woman i've been a narrator of a lot of books and i love reading them and i would say not all writers should be doing audio. some people are not good at it but i like doing it and i love hearing from the listeners that listen to the books and who only listen to booksok read by the writers because theyin want to commit. i think that is such a cool thing. you might be interested to listen to a podcast i have that you can listen to for free anywhere that you listen to podcasts. it's just my exploration of the history of truth in the 20th century and it's kind of a radio drama. i wish i could tell you that my colleagues at harvard do things i suggest of them but i don't have that kind of influence. >> host: we have a follow-up text from somebody.
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what is the typical work schedule? >> guest: most of my work habits me and my family had to work a lot of jobs and it was stkind of understood that you would work a lot, so these are things asked for those of you that have read benjamin franklin's biography. i've always had a lot of dodges i could get the work done in time to do some reading. so i have done a lot of things that kind of a frantic pace to earn back the time to do the reading i want to do so it's nice for me that i ended up having a job that is basically reading. but for me, i had a lot of different demands on my time because again mainly i am a teacher and as most professors are it isn't always clear that is the case. it's the most important thing we do.
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i generally at the beginning of the month i get out a calendar, in the olden days it was a piece of paper, and i just mark everything i have to do that semester, all the meetings and lectures, department meetings, times i'm teaching and i do what i can to move stuff onto on two particular days and then every day that i'm not teaching or in a meeting i put a big w over the day and that is a writing day sacrosanct,se are so if somebody says i'd like to meet w with you on tuesday or let's go for lunch or i want to go for a run can you run on wednesday morning, i say i'm sorry, i'm completely tied up. i think the problem for a lot of academics that have control over their own time is if you don't schedule writing time all the other things you have to do will
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inevitably take up time. there's a ton of things. my priority as b being available to meet with students, but [inaudible] the main thing i do is protect my writing time from other kinds of things. a lot of people say yes to a lot of things like this. spending two hours doing this isn't ordinarily a thing i would do because i tend to spend my time with my family if i'm not writing or teaching. >> host: we have been trying to get you on "in depth" for quite a while, so we do appreciate your time today. >> host: there is a publication how to write a paper for this class that professor "ijill lepore put out. to write a history argument is like telling about dead people.
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you will be dead one day, to toc so please play fair and remember never condescend. it's probably bad enough being dead without a smart alec using your life and times to make a specious claim. >> host: do you still hand that out to students? >> guest: i have it on my webpage because people ask for it all the time. like how do you teach people about writing. i found to find an actual person that would leave behind a diary or portraits or body of work that could be investigated to tell the story of their life and make an argument about the revolution and the answer for a long time the big question about the american revolution which is whether or not it was truly
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radical were conservative or whether we upended the political political. so students would do this work and i would ask for their papers and they would be writing about if someone like ben franklin or benjamin or thomas jefferson or whoever. they would treat these people as if they were not human beings. they were like puppets on a stage to be brought on and say their lines and then go behind the curtains and the student would say whatever. they would quote them and i was just baffled by this.
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it's not like math where you are just doing proofs. these were people that had children. they had pain, they were human beings so that's where this line comes from. they were determined in hard-working and creative. it's frustrating to see. so that is my long-winded explanation.
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>> host: let's hear from south carolina. you are on with professor jill lepore. >> caller: i think this is the longest hold i've ever had on c-span because she does answer thoroughly. thank you. and an active teacher and thank goodness the students have you as a teacher and your writing has been wonderful. i have to tell you these truths was recommended to me by one of my second grade students 30 years ago that rights me about his reading all the time. he was in new zealand doing graduate work and wrote to me have you read these truths and of course i could write back directly c to him that i had red book of ages but i hadn't gotten to these truths yet.
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so, to talk about writing and i think with your old students from 30 years ago it is a gift to know my students found you before i even told them about you. >> guest: that is so nice that you are still in touch like that. >> guest: i think it's why i went on to wonder woman because the subject of course fascinat fascinated. and i'ms still adjusting to min, but wonder woman i never would have picked up unless you had been the author. tell me why you wrote about wonder woman. >> guest: like the tail i told
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about which is something i stumbled across in an archive and felt compelled, i started and wouldn't have thoughtan abot writing a book about wonder woman. i wasn't like a wonder woman fan as a kid or adult. i had watched lousy movies [inaudible] sometime back 2011, put your mind back to 2011 and the republican primary season where there were a large number of republicans, romney, gingrich, michelle bachmann, ron paul, big field. i think there was herman cain.
