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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  December 4, 2011 9:00am-10:15am EST

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about patriotism, right? not just for america but for the world. we don't have >> you can watch this and other programs online at up next, eliot cohen talks about the battles fought along the 200-mile border between albany and montréal since the 1600. discusses how those battle shape the way we wage war today. this program is just over an hour. ..
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>> that made the american way of war. we're going to start off with a little exapplication of what is in the book by its author, eliot cohen s and then we're going to have some discussion afterwards, and then we hope to have some time for comments afterwards and maybe even a chance for questions from the floor. eliot cohen has served in the, on the policy planning staff of the office of the secretary of defense before coming to sais in 1990. he has also been an officer in the united states army reserve. from 2007 to 2009, he was a counselor, was counselor of the department of state serving as
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secretary condoleezza rice's senior adviser on strategic issues. and i must not forget he is also the founding director of the phillip merrill center for strategic studies here at sias. he also has dope a lot of things -- done a lot of things in academia, but i, in fact, didn't add those in. [laughter] our first discus santa is tom x ricks. he is the author of a number of very successful books on the u.s. military including, for example, these are the titles: "fiasco," "the gamble," "making the corps." he has served on the staff of "the wall street journal" for some 17 years. more recently, he's been with "the washington post." he is currently a fellow at the center for new american security
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and is a contributing editor to foreign affairs -- excuse me, "foreign policy," magazine for which he writes the blog, "the best defense." finally, our third participant, nicholas westerbrook, is an independent historian. he's the author of a number of articles on american history. between 1989 and 2009, very significantly for this book, he was executive director of fort ticonderoga. and, of course, this location plays such a very significant role in eliot cohen's book. nicholas westerbrook previously was curator of exhibits for the minnesota historical society. he is, thus, really an expert on a number of aspects of locale
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and setting that are crucial to "conquered into liberty." elion, tell us what your book is about. [applause] >> well, thank you. thank you for the introduction. thank you all for coming. it's so great to see so many old friends, former students, colleagues that i appreciate, everybody on the panel particularly my friend nick westbrook for making the journey from the north country to come here. i'll say more thank yous at the end, but let me now just say something about the book. and i suppose i should say those of you who are standing along the back wall, there are plenty of seats up front. the dean is lonely, you should keep her company. [laughter] okay. so in graduate school, like most students of international relations, the past that i
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studied was the second world war. and the present was the cold war and our conflict with the soviet union. from 2007 to 2009, as professor doran has told you, i was counselor of the department of state, and i spent a lot of my time fretting about the taliban and al-qaeda and the iranian revolutionary guard corps. so after leaving government i came back and finished a book on america's most per sint, effective and, i would argue, important enemy of all; canada. [laughter] and that is the subject of this book, "conquered into liberty." it describes how the american way of war originated during almost two centuries of conflict with canada, yes, canada, because from the end of the 17th century through the first half of the 19th that northern border of you ours was anything but the
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sleepy, regular livety undefended frontier of today. it was a zone of raid and menace and invasion. conquered into liberty is more about a particular place, what native americans called the great warpath, and that's that 200-mile stretch of water and woodland between albany and montreal. the book is framed by a series of battles. to give you a feel for that, here's how chapter one opens. at 5:00 in the morning on february 9, 1690, a bleeding man on a wounded horse staggered into the fortified winter-bound dutch town of albany. despite the bullet in his thigh, simon skimmerhorn had ridden nearly 20 miles in six hours through knee-deep snow. the mayor hastily convened a meeting of the aldermen to hear the exhausted skimmerhorn's grim news.
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just before midnight on the eighth, a party of french and indians had stormed schenectady killing most of the inhas been taxes and setting fires. in the following days, some 50 survivors trudged their way to albany. they and their horrified hosts eventually pieced together what had happened. we go from there. the story, the burning of schenectady, by a franco-indian raiding party -- actually majority french -- begins the book's battles which end with a confederate raid in 1864 and a raid into canada by irish-american veterans of the civil war in 1866. some of the fights i talk about were very big. the attempt in 1758 by the frisch to storm fort -- french to storm tie copped rogue georgia in which 15,000 troops were hurled back by horrific
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loss by barely a fifth as many frenchmen. some of these battles were decisive, others were not. but individually and collectively they reveal a great deal about why the united states wages war the way it does, and that is why each chapter explores how these struggles of long ago are live and in some ways even visible to americans today. a word about the title, "conquered into liberty." i explain it in chapter five. launched, i would point out, before the united states had even declared independence from great britain. it is the opening phrase of a subversive pamphlet printed in french by order of the continental congress, and this was read throughout canada by american agents, and it begins, "you have been conquered into liberty." that's a pretty interesting notion, isn't it? that people can be conquered into laisht.
