BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Joel Krieger, what is "The Oxford Companion to Politics of the World"?
JOEL KRIEGER (Author, "The Oxford Companion to Politics of the World"): Well, "The Oxford Companion," following in the tradition of other notable companions like "The Companion to English Literature," is an effort to put into one volume a whole host of interpretations and information about an area of ongoing concern, and in this case tremendous fascination.
LAMB: When did it start?
KRIEGER: It started about five years ago. There was a discussion I had with an editor at Oxford University Press who had worked with me before on a different project. One thing led to another, and we decided that it was time to try to put into one volume a discussion of politics throughout the world: domestic affairs, international affairs. I think there's a growing sense that I felt, as a professor of politics, and that others perhaps in your profession, journalists, policy-makers, students -- feel that the world of politics is becoming more and more interconnected, and yet our understanding of it is becoming more fragmentary. So there was a view to try to reconcile that -- one-stop shopping in a sense. People are fascinated with politics. It's not a matter of following headlines but a matter of giving in-depth, often contradictory interpretation so that people have a sense of the
volatility and the extraordinary fascination of contemporary affairs throughout the world.
LAMB: When they refer to "The Oxford Companion of Politics," what's the Oxford they're talking about?
KRIEGER: Oxford University Press. This project is originated with Oxford University Press in New York and distributed throughout the world by Oxford University Press.
LAMB: When did you first have dealings with Oxford University Press?
KRIEGER: I myself have worked with them since the mid-80s. I'm an editor for a series of books on Europe and the international order. My own academic specialty is European politics, initially, Western European politics. But I think one of the things that motivated me to look at politics in a more global sense was my ongoing awareness that I couldn't simply discuss European affairs without linking it to politics throughout the world, and that problem for me and for others is putting our own academic specialty within a broader context.
LAMB: Where's your home?
KRIEGER: I live in New York and I teach at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, so I commute to work once a week and share my time between Massachusetts and New York.
LAMB: New York City?
KRIEGER: That's right.
LAMB: What would you call then your full-time profession?
KRIEGER: Well, I'm a professor of politics and chair of the Department of Political Science at Wellesley College.
LAMB: Can I ask you why you live in New York?
KRIEGER: My partner is a justice of the New York state appellate term and it's necessary for us to live in New York. It would be a constitutional violation for us to live elsewhere, or at least for her to live elsewhere.
LAMB: And so you spend most of your time at Wellesley or most of your time in New York?
KRIEGER: Well, during the term time, I spend most of my time in Wellesley. As a college professor, I have obligations four or five days a week at Wellesley, and that's where I live.
LAMB: How much teaching do you do?
KRIEGER: As department chair, this has always been an embarrassing question. When we went to graduate school, we didn't realize in a sense how little we'd be in the classroom. I always find it -- the most awkward, I suppose, is speaking to high school teachers or grade school teachers who have an intensive six- or seven-hour day of teaching. I teach, at this point, one course a week, and I have very extensive duties as administering a department.
LAMB: Where's Wellesley located?
KRIEGER: It's a western suburb of Boston, about a 40-minute drive from Boston.
LAMB: How big is it?
KRIEGER: Wellesley has about 2,400 students, about 200 faculty. It's a college that's gained more and more attention, I think, as one of the premier women's colleges in the country. And one of the more notable graduates, Hillary Clinton, has given Wellesley a lot of attention in recent years.
LAMB: What's that done, besides just attention, to the school?
KRIEGER: Well, it's increased our admissions pool. It's created a situation of enormous political awareness of the significance of education of women. I think we're very proud at Wellesley of the mission we have of educating women to take leading roles throughout the world of politics and, of course, worlds of journalism or other professional activities. We have an extraordinary yield of students who go on to medical school, law school, all the professions in all walks of life. I think Wellesley has always been a college that had a vision of women that perhaps gave to them more credit and more significance in society than at least at an earlier period others accorded them.
LAMB: And you've been there at the school for how long?
KRIEGER: I've been at the school since 1978.
LAMB: Where'd you go to college?
KRIEGER: I was an undergraduate at Yale University, and my PhD is from Harvard.
KRIEGER: "Government" they called it at Harvard -- political science.
LAMB: All right. Back to "Oxford Companion to Politics of the World," you had that first conversation, you say -- what? -- five years ago?
KRIEGER: That's right.
LAMB: How did it start?
KRIEGER: Well, it started as a conversation as one would have with an old friend or associate. I'd worked with the acquisitions editor, Linda Halverson-Morris, on other projects and -- both at Oxford and elsewhere, and one thing led to another. And we saw a vacuum within the trade reference volumes at Oxford.
Oxford University Press, of course, is very aggressive in pursuing an agenda of creating reference volumes that are not the stodgy, kind of statesmen's almanac or "Who's Who" or something like that, but are reference volumes that are very engaging and interpretive. And we saw lacuna in their titles. There was no reference of this kind, no companion to politics. Probably the most famous companion is the "Companion to English Literature," and that in no way presented a model, but it did present the possibility of putting together in one volume a resource that could be very widely read by anyone fascinated in politics, whether a high school student looking to do a term paper or a policymaker here in Washington -- is the sense that people are aware of their need to delve deeper behind the headlines and try to understand more about this complicated terrain of world affairs.
LAMB: How do you approach the content, the balance, the bias?
