tv Q A CSPAN August 14, 2014 6:06pm-7:04pm EDT
to france at a time when they were all only able to go across the north atlantic by failing at shea. and it was rough but it was anything bad traveling on a cruise liner. what a journey that was. and then we got to go a half a day went by land paris, which is a two day trip by a huge cumbersome stagecoach affair. and they would stop halfway and they would see for the first time a european masterpiece and the masterpiece was the berlin cathedral. many of them wrote at length and very much at heart about the impact of this one building this one experience. and they knew that something
greater had begun. been in the old world. and i thought that's it. "the greater journey." they know they are in a greater journey which should be their experience. their spiritual, mental, professional journey in the city of paris where they are trying to rise to the occasion to exile in a particular field whether it was writing or music or painting our scope share are not a sin because many of them went as medical students in the capital of the world.
so they are ambitious to exile and they are going against the trend because to go off to europe was not fashionable yet and it wasn't part of one's broadening education yet. many of them had no money. many of them had no friends in europe. no one in paris and spoke not a word of the language and yet they were brave enough to go to embark on the greater journey. c-span: this renuart painting, when i first saw it i thought it costs a lot of money to put it on there. do you all not? >> guest: know, that belongs to a museum. the oldest bridge in paris still there, looks exactly like
that. you can walk out to that very spot except for the wagon and horses on the bridge would be automobiles. after many people particularly bad day before the actual tower had been built, that bridge was the essence of paris and it still is one of the most magnificent spots anywhere in the world. the kids you really feel you are there. when you are on the bridge you are looking up the river. the seed notre dame, the louvre you see the institute -- the national institute on the other side of the pot note, which is the next bridge up the river. one fellow john santos and from philadelphia said i began to breathe when i got out of that bridge. i was starting to breathe this
sort of free air. c-span: a person by the name of william e. mccullough took this picture. where is it and what year was this taken? >> guest: this was taken last year, last fall october. william b. is my second son. he is a former cameraman and television and now has his own business as a builder in new england. he's a wonderful photographer, a wonderful fellow to travel with and the picture was taken just outside the survival on the west bank which is where many of these young americans went to study. they could go for free. they could go to the school of medicine for free. the french government had a policy that all foreign events could attend their universities for nothing. they have to pay for their room
and board. once they got there, there is no charge for attending the university. it was the greatest university in the world. imagine a country doing that. the experience of it changed several lives dramatically. and consequently changed our story, our history. that is what interests me particularly is what did they bring home, what do they bring back? how did our outlook, culture politics, country change as a consequence of the paris experience? c-span: how many times have you been to paris? >> guest: refers when in 1961. i was part of the administration and we were on our way to the near east. i was doing a magazine about the arab world the u.s. information
agency. and our first time -- there were no just as of yet, so we flew over with a prop plane took forever. we landed at night. in this february, cold rainy and it didn't matter the slightest to us. we were in paris and walked for hours at night, just so thrilled to be there. and we have been going back fairly often ever since. i've never counted at the times that we've been to paris. probably 20 times. maybe more. but i've also done research they are because part of the john adams book took place in paris as you know and the job are synonymous frankly time in paris is a very important part of the american story. but i also was there to do work on my book about the panama canal because so much of the research material is they are.
