tv Book Discussion on The Great War CSPAN December 15, 2013 11:00pm-11:56pm EST
but i also analyzed as a little bit to make it be a little bit more authentic to where he fits in the gay marriage struggle. >> did you include any editorial on essentially the speed with which things have changed? >> yes but madeline keown and my coeditor who has been the governor for vermont and this is an incredible woman politician, she did that more because she is 80 now. when she came into office it was a really big deal that's she liaise with the community. it was controversial and she was making a statement by doing that. she has a daughter happens to be a friend of mine which is a coincidence. those that there's really trying to understand how she could represent your constituents in a meaningful way and be brave in the face of a culture that hadn't changed interrelationship with her daughter and her understanding. most people understand the importance of gay marriage and they understand gay people and
she shares that essay in the book. >> tell me about finding a publisher. >> the publisher found me so johnny temple is the incredible rock star, literally rock star publisher of caution books. he is a friend and we are both progressive activists in the publishing world that i had done a book a couple of years ago about this project that was working on about abortion and did something actually on that bug. he called and said i want to do a book that captures this incredible trajectory. i think you should do speeches by politicians. can you think of anyone who edit it? and i said i would. i got madeline keown and to be involved as well to add her gravitas and it was really just a pleasure to do and it's a very like i say a happy story. >> thank you for your time. ..
that sounds like unpaid labour to me, so i don't know. can we turn off the lights were turned down the lights? i will just start -- what i'm going to do is run you through the first day of the battle of the somme and talk a little bit about it. this is the word kitchner of great britain in the first part of world war i.
he was quite prescient. he predicted that no more would go on for years. many people thought it was going to be over bye christmas. you have always heard that line but he heard of what it would require is a lot of manpower so he built up a volunteer army. he started this recruitment process. the british professional army was small by confidential standards about 100,000 people, 100,000 troops and mostly in 1914 the british army was pretty much spent. 1915 the territorial space to the national guard the british national guard took over and volunteers started to come into play. by 1916 during the battle, the army was mostly volunteers with remnants of the professional and territorial divisions. this is general the chief
architect of the battle of the somme. here he is walking around. he was very rigid and he would take a four minute walk precisely timed to be an interesting man vivified by yell of historians and and rehabilitated by what historians. my opinion of him is rather low. but i try to be rather neutral about how i show him. there he is riding a horse. he's in the front. everyday he would also take a ride if he could with the 17 lancers which is a unit he actually used to command because the general's account for the officer and he believed in the calvary. in fact his idea for the battle which was mostly to relieve pressure on the french who were fighting against the germans, his idea was after a massive
bombardment, unprecedented the british infantry would take the german lines, the trenches and the calfee would go through and the stalemate -- you've heard of the trench warfare, the trench warfare stalemate with the broken and the calfee would roll up and once again it would be a war of movement. and for those who say that he was wrong about certain things that there was a learning curve and eventually, he got it they are only accessories so he had a different perception about the modern warfare.
there were a lot of back roads and a lot of material had to come up as you could imagine. the average regimen had about 19 or 20,000 soldiers and maybe 60 or 70 trucks or motorized vehicles and 5,000 horses so one of the things i have to remember is to draw all the horses because the course was still the main transport the hinkle. famously i told you about this launch at the german positions. there was one for every 17 yards of the front. it's an often quoted figure that
was an unprecedented bombardment, but a lot of the british artillery wasn't as big as this. much of it was smaller and also in 1916 a lot of the shells were duds said about 40%. so this unprecedented bombardment had a lot of bark, but the bite wasn't quite what it was advertised to be. this is a train, the british had a lot of tracks before the battle to bring as much stuff off as possible and here you see the dump where soldiers are unloading things from the train and then the shells would be taken. and in the bombardment, 1,500,000 shells were fired at the germans before the infantry actually attacked. here i show the british soldiers going to the front.