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liberty. and yet it is an idea that americans have pursued, sometimes with great success, sometimes with failure, sometimes with uncertain results for a long, long time down to the present day. and it started hoar. in the case of canada, the americans failed. that was, it was probably inauspicious that the pamphlet was not widely read because most of the population of canada were illiterate. [laughter] and neither the clergy, nor the gentry were particularly inclined to put subversive ideas into the heads of the -- [inaudible] but the americans tried hard. george washington who had orchestrated this assault outside boston ordered his subordinates to subdue their deep-seeded trust of the catholic french. while we are contending for our own liberty, he wrote in his orders, we should be very cautious of violating the rights of conscious in others. ever considering that god alone is the judge of the hearts of
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men, and to him only in this case are they answerable. george washington was motivated by some very hard-headed notions about power. he favored invading canada because he wanted to push britain off the north american continent. but he was actuated by these ideals as well. but, by the way, washington did not want the french back in canada either, and he was quite willing to double cross his protege, the marquee delafayette, in order to keep them out, but that's a story in another chapter of the book. i describe benjamin franklin's journey north in april 1775, a real ordeal for a 70-year-old man at that time of year. and, in fact, he thought, with perfectly good reason, that it was going to kill him. his instructions make for fascinating reading. my favorite line is "you're to establish a free press and give directions for the frequent publication of such pieces as
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may be of service to the cause of the united colonies." [laughter] franklin failed, but he gave the british quite a scare, and in so doing inaugurated an american approach to warfare, conquering into liberty, this is being played out, as i said, even today. let me give you one more example of how the book draws connections between past and present. in the summer of 177, american forces evacuated fort ticonderoga in the face of an invasion from canada led by major general john burr gown. the retreat turned into a rout. the americans lost their equipment, their stores and a lot of their self-respect. some of that self-respect was e regained a few days after the abandonment of fort ticonderoga at the only real battle fought in vermont, the bloody little action at hubberton at which point the brush pursuit -- the british pursuit stopped. a year after these events a
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court-martial found major general arthur sinclair, a veteran of the british army, he was a real regular in his outlook and in his background. he had been at odds throughout the whole campaign with the militia, the part-time l soldiers upon whom he had to depend, and in particular with one of the other figures in the book, a man by the name of seth warner. now, at the end of that chapter where one of the themes i explore is the relationship between the professional and the citizen soldier, i bring the reader up to the present. and i describe a trip that i took to fort ticonderoga accompanied by my friend, nicholas westbrook, with about 40 colonels. and there, among other things, we reenacted the court-martial of arthur sinclair. we had some of the officers playing the prosecutors, some playing sip claire and some of the witnesses, and the basic charge which we boiled down for
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the record was incompetence as a general which is what he was actually accused of. um, and at the end we took a vote, and he was acquitted by a pretty respectable margin of that charge. so here is how that chapter ends. having completed the exercise, the instructors made some final remarks, summed up the arguments on both sides, suggested parallels with the kinds of problems the colonels might find themselves dealing with in the future, saying a few words about the carefully-constructed site of fort ticonderoga itself. and then a poll. could all of you who vote today acquit arthur sinclair, please, raise your hands again? about 25 of the 40 raised their hands. now, would all of you who would be willing to have your son or daughter serve under him, please, keep your hands up. one by one, the hands went down. [laughter] after a pause to digest this
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ambivalent outcome, the instructors recounted arthur sinclair's further career. after the revolution during which he continued to serve but never again if in command, he became n787, president of the continental congress for one year just as the constitution was being drafted. therefore, he was appointed governor of the northwest territory, founding member of the society of cincinnati, the organization of the former officers in the continental army. he helped found the city of cincinnati. and in the summer of 1791, he went to oregon. sinclair led the bulk of the unite army, such as it was at the time, against the northwest indians who in confederation had mounted a fierce opposition. after months of painful marching and the construction of isolated forts, the indians attacked sip claire and his army on november 4, 1791. neither the regulars, nor the militia accompanying them could
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hold their ineptly fortified camp. the indians pounced, killing over 600 soldiers, wounding another 250, inflicting the greatest defeat ever suffered by the united states army at the hands of native americans before or since. after careful deliberation, washington replaced sinclair with none other than the defeated predecessor before at ticonderoga, anthony wayne. in the meantime, congress once again investigates sip claire. once again, upon due consideration of the quality of his troops, the difficulty of his logistical predicament and the challenges of the terrain, he was acquitted. well, asked the instructor, whose fault was it? sinclair's or the people who kept him in command? it was a prolonged silence, and then pondering the last question the reflective colonels filed off to a pleasant dinner in a comfortable dining room overlooking the dark waters of
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lake george and the green hills that loom over them. well, that chapter, like the book as a whole, does several things. it describes a dramatic event, it explores the choices and the personal conflicts that shaped the events and their consequences and suggests some of the end during legacies and their implications. the book, i hope and i think, is a good read. but it makes some serious arguments. and as a close friend who read it said, it's almost a note to the great warpath which i've been visiting since a boy. let me conclude with the author's introduction. after describing some of the big scenes of the book, the last paragraph describes my deepest aspiration for its readers. and as for the charm of the subject, if this book prompts those who read it to explore for
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themselves some of the places it describes, i will be glad. they will discover, as i did, that with an attentive ear, a modicum of imagination and a wholesome curiosity about the past, one can still hear the echoes of musket and cannon shot, the shouts of command, the creeking of ores and even, with some effort, the near silent padding of moccasin-shod feet. i hope you will read the book, and if you do, i think i can promise you that vicariously at any rate, you will hear some of those echoes. [applause] >> before we start, i probably won't have a chance to say anything here again in this lively panel, i would just point out that for me one of the>? things that makes this book so fascinating is that eliot has
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really the eye of the historian, but he also has the mind of the strategist or the person in the international relations, and those two kinds of things are unique, i think n authorship and add greatly to the book. tom, go ahead. >> thank you. i'm tom ricks. and as somebody who actually makes a living from his writing, i don't care if you read the book, i just care if you buy the more painful for me than saying i got your book out of the library.qo [laughter] what is really more painful is the guy who said i read "making the corps, "it was so good, i sat in borders the whole day and finished it. [laughter] eliot cohen has done something unusual and even daring here. he has made canada interesting. [laughter] after you buy and read this book, you will never again think of canada as homer simpson thought of it, america jr. [laughter] it's a terrific book.
