Booknotes Section III
Below are quotes from original Booknotes program interviews and digital representations of elements of books that are part of the Brian Lamb Booknotes Collection and featured in the University Libraries' Booknotes exhibit. To view an item in detail please click on the thumbnail representation to the right and then click its image in the item record.
The Fifties, David Halberstam
[Excerpt from the July 11, 1993 Booknotes interview with writer, David Halberstam. This interview dealt with with Halberstam's book, The Fifties?]
LAMB: When did you get the idea for this book?
Mr. HALBERSTAM: I've had it for a long time. I wanted to do an autobiography, but I don't think journalist autobiographies are any good. Someone writes a biography, "Six Presidents Who Have Known Me and Six Presidents I Have Known," and it turns out he hasn't known these presidents very well. It turns out you write about being overseas in your overseas incarnation. I was a young reporter in the Congo. I don't really remember much about the Congo except the difficulty I had filing from the telex. I mean, it's not a clear memory. I don't have clear memories of many Congolese, or now Zairian, people.
I think journalistic memoirs usually go, "I did not know Gen. de Gaulle very well and he and I were not intimate, but I'd like to think that we had this warm, respectful relationship, and one day after one of his press conferences, the general came over to me, signaled that he wanted to talk, and he said to me, "Monsieur Halberstam, I thought your question today was beautifully phrased and your French was perfect." That's your relationship with General de Gaulle. So this was a way of doing an autobiography -- that which formed me, that which I lived through -- without having to go through the boredom of my own life.
[Signed title page from Brian Lamb's copy of The Fifties. Shown here is the title page of the signed copy of The Fifties that David Halberstam promised Lamb during their interview.]
LAMB: By the way, as you can see here, there is no index in this book. In order to find out what's in each of the chapters . . .
Mr. HALBERSTAM: There's no index?
Mr. HALBERSTAM: You got cheated. There is an index to the book.
Mr. HALBERSTAM: Yes. You got cheated. I'm very sorry. We will replace this with a hand-signed book. There is an index. They gave you a flawed copy. It probably makes it all the more valuable.
Tell Me a Story: Fifty Years and Sixty Minutes in Television, Don Hewitt
[Excerpt from the April 1, 2001 Booknotes interview with television producer, Don Hewitt. This interview dealt with with Hewitt's book, Tell Me a Story: Fifty Years and Sixty Minutes in Television]
BRIAN LAMB, host: Don Hewitt, why did you call your book "Tell Me A Story"?
Mr. DON HEWITT (Author, "Tell Me A Story: 50 Years & 60 Minutes in Television"): Because that's the guiding principle of "60 Minutes." I've always said that all you have to do is tell me a story. I sometimes go into a screening room, and I see spectacular footage and great characters, and then I say, `Hey, this is terrific. What's the story?' Tell me a story that has a beginning, a middle and an end. And I don't know why everybody else doesn't do that, but nobody seems to...
LAMB: And if this book was plopped down on your desk, potential "60 Minutes" show, which story is the best story for television in here?
Mr. HEWITT: I don't know. You'd better ask Barbara Walters because she's done this thing. Best story for television? Sinatra.
LAMB: What about Sinatra?
Mr. HEWITT: Threatened to kill me...
Please follow the link below to view the interview:
From the President: Richard Nixon's Secret Files, Bruce Oudes
[Excerpt from the April 16, 1989 Booknotes interview with journalist/historian, Bruce Oudes. This interview dealt with Oudes' book, From the President: Richard Nixon's Secret Files]
Mr. Oudes, regarding the the subject matter of his book:
...And then, of course, on top of that what we saw after we looked at the memos were a lot of very interesting staff memos written by primarily Patrick Buchanan and Charles Colson and H. R. Bob Haldeman and so the logical way to to deal with that simply was to arrange them in chronological order.
And they tell a story that way of a Presidency from beginning to end -- and in Nixon's case, of course, and the case of several of our recent Presidents, it was not particularly a happy ending. But you do build to a climax of considerable dimension in the early summer of 1972, late Spring with the Watergate break-ins. And there was a great deal of paper that flowed through. I tried to leave as much of that paper flow -- get as much of that into the book as possible particularly from those first six months of 1972.
What happened is that after James McCord started to sing, as it were -- tell his story to the courts in May and April of, I believe it was of 1973 -- Richard Nixon simply stopped dictating memoranda. I think there were two in the final sixteen months of his Presidency, and I've checked with the archives. There are no further Nixon memoranda to come out from that period. There are some others from the earlier period that will come out. Many are being still held of course for national security classification reasons...
