RICHARD NIXON: I think it's very important that our young people read more. I think they spend too much time in front of the tube. I think that if they - there's so many good books out there that remain to be read and to be reread.
ANNA QUINDLEN: I was an English Literature major.
BRIAN LAMB, HOST: And why?
ANNA QUINDLEN: An English Literature major?
ANNA QUINDLEN: Because the idea of just getting to read for four years, I mean, if I could do that now, just read, it's just my favorite thing in the whole world to do.
SUSAN SWAIN : I just went to see the movie Shadowlands and I remember one of the characters quoting someone who said, I read to realize that I'm not alone. And I think - that stuck with me.
WILLIAM BENNETT: But there's something about reading that's - well, it's a quiet time for the soul, too. It's a quiet activity. And I think life is too noisy. I mean, life in Washington is too noisy. My life is too noisy. And there's something about reading and reading with children that slows down the pace of life and quiets the noise of life.
DANIEL BOORSTIN: Anyone who says that he doesn't need to read Dante or Rabelais or Cervantes or Shakespeare or look again at Giotto or the Dome of Florence Cathedral is living in a fool's paradise.
EILEEN QUINN: They give you a chance to be some place that you couldn't be. If it's a story about something that happened in history and you want to know more, it gives you really a view of that, you know, you can't get in some other places. And there's - it's just - and if it's done well, it can really make you feel like you're there.
DAVID MCCULLOUGH: He was a reader. He was a lifelong reader. I asked Margaret one day, what would be your father's idea of heaven? And she said, oh, that's easy. She said it would be a good comfortable armchair, and a good reading lamp, and a stack of new history and biography that he wanted to read. He once said that all readers can't be leaders, but all leaders must be readers.
LAMB: I don't remember exactly what time of year it was, but I remember reading an analysis of a book that was about to come out by Neil Sheehan called Bright Shining Lie. And it was all about the Vietnam War and his personal experience. He'd been over there early 1960s and had played a major role not only in the UPI and New York Times coverage of the Vietnam War but eventually the Pentagon papers for New York Times. And for years, people talked about that Neil Sheehan was going to have the definitive book and I remember reading an account of it saying wouldn't it be nice if we could ask Mr. Sheehan to sit down and talk to us for a long time. Politicians have done this but not very often authors.
EILEEN QUINN: We had used the opportunity of the call-in show us to do books before, you know, to look carefully at books and their authors. And occasionally in some of the American Profile interviews, we would talk to people not about a particular book but about them as authors and about their work. But this was the beginning of really taking the same look at the book publishing world and what it had to offer the way that morning call-in show had always looked at journalism and the newspapers.
NEIL SHEEHAN: As a reporter, you never could escape from Vietnam. I went there first as a - it was my first assignment in 1962 as a war service reporter. I spent two years there, went back to New York, had a job with the New York Times, was sent back to Vietnam for the third year, came to Washington in '66 to cover the Pentagon with all the war - anti-war protests, et cetera. And then one day, I found myself in Arlington Cemetery at the funeral of a friend John Venn and realized that I wanted to leave something behind other than another magazine article and another - or another newspaper story. And I felt it through him; I could write a book that would really tell the story of the war.
EILEEN QUINN: Well, it was clear that he was writing a very significant book about the war because he had been there and had experienced so much. It had been a real turning point in his own life. It was just clear it was going to be a very important book, both about what the country had experienced and also about what he personally had experienced.
LAMB: I must say that one of the things that caught my attention was it went - I went to Vietnam in 1970 on kind of one of those fact-finding missions, and I spent a day with John-Paul Vann. And I had no idea that Neil Sheehan was going to write about John-Paul Vann. He turns out to be in everybody's book about Vietnam from that era. He's a former military man who turned civilian and had the power of a military man as a civilian and becomes a very important story for the war.
NEIL SHEEHAN: I went to his funeral at Arlington because he was - he was a friend. And it was like - and when I walked into the chapel, it was like going to a very strange class reunion. I got there only about 10 minutes before it started and the chapel was already full. And this man had pulled - had drawn together all - everyone or almost everyone who was of significance by him at war. There is a great many of them. And here was William Westmoreland who was the chief pallbearer of this former renegade lieutenant colonel who retired from the Army in 1963. Daniel Ellsberg was over on the other side sitting next to the family. Edward Kennedy came in a few minutes before the service began and I thought of the one Kennedy who had turned against the war, the second Kennedy, the one Kennedy who had started us in the Vietnam, John, and the second one, Bobby, who was murdered after he - in the election, of course, in '68 after he turned against the war, and then Edward who had known John Vann. And so, I thought that you had to feel a keen feeling in that chapel that we were burying more than John Vann; we were burying a whole era, that era of self-confidence, the mindset of the era Henry Luce so boastfully called the American Century, the self-confidence and the arrogance, if you will, that had to lead us to Vietnam. We weren't burying the United States of America. It's like we were burying a frame of mind, a mindset that had marked this country. And it struck me that that if I wrote a book about this man, he was an extraordinary character in his own who had spent the better part of 10 years in Vietnam, and summed up the American venture there in his life and his work. I could also write a book about the war that people would understand.
LAMB: This was how we started it all. After we did this first program special, five one-and-a-half hour programs, it just struck us that it would be interesting to try to do a book show and not be guided by ratings and be able to go into some depth and not be interrupted and that's how really we came up with - and I don't even know who came up with the idea of the name Booknotes all of a sudden. And then when I traveled, people were always saying to me they watch it and they call it Bookends or Book Bead or anything but Booknotes.
VOICEOVER: C-SPAN's Fifth Anniversary Booknotes Special will continue in a moment. To mark the Fifth Anniversary of C-SPAN's Booknotes, we're making a limited number of commemorative bookmarks available to our viewers. To receive your bookmark, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Booknotes Fifth Anniversary and care of C-SPAN 400 North Capital Street, Suite 650, Washington D.C. The zip code is 20001. The first 500 requests will be honored. One bookmark per address please. Bestselling non-fiction books traditionally don't sell as well as fiction. For example, in 1989, the number one fiction bestseller sold over 1.6 million copies. It was ”Clear and Present Danger,” by Tom Clancy. That's more than twice the combined first- and second-place titles in nonfiction. The number one non-fiction in 1989 was “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” book by Robert Fulghum, selling at 902,000. Number two was “Wealth Without Risk” by Charles Givens, selling at 688,000.
LAMB: People often can write much clearer than they could speak. And when they sit down to write that book and they've got things in mind that they want to get across, they are really sharp, they can go back and they can be edited; you know, it's also passed on to an editor so they can sharpen up that paragraph. You ask them a question about it in an interview on television and it won't even come close to being as biting or possibly even as revealing as it is on the book. And that's always something that I'm concerned about because you might - you might interview somebody that has written a very tough book and the interview will be very soft and they're very pleasant and they're - I'd like to say they have rounded edges to them, they're constantly putting the smoothest verbal atmospherics on an interview. So that's why I would go back and read a quote saying, you wrote this, why?
LAMB: You write at the middle of your second epilogue, in the back, don't fall in love with politicians, they are all a disappointment. They can't help it; they just are. What did you mean?
PEGGY NOONAN: Oh, I meant when you are young and you come to Washington to work for someone, a senator, a congressman, a president, an agency head who you think is just wonderful and magical, perhaps going in with those presuppositions because you've read a little bit too much history, maybe too many celebrations in history like biographies of Lincoln by Sandberg, you go in with some big notions and you just love them and you want to help them, you kind of fall in love. And at the end, you realize they're just regular guys, they got clay feet. One of the things I wish I put afterwards was another thing I found out working in Washington is that everybody is nervous. You wouldn't think an anchorman, a president, a senator, that all of these folks are nervous but they all are. They're as nervous as a secretary on her way to work for - looking for a new job, you know? They're regular, they're human.
LAMB: So white people bear the greatest blame for what I and others see as the decline of America?
CARL ROWAN: Yes. You know, there is a paranoia. There are two kinds of paranoia at loose in America today, some white paranoia, black paranoia; white out there believing that the federal government, business and industry are giving all the goodies to blacks who don't deserve it. Now, on the other hand, we've got a black paranoia that says any black official who's challenged even though he may be a crook and they know it, any black official challenged is the victim of some kind of white conspiracy. And we just can't do that.
LAMB: The television and publishing media award Alan Dershowitz the reputation of an incomparable trial lawyer in homage to his talent for publicity rather than in recognition of his record in appeals cases, which as of the summer of 1992 stood at nine wins and 39 losses.
LEWIS LAPHAM: Yes. The tendency again is to go for the reputation. Dershowitz is a great self-promoter. He has won some spectacular cases but he has lost more than he has won. But people like - I believe, Leona Helmsley and then Mike Tyson both were persuaded by his reputation, and both of them went more or less directly to jail, as I remember. I mean, he didn't triumph in their cases.
LAMB: Page 615, by pursuing women whose full backgrounds he evidently could not know, Kennedy caused his presidency to be a potential hostage to any resourceful group in American society that might have wished to bring him down; the Teamsters, the Mafia, the radical right, and every hostile intelligence service in the world. What is that all about?
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS Well, any historian has to deal with the question of John Kennedy's private life. As an historian, I'm not particularly fascinated by what he did in his bedroom. But as someone who's writing about his diplomacy, I have to deal with the question of whether this ever threatened to affect him as a world leader and the answer, I think, has to be yes. Every piece of information we have suggest that the women that John Kennedy was involved with were not subjected to some kind of a background investigation. What that meant was that he was very vulnerable to getting involved with women who might have been involved with some kind of an organization that might wish to blackmail him for its own purposes.
LAMB: Quote, "My experience is that a number of the men I have dealt with in politics demonstrate precisely those characteristics which they attribute to women; vanity and an inability to make tough decisions." Why did you want to write that?
MARGARET THATCHER: Because it was true. I often found them much more vain than we were. I think was very practical, and so were my women colleagues. It wasn't things that mattered for my reputation; it was what I could do which mattered to our country. So I thought that they, although they attribute women - say to women, you are vain; I don't think we were. I think we were much less vain. And they often attribute to women incapability of making tough decisions. It was they, I found, who weren't able to make the tough decisions, and often they couldn't bear it when I made it.
LAMB: He did that looking-over-your-shoulder-to-find-somebody-more-important-to-talk-to thing.
JOHN PODHORETZ: Yes.
LAMB: What’s that?
JOHN PODHORETZ: Go to a cocktail party in Washington, and if you are not a person at a very high level and you are speaking to someone who is at a slightly higher level than you, they will generally have a conversation with you like this, yes, well, I - yes - no, that's very interesting; scanning the room over your shoulder to see whether someone is coming in the room that they really need to schmooze with. You're sort of OK as a kind of temporary stop gap, but it's not the case that the full force of his attention is going to be focused upon you. He's looking for someone who can actually do him some good.
LAMB: Do you ever do that?
JOHN PODHORETZ: I hope not.
LAMB: The question they're least likely to expect is the question about who is the person that the book is dedicated to. Often, the dedication is written in initials. This is dedicated, you know, this is to AB from CC to GG, and it's an insider thing.
LAMB: Can you tell us who these people are?
JAMES RESTON, Jr.: That's my mother and father.
LAMB: Why did you use initials?
JAMES RESTON, Jr: Well, until you asked, it was sort of an attempt of the author for it to be a rather private moment. For some reason, that just aesthetically felt better than to say for my mother and father.
LAMB: And you have never done that before?
JAMES RESTON, Jr.: Never have. I have been waiting for the right book and I think this is the right book.
LAMB: And the names JBR stands for?
JAMES RESTON, Jr.: My father, James Barrett Reston
LAMB: Reston, and SFR?
JAMES RESTON, Jr.: Sarah Fulton Reston.
