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tv   In Depth Lance Morrow  CSPAN  February 6, 2023 12:00am-2:00am EST

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noise of typewriters." host: lance morrow, you described henry luce as
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whole new form of magazine. just as the depression set in, he invented fortune magazine, which was arguably -- i would argue that it is possibly the best magazine printed. in 19 36, he invented life magazine, which became an immensely successful, perhaps the most successful magazine.
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in three different directions, he was tremendously inventive. they want side that his impact on the american mind was greater than that of the entire system of public education. i think it was almost true. he had a tremendous impact. whether they are bad, whether they are good, moral or immoral,
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they were particularly so in the lucero from the 1920's to 1960's. the loose function, the lewis magazines had functioned as a guide and conscience. he drove intellectuals absolutely crazy because they really hated his politics. he had a tremendous impact.
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lance: the american century editorial magazine was rather misunderstood. it was arrogant and proprietary, typically overbearing he was --
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he was interested in the responsibilities of american power in a world that was very dangerous, and a world that had seen the rise of fascism and seen the death of millions and millions of people. we had seen the rise of the empire, the terrible crimes of the regime, he was thinking of the responsibilities of american wealth and power and how it
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would be used. this was 1941 when he wrote it. for a period of my life, it was way off, but i think that he was unjustly criticized for the american century essay. and of course, for a long time. his emphasis was, he was a very earnest guy.
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we explained the duties and responsibilities. how should america handle itself, handle its power in the world. he was. he was interested in how america should use its power. that was his emphasis. i think the american century editorial was unfairly treated.
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there were some that were overbearing. but it was a perfectly intelligent and responsible piece of work. >> what was your career like at times? lance: i was there long, long time. i was there for 40 years, which was as long as henry luce. i was very lucky. i had the best from the writer's point of view. before 1972, the writers did not get bylines, so that was a pain. but early in my career, the
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managing editor from 68 on created the essay section. i was lucky enough to do essays for a time for many years. those -- and those, one could express one's own opinions, attitudes and style. i was quite lucky. let's time magazine, before the bylines came in was a little more formulaic. still, it was a lot of fun. time was very hard work. there were very talented people
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there. i'm very grateful. i sometimes hated it and sometimes bad, i have to get out of here, but overall, i think i was very lucky. >> lance morrow, the noise of typewriters, is it biography, all of the above? lance: all of the above. it is partly a memoir of my career. before that, the washington star.
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there were a couple of large test cases. john hersey and his famous book was an examination of what happened to a handful of people at hiroshima, when the bomb fell. the incident on the book on hiroshima was described as the best journalism of the 21st century that walter, the moscow bureau chief of the new york times, in 1932, during the ukrainian famine, when stalin took all the food away from billions and billions of people,
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his performance or nonperformance when he wrote articles praising stalin, just at that moment when he was starving millions of people to death, that was described as the worst journalism of the 20th -- 21st century. i examined both of those cases and i have other essays. it is a sequence of essays about journalism and things related to jonalism. i have a chapter on robert caro and his multivolume bioaphy of lyndon johnson, talking about him as a journalist and his tech , and talking about his book called working, which is a wonderful book about how a journalist were, what he does. it is a funny book.
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it is a combination of thing. i guess primarily, it is an essay. >> you also move into the new journalism. when did that begin? >> they called self new journalism, but i do not think it was new at the time. in the 60's and 70's, a wonderful writer like joe, but also like in new york magazine, at the time, there was tom wolf and norman baylor it was terrific, although flawed. of course, new journalism is as
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old as journalism. it is an error to call new journalism belonging specifically to that 60's and 70's period. what i talk about those distinctive writers who are a lot of fun and devote a tremendous amount of energy. he brought a tremendous amount of energy to journalism. this is the journalism of wild exaggeration and picturesque to the 10th power. so i talk about all of these care. the book, or not all of them,
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but a variety of them. i talk about what they brought and how they function. what i am saying is, with the new generation and the new journalism of that time is now the old journalism that i am writing about. the book, its overall effect is nostalgic and i am looking back at a period that is basically how typewriters have gone. not an entirely different way, but in a substantially different way and a technologically very different way from journalism today. >> studio think has the influence that the time magazine had in the 1950's and 1960's?
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who has that influence today? lance: it is hard to say. journalism has become siloed and tribal eyes. it is like the states that came after a dynasty in china. you have the warlord state of nbc. the time magazine represented -- this is what was unusual. it was said that the greatest of the 1960's was authority, the authority of parents, the authority of the presidency, of teachers, universities, the military, so on. well, the empire of magazines
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belonged to the world authority that came in to radical question in the 1960's and began to be dismantled. the dismantling of that authority goes on today. what i am saying is that they had in the american middle class. that is what robert hutchins was saying when he said his magazines had more impact than the entire american system of education. people today, to begin with, they do not understand the authority that magazines themselves had because there was no social media. television news was in a fairly rudimentary state.