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i've read it twice, once in manuscript, and i just finished reading the hard cover last is a fun book. i actually found it even more fun the second time around because i figured out his racquet. i was sort of playing chess the second time, okay, i've read the book, now where are you going to take us this time? structurally, as an author, i found it really enjoyable. but my favorite is the chapter on the battle of the snowshoes, chapter three. it's a lovely essay that, surprisingly, kind of takes you from the battle of snowshoes, mentally -- at least for me -- to mogadishu. and today's military. and again and again these connections are made. several of the good points that i really enjoyed in the book, the point made early on that in america, unlike in europe, war
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french did better with the indians than the?ñ english and americans did. and this struck me because we continue to be flummoxed by tribes. it took us four years to engage with them in iraq. he points out in other ways how, as faulkner would say, the past is not the past, it's still with us in every way. like the code name he points out that the navy seals gave to their target in pakistan, osama bin laden; geronimo. most striking to me is something i want to dwell on for a moment is professor cohen's theme that the first sustained campaign against americans was a terrorist campaign. this is the french-sponsored series of indian raids along the american frontier in places like deerfield, massachusetts, not far from where my family lived for many years. in his description the massacre after fort william henry had somewhat the same effect on
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colonial americans as the pentagon did to americans ten years ago. a galvanizing effect that not only provoked a response, but provoked a certain type of response. and i've been thinking about the finality all week as i've been working on my own book. it had me wondering how far can we take this analogy. for example, the colonial war with indians lasted for decades. now, general officers will tell you repeatedly americans don't fight long wars. well, the historical evidence that eliot presents here is that they do. not only are they comfortable fighting a long war, they're comfortable fighting a long, limited war that is not what douglas macarthur believed. so one question i'd like to hear professor cohen address if he had a chance is does the american response to the war on terror have more in common with the campaigns he writes about in
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this book than it does with our big wars of the 20th century that loom so large in our historical imagination? finally, um, one last point, and that's about the future. this is a book about the past, but i found myself wondering as i finished it last night for the second time, yes, it's quite a feat to write a book that makes; us take canada seriously. but it is clear when you read this book that our ancestors did. and i wonder as i finished it if our descendants will as well f be global warming and energy shortages have the effects that many experts predict they will few decades southern canada may become more livable than the southern united states. and then once again canada would be a prize worth fighting for. [laughter] thank you.
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>> they're going to, there goes my canadian book tour. [laughter] >> i did you a favor. [laughter] >> okay. our next discus santa is nicholas westerbrook. >> a few acres of snow, as voltaire said. "conquered into liberty" sweeps up and down the valeries of lake congress and across more than three centuries of conflict to tell the story of the contest for empire and freedom that shaped the destiny of north america. with an abiding poi hood -- boyhood enthusiasm for warfare, cohen also manages to focus the cold analytical eye of the highest international levels. the grand drama is played out by
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diseasens of remark -- dozens of remarkable characters captured in nutshell portraits. t eight major battles and two periods of extended try and uncertainty send tremors and quakes across political maneuvering. repeated efforts of grand strategy are resolved by content for allies, personal courage and the off-competing sigh -- psychologies of tradition and defeat. sometimes selfless valor and enormous perseverance save the cause, and from those basist and best capabilities in human nature americans fashioned a new way of making war and striving for peace. this is a book about a place, and i'd like to take you to that place as europeans were taken
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there for the very first time. and to do that we need to reach back 150 years earlier than that chapter on the french and indian raid on schenectady that took place in early february of 1690. i want to take you back to the st. lawrence river in 1535 onboard a tiny little ship, jacques cartier is exploring the the point where the -- [inaudible] river meet it is st. lawrence, and it's draining lake george and lake channel plain north into the st. lawrence. 1535. jacques cartier talks to the natives who happen to live this in the area and gathers as much gee photographical information -- geographical information as he possibly can. he doesn't plunge into lake champlain, he is collecting oral
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geographies. his gee photographical report gets turned into a grand compilation map prepared for king francis i in 1550, and by 1567 europeans are seeing for the very first time in printed form on a her cater map the interior of north america and this great warpath that eliot's book is all about. 1567 it appears for the first time, a definable place in the interior of north america. the map doesn't show us the hudson river, it doesn't show us long island, it doesn't show usl cape cod, but by golly, it shows us that southward-reaching waterway stretching from the st. lawrence river down to the place where the waterway forks. he adds a very important piecü of information. at that place where the waterway forks down to the south, that's
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the place of the the mohawks, the mock what. this is america's warpath. often that distance is the place where we will meet our enemies. france is not able, for a variety of wars of religion taking place in france, toño follow up on jacques cartier's exploration at that time. it takes almost 75 years before samuel dechannel plain comes back and penetrates into the lake which he modestly named after himself. [laughter] the great explorer, we all learned growing up in new york state. but he was an explorer by force, not by choice. he was being taken as a willing captive, a willing prisoner by a party of huron, algonquin and --
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[inaudible] indians who were penetrating the length of lake champlain, the iroquois lake down to that place where the mow casa, the mohawks live. the reason the hurons were taking champlain and his two french companions was was they had firepower -- was because they had firepower. they could use their firepower for the first time ever in the champlain basin to make a power play, a power move against the mohawks. and in an illustration in champlain's book published that year, 1609 when he returns to france, he illustrates the sight of that battle and the fort that is built by the mohawks on land the night before the battle. the first known vick tore y'all