KRIEGER: We made a decision early on not to run away from engaged discussion, not to look for a lowest common denominator. In fact, I found myself telling authors over and over again, "Don't forget that you're writing a reference volume, but don't get locked up by it.'" Yes, an Oxford Companion is expected to be authoritative, but it's also expected to allow an author to give it his or her best shot to put a signature on a piece, so to speak. And the way we overcame, I think, any serious question about balance is to seek authors throughout the world who would provide a wide variety of interpretations, right and left, First World, Third World, people who specialize in domestic affairs, people who specialize in international affairs. In the end, we had nearly 500 authors from more than 40 countries, so that when we were writing about African politics, we had 90 percent written by Africans.
When writing about a different area of the world, we have people who can give an authentic, clear, lucid, and sometimes controversial voice from that part of the world or from that particular perspective. What we particularly try to do -- and there was an ensemble of related themes or a particularly controversial area, would be to have one article written by someone of a given perspective, another article written by someone of another perspective. So there's an ongoing debate. A reader can follow through the thicket of articles looking at -- we have asterisks within articles which note titles of other articles. And we have various other mechanisms at the end of the article of directing a reader to a related theme.
So if we're it -- when we are constructing the volume, we're thinking about a whole set of thematic ensembles, not asking an author to tone it down and make it boring. On the contrary, asking an author to be aware of the balance of scholarly opinion by all means, to be cognizant of that and respective of it. But at the same time to allow the interpretation of these senior scholars who were invited precisely because they had made an independent and original contribution to the study of politics, to give it their best voice.
LAMB: This is the opening page under the letter A, and you can see Abdel Nasser and abortion and Acheson. How many different items like that are there in this 1,056-page book?
KRIEGER: There are about 650 articles, and one of the things you may have noticed in our discussion, 650 articles, 500 authors, very tight ratio. We're asking people to write about something that's right up their alley, to write with authority, to write on nothing that they haven't written about before, and nothing -- to write only about themes and issues in which they have already made an important contribution.
LAMB: All I'm doing is showing the audience -- you can't see it on the monitor...
LAMB: ...what it looks like.
KRIEGER: With these glasses, I can barely see the book at all.
LAMB: In the preface that you wrote -- by the way, what time frame did you write this preface? When?
KRIEGER: I wrote the preface, I suppose, just about a year to 18 months ago, drafted different versions, kept tidying it up. We tried to make changes up, you know, as latest as we could into galleys and so forth.
LAMB: When was the last change made?
KRIEGER: I guess the last change in any article would have been made last Labor Day or so -- last September.
LAMB: But let me ask you something that I did notice, just a little thing.
LAMB: Robert Reich is one of your contributors.
KRIEGER: Yes, he is.
LAMB: He's listed as secretary of labor.
KRIEGER: Well, the contributors' page, we were able to modify right up to the very end, but we hired him when he was a lecturer at the Kennedy School at Harvard. We hired, so to speak, if I can use that term, Anthony Lake when he was a professor at Mount Holyoke. In that sense, it's actually very fascinating to look at their article because they were written as academics, but in many ways, prefigure important directions of policy that someone like Robert Reich, who is secretary of labor, is now involved in.
LAMB: And in the case of Anthony Lake, who supposedly...
KRIEGER: He left the Vietnam War...
LAMB: ...left the president's speech at the memorial recently, and he wrote in your book about the Vietnam War.
KRIEGER: You know, it's extraordinary. I'm glad you mentioned that, Brian, because if you look as you clearly have, at the article on the Vietnam War, it uses the motif of the monument as the kind of bookends of the article on the Vietnam War. He speaks about the haunting image of the monument and the unresolved images -- political images of the war that in many ways have structured American foreign policy from that period a quarter of a century ago to until today.
LAMB: He's currently the national security adviser to the president.
LAMB: And this Vietnam portion starts off by saying, "He" -- this is Anthony Lake writing this, "Fashioned from stark slabs of black granite, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, perfectly represents America's collective memory of its longest war and first defeat. The memorial, like the memory, is both somber and ambiguous."
KRIEGER: Yes. And I think his article is one of the finest in the volume, not because he's national security adviser now, but because of his quality as a writer and as an observer of American politics and contemporary American political history. I found one of the fascinating elements in that, by the way, is his reflection on the role of one of his predecessors, Henry Kissinger, when he was national security adviser to Richard Nixon. And when he pursued quiet avenues -- at that time, secret
diplomacy to end the war through the -- in the Paris meetings between the adversaries in the conflict of the Vietnam War. And I remember reading that much later than we -- than the drafts that I read when Lake had become national security adviser, thinking, "Fascinating for him to reflect on the secret role of a national security adviser." We can only wonder what Anthony Lake's role is, for example, in discussions about the affairs in Bosnia.
One of the interesting parts of that article, I think, is his reflection on the way in which the memory of Vietnam has configured foreign policy with the c -- with the Carter foreign policy team arguing that it was a conceptual error, that this kind of hard-core containment of communism was poorly advised at that time, whereas the Reagan and, I think one can argue, the Bush foreign policy team view the problem not as one of conceptual error, but essentially as a political problem of gaining domestic support for hard-edged exercise in American -- a projection of military power overseas. And one can again see the resonance of those kind of debates in terms of contemporary dilemmas that are trailing the -- the Clinton government, making decisions about what to do, for example, in the tragic aftermath of the Yugoslavian divisions. Warren Christopher -- one can only imagine how he's interpreting the Vietnam War and what signals it sends him.
LAMB: Have you ever served in government?
KRIEGER: I have not.
LAMB: Ever worked on a political campaign?
KRIEGER: Only many years ago as a college student, but I'm not actively involved in...
LAMB: Which campaign was it?