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they were extremely important. for example, joseph and stuart were columnists for the saturday evening post, which was a very -- my father was an editor in washington during the 40's and early 50's, and he edited. what they had to say in the saturday evening post was very carefully attended to and it was important. it was very important. the country, the whole zeitgeist
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, the racial mix, the cultural identity of the country is really quite different. what changed came in the 60's -- 1960's, starting with the immigration act of 1965. it said there would be no longer a preference for white european immigrants, but the doors would be open to immigrants from all over the world. the country began to be much more diverse than it was. more importantly, the 1960's called into question the authority of the old america. henry luce was almost an incarnation or a personification
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of many aspects of the old america and its culture, and its belief in itself, and its self image. the way america thought of itself. when i talk about the difference between then and now, between the 20th century and first century, you might say they are different countries. the journalism was certainly different, but the deeper down -- peoples sense of the country was quite different. one rarely -- rarely was america not as bad or evil -- heaven
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knows there were plenty of things going on with what the americans were engaged in elsewhere world. the american self image remained pretty strongly that of henry luce and what he presented in his magazine, up until -- you are getting into 1967, which is when henry luce died. and then in early 1968, you have the tet offensive. it changed a very great deal.
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it changed the idea that america was winning the war. the first great shock -- well, during the canadian administration -- kenneth -- kennedy administration, there was the bay of pigs. and then the assassination of jfk was a tremendous national trauma. and then, lyndon johnson, getting up into vietnam, getting into urban uprisings. and then the assassination of luther king, bobby kennedy, riots -- this amounted to
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watergate. this was a transformation of the american self image. what i write about in the noise of typewriters is principally the world before america and the world before that big transformation occurred. >> i want to read a quote from your 2003 book, people. you write that the america in which i was born tended to think well of itself in a mal sense, to think of itself as good in the world. evil is sometimes a matter of generational perspective. that does not mean that people itself changes, only that it is seen or not seen in different light. lance: i think that is true.
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that goes to a big theme of the noise of typewriters, which is the theme of storylines, of narrative lines. what changes -- storytelling is at the heart of journalism. and how you tell a story, and how you slant a story and interpret a story is critical. the questions of good and evil, or right and wrong get all tangled up in the storytelling. the attitude towards a particular -- towards the facts of a particular story. henry louis -- henry luce was the son of missionaries in
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china. he was born in 1898. he learned storytelling from the bible. he learned it from the parables of jesus in the bible and then he studied the classics at yale and he was a brilliant student. and the moralism of plutarch the whole business of plutarch and his lives was to find the moral in a life. what he did, he always put a person on the cover of the magazine with the idea that he would examine the life to find the moral, just as christ, in
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his parables would tell the story, in order to tell the world. but of course, one of the most interesting, eye-opening experiences i had was going over to the middle east in 1988 to do a cover story. i wound up doing two cover stories. there, you had these radically different storylines. i would go up or down and spend weeks, gathering their stories,
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writing them down in notebooks and just listening to them. to them, 1948 is what they called disaster, the catastrophe . our catastrophe. and then i spent weeks and months talking to survivors of the holocaust, the original israelis. and i would hear their stories and in both cases, the narrative is in the same place. but they were radically different from one another.
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the cliche is that it is after the japanese movie in which you had different points of view telling the story. this is a great lesson. to me, when i think about journalism, it seems to me that journalism has so much to do with hard facts, irreverence for facts, but then, how you interpret those facts. the difference between the great fathers of history, they tell, only write what you absolutely no to have happen.
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herodotus said, tell absolutely what you know, what you absolutely know to have happened, but also, tell what people think happened. tell how they interpreted the story, and beyond that, tell their customs, tell their ways of doing things, the ways of getting married, the way of training their warriors and healing their sick. all the details of their lives, so you can understand them and their minds, but i dwell a good deal in this book, on the question of narrative because it is so critical to the business of journalism, and it remains in
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the 21st century, all you have to do is look at fox news and then switch over and look at the same story being treated to two radically different lines by different sensibilities. one of the things that i do, when i am talking about john hersey and the old argument of whether the hiroshima bomb was necessary, when i am doing is, to a degree, i am examining the narrative lines. i am examining the rather subtle way that john hersey set up the narrative to make saints and martyrs of those upon whom the
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bomb fell and made villains. in idolizing john hersey, i a, let's go back and examine his interviewing tech, and so on in 1945 and 19 -- was back to 1938 and let's suppose that john hersey had gone to nanking at the time and done precisely the same thing that he had done in hiroshima with 300 thousand chinese killed in an on
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incomplete atrocious, horrible episode, which went on for we in late 1937 and 1938. 300,000 killed. men, women, children, everybody. if john hersey had gone to nanking and published a book about what would happen, i argue that it is possible that instead of a relatively soft occupation after the war, the occupation of japan, he would have turned american opinion against the japanese for a generation or two. it would have been a whole different story. it would have arguably affect did the alliances and reach
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because it would have given a very different picture. you see what i mean. i am fascinated by that question. you remember the famous picture that eddie adams to during the tet offensive in 1968, the picture of the colonel, who was the police chief of saigon was executing a young viet cong and he just puts a snub revolver to this guy's head and shoots him in the head. it is. it really affected the way
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non-americans in vietnam were viewed, but what was left out of this narrative was that a few minutes before that happened, that viet cong, just up the street, they had wiped out the entire family of one of the colonel's friends and had executed them in the way that the romanoff family was executed in the basement. and if a picture of that event, side-by-side with the eddie adams picture of the execution of the viet cong, i would argue that world opinion would have been mitigated. it would have not been so categorical as it was. >> as you write in the noise of
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typewriters, there are 1000ays of telling the truth and even more ways of lying. the storyteller needs a narrative line and the hope of a laugh has led writers astray, leading them to bear for -- false witness. that afternoon and thank you for joining us on book tv. one author, his or her body of work and your phone calls a longtime journalist, lance morrow, the author of several books as well. he has written over 150 cover stories for time and profiles for that magazine. he is also the author of these books. his first came out in 1984, called the chief. fishing in the tiber was his
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next one in 1988. america: a rediscovery came out the next year. heart, a memoir came out in 1995 mentioned, came out in 2003, shortly after 9/11. and the best years of their lives came out in 2005. second drafts of history came out in 2006. god and mammon was his book of 2020. we will get into that shortly. we talked extensively about the noise of typewriters: remembering journalism, which just came out this year. we are talking politics, journalism, american society. 202 is the area code for all of our numbers.