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representation of a fort in the interior of north america, and it's on the shores of this great warpath that connects the native people living in the st. lawrence valley with the mohawks and the other members of the iroquois confederacy. that's the prequell to eliot's book, eliot's tale of the next 200 years. so we've talked a little bit about place and the long history of america's great warpath. so we can talk about grand geography, grand international alliances, strategies, those alliances between the huron, the algonquin and their forced french allies in driving the mohawks out of that end of the southern end of lake champlain. but war, as you all know, is a story of individuals; individual
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memories. want to just wind up by sharing with you the story of one young man who was born the year of the fort william henry massacre, 1757, porn in new haven -- born in new haven, connecticut. young man joins a connecticut regiment two weeks after the fighting begins at lexington and concord and marchs off with daniel worcester's regiment to lay siege to the british trapped inside boston. he spends the summer helping to build the american fortifications around boston, and then when the drum is beat to recruit men to follow benedict arnold on a crazy march through the maine wilderness, benjamin warner signs up for that effort and marchs to lay siege to quebec. that invasion of canada, as eliot has hinted -- i don't want the give away the whole book,
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but that american invasion of canada, the attempt to conquer them into liberty was an abject failure, and they retreated back south to ticonderoga. benjamin warner went home after that failed invasion, but his country called him again just three months later, and he signed up with washington's army to fight in defense in the battle of long island. benjamin warner went back to war three more campaign years before the war was over. we have in the fort ticonderoga museum collections a great treasure."f a simple knapsack made out of linen, about yay big, and inside is a penned note written by a very old man in his 80s, benjamin warner.hw he tells us in that penned note, this knapsack i carried through
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the war of the revolution to achieve the american independence. i transmit it to my oldest son, benjamin warner jr., with directions to keep it and transmit it to his oldest son and so on to the latest posterity. and whilst one shred of it shall remain, never surrender your liberties to a foreign invader or an aspiring demagogue. benjamin warner lived for another nine years and then was buried in ticonderoga, and he6e has a very simple epitaph on his gravestone: 1846, benjamin warner, a revolutionary soldier and a friend of the slave. those are the stories that eliot's tell anything this grand, grand book. thank you. [applause]
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>> well, thank you. those were such interesting, um, comments on the book. let me start with nick's then go to tom's. my oldest son and i, he actually is a veteran, were in a discussion this morning about veterans day and what should be the meaning of veterans day, and is veterans day about today's veterans. and i felt that, at least -- and one of the points made was we have memorial day for people who fell in battle, so what exactly is veterans day about? it's presumably about the people who didn't fall in battle. and i think the conclusion i came to after quite an interesting discussion is that what veterans day should be about is not just the veterans of today although it should be, obviously, about that, it should be about all going back to benjamin warner. because if it weren't for the
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willingness of the benjamin warners to go and fight and go home and then come back when the country called, we wouldn't be here today. um, to respond to tom's question to me, is the american response to the war on terror kind of more in common than the themes talk about in the book, i would say, yes, in actually a number of ways. i'll just try to mention, mention some of them. the first actually keys off of nick's earlier description of champlain's very famous battle with the iroquois. and when you read the best accounts of that, you realize it's not so much that champlain is the actor, it's actually the indians, and the indians are manipulating him and using him as much as he is using them. and one of the, i think one of the really interesting things about contemporary his to havologity about native americans, it's, you know, makes
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it clear that they were in some very important ways actors and not simply victims. i think in a very similar way as we think about the different ventures that this country's been on in the last ten years, it's really important to remember that, you know, we may think we're moving the chess pieces around the chess board. actually, we're a really powerful piece often being moved around their chess board. so i think there's a similarity there. the second thing, one of the underlying themes of the book, um, the book has i would say the first two-fifths to half of it are really about the contest with french canada and from schenectady massacre through the seven years' war. and one of the points that i make is, actually, the french were -- there's this question, why is french canada with only about 80,000 people at the end able to hang on against these english colonies which have something over a million?
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and there are a number of reasons for that. but one of them is the french were so much better at dealing with the understood yangs. and -- indians. and had so much a better understanding of the indian culture and ability to work with indian cultural context. but what you eventually got on the side of the english and the americans and the scots and irish and all the rest was a good enough ability to deal with the indians. and i would say that's sort of where we are. it's not as if we naturally have rapport with the locals, whoever the locals may be, but by a lot of effort and in a variety of ways we can kind of do well enough. a third thought is it seems to me that the book, um, is, talks about a number of different dimensions of the way of war. you mentioned roger's action at
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the battle of snowshoes which is this little skirmish -- not a skirmish, it was a bloody little fight which takes place on snowshoes and is a disaster for rogers and his men but also talks about some things which are really sort of industrial warfare as when benedict arnold built this amazing fleet out of virtually nothing in 1776, and then this is repeated later on in 814 when the -- 814 when the united states navy builds a more substantial flotilla on lake champlain and completely defeats a slightly superior royal navy flotilla. so i think up with of the things the book brings out, i hope s the multiplicity of that. and that remains true today because even as we're doing all the things we've done in iraq and afghanistan, you know, we're also getting ready for much larger kinds of conflicts with much more dimensional kinds of
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forces in other places. >> well, good. um, we actually have a little time because of the efficiency of the panel, and is so we might take a couple of questions from the audience if there are such. go ahead. >> eliot, i'd be interested in what the sources -- you, obviously, weren't interviewing. [laughter] >> no, then we'd have to go through an institutional review board at johns hopkins university -- [laughter] people from the medical school would be passing on whether, you know, i could use human summits. it's much easier to work with dead people. [laughter] >> but what are the, are there archival materials, or are these books? >> no. this is not, as i said, it's a real book,? footnotes, foreign languages and everything. [laughter] and in washington sometimes that's a rare thing.
