thumbnail of A Word on Words; 2719; Harold Evans
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
building on dancing in the once again welcome to word on words for the second time in the mormon quarter century this program on the air they were off site away from the bbc in tv this is coming to you from the first moments of the free form first and center at vanderbilt university and it's very appropriate that we're at the first amendment center because our guest today carol evans is well the world for journalists and editors welcomed were words eric thank you terry has written the american century and harriet many people think that the american century will think you're talking only about the twentieth they forget that george washington was sworn in seventy nine constitution was ratified them in eighty nine until the book begins with the sweep west at a benjamin harrison is taking over from grover cleveland you
tell us why you get a century there don't even understand america older americans incentives to go back to the pivotal moment which happens to be the beginning of the second hundred is america anything eighty nine the frontier is officially declared ended and that is called the continent has been looking inward now it's going to stop looking out for the spanish american war it's also be good when the struggle between mali and labor are going to intensify we going to see a dramatic rise of populism in the west leading eventually to the fusion of populism in the democratic party which has residences today so the beginning of a long narrative really in eighty nine falsetto approval <unk> the beginning all the amateur being given status because he was at the top of the book brown is invented in their interest in new internet ad and the head of the hair i should say terry that the book is
filled chock full of wonderful photographs that depict the time there's a photograph i've never seen a jp morgan but the great to the great ronald barron right power broker with no i had no idea he had a ball in business to help the island that isn't driven by jp morrell either a lot he made that he said americans good enough for me through which william jennings runs that when he's finished with it and give it back to us well speaking with him giving one there to photograph of william jennings bryan and it really so texas helps take us through this week a giant a giant are winning crime william jennings bryan who is married to the great day the great arthur did not want a nation crossed ago i mean he speaks the debt went by when she won the democratic nomination is still level and you can actually hear it
was there were cassette live included them in in my book that he says if you can do what you like with your stitches but if you let the countryside g k grass will grow in your sixties and you never have the food and use that as an argument about whether the money supply should be based tied to go which meant the moment of going around which meant that deflation was taking place and the farmers were really really terrible for was a tremendous speech in court he was a mistake then to time shows to silver we should have done if you'd been and a bit more far sighted was times of student monitor system you have to think about it that that money is starting to someone was not cooperate with the entities but his charismatic handsome man enters his life defending fundamentalism in the scopes trial in the storefront and there is that and you do it that there is a great pitcher brian when he and our overhead and had traction in macon and not that interested me and i sort of the view in a wreath and a private space that
story was selling real estate and closer alice you're a native of great britain and the uk this country in mid fifties to take a look at as a country we were journalists i say fell love with that country and i don't think you could read this book or that not the case this fighting is very heavy to lift american consulate that it's even caught of the book ha maybe years to put out there you drop it don't let them out play is it is its breath and its depth are on no one has gotten such rave reviews no wonder it's a nod from the very first day up on the new york times bestseller list where it remained says as we speak six weeks after publication right now and in approaching this monumental
task of an entire century and really began a little before the century with grover cleveland story of how little anecdotes along the way and in the book than and that one anecdote shows ma ma where is bought on the white house staff here's his story isn't given because of the clinton side of the moment is to is it tended to go cleveland as an example of what should take place as he said to his friends whenever you do tell the truth is often forgotten by commentators david cleveland as it wasn't such a saint because what do you do with the mother of his bastard child he had admitted to an insane asylum you pointed out in an orphanage cleveland didn't have much of a heart yeah and then you do take this all the way through beyond the reagan bush years and the very last the last illustration and book
is that marvelous cartoon bill clinton with all the other presidents supposedly the inaugural is where the concept for that foley was served say my wife of the new yorker which is no longer there but the city commission then sold to do that and find where about the caption now because it is the president who took his in the twenty first century with bill clinton i hope positive that it still survives in a baby's of joy in the new book all the presidents' and incidentally almost every alternate president almost has some scandal attached at postal political wages with root beer and culture with regular watergate or all but warren harding and his is that this is as a people don't know the signals into memoir a moderately talking to offer a moment as everyone is about these days about sex or a logging had a fifteen year affair with a wife of his best friend he went on to germany came back enamored of the