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if you want to send a text budget -- text message, send it to (202) 748-8003. that is for texts only. these include your name and the city you are calling from. just remember at book tv, or our email address book tv at we will be looking at those and just a minute. what is the definition of mammon. -- mammon? lance: well, it is money. it is the impulse to make money.
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it is greed, perhaps, in that neighborhood. it is that commercial instinct is secular. all of that. it is cotton mathur in a very strange and interesting man. he said that amen must grow to heaven with two oars, that of his spiritual life and that of his material life. and if you pool on one or only, or the other, you will go in circles, but if you pool on both at the same time, you will get to the kingdom of heaven. i suppose mammon is a slightly invidious way of referring to money.
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the argument of the book is about the central role that money has played in american history, as a least common denominator or most common denominator. but it has been such a tremendous energy, defining characteristic of the american evolution. mammon is the old way of referring, a slightly invidious way of referring to the secular impulse. host: to quote, you say that money, broadly speaking has been the logic of america. it washembition for money
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that sustained america and made it the richest and most powerful among the nations on earth, although not the happiest. lance: that is basically my thesis. the energy of money -- there are so many other ingredients in the country. i'm not saying that it was money exclusively, but as a common denominator, it is still true. the people coming to the southern border are mostly, if not entirely, they are motivated by primarily -- they want to make a new life. it is not a bad thing. it is a good thing. they want to support their families and have a good life, a decent life but money is in embracing common denominator.
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when you have a tolerance, the other factor is that you have to subdue the factors of religion. but money, as a highly dynamic energy operating in the country, and the freedom of the country, to the extent that it is permitted to be free. freedom is essential for what i am talking about. but it is a tremendous energy in the story of america. host: let's begin with donald in new york city. good afternoon. you are on with lance morrow. caller: good afternoon. i would like to know what your assessment is.
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thank you very much. lance: i think malcolm is absolutely wonderful. they are among my favorite books. when i was talking earlier, walter and his failure to go out and cover the famine in 1932, i did not go on to mention that malcolm had come as a correspondent for the guardian. he had just arrived. he was such a committed socialist that he had sold his furniture and he and his wife
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intended to settle in the workers paradise of soviet russia. he smelled a rat and he knew that something was wrong. they got on a train and went out . they saw what was happening. and they appeared back in england, but interestingly, the people did not want to hear it. they did not want to hear stalin criticized. he pretty promptly went back to england. he turned to writing fiction for
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a time. he was discredited as a journalist for telling the truth. he was a journalist, discredited for telling the truth. i talked about him in the noise of typewriters. an enormously entertaining american humorist in the vein of tremendous -- exaggeration is the american form. the mark twain -- they formalize the tall tales or what he called structures. she was this sort of exploding,
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burlesque displays of vaudeville audition. his talent for insult was tremendous, and he exaggerated everything in an entertaining way and he did it for a moment in the 1920's, into the 1930's. they were moving from the world to the urban and from agriculture to the industrial.
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he found in literary form. you found it in sinclair lewis' mainstream, where he writes about the place that he grew up, which he called gopher prairie. these were all repudiation's of small-town america.
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he taught americans how to throw tomatoes at their origins, basically. they were not a bunch of idiots. it was very unfair. to emphasize, his narrative was that the locals, the local yokels in dayton, tennessee.
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the end of the culture wars in the late 20th and early 21st century, by which i mean that the cultural elites find themselves perfectly free to mock. i do not want to say trump voters because then i get into a political argument. the there is a lot of the smugness existing today but regrettably, without his genius
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for humor. those are my views on that. host: the next call comes from crag in south carolina. good afternoon. you are on book tv. caller: are you kinfolk edmund morrow? lance: no. he is mu and i am mo. i never cross paths with him. i admired his work. host: hello, cornelius. caller: thank god for book tv and c-span2. i had a comment and a question.