and then i went back to france to follow harry chernin's experiences in the army in world war i. most of my visits have been because of my work. so we have had a few times when there is strictly for pleasure. always a pleasure. bright co. appeared on our screen is a gallery of the louvre, which we read about in the book. what is it? >> guest: it is a painting by the same man, and mason at the same invented the telegraph, one of the most important inventions of the night 10th century. morse felt obliged to bring european culture back to america. he had gone to paris because fathi said i need paris for my profession, my painting. i will become a better painter
if i spend time there. they all felt that, those who went. hundreds way, but he was one of the first. he decided he was going to do a painting that would show america with what the inside of the great art museum looks like and what great masterpieces looks like. keep in mind, there were no museums of art. no museums of art. you couldn't go to the museum anywhere in the united states. very few paintings of any kind, unless they've been copied for private ownership for the great masters. most of these arab renaissance paintings italian paintings, some of which were already part of the louvre. you see them on the lease of a player in the lower right-hand corner. that has been purchased by francis the first whose portrait
partition hangs over the door up on the right-hand side, right at the corner. >> host: c-span: how big is this painting? >> guest: six feet 89 feet. it is huge. it is much bigger than anything of the kind ever attempted by an american. no american had ever attempted to paint anything like this until then. he did earlier painting, a famous painting, which is the corcoran here in washington of the congress inception that it never been in before. he was always trying to break new ground. but there are 3017 teams in this picture and he -- they are not how they were actually hot and the louvre. he went through the entire collection, over a thousand masterpieces, picking up this painting that he thought americans should know about
where he thought these are the paintings that i truly love, that i care about and desserts made the treasures of the world and i want to share them with my fellow countrymen. so he arranged that mess over in his mind, but he went and copy each of these paintings as they hung in the gallery at the time. many of them were home very high up, just as they are here. so he had to build his own special scaffolding to know from spot to spot to get up there to paint them. now, he himself gave the key to this painting when they came back the wiki went to see it on exhibit you can see which paintings for which, which was the rembrandt, and so forth. but what he didn't give us a key to the people of the painting. and there is in effect a code to this painting done by the men who virtually at the same time
invented the morse code because he got the idea for the morse code from the telegraph and the code while he was in paris, while he was in france. but the code -- every painting is a collection of choices by the author, by the painter. and it's not just what is in the painting. nothing is in a painting by accident. it's always there because somebody has thought about it. but they are also thinking about what is not in the painting, but i'm leaving out just as when one is writing a book or composing a symphony, you're leaving a lot out. so and people in this picture which he has done because he wants to give scale to the room and to the painting, the main room, the grand gallery in the
center of the painting is -- was the largest room in the world. so that asserted that they stay in the painting. this is the south korea, which is a smaller room exactly the same today by the way. paintings aren't there that way. but he is showing you the stance of the space, the scale of the public, cultural treasure opened to the public. but he is not showing you the public that really would have been a manner. there are no french aristocrats in the painting. there are no priests in the painting. there are no soldiers in the painting, all of whom would have been there every time the public
was president and would have been huge crowds always. not just how many paintings there were but how many people came in all kinds of people. now, he does have a one man from brittany who stands at the door to the last, her back to you and that is probably to show that people of all walks of life and you don't live in paris are welcome here and come here. you can tell who she lives by the peak of her cap the way cat is sort of the signature of people coming in from brittany. he himself stands downstage front and center. he is the man bending over the pretty young student who is working making a copy of the baron macey, which is over on the last, the mayor she cannot.
and he is showing himself not just as a painter, but as a teacher. and is very proud of that, samuel morris was. in the left-hand corner is his best friend in paris america not very james panna marc cooper, with his wife and daughter who was also a wife in student coming through the door is a sculpture also an american. and there's another friend of his who was overrun the last two as an american party sending paris. now, with this painting also doesn't show is the tranquility of this setting the warmth of the red walls, the warmth of the club and the grand gallery conveys a sense that all is right with the world.