LAMB: They think that no one's going to pay attention or care. And when you ask a question, some of the reasons for the dedication are things that you never forget.
LAMB: Upfront, you have a dedication on the book here to your sister. I assume, because of the dates, that you lost your sister back in 1984. How?
AL GORE:She died of lung cancer. And she was the very first volunteer for the Peace Corps.
LAMB: First ever?
AL GORE:First ever. When I first ran for public office, she told her husband she was going to have to take a few months away from him and came and took the toughest counties that I had in that district and just worked full time and really made the difference.
LAMB: I will never forget Stanley Weintraub telling me that the book I asked him was dedicated to his father.
STANLEY WEINTRAUB: What I remember most about my father was that he was a tremendous reader although he had a very little education. I think he didn't have education - formal education beyond the fourth grade. But when he died in his sleep, he was found reading Shakespeare's Othello.
LAMB: There is an amazing amount of thought that goes into who that book is going to be dedicated to.
ROBERT GILBERT: The reason why I devoted this one to my mother is that she died while I was writing the book. She became ill, as a matter of fact, while I was at the Eisenhower Library. And, in fact, I returned from Abilene to her hospital room, and she died in February of 1991.
GEORGE WILL: Very exceptional people have had - they've both been here longer than term limits would allow them to stay in most recipes. Most term limits would be two terms for the Senate. They bring a seriousness and a gravity to public life that rises well above careerism.
LAMB: For Len, Sara, Paul and Annie. Who are they?
SUZANNE GARMENT:They're the Garment children. After the Garment husband come the Garment children. Two of them are grown and living in New York. Sara is a student and Paul Garment is a musician like his father. And Annie Garment is aged nine and has her father's temperament and just wrote an autobiography in which she said she wanted to be the first female chief justice of the Supreme Court, but if she could really be anything she wanted, she'd be her dog Lola. So Annie's got her priorities straight.
LAMB: You dedicate this book, to the Hamden under-15 boy's soccer team from their coach. What was behind that?
PAUL KENNEDY: Well, I said, first of all, it's probably the only sort of international work of scholarship which got dedicated to a boy's soccer team. Secondly, in writing this book, which is a very complex one, I felt a need for therapy and I have to say that getting away from my writing and getting away from teaching at Yale and going and working with these young men, I've been coaching them since they were 10 years old now, is just a wonderful relief. You come back relaxed, and you get on with thinking through your books.
LAMB: Any of them your own kids?
PAUL KENNEDY: One of them, yes, of course. Most soccer coaches have their son somewhere in the team. That's how you get dragged in.
LAMB: All of your books and at least the ones that I've seen, I've got five total books here - if you open it up right in the front section of the book - I don't think I've seen an author do this, but every single one of your books that I've seen is for Ruth.
DANIEL BOORSTIN: Yes.
LAMB: When did you decide to do that and why?
DANIEL BOORSTIN: Well, that is one of the conspicuous understatements in the book. The book is dedicated to her. All my major books are dedicated to her because she was not only dedicated to the books, but we had a wonderful, companionable life together exploring these subjects. She's never been my research assistant or never typed or done any secretarial work for it, but her editorial advice has been incomparable.
LAMB: How many years have you been married?
DANIEL BOORSTIN: Well, I think it's 52 now this year.
DOUGLAS DAVIS: See, I talk about the development of a certain visual-verbal literacy which is in our children now. There are some very interesting - I hope you don't mind if I'm going on about this. After all, this is C-SPAN so...
LAMB: Booknotes was an idea that grew up from watching a lot of television where you would have an author usually on a morning show that would come on for maybe four or five minutes, maybe six and not even get started on what the book was all about and there's always a need to get something punchy to describe what the book meant and, you know, there's always a headline - everybody is looking for headline. I understand the constraints in commercial television but it was frustrating because you never know anything about the author, how hard they work to write the book, why they were writing the book and an enormous amount of detail in these books that really help you learn what the subject is all about.
SARAH TRAHERN: The program itself has stayed the same since the beginning even the beginning in 1989 when I wasn't producing it, but was part of the unit was responsible for it. And it's basically the guest, the host, and the book in an hour. And we've stuck to the same principles that we started with in 1989 of being hard-backed, non-fiction, public affairs, public policy available in bookstores around the country rather than just small presses that are only available regionally.
LAMB: Well, that's a question everybody asks, how do you choose those books? And it's not done scientifically; there's no right way to do it. We've had over the years several producers of the program. I think Arlene Quin was our first producer and Greg Barker then took her place. And Barry Katz was our producer. Hope Landis worked on this book show for a lot of years. And now, Sarah Trahern and Peter Slen are responsible for it. I like it when a producer finds a book and brings it and says this is one we got to do, which happens a lot. We do, you know, I go to the bookstores all the time; our producers do the same thing. Book publishers send us books. Then probably the most interesting thing is when viewers, you run into a viewer when you're traveling and say, why don't you do a book on Bosnia, and I've got a suggestion for you. That has happened. People write and make suggestions. People call and make suggestions.
SARAH TRAHERN: I probably get close to 30 calls a day, five days a week strictly about the book and its program. Because we only do 50 books a year, there's a lot of pressure for people who want to get on the show to get on the show. And particularly people who have been journalists - we've had on journalist show, call-in shows that Brian and I have done for years and years and years want to be on. And you can't say yes to everybody. And if we said yes just to the inside the beltway people, we could - I could seat down today and book the show for the next year.
LAMB: It really is a program where we like the idea that somebody can go out and buy this book after they've listened to the author and make up their own mind about it without us steering in one direction of the other. But we also realize that by having someone on Booknotes, that that in itself is an editorial decision. So we keep records. We like to balance it out, all kinds of balance. It is not by any means close to being perfect. And frankly, if you look at the kind of people that write books, it's skewed right out of the starting gate. A lot more men write non-fiction books than woman, a lot more whites write non-fiction books than blacks or Hispanics or Asians. And so there's a preponderance of white males on the program which is the way it is in the publishing world, not the way we want it, so we do have to work a little bit harder at finding those books that relate to this kind of a subject matter that are written by people other than white males.
SARAH TRAHERN: The bestsellers lists are influential within the industry. And people, they're -L.A. times, just with New York Times, Washington Post, share their numbers with other publishers weekly, probably does one as well - I'm not sure. And they often dictate how books are displayed in bookstores. If you go to, I mean, the Crown Book chain here locally, they always have the top 10 bestseller list in New York Times book sections. They often, and some of the other chains, Scribners, or other historical have, you know, number two on the bestseller list over - in the banner heading over a book. And publishers often will tell me, oh, you know, this book is going to be reviewed next week on the front page of the Post's Book world or, you know, it's number five next week in the New York Times bestseller's book list. That's good. But for us, it doesn't carry as much weight. I mean, we, going back to the same place, we don't want to be the network that does always the same interviews that everyone - you see everywhere else.
LAMB: We always record Booknotes. It's never done live. And sometimes we do as many as many as three or four a week in advance of when they're actually aired.
SARAH TRAHERN: Either myself or our associate producer Hope Landis greets the guests when they show up here. And the main thing we do is try to make it clear to them what the show is about. It's very simple. You know, making them comfortable is the most important thing for us in the green room. We're not under a time deadline. This isn't a live program like our daily shows where you rush the guests in, set their piece in, you know, shovel them out to the studio and say you're live in, you know, 30 seconds. We have a little bit of time. We set them down, get them coffee, you know, ask them if they need to use the restroom or remind them that the interview is 60 minutes straight through.
CLAIRE BRANDT: OK. Fine.
SARAH TRAHERN: The interview would be an hour.
CLAIRE BRANDT: Yes.
BRIAN LAMB: is the host.
CLAIRE BRANDT: OK.
SARAH TRAHERN: This will air in - I think it's March 20.
CLAIRE BRANDT: Oh, yes, I already know that.
CLAIRE BRANDT: March 20, which is a Sunday, am I right?
SARAH TRAHERN: Yes.
SARAH TRAHERN: 8 PM and 11 PM which is able for the West Coast.
CHRISTOPHER MCGOWEN: The typical set up with - if we're all really working hard and really getting it done, it takes about 15 to 20 minutes. That's basically taking down the call-in unit, the call-in set, bringing down the black site, taking the table off, unhooking the table. We hook it up to this table right here and, you know, just some light balance on the cameras and doing some light checks.
LAMB: You don't know I don't know why we have the black curtain. Some people refer to it as infinity. You know, there's nothing behind you. Probably - and I think there was a time we had a blue curtain for awhile when we were having some reconstruction. But, again, it is the purest form of listening to a human being and not being distracted by anything behind him. What we're trying to do is get out of the way.
LAMB: One of the things we like to create at the network is an atmosphere of quiet. We want the authors to be relaxed. There are three cameras in the studio; usually only two camera people because they only use the one shot of the two of us sitting at the table at the end of the program so that is a camera that just sits, locked down, and the director can go to it. And the other two cameras, of course, have someone standing behind them. One of the things that I don't like to do especially with Booknotes is talk to the author before you sit down. I want to have a fresh experience just like the audience is having. I don't want the audience to get it on a conversation 15 minutes after we've had a lot of personal chitchat.
SARAH TRAHERN: Are you ready?
LAMB: Absolutely never ready, which is frightening...
CLARE BRANDT: Brian, this is Clare Brandt.
BRIAN LAMB: Hi, how are you?
CLARE BRANDT: You too, hello.
BRIAN LAMB: Nice to meet you. I hope you can make sense out of all this. My role as a host of Booknotes is really to be the conduit. I mean, if you think a lot about me during an interview, then I'm doing something wrong. We do a lot of little things on purpose that people in television can't quite understand. They're always asking things like why don't you, why don't we see you and the author together more often? Well, the people that are watching the show don't care whether they see me at all. And I think they want to know that I'm there because there's a dynamic involved. That's about all they want to know. I try to just be myself and stay out of the way.
BRET BETSILL: Camera three in ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. The mike's in queue.
BRIAN LAMB: Clare Brandt, when did you first get interested in Benedict Arnold?
CLARE BRANDT: Oh, probably in third grade when I found out what a dastardly traitor he was. Then I called my enemies on the playground by that name, as we all did I guess in those days.
BRIAN LAMB: More often than not, Bret Betsill, who's a veteran of the network, is the director of the program. And the good thing about Bret besides doing a good job is Bret reads a lot of the books. He's got - he's, you know, he loves history and he loves reading non-fiction.
BRET BETSILL, PROGRAM DIRECTOR: As a television director, I'm more concerned a lot of times not necessarily with the content but of the production values. And when I am interested in a particular topic, I can't be too interested and that makes it difficult. If I am interested in the topic, I've got to watch myself and make sure I'm doing my job in the first place rather than, you know, following along what the author is saying.
LAMB: The only way that I prepare for Booknotes is to read the book. And I often start in the beginning and to go to the back right away. So I'll get the acknowledgements and the preface and the epilogues and the prologues and the introductions and the indexes and the notes. One of them, more interestingly, about a lot of books is you can find a lot of information in the notes.
And every author does it differently. Some spend lot of times in the notes. And if you go to the back, they will tell you why they use a particular source and how they got it, and what the interview is like, if there was an interview. And then I - after I've done all that and kind of get a feel for a book, then I go back and begin the process of reading and underlining and making notes in the margins.
SARAH TRAHERN: He'll take them and take the inside of them and write his notes right along here.