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this is what i want to say. a black fellow found a tape of martin luther king speaking at a coliseum and i was only five years old. my mom and dad went, even though they were threatened, or they would lose their jobs. my question -- two questions for you. being an african-american and being black history month, did you ever cover martin luther king or any black historians during the 1960's and 1970's? that is my question. god bless you and god bless america. lance: thank you, cornelius. i think he made a slip of the tongue. he said it was a recording from
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1968, but dr. king was assassinated in the early spring of 1968, so it must have been 1967 that you are referring to. to answer your question, my father worked for years for nelson rockefeller. and it was not generally known that the rockefeller family did a great deal of the support firm or hells college and other historically black colleges south he also supported dr. king's southern christian leadership conference. one of my father's duties was as political advisor. one of the things that he did
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was to coordinate. he knew dr. king pretty well. we used to lend him the morrow family station wagon because he needed a car to get around got -- dr. king was staying with a friend over at riverdale. that is just north of manhattan. my father would drive the station wagon over and i would follow my father and a second car and we would turn over the station wagon to dr. king and my father would return home with me. one day, dr. king returned the station wagon with a dent in the side, and he was mortified about it. he said, i want to get this
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fixed right away, and we said, don't you dare get that fixed. that dent is the martin luther king dent, and we will save that as a great historical memento. so i covered him, occasionally, for the washington star. i covered some speeches of his. and then, for time magazine, for a bit as well. host: did you write the man of the years worry? -- man of the year story? lance: no, i did not. host: let's move on to john in los angeles. caller: what story, in your career, back when you are doing the time cover stories, was the most fun to write? my second question is, when you
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talked earlier about the importance of narrative, what do you think about the storyline that the press told about trump, essentially that he was in league with russia and a russian spy? what do you think about that narrative? lance: alger his was 1948. that was entirely different generation. do you mean -- well, i'm confused by your reference. but his, i would like to talk about him, but he had nothing to do with trump. the most fun, without question, was in 1985, neil leifer and i -- neil was a great photographer
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and an earlier sports illustrated photographer, who took many memorable picture. -- pictures. i convinced him that we needed to do a story on the animals of africa. this came about because neil and i were having lunch one day, and neil said, where would you like to go that we have never been? i said, i have never been to east africa and i would love to go to east africa. he said, ok. if you write up a proposal, we will figure out how to make it work. so we did. we convinced the editors to let me do a long essay about african wildlife and all of that, and neil would do a photo essay. he spends a couple of months in kenya, northern kenya, and all
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over the place. we had an absolutely wonderful time. i might say that this was at the end of time magazine's period of grand extravagance. so things were tolerated on the expense account that subsequently were not. so we were able to go all over the place and higher safari guides -- hire safari guides. it resulted in a very handsome cover story and photo essay. it probably did not cost the magazine more than one of its regular cover stories because it was just neil and me, rather than involving all the correspondence around the world. but that was the most fun.
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the most interesting, riveting, i suppose, had to do with that experience in israel and palestine. there was another time when i went with ellie, a friend of mine. he invited me to go with him to bosnia during the bosnian civil war. so he, i and some others from new york times went over and went around there for a while. it was riveting and core -- i have been talking for so long on this. alger, for those who do not know, alger was involved with whittaker chambers in a case
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that came out in 1948, before the house un-american activities committee, richard nixon, was a prominent member of that committee. he had absolutely nothing to do with donald trump. i feel that it is too complicated at the moment to get into the question of trump and the press, one could talk about that for six or seven hours. host: whittaker chambers worked at time magazine for years. lance: that is a good point. whittaker chambers was a favorite. whittaker chambers was a fascinating guy, who wrote a great book called "witness." if you read the first hundred pages of it, it is one of the
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greatest and most harrowing american autobiographies. it is about his childhood out on long island, with a crazy family and dysfunctional everything. whittaker chambers was a fascinating man who was a very good writer, he was a star. he was a communist, an actual communist agent. he was a fully active agent of the russian soviet communists. he was an apostate, he turned against the communists and in 1948, he revealed before the house on american activities committee that alger hiss, who was a very much esteemed member of the establishment, he was at
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that time head of the carnegie endowment. he was from baltimore, he had gone to johns hopkins. he had harvard law, i believe. had been in the state department and elsewhere in the federal government during the roosevelt administration. chambers had known hiss very well and revealed hiss, this paragon of the establishment, had been a communist agent. this precipitated the famous hiss case and resulted partly through hiss' own stupidity, he pressed a libel case he shouldn't have. it resulted in hiss going to jail for a while. that case was a huge episode,
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and the division -- you talk about the divisions of the country. this was the prelude to the mccarthy divisions. the hiss chambers divisions were premonition and prelude to the mccarthy era, those divisions. we see, of course, reverberations of those same divisions even today. host: we have about an hour left in our program with lance morrow , we are putting the numbers on the screen.
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we want to show you a little bit of video from 2003, c-span's book notes program c-span's book notes program lance morrow talking about his book. [video clip] lance: i grew up here in washington. host: your father is a big name. lance: he was at the saturday evening post when i was a the kid in washington, hugh morrow. he got into politics and went to work for senator ives of new york, then he went to work for rockefeller when he was running for his first term in the late 50's. he stayed with rockefeller until he died, and my father announced
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rockefeller --he met the press after his death. only time i ever knew him to live. host: for those not paying attention, what were you talking about? the lie? lance: that rockefeller died in the company of his mistress. in a townhouse on 54th street, my father, in an effort to spare misses rockefeller embarrassment , because they were all there at the hospital late at night, mrs. gfeller was there and so was the young woman. -- rockefeller was there and so was the young woman. my father concocted the preposterous story that nelson
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had been up in his office in rockefeller center working on his art books, like a medieval monk, illuminating manuscripts in his office. that spring a leak in about a day, because the ambulance drivers and cops said wait a minute, this is not what happened. i should not laugh about it, but any case, my father was deeply upset about it for a long time. he was very fond of rockefeller. host: didn't you write a book about it? lance: i did, in the mid 80's. it was about my father. i mention this stuff in that book, as well. host: there is a reference in your book on people being a
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pageboy in the u.s. senate when you were 13 years old. what was that like? lance: it was wonderful and fascinating, one of the great experiences of my life read i was only 13, but i found it absolutely fascinating. i was running errands for joe mccarthy, john kennedy, lyndon johnson, robert taft. this whole array of characters. i watched them very closely, i did it for two summers. once on the republican side and once on the democratic side. it was wonderful. i found it up slowly fascinating. host: any lasting impressions from that experience? lance: many, many impressions of the personalities and characters.