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big field of republicans running for the nomination to compete against obama and planned parenthood had been in the news a lot. each of these candidates had pledged or tried to pledge i think it was from the susan b anthony list if elected i will defund planned parenthood, so i had an assignment from the new yorker to write a history of planned parenthood. like why is planned parenthood suddenly like an issue in the republican context. so i started researching that story and smith college had a wonderful library there and so,
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the papers of margaret sanger who was a founder in 1916 -- but meanwhile i was writing an essay. i had agreed to give a paper at yale law school and i teach a class so i decided i wanted to write a history invented at harvard by an undergraduate 1913 are ou1913around the time plannd parenthood was founded. i was excited to write an essay about him i went to wikipedia to begin to find out about him. developed the lie detector test and created the comic book superhero, wonder woman. there was the best wikipedia entry ever but there was like nothing else. there was no name for scholarship, no explanation of how these two things connected
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to one another. so i set about doing the research to try to explain this and then when i went to the planned parenthood papers i kept coming across the guy and it turned out margaret sanger's sister had founded planned parenthood with her and the daughter lived with her the thea three-way marriage and so that's too interesting to not read about so i kept researching and researching until i came to a conclusion that was kind of too important to not write a book
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about. and i also early on route to the oldest son who was a wonderful brilliant man and retired obstetrician and i asked whether hee would speak to me and the family had not shared the incredible letters and photographs and diaries with anybody because of the very unconventional family story which was a scandal. but i had this powerful moment when i was at smith. i did on all this research and i'd written an article about planned parenthood called birthright and then i went back to do some more looking once i decided i wanted to do this thing about wonder woman and i met in the office with one of the curators at the library to
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ask some questions about looking through i think it was the "ms." magazine collection and i said you can't figure out what stuff it's in but now i'm working on something else. i'm wondering if you can tell me what box i can find. she didn't give me any papers. like box 57 or how about is there a file to discuss. we went through all this and then she looks at me and pauses.
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and she said wonder woman is margaret sanger. i looked at her like this was the big insight of research and the thing hidden about the complicated family history between sanger and planned parenthood and emergence of wonder woman as a feminist icon. so it was just an exciting thing to find in the archives. i gave long answers and i've given the youngest one yet. >> isn't she being exercised from planned parenthood at this point? >> guest: yes. >> host: that was a short answer. >> guest: yes. >> host: let's hear from bill
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in kansas city missouri. thanks for holding. >> caller: this is great. thank you so much. you look like you are enjoying it as much as the viewers are. jill, i was a champion of your work going all the way back to the game of war at a little bookstorest in vermont, and i'm still a champion of your work in my capacity as an elderly librarian here in kansas city. i've always wanted to ask either you or some other academic historian the extent to which you rely on the talents, the curiosity of your students to assist you in the mechanics of fact checking, finding documents, et cetera. you'ved talked several times ths morning. i think you've even used the phrase the gift of connecting with curious interesting young
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folks. i am so excited when i see a sparkle in someone's i when i hand overhe the book of ages or tell them about name of war or let's read about new york city in 1741. so, a long-winded question, but long-winded to seem seems to bee calling card today. >> host: how long have you been a library and? >> guest: >> caller: about three years but i was a bookseller for 28 and i used to joke to anyone who would listen that the three women i wanted to date before death. whateverer that's worth. >> host: we believe that anthere. what is your answer?
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>> guest: i know there are plenty of historians that have large groups of students doing research work for them. i generally don't. but there are some notable exceptions where i just can't do the thing that needs to be done. i would say i actually rely to a huge degree on librarians and archivists. so you know, since the time of the digital collections and collections that are digitizer will i didn't have the experience of you know, then i wanted to look at the adelaide r stephenson papers at princeton and i didn't have time given my teaching schedule and parenting obligations to take a trip to
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princeton. ghthe papers are extensive so i could see that there was a folder. that's the case and it's a big folder i think it was 400 pages where libraries that have resources now you can write and say i would like to see that folder and they will scan every item in it for you. it works out well for the libraries because you pay for the scanning and now it's there for anybody that wants it. it's available to the library so it's a way they get resources than being drained of resources, so it is ath clever thing. not every library can do that. you have to have the staff resources to do it, but i rely and especially if i need something fast and it's obscure or hard to find in the
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collection, people will go find it. ãt's incredibly generous. something like when i wrote this book i founded at nyu ma maybe s a dozen notes that look like a models cast it was a handwritten diary, very expensive. i went down and didn't have the resources. i photographed every single one of the notebooks and i did some other research but i didn't have time to transcribe all that. but the first time there was no
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way i could find the time to do all of that is transcription work. but last year i was a fellow at the institute of advanced studies on sabbatical and they had some incrediblyba glorious research programs where they would pay up to for assistance to help you under whatever program and i was working on my last program archive and hired five undergraduates. it was the first time i ever had a team to do something and working on a podcast was a totally different thing. that's a case where i benefited with some incredibly resourceful, fun and creative super energetic, they just brought so much energy to the project. it was also good for students. we met every a week to talk abot