germans and she said to me if you vote with woodrow wilson for declaring war on germany i will expose a whole fifteen years well into the ripples would look at what it did so with woodrow wilson's so what's the answer the answer is the republican party gave her twenty thousand dollars and put a row of a slow boat to japan and he was never heard of again that is certainly didn't know and nine the day michael lewis's knows slow boat to defend the idea it terribly impressed harriet with how you take you take the anecdotes and create themes throughout the story is it's so it's an outrage to suggest that pro racism in america as an anecdote that clearly does not or what you know again very early on in the century pointing out for people like it will
live debbie be do borders but you deal with that booker t washington and you let us know that the roots of what was to come the racial revolution of the nineteen sixties really were buried in that distant past one of those relatively odd dynamic and they're relatively young still dynamic leaders were beginning to prick the conscience of the country as ida b wells is an amazing story because long before montgomery alabama where i was the nineteen fifties six that ida b wells organized a boycott of the trolley cars in memphis tennessee because the city fathers were doing nothing about a terrific rush of lynchings is a turn of the century and she was a baptist she was the journalism the newspaper observed burned down but before was burned out she was able to show that most of the lynchings were nothing to do with sex they weren't white owned black business competition and the blessing
move into a relatively successful small black businesspeople their campaign ended lynching in memphis for the full twenty years of the twentieth of no more vigilante violence that he was a terrifically brave christian woman and then of course the conflict between booker t washington believed that you should accept the plessy v ferguson ruling separate but equal and no votes for the blacks against terror dubois or dubois where we've had to pronounce it this great scholar became marxist indicted and on the night before the march on washington this he believes they should educate and fight for the vote and of course he's a great streams of comfort which runs through until the civil rights bill of course it explodes in the dubois so we wanted to pick certain areas certain european background of boys muscled and i think the self styled shopper will carry out less take another thing that you'd get a look at its
beginning to close it shortly after wave move west to move to the monopolies that power structure of corporate america moving and the industrial revolution and then the origins of labor movement and again that's a story that you fall or all the way through again in the thirties you come to award roof of the ruth rosen violence there and then on through to jimmy hoffa and his problems this violent death again a theme that that begins early in that in the century in putting together these this history i'm interested in as a writer how to handle did you know going and had to work from an outline going and that you know with an intimate of race here and then ultimately you'd be come up again the point there were definitely killing
there will be well it was in the fifties i came across race in a very particular way i was interviewed their eyes first there's nothing to interview a white citizens council and i'm at the same time to see dr benjamin maze of morehouse college in atlanta so i was very conscious of race and ended the difference between the wonderful people into tamil plantations in mississippi very gracious and you were full of fury the outside agitators as i saw them in the fifties were coming in and they are many of them out of it so it's a shooter that black workers but certainly didn't want to exercise in the voting rights law if you go back and i'm glad you pointed out the world was i began at making it is that everything begins in plessy v ferguson separate vehicle after a short period after reconstruction which dresses in louisiana blacks occupy the assembly as you know have more of a lot of privileges and is the same time when an englishman as infected
america will reinforce american tendency to listen for an economics and spencer social darwinism is invented and that still keep coming alone today a low rate and the former social darwinism his heart that he didn't carry out a social dominance program which means survival of the fifties no help of the board so that started in the eighteen at night and reinforcing the american tendency to not interfere at the same time that if you go west and as a symbol of america is the covered wagons circle with his community action so you have all the time throughout american history a conflict between the desire for individual freedom no interference and the american genius for associations to topple called for cooperation he cursed me that they have that perhaps no no you're going and you do go to ship assistance if you are american in every sense of the word
some of this country knows this but it occurred to me that no european few cents of the total have been quite so perceptive as you in putting together the sweeping history of a whole century and i mean i wonder i know you work on it ten twelve years must have been a most of the challenge readers a couple is a cause of a violation i didn't i suppose this book is look he was supposed to be finished in nineteen eighty nine that i missed the deadline by ten years and my new favorite friends always written about that the point the point about writing a book that i thought i knew about america i visited forty states and shaken and the last surviving member geronimo his indian tribe bingo oklahoma nineteen fifty six have an olympian leslie to tell the truth it was a voyage of discovery for me it's like it wouldn't be charged only child when i came across them are those individuals