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no, it is -- i very much tried to use primary sources and not entirely. there is -- one of the joys of this book and of going into this world although also up with of the things that's very scary about it, it has been the different pieces of it have been the subject of fabulous historians over the last century plus. and it's, you know, frequently i found myself saying, you know, what on earth are you doing trespassing on their turf? so there are wonderful historians and wonderful histories, and i drew on that. i really did try wherever possible to use documentary collections. for a book like this you don't go to a single archive. there are different collections of documents which were published at different times. there's a massive documentary collection, the documents relative to the colonial history of the state of new york which is assembled in the 19th century. there's a similar set of collections which is used by all
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students of the american revolution which covered the peter force's american archives which covered 1774-'76. thank goodness a lot of that stuff is increasingly, some of that stuff is on the web, so you can have it there. and then there's other stuff here and there. so it's a more, um, it requires a more i would not scatter shot, but you're going lots of different places. there's no central, there's no central repository that you can, that you can go to, but there really are some quite wonderful documentary collections, and in the same way when you look at the ground, the ground never looks the same the way it's deticket -- depicted in the books, when you look at the documents, they reveal slightly different than the books would have you think. and the most notable cases, um, one of my fete did sessions is
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benedict arnold, and i do my level best to rehabilitate his reputation. [laughter] my former colleagues in government are rolling their eyes and shaking their heads as i say that. but one of the things that really strikes you is when you read his correspondence during the '76 and '77 campaign and you read his letters, all that you see is a shrewd commander and a truly gallant patriot. and, which makes, of course, the puzzle of his treason, um, even greater. but it really hits you when you see these letters, that, you know, even with the benefit of hindsight, you feel it couldn't really be improved upon, his assessment of the situation, his recommendation about what ought to be done and so on. so it's very much a book using documents, including french documents. >> okay. way in the back. >> [inaudible] >> eliot, what impression did you come away with about george
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washington as a military commander and as a strategiest? >> oh, good. i'm glad you asked about george washington. [laughter] so there are, there are two chapters about conflicts that never happened. and i think this is one of the ways in which having been in government really affected how i wrote the book because i think one of the things i took away from my own government experience is a very powerful sense of the reality of the things that don't happen. as strange as that may sound. well, one of the things that don't happen, and this is in the chapter -- there's a chapter called "phantom campaigns," and it deals with two things. one was an effort to make vermont an independent republic under british protection through a series of negotiations conducted by ethan allen, of all people.
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not the furniture company -- [laughter] the rather outsized figure from vermont history. which take place in 1780 and 1781. and there's a fantastic intelligence story in all this which is in the chapter. the americans get wind of this because new york in particular has spies all over vermont, and this is reported back. and washington is brought into this, and he writes a letter to the governor of vermont who was very much a part of these negotiations with the brits. and it, it's -- the letter reads like something out of, i hate to say it, michael corleone. [laughter] it's, you know, it would be a true hi awful thing -- truly awful thing if all of the states had to turn on one of their brothers. because that would mean the utter ruin of that state. [laughter]
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and that's all he has to say. and, you know, no, no, no, we are with the united states of america. the other one is, the other phantom campaign actually takes place before that, and that is the second invasion of canada. the first invasion fails in '76 for a variety of reasons. there have an idea about one -- there was an idea about one in '78, but there was a really serious consideration of a second invasion in 179. the idea would be that a french fleet would sail up the st. lawrence and attack quebec, and an american army would march north along the great warpath. and benjamin franklin was really keen on this. the continental congress was really keen on this. and lafayette, this was his dream. and, in fact, after -- at the end of his life he says, this is my only regret, that i didn't want get to bring -- that i
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didn't get to bring canada into the united states of america by the force of french arms which i would have led. you know, french aristocratic stuff. and the story there is how washington really does him in. and he very quietly kind of goes behind his back to the president of the continental congress and says we have to stop this. and the congress is really enthusiastic. he finally just goes up and person and says, let me tell you, he said, you cannot trust the french. even if they act with the genuine intention of turning canada over to us, once you have a french fleet there and a french army, their view will change. and by the way, the marquis de lafayette says this is his idea, i'm not so sure. and then he encourages the march key to take a long overdue leave to go back to paris.
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lafayette had no idea that it was his good buddy, george washington, who really put the chi bourne on -- kibosh on this project of his. washington being washington, he had a very deefs side. he did, however, use this for disinformation and deception purposes against the british. so he puts the word out that this is actually going to happen because what he wants to do is divert british forces to canada where they can't do any damage, and the marquis falls for it. so washington who did not visit the great warpath until after the revolution is, actually -- >> [inaudible] >> nick just whit perked to me, when -- whispered to me when he was shopping for property. [laughter] actually has a very interesting influence on what happens there. >> okay. our dean has a question. >> first of all, congratulations.