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research agenda and what they found and brainstorm on ideas. that was super fun. we are doing the second season of the archive right now and i didn't have the budget to hire people. only in extraordinary circumstances or specific things. but also i like doing the archival work myself. i would much rather go be in the archives and poke around in the archives, and i'm a little bit too controlling probably to have other people in a routine way. >> host: that's why you havein kids. [laughter] work.orate them into your did joe gold' gold's history ofs
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life exist? >> guest: well, he was a deranged homeless man who -- what year was he born, maybe 1890s and died in 1957. beginning in the 19 teens there was a book called the history of our time and it would be the longest book ever written and a whole historybe of everybody tht he is right and he would write down every word he ever heard and he would carry these notebooks all around. it was said to be incredible and nearly eviction of his. my investigation into the joe gold story came because i was teaching a class on how to write a biography, and his story is an object of how not to write a biography. he's the project of two different essays by the new york
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-- incredibly wonderful vivid writers, joseph mitchell who wrote a profile of gold. this was so long ago i don't even remember. maybe 45? forty-two, maybe. it was in the middle of the dark days of the war. like there's this crazy guy in greenwich village. then 1964 he published basically joe gold's secret in which he reveals he discovered the course of interviewing and writing the profile in 1942 that the book exist. it was a segment of his imagination and mitchell confesses he doesn't reveal that at the time because always imagining writing a book that
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would never be finished, the story of our lives. and it isn't ever really going to be a book or he's hoping to do something he could never quite achieve and he was therefore heroic allegory and elusiveness of great art. so i had assigned those to my undergraduates and while we were getting ready to go to class, i noticed which i had completely forgotten that in the original story, he says he has a will in the pocket ofwi his jacket. he pulls it out and says when i die, a third of my manuscripts will go to. and i'm prepping for class and think my students are going to say if his whole thing is the book never existed because he
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couldn't find it, maybe he died in 1957 and may be th maybe thed up at harvard. i went to the library to look for it and i found all this other stuff that proves everything that he said was wrong and i just kind of fell down that rabbit hole of needing to find out whether the book existed or whether the book didn't exist. so it's actually the longest book ever written and supposedly never written. and i did find in the new york public library and mitchell's papers that had only just been given to l the library and it ws the most in incredibly thrilling. >> host: if i could ask you to get more in the middle of the
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camera, we don't want to lose you, you are on the edge and we don't want to lose you as we hear from ariel in portsmouth new hampshire. please go ahead. >> caller: thank you for taking the call and i appreciate the fact that you've kept this program for so many years. i want to keep the question simple and i don't want to engage in a long discussion, but i wonder why so few if any academic historians spend any time dealing with the genocide committed against american indians, native inhabitants of north america and specifically when you were talking about civics, they talk about restitution for slavery, for example in this project, but no one ever talks about restitution
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native americans. what is it that inhibits addressing this issue that is the fundamental foundational issue for north america? thank you. >> caller: thank you. i know you don't want a long answer or historiographical one but i guess i would dispute the premise of your question which is that historians don't engage in the kind of moral f aminations of the genocide of indigenous people. i think the richest period came at the time of the anniversary of columbus' voyage in 1992 but throughout the 1990s and the late 1980s, there was an extraordinary proliferation of research. there was a whole world of books
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published. extraordinary research. an extraordinary amount of research done in that period and it's also the case of indigenous test program studies and in incredibly vibrant part of academic life. i do see what you mean about the reparations arguments as a part of the discourse and reparation for slavery have a kind of prominence in public discourse that was expressed in the kind of monument toppling whereas we don't see if it is the same discourse with regards to the kind of reckoning with the dispossession but the betrayals
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and ongoing injustice and abuses of native land, police brutality against indigenous people which is greater than any portion of the population or any group. there's a whole lot to study there. a whole lot of people doing that work so i guess i would dispute. what's different in many ways analytically between the call for examining and the study of colonialism and genocide and atrocity and dispossession is the struggle in the united states and it's the kind of
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critique it's within the larger american narrative seeking self citizenship and inequality. it's the recognition from the indigenous nationhood within the larger narrative of all americans seeking the rights and full equality and equal justice fromti his own law. that is a difference but now i've given you probably more than you wanted in this question. >> host: a follow-up e-mail on that will u.s. history going forward be exclusively about racial justice, marginalization and other narratives which define us only in terms of the
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victimhood? >> guest: i don't recognize that in the way that history is taught if you recall when the show started and the chalkboard they kept talking about the indoctrination of the schoolchildren into the ideas that if they had committed atrocities it was a story of racial injustice and this was what was being taught in america's schools.