KRIEGER: I worked on campaigns for Senator Joe Duffey in Connecticut. I was -- briefly when I was at Yale.
LAMB: Who is currently the head of the United States Information Agency.
KRIEGER: That's right. And had been the chancellor of the University of Massachusetts as briefly, but director or president or some such of -- at Yale Young Democrats or Teen Democrats or Student Democrats or something.
LAMB: In your preface, you say: "These articles include biographical information and assessments of the national and international significance of figures as diverse as Gandhi, Eva Peron, Mao Tse-tung, David Ben-Gurion, Margaret Thatcher, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Charles de Gaulle and --" Here's where I miss this. You name two people I personally have never heard of. That doesn't say much, but I've never heard of them. And you go on to name -- I'll come back to them -- Martin Luther King, Boris Yeltsin, those are all the names that you mentioned about the person profiles. Then you named Hannah Arendt, and the next one is Michel ...
LAMB: ...Foucault. How did Hannah Arendt and Michel Foucault get into that list with the rest of them?
KRIEGER: Well, I'll tell you how. We think that ideas as well as policymakers help construct the world of politics, and in very different ways, Hannah Arendt and Michel Foucault are major figures in the 20th century evolution of thought about politics. Michel Foucault now is writing -- I'm sorry. He's no longer writing. But his writings are extremely influential in contemporary discussions about modernism and post-modernism and the relationship between knowledge and power, for example. And Hannah Arendt, who taught for many years at the New School in New York, was a major figure in the evolution of political thoughts. She was an emigre from the ravages of the Holocaust and one of the most prominent women political philosophers who wrote and taught and worked in this country in the post-war period.
LAMB: How did you get to the process -- I mean, let me just ask you, for instance, could you have easily named -- you've got a bunch of names there...
LAMB: ...Milton Friedman or, I don't know, George Will or what's this -- where does Hannah Arendt come in? I mean, who made that decision and put her on that platform as being that important?
KRIEGER: It a difficult decision. We had an editorial board meeting, which was exhilarating and, at times, bewildering in which people basically negotiated fiercely, not simply over who would make the cut as a biography, but over the length of articles. We were one of the few constraints imposed on us by the Press was to produce a book of approximately 750,000 words. Now that doesn't sound like an exacting constraint, three-quarters of a million words, when you're faced with blank sheet after blank sheet, so to speak, seems like an enormous enterprise. But we -- the editors came to our editorial board meeting with recommendations for two and a half million words.
When you start writing about the whole world of politics, domestic and international affairs, and you start thinking about the book that has a predominant audience in the US, but in which America's role in the US is -- is changing, how many words do you apply to US affairs as compared to Latin American politics? Or as compared to international affairs? How -- yes, there are difficult questions about who makes the cut in terms of world figures. Yeltsin, of course, was added in the last several months. In 1988 who had heard of Boris Yeltsin? And there are challenges that can be brought.
For example, John Major, who we would have had time to include, as prime minister of Britain, we did not include. We did not include the current leader of every major country, but we included leaders, as well as intellectual figures, who we thought had an inordinate degree of influence, not only in their own countries, but in the way politics is conceptualized and conducted so that Margaret Thatcher is included, yes. Helmut Kohl, in the end, was included, but it was a very close call. Probably because of the growing significance of Germany within Europe and in the context of unification, Kohl played a statesmanlike leader of historic significance. Up until then, many people thought of Helmut Kohl as not ideologically significant, sort of mainstream within a European context, not as someone who had reconstructed German affairs, but simply as the chancellor of a major power. We were looking for something more, someone who had inordinate significance, and someone who had probably would want to read a biography of 20 or 30 or 40 years from now, not simply someone who held office.
LAMB: There are one, two, three, four, five editors...
LAMB: ...listed, and who picked them?
KRIEGER: I did.
KRIEGER: In consultation, of course, with the Press, but all of this is under my authority and responsibility.
LAMB: Margaret Weir, senior fellow at Brookings Institution, Barbara Stallings, professor of political science, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, William Joseph, associate professor of political science at Wellesley College, Miles Kahler, professor of political science at the University of San Diego, and Georges...
KRIEGER: Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja.
LAMB: ...who is Howard University.
LAMB: What's that name, by the way? Where's that -- country...
KRIEGER: He is Zairean.
KRIEGER: Yes. And, in fact, there's a story behind his name, depending on the -- he came to us originally as Nzongola-Ntalaja because the repressive regime in place had insisted of the Africanization of names. But by the time we published the book, he was permitted, so to speak, to include the name Georges, the more European first name. And I should add that James Paul is listed just below as a contributing editor, and he had the not insignificant job of providing comprehensive balance and authoritative treatment for Middle East affairs.
LAMB: So how did you go about picking -- I mean, what was the process?
KRIEGER: The process involved my reading very extensively in areas which I knew less about. I should say that in addition to being the editor in chief, I'm a European politics specialist. I took direct responsibility for articles about European.
LAMB: And in this you actually write the Britain section.
KRIEGER: I write the Britain. I only wrote the one article, but I took direct commissioning responsibility for the vast set of articles about European affairs. When it came to another area of the world, like African politics, I consulted widely with colleagues at Wellesley and at various other intellectual networks.
It was very important for me to look to people who, within their own area of specialty, had enormous respect, were at the center of significant networks and could bring original interpretations and authentic voices to the table, so to speak. Nzongola-Ntalaja was -- is -- a past president of the African Studies Association and teaching at Howard University is in the thick of African-American, African and Afro-Caribbean scholarship. He is someone who has an absolutely extraordinary set of professional relationships throughout the world and, in fact, has been actively involved in these very, difficult negotiations in Zaire for transition to a democratic government.