LAMB: All of these books on the shelf here, if you open them up, you'll find all of that. And it's just my way, sometimes I find that all of that preparation doesn't matter because once you get into a book interview, the dialogue is such that all the notes I've made, I didn't have to have it because the author is into this book in a way that you just follow it. You follow the author's comments and you just keep asking questions based on what the author is saying. Other times, it's necessary to keep probing inside the book because what, again, what you want to do is give the audience watching enough information that they can decide, do I even want to find that book and begin the process of deciding whether I want to buy it. For me, it's a personal triumph to read a book every week. I was not terribly good at reading when I was growing up. I didn't like it. I didn't really have much reading around the house of books. And when I was in school, I wasn't particularly bookish. I wasn't bookish at all as a matter of fact. And so, this for me at my age is a chance to learn a lot. So it's a real - for me, a mission every week to get that book read; to feel somewhat comfortable sitting there talking to the author knowing what's in the book so that I can steer the author to talk about a particular section that might interest the audience out there.
But other than that, we just want both the watcher and the author to walk away from the hour saying that was worth the time spent.
VOICEOVER:C-SPAN's Fifth Anniversary Booknotes Special will continue in a moment. To mark the Fifth Anniversary of C-SPAN's Booknotes, we're making a limited number of commemorative bookmarks available to our viewers. To receive your bookmark, send a self-addressed stamped envelop to Booknotes Fifth Anniversary and care of C-SPAN 400 North Capital Street, Suite 650, Washington D.C. The zip code is 20001. The first 500 requests will be honored. One bookmark per address please.
Media personalities top the non-fiction best seller's list for 1993. Number one was Rush Limbaugh's “See, I Told You So,” The number two spot went to Howard Stern for his book “Private Parts.” And coming in at number three, “Seinlanguage,” by comedian and television star Jerry Seinfeld.
Two non- fiction books featured on Booknotes were ranked in 1993. “The Downing Street Years,” by Margaret Thatcher came in at twenty-fourth overall for the year. At twenty-eighth, even though it was not published until November, was the “Book of Virtues,” edited by William Bennett.
LAMB: A count here in the opening flap of your book, 15 books plus this one. Do you have any idea that you'd ever write 16 books?
JAMES MACGREGOR BURNS: Not really and that was not really my goal. It's just that writing is what I like to do and how I earn my living, essentially.
LAMB: How many books have you written?
LARRY SABATO: I've written 14 books total, and about half of them have been about national politics and half of them about the politics in my home state.
LAMB: This is, what, the ninth book you've written?
RICHARD NIXON: Yes, it is.
LAMB: The eighth since you left the presidency?
RICHARD NIXON: The eighth since I left the presidency. The first book I wrote was Six Crises, and I must say that this book, the ninth, was my ninth crisis.
LAMB: You've written 13 books.
RICHARD NIXON: This is my thirteenth.
PAUL SIMON : When was the first one written?
PAUL SIMON : The first one was written in 1964.
PAUL SIMON : I was elected to the state legislature and went to the state historical library and said I'd like to get a book about Lincoln's years in the state legislature. And they said there is no such book. I didn't believe them. I went through all the Lincoln books. There was nothing.
I wrote to Carl Sandburg and Allan Nevins, who were then the big Lincoln historians, and said you ought to write a book about Lincoln's years in the state legislature. And they wrote back to me and said, you ought to write a book about it. And I did. So I've been writing books ever since.
LAMB: You learned after you read and talk with a lot of authors that they do this for a lot of different reasons. Some do it just to make money. Others do it as an avocation. Some do it because they want to make a political statement. They've been in politics all their lives and they've never really had a chance to say it the way they want to say it.
And I know I made a living from writing for four years and I was - it was hard. It's probably the hardest work I've ever done. And I'm always intrigue by how that author looks it, the actual event.
LAMB:What's this in numbers of books that you've written?
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY: Thirty-fifth.
LAMB: Which ones did you enjoy the writing part of it the most?
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY: This is going to annoy you but I really don't like to write. It's terribly hard work. That may be one reason why I have managed to develop a facility to write quickly. If I had the same kind of languorous pleasure in writing that my younger brother has or that, say, Eudora Welty has, who just gets up with a light in the eye, thinking, my God, this is a day in which I write, then I can answer your question with a greater sense of hedonism.
You know, George Will once said to me, I write three times a week, and when I wake up in the morning, the first question I subconsciously ask myself is, is this a day in which I have to write a column. And if the answer is affirmative; I wake up bright and happy. It happens to be exactly the reverse with me.
GEORGE WILL: I have an itch to write. I would explode if I couldn't write.
DANIEL BOORSTIN: Well, you know, Brian, I don't know but being a writer, I consider it my vocation partly because I can't explain why I want to do it. But ever since I can - as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer.
RICHARD NIXON: It's a great ordeal. I don't write easily. I see you got some yellow notes there - I mean notes on the yellow pad. I write outline after outline, then I dictate it into a machine after I've done the whole thing so that it is the spoken word rather than the - the written word, as you know, is very formal. But then I have good people that work with me. But when I finally get down to crafting the final product, it is a great, great burden - ordeal for me.
LAMB: Let me ask you the same question.
RICHARD NIXON: Every time I finish a book, I say never again.
LAMB: I'm always just intrigued by the amount of work some authors do; two, three, four hundred interviews.
GEORGIE ANNE GEYER: I couldn't find anything that told me who was Fidel Castro and so I am engaged in the search about seven years ago and started searching the world for people who knew him and books in Spanish, in Portuguese, and German and just about everything that could tell - answer that question for me.
LAMB: Five hundred interviews?
GEORGIE ANNE GEYER: Five hundred original interviews in 28 countries. It's a lot of work.
LAMB: How many interviews did you do?
DAVID MC CULLOUGH: Well, about 126 and that ranged across a broad spectrum. Some people who hardly knew him at all but saw him come and go as neighbors or people in Independence. But some - and also some of whom who were so important that I interviewed them many times over during the 10 years that it took me to write the book.
LAMB: One thousand interviews?
RICHARD BEN CRAMER: More easily. Yes.
LAMB: One thousand interviews?
RICHARD BEN CRAMER: That was an estimate but it's low.
LAMB: I've never - we've done three years of Booknotes and no one - I've heard 150, 200. How do you know? I mean...
RICHARD BEN CRAMER: Well, you don't know. I mean what was I doing was basically counting note files in my computer. And an interview, what I would do is I would get an interview and then it would go as a separate file in the computer. And there were literally thousands of those. And so I - when I was asked to estimate how many interviews it basically boiled down to, I would say about 1,000 but that doesn't count all the little talks you have with advance men along the way and with, you know, workers in the various states as you roll in with the campaign because they aren't formal interviews where you sit down and take notes and so - nevertheless, you're learning every minute.
LAMB: You list everybody that you interviewed?
WALTER ISAACSON: Yes.
LAMB: One hundred fifty interviews? And the names go all the way from Benazir Bhutto to Jill St. John.
WALTER ISAACSON: Yes, right.
LAMB: From Richard Nixon and Nguyen Van Thiue. Of all those 150 and it's listed in the back; we'll show the audience what it looks like, who do you remember the most?
WALTER ISAACSON: Oh, interviewing Richard Nixon was the most interesting bit of it.
LAMB: How many interviews did you do for this book?
RONALD KESSLER: There were 314 people interviewed; mostly agents who are current, some former agents, some other employees as well.
LAMB: Did you interview them on audio tape?
RONALD KESSLER: Yes, everyone except for a few, very sensitive ones were tape-recorded with people's permission.
LAMB: What did you do with the tape?
RONALD KESSLER: It's in a bank vault.
LAMB: What are you going to do with that?
RONALD KESSLER: I usually keep it for several years and then rerecord for the next book.
LAMB: I don't think it's necessarily important to know where the tapes are but I do think it's interesting to know, with someone who was spent years developing on their way to a book what someone has done with the material. Do you tape-record your interviews?
BOB WOODWARD: Some of them, I do with permission of the people involved. Some of the very good sources allowed me to tape-record the interviews with the agreement that it was all on background and deep background and I would not identify it. But by having a tape, I was able to get to much fuller picture and, of course, this will go into my archives.
And someday in 50 or 75 years, the historians can go back and say, well, who was the source? Who were the sources for this? And even though the historians have done some complaining about this book, at that point, 50, 75 years from now, they're going to be able to go back and they're going to be amazed with the level of documentation and cross-checking and the nature of the primary sources and the proximity to the events.
LAMB: Where do you intend to put all those tapes?
BOB WOODWARD: I don't know. I have no plan right now.
LAMB: Do you sign an agreement with someone when you record an interview?
BOB WOODWARD: No, I do not.
LA MB: So that's...
BOB WOODWARD: It's all done on trust and faith.
LAMB: Where are all those audiotapes?
GEORGIE ANNE GEYER: I hid them.
LAMB: You're going to keep them?
GEORGIE ANNE GEYER: I'm going to keep them until, at least, until the book is several years into itself, into its printing or I may just give them to one of the universities in their libraries but they will be kept so no one can ever question the information.
LAMB: What have you done with all those tapes?
RICHARD BEN CRAMER: Actually, we had a very happy ceremonial pitching-out of all of the things we had lived with, boxes and boxes of newspapers and it must have been 300 to 400 notebooks and hundreds of audiotapes.
LAMB: You threw them away?
RICHARD BEN CRAMER: Tossed them out, yes.
LAMB: You didn't save the tapes?
RICHARD BEN CRAMER: No, I got them out. You can have no idea how necessary psychically it was to rid the house of the book.
RICHARD BEN CRAMER: Because it had come to dinner six years ago and it had never left.
SARAH TRAHERN: There are a lot of stories that authors have about how they write a book, what kind of pens they use, whether they write in a bar, in isolation, and it gives our viewers a different context within one you read the book.
LAMB: When they sit at the typewriter, and that's another funny thing about Booknotes is they will usually tell you what the atmosphere was, the setting, what they, you know - I can remember one author and it escapes me - talking about who it was, sitting, looking over to harbor in Maine and other in the mountains, others in their basement. I mean, you can - it just helps you get some sense of the atmosphere.
LAMB: If we could see you in your environment writing this book, what would we see?
FORREST MCDONALD: You'll see me writing in the nude most of the time.
LAMB: In the nude?
FORREST MCDONALD: Yes, well, we live in total isolation out in the country. They don't even read the electric meter because the electric man can't find it. We have to read our own meter. We got wonderful isolation and, you know, it's warm most of the year in Alabama and my work clothes are just a bother. You would see me sitting on the porch. We have a house that's mainly glass and otherwise screened and sitting out on the porch with a big 8-and-a-half by 14 yellow tablet and writing it out by hand.
LAMB: Is this what you would look like when you're writing? A cigarette in hand and...
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Yes, sometimes I write in bars too in the afternoons.
LAMB: In bars?
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Yes, I go out and find a corner of a bar. Quite like, if the noise isn't directed at me, in other words, there's not a phone ringing or a baby crying or something. I quite like it if the jukebox is on and people are shouting the odds about a sports game. I just hunch over a bottle in the corner. And I write in longhand anyway so I can do it anywhere.
LAMB: Where did you go to write the book?
PAUL SIMON : Then I - what I do and my wife will tell you that I become socially - well, I guess I isolate myself. What you have to do is when you're writing a book - when you also have to serve in the Senate, you have to say every spare moment when you're writing a book just has to be devoted to this. And then I occasionally pick a weekend where I do nothing but write.
HARRISON SALISBURY: Well, I think I write the best probably between 4:00 AM and 7:00 AM When I'm writing something like that, I get up quite early when the household is all asleep and I have three or four hours of uninterrupted work before breakfast. And then after that, I can read over what I've done and make the corrections and editing and then go ahead and plow forward and do what little research I may have to do to write a coherent narrative and that's more or less the pattern that I followed on this book.
LAMB: Where do you write?
STEPHEN L CARTER: Mostly in my office, although more and more, I have taken to writing at home since I got a home computer. For the first few years, I was on the Yale faculty; I had only a computer in my office. And then I have one at home. I do some writing at night at home but I've got two kids. And when I'm home, I find I'd much rather play and tumble around with them.