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we're all basking in your hail low tonight. in your halo tonight. you will be going to canada on a book, and you'll be in britain -- >> uh-huh. >> maybe in france as well. so i want o know what do you expect your most learned, your most knowledgeable french, british and canadian readers, um, how do you expect them to to react? and second, which only you woul÷ be able to figure out soñ÷÷ quickly, you've taught a generation of students about how difficult alliance wars are.÷ is there anything in this bookñ÷ that you think would have helped, um, when the allies wer÷ struggling their way, um, around -- [inaudible] [laughter] >> going back to a trip the dean
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took with us in one of our annual staff rides. um, well, let me, first off, tell you what i think non-knowledgeable readers pote here and abroad will say if they pay attention to this and that is warmonger, neo-con, adviser to condoleezza rice now advising mitt romney, does tomahawk, says canada ultimate enemy. [laughter] oh, my god, oh, my god, oh, myñ god, make this stop. [laughter] so i think i can put that into a tweet. [laughter] and i expect that that will be out there. but if it sells books, texas okay. [laughter] -- it's okay. i think, i hope knowledgeable readers will from those countries, particularly canada, will feel that i gave their side a pretty fair shake.
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because i really do my best to kind of throw myself into a very varied array of characters. one of the most sympathetic characters just to talk about canada for a moment, for my money, is justice sherwood who you're never heard of. who was one of the founders of the green mountain boys, so he's a vermont hero, but when the revolution comes, he cannot bear the idea of breaking with the on around key. his family's persecuted, he's thrown into what i call the gulag of the american revolution which is in connecticut. that was like going to siberia. you weren't coming back. he escapes, and he becomes the head of the intelligence network that the british are running out of canada, and he's conducting these covert negotiations with ethan allen. and as i say at one point in the book, he's a decent man in an indecent business.
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because this is, you know, it's real skull dug erie. but i think i portray him in a very -- i admire the guy in many ways. i think he was a very admirable character, and there are others. one of the things i hope i do, also, is to restore some interest in the part of americans in the french canadians. because some of these french canadian figures, including the villains, are just fantastic characters. they just, they do extraordinary things. i'll mention my favorite villain who's this french, he's this french-canadian, he shows up in three of these wars. he, the american -- he becomes a really bogeyman of the americans because he was a brilliant leader of indians from different tribes, but he could get them to do what he wanted them to do. he may have been responsible for the fort william henry massacre, there's disputes about what exactly his role is. after canada falls to the british, he decides he's going to go home.
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he sails in a leaky old ship which catches fire three times as it's sailing along the st. lawrence. he gets to what's now cape bretton island. a storm blows up, the ship is wrecked, there are about 120 people onboard. all except six drown including his two sons who slip out of his arms. six of them get, get ashore including the captain who's now completely useless. he organizes these six so they bury the dead. he then builds a fire, he goes into the woods. he finds some indians, persuades the indians to take care of these five survivors, makes himself some snowshoes and walks 1500 miles to quebec in the middle of winter. quite a guy. [laughter] he then, he then makes his peace with the british.
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but when the americans invade, he kind of offers his services to the americans. the americans don't trust him. he then goes back to the british, he's with gerald burr gown when he invades. he quickly gets a sense this is just before saratoga, this is not going to turn out so well, so he just kind of dematerializes before saratoga, and he ends up with a beautiful young wife, 35 years i don't thinker than he is -- younger than he is, and as the second richest man in canada dying of old age. [laughter] you know? what a guy. [laughter] and other figures too. i mean, people like the governor of canada during the french and indian war. and i really try to rehabilitate his reputation which has been, actually, denounced a lot by the french. so i really do my best to try to be -- i tell my students that i think one of the great strategic virtues is empathy, and i try to
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make this book at empathetic as i possibly can. a lot of the book is about coalition warfare, actually, although it's more about coalition warfare between, with very, very different kinds of people. and it's particularly a difference between the inyangs and the -- indians and the europeans and both the americans and canadians. and a lot of it, i think, is about the difficulty of really understanding how even an allied culture views war and what they think war is all about. and so i think to the extent that it cultivates that, that's a good thing. >> eliot, i think i must admit something to this group. most of you probably know this already. i have been and am the director of canadian studies here at sais for a long time. [laughter] and i have to tell you that i think you are exactly correct when you say that you are empathetic and fair with regard to the canadian perspective. but one of the things that i'm
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wondering about is this. in, of course, different periods there really is not a canada per se. >> right. >> there is a group of people living in canada who are associated with the foreign power, either france or britain depending upon which period you're looking at. now, um, i'm just wondering did -- when -- have you identified a sense of independence, a sense of somehow being canadian, canadianness in any of these periods? prior to 1865 when, of course, canada did become ip dependent? or somewhat independent i should say. >> well, that's a really interesting question. i think the residents, french residents already had a sense of themselves as not being simply frenchmen quite early on. i think the english who settled there after the accept years'
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war -- seven years' war don't really. where, and i think it's the canadian story, and i think it's basically true that after the war of 1812 where you do have french canadians fighting alongside english canadians that, um, that there's a sense of canadianness. but, you know, even canadian independence is basically a story that is driven in large measure by the threat of invasion. something canadians are very well aware of but almost no american i've ever heard of is aware of is in 1866 there's a substantial incursion into canada by something like a thousand, um, very mad irishmen who were veterans of the group group -- union army following a plan devised by one of sherman's commanders who was also irish with the view of creating new high bern ya which was probably not the most sensible strategic
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notion they could come up with. and i think it's part of that crisis is part of what begins to consolidate that, the canadian sense of who they are. >> okay. we have time for maybe one last question? okay, right here. >> how are you today? >> i'm feeling just great actually. [laughter] >> really looking forward to reading the book. i'm from pennsylvania originally, and we didn't learn anything about, we didn't learnú anything about napped history, questions. one is, was the st. lawrence river always a natural boundary between canada and the english colonies? were there ever a lot of, like, french canadians who lived on the southern side of the st. lawrence river? >> yes. >> and the second question is, where did new hampshire come from? [laughter] >> yeah.