In fact, at one time, no one could have been more prompt or -- or serious about his responsibilities as an editor of this volume, and at one point I remember speaking to Nzongola on a Thursday when we had a deadline for drafts of articles on the following Monday. And he said, "You know, Joel, I have to leave for Zaire. I've just been elected to be in the delegation to be involved with negotiations for transition to democracy in my government." And I found myself saying, "Look, let's put things in perspective. If you can't get it on Monday, when you return." He said, "Oh, no, if I have to stay up all night, I'll have it to you by Saturday before I go to Zaire. This is an absolutely important project for me."
That's the quality of people we were able to attract to the volume, I think, because the Oxford Companions have the considerable and, in my judgment, well-earned reputation -- Companion to Literature, Companion to the Mind, Companion to the US Supreme Court.
It's expected very rarely do academics get to be involved in projects that potentially reach as wide an audience as this kind of book. This is intended for a wide general audience. And those of us who study politics, write about politics are, I think, obsessed with trying to convey an understanding of politics. I care an awful lot when I teach a class with 30 students, and I think our editors care an awful lot when they wrote a book that would potentially be read by tens of thousands of people throughout the world.
LAMB: Sells for $49.95.
KRIEGER: Yes, it does.
LAMB: Does that put it in a realm that only certain people buy it?
KRIEGER: I'm a little uneasy, I mean, the $49.95, if as I'm sure you do, you know, hardback publishing, $49.95 is a very, very low cost for a book of 800,000 words. Nevertheless, it's a lot to reach into one's pocket for. So there are many discount arrangements. There are some well-known bookstore chains that carry it at a discount. There are...
LAMB: Will it be in paperback?
KRIEGER: It will not be in paperback, so far as I know. And it is a kind of book that if someone is a politics junkie and that individual can spare the money it would cost to go to a nice dinner and a movie, do it. If not, we hope the book will be in public libraries, county libraries, school libraries. We hope it will be in embassies. Apparently, it's selling like hotcakes in the United Nations bookstore, which was a great source of satisfaction to us because the impression we're given is that diplomats were looking at this book.
LAMB: How many did you print the first round?
KRIEGER: The original printing was approximately 25,000. It's also been taken up by one of or two book clubs, so there are discounts through that, and that's figured in this number. But about 25,000, and I think it'll be going into second printing fairly soon.
LAMB: Let's go back to the process again. You said you started talking about this in '89.
KRIEGER: No, no. I've got to warn you on this that, if I started talking about it in '89, there would be questions about, not just audacity but sanity. I started talking about it in '88, before the world had changed, while the Berlin Wall was up, while there was one Soviet Union and two Germanys, while there was a kind of intellectually somewhat stable framework for looking at politics. I'm delighted that we've done the project. I'm delighted we thought about it in '88 because if we had thought about it by '89 or '90, I don't think I or anyone else would have had the audacity to take on the project.
LAMB: Bill Clinton is not in here.
KRIEGER: Bill Clinton is not in here. Most of the decisions about biographies and other entries were made before -- as I said about Yeltsin, who was Bill Clinton in 1988? I don't say this with any disparagement about our president. It's not an automatic that every American president gets into the book, and what could we have written as this went to press last fall? There was an election campaign ahead of us. We have, I suppose we could have stopped the presses and put in a 250-word entry in January, which is almost impossible because a book of this size. And the fact that it's sitting in your lap now indicates that we couldn't have done much last January. But what could we have said about Bill Clinton at that time?
LAMB: Where was it printed, by the way?
KRIEGER: Physically, I don't know. It's Oxford University Press.
LAMB: Because it's Oxford -- the reason I'm asking, is it...
KRIEGER: It's printed in the US.
LAMB: In the US?
KRIEGER: I can't tell you what print shop.
LAMB: Is it written for US audiences?
KRIEGER: Well, this is a point that we care about a lot. We expect that the largest number of purchasers will be in the US, but that's quite different than saying it's written for a US audience. It is written for Americans, but it's also equally written for Europeans or Africans, anyone who reads English. It is written so as to locate American politics within a global framework, and it's written to give full voice to authors throughout the world.
LAMB: Did you read every word of it?
KRIEGER: I read every word, for my sins, at least three times.
LAMB: Did you...
KRIEGER: At different stages. When the rough copy comes in, when it's been edited by the members of the editorial board, at the galley stage and so on.
LAMB: Who had final say so, the absolute final say so as to what words...
KRIEGER: I have a feeling that that'll be a question that may encourage me to regret this, but I had the final say so. I had a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful team of editors and professionals at Oxford University Press, and I relied for them in so many ways, not only to chase down authors, of course, people writing on world politics tend to move around a lot, and if they start out in 40 countries, it really is a hard to find them when you need a revision or something. And they worked through elaborate databases. They, of course, have a lot of experience in this kind of thing. For me, it's the largest project I've ever worked on, but they published the Oxford English Dictionary. So this is a medium-sized single-volume reference.
I took final responsibility. I don't mean that with any disrespect to the press. Had there ever been a showdown, who knows? But there never was that kind of thing.
LAMB: Can you give us an example of something you disagreed about during this process and where you had to make a decision?
KRIEGER: I disagreed about with the press?
LAMB: No, not so much that as, you know, when it came to content, was there ever, you know, one of your writers filed a report -- did they have final say so as to what words got in? For instance, let's take -- Richard Nixon is in the book...