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when kennedy walked into the senate chamber -- she was terribly ill with his back, on crutches. it was very interesting to watch -- to study personality, character, the way that people reacted to these characters. kennedy, all of the senators, a room of narcissists and prima donnas -- when he walked in the doors, every pair of eyes turned to kennedy. this was a freshman senator from massachusetts. i am talking about jack kennedy. lyndon johnson was fascinating
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to watch, bobby baker was my boss. you know, lyndon johnson's protege. he is a very nice guy. he was a good boss and he told very funny stories. he was always telling kennedy stories, seeing kennedy with some blonde on f street over the weekend or something like that. kennedy was not married at that point. but i found it wonderful to look at the senators. i love the senate, i am fascinated particularly by -- i've always wanted to write a book about the senate at that time. robert got it very well in his latest book on johnson. it was great nostalgia for me,
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because he describes every leather couch and sofa in the cloakroom and the democratic cloakroom, the bank of telephones and where they all drink -- when they weren't drinking clear alcoholic fluids, they all drink white rock so the water -- soda water. he would always snap his hands for me and i would run up and he would say white rock, then you run up to the cloakroom and get him a white rock. lyndon johnson would send for vanilla ice cream a lot, i would race downstairs to the dining room and bring him a dish of vanilla ice cream on the floor. i was just a kid. i was quite young, i think i was under age the first summer. i was 12, but they let me in.
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for a kid of that age, i was knocked out. host: that was from 2003, a book notes interview talking about your book "evil and investigation," you finish by talking about some of the senators. why was 1948 so good to those three? lance: it was -- it is ironic in a way, it is a play on the movie, of course. the best years of their lives. it was very famous just after the war. something happened to each of them that was decisive. johnson won his very close and
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some say stolen election, which led him to becoming the minority leader and eventually vice president, president. kennedy, it was a decisive year in his illness. his sister, kathleen, was killed in a plane crash. it was a critical year in terms of his disease and so on. he almost died, he made through. but there were a lot of things that happened that were decisive to him. nixon, i talked a few moments ago about the hiss case, it was
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the hiss case precisely that launched nixon as a national figure. he was able to run for the senate two years later, and that was what got him into the vice presidency under eisenhower and eventually into the white house. so, i use that convergence of circumstances, 1948, as a moment of crisis for each of them. i use that as a way of examining each of them as relatively young men and to talk about their personalities and -- their very different personalities. the undercurrent thought in all
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three, kennedy, johnson, nixon were presidents of the united states in succession, 1961 to 1974 when nixon resigned after watergate. in each of those cases in that decisive period of american history, civil rights movement, assassinations, riots, onset of vietnam, consequences of vietnam, watergate. in each of those cases, personality or rather character was a deciding and decisive factor. the character of each of these -- if you think about the
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character of john kennedy, think about the character of lyndon johnson, the character of nixon. three very different characters. you have the east, massachusetts with kennedy, here are the center of the country, texas with johnson, and california with nixon. you have character traits and personality traits that could not be more different, three men. in each case, the chemistry of their minds, the way that they thought, the deep background of their relationships with their families, their mothers, their fathers, everything, all of that went into making their
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personalities and their presidencies. this book was a way of collecting those comparative studies and putting them in a sort of foreshadowing. it was intended, deliberately, to be a version in the sense that the great studies of greek and roman historical figures were very much involved with the influence of character and personality upon their behavior and upon history. so, i intended that three-part
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comparison. i intended one to playoff against the other two playoff against the other to try to see what happened later in their presidencies in the earlier moment of crisis in 1948, if that is a coherent way to say it. i found it very interesting. host: let us go back to your calls, walter in ohio. you are on with lance morrow. caller: thank you very much, it is wonderful to be on the air with you. thanks to c-span. i wanted to ask about the term god bless america, when americans use it. it seems as if we use it more to have god bless us for the accumulation of mammon, as you write in your book, our way of
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life, rather than having anything to do with god. would you agree with that? what america as a whole be better off if we try to serve god and mankind more than serve ourselves? lance: well, that is interesting. i think sometimes about john kennedy's line in his inaugural address, where he said ask not what america can do for you, but ask what you can do for america. i think you are getting at something that is very interesting. i take your point. i think i see what you are getting at.
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it would be -- think about the kennedy line. "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." then think about the prevailing attitudes in 2023. what would one say about that? i do not want to give a long speech, but it seems to me that it points in the direction of something -- identity politics, for example. the identity politics of 2023 seems terribly -- it has turned -- it is not directed toward the country. what can i do for the country? it is directed toward what can the country do for me? my identity is the most important thing in the world and so on.