as i mentioned they were mostly volunteers and they were quite enthusiastic about the war at this point still. in the recruitment drive, kitchner came up with this idea and so a lot of the idea is you would join up with your pals and so a lot of the friends joined up from the same villages and towns and the units were built around even the professional class is like the clerks or there was an artist battalion for example and so friends joined up together. one of the reasons they were enthusiastic is a lot of them were told would be a cakewalk no german would be alive in the trenches when they got their. and here is the bombardment. it was planning to go on for five days and it did.
then there was a rain squall said the battle was postponed by a couple of days so it went on for another two. at the very end, they were put there and had to be stretched over a couple more days. this is one of the beloved units that came from india. it was one of three british regiments of the cal dirty that was put right behind the front lines waiting for that breakthrough so that it could go to the gap. mostly, that was one of the units that mostly on the first day it was british soldiers. it was probably the most british of all the battles. there was a newfoundland regiment but at that time it wasn't part of canada pity is a self-governing colony. around evening time, the soldiers who were meant to go over the top would be coming into the trenches, the ones on
the first wave would be given stage and wire cutters as i show here. the hope is that the barbed wire was a very effective antiinfantry within. a was used extensively by both sides. and the hope is that this artillery bombardment would cut the supply year, that it really varied in the places and the soldiers would get to the wire and supposedly they would try to cut trees of the comrades could go through. might all the soldiers tried to get some sleep. in some places the trenches were so crowded that the soldiers spent the last night. on the left of this illustration or sort of where you could see the bar and why year at night time the british soldiers would have gone out and cut a hole in their own wire and other words
the barbwire in the british trenches because obviously you need a place the troops can go through. in the background by showing the bombardment and we are getting towards morning now and in the last 60 minutes or 65 minutes, the british intensified their bombardment. now its around 7:20 a.m. on july 1st, 1916. it's a bright day. it's already sunlight. and you see the bomber's letter basically grenades that would take a culture of the grenades and every soldier would take a couple with them to get to the thrower's when they got close to the german line. the average soldier had a pack or equipment that was about 60 to 65 pounds of equipment. at the bottom left you will see the soldiers having their rum ration because it was in the british army attack that they
would drink tea laced with rum and according to martin middlebrook who had a books of the soldiers went over to monk. i guess self medicated before the major battle. on the right to see than fixing the bayonets. the idea is that they would close with the germans and then the british steel would prevail. just before the troops went over, the british exploded large mines under the german trenches. they had been prepared for weeks or months. obviously there were miners in the british army. and they would have tunneled under the german lines and then some of the larger ones were heard in england. this one blew the debris 4,000 feet into the air.
so they went off and then there was silence. and of course the whistles blow and the british troops start going over the top and i shall an officer there with his browning service revolver and what sort of interesting about the first world war is that the not the high command but the junior officers like the lieutenant and the captains lead from the front and throughout the war and including of course the battle they had a high casualty rate than the average infantryman. and the officer class was generally from the has dhaka see basically very well-educated graduates of cambridge and oxford that came out of eden. the high command didn't have great confidence in the volunteer army. most of the troops were seeing the combat for the first time. so, they were told to line up
outside of their own barbwire and move sort of napoleonic style in a row towards the german line. the high command didn't want to disorganize the advance. they were told to walk and not to stop for anyone the was wounded but they would be picked up by stretchers later and there were two or three apart and these lines moved towards the german position about a minute apart from each other so there were rows of infantry moving towards the german trenches. now, i talked about this bombardment. the germans were very defensive minded at this particular time and they had dug very deep dugouts, 30, 4050 feet below ground and most of the soldiers were taking shelter from this
bombardment. and the machine guns positions often concrete reinforced and would have taken a direct hit to knock them out with the british on the other hand actually never wanted their soldiers to be comfortable in the trenches. they never wanted their soldiers to appeal to sort of have a defensive mind set. so there were dug out that there were just a few people below ground usually for officers and most of the soldiers and trenches would have dug a hole into the side of the trench or sheltered with the cape. so these soldiers began to move out and meanwhile many germans have survived. they hear the silence. the british bond has gone further to the german line some of these germans are manning their machine-gun posts. and they just start cutting down the rows of british soldiers.