LAMB: ...and his biographer or -- in this book -- the piece was written by Garry Wills.
LAMB: How much say so did Garry Wills have about what words went in this thing?
KRIEGER: I think Garry Wills, like any other author, had final authority, I suppose, to pull a piece. We had final authority to publish the piece, and that's a different point. Garry Wills' article, I think, is an absolutely brilliant, lucid, fascinating and balanced view of Nixon, which talks about his enigmatic character, how he
constantly kept people off balance by alternatively, so to speak, infuriating friends and foes, so people who loved him for opening relations with the People's Republic of China, for negotiating arms control, hated him perhaps for his role in the McCarthy era and in, you know, the Alger Hiss trial hearings and perhaps for Watergate. And I think Garry Wills, as you can imagine, is the least of our problems. I mean, it's beautifully written and, I think, captures the fascinating quality of Nixon. There was no showdown in that kind of piece.
In some cases, there were several iterations of drafts as changes were requested by editors or by myself. We worked very, very hard, for example, with Middle East politics. I mean, it an intellectual or political tinderbox throughout the world, but in some sense, there's so much focus on Middle East politics. And Jim Paul is our editor, worked tirelessly to bring on board a range of authors who would perhaps, as Wills said about Nixon, would alternatively antagonize or frustrate different people.
But we're proud of the entries on the Middle East. We feel that those who are associated with Israeli positions or those who are associated with other positions in the Middle East would find in these articles a set of treatments that are balanced, fair-minded, not polemical, very careful on fact and very careful on interpretation. So those were articles that we worked over tirelessly time and again, nitpicking in a sense, because the frame of reference of different parties is, of course, not identical.
LAMB: What role -- and there's a whole list in by the way, for the audience's sake, the entire, I counted 508 authors.
KRIEGER: We said about 500. Thank you for counting them.
LAMB: I also want to point out that in the beginning the list of editors and contributing editors is there and, also, advisers. One of the advisers is Eleanor Holmes Norton.
LAMB: She's listed as Georgetown University. Her life's changed since then. What would an adviser have -- how many advisers did you have altogether?
KRIEGER: You've got it in front of me, and I don't know, about eight or so, I would say.
LAMB: What did they do?
KRIEGER: The advisers were there because of academic specialization in different fields. And, you know, one of the -- if we can role the clock back to the early stages of this project, we had a commitment from the press to do the book, and they had a commitment from us to produce a volume of three-quarters of a million words or more. We, of course, had no table of contents. People thinking about the book often forget this. This is not a second edition. There never was a Companion to Politics of the World before. So we had to construct out of whole cloth both a conceptual framework, what the titles of articles would be called, the balance between them, both in terms of numbers and in terms of interpretive balance and, ultimately, decide upon the selection of authors. And the advisers were extremely helpful when we wanted to double-check the credibility, the reputation, the writing skills of a particular potential contributor. They were very helpful in some areas.
Archie Brown, for example, who's our the advisers don't have specific line responsibilities, but Archie Brown is from Oxford University. He's a very prominent scholar on Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, Russia and so forth. And as the world turned, you can be sure we corresponded with our adviser. We had among our editorial board, as I say, I'm initially a British politics specialist; secondarily a West European politics specialist. I have a fascination with Russia, have some
Russian and had responsibility, also, not only responsibilities as general editor, but responsibility as editor for Europe to resolve the extraordinary intrigues of how to cover the world of politics of Eastern Europe as it was transformed. And we had a pre-eminent scholar of that region who could be a resource to us in giving us advice about how to do that.
LAMB: Go back again to the process. You started talking about this in '88. The Press said, "Let's go."
LAMB: Did they write a contract with you?
KRIEGER: Contract with me, very little fuss and bother. I was surprised, in a way, for a project of this significance for them and for me. A few weeks after we began discussions, based on a short proposal, it was approved.
LAMB: When did you personally pick the editors?
KRIEGER: As soon as possible thereafter, in the next few months. As I became familiar, as I became confident and I was certain the division of labor, who I wanted, I would invite that individual. And I can say with enormous pleasure that all our editors were the first choices for that specialization. So I can say, quite honestly, that the editors were the finest individuals I could find who could share the responsibilities for conceptualizing the world of politics and then nailing down contributors to write articles.
You know, it's enormously difficult to write a short piece. Sometimes it's more difficult than writing a longer article. And we were very, very fortunate to have not only editors who could -- who would -- work tirelessly on the project, but authors who would take their responsibilities with enormous seriousness. A 500-word piece, a 1,000-word piece, a 2,000-word piece can nevertheless be a very significant exercise of conceptualization and reduction to the bare essentials. And people time and again said to me afterward, "You know, I had no idea, Joel, how much time it was going to take me to do that piece." And in some sense, I was very glad they had no idea because every author was paid a flat fee per word, and I can assure you the $40 or $80 or $200 that someone was paid for a piece did not -- could in no way have brought in that level of expertise for a sustained effort.
LAMB: Can you tell us how much they were paid a word?
KRIEGER: Eight cents a word.
LAMB: How did you pick 8 cents?
KRIEGER: I didn't pick 8 cents. That was the fee Oxford gave me. And we were completely egalitarian about this. Sometimes my frustration -- there were few very big fish who -- I should back up and say ,that we had a set of 21 articles that in many ways were the flagship articles for the Companion. We call them interpretative essays. And they're especially significant because they address enduring themes of enormous importance throughout the world, and I say on nationalism or ethnicity or war, gender and politics, environmentalism, the welfare state, democracy.