JAMES RESTON: I didn't have a computer until I retired, so-called. But I remember Tom Wicker; he was ahead of us in using computers. And I said to him one day, do you like this thing? He said, well, I do in a way; but he said, the damn thing is programmed for clichés. I said, what do you mean? He said well, that cursor that blinks at me all the time, it says, come on, Wicker, get going, Wicker. And he said the first thing that comes into my mind is the cliché.
I have found it a wonderful instrument. I like it. I wish I had had it when I was on the daily beat.
JAMES FALLOWS: I have the mainly exhilarating sense in Japan of being out there on the frontier just kind of sending back these letters through the Pony Express but having no idea of whatever happens to them. I record these NPR broadcasts sitting in my bathtub in my house in Tokyo. The bathroom is the only place that's quiet enough to record them. And the only place I can fit is this big, deep bathtub. I put the recorder on my lap and record them. But I've never heard any of them broadcast. So I am startled that anybody has ever heard any of these things or read the articles.
LAMB: How did you write it? Did you write it on the typewriter, longhand, or a computer, or how?
RALPH DAVID ABERNATHY: Sometimes, I wrote from - on a legal pad in longhand. I used to talk into a tape-recording machine and the secretary would lift it from there. And I would use various means. No, I cannot operate a computer. I was not blessed with any such skills.
PEGGY NOONAN: I wrote the book in a big, leaky Victorian townhouse in Georgetown, a marvelous old place, full of books that was owned by an elderly lady who was a liberal democrat and who had worked apparently from what I could see of her books for Johnson in the '60s. I would open up her books at night when I was done writing about Reagan. I just pick at random a book and I go through it and out would flutter little leaflets in which the woman who owned the house had clearly written this essay answering Lyndon Johnson's conservative critics. And there was something so funny about that, you know, that I was in another - not just another writer's house but a woman who was somewhat clearly obsessed with a time and a person, you know.
LAMB: It's a neo-anything. Like you also write about Charlie Peters and the neo-liberals.
R. EMMETT TYRELL: Yes. Is that gin? It's delicious.
LAMB: Straight water.
R. EMMETT TYRELL: Straight water? Gosh, they got good water in this city. Give me a bar - I never have water without a bar of soap, Brian. Any soap? What was the question?
LAMB: Books and walking and then something that didn't track, but he liked a couple of jolts of bourbon in the morning?
DAVID MC CULLOUGH: Yes. That was - if there was one startling discovery I made, he had a pop in the morning.
LAMB: How early?
DAVID MC CULLOUGH: Well, apparently quite early and apparently, it was his way of getting the engine going. He would go for his walk which a good figure is two-mile fast walk or more than two miles, come back and do some sitting-up exercises and have a rubdown and then have a drink.
LAMB: Are you saying that Mrs. Thatcher and the Queen play charades?
CHRIS OGDEN: Well, they have indeed played charades together in the past.
SUSAN SWAIN : I think sometimes Booknotes interviews can be surprising only because people are surprising.
JIMMY BRESLIN : And I love illegitimate people. Now, Damon Runyon, most of his writing was about people who were on the wrong side of a law - at least, maybe worse. And I love them. I can't stand legitimate people because they steal with a straight face and claim they're not stealing. And I can't stand that. I'd rather have somebody come forward and say, you know, somebody do it, I took it. That's me.
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: For a lot of people, their first love is what they'll always remember. For me, it has always been the first hate. And I think that hatred, though it provides often rather junky energy, is a terrific way of getting out of bed.
SARAH TRAHERN: Booknotes has done, as you know, against a black curtain, a very stark setting. And sometimes the funniest things or the least expected things pop out of the mouth of the authors within that context.
LAMB: If you had to choose another profession that you haven't done, that you've observed over the years and you want to give a story out of it, what would it be?
RICHARD NIXON: Sportscaster. I think that would be the greatest job in the world.
LAMB: You say that the - I'm trying to look at the words here - the best line on anything that has ever appeared under your byline is could you get up and get me a beer without writing about it, question mark. Who said that and why did you write it?
ANNA QUINDLEN: My husband said it to me one night and, I must say it's so embarrassing that this kind of mindset about everything, but the moment he finished that sentence, I said to him, can I use that?
MADELINE CARTWRIGHT : I remember once I went to a school as a new teacher. I walked into the classroom, the children said to me, are you a sub? I said, a sub? A sub is a sandwich where I came from? So the children said, no, like, are you a substitute teacher? I said no. I'm a real teacher. I'm a teacher. I have a degree and I'm a teacher. They said, oh, you're new. I said, honey, I am 33 years old. I am not new.
SUSAN SWAIN : Basically, Booknotes is a very simple formula. You have a black background and two people usually sitting on a set in an hour-long conversation; not that there's a lot on surface that would add a lot of interest, excitement, surprises. But, in fact, the people that sit at the table are so interesting that sometimes funny, outrageous, or surprising things come out of them.
LAMB: Go back to your days at Yale, the law school. What can you - what do you know about Hilary Clinton that we don't?
MICHAEL MEDVED: Not that much. I mean she was much heavier then and that's a terrible thing to say, I know, but I mean it's one of those things. I'll tell you I haven't seen either Bill or Hilary for many, many years. When I turned on C-SPAN, and it was in the middle of the - I was in a hotel room, it was the middle of the Iowa caucus period and he was just - just announced his candidacy and he was speaking in Iowa. And they said, and now, Governor and Mrs. Bill Clinton, and he was walking up to the podium. And there's this good-looking blond behind him. I said, oh, my God, Bill dumped Hilary. And...
SARAH TRAHERN: Probably the most memorable Booknotes that we still - those of us who are C-SPAN old timers who have been around since this show began is the Booknotes we did in the first few months of the show with Cliff Stoll.
LAMB: When you go around and speak and when you appear on programs and you're interviewed, what are the questions that you're always asked?
CLIFF STOLL : The questions that I'm always asked - I know a question I've never been asked. That's probably more interesting. What's the capital of North Dakota? No one has asked me that.
LAMB: What are the questions...
CLIFF STOLL : And yet, I was prepared in second grade to answer that question. I was taught in second grade to answer that question. Nobody has asked me that.
LAMB: Make the people of North Dakota happy, what is the capital of North Dakota?
CLIFF STOLL : I forgot. I'm really sorry. I've forgotten but I learned it in second grade. No kidding.
LAMB: Try Bismarck. Do you feel better now?
CLIFF STOLL : The capital of North Dakota is Bismarck.
SUSAN SWAIN : He surprised all of us but I think he enjoyed the heck out of doing it.
LAMB: The most memorable one and I'm sure for her also was the book on the Houston MD Anderson Cancer Hospital, and Clinic Lisa Belkin is her name. She's a New York Times health writer and she had a call...
LISA BELKIN: Although every doctor in the room except for the one who had called the meeting because he felt that the operation should be done, excuse me, is relevant to healthcare here - I'm losing my health...
LAMB: And you've - what, you're in the middle of a cold which doesn’t help either...
LAMB: And although we had water there and everything, she started coughing in the middle of this interview.
LISA BELKIN: They advised the parents to do the surgery even though they wouldn't have done it for their own child. You talk, I'll drink.
LAMB: And she just couldn't go on. And she couldn't, you know, obviously, I feel sorry for her. That would have been - if it was live, you'd almost have to go somewhere else with another program at that point. So we just stopped the tape and just picked it back up at that point.
SUSAN SWAIN : The people who write non-fiction books, historical books, public policy books are often the people who report upon or help shape the issues of the day. So they are people that we seen in other context and it is one venue for us to explore a little bit more about who these people are and how they approach their jobs.
LAMB: Let me ask you a question that struck me as I read this book. Bob Bartley is the editor of the Wall Street Journal, has access to the editorial page that goes into over close to 2 million homes or people in the United States. Why write a book when you could have written, heck, seven articles that appeared day after day in the Wall Street Journal and get the same point across.
ROBERT BARTLEY: Well, the book, of course, draws very heavily on the editorials that I wrote going clear back to the middle-1970s. But it's a different thing if you can get it all together in one place rather than in little snippets day by day, and I hope that it will provide a record that people can consult if they want to understand kind of the continuity of what went on.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Sometimes the press has been criticized, and during the Reagan administration, people will say, why did you guys tell us about this, that, or the other? And my point was that the press does present the evidence but it is the public, it is the voters who are the judge and jury who decide whether or not these things are important. And one issue I always point to is Watergate. You know, George McGovern tried to make Watergate an issue in 1972 and was unable to.
It was not until the next year when the people who had been working for Richard Nixon began to tell the details of all that to save their own necks and Woodward and Bernstein began to continue to lay out the facts in that case that a sense of public outrage arose in the country. And because there was that outrage, it was reflected on and pressure was brought on the Congress, and the impeachment proceeding started.
I have always argued that had Richard Nixon simply gotten a bad press over Watergate, he might indeed still be president because he got a bad press most of the time he was in public life. It was not until, however, that the public began to react to the stories about Watergate that things began to happen.
LAMB: Will you someday reveal Deep Throat in history?
BOB WOODWARD: Yes, when he is deceased.
LAMB: When he is deceased.
BOB WOODWARD: Yes.
LAMB: Not when you are deceased, when he is deceased. Who's going to go first?
LAMB: Well, again, no one plans for their own death, and I certainly fall in that category. And I've always said that I will reveal after he is deceased.
BOB WOODWARD: I think there's a great deal of difference between being a reporter, writing daily journalism and writing a book. And one of the things that you find is that a lot of the major papers send journalists overseas for four or five years and they see a tremendous amount of things that never get in the newspaper because of the importance of the day-to-day event. And so a journalist squirrels away lots of experiences until that day they can write that book. I'm thinking of Molly Moore who wrote day-to-day journalism around the Gulf War but had all these, again, personal experiences that just don't work in a story unless you do a little analysis and put your name on it.
MOLLY MOORE: Every time I went out to the field, I made a point of not letting them treat me differently because I was a reporter or because I was a woman. You know, their tendency was always to give you the best tent, to give you a cot when nobody else had a cot. And I always said, no, I'll sleep where the troops sleep. I'll eat what they eat.
So the first night we were on the road, the wagon master of Boomer's convoy stands up and says, well, men, you're going to have to sleep under your Jeeps. You didn't bring tents. And he looks at me and he says, well, ma'am, we really can't make you sleep under the Jeep. You know, we're going to have you in General Boomer and Colonel Steed's tent.
And my first inclination was, no, no, no, no, put me out there with the troops. You know, I don't want the special treatment. Then a split second later, I thought, you know, you're crazy, this is an extraordinary window. Nobody gets this kind of access to a commanding general while he's fighting the war.
But at the same time, the first night as I entered the tent, I think, you know, my God, what am I going to talk to these guys about? They have the lives of 40,000 men and women on their shoulders. And I didn't want to do anything to disrupt them from their job or to distract them from their job. But the first night was very extraordinary because General Boomer opened up, and it was just this floodgate of emotion, talking about his fears and anxieties over the past months - I mean, things that he couldn't even talk about to his commanders because he didn't want this sense of fear and anxiety to rub off on them. And it was just - it was you were getting inside his head.
LAMB: And lots of other people that have - you know, Michael Kelly in the New York Times wrote a book, again, also about the Gulf War.
MICHAEL KELLY : While television had fulfilled this extraordinary role in the war, making it the first war in video time, the first war that video cameras could actually capture and put out on satellites that there should be a place for a writer to pay attention to the very small details and work at carefully describing the things that actually happened to individual unimportant people in a time of war because I think that's an astonishing time. You see things that you don't see at other times.