then the german artillery began firing into no-man's land and basically puts up a wall of shellfire and in the first hour of the battle it's estimated that the british incurred 30,000 casualties of which 10,000 workers deaf and just to put that into perspective, that is more than the amount of american servicemen killed in iraq and afghanistan combined. and that is in the first hour. the germans would have trained their machine guns right on those openings in the barbara fire that the british soldiers were going through. so many of the british soldiers lost their lives might as they got out of the trench and were clustered together.
the germans also began firing into the british trenches which were packed with troops waiting to go over the top into the subsequent way and many british soldiers died or were wounded before they left the trenches. when someone died in the trench they would just throw them over the side. with a wounded in the trenches ostriches were coming to try to get them out and of course there were scenes where the soldiers were trying to move forward and the structures were going back and in some cases sort of at the top white they actually got out of the trenches and walked across the open ground because it was just soft to get someone to medical care.
this is the italian coast its were basically light casualties would be seen in an ordinary basis day-to-day basis. and these were obviously just very quickly overwhelmed. he would have one medical officer and a few orderly's. so most of the casualties were just get to the rear. and here i showed the wounded soldiers coming out of the trenches, the walking wounded as i'm showing here were basically told just to keep walking to the casualty station which could be miles behind the front so they helped each other get to the rear. the more serious the injured would be put on ambulances either motorized ambulances like
this one here or the horse ambulances. again there were many that were used in this sort of thing. this is a casualty clearing station where surgery could actually be done and they were done in these tents. but as you can imagine, the overflow of casualties meant that not everyone could be treated right away. so they began just laying out the wounded in the field and many died and attended -- unattended. here i show a soldier going to the effect of one of the dead. the british would have dug the graves knowing that there would be casualties that wouldn't survive. and so, the book basically ends in the grave with the soldiers being buried.
their names would be painted on a temporary wooden cross just to know where the body was so after the war whenever they could figure out to do with those bodies. so, in net the -- on the first day of the somme i mentioned figures before but the totals, the british had 57,000 casualties of which 21,000 were fatalities. and so the casualty rate was basically one out of every two soldiers who was thrown into the battle that day. so you could see why the battle really hovers over the psyche of the british nation. the battle went on for another four and a half months and about a million or 200,000 people casualties on all sides because the french were also involved in putting the british, too so that gives you a brief overview and i
would be happy to take your questions if you have any. >> where did the battle over? >> the somme is in the eastern france basically. it's hard for me to describe exactly. i can probably point it out on the map but it's the eastern part of france. the front line ran through belgium and into eastern france and then all the way to the swiss border. yes. >> your book illustrations call to mind a book sebastian. have you read that book? >> i haven't. >> you should. [laughter] there was an image that was conjured up and i think that you would find it well worth your time. >> thank you for saying that you get it's interesting because i spent some time in the imperial
war museum looking at the photo archives and there were many great pictures but very few of the combat. and the way that i could get those images was by first-person accounts of the battle but also some fictional accounts. there is a great book by frederick manning, for example and it's like when you are reading prose you get images in your head. basically what i did is i took those images floating in my head and tried to put them on paper. >> [inaudible] >> good. definitely. you get a lot out of fiction in this first-person accounts. i think we are using the microphone so if you want to come up. >> i have a pretty loud voice. >> okay. go ahead while we are waiting. >> what inspired you to write this or do this production? i'm familiar with many of the
photographs and the imperial war museum and the detail that you captor is exquisite. and your knowledge of the battle is equally so. and i would like to know what inspired you and how you ended up doing the work that you've done. how did that all come together? >> i spent a lot of time thinking about the battle in the first world war. i grew up in australia and in australia, world war i take years very heavily into the national consciousness because of the landing. and i remember as a boy when they commemorate those landings, the clocks would stop and over the loudspeaker they would broadcast these stories from the first world war so it's sort of in a your head in that way. but then i read about quite a bit as a boy and i had the thrill to the to little
fascination with planes and the gas masks they were wearing it all looked so surreal and a sort of intrigued me that horrified me, too reading about no-man's land and what that meant literally. you take the words literally and it means like no man can be in this land. so that sort of stuff just pulled me and. but at the same time when i began to realize that the army is just battered each other over and gained almost no ground, that sort of horrified me. in 1915 hundreds of thousands of people died and eight square miles were exchanged which is really shocking to think that people would be thrown into this sort of a furnace. later on my interests went so far that i actually hitched out to the battlefield will spend about three days camped outside
they're just reading tombstones. it's very poignant because families were allowed to have an inscription on the tombstone of the departed person and what can you say and ten words and most were the same but every now and then something sort of stood out where someone tried to say something different. and i spend time doing the same thing so it stuck with me for a long time. and what happened as i was seeing new york and we both have an interest in world war i. this was 15 years ago and he said wouldn't it be great if you drew a panorama of the western front and i sort of forgot that he called me and now he's an editor at w.w. norton and he said would you be interested and i thought about it and i said i don't want to do a panorama but i do want to do a narrative.