our site is very walls is one of the most her read back, deadly scorchers ever to hit paris, the great cholera epidemic of 1832. people were literally dying in the streets. dropping dead. 18,000 people died in less than six months, just in the city of paris. both of these men were terrified that they were going to contract the disease and die too. everybody who can get out of paris was leaving. but cooper who is very wealthy because his books, last of the mohicans and others are so successful. he had his wife within who was very a good move. they both were in their 40s. moore's who had no money and
was living very modestly was staying because he was determinedetermine d to finish the painting before his money ran out and he had to leave. cooper out of friendship to morse in to see him through this ordeal came to the louvre every afternoon to be with his pal. to sit with him, talk with him while he worked. it is an amazing story of friendship, of a friend in need and both of these men were similar some ways. they each had a distinguished father. they each went to yale university, your college as it was then. they each lived in a drawer, but they were vastly different in more important ways. and yet this bond of friendship
was like. little i have ever written about are known about. it's a terrific story. and i felt that not only is it an immensely import painting an interesting painting to say the least but it's an amazing story. i could've written a whole book just on this one painting. c-span: how long did it take him? >> guest: hubert.net a year, started in the fall of 1831 and finished 1832. c-span: i've read is coming to the summer? >> guest: is coming to the national gallery, which is a thrill for everyone there because both morse and cooper went to jail. but the fact that it's coming to the national gallery is thrilling. it deserves much more attention than it's been getting for along time. it's been in storage for years. reiko who owned a?
>> guest: the terrorist foundation in chicago. c-span: used to have a museum. >> guest: when you finish, he thought he could maybe get enough money to her than compensate him for all his work. but he might get $3000, $4000 for her which was a considerable amount of money. he couldn't sell it. finally someone from in cooperstown cooper's hometown bought it for $2000. in the 1980s that sold for over $2 million, which was the greatest amount of money ever paid for a painting by an american at that point. no longer that way. but it's a very important painting. c-span: in your book you acknowledge a lot of people, including a man named mike hill. interesting thing that i have read is that he unlocked the magic of the uiq washburne diary. tell us who he was and where the
diary was found. >> guest: first of all mike has worked with me for 25 years as a research assistant. he lives here outside of washington and he is within easy access to not just the great treasure houses of diaries and letters to your the congress and the archives and smithsonian but also collections of places like charlottesville, virginia. and he does research for lots of other people too. he doesn't just work with me. c-span: who does he work with? >> guest: you works with the singer philbrick. he works with a tomas. he works at michael bush lies and a number of people. i don't know all of his client, but he is the best. and kelley hugh washburne a
little background was a congressman from illinois who was a fellow congressmen are fellow politician in illinois with abraham lincoln in a very close friend of jim. and went -- lincoln became president, it was washburne as much as anybody else who kept telling my kin, you've got to give this man grant a full chance to show what he can do because washburne came galena, illinois, which is for grant was living before the civil war started. but would also distinguish washburne was he was one of four brothers who all served in congress in the house or the senate. all four are from different states. all got reelected regularly. all four had distinguished careers. one was a general in the civil war.
another was as the governor of maine appears to have been the first person to refer to the new political party is the republican party. and they grew up on a hardscrabble fireman in western maine in utter poverty. 10 children. and all those children were exceptional. it is an amazing, amazing story. their mother could read though she felt very embarrassed that she might make an embarrassing for her children who became so distinguished if she were seen to be someone who was miseducated as she should have been. but she was a very wise, brave woman who insisted to her children education is everything and if they could get an education and keep learning and keep the love of learning that
there is nothing they couldn't do. after the civil war was over and of course grant had distinguished himself conspicuously washburne was exhausted and when grant became president, he first offered him a position as secretary of state. the washburne was quite ill and he declined it three days later he said i can't do it. so he pointed washburne to administer our ambassador to france, to paris. washburn went over thinking this is going to be just what i need to recover my strength and have a little peace and quiet with my family. he arrived on the eve of the franco prussian war in very short order the germans were marching on paris and very short order the germans surrounded paris and paris was cut off from the world. now all the other ambassadors
for all the other powers that the city, got out except washburne. he says my duty is to stay here. and he stayed through the entire speech, which lasted five months. and he stayed through the terrific, god-awful bloody commune that started, where the french were killing each other by the thousands in the city of paris. she not only stayed in served admirably, helping americans who were there, but also the germans to repair had been living there as workers who are innocent of doing anything wrong, to get them out of the city on the request of the german government some 20,000 i.t. organized and arranged all the special trains and so forth. magnificent humanitarian successful mission.