I saw - one of the things that struck me during it, I was watching one day in Kuwait City this young man standing in front of a television crew in an abandoned theater, in a concert hall, really, in Kuwait City. And the television crew had brought him to that spot because it was the spot where he had been tortured by the Iraqis, and they wanted him to stand in front of the place where the torture rack had been and recount the tale of his own torture, which, astonishingly enough, he was willing to do.
And while he was doing it and the video camera was capturing this, he was silently crying and the tears were streaming down his face as he talked of his own torture. And the producer whispered instructions to the cameraman to get the right sort of shot and everything. And I thought this is an astonishing scene to see something like that, and the only way you can capture that is by writing about it later at a remove and trying to get it down just so.
SARAH TRAHERN: At C-SPAN, one of the things we've concentrated on in addition to covering public policy officials and interest group experts is journalism. We've been doing call-in shows on journalism and issued forums and interviews with journalists since C-SPAN began. And Booknotes is another vehicle for exploring both the journalists and the issues behind journalism, how journalism works, journalism ethics. We do numbers of books - a number of books both on the institution of journalists and on journalism themselves on Booknotes.
LARRY SABATO: Remember, it was Edward R. Murrow, the great CBS newsman who said the press is not thin-skinned. It's no-skinned.
LAMB: Who was Jane Gray Swisshelm?
DONALD RITCHIE: Jane Swisshelm was one of the reporters that Horace Greeley hired at that time. Of course, it was very early for a woman to be a journalist but she was the first woman to be admitted to the Senate Press Gallery in 1850. She arrived with a note saying that Greeley had hired her to write letters on the debates in the Senate. She went to the vice president, Millard Fillmore, and asked for permission to go into the Senate Press Gallery and Fillmore said, absolutely not, a woman has never been in there. It's an unseeming place for you.
And she insisted. She went in and she was the first woman accredited to the press gallery. She wrote several stories under her own name, Mrs. Swisshelm's Letters, as they appeared on the New York Tribune. She was fired, however, because she wrote a story about Daniel Webster's personal life, his drinking and his family life that - it was relatively well-known gossip in Washington but it was the type that the other newspaper reporters wouldn't touch. A public men's private life was not for reporting in the press as far as they were concerned.
NAN ROBERTSON: The balcony is - or was - the balcony of the National Press Club an all-male institution until just 20 years ago. And when in 1955 the men decided that they would let in women to cover - to report on events taking place there, they put us in a very narrow, extremely uncomfortable balcony at the far end of the ballroom. We stood there while some of the most important men in the world spoke. It was hard to hear them. We were crushed together. We did not have lunch. We looked down at the male members and their guests scarfing up a four-course lunch on the ballroom floor, and it was humiliating. We couldn't even do our job right. This happened between 1955 and 1971. And finally, the pro-women forces, who had been fighting vote after vote, year after year, to have women admitted, they won in 1971.
LAMB: What are you, 81?
JAMES RESTON: 82.
LAMB: 82? Is that something you think a lot about at that age?
JAMES RESTON: Well, writing a book of memoirs is a funny thing and I think it's an unavoidable thing that when you come to the end of the book, you've come to the end of your life story, and it's very hard not to feel that you've come to the end of your life.
JAMES RESTON, Jr: My father is also a writer, but a newspaper man - I shouldn't say but - and a newspaper man. And so I am sure when I was growing up, I was - my whole up bringing was informed by that wonderful experience for a youngster to have that sense of men and women of words around you.
LAMB: Is your mother a writer?
JAMES RESTON Jr.: She has written, yes. And in some ways to the novelist or to the biographer, my mother is almost a better influence than my father. My father was a great influence on me for politics and history, but my mother was a great influence on me for character and for humor and for emotional matters.
JAMES RESTON: The final chapter is Love and Hope, and here I cribbed a little verse from Alfred Duff Cooper who used to be the head of the admiralty in Britain. And he said - and this is a reference to myself and my wife – “we will not weep that spring be past and autumn shadows fall. These years shall be, although the last, the loveliest of all. “ And that has proved to be true. You see, young love is marvelous, but old love - that's the real jewel.
VOICEOVER: C-SPAN'S Fifth Anniversary Booknotes Special will continue in a moment. To mark the Fifth Anniversary of C-SPAN'S Booknotes, we're making a limited number of commemorative bookmarks available to our viewers. To receive your bookmark, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Booknotes Fifth Anniversary and care of C-SPAN 400 North Capital Street, Suite 650, Washington D.C. The zip code is 20001. The first 500 requests will be honored. One bookmark per address, please.
In 1993, the number one bestselling fiction book was Bridges of Madison County by James Waller. It sold 4.3 million copies and was the fastest selling novel in publishing history. In comparison, that was more sales than all top 10 titles combined in 1983, only 10 years earlier. Booknotes featured two books from the top 10 non-fiction bestsellers list in 1992. It doesn't take a hero by General Norman Schwarzkopf aired in November and Truman by David McCullough aired in July. That year, five out of the top 15 non-fiction bestsellers were biographies.
JOSEPH ELLIS: Adams was just a hoot. He was just much more interesting than I had imagined him to be.
LOU CANNON: Ronald Reagan was a performer, an actor. He valued this part of his presidency, and he took dramatic license in his stories.
ROBERT DALLEK: He was a magnificent scoundrel, a self-serving altruist, a man of high ideals and no principles, a chameleon on plaid. He was a man of many contradictions.
SUSAN SWAIN : The occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue seems to be a source of continual fascination not only in this country but throughout the world. We're always curious about who makes it into the White House and how they find leadership, how they develop greatness, how they respond to situations in the world. And a lot of people write books about these things. So the presidency is endlessly dissected.
LAMB: You tell us right early in the book that he lied.
RICHARD REEVES: He lied very easily. One of the reasons Khrushchev beat up on him so badly was that Kennedy had told people that he had studied at the London School of Economics under Harold Laski, but he had never been there. Except of the whole lot - everyone thought that this was a real scholar on Marxism - John Kennedy - and on communism, but he knew almost nothing about it. It was the reason that Khrushchev was able to tie him in knots at the Vienna Summit in June of 1961. And Kennedy is sitting there defending colonialism and imperialism and military dictatorships and whatnot because he just - he went in there and tried to defend the status quo against a trained dialectician, and he was eaten alive. He walked out of that room and said, we have to go into Vietnam. We have to confront them because they think I'm too weak and foolish.
TOM WICKER: As I studied that record, I became convinced that Richard Nixon's record as a domestic leader, as a domestic president, his record in domestic affairs was more impressive than his record as a foreign policy leader, which is contrary to the conventional wisdom and contrary also to the view that Nixon himself assiduously cultivates of having been a great foreign policy president.
ROBERT CARO: You know, there was an old postmistress in Johnson City named Stella Glidden, and she said to me once, you know, you're a city boy, you don't understand the land, and unless you understand the land, you're never going to understand Lyndon Johnson. And I remember, I thought, oh, baloney, this sounds like a grade B western or something. But I came to realize that she was really telling me something, that it was the struggle to survive in a land where survival was so hard that did shape a lot of Johnson's characteristics.
SUSAN SWAIN : But some of the historical books about the presidency - what I like about it and I think others might respond as well is the fact that these people from our early history begin to seem like people instead of marble statues or revered names from history books that don't have any flavor. Presidents after all are people and by learning more about some of their human foibles, I think it really adds something to your understanding of them as men as well as presidents.
RICHARD NORTON SMITH: During his presidency, at the end of a long day, Washington used to leave his office and walk into a room where children were playing. He's very fond of children. He was very sensitive about the fact that he did not have children of his own, and this apparently relaxed him. And the moment that the kids realized they were in the presence of a man called Great Washington, they froze, even children. He had that impact on people, and eventually, very put out, he would turn around and walk out of the room.
JOSEPH ELLIS: I have him sitting there toothless with very bad eyesight, can't read very well.
LAMB: While he was president.
JOSEPH ELLIS: Yes. Yes.
LAMB: Toothless, no false teeth.
JOSEPH ELLIS: Well, right. Right. He claimed that he would have gone back to the law after he was president when he left the presidency in 1801 if he could talk, but he said he couldn't talk in public because his words were so slurred.
LAMB: What's new in this book?
NATHAN MILLER: Well, what is new is - I think basically I am the first to use the correspondence between TR and his first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee. After she died in childbirth in 1884, it was thought that TR in his anguish had destroyed all the letters that they had written during their courtship and marriage. But as it turned out, he had not. And after their death, they went to Harvard and they were sitting in a box. And there I opened them and there they were, and there's just some lovely material in it and some tragic material, too.
There's a note in there in which Alice announces that she is pregnant for the first time. She had some difficulty becoming pregnant, and there she announces her pregnancy and she's so enthusiastic. And you read it and you know that she's going to die in childbirth and, you know, it's just so sad to read this. Also I found a little bundle in the box of tissue paper. And I unwrapped it and there - there was a lock of Alice's hair carefully wrapped up and preserved for so many years.
AUGUST HECKSCHER: Well, Wilson suffered in the first two years of his presidency the great disaster of his wife's death. She died in August 1914, almost the same day as the World War I broke out, and Wilson was caught in that vortex of events, and at the same time in a private sorrow which caused him a deep depression for several months.
SARAH TRAHERN: Last year, we went to read a bunch of the Booknotes. And as I went to the Booknotes' lists, we came up with a numbers of - number of Booknotes that focused not only exclusively on the presidency but tangentially on the presidency.
CHARLES FECHER: Mencken had been invited to be the speaker at this dinner of the Gridiron Club in 1934, I think it was. He'd gone up and delivered what was a critical, but essentially good-natured and humorous talk about Roosevelt's New Deal. And, of course, he found plenty of fault with it.
A little later, it was the president's turn to speak. He got up and began a vicious attack on newspapermen and journalism, an attack that had cold chills running up and down the spines of the people listening to him. Finally, they realized that what he was doing was reading a piece called Journalism in America which had been written by Mencken himself and published in his magazine, The American Mercury. So, you know, the president was attacking journalists and Mencken in Mencken's own words.
ROBERT REICH: The Democrats have not displayed a great deal of intestinal fortitude of late, and maybe I can't blame them when you have a president with 90 percent popularity. But there are terrific people out there.
LAMB: Who's the best economic thinker in your opinion?
ROBERT REICH: Among politicians?
ROBERT REICH: Well, I - among my favorites is a guy named Bill Clinton, the governor of Arkansas. He's a dear and old friend. We were at Oxford together. I've looked at what he's done in Arkansas, with Arkansas education. He's done exactly the right thing with very limited resources. And he's the kind of talented guy I think we need right at the top who can provide the right kind of leadership.
LAMB: Anybody else?
ROBERT REICH: I like Al Gore. I think he's also extraordinarily talented. He's level-headed. He's been saying many of the same things, not in as much detail - or maybe I should say he's been influenced by me, maybe, hopefully.
CLARK CLIFFORD: His father said to him one day, Jack, we worked our tail off to make you president, and Bobby is going to get his chance, too. So Bobby became attorney general, you see. But when the president would call Bobby over to talk with him about some rather complicated matter, he would also call me in. That was all right with the president and that was fine with me. To be a little slangy, I must say it laid an egg with Bobby. He didn't appreciate so much.
LAMB: How did he do his job compared to the way you do your job either as majority leader or minority leader? What's the difference?
ROBERT DOLE: I think the difference is he had bigger majorities. And he was very effective, he was very tough, and they had party discipline. You didn't stray when Lyndon Johnson was majority leader or you were punished. And we don't have any punishment. Members can, in effect, thumb their nose at us and say, I'm not going to vote with you; I'm not going to vote with Bush. And we're powerless to do much about it. But we have pretty good discipline. But in those days, when Johnson was majority leader, you know, he made them stick together.