LAMB: Let me ask you about one of those...
LAMB: ...21 -- modernity.
KRIEGER: Modernity, yeah.
LAMB: Why? What's it mean?
KRIEGER: Modernity is a discussion of the -- the way in which the set of different developments, secularization, industrialization, urbanization come together in a kind of contemporary cultural fix on how people view the world. The sense of pace, the sense of technological significance -- or the significance of technology, I should say; the expectations about the evolutionary improvement of -- of the human condition. There are a whole set of disparate themes that come together. That you picked on one that is perhaps a more academic-sounding article than some others.
Obviously, an article on war or an article on the environmentalism, which are also interpretive essays, may have more immediate significance to a general reader, but we also felt a responsibility what we thought we could do, and I hope we've achieved to some degree of success, is to address both areas of enormous concern to the academic community. Hence, the articles that seem to puzzle you the most, the Michel Foucault or the modernity, so to speak, and at the same time put together one-volume articles on just about anything under the sun that would interest, to someone who's fascinated with contemporary politics. Believe me, there are very difficult choices in these.
LAMB: Well, let me ask you about some other things.
LAMB: I wrote them down. Modernity was one I wanted to ask you about, but I also wanted to ask you, page 682 ...
KRIEGER: You have the advantage, as we say. I...
LAMB: No, I'll tell you what it was.
KRIEGER: I can't remember what's on page...
LAMB: I mean, I just want to know how it got in there.
KRIEGER: Parastatels -- it's a...
LAMB: Parastatels. What does it mean?
KRIEGER: Particularly in African politics, it's a very important middle ground between a private corporation and something that's directly provided by the state. It's in Western Europe or sometimes in the America we talk about public corporations, we talk about nationalized industries. In the context of other African politics, some other parts of the world it's a semi-public, emi-private domain of increasing importance because the resource allocation in countries can vary. Where there is not the history of multinationals or direct private provision of services or market resources being left to their own devices, but the state takes a leading role, that raises important political concerns and finds its way in short a relatively short article into our volume.
LAMB: Let me ask you --a lot of this is...
KRIEGER: If you keep quizzing me, I know I'm going to get lost on some of these.
LAMB: You've done well so far. What is -- and I know I'm going to mispronounce this -- Poujadism?
KRIEGER: Poujadism is -- as a general term, discusses -- it refers to an individual, Pierre Poujade, who led a revolt by shopkeepers of a kind of right-wing traditionalist motif in French politics in the post-war period. So it has an individual reference point to that man. But as a broader phenomenon, in French politics and, in a sense, elsewhere, it refers to appeals to traditional or what we might now call a combination of new right and old right values that has a -- a slightly nasty connotation, a kind of a xenaphobia.
So if you follow contemporary French politics, some of your viewers may have heard of Jean-Marie Le Pen, who was a leader of the Front Nationale, the National Front in France, which attracts significant minority of votes in the succession of French elections. And Jean-Marie Le Pen is a throwback. There's a current -- an ongoing current of right-wing hypernationalist, faith in the common people, in the countryside, anti-modernist to bring in to refer back to a question earlier about modernism. This is an anti-modernist strain that plays into a xenaphobia. And, sadly speaking, this hatred of foreigners, the rejection of others is a development that we see throughout the world of politics.
LAMB: Do you remember when you decided to put that in?
KRIEGER: It was probably on the bubble, as they say. It's not a large article, but it's the inclusionary and exclusionary principle, in many cases, had to do with: How would a small article fit into a broader ensemble of very important themes? I wish I could tell you otherwise -- the themes of racism, xenaphobia, a configuration of politics that is neither left nor right, that can't simply be labeled green or feminist or Third-Worldist. But there's a strain of politics, we see it so dreadfully present in European affairs now.
LAMB: Go back again to the process, though. Now where did you headquarter this particular project?
KRIEGER: In the New York office of Oxford University Press.
LAMB: And you had your advisers and your editors. How often did you meet?
KRIEGER: Our editorial board -- this may sound as a shock -- met only once. We had innumerable conversations by phone, by fax -- if you can call that a conversation -- e-mail, every other means of communication. But these are very, busy people who are traveling throughout the world, and we found -- we had one three-day meeting, which essentially conceptualized the project.
LAMB: When did you have that?
KRIEGER: Can't remember the exact date, but it was very early on in...
LAMB: '88, '89?
KRIEGER: '88, in that period. It was certainly before the dramatic changes of '89, so it would have been perhaps fall of '88, something like that.
LAMB: And how much personal help did you have? Did you have a staff -- an ongoing staff?
KRIEGER: Oxford probably, there were many different people at Oxford who helped in different stages of the project, from the acquisitions editor to developmental editors who helped conceptualize the intellectual framework for the project and helped generate -- I mean, a project of this scale when you're appealing to 500 authors, we had to write an authors' manual, which in itself was an intellectual as well as a publishing enterprise. It's not publishable, but it's perhaps a 30-page, carefully drafted, nicely produced manual that went out to every author explaining our -- both the details of usage, urging people to avoid gender usage, for example, but also talking about the technical aspects of punctuation, capitalization, usage when to when do we use English only? When will we use a foreign language?
LAMB: Who wrote that?
KRIEGER: That was written by a development editor at Oxford and in close
consultation with me and drafted and redrafted. But drafted initially by an
Oxford University Press editor, prof -- who's a professional at reference volumes.
LAMB: And somebody, obviously, like -- and I don't have the words in front of
me -- died in the middle of all this.