but throughout fact he also kept a diary every day. in the diary was a just a database, quick little notes, did that, much as so-and-so. no, they are long, superbly written and trees of real substance. there is nothing like them in existence. and they were unknown. we mike hill, found them. and he found them in a place no one would think to look and a library of congress. now what had happened was that the family, or somebody, had taken his letters. he also wrote letters during this time. and copies of the diary. the diary entries were written on separate sheets of paper and later bound in the original
diary. pdip letterpress copies as they were known. and down with the letters so that you couldn't tell a pro-night that there was a letter, it didn't say dear friend. it just at april 9th. and it's brought mixed in that these hundreds of letters. mike going through the letters thinking they were all letters suddenly realized the start letters. and he went to chat flannery who runs the manuscript tradition they are and said what is this? what is a way not? just had never looked at it before either closely. and they suddenly realize these are diary entries. but of course they were letterpress. the original it turns out was that the name the family homestead up in maine. wow and writing a book i was able to draw on the experience
and his attempt to save the life of the archbishop of paris, for example who was imprisoned and going to be executed by the common rss was known. i'm washburne, eliot washburne was protestant. he was not a catholic, but he greatly admired the archbishop and he knew this is a terrible thing happening because they were killing priests executing them any was unsuccessful in saving a man's life. but nobody tried harder to get them out. that old story -- this is a man that again was quietly heroic. his sense of duty with amazing and admiral in the extreme. but also, i think you got a strong sense of duty to keep the diary. he would come in after a
terrible day and see the most heartbreaking, sometimes nauseating experiences and acts of human savagery and sit down at 1:00 in the morning and right log entries and superb english. to use the command of the language is tumbling. he was a man who never really had an education as we would call it today. but this is true of the letters and diaries i worked with through the whole book. people like charles sumner, people like emma willard, the great champion of higher education or women or elizabeth blackwell, the first woman doctor in america. they were wonderful writers. and they weren't writing writing. they were ready to be published. they were made letters. it was a tie when people believed in writing letters and it was part of life and what
you're expected to do. sumners story is so arresting. massachusetts senator. senator charles sumner, one of the most important figures in 18th century america and that he was the most powerful voice for evolution and the united states. he is the one who was nearly beaten to that on the floor of the senate with a heavy walking stick with a southern congressmen who was offended by speech sumner had given. sumner went over -- sumner graduated from harvard, went to harvard law school, practiced law for three years, decided i don't know enough. my education is not sufficient. i went to learn more. am going to go to paris. silly part or thousand dollars.
attending lectures and everything. geology classics. you had to learn french for the course he organized himself with tutors and about a month was able to do it. undaunted courage of these people is inspiring. and he attended the lectures and he kept a journal and the journalist fabulists. it's been published. four volumes. in the journal, he writes about what he's listening to or who he's meeting about his learning and so forth. but there is one entry for this speaker was sort of tedious and he found himself looking around the lecture hall mind wandering
and he noticed that the students, others events in several hundred nearly a thousand people in this lecture hall. the other students treated the black students who were there just as though they were like everybody else. dressed the same, acted the same. c-span: what year? >> guest: this is in 1836. c-span: howled with event? >> guest: he was gone. still in his 20s. and he wrote in the diary, maybe how we treat like people at home is the result of what we've can type and not part of the natural order of themes. that's almost an exact quote, unquote. it was an epiphany. as if he said my father life,
truly. because we know he had been to washington on a trip for he went to paris and it seemed slaves working in the field in maryland and thought they look like that's all they were good for. had no sympathy for people a sensible interest in african-americans at all. he came home with this new point of view got into politics, was the lack did to the united states senate in his 40s, early 40s. and he became the powerhouse voice for abolition. changed by that experience in paris. so that is bringing something on that's not tangible. not a sculpture or painting or musical composition. but he brought home an idea. and a new mission.