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i would hesitate to get into it, a long think about that. you see what i mean. the direction of the energy, it seems to me what you are implying makes sense. host: let me follow-up that call with this text message from al in fort lauderdale. how do you explain the refusal of the marxist worldview today? it keeps coming back and slightly new versions -- to die. it keeps coming back in slightly new versions such as intersectionality, etc. lance: i find it -- in one word, i would say ignore rents -- ignorance.
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this got into a lot of trouble with leftist intellectuals in the 1930's and afterward. he was basically right about what he said, he was very much anti-communist and anti-marxist. if you consult the experience -- this is where the ignorance comes in. if you consult the experience of people who lived under that stuff, if you consult the experience either in the soviet union or in china -- if you consult the experience of the lean forward or the absolutely appalling cultural revolution, which a cultural revolution which has very strong relationships to what we see now
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in america and the wokism at universities and the suppression of any speech contrary to the orthodox. if you consult those, if you read one of my favorite books, the widow of a great poet, a russian poet, and hope against hope is the first volume. hope abandoned is the second read -- second. for any experience of what went on under this regime -- it was not that stalin was stolen -- s talin. it was the thing itself.
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i interviewed them during the 1990's -- look at the experience of his people and checks the luckier -- in czechslovakia under that regime. i had two roommates in college, one was hungarian who walked out of hungary in 1956, the and gary and revolution. -- the hungarian revolution. the other was ukrainian, whose father was killed by stalin in one of the suppressions of ukrainian nationalism in the early 1940's. if you consult that experience -- it is abundant in every direction.
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there is great literature of descendants -- descendants -- dissonance. there is solacism repeated is breathtaking, it goes on. this ignorance and fanaticism, one might say, continues in the universities. it has made its way into mainstream american institutions, foundations, cultural institutions, museums, big corporations.
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variations on this approach make their way in and it gets all mixed up, tragically in my view, with race. i do not think it should be mixed up with race. race is a reckoning that needs to be done independent, i believe, of all of that marxist stuff. it erases a huge part of american history and is something that americans need to know about and think about and do something about it in many ways. but i would like to see it divorced from the traditions i've just been talking about.
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host: in your 2020 book, you write the signature american drama of race originated in money. i want to read next a column you wrote in time magazine on september 12, 2001. here's a paragraph from that column. a day cannot live in infamy without the nourishment of rage. let us have rage. what is needed is a unified, unifying pearl harbor sort of purple american fury. let america explore the rich reciprocal psibilities. a policy of focused btality does not come easily to a self-conscious, self-indulgent, contradictory, diverse, humane nation with a short attention span. america needs to relearn a lost discipline, self-confident relentlessness and relearn why
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human nature has equipped assault with a weapon open ward indecent peacetime societies called hatred. lance: i wrote that about two hours after the second tower of the world trade center went down. i was enraged. that essay became very controversial. it was, in many ways, an intemperate essay. but it said many things i think are true. were true and remain true.
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i do not like -- as i listen to it now, i do not like an application of fanaticism or unreason. i see after that came the iraq war, which did not -- was not exactly the smartest thing this country ever did. so i do not know what the question is. do you mean do i still feel that way? host: absolutely no leading question, just a chance for you to react to something and share with the audience something you wrote on september 12, 2001. lance: i have complex feelings about it, let me put it this way.
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i think it certainly reflected widespread american view at the time. i have a -- there is a part of me that continues to feel that way. but of course, you cannot go around -- you cannot make foreign policy on the basis of -- you need clarity. you need restraint and intelligence, in both senses of the word intelligence. it is a dangerous world. you need to know what you are doing. it was a gut reaction to the horrific moment. and as i say, i wrote it in a
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couple of hours. we closed the magazine that afternoon. we got a national magazine award for the issue. it was jim nockway's wonderful but extremely vivid pictures. jim is a great photographer. and then, running an account of what we had in the way of thanks and then my essay which was a kind of shot of double espresso at the end of it. it was a moment. let's hear from --host: let's hear from curt. you are on with lance morrow. caller: thanks for taking my
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call. it is not so much a question as a big thank you to mr. morrow for all of his body of work. i am impressed today with the feeling of nostalgia and kind of a sense of loss really because of the way things are today. i have a feeling a sense of a loss of integrity, truth, and trust in the media reportage today. a lot of it seems to want to gin up an emotional response rather than a reporting of facts. i miss that. i just wanted to say again, thank you, mr. morrow. lance: well, thank you very much for what you say. i am grateful to you for saying that. and i share your feeling about the state of things in the media. i must say by way of caution
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that there are some great reporters working today. there is some great reporting being done, but we are in a state of transition and confusion where the media are concerned. there is a lot of absolute nonsense. when i mentioned earlier, i talked about the loss of authority which was one of the casualties of the 1960's. i think the media organizations, notably "the new york times," had the failure of authority there and at "the times" and elsewhere is remarkable. the firing of james bennett, for example, as the head of the editorial page, the dismissal of
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mcneil, who was one of their leading reporters on science and environment and so on. firing these guys for the most trivial, not trivial, but in cases where they should not have been fired, basically, political correctness, wokeness, the revolt of the red guards, the revolt of the young, angry staff. young, angry staff is great. i'm happy to see young, angry staff having ideals of one kind or another, but you need grown-ups in editorial leadership. you have got to stand. you have got to keep the integrity of the paper itself. you have got to honor your traditions.