ROBERT GILBERT: ... on the eve of his nomination by the Republican party for a term in his own right when his 16-year-old son, Calvin Jr., his 16-year old son and namesake, Calvin Jr. died of blood poisoning. Coolidge blamed himself for his son's death. He began sleeping 12 hours every night. He began taking naps during the afternoons. He began telling members of his cabinet that he wanted them to handle the responsibilities of the departments of government. He didn't want to get involved. And basically he spent the four remaining years of his administration as an uninvolved, shattered man.
SARHA TRAHERN: Biographies, I think, are my favorite types of books we do on Booknotes. They're successful because they're very pointed. People can get a sense about someone. And particularly when an author writes a biography, they have immersed themselves in the lives of another person. And as such, they can provide a wonderful array of stories.
MICHAEL DAVIS: And a family of white tourists - we don't know where they were from - were spending a day at the Supreme Court and mistakenly entered the elevator where Thurgood Marshall had already stepped onto the elevator, and they assumed that he was the elevator operator though it was an automatic elevator.
The family stepped to the rear of the elevator car, announced their floor. Thurgood Marshall looked at them, and he had a great ability to use black dialect, which he used to his great advantage many times, and he said, "Yessir, yessir." He pushed the floor. When the elevator arrived, he, you know, stepped back, ushered the family out. And then very slowly, as they walked down the hall, it dawned on them that this was Thurgood Marshall, and Thurgood Marshall said he just sat there - or stood there and just enjoyed it to no end.
STEPHEN LESHER: And he grew up with that tradition, a tradition of incipient dislike, if not downright hatred for the North, the sense that the North had imposed poverty and ignorance on the South following - during and following the Civil War.
He grew up and he read books that I read, textbooks in school, which talked about the sins of the carpetbaggers and scalawags, a great deal of hyperbole. But that's what he learned in school as a kid. And so he had that built-in resentment that most Southerners, deep Southerners anyway had for the North during that time.
LAMB: Here's a picture of Clarence Mitchell. Do you know what year that was taken?
DENTON LASON: That was 1957. Oh, yes, that's a very memorable picture. That was taken after the all-night filibuster by Strom Thurmond - Senator Strom Thurmond against the 1957 Civil Rights Act. Senator Thurmond was the only one on the Senate - he broke an agreement not to filibuster the bill. And Clarence Mitchell, and for awhile, Mr. Thurmond kept his company up there in the gallery until she got tired and could not, you know, stay the whole course, but Clarence stayed the course.
KAY MILLS: I was in Ruleville, Mississippi very recently and speaking at the Public Library that 30 years ago she couldn't use. And at the invitation of the librarian from Sunflower County and the new state senator, a black man named Willie Simmons stood up. He had defeated the man who defeated Fannie Lou Hamer in 1971 when she ran for state senator. Willie Simmons was the first black senator from Sunflower County. He stood up and said I am living Fannie Lou Hamer's dream. Well, that's a pretty powerful moment.
DEBORHA SHAPLEY: I compare him to the Flying Dutchman because the Flying Dutchman dared nature in the legend and was cursed by God for having tried to sail around the Cape of Good Hope against the storm and was cursed to sail forever because he had been too bold and there's a lot of hubris in McNamara. And in a way, all of this global travel has such a restless air, as though there's no place he can come to rest because he's still so controversial In his own country.
I won't say he doesn't a home in the United States because he's very well-respected by people in the arms control community and the international banking community. But, in a sense, he doesn't have a home I think until he comes to terms with us.
LAMB: "A golf widow who doesn't mind Denis heading frequently for the course" - these are your words - "Thatcher has few friends closer than her husband, but they have always maintained their separate lives." What do you mean by separate lives?
CHRIS OGDEN: He goes his own way and she goes her own way, and it doesn't bother either one of them. He likes his jar. He's got a good - he's certainly prone to bending the elbow sometimes too often. He's a gin drinker and doesn't like to stint on it. He's been very careful about not embarrassing her, but sometimes it happens. Sometimes, she gets a little upset when he comes home what she calls kneeless.
SARAH TRAHERN: The memoir books are a very interesting category for us on Booknotes. They're not straight autobiographies, but they're often written by prominent public policy officials such as General Norman Schwarzkopf, former presidential adviser Clark Clifford, former defense secretary Caspar Weinberger. And while they don't write about their whole life, they usually write about chapters of their lives.
NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: The night before the war is about to begin, at about 11:00 or 12:00 at night, I did what most people do. I sat down and wrote a letter to my family. I wanted them to know at that last minute that they were important to me, that they were the last thing that was in my mind before this terrible war started. I don't know why, but, you know, it's amazing how many people I've talked to who did exactly the same thing.
Three weeks later, I called up one night on the phone, and Brenda was in tears. I said, "Oh, my God, Brenda, what's wrong?" I thought something had happened to one of the kids or something had happened to the dog or something had happened, and she had just gotten the letter. It had taken that long for her to get it. She said, "Well, I've got your letter here, and Norm Schwarzkopf, I want to tell you that if you get killed, I'll never speak to you again."
LAMB: Of all the presidents you've known, which one did you enjoy being around the most?
THEODORE HESBURGH: I think, for sure, fun and a wonderful guy, Jerry Ford's got to have it hands down. I liked Eisenhower. I found him a very decent guy. He was no flaming liberal, but he had a sense of justice and decency.
GEORGE P. SHULTZ: There was in my office a big globe. And when ambassadors, who were newly going to their posts or in their posts and coming back to visit me, would get ready to leave, I would say to them, Ambassador, you have one more test before you can go to your post. You have to go over to the globe and prove to me that you can identify your country." So unerringly, they would go over and they'd spin the globe around and they'd put their finger on the country they were going to, pass the test.
So Mike Mansfield, great elder statesman in America, former Senate majority leader and had been an ambassador to Japan for awhile before I was there, and he was a close friend of mine back when I was in the Nixon administration, so he was visiting and he got ready to leave. I said, "Mike, I got to give the same test I gave everybody else." Before you go back to Japan, you got to show me that you can go over the globe and put your finger on your country. So he went over and he spun the globe around and he put his hands on the United States, said, that's my country.
LAMB: Why do you start your book by telling us about your father's bedtime story when you were a little kid?
CASPER WEINBERGER: Well, it was such an interesting bedtime story. He told us - told my brother and me the story of the Constitution, how the Constitution was formed and the various compromises that had to go into the creation of the House and the Senate, and this was not the sort of story that you would ordinarily think would hold the attention of anyone of fairly tender years - I guess I was maybe seven or eight, nine, something like that - and yet he told it in such a fascinating fashion. He was an attorney, but a very - a very broad-gauged man and a great father.
LAMB: Did you in the last year ever sit down and talk about death with him?
GARY TYMEL: Never, never talked about death with Tip O'Neill. I guess the feeling was he would go on forever.
SARAH TRAHERN: William Bennett's book is a bit of a different book for us on Booknotes. Rather than being a straight public policy or biography, it examines morals through poetry and poems and we did it right before it hit the bestseller list.
BILL BENNETT: These are, you know, if we're talking about rock and roll, I talk about my greatest hits, you know, or somebody's greatest hits. But in terms of the stories, these are my favorite stories. These are the things that, again, are touchstones for me. These are the things that - the stories that talk to me, that remain sort of bedrocks for me. I think also these are, if you will, stories - the stories that will not die and the lessons that will not die. These things have a resonance today, I think, that's as great if not greater than ever before.
VOICEOVER: C-SPAN's Fifth Anniversary Booknotes Special will continue in a moment. To mark the fifth anniversary of C-SPAN's Booknotes, we're making a limited number of commemorative bookmarks available to our viewers. To receive your bookmark, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Booknotes Fifth Anniversary and care of C-SPAN 400 North Capital Street, Suite 650, Washington, D.C. The ZIP code is 20001. The first 500 requests will be honored. One bookmark per address, please.
More and more books are selling over the 100,000 mark. In 1993, 157 fiction and non-fiction titles made it in the plus-100,000 category. That was 11 more than the previous year. Here are some sales figures for nonfiction books featured on Booknotes in 1993. Selling over the 150,000 mark were The '50s by David Halberstam, and The Real Anita Hill by David Brock. In the over-100,000 category was Thinking Out Loud by Anna Quindlen and President Kennedy by Richard Reeves.
LAMB: If you had to give a reason for somebody going out and spending $23 for this book, in a nutshell, in a paragraph, what it would it be? What do they learn in this book that they won't get anywhere else?
SUZANNE GARMENT:Well, the chapter on sex is really good for starters.
LAMB: I want to ask you about that.
LAMB: Well, I think we've learned from just watching the evolving newspaper, magazine, television, radio business that sex cells.
LARRY SABATO: The press has focused on the wrong thing with Chuck Robb. As usual, they've gravitated to the superficial elements and the sexy elements and the titillating elements - that is, Tai Collins and the whole affair that he had with her, and there are other women involved, too.
To me, a much more significant and important question is whether the governor of Virginia - the chief law enforcement officer of Virginia - attended parties where drug use was common. To me, that goes to the heart of his responsibilities as governor. Now, I should add he denies everything, but I should also add that I don't believe him.
BLANCHE WIESEN COOK: I leave it up to the reader as to whether or not she had a full sexual affair with Lorena Hickok who, when she met her, was the highest paid reporter for the Associated Press. But it does seem to me that the letters, and there are thousands of letters, which they wrote to each other reveal a very passionate friendship.
LAMB: There is a picture in the book right here...
NADINE COHODAS: Yes.
LAMB: ... of Senator Thurmond standing on his head.
NADINE COHODAS: That's right, the famous prenuptial headstand. This is right before his marriage to his first wife, Jean Crouch, who was, at that time, 20, 21 years his junior. She had just graduated from college, and he had seen her, found her attractive, invited her to work in the governor's mansion. A romance blossomed. They announced their engagement and a lot of titters, et cetera, but to show, as the caption in Life Magazine said, that he was plenty vigorous and virile, he stood on his head.
FREDERICK KEMPE: The hardest job was not coming up with the information; it was coming up with the corroboration. And hours were spent that the reader won't even notice trying to make sure that I didn't overstep the bounds. When I write that the man is bisexual, believe me, I have talked to people who were intimately involved with Noriega in one way or another, and I was able to confirm that to my satisfaction.
LAMB: But let me ask you about this, though. You were talking about the homophobia of J. Edgar Hoover, then you kind of referred to the fact that he and Clyde Tolson were - what?
DAVID HALBERSTAM: Well, there was this odd thing. They were always together. They were each other's best friends. I mean, I don't think anything ever happened. I don't believe these stories, you know, that they have now about Hoover dressing up in drag. I don't believe it for a minute. I mean, J. Edgar Hoover's whole life was devoted to getting dirty stuff, gossip on other people. The last thing in the world he was going to do was provide gossip for his enemies. I mean, he just wasn't going to do that.
But there was this odd relationship between him and Tolson. They were together at every meal. They went to work together. You know, they ate alone, nobody else. You know, nobody else need apply - the two of them eating lunch and dinner almost day of their lives. I mean, it was an unusual friendship. I mean, I don't think anything was consummated, but it really did make people talk about them.
JACK NELSON: Well, I never once said he was a homosexual. I never - I can't say I didn't think about it because for one thing, I got a letter - an anonymous letter on FBI stationery saying that he was a homosexual and that he and his top associate, Clyde Tolson, were homosexuals. I never cared whether he was or not. It didn't make any difference to me. If I had to guess, I would have guessed he was asexual, but I didn't know and I didn't care.
BLANCE WIESEN COOK: I actually thought that his affair with Lucy Mercer was really his adolescent rebellion. Their children ranged in age from 3 to 10 while this affair was going on. When he came home from Europe after - he was assistant secretary of the Navy. After reviewing the Naval stores in 1918 during that great flu epidemic of 1918, they got a wire. She and Sara Delano Roosevelt, his mother, got a wire to meet the ship with an ambulance because FDR had double pneumonia and, you know, was really reeling from this flu epidemic. That night she unpacked his bags and there, presumably tied in that, you know, proverbial red ribbon, were all of these love letters from Lucy Mercer.