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well, the french settlement of canada is really along the shores of the st. lawrence and doesn't actually penetrate in terms of settlements very deeply. quite early on you have people who were trading with the indians who go very far west, that's why some of our western towns have french names which we tend to forget. but the st. lawrence was not the boundary. the boundary was, actually, this sort of ill-defined woodland, and there's a very fine american historian by the name of alan taylor who's written a lot about this as this kind of middle space where you are people with different kinds of allegiances and loyalties. one thing i should point out, the great warpath is not a, um, it's not really a commercial route. this is a route of warfare. i mean, if you're canadian, you're looking to the west for the fur trade and so on, you're looking along the st. lawrence to france because one point that
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i try to make in the book is we are very much connected to the french -- what becomes the americans are very calculated to what becomes the atlantic system. but the borderland is really quite mixed, and people with mix and uncertain allegiance, it's another one of the colonies. the interesting story is really vermont which is this kind of contested space which the new yorkers think belong to them. um, but the settlers in vermont, many of whom have come from connecticut, up the connecticut river, getting these grants from wentworth who was a real opener, governor of new hampshire, they insist is theirs. and that's a long and interesting story, but something tells me we don't have time to do that now. i would hike to make just -- like to make some concluding thank you remarks, but this is really stupid, but can i borrow a copy of the book? [laughter] i forgot to bring it up here.
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thanks. so i just want to say some thank yous. first person i'd like to thank is the person who's trying to shrink out the door but don't. [laughter] and the students here all know her as the program coordinator of the strategic studies program. not only has she orchestrated this whole event and made it as wonderful as she makes everything, she's really taken care of me for years and years and years including all the years i worked on the book, and i could not have dope it without you -- dope it without you, so if i could ask for a round of applause. [applause] i want the thank all my students, all my research assistants who are here and all the students who cheered me on and kept on asking me, sometimes somewhat pointedly, when is the book that we keep on hearing about -- [laughter] actually going to be, actually going to be done.
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and you don't know it, but you were indispensable to it in a number of ways including i would tell you the experience of going on these staff rides which i've mentioned. one of my current research assistant, phil, i think, said to me that it felt kind of like going on a staff ride with you. and that's part of the idea. and, of course, we've got my friends, the fuhrmans, here when they were, present at the creation marching through quebec -- through maine following benedict arnold. but those experiences of walking the ground with friends and with students and trying to piece out what went on was really indispensable to it. so all the students who went on these staff rides, you, you played a very large role in this as well. actually
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watching us from singapore on the live webcast so, hi, nathan. [laughter] >> so here's the last -- very latest paragraph of the book.
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a special word of thanks, however, goes to my wife, judy, our four children and our son-in-law. with them, i have climbed mount de-5ans, and walked the walls of ground point and saw the ru-junes and visited william johnson's mansion in the woods and benedict arnold's headquarters in montreal and camp near fort william henry and snowshoed where men have reached tragedy and we have seen our teenagers grow into adulthood and go into fine institutions of learning, traveled the world, engage in public service, go to war and return from it. marry and even begin having children of their own. their spirit of adventure, and good sense and love and humor have inspired me and the joy of
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their company was not the least of this author's pleasures. with their kind, patient and wise mother's permission, i affectionately dedicate this them. thank you. [applause] >> well, thank you very much for joining us. i think at this point we will conclude. right. reception -- quite a reception, all you hungry graduate students go there. i will be signing books. [inaudible conversations] >> is there a nonfiction author or a book that you would like to see featured on booktv? send us an email at or tweet us at
10:04 am >> we went to war after 9/11 on a credit card and didn't ask -- on a credit card. we didn't ask anything of the rest of us, no sacrifices, whatsoever. we were kind of encouraged to go back and go shopping again. we had this enormous boom in housing, which was irrational so much of it from the beginning. i remember our daughter calling me from san francisco when they were buying their first home, she said, my god, dad, they are offering these 20-year deals with interest only for the first 50 years but you can see what would come after the end of the first 15 years. we're going to be more cautious but i worry about my friends and i went to a couple of major construction people at that time and i said, what in the world going on? they said there's so much instrumentation out there that people will loan anything. and fannie mae and freddie mac were driving a lot of that and those were two political
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institutions, quasi public and they got very clever. jim johnson and others about getting the idea of homeownership when plainly when not everyone was qualified and will equipped. we're paying a big price for that now. we've got 20 million homes in just country that are either in foreclosure or stressed or in danger of going into foreclosure. that means you got 20 million homes that are not buying new appliances or new carpeting they can't move to a new job and they're stuck and they're stuck with the biggest investment they are going to make for many of them. this represents a lot of their net worth and until we get the housing thing figured out, it's going to be a harder job to get the economy really rolling back on track in a way that we need to. and neither party is talking about that which is kind of striking to me. >> your book is made of then very poignant questions and one of them is a john f. kennedy
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asked many years ago. if john f. kennedy were around today and asked you what would be done -- what you could do to your country, what you have done for your country recently, how would you answer? how would you answer? >> i would say i appeared at the new york public library and brought in a lot of people. [applause] >> that's one of the things. what else would you say? >> i'm at a stage in my life -- if there's an oxymoron in american life it is a humble anchorman. we don't exist. this is imodest but i have earned a certain place where people will listen to me and the greatest generation writing that book gave me kind of a platform that was completely unanticipated. so i thought i ought not to squander that. so i ought to step up -- not just as a citizen and a a