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and you have got to be mature. and these were not mature decisions. these were craven, silly decisions. i was very distressed by stuff like that. and you see it in a lot of places in the media. host: jim in pearl river, new york, texas in two questions. first, did you have any part in the april 8, 1966 time magazine "is god dead?" cover page article? second, did "the saturday evening post" advised norman rockwell to only depict persons of color in subservient positions? lance: the answer to the first, " is god dead?," no.
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i had just joined the staff at the time and they had me doing the "people" section which i hated. it was about jackie onassis and john-john kennedy and sophia loren and richard burton and elizabeth taylor and so on. norman rockwell. my father, as i said, was an editor at the "saturday evening post." rockwell, as you may know, he had a change of heart, a change of mind, or something. during the 1960's, he depicted very sympathetically and rather angrily, he depicted the plight of black schoolchildren at little rock for example.
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that was actually the late 1950's. there were a number of iconic paintings that rockwell did on the civil rights theme. but i suppose you could say the "saturday evening post" was guilty of rather the same treatment of black people, black americans, that hollywood movies were. hollywood movies tended to portray black in subservient roles, with the exception of a movie like "they call me mr. tibbs," which was deliberately on that theme and had sidney poitier actually slapping a white racist rich guy
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back after the white racist rich guy slapped him. but i think rockwell came to see the point that you are implying, and he did paint -- look up his, google his paintings on the theme of race, and you will find his treatment of black subjects changed as the country changed, as a civil rights movement advanced in the country's conscience became engaged in that subject. he became aware, i think, that his previously that his previous paintings were inadequate. we are talking about mythmaking here. we are talking about american mythmaking. henry was an american myth
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maker. frank appel, the american movie director, was an american myth maker. norman rockwell made american myths, anecdotal american myths. and allegorical. "the four freedoms," "thanksgiving," "the american way," in one fashion or another. americans are constantly inventing the mess of themselves or striving towards the myth. henry luc was born in china so he spent his first 13 years in china. he comes as a kind of immigrant to the united states. all through that boyhood up to the age of 13, he had seen america at a great distance, and
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he idealized it. and he came to america and used his magazines to invent the america of his dreams. he was inventing coming using the magazines to invent or reinvent america. that is partly why he was so successful, because his american audience participated in that invention. in following his lead. he was kind of a leader of the american imagination and the american self conception. and that self conception is so important to the american civic conscious and consciousness.
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he was part of that in his mythmaking. norman rockwell was an anecdotal myth maker of america. you may object to his earlier portrayals of sentimental scenes of american life, but if you look at his paintings into the 1960's, he did evolve and see the issues of justice where black people were involved and he made images that responded to that awareness. host: let's hear from chris
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calling in from salisbury, connecticut. please go ahead. caller: this is christian. it is simsbury, connecticut. host: you need to check with your phone company because your name comes up misspelled and so does your city. go ahead. caller: not a problem. as an elder to mr. morrow by two years, i wanted to express my heartfelt thanks for his ability to maintain balance in his writings and expressions. and i cannot say strongly enough how much i have enjoyed listening to him. i had one question. i wondered if he had been to australia and whether his son gave him the didgeridoo sitting by his fireplace. host: thank you, christian. caller: thank you very much for what you just said. i appreciate it very much.
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yes, my son works in sydney, so i go down to sydney as often as i can. at the moment, i am in my brother and sister-in-law's dining room outside of washington, in their home outside of washington. that didgeridoo -- i'll enough, i'm not sure when they acquired that -- oddly enough, i'm not sure when they acquired that. i don't think it was from my son. yes, i have been to australia many times because that is where my son and grandchildren live. host: john is calling in from cleveland, ohio. caller: a longtime admirer. steve, you are part of a vanishing breed to my way of thinking at my age. thank you for coming on c-span.
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all the pundits on tv polluting the air, no control. again, keep up the good work. host: john, before you hang up, could you tell us a little bit about yourself? caller: i left at age 11 and came here and ended up staying here. i work for a classmate of poppa bush. he and i created a lot of jobs. i've been teaching and volunteering in cleveland for the last 45 years. my mind is ok. i still read a lot. my daughter writes books for scholastics in new york and teaches at the brooklyn school.
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she creates fiction books. host: did you subscribe to "time" magazine in the 1960's, 1960's, 1970's, etc.? caller: i used to go to the library and read. i used to go to the library and read in calcutta. host: thank you for sharing that story. we appreciate you calling in. to follow that up, this text is from laura on long island. can mr. morrow discuss his thoughts on the state of weekly news magazines today? is it possible for print to be viable in the 24 hour cable news world? caller: first of all, let me thank john for what he said. on news magazines, newsmagazines have obviously changed enormously in the last two
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decades. they are finding a new equilibrium i think. the question is not only newsmagazines, it is magazines in general. i think one can argue that either way. i am really not expert on magazines anymore. i do look at them. so many of them are going digital so that you have the digital on your screen rather than on paper. and the question, viable or not, why not? i have seen "time" magazine do some terrific work. i have always loved "time" and feel a sense of loyalty to it. i think, as i say, it is a
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different creature now from what it was because they face a different world which the viewer has alluded to. the whole media picture has been very radically transformed by the democratization of information by way of smartphones, social media, news aggregation. the decline of magazines and print. i think we will have to see what happens. i'm not terribly optimistic about the future of print. it may be that the evolution is away from that.