Inside the Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation’s Capital, John McCaslin
[Excerpt from the October 17, 2004 Booknotes interview with journalist, John McCaslin. This interview dealt with McCaslin's book, Inside the Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation’s Capital]
LAMB: This book, "Inside the Beltway," is about what?
MCCASLIN: It`s basically a compilation of the last 25 years of what I`ve experienced in journalism, going on my 25th year now. But I go back even further, having grown up inside the Beltway. I write a little bit about the history of Washington, the history of Alexandria, which was actually there before Washington, D.C., George Washington`s hometown, tell a lot of anecdotes about everything from the Revolutionary War up through the Civil War, and then go right into the present day situation and the problems we`re having in Iraq today.
LAMB: Eighteen thousand items?
MCCASLIN: I have written, I figure -- I`ve been writing the "Inside the Beltway" column now for going on 13 years, about 18,000 anecdotes and thousands of columns. In fact, when I compiled everything, just for research purposes, of what I`ve written, only with regard to the "Inside the Beltway" column, I had so many books sitting on my floor that could have been written. It was very difficult to choose the best material to put in narrative form in this book.
LAMB: Someone who`s never been here, what does "Inside the Beltway" mean?
MCCASLIN: "Inside the Beltway" is obviously -- the Beltway is a 66-mile ring of heavy traffic that encircles Washington, D.C. None of us local folks, I`m sure yourself, like to even get on the Beltway. It`s a treacherous drive, usually at a standstill, I might add. But it`s also an expression in Washington, and I`ve written an entire chapter about what "Inside the Beltway means by going through all of my columns, and as well as new fresh material, quoting all the senators and congressmen on Capitol Hill who talk about, you know, having this Beltway malady. And it can be something negative. It can be something positive, if you make it so. But usually, it`s to the opposite extreme. You get caught up in Washington and all the politics, all the shenanigans, and it`s like a syndrome.
Manuscript Annotations found in Inside the Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation’s Capital
Seen here are manuscript annotations found in Lamb's copy of Inside the Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation’s Capital. They were presumably used by Brian Lamb during research for his interview of John McCaslin on the Booknotes program.
Emerson: The Mind on Fire, Robert D. Richardson Jr.
Excerpt from the August 13, 1995 Booknotes interview with author, Robert D. Richardson Jr. This interview dealt with Richardson's book, Emerson: The Mind on Fire]
Regarding the book Emerson: The Mind on Fire:
LAMB: Hundred chapters, five pages each.
RICHARDSON: In the book.
LAMB: When did you decide to do that?
Mr. RICHARDSON: Well, I had a wonderful teacher at Harvard, W.J. Bate, who wrote very great biographies of Keats and then of Johnson, and his advice to me when he discovered that I was daring to write a biography was to write in short takes; if at all possible, to write in short pieces so that the reader feels that he or she is getting somewhere. I mean, that's a big, heavy book. And people have busy lives and they have lots else to do, and if you can sit down and read four or five pages and feel like you're getting somewhere instead of these big 30 or 40-page or 50-page chapters, it makes a book readable that might not otherwise seem so...
LAMB: Did you know that in the preface in the first paragraph, you were going to get our attention that quickly? Did you do that on purpose?
Mr. RICHARDSON: I certainly did, but I can't really take all the credit for that. My wife really insisted that's how I start the book.
LAMB: And how did you start it?
Mr. RICHARDSON: I started the book with the moment when the young Emerson, who is a minister, is walking out to
Roxbury to visit the grave of his wife, and he opens the coffin of his wife, who has now been dead a year and two months...
Joseph McCarthy: Reexamining the Life and Legacy of America’s Most Hated Senator, Arthur Herman
Excerpt from the February 6, 2000 Booknotes interview of author, Arthur Herman. This interview dealt with Herman's book, Joseph McCarthy: Reexamining the Life and Legacy of America’s Most Hated Senator]
Brian Lamb ...Why do you think we needed to re-examine the life and legacy of America's most-hated senator?
Professor ARTHUR HERMAN (Author, "Joseph McCarthy: Reexamining the Life and Legacy of America's Most Hated Senator"): Well, there are a couple of reasons. One is that we now know a lot more about the times and the context in which McCarthy had his political career and built his career of notoriety. We also know a lot more about Joe McCarthy, the man, and about his own life. And what I wanted to do was to really put it together in a book that would give people a broad introduction, both to the period, but also to Joe McCarthy, the man; to understand who he was, why he has the kind of tremendous re--reputation and notoriety that he does and to understand where that came from, what the origins of it were and maybe to sort of rethink just what we really do, how we really assess Joe McCarthy now, with almost 50 years of distance between ourselves and him.