they beat him left him very damaged both psychologically and physically. he went back to paris several times to leave himself of these anxieties he felt and the inability to perform as a senator. and our thoughts and so they carried on. i think he's one of the most admirable figures in our story. his statue stands in the public garden. i doubt that one bostonian and it doesn't have any idea who he was. we all should know. c-span: your timeframe on this whole book is for when to win? >> guest: 18321970, 30 years. it hasn't been look that much. a great deal has writ. marvelous things have been written about jefferson,
andersen frank lindh in the 18th century and an enormous amount has been writ about the team 20s and 30s but i felt that this. was just waiting and issuer appealed to me. i think that -- i've been thinking a lot about this idea this point view. i think history as you know, it's much more than just politics and soldiers social issues. it is also meant to send and science than art music theater, poetry and ideas. we shouldn't bump things into categories. it's all part of the same thing. one of the most interesting areas in this study that i done
as oliver wendell holmes senior, who spent his whole life devoted his whole life working a career of medical science on the harvard medical school faculty for 35 years in a very prominent figure in american medicine. but he saw there was no incongruity. he also wrote poetry and essays and helped to start a magazine called the "atlantic monthly." this is all part of it. i think that is the way history are to be taught and i think it's the radar to be written. it's the way i would like to think myself more bad as time goes on. in my own life i at one point i wanted to be a painter. at another point i thought i wanted to be an actor. at another point i wanted to be an architect.
all along i thought i wanted to be a writer. but it's all they are. it is all part of what we are about, we human beings. history is human. i was writing down -- of writing down massachusetts avenue a number of years ago on my way to work driving and i got to share it in circle. it was rush hour. the traffic was terrific. it was a traffic jam in sheridan circle. and there is sold though sheridan in the center of the circle. but they requisite agent on his pad. it's a wonderful statue. dutiful statute. he's the one that took the faces of the presidents in the black hills. and i wondered at the time as i
wonder about charles sumner in the public garden in boston and the americans have any idea who that man is. people drive around the circle every day, twice a day and none have any idea who they are or why it's called shared their goal. at the same time, gershon is rhapsody blew was playing on my car radio. i sat gershwin is as alive this minute were me as anybody else stuck in this traffic jam to anyone who's tuned in to the same station as he was in the 1930s. he's real. he's at best. as part of this. who is the more important character in history? phil sheridan or george gershwin? the answer is they are very important. it may be that thinking about gershwin started me thinking about americans in paris on the whole part of gershwin's
repertoire and the movie and team kelley and all of that and paris paris and paris. i don't know where the idea first began. maybe back when i was in high school. i don't know. c-span: one of the things you read through the book or 500 pages lots of different characters, you read about central paris. today there's an 11 million plus people in the whole area. we have some photographs put on the screen so you can decide where to start we can just throw up anything with god in that area. shuns other day palais royale. i mean, how much of an area did you read about? >> guest: right now we are looking at the tillery gardens. they are very important in the story about the people i've written about.
they are right at the louvre. one ended loot and baby duck tours sean doleac, which goes at. you can see it in the difference there. the general neighborhood of this book is very much the same today as it was then. that of course is the glass pyramid in the center of the courtyard of the louvre. the lose itself there you are in the sand, looks like upon a start, which is the pedestrian bridge, wonderful bridge for people need of iron as it was originally. is a favorite place to gather to walk along by the river today still. the palais royale, that looks like the pond and which i guess
it is. it's hard for me to see. if i were to walk with you brian around that section of paris, i could show you an amazing workplaces that are just the same as they were then, where these particular people all work. rosie and i stay in the hotel of the louvre, which is not a foot of the avenue of
the opera. if you have a picture of the avenue of opera that was in the book, it is taken from what is called the bizarro room, which is where desire looked at a number of his paintings and looking straight at the avenue for the opera house. that looks the same today as it did then. this of course is looking at the
eiffel tower which was built in 1889 for the 1889 worlds fair. the hotel of the louvre which is still there, where morse and his family say that i cannot later on yet it is where mark twain state. it is where nothing a hot thursday. history is everywhere in harris. that is one of the things that so impressed the people when
it went over. keep in mind that everything here was still relatively new. independence hall wasn't even 100 years old. we think of it as an historical building, not even 100 years old. when they got to the cathedral, a great gothic cathedral that was built before columbus ever sailed, that to them was an overwhelming experience in itself. sumner caught a prestige of age.