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journalist but as a husband and father and grandfather. and if i see these things, i ought to write about them and try to start this dialog which i'm trying to do with this book, about where we need to get to next. now, in our family we all do a lot of different things, meredith is here tonight. she's acting microfinance project going in malawi. i got a daughter on the board of habitat here. another daughter who spent a lot of time in haiti this year, living in a tent with rodents crawling all over. she was down there doing grief counseling and another daughter doing the grief counseling who is an e.r. in san francisco because we were raised by parents and grandparents who just saw that as a part of natural calling of life. that you gave back in some fashion. but i've done that but i like to think that my larger contribution is to try to engage people in the events that define
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our time. >> and you have passages in the book precisely about the legacy your parents left to you and how careful and cautious they were and thrifty and never spent more than they had. >> right. >> you say like almost everyone else of the age they were thrifty by nature and necessity. they didn't spend what they didn't have and they saved something every week. >> sometimes to a fault. >> to a fault -- >> they were too thrifty. they didn't -- you know, i would say lighten up a little bit. you can afford this. but it was -- it was hard for them to do it. they just -- and it was hard for them to spend the extra buck sometime. now, it didn't mean they didn't have a great life. they did. they did everything that they wanted to do. and i had the good fortune of having real resources and so i could help them in ways that, you know, on trips or helping
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them buy a retirement place. but we -- it never defined our relationship. my dad died, unfortunately, the week before i began nightly knees of a massive coronary but a week before the nightly news and it had been announced and it had been a great thing for our family, for me to suddenly have this wonderful job and all this responsibility. and it came with it a very substantial salary. and i caught the wave of people getting paid a lot of money for this kind of work and it got a lot of publicity, and my father who never earned, i think, cash income more than $9,000 a year in his life, maybe at the end he did better than that. he worked for the corps of engineers as a construction foreman, anyhow he called me in a wonderful sense of humor and he said i'm reading these reports about your salary, is that true? i know, dad we never talked about my salary before. i had made good money before that, but this had taken me to a
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different level and i said -- well, i don't know i mean, just reading about it. so we went on to something else and about a week later, "time" magazine did a very detailed reporting of how much dan was making, peter was making, barbara walters was making. my father was very red-haired and he called me and i called him red and red called me back and he said so i'm reading "time" magazine. [laughter] >> i said, come, dad. why are we talking about this? he said i'll tell you why we're talking about it. for as long as your mother and i known you always run a little short each year and we needed to know how much to set aside this year? [applause] >> it was a perfect way of dealing with it. [laughter] >> i also tell the story -- i took him shopping in california one time. he came out to visit us at a very high end place called gelson's? >> yeah. >> and we were driving -- i had the cart going through the supermarket. and i thought i would show off my thrifty gene so they had fresh squeezed orange juice, and
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i said to dad, that stuff is really expensive, let's get the boxed stuff and he reached down into my shopping cart and picked up three very expensive bottles of california wine, and he said i guess the money that you saved in orange juice will help pay for these. [laughter] >> kind of put it in perspective for me. >> but he must have been very proud. >> he was proud. but, you know, he was not imodest about it. and you could not ask my mother about me without my son and my son bill who's running a restaurant and my son went into the marines and lives around the corner. and they just didn't play favorites. my father, when i first got to have some kind of public celebrity, somebody once asked him -- he was at a gathering at the elks club in our hometown and somebody said are you related to tom brokaw and my dad said, i think he's a cousin. i'm not sure. [laughter] >> another aspect of your book
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that i'd like us to talk about, which i didn't really know is the incredible importance you attach to what one might call an enlightened form of philanthropy. philanthropy plays an important role and by that i mean foundation such as one of the ones i'm particularly attached to in just city is the robin hood foundation. >> right. >> and you -- you talk about the foundation that the robin hood foundation would do well to expand in many different cities. >> we're very fortunate to have the robin hood foundation. i was a big ask thattic. >> you were. >> these are a bunch of rich guys who were trying to buy some reputation here. and they invited me to their breakfast which they have every year.
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they have another one coming up before too long. and john kennedy, jr., was there at the time and he introduced two young men that he'd gone to prep school with who were running a school up in east harlem and it was very moving what they were doing in just school and how john was attached to them. so when john was lost, i thought, you know, what can i do. i went up to that school and said, i'd like to help out for a while here and i did and the robin hood people came to me and said we could really use you on the board because, you know, we're all hedge fund guys and we make a lot of money bubs we don't have much of a political ear. we don't understand how the rest of the world works. we're used to having our way. we need somebody to give us is reality check and i went out on the board and i must tell you that the, a, commitment of these very busy people and, b, the discipline that they brought to how they gave away their money. they pay all the overhead for robin hood. they have metrics in which they
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go out to agencies, very professional staff. take the measure of an agency for say on unwed mothers or abused family members. and they'll say -- come back and say, that one is not going to work. it's not very well. or it's doing something really important but we need to go in and help the staff, and they pay for everything. all that is done. now, this is the most generous country in the world. there's no other country in the world that gives money as freely as the united states does for a variety of causes. and no city will ever compare with new york when it comes to raising money. i mean, i do a lot of events at the waldorf and sometimes for causes that almost no one knows about. and, you know, it's not routine to raise 1.5, $2 million on a night at the waldorf. one of the things -- when we first began to have some money in our family, my girls sometimes were even more


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