and i thought about the tapestry and how that is a narrative and it's also read in a way you read it from left to right it tells a story of the norman invasion of england and it shows the ships being built crossing the channel and the battle of hastings so to me i already have a template for the idea. >> i really appreciated your talk and the wonderful illustrations and drawings. two things. i was curious about the sources for the pictures themselves and you will tell us if you haven't already photographs, what ever and the sort of process of creating these wonderful illustrations you did. and second, last night i was looking at this calendar from this year and it was based on
the part paintings from the civil war and this kind of made me think about people different but going up there went the other without body armor or anything like that but just any thoughts you might have about relating world war i in 1914 to the civil war 70 years before. >> to answer the second question first it seems like the civil war had many modern and what we would call modern aspect to it. there was trench warfare, bombardments, the siege of the city's. there were a lot of things that became familiar to a greater degree in the 20th century that we saw in the civil war. i think that is true. now as far as the edges like i said i was at the imperial war museum looking for those sort of details you don't normally find in a book of photographs of world war i. you often see the same picture
over and over again in the same books that i needed specific details of even looking at the blinders of this marvelous archive cade me ideas when there was a whole binder on you as you think okay so you start looking through and you realize how much they would bring up the mortar ammunition and all kind of things so it gave me an idea looking at those archives. the the other thing when i was in london i sat down with a world war i historian and he sort of answer a lot of questions i had about the small details and the questions you have when you're drawing you think how exactly do they go over the top. how would that have been done because i have seen images of people going up all at once which isn't really typical. normally they would go up the ladder because they have to get through a little bit of barbwire. so they have to go out up over the top through certain curious
and he explained a lot of that sort of stuff to me so those are my sources. plus osmosis because i have been reading about the first world war and its sunken into my head now. >> i was interested more in the drawing techniques and the media and also how you came to decide on this book structure. >> i will credit my editor with that because he's the one that suggested this accordion style structure so he gets full credit for that. as far as the drawings and how it went about, basically i had 12 sheets of paper. it wasn't like one long drawing that i was doing it with salt sheets about a yard long each. i call them to pages per sheet so the great difficulty was at
the beginning when i didn't know how to start. i don't normally do rough sketches which i don't advise any of the -- i don't go by the way i do things i just don't like that step so normally composed directly on to the page. so i'm constantly erasing what i have compost because i didn't plan it out. so it took awhile to get the rhythm right. i have also prepared sort of an idea for myself as how many pages i would need to show the build up and how many pages i would need of the soldiers in the trenches and the battle so i had a rough outline for myself, to back and took about eight months. actually thought it would take about four months, but it can take more time to draw a couple of square inches in that deep background than the foreground and the foreground your hand can movie get free leavitt in the background of these tiny figures i had to move a magnifying glass
to get that sort of stuff like and it's difficult to keep your hands steady. so it was pan and eink? >> yes i didn't know how to use color and i've always worked in black-and-white. >> my question pertains to that as well. any kind of practice sketches or anything like that? i have about a page and a half because i don't really know how to draw horses but also why sort of drew some horses and just to try to get a feel for it and i had books on the horse anatomy to understand some of that. but again i am often practicing right on the very board so for better or for worse.