there is the router would fully with a loop on the left. c-span:.you have your own painting the boat? >> guest: the painting belongs to me. it's an engraving, part of a collection i have, this one right here. if you can bring up that picture that is then the very back page comedy and sheets of the book. the opening and she is of the avenue of the opera looking up. now, the end she. there you go. now that picture if you took her wagons and horses that view from the hotel loses exactly the same today. over year by the mountainous in our u.k. taxi stand.
rosie and i stayed in the hotel louvre. this is close to two window we've been getting. turn to the opposite end of the book. and that is the router of louis. that is about 1900. that looks exactly the same today to with the stores on the last. that is the artillery guard and tense and part of the louvre on the right building up on the right. that picture and the one at the end she our postcards that my mother's parents brought back from paris after a visit there about 1970. photographs are probably taken about a team hungry.
those postcards were at the narcotic in an album. i saved all the postcards. they are just as sharp as you can see, as clear as if they have been taken yesterday and they are over 100 years old. my mother with seven years old so she remembers some of it. c-span: in the book, you bring your family and a lot. tim lawson, married to dori, who is your daughter who represents you. tin is a very good answer. >> guest: he went with me to see this painting in the gallery of the louvre one of his same storage and xiao cocco. he went with me to see the faint darkness work in cornish, new
hampshire. he went with me to the metropolitan. he went with me often into a museum, particularly the museum of fine arts in boston to look at surgeons who are there. c-span: disfigured daughter melissa read every -- >> guest: double-team as it were. my son david junior and he would know from my grammar and punctuation very carefully. and rosie is the editor in chief. i read everything or she read everything aloud to me. i want to hear it. i try to pray for the ear as well as the eye. it is with all the great writers i have it hired so much of my life did. c-span: what book is this for you? point number? >> guest: number nine. reiko are you going to do
another book? >> guest: i don't know. c-span: the last time we talked about this business was in 2005. you said you had 12 ideas for a book and this is the book that came out of the 12 ideas. we've got another list of 12. >> guest: i felt a great deal about that because it's been different. i hugely enjoyed every subject have undertaken except one when i stopped the project after a couple of months. i knew it wasn't right for me. c-span: that was -- >> guest: picasso, yes a long time ago. i am not in anyway trying to say that previous work has been less than i wouldn't have wished.