MARTIN GILBERT: He was totally indecisive. We think of him as a man who knew what he wanted and went out to get it. He wanted to marry her, but he didn't know to do it. He invited her to Blenheim where his family lived, and they spent the weekend together and his cousin noticed he wasn't popping the question. He wasn't asking her.
And on the final morning when she was due to go to London, he was lying in bed and his cousin the duke went into his bedroom and said, Winston, you've got to get out of bed. He hated getting out of bed in the morning. You've got to get out of bed and propose. So finally he got out; he went into the garden. He couldn't bring himself to do it. It came on to rain. The two of them went for shelter into a little ornamental temple, and there he finally said, will you marry me? And she said yes.
SUZANNE GARMENT: And Fanne Foxe became a name that was on the must-list for every serious student of American politics.
LAMB: Now, was there - would that have happened 25 years ago? Let me - when it happened, was there something special about that time that made that such a visible scandal?
SUZANNE GARMENT: Well, at that time, the authorities were becoming less willing to cover these things up when they involved congressmen and other high officials. In this case, I'm not sure what they could have done since there was a newsman right there on the scene. But in general, what was happening was that Congressmen who were arrested for solicitation, for instance, used to be, before that time, were never booked - were not charged. Now they started to be.
AUGUST HECKSCHER: But these courtship letters to Mrs. Galt show a president so preoccupied by wooing this beautiful woman that sometimes you wonder how he had time to carry on the business of the nation at all. He would get up early and write her a three- or four-page letter and he'd very often write her again. Ike Hoover, the secretary - what do they call it - the majordomo of the White House was in on the thing very early. He would see that those letters were taken out and put it in some post box where they would not attract the attention of the press or the White House staff.
LAMB: Was he loyal to his wife?
DAVID MC CULLOUGH: He certainly was, absolutely.
LAMB: No funny stuff?
DAVID MC CULLOUGH: Never, never, never. In fact, there is a scene in Potsdam where he gets into his car to drive back to his quarters and an Army officer puts his head in the window of the car late at night and tells him, Mr. President, I can arrange anything you'd like while you're here, anything in the way of wine or, and he says, and women. And Truman is absolutely livid.
LAMB: Can I read it? I happened to have it underlined when I read it. I wanted to ask you about that. "Listen, son, I married my sweetheart," Truman said. "She doesn't run around on me and I don't run around on her and I want that understood. Don't ever mention that kind of stuff to me again." By the time we were home, Boring remembered - and that was the...
MC CULLOUGH: The secret service man.
LAMB: The secret service man. He got out of the car and never even said goodbye to that guy. Now, what in the world would an officer ever be doing saying this to a president?
MC CULLOUGH: Who knows? Almost unimaginable. He was offering to be a procurer for him.
LAMB: Did you find this out strictly from that secret service man?
MC CULLOUGH: Yes.
LAMB: It has never been published before?
MC CULLOUGH: No.
LAMB: Well, again, a lot of people have a tendency to think this is the first time this has ever happened, and it's a constant in history. As anybody has watched this program over the last five years that no matter what history book you pick up, what biography you pick up, eventually, there will be a chapter, there may be chapters devoted to an individual's personal life.
RICHARD NORTON SMITH: Sally Fairfax has been described as Washington's great love. That may or may not be true. We don't know. She was a young woman of dazzling virtuosity, who I think impressed a young man who was terribly self-conscious not only of his lack of formal education but his lack of polish.
LAMB: And the book written on Thomas Jefferson was not all about his mistress here as his mistress in Europe.
WILLARD STRENE RANDALL: In looking at Jefferson in love in Paris, I think we have quite a different slant on the man. It's not only Jefferson in love but Jefferson discovering the importance of women. In Paris, he learned to respect the intellects of the women of the salon who really ran the French government, not all that well sometimes, as Marie Antoinette could attest, but Jefferson, I think, opened his mind in those years and had a wonderful time, I think, with Maria Cosway, an educated, brilliant painter. And I think it changed him into a much more sophisticated individual.
LAMB: But I think it is instructive to see how much personal relationships have impact in history and they're all over the place.
LAMB: Some points - a couple of points - you talk about the romance between Stephen Douglas and the woman that married Abraham Lincoln.
HAROLD HOLZER: Mary, right. I'm not sure if I would call it a romance, but I would - that has been exaggerated by films and novels. They certainly knew each other. Douglas spent a good deal of his early years in Springfield before he moved to Chicago, and he was supposedly quite interested in this young Lexington, Kentucky belle Mary Todd who was shipped from Lexington to Springfield to live with her sister so that she could catch a husband. And he was a pretty attractive candidate for marriage - successful, booming voice, leading politician - but she cast her eyes on this unlikely fellow who supposedly said to her I'd like to dance with you in the worst way, prompting her to say, that was exactly the way he danced.
LAMB: What is the Ku Klux Klan?
JACK NELSON: Well, the Ku Klux Klan really got started right after the Civil War.
LAMB: You have a chapter in here on both Lenin and Stalin. Start with Lenin. Who was he?
ZBIGNIEW BREZEZINSKI: Well, Lenin was a Russian revolutionary.
LAMB: Who was Joe McCarthy? Who was he?
HERBERT BLOCK: He's the United States senator from Wisconsin.
SARAH TRAHERN: Brian asks very basic questions because not everybody in the audience knows everything? There are - when we did a Booknotes on - I think it was the one we did with Caroline Kennedy and Ellen Alderman, they talked - it was about the Bill of Rights. And Brian asked the question...
LAMB: In the front of your book, you have this quote by Alexander Hamilton. Why? Who was he by the way?
CAROLINE KENNEDY: Who was Alexander Hamilton?
SARAH TRAHERN: And the point is Brian knew who Alexander Hamilton was, but many viewers on our audience might not know. And often he doesn't necessarily know what the answer to a question is. He asked a guest last week...
LAMB: What's Jonin'?
NATHAN MC CALL: Jonin'.
LAMB: I knew I'd get that wrong. Jonin'.
NATHAN MC CALL: Jonin'.
NATHAN MC CALL: Yes. J-O-N-I-N. Right. It's a term that we use to mean joking. You know, in our community, you know, where I grew up, you know, it's a big thing to be able to jone on somebody. You hear people today call it ragging. To jone on somebody. Another term is playing the dozens, where you get two people together and they make fun of each other just for fun.
And it's an art, you know. It would be - it's a competitive art. It would be like if you and I sat here, and we were to start jonin', then I might hone in on your tie, you know. And you might look at my turtleneck and say, where did you get that funny-looking turtleneck? Then I might look at your shoes and say, well, look at those shoes. And then you might take my jacket, you might hone in on my jacket. Then I'd say, well, what about your funny haircut? You know? And we'd go, you know, tit for tat. You know, and people - you know, it draws a crowd. And people would stand around to see who could jone the best.
And if you got the best of me, then somebody in the crowd might take you on, and you would have a jonin' session. And you'd take it from the top, you know. And he'd say, you know, look at the funny shirt you have on. That's - you know, you bought that shirt from Sears, you know. And you might look at him and say, well, no, actually, your mama bought me this shirt. And so, sometimes, you know, sometimes, it was very friendly; sometimes, it would get really vicious. Sometimes, you know, you had guys who would jone each other so hard that one person might get mad and want to fight.
SARHA TRAHERN: It doesn't do audience any good if we're throwing around a bunch of terms that only the author and Brian have the answer to.
LAMB: What does MIT stand for?
LESTER THUROW: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
LAMB: What kind of a school is it?
LESTER THUROW: It's an engineering and science school.
LAMB: Well, there's some questions that are never asked on television because they don't have the time. There's also some questions that are never asked because people assume everybody knows the answer. Now, I would guess that if you ask people in this country what MIT stands for, it will be astonished if one out of 1,000 people knew. They might get past the - it's a college somewhere or some would say it's the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but that's about as far as it goes unless you're really into that world.
LAMB: Where are you from originally?
LESTER THUROW: I grew up in Montana, America's Siberia.
LAMB: How long did you live there?
LESTER THUROW: I went through high school there and basically am one of those people who maybe went East to college and never came home.
LAMB: Where did you go to undergrad?
LESTER THUROW: I came to Williams College as an undergraduate, and then I did a Master's Degree at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and then came back to Harvard to get a Ph.D.
LAMB: Where along the way did you get your interest in all this stuff?
LESTER THUROW: Well, I think it just kind of gradually accumulated.
LAMB: When I sat down to interview Lester Thurow - of course, there were many. I haven't seen him since - I wanted to know what's MIT; who owns it; what's the Sloan School; what's your role; what's the dean; what's your job - all these things. What makes you tick? Why are you writing books?
SARHA TRAHERN: We did a Booknotes with a man named Martin Gilbert who wrote a book on Churchill and he refers to a term called buggery throughout - a term buggery throughout the book, not throughout the whole book, during the book and Brian asked him what is buggery.
LAMB: Why was he accused of buggery and what is it?
MARTIN GILBERT: You don't know what buggery is?
LAMB: Define it, please.
MARTIN GILBERT: Oh, dear. Well, I'm sorry. I thought the word were - buggery is what used to be called an unnatural act of the Oscar Wilde type is how it was actually phrased in the euphemism of the British papers. It's - you don't know what buggery is?
LAMB: And when was he...
MARTIN GILBERT: It's a very nasty thing, which men can do to each other.
SARAH TRAHERN: There are a lot of questions that many of us don't know the answers to that come up when you read these books. I got a letter from a viewer a couple of weeks ago whose said that when he read Chris Hitchens' book, he had the dictionary next to him the whole time so he can look up the words that Hitchens used in the book that he didn't know.
LAMB: All these people were ostensibly there, meaning a conference of conservatives - neo-conservative to take personal credit for the final collapse of communism. Why then do they look and sound so lost and deflated like a herd of ants in search of a climax.
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: No, it's a herd of aunties in search of a climax.
LAMB: Excuse me, my eyes are bad.
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Well, no, maybe there's a misprint, I should...
LAMB: No, you're right.
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: It's supposed to be a herd of aunites in search of a climax.
LAMB: What do you write it on?
GEORGE WILL: Yellow tablets.
LAMB: Richard Nixon used to do that.
GEORGE WILL: Yes. I don't care. I still do it.
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INTERVIEWER: You write standing up or sitting down?
RESPONDENT:: Sitting down.
INTERVIEWER: Churchill wrote standing up, do you know that?
RESPONDENT: Yes, I did.
SUSAN SWAIN: Oh, we got a package in the mail probably six months or so ago, an unsolicited and return address from Pennsylvania. I opened it up and there was a terrific letter from two guys who live in Pennsylvania and they're comedians. They have a local access cable show that deals with comedy and they did a skit about Booknotes.
LAMB: By listening to the other person, there are certain things that when you see somebody on the screen that you want to know about them. And some of you want to know very quickly where you're from, where did you go to school, are you married, do you have kids, you know, whose the dedication this book to and who owns it, what does it mean. But then to watch a couple of people try to look like you and then simplify it, it's pretty funny and it's also funny to watch other people laugh at you in your presence.
Twin County Cable Productions, Northampton, PA
NOTE: two comedians, not Garry Willis
And the other thing I think about this whole effort was it was a total surprise. It just dropped in one day. We had not - didn't know they were doing this and threw it in the machine and there it was.
VOICEOVER: This is C-SPAN's Booknotes, a weekly look at current books of political and historical interest. Today, a conversation with Garry Willis, author of Lincoln at Gettysburg.
INTERVIEWER: Talking with Garry Willis, author of Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America, published by Simon & Schuster. How long did it take you to write a book?