KRIEGER: Yes. There was a man who I -- in a sense, I barely got to know,
who would have been in charge of international marketing for the volume, and
he had an enormous enthusiasm for the project, and he perished over in
Lockerbie, Scotland, in the terrorist bombing of what was the TWA jet.
LAMB: Any other unfortunate mishaps like that happen that slowed this process
KRIEGER: Nothing, of that magnitude or stark significance. If you're dealing with 500-plus senior, mainly academics but also some policymakers and journalists, sadly, one or two are going to die in the course of a five-year project. But nothing extraordinary, out of ordinary.
LAMB: Anybody who's watched this network over the last 15 years has heard a lot of callers ask about the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bilderberg Group. On page 920, under the headline, "Trilateral Commission," written by Stephen Gill, some of the following things are said. Now, by the way, most of the callers feel very strongly that this is a conspiracy, the Trilateral Commission. And I wonder what you think this is, a fairly short, five- or six-paragraph item, will do for them:
"Recruited from top elite positions, members are politicians, mainly liberal and conservative, big business and bank moguls, a few trade unionists and media, civic and intellectual leaders. It is organized by a steering commission with three regional chairs and secretariat. Nevertheless, the Trilateral Commission's influence has been mainly indirect, especially on the climate of opinion and economic policy." It goes on to say that, "They are not only elite networks of interest and identity, but also debating chambers for questions of world order and reflect and reinforce the interface between public and private power and influence at the domestic and international levels."
LAMB: What's the -- should those that think there is a conspiracy afoot, that
groups like the Trilateral Commission run the world, based on what you're
saying in this, or your piece says, what do you think the reaction would be?
KRIEGER: My own views is that conspiracy theories often focus too much on happenstance and circumstance and don't look to the underlying broad structural patterns of politics. I think what Stephen Gill tried to articulate there, and I think he articulated it well, is that the Trilateral Commission must be looked at within changing frameworks for understanding international political economy.
There was a time when we talked about the new international economic order, which was an order that would reduce the tensions between and the dependency between the North and the South, between the First World and the Third World, between the European and the African or Latin American context. Now, in recent years, we talk about a new world order, we mean something else entirely. So I think that the Trilateral Commission is a nice piece that situates at a historical milieux, an organization that was influential in a sense, not in policy output, per se, but in political cultural output in trying to define the relations between different regional blocks and in trying to consolidate an understanding of world international economic relations that, of course, have policy implications.
LAMB: You did write about the Trilateral Commission, but did not write about the Bilderberg Group. Why did that not make it?
KRIEGER: Our sense was that the Trilateral Commission in the end was far more significant and, in some sense, took up for us the kind of themes that the other article might have done.
LAMB: Under Watergate, you chose a gentleman by the name of Gary -- is it Machi? -- I know I'm going to -- Mucciaroni?
KRIEGER: I don't know how much I can -- I don't know how much I can help you with that one.
LAMB: Let me spell it. This is grossly unfair to this man. M-U-C-C-I-A-R-O-N-I.
KRIEGER: I think I'm going to let you go with that because I'm not sure how to pronounce it either.
LAMB: Mucciaroni. Mucciaroni. Gary Mucciaroni. Anyway, it's Watergate, and he starts off by saying, "The most serious political scandal in modern US history has come to be known as Watergate." Do you agree?
KRIEGER: Do I agree it's the most significant scandal?
LAMB: Most serious political scandal.
KRIEGER: Most serious. I'm not sure whether I agree or not. I think the most significant thing for me is to note to you and the viewers that articles are going to be at times controversial. They're going to be senses that might seem slightly hyperbolic. I don't think it's excessive to stress the importance of Watergate for relations between Congress and the president, particularly for our memory of the Nixon era.
And I think to see a thorough going -- understanding of that era one would have to look at a whole set of articles in the Companion. We refer to an article by Garry Wills on Richard Nixon, which puts Watergate in a somewhat different context. This is a good example of the issue I raised before. Do you ask authors to tone it down, to write bland "encyclopedia" entries? Or do you ask authors to give it their best interpretive shot and then construct a set of articles that will give a reader different windows of understanding into the same phenomenon? We chose the latter.
LAMB: Who, if any other book like this, are you competing with?
KRIEGER: I don't think there's anything quite like this. We are competing with volumes like -- there are a set of encyclopedias of politics or encyclopedia of European affairs. There are histories, modern histories of different regions of the world. There are statesmen's almanacs. I don't think there's a single volume -- a single reference work in one volume that combines an engaged, we hope, immediate and in many ways volatile discussion of contemporary affairs, domestic politics as well as international. One thing I don't think we've had the chance to mention is that there's an entry on virtually every country in the world.
But if you look at these entries compared to encyclopedia entry, we hope that you'll find them more interesting, interesting in the -- because they're written by, often by voices from the particular country that we're describing, interesting because we're asking people not simply to present a dry recitation of facts, partly because, frankly speaking, we know this book will be written after governments have changed and prime ministers have -- it will be read, excuse me, after governments have changed and prime ministers have come and go. But we're trying to get at the underlying patterns of politics, political developments, ongoing tensions in society, what political scientists call cleavages about race and gender and class and ethnicity and so forth. And I think our articles burst with that kind of exciting analysis. And if we can balance accuracy and authoritativeness, if that's a word, on the one hand and engagement and considered opinion but interpretation on the other hand, and bring to bear over 500 voices from throughout the world, then I'm not sure there's anything quite like this.
LAMB: Go back to the process, you have the editors -- five editors -- and you only met once.