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the magazine form is a wonderful form. i don't see why it should not survive in one way or another. it is underappreciated as an historical form in the history that i write about because there were some extraordinary things done with magazines. henry luce did a lot of them. it was terribly important at one time. the magazine form as such, and certainly as a print magazine, is not what it was anywhere close to it. for one thing, big tech is devouring all the advertising dollars. google, amazon, those people are sucking up all of the supporting
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money. from an economic point of view, it is very difficult to run a magazine. but as i say, i don't feel myself qualified to talk in any depth about the future of magazines per se. host: nikki, palm harbor, florida, please go ahead with your question or comment for lance morrow. caller: thank you. first off, your opinion of senator joe mccarthy then and now, and second, your thoughts only warren report. thank you. lance: joe mccarthy. i would see him in the senate when i was 13 years old and i would ride up and down the elevators with him.
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he smelled of whiskey. i think the first thing that needed to be noted about joe mccarthy was that he really was an alcoholic. that was a primary fact about him. he was not entirely wrong in what he said about communism, and there was proof of it in the decryption's that came out later about communist infiltration in american life. he was terribly reckless. whittaker chambers, for example, had a very low opinion of mccarthy and said he was very bad for conservative america, very, very bad, because he discredited. he was a lout in many ways. he was a bully and a lout.
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but as i say, he was not entirely wrong. henry luce's son, hank luce, was a reporter in the washington bureau in the early 1950's. hank did the reporting for a "time" magazine article at that time that was very, very tough on mccarthy. it was tougher and earlier th an edward r. morrow's famous takedown of mccarthy. i thought he was a demagogue. he was a sloppy demagogue. he was a drunk. the other question -- host: the warren commission. lance: the warren commission.
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i am mistrustful of conspiracy theories, and i see the criticisms of the warren commission. but again, it is not something i have gone into in detail. it has been argued over the grassy noel and the trajectory of bullets and so on, it has been so exhaustively gone over. i confess i have not gone over it in years now. i used to think about it and felt unease about the warren report, to be honest about it. i have not felt i had enough time in my life to try and sort it out. i remember oliver stone's movie
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called "j.f.k." everybody but the new york giants implicated in the murder of j.f.k., he just included everybody. i don't know is the short answer to the question. host: every author we invite on "in depth," we ask his or her favorite books and what they are curreny reading. here are the answers lance morrow gave us. favorite books, "the last chronicle of darset,"paiotic gore," and "the multivolume life of ldon johnson." mr. morrow currently reading "the man without a face," "getting religion," and "the
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half known life: in search of paradise." any of those you would like to speak to, mr. morrow? lance: pico ire's book is terrific. i have been getting into that. trollop is a great favorite of mine pretty is a genius. he is one of robert caro's favorite writers. caro writes endlessly about politics, asroop does in the novels. plutarch " -- "plutarch's lives " is an endless source of joy, wonderful to read. "speak memory," i did my
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undergraduate thesis on avakov -- on nabacov, so i have a particular fondness for that. "speak memory" is my favorite of his books. host: i have got to ask you, we have only three minutes, and this is not fair to you, the word "metaphysical" comes up in your writings a lot. can you give us a 30-second answer of why that is? lance: yeah, i am sort of self-conscious about it. i cannot give you an easy -- the word seems right to me in the context in which i use it because i am trying, i am
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groping for something that is not immediately there in a substantial present but is nonetheless quite powerful. and so much of the way we live and what we think about and how we think the curtis -- occurs in a metaphysical dimension, not in a physical dimension. i suppose it is getting halfway to the spiritual. it is a dimension. it is a dimension a little bit beyond the facts maybe. it has to do with yearning or longing or intuition or something in that neighborhood. in a way, i am trying to push a little bit to create a space in
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which i can discuss a subject on my own terms. i can push back a little bit from the immediate hard realities and try to open a space that is metaphysical in which i can begin to talk about something in a dimension that allows me a little more freedom. host: the other thing i wanted to bring up, and now you really only have 30 seconds, is the philosopher comes up a lot in your writings as well. who was she? lance: hannah arent was a german-jewish scholar. she wound up at the university of chicago' us committee on
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thought after she fled from nazi germany. many of her books are very heavy going. i have been particularly interested in her book called "icon in jerusalem." she was the friend of a great scholar of jewish mysticism and he quarreled with her over the interpretation of the eichmann trial. her book called "the banality of evil" seemed to say that there was some complicity by jews or some failure on the part of jews in the situation of the holocaust. and of course, he objected to that very strongly, so she had an interesting exchange with him
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in which she tried to explain what she meant. but she was an interesting, very interesting scholar. she taught in the committee on social thought at the university of chicago where my mother studied during the 1960's and early 70's, so i was aware of her. saul belo was teaching there, so i was aware of hannah arendt. she had a very large conception of things. i found her very interesting figure. host: we are out of time unfortunately. lance morrow has been our guest for the last two hours. longtime journalist and author. his most recent book, "the noise of typewriters: remembering
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