you had mentioned digging under the german positions lines and i was wondering. i know that also occurred in the civil war for example in petersburg get the battle of the crater and in that instance as my understanding that was a disastrous consequence because of the offense troops that fell into the crater and then were picked off pretty uniformly. what were the results of this expedition? >> the idea is that they would take the lead of the crater and then there was the battle it became a battle for the crater basically. you know, the germans also they knew something was up. there were digging mines and there were instances where the german line and the british mine one would run into the other hand they would be furious
fights in the dark or in the sort of bill which tunnel so you could imagine what would be light. i have been reading a whole lot of graphic novels that have come out recently that have tried to portray the various historical subjects whether it is the john lewis book about the civil rights movement and the book about margaret sanger and your previous work and i was just curious what do you think that the graphic novels bring to the portrayal of the historical defense that perhaps other mediums don't? >> i can probably talk about some of the of advantages by never want to discourage other media because i think every medium has its strengths. for me what i am like about portraying especially if you're
putting it side by side with the president because a lot of my books i will talk about past and also show the present, to me there is an organic relationship between the past and present it and so much of what goes on today as a result of the past. so, the less distance the reader has to travel the better. and i find that if you have a drawing of the present and future role with the same hand something in the past, the reader has an easier time of making that transition. when you see a documentary film when they are trying to portray the past, they will often use actors to recreate something which only seems weird to me. when some documentary about the third crusade and you see like three people out in the desert and think they had thousands you can always draw thousands of people and the great thing about drawing is you how your every extra. it's just a matter of how many
you want to draw basically. so, that's sort of its advantage. and with photographs obviously there are great photographs of the past but often the technology of the photograph makes it very clear that it's something in the past. so you have a modern photograph of a place and then a photograph 100 years ago at the same place. the technology of the one looks so different from the new one that it just feels like a completely different era in a way that doesn't allow it to feel organic and that is the thing i want to capture is an organic captor to the past. >> so i have two questions. the first concerns the kind of face reality that you have created because when i first saw it i thought this is a sort of synchronic snap shot where you are going from the british lines
to the people that planned through to the soldiers and then you go to the german line. but that isn't necessarily the case or is it in as much as you land with the end of those are not necessarily german graves. >> actually it never makes it to the german lines. what it does is it goes through and takes you through the british line and then into no-man's land and then back behind the british line. i could have shown the german line in fact in some parts of the front the british soldiers made it into the german trenches and after four and a half months they penetrated us forest will kilometers which is nothing really for the kind of losses. what i didn't want in the illustration this is the artistic angle i didn't want them to reach the german lines because i wanted to accentuate
the fact that killing was done from a distance in world war i. most people were getting cut down by machine-gun fire that had a heavy rain or artillery. seven out of every ten soldiers killed in world war i was killed by artillery. people waited in the trenches to die so that is what i wanted to accentuate. >> succumbing you know, the follow-up question would be you chose the british perspective and so that comes out of your -- >> that comes out for most of my reading about the british. i read something about the french and something about the germans but in the and it's the british that swore when my head. >> and you said the british nation that of course this is something that is reflected through the experience in northern ireland and through inexperience in scotland and it is a question as to whether there is a british nation and of course the relationship of
australia to britain is very flawed so my question is how do you contextualize this within the broad range of the type of works that you've produced in the past that have a very strong moral dimension? you were sort of exposing an outrage of a certain geopolitical time that you are exposing cruelty and things like that so how do you situate this? >> that is a good question. most of my work has been journalistic and most of it is often about very specific individuals i've met and how they deal with what history or politics has built them whether it is a palestinian refugee or someone in a bosnian town or in
india. i try to bring out the person that i guess after about 20 years of doing that sort of thing there are questions that began to come to my head that can't really be answered by journalism in a way. journalism can sort of tell you about one people and another people and how they are contending over a land where this is a result of that in the and the question i began to ask myself was about the species as a whole why they continue doing the same thing and i realized this is when i began to think i don't really want to go to another refugee camp. what am i going to find new? there is of course a particular secretion and those people have a particular problem but on the other hand, i have questions now about the species and so this was a way of standing back almost any this interested way and looking at humanity as a whole and it gave me the
opportunity, the luxury of being in drawing this to get to think about what you're doing so when i'm drawing the soldiers going enthusiastically to the front i'm thinking about how people -- it isn't just the leaders or the generals populist get behind certain things we are responsible entry-level and i needed to rebut the nature and it's not that i have the answers to get but it gives me a chance to think about a somewhat. >> developed the back of the paper the idea is that we would print the exact illustration and the annotation because there are annotations in the booklet that would be on the opposite side.