KRIEGER: Six editors, we only met once.
LAMB: Six -- I'm sorry.
KRIEGER: That's all right.
LAMB: And who made the assignments to, like, a Gary Mucciaroni?
KRIEGER: Recommendations were made by specialists in a particular area. Our first dimension of specialty was in almost all cases a regional specialty. Margaret Weir, who was at Harvard initially and is now at the Brookings, is an American politics specialist, so that an article on Watergate would initially -- the author would initially have been recommended by her. She and I would have talked about it or I would have responded to a memo if there were any questions in my mind. In the end, it's my responsibility, but, of course, I don't know who's the best person to write on the Eritrean war of independence, but the African politics editor does.
LAMB: OK. So the assignment was made at roughly what time frame?
KRIEGER: Well, it was a rolling admissions. As we initially, there were in some sense, waves of invitations that were sent out, going back to 1989. We were...
LAMB: What was their deadline?
KRIEGER: The deadline would vary based on the length of the piece, from
six months to a year or so.
LAMB: Where would they ship the piece?
KRIEGER: They would ship it to Oxford University Press in New York, who
would then send it on to the editor responsible for the piece, who would then
send it back to the Press, who would then send it on to me.
LAMB: We're running out of time. Back to the Watergate thing for a moment.
KRIEGER: I knew we were going to come back to that.
LAMB: Well, there's an interesting close to it all.
KRIEGER: I don't remember it, so...
LAMB: Well, I'll read it to you. And I just, again, wanted to know what your approach was on this. "The optimistic view of Watergate is that it represents a blessing in disguise." There was a pessimistic view, of course. "It ought to deter future presidents from breaking the law and arrest the compulsion toward enlarging the powers and prestige of the presidency at the expense of the other branches. The ways in which the scandal was uncovered and resolved serves as vindication of the US system institutional checks and balances, and it sets principles as no one is above the law."
KRIEGER: That is an optimistic reading. We can hope that it has that effect. I would have thought if someone were sitting in the Oval Office after Watergate, that individual would think twice about engaging certainly in any shenanigans, a competitive party facing an election. I hope that would mean that a president or his or her senior advisers would work very closely to avoid a hint of scandal based on secrecy and lawlessness. Is it proof positive? Well, there are -- some would say that Irangate controversy suggests that it's not.
LAMB: Can I ask you -- we're running out of time...
LAMB: I've got a couple little things I want to ask you about.
LAMB: Haile Selassie, who used to run Ethiopia, has been dead since, I think, '72. The piece was written by a fellow by the name of Selassie. Any relationship?
KRIEGER: No. I mean, it's a very -- only in the sense that it would be what sometimes would be referred to as a clan relationship or an ethnic relationship. It's a surname that would be widely found in Ethiopia.
LAMB: Seymour Martin Lipset.
LAMB: He was assigned the United States.
LAMB: How did you make that decision?
KRIEGER: Well, we were very fortunate to get Seymour Martin Lipset. He...
KRIEGER: ...is one of the most prominent political scientists in America, a past president of the American Political Science Association, a scholar at the Hoover Institution, someone who has written very, very broadly about American party politics, about questions of democracy...
LAMB: Liberal or conservative?
KRIEGER: Hard to peg. Some of our best writers are hard to peg. You can draw your own conclusions if he's at the Hoover Institution. I mean, there's an association with that institution, but he's not someone...
KRIEGER: Yes. But it's not an ideological piece. It's not a polemical piece. I think it's a very graceful and expansive piece that raises very important questions about the character of American democratic institutions. I think we're very, very fortunate to get some of that pre-eminence and that quality for such an important piece.
LAMB: Javier Perez de Cuellar, former secretary-general of the United Nations; Oscar Arias, former president of Costa Rica; and Stanley Hoffmann with Harvard University -- those are the three people you had endorse this project on the back of the book. Did you choose them?
KRIEGER: We chose a list of people, and among those who replied, those were people that we were particularly proud to have associated with the book. We view this as a genuinely international project, genuinely international. We worked very, very hard so that it would not be American centered or European centered. And to have a former secretary-general of the UN say such generous words about the book meant an awful lot to us.
LAMB: Whose idea was this cover, and where does it come from?
KRIEGER: That is a statue that sits at Rockefeller Plaza in New York. The idea for the cover came out of a set of discussions with the art director at the Press, the editor for trade books at Oxford University Press. I'm not a very visual person. I had only a small role in that. I'll tell you one thing, it's a bit funny. If you put the book
up, you may notice that the globe comes off the page. It's tilted a bit and comes off the page. What I asked Oxford to do was to produce not simply an elegant cover, but a cover that showed a little bit of the volatility and uncertainty. So they went in some sense for a classic image from a statue against the background of an international part of the globe. But they tilted it a bit and put it off the page to show that we don't quite know what happens next and that the world of politics is constantly changing.
LAMB: Got 10 seconds. If you had to do this all over again, what would you
KRIEGER: I would be aware of the enormous time commitment. I would try to pick a time, I think, when the world was not going under such a transformation. But it on the other hand, that made it enormously satisfying and exhilarating.
LAMB: Joel Krieger can be found at Wellesley, but had a lot to do with making
this happen. He's the editor of "The Oxford Companion to Politics of the
World." We thank you for joining us.
KRIEGER: Thank you very much.
Copyright National Cable Satellite Corporation 1993. Personal, noncommercial use of this transcript is permitted. No commercial, political or other use may be made of this transcript without the express permission of National Cable Satellite Corporation.