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i went to the school building and watched the kids do what they were doing their. it is pretty much what goes on by the enslaved people in boston
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that's part of the story. the problem isn't making it part of the story. it's the generation. >> host: you are on booktv withth all other jill lepore. >> caller: thank you so much for what you do. to do stuff like this i'm sure it's noti' easy. what i can tell you about what's going on here it's pretty
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interesting. we are a wash in the movements right now. we have a brand-new female lieutenant governor. when the pandemic hit, she went far right and it kind of created a little civil war here between therepublican party and states. we have paulette jordan whose really popular. what we have been doing here, they never really had the slavery issue. we were not even really a state at that point during the civil war so we didn't have the protesting going on.
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women are really taking over. my new doctor is a woman. they are judicial. >> host: i think we got the idea. let's hear from professor jill lepore. >> guest: thanks for calling. the story is so interesting about the political participation is just how j long it was that being female meant
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you had a particular kind of sympathy. it would be destabilizing to politics. it makes it possible to gain the right to vote but there are political sympathies. the gender gap is claimed to talk about the voter preference to talk about the lack of enthusiasm and that kind of gap has been noticed.
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it's kind of the new voter to watch. i myself am less convinced of these categories being all that defines us but that is a whole another story. >> host: part of the story is told in these truths. jill lepore reports on campaigns founded in the 30s and was the first political consulting firm ever created in the u.s. please go ahead with your question. >> caller: okay. i have a question -- >> host: you are going to have to turn down your tv and then talk into your telephone. don't listen to anything else. >> caller: okay, hi. i have a question, i have a
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comment. i'm 70-years-old and back in the 70s, i asked my grandmother a lot of questions about my family's history. the grandfather and great-grandfather both fought in the civil war and she talked about the things that they talked about and one was gettysburg and one was the battle. they were a people that had a sense of honor and rules of what a man was and did. i think it's wrong to judge history based on the way we think today. i think weba should celebrate hw far we have come and go even further. i have quotes about my grandfather who went out to fight indians in the west and
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came backe because he couldn't live with himself to put him on reservations. he said my indian friends back home would never forgive me. the question is in my grandmother's writings she said the family motto was never forget the day. i called the maine historical society, but how what i research that? i would love to find out what happened. >> host: thank you. and also her comment about judging previous history. >> caller: >> guest: i love the enthusiasm for your family history and i think you want to go to your local library and talk about with the best method
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would be to research tools available. often the his partnerships with research universities and even more search tools that could help. i write in the introduction it's not the job of the historians, and i believe that. everybody is concerned with who to blame on what's going on right now. personally i think spending a lot of time litigating the past has a limit to its utility.
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what do you think your carbon footprintat is today they had de more damage than the person they were indicting. we will be judged by future generations on having destroyed the earth, so there's very little worse. my generation in particular, which makes it a very extraordinary audacity to
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condemn. that is the obligation and the dutyy to one another. and that is a good reason to study the past and the humility that people are not better in the present. if we would do a better job of protecting one another from our worst impulses, we have rights and states to protect the rights. we have things that make it much better to be a human being. but unless we protect those institutions it will be as the people of previous generations. >> host: new york burning came out in 2005 and in the book you will learn one in four new yorkers at one point was an enslaved person and you will learn about how wall street was
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built and founded. please go ahead. >> caller: i have two related questions about the corporate influence on universities. first question do you believe the honorary doctorate of law to market was justifiable for being the greatest disseminate or and that he has a tension for -- >> host: we are going to have to cut you off. we are almost out of time. what is your second question? >> caller: do you believe that it is wise for them to sit on corporate boards? >> guest: the caller is
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referring -- happy to be public with disagreeing with the decision. i'm a very vocal opponent and i know people are involved in this by wayt of facebook and i think they are tremendously good people that work at facebook and i would like the company to not be destroying the communities and political institutions, but in factun it is i think the companies weakest mental to find aa way forward to work in the police but i have strong views about that. it looks like to me we are at the end. >> host: we have a minute. this is tom in venice florida. read you regularly, the great piece on rpg reminded me somehow
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of something you wrote over a year ago, the lingering of the law, smart, moving, beautiful. what is contemporary fiction writing that you appreciate, and you have about 30 seconds. >> guest: that essay is one of two that i've ever published, but i'm happy when people mention it. it was unusual forlo me to do. good for you. a pretty big and ambitious thing that i don't need a ton of contemporary fiction because i have so many writing assignments. i read a lot of older stuff, so i'm kind of exhausted with the
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nonfiction and i tend to read a lot of books which i really love and >> host: the most recent book is called if then the history of the corporation and we appreciate yours and your families time today on booktv. ..


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