but there was a cost issue with that and ultimately i wanted to get the cost down somewhat so we decided to put the annotations in the booklet. >> is their anyone else? one thing that comes to me is how well you have per trade the anonymity of the british soldier and how it was part of the industrial age they were living in in that so many of them with trusten to this and expected to just go out and die for england and one way that they were able to keep recruiting so many is because of censorship that, and hiding of the horrors that were actually happening at a time and
i think that you portrayed that factor of the soldiers and how they just went to their death not willingly but with a sort of sense of this is what you do for your country and until that started to change and the news started getting back to england about what it was really liked. i have been to the battlefield several times and they are just still to this day just heart wrenching and they are not -- the cemeteries are not necessarily that big they are not like the world war ii to the american soldiers. they are the commonwealth agreement in a small cemeteries because people were literally buried like to said right near the casualty clearing stations what have you. i have a relative the died on
september 25th going over the top. they were attacking where the german trenches were and if you go with this just the most poignant thing even today you certainly feel the ghosts and this more than any other changed the english society in ways that had never happened before and the repercussions are still being felt today and we are still battling in places because of decisions that were made then. so i just find your pen and ink drawings just a perfect accompaniment to the horror that was there and the anonymity and to the masses of soldiers that were killed and i also have to echo who ever mentioned absolutely fantastic book and a
good introduction to the war and i also recommended eating white hat barker about world war i their reach generation of the trilogy. but thank you very much. most impressive. >> thanks for saying that. >> the british did print the casual table in the newspapers which must have astounded people. you can imagine reading the casualty toll. also the british produced a film called the battle of the somme did you can even watch online and in some ways i think was meant to explain what had happened and they got into this mode of thinking of the losses it wasn't about victory it was about all that they had lost. the interesting thing about world war i is that people left the front and their must of been a big question hovering over
people's heads because whenever you can say about why it started and topic we still talk about why did it start? sometimes it doesn't even seem clear whatever the reason the way that was fought and the way that was suffered just didn't seem worth it at all. and you think of that help people reacted and then you think after world war ii what ever happened in world war ii that is questionable from the allied side, by the end of it when the camps were being litigated in a lot of people's mind was very clear while was fought it wasn't that question people had, people didn't feel what down by the political leaders wondering what they had just gone through and why they had lost the land. it represents utility to this day and on top of that.
>> i am very impressed with your point of view which was elevated and health-conscious -- i guess that you might have thought about being down on the ground with of the people what instead you hovered just over their heads and that is a very good way to encompass a larger area and to want to talk about that at all? >> i had to think about how i was going to show a large area and i knew right away that i couldn't show it from the ground level and i realized i would have to put up it was just a matter -- this is what took me some time of finding that right ankle that allowed you to see a lot of information end of the foreground but then a fair amount that would go all the way over to the horizon and see things going on in the back. i wanted there to be a sense of space and distance.