that made a difference in america cause the main cause of the individuals' individuals some of whom i met some of my read about and differences the freedom of the press is immensely are beholden to a little with us in the group also shapiro in minnesota as you know many people don't you actually a huge resistance to the mold extortions led all the way to the pentagon papers case and the fruit no fire straight so i was continually tries and reading i read five thousand four hundred books in writing this puzzle thing to do and it was a voyage of ignorance as well because a lot of things i didn't know as i went along and got more more excited in fact everything i should have been a ten years well mary with it and i would like to go even distinguished editor of the london sunday times you have a book publisher you were there for the random house
which published the american century but not not commissioned army not commissioned by you i should say that while i think everyone knows that i have been given to you now are editors for of the atlantic monthly your editor of new york daily news you're the editor of us news new report you take all these jobs and leasing larger than life as an american century since a book largely like let's focus for a moment on marco's triumphs heard the expression was not and then deal for a few years with a dark side well they need a great triumph to my mind the whole world's in the great depression and so they're not get into this thing and that was the lozenges behind them pretending to be good and the voter id yet the great triumph the united states in my judgment is that you know what was happening in the woman great depression franklin roosevelt the devices sold the great depression
but what he did was to preserve democratic ways of dealing with it whereas in many many other countries the move to totalitarianism was enormously strong whistle germany italy nor was dennis is in britain to that direction which resisted and have a tumor to his credit also resisted that the roosevelt's the tremendous trouble leaving the country and visiting the democratic habit and then of course not simply preserving american democracy but saving democracy and freedom around the world and it will want to have the end will want to and roosevelt harry truman continue was meant what an astonishing thing it is a base rate probably want a war doesn't know to plunder the losers which is what the soviet union didn't sit heavily in france and germany but i say the marshall plan point four gigs eight and lifts up the former enemies and then through forty years of cold war sustains them until the new freedom was born in europe that the freedom has never been
known before throughout eastern europe so it's astonishing achievement and you know after the first war as you pointed out so so well we in this country struggle with the whole concept of a league of nations and then after helping liberate europe i guess liberating europe and where war one i'm working comes along and having made a mistake once we don't like it and we do full on sundays you say help look up the defeated they're the defeated enemy and make a lot of the thing was a point when you mentioned dark moments that it was a dark moments and i understand the reasons for it was a triumph of isolationism and that very poignant moment when woodrow wilson speaking in pueblo colorado tried to sell legal basis to make some people i see in favor of all the evidence is they would but the legal basis the population and the republican right wing is against it's incredible what would always make the personality has accused woodrow wilson is against it
wilson collapses as a stroke and back in washington and his wife pretenses not really open he's too stubborn to negotiate and then isolationism prevails and the rise of fascism could have been stopped anytime through the thirties early at the better i just imagining setting its leadership but it doesn't do it and in the end has to pay a terrible price in blood and those people who is very interesting about american history those people who most vehement and the cold war is will buy was often the people who were isolationists and the surface there was they brought that terrible tragedy of an enslaved europe and the millions of god it will want to talk about about the dark side and isolationism was was clearly more than a moment to concerts and then we come in to the fifties another great victory ago war another dark side to mccarthyism emerges
and grips the country it does but at the same time it's very interesting what it was worth at the end and the causes and freedom prevails to do differ is supported individuals many buried brave individuals of mavis gallant air and so the when you get related descent says in the vietnam war was a protection for those free expression so and make it tends to merge from crisis to crisis with a great history to the end of it and i hope it happens in the present and you know you have a wonderful photograph of lee yeah of a hollywood actors marching on washington just fire all have the hollywood ten many of them were later embarrassed of it out of the solo and ten were indeed randy komisar and then there is the pervasive patients were shadows of our country