RESPONDENT: Two years.
INTERVIEWER: Does that include research?
INTERVIEWER: Where did you actually physically write the book?
RESPONDENT: In my home.
INTERVIEWER: Which is where?
RESPONDENT: Evanston, Illinois.
INTERVIEWER: Do you write on a computer?
RESPONDENT: No, longhand.
INTERVIEWER: Pen or pencil?
INTERVIEWER: What kind of pen? Flair or ballpoint?
RESPONDENT: Papermate, medium point.
INTERVIEWER: You write standing up or sitting down?
RESPONDENT: Sitting down.
INTERVIEWER: Churchill wrote standing up, did you know that?
RESPONDENT: Yes, I did.
INTERVIEWER: Do you write mostly during the day or at night?
RESPONDENT: Eight till three every day.
INTERVIEWER: Seven hours?
INTERVIEWER: Do you eat during that time?
INTERVIEWER: Did you go to the bathroom?
INTERVIEWER: Do you remember what order you did that? Did you eat first then go to the bathroom?
RESPONDENT: It varied.
INTERVIEWER: I assume you wrote this at a desk.
INTERVIEWER: When you got up from a desk, did you always leave your pen in the same spot?
RESPONDENT: Just somewhere on the desk.
INTERVIEWER: Did you ever misplace the pen?
INTERVIEWER: Did you have other pens handy just in case you would misplace it?
INTERVIEWER: They were Papermate medium points also?
INTERVIEWER: Turning to the book, Lincoln was president after James Buchanan and before Andrew Johnson.
RESPONDENT: That's right.
INTERVIEWER: Garry Willis, thank you.
RESPONDENT: This has been C-SPAN's Booknotes. And you can see this program with Garry Willis, author of Lincoln at Gettysburg repeated 27 times in the next three days.
LAMB: You know, it is - it's very funny. It always fun to look at how silly you can look when somebody parodies you. And it's also - it proves how simple this is. This is a very simple process we go through all the time. It's a little bit scary if you figured out how simple it is.
SUSAN SWAIN : And what I like about the best is they got it. There are a lot of subtleties to Booknotes and you really have to be a regular Booknotes watcher to understand some of those subtleties. And I think these two guys got it right on the head and poked fun at some of the things that make Booknotes just what it is.
VOICE OVER: C-SPAN's fifth anniversary Booknotes special will continue in a moment. To mark the fifth anniversary of C-SPAN's Booknotes, we're making a limited number of commemorative bookmarks available to our viewers. To receive your bookmark, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Booknotes Fifth Anniversary and care of C-SPAN 400 North Capitol Street, Suite 650, Washington, D.C. The zip code is 20001. The first 500 requests will be honored. One bookmark per address please.
JIMMY BRESLIN : It's a very good cover, isn't it? Tell the truth. It is a fine cover and it is a very funny book.
BRIAN LAMB: Thank you, Jimmy Breslin.
JIMMY BRESLIN : Thank you.
LAMB: I think the cover plays a huge role in getting your attention in the first place. I asked about the cover because there's a story usually about the piece of art or who took the photograph.
MARTIN GILBERT: My favorite story is the cover you are holding up. This picture was suppressed for 43 years. It was taken when Churchill was in the middle of the Second World War. He was feeling confident that he just won Roosevelt's support for the war effort in Europe. He'd gone up to Antwerp. He'd won the Canadian parliament round, and he was stopped by a photographer in the corridor who took that lovely picture. And the photographer was dissatisfied and Churchill put his cigar in his mouth and started lighting up. The photographer grabbed the cigar and got the famous frowning, disagreeable Churchill who's graced every postage stamp and every other book cover and for which millions, incidentally, have been made in photographic fees, and it's not the real Churchill. I mean, you know, if I was to punch you in the face and then take a picture, whoever saw you like that except me.
AUGUST HECKSCHER: It hangs on the White House now. It is the Sir William Orpen portrait of Woodrow Wilson painted in Paris while the peace treaty was being framed, and he was a great portrait painter, as I think that shows in the extraordinary vigor in his brush and in his style. But I liked it on the cover of the book because it shows something that I want to show throughout. We're not dealing just with a pompous, traditional sort of politician with his top hat, as you so often see Wilson portrayed, rather a handsome man in a frock coat and all that, seeming to belong to a past age; you're dealing there with a modern man, a perplexed modern man, a complex man, but one who really belongs to our age.
LAMB: Who took that picture?
JEANNE SIMON: My son - our son, Martin Hurley Simon, took that.
LAMB: Where did he take it?
JEANNE SIMON: He took it on the deck of our home in Lacanda, Illinois and that's why we both look comfortable and happy and Paul does not have - you'll notice - the famous bowtie on.
LAMB: Steve, don't move the camera. I'm going to turn this right around so that folks can see the back of it. What's the difference here in these...
JEANNE SIMON: The difference there is that Paul is still smiling. He's still the candidate. I have collapsed in laughter because Martin probably said something really silly, and that's the way you should be in a campaign - relaxed and happy. But we were home. That was good. That's the campaign photo on the front and that's the reality on the back.
LAMB: Let me ask you about this cover. I could not find anywhere in the book itself where you tell us who's on this cover. Do you?
FORREST MCDONALD: No.
LAMB: Would you - I mean, I've guessed and just for the fun of it, I'm going to guess. The first one over here would be George Washington...
FORREST MCDONALD: Yes.
LAMB: Abraham Lincoln.
FORREST MCDONALD: Right.
LAMB: Teddy Roosevelt.
FORREST MC DONALD: Right.
LAMB: I'm going to jump over here to Richard Nixon, and that's either Harry Truman or FDR.
FORREST MC DONALD: That's Harry Truman. You got it. It's interesting that you have trouble with Truman but not with Nixon because most people that I've talked with have trouble identifying Nixon and it's because of the angle; if you tilt it sort of backwards, Nixon is a lot more recognizable and Truman is less so. If you tilt it forward, I think Truman becomes more recognizable.
LAMB: Periodically, the author will also say I don't like that cover. It's not my choice.
LEWIS PULLER, Jr.: Well, basically, you've got a picture on that cover of a legless man with a frown, sitting in front of a cemetery, and people look at it and they think it's going to be a downer. They think it's going to be a sad book. They think, they're looking for something to read, they're going on vacation, they think, oh, my God, I'm not going read about something like this. They don't understand what it's like not to have legs.
They don't realize that really this book is an affirmation. This book is - it is certainly about some difficult things, but it's about some beautiful things, too. It's about the power of love and a relationship between a man and a woman, and a man and his father, and a man and his son, and a man and his country, and a man himself. Those are all love relationships, which are all resolved satisfactorily. And for that reason, I don't think that it's a downer book.
I think it's a real affirmation of the human spirit, but you don't get that from the cover. I think maybe we would have been better off if we put my wife and my children and my dog on the cover with me rather than something like this. I'm looking into the sun in that picture and people look at that and they see a scowl and they think this is a terribly angry man. And I'm not an angry man. I'm a very happy man today. But that's what happens when you have your picture taken at 6 o'clock in the morning and look into the sun.
LAMB: This is what the book looks like. It's called "Fortunate Son," and we've got about five minutes left with Lewis B. Puller, Jr.
NEIL SHEEHAN: The story really was a secondary story during my first six months there. The country was focused on other foreign policy crises; Cuba, Berlin. Those were the main focuses. People hadn't really understood that there was - that we had gone to war in Vietnam.
LAMB: Even though Neil Sheehan's book, Bright Shining Lie, was not actually a Booknotes; it was the forerunner to what led to Booknotes and it was a five-part series.
LAMB: How many other reporters were there when you got there?
NEIL SHEEHAN: Very small number.
LAMB: Do you remember any of them?
NEIL SHEEHAN: Oh, sure. Most of them have stayed friends of mine over the years. There were less than a dozen of us then; Halberstam for The Times; Malcolm Browne, who's now with The New York Times as a science writer.
LAMB: He was AP then?
NEIL SHEEHAN: He was AP. Peter Arnett, who's now with CNN, was also with the AP.
NEIL SHEEHAN: No, he was a reporter.
LAMB: It just so happens that during the five years of Booknotes that Malcolm Browne wrote his book, which talked about Vietnam. And Peter Arnett wrote his book, and it was - over half of it was devoted to Vietnam even though people remember him for the Gulf War primarily. And, of course, Neil Sheehan's book. And then David Halberstam didn't write about Vietnam so much he wrote about the '50s. He had done the best and the brightest book about the Kennedy administration and what led to a lot of the Vietnam early years.
But we just happened to have all of those people that showed up on Booknotes and so it has a - there's a continuity to it, to see those men that had such an important role and what they've done since the early '60s.
LAMB: There's a picture in your book of three people; you're included in this picture. The gentleman on the left is David Halberstam. The gentleman on the right is Neil Sheehan. And the gentleman in the middle is you, AP UPI in the New York Times all in one competitive group there.
MALCOLM BROWNE: There was one of the rare times when we were actually on the same operation together. I don't even remember what the operation was. But, of course, we were all very active competitors; we had to cut each other's throats professionally although we were good friends off the field.
PETER ARNETT: In Saigon in 1962, where I was assigned by the Associated Press - Malcolm Browne was my bureau chief. Neil Sheehan and David Halberstam also covered Vietnam in those days. From them, I learned of the principles of American journalism, freedom of expression, the need to delve into stories, to question decisions made by government, you know, to present the obverse side of the story. And the intellectual courage of all three men, in addition to their physical courage, impressed me and made an imprint on me that has lasted to this day.
LAMB: And you can get a good argument started with a number of people about their impact whether it was good or bad on the whole Vietnam situation.
MALCOLM BROWNE: My colleague - AP colleague Peter Arnett and I were covering a Buddhist demonstration at that time at which the secret police beat up Peter pretty badly and smashed my camera and did some other nasty things and then finally accused Peter and myself of having assaulted them, which of course was nonsense, but I had taken a precaution to photograph these proceedings. And although my camera was smashed, fortunately the film inside survived. I didn't know how I was going to get it out of the country, but I knew I had to somehow or other to defend our position, to show that it was not we who had started this fight nor we who had struck any blows. Dave Halberstam was there too, by the way, and Dave very gallantly stepped in front of Peter and accepted some of the blows - took some of the blows himself.
LAMB: So we've got a nice archive of what some very important journalists thought about their impact on the Vietnam War.
BETTY FRIEDAN: I don't want to do another heavy book like that. I'm going to do short stuff. Maybe I'll do a column. Maybe I'll do a program like you. Maybe I'll do a detective story. Maybe I'll write science fiction or a novel but no more heavy books.
LAMB: How much longer are you going to do this?
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Until I drop.
LAMB: In this country?
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: If they'll have me.
RICHARD BEN CRAMER: I'm going to do nothing until I have about $200 left, and then I'm going to look for work.
LAMB: Our guest has been Susan Faludi. This is what the book looks like. It's called Backlash.
LAMB: The name of the book is called Seize the Moment. Our guest has been Richard Nixon, former president of United States.
LAMB: So what the book looks like, it's in your bookstores and some of the bestseller lists, Legacies: A Chinese Mosaic by Bette Bao Lord, our guest for the past hour. Thank you for joining us.
BETTE BAO LORD: Thank you.
SUSAN SWAIN : But there are people who just love books - basic nature of what they are. And I think there are people who just carve out a little part of their life for reading.
LAMB: Books have been around forever. They'll be around forever and I suspect that they'll be more important than they've never been as time goes by.
SARAH TRAHERN: I don't see Booknotes changing a lot in the next five years, even in the next 10 years. We always like to get feedback from our viewers via America Online or letters to us with suggestions for books and suggestions for changes. But I really see the show staying quite the same. I just wish we could do even more books than we're able to do.
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