>> i was intrigued by one of the first things you said about apparently he was initially vilified and then rehabilitated. could you say a bit more about that? >> some historians contend that yes it was a questionable battle but what they would point out and there is some truth to this is that basically he wanted a break through what it was clear that it wasn't going to happen and he talked about attrition. suddenly it became a war of attrition you believe the enemy more than you are being led and in that level there is some truth to the fact that the germans almost lost as many as the allies did at the beginning of the somme. but in that period every time they lost the trench they would immediately counterattacked in the same kind of straight ahead and over the top fashion so they lost a lot of people, too.
he's given credit for winning the last battle of the war in 1918. but what i wonder about is if he had learned a lesson they talk about the learning curve and for the british army. it was another enormous battle as someone describes as the muddy version of the somme because right away the rain started and the battle went on for months with an enormous loss of life and so it doesn't seem like he learned that from the next year and by 1918, the germans had a sort of figured out a way to break the stalemate. they were using the tank but not effectively. they've used this concept of the small groups of infantry, the storm troopers that locally would make their own decisions. there was a lot of delegation to
the very small units and was extremely successful and in the last year they broke through the british line and came i think 40 miles from paris and it was only sort of a sheer exhaustion that stopped the german offensive and that is when he had sort of that moment his war of the movement which he managed to win. but they were exhausted and now the americans for their and so there were some things going on that didn't have to do with his genius. anyone else? >> okay. one question over there. >> i'm curious the creators that like a short-term project
working on boxers and saints and little collaborating to the in between and i was curious of mesopotamia if you could tell us a little about that and it was like working under this eight months compared with about. >> most of my books are five years and there was even a seven year project so this one quickly. but i am working on a long-term project about mesopotamia because again those question marks hovered over my head coming from my journalism basically. and i think about -- i began to think about obedience to authority and then i began to think about it in general and how did the social hierarchy start and political hierarchy start and i thought okay let's go back to the ancients to sort of figure that out so life in doing is interviewing archaeologists because i'm never going to become an expert but
maybe i will read enough to deal to ask relatively important questions of them so that is what i have been doing with that and that will probably take some time but as far as cleansing that what goes, i'm working on a satire that is short and very different from anything i've done in the decades and hopefully it will be sort of funny but very dark and i won't say much more about. >> i'm sadr rise in the last two american administrations basically. [applause] to meeting all blend together. >> this is of your graphic novel but more a question about what you learned about the soldiers. at a certain point i think it is in the french army there is a rebellion at the front line. what is the history of that and how did they put it down?
>> you are referring to i think the offenses within the spring of 1917, the sort of hot shot young general who launched this attack and the soldiers would cut down in droves and many units in the french army basically said we are not going into the trenches or if they did go into the trenches they would leave on their way just to make it clear that they knew they were being led to the slaughter. the way the french army put it down was by executing a certain amount of men in the unit but some ad random. interestingly the had about 2340 people and the german army only executed about 45 or so. we usually think of them as really hard-core but any way that is how it was put down that you could say it was the major offensive action the french were not really in it. the fight defensively, but you
can't really think of a major french action after the mutiny. of course the russian troops loyal to the way by the time of the revolution. in australia to its credit the voters turned down the conscription because there was a referendum there were two of them and so they turned down the conscription. >> i was wondering speaking of australia account you self identify. everything says that you were born there but if you grew up in australia and now you live in the united states do you identify with it as -- >> and man of the world. >> is there a particular school of cartooning? >> i have a passport to someone else's affair. he needs a categories of for him but i think i feel most comfortable in america just
because i have lived here long enough. that's the truth. anyone else or maybe we are done. one last question? going once, going twice. [applause] we are here at the national press club talking about the new book we shall not be moved to get help us a little bit about how you got into this project. >> when i saw this photograph of the martin luther king center in atlanta in 1992 and realized that this photograph is an iconic representation of the movement and i knew the woman in the center of the photograph. i had met her through her
children 20 years before in arlington virginia when i was the playground director and her kids came to the playground and i knew at that moment when i saw the photograph in the context of all of the iconic civil rights at the king center that this was a story that needed to be told so i decided at that moment to go home and start interviewing my friend and find out more about. >> did you recognize her in the picture or had she already talked about this experience? >> averitt goodbye stir in the photograph because they pulled the photograph out on occasion and said my mom is in a famous photograph so i didn't really understand how significant that was until i saw it in context. >> and what did you learn from her about the civil rights movement that you hadn't known before? >> what was interesting about this will be