that that that the bottomless evil called domestic violence and i don't mean violence in the home village i mean violence in this country the lynchings so rights movement the assassinations political assassinations disposable of the shadows those tests as jess the darkness for a country where you cause the return of characters there were pro quo that was the and he looked back at this american presidents viruses extraordinary going from president after president roosevelt was look if you live in house is a shop that was taken him give his intent to murder truman we know about ford and reagan and the horse candidate baldwin and jack and you go back and the law center and teddy roosevelt going to make a speech on men takes a sort of it's in the chest he has the speech here and the citizens we just
save lives with his and within the limits of being they're victims of those only says he's a violent one hopes is diminishing and then the reasons for a complex walk the set of the donors helped to do it aereo money ask you to choose than the few moments talk about the greatness of the country i mean having analyzes deeply is as you immerse yourself in writing of the spokesman years what is it about this country that route to and what is about the countries that you know you won't tell about the most simple so the thing is the dignity of the individual the sense of an individual having a quality alone won't be worth as much as a love alone and without any sense of hierarchy and where you come
from and if your family is important but there's no sense of as the best of the city out maybe but this individual can do it what he wants and if he can do well he can do well if the case no commercial mead to create a piece of that and that was for american history and introspective it's part of the ethos of the comfort and the thing that's very very important thing for you of expression and the freedom to travel and freedom to all this essential truth upon the greatest american that generosity isn't really striking a very contentious to have referred to the end of the war but that's only one small example do know however you can pick up the figures populations gross national pro whatever it is there's nothing to compare with the individual generals of americans have been nothing and it's amazing that when you do this in the two or three times well says that generosity the dignity for the individual freedom of color in this society who was at the families'
needs to be protected and the recognition of the family and the community those are all aspects of american greatness know i love my country and i know my form up allegiances you stayed at many high court has their creativity individualistic but these characters use of america the love for freedom the recognition individual the protection of the courts for it that the worst of the individual a very crucial and the constitution says it'll cost great gift from the founders and owners keep trying to aspire to that and the important thing for the next century joe i think is that there were individuals or with whomever is in terms keep playing a part in the growth of american democracy and if they don't it will be corrupted and are lost the more people don't vote more people leave it to others whether to the unions are employers or the state the more american democracy said and
there he was it depends entirely on the individual participation and involvement with the listeners we talked to all the new immigrants coming in to learn about moving more than two hundred it has to be reminded the american people time and time again that the freedoms enjoyable be won by individual effort and having looked at the last century and successes and that is there what's your journalistic prediction what's your editorial judgment a central metal and essentially we are being arrogant about america's post office of the leading militia part and although eating only simple count on the super bowl a responsibility i did maggie needs the world needs american leadership in the next century those in financial and that actually an anti terrorist add that i think the european parliament will go way stronger than twenty five years so we may have some kind of close relationship between europe asia china i think will be slow to come along as in japan will recover
the rest of the world is kind of for it to stay in the kind of darkness or needing help that america will be leading the druid city of capital formation and the freedom of information scientific gross that awful and the i think people want to come here not just to jobs and the innovations that intensely by high level that were with them and also because of the freedom we're talking about so i think that will attract more mortality people provided those aspirations are kept constantly into the man who maintain i think a position of great leadership and he certainly needed wasn't nobody else who could do it
A Word on Words
Episode Number
Harold Evans
Producing Organization
Nashville Public Television
Contributing Organization
Nashville Public Television (Nashville, Tennessee)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/524-xd0qr4pw8r).
Episode Description
The American Century
Talk Show
Media type
Moving Image
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: Nashville Public Television
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Nashville Public Television
Identifier: A0177 (Nashville Public Television)
Format: DVCpro
Duration: 27:46
Nashville Public Television
Identifier: cpb-aacip-524-xd0qr4pw8r.mp4 (mediainfo)
Format: video/mp4
Generation: Proxy
Duration: 00:27:51
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “A Word on Words; 2719; Harold Evans,” 1998-12-01, Nashville Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 26, 2022,
MLA: “A Word on Words; 2719; Harold Evans.” 1998-12-01. Nashville Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 26, 2022. <>.
APA: A Word on Words; 2719; Harold Evans. Boston, MA: Nashville Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from