but i have had a better time writing this book in anything i've ever done. i think in part because so much of it is about subjects that really matter to me they matter to me all my life. it's what i loved. not that i don't love history in the usual sense politics american history of all types. but to be able to write about people like i guess the sculptor, to write about louis gottschalk, the new orleans musician who is so brilliant as a pianist. c-span: all went to paris. >> guest: all went to paris. i love architecture. in some ways architecture must
be are most important art form because we've lived in it. it shapes us. paris really is about architecture. there is no natural splendor they are, no snow-covered mountain range in the distance, no beautiful shoreline on the sea. the rivers are there, but it's what people have told and what they put their heart and soul into. it is not what is in the vcm's. it is the museums themselves. and the idea that there was no school of architecture in america. so these young men break richard morris louis sullivan, charles bachand, hh richardson who
changed the look of our cities change the look of america. all went there to study architecture came back, different from what they had been. copley square, trinity church on wednesday, hh richardson, look across the square boston public library, trained in the mozart and very similar in many ways to the googly attack some gin of a in paris and he said so. they were taking -- use the word earlier inspiration. inspiration from paris. and again and again that they offer a, they wanted to bring something to make things better here. they were doing something they
felt as a service to their country, not just around visions. c-span: i'm going to put up on our screen the painting you write about websters reply. how long did he spend? >> guest: george healey is to me a great american story. george healey was an irish boy who grew up in the streets of boston. no money, no education, the talent, to paint and draw. he was told you are good. you could go up away with this talent. but he knew -- he had to go train with somebody. the art school. so without any money, except what he had been able to save no knowledge knowing no one in paris he went to paris and he
became the most sought after and in many ways most accomplished portrait painter american torture pain i'm in 1870. there were several of his paintings at the white house. there were several panes in the natural portrait gallery. there were most every major gallery in the united states. he was phenomenal. but this painting right here is the biggest single work he ever did by far. i can't remember the dimensions, but they are enormous. bovo pascual behind this stage at faneuil hall in boston, one of the most historic event in the united states. this is websters reply to the famous moment in the congress and dana webster is on the right. and all these other characters are per trade fair from actual
studies that he did at the time. so it is inaccurate, historic document. he's also put a few people in there that were not present when websters delivered his great speech because he wanted to include them. it was painted in paris. it cost him almost two years of his work, of his life. he got mike morris scarcely what he hoped he would recommend for it and it was $2000. he said it didn't matter because he recorded something, made a contribution not just to the art of portraiture, but to the history of this country. c-span: how long did it take you to write this? >> guest: for years.
c-span: where did you do most of the writing? >> guest: i did a lot of the writing on martha's vineyard where we live and we also spent a good part of the year. i did some of it when we were traveling. i spend a great deal of time in washington boston knee-jerk, but cannot paintings, look at architecture and then of course doing research but the original letters and diaries. c-span: to raid began on may 25th. it got framingham massachusetts washington d.c., top of the head author series, politics & prose here new york city june six. jeremy, what a fair count of dallas museum of art peerage and 11, heinz history center in the
hometown of pittsburgh. june 14 is a wife at a? wayzata, minnesota. why they are? >> guest: it is outside of minneapolis. because they wonder friend of mine bill water, who is a great actor in the national park foundation has organized an event and want to come and do it. c-span: harvard bookstore in the tour of the city is closed later ron in june and ports men new hampshire. how do you feel about this? >> guest: i love it. ..
c-span: maybe i missed it that you didn't answer my question about whether you were going to do another book. >> guest: no, i didn't. c-span: what's your thinking? >> guest: i'm thinking all the time about it. something happens when one of these ideas just? i guess that's it and i can explain what that process is. i just know that's what i want to do. and it will happen. it will be different.
i have never undertaken a subject that i knew a lot about. i didn't know much about john adams. i wasn't an adams scholar or a truman scholar or a brooklyn bridge scholar. and if i knew all about it i wouldn't want it to write the book because to me, it's the adventure of it, the learning. i think about how much i'm going to learn by taking on this subject. and i don't want -- i want to be surprised. i want to make new discoveries. i want to not just make discoveries of some collection of letters someplace you wouldn't expect to find them but i want to make the discovery that comes with suddenly oh i get it. that's how it works. that's who did that. that to me is, the work is the real word.
c-span: the name of the book is the greater journey americans in paris and our guest has been david mccullough. >> guest: thanks brian. i'd love to have a conversation with you and i might write another book just on the chance that i get to come back and we can talk. c-span: it's a deal. for a dvd copy of this program call 1-877-662-7726. for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program visit us at q&a us at q&a.org. q&a programs are also available at c-span caught -- podcast.
c-span: david mccullough author of the greater journey of all the people you write about in this book who would you really not want to meet and talk with because of what you learned about them? >> guest: i can't think of one. i will tell you why. this book was different for me inform then anything i have ever done because if you are writing a biography or writing the history of an event or an accomplishment there is a certain obvious track, a certain structure