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tv   Book Discussion Havel  CSPAN  January 10, 2015 9:00pm-10:04pm EST

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[applause] [applause] >> good evening everyone, thank you for coming out. what a fantastic crowd and you are also wise to be here. i am one of the co-owners of politics and prose my husband and co-owner and business partner, we have all of these
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new terms for each other. he is unfortunately not here, but he would welcome you all as well, as does our staff. before we get started, a couple of housekeeping items come in the way that this will work as dinner guests will be in conversation for a good portion of our time and there are microphones available right here and if you have a question please try to make it to the microphone as we record these events and put them up on our youtube channel, it helps viewers were watching on c-span. at the end of the event secretary albright will have to leave, but the ambassador will stay and will sign books but we do have some books that the secretary has already signed. so do not fear. you can find some of her books as well. and if you could also just fold up your chairs and put them to the side, we will be grateful to that and also we are selling beer and wine to my left and
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lastly if you have a cell phone on and would be kind enough to silence it, that would be helpful as well. thank you for your attention to all those details and what a pleasure it is for us to host ambassador michael zantovsky and madeleine albright. there will be a conversation about the new book "havel" which is already earning excellent reviews and coincides with the revolution anniversary. this includes the televisions are taking place in washington and many other wonderful places. and so it is a biography just know that i am not always on my pronunciation, but it is about
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vaclav havel of the czech republic. so often it has close proximity to the two of them come and they were friends and close associates in the movement that led to the overthrow of the communist regime in czechoslovakia. when vaclav havel became president of the new czech republic in 1989 esther michael zantovsky served as a press secretary and advisor and since that time he has also held posts at the top in washington and currently as his country's ambassador in london. so i think it's worth noting that critics and reviewers are often skeptical when they pick up a book written by an author who knows the subject so well and was close to that subject. and we know that he has talked
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about the tendency that is not too popular, assuming they heroes can only be perfectionist and that is a term that i have out without asking. and that includes a bland perfectionist, certainly he was not, it was produced as an unvarnished friend in college and it reminds us that the great public figures are seldom one-dimensional, a contradictory and even paradoxical and we do a disservice if we don't present in the fullest light. in conversation tonight, this is one of our nation's most respected diplomats and i have to say one of my all time favorite people in the whole world and we were just reminiscing about the fact that this is the first time that we had a long conversation and when
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he was president. madeleine albright was the 50 for secretary and before that u.s. ambassador to the united nations along with diplomatic work she is a professor and unrelenting democracy advocate and she is the author of very fine books. she began running this in 2005 and i can recommend each title with great enthusiasm, her most recent book makes an excellent companion to "havel: a life", and we have plenty of those on hand. if you haven't got a copy as i said, the secretary has been kind enough to signers ahead of time for us and there are plenty of the fun and i hope you will be able to pickup a copy of each for yourselves and for all the people who need holiday gifts. we are honored to have you.
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please welcome everyone. >> thank you very much. i am pleased and we are very good friends, this is what a bookstore should look like. it's amazing and the jewel in the gem. [inaudible conversations] okay theoretically. and i will say it again. this bookstore is exactly what bookstores should be like and people that live in washington see it as a tool so thank you so much. and i am delighted to be up here with my friend michael, we have known each other for a long time and we can talk about that. and i think that the thing that
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was said in the review that was said very rarely do have someone who knows the subject as well and we begin this by asking two questions, have there been other is who have satisfied this yes, no emphatically yes. and so i am the one giving the answers. there is an endless interest in this and understanding him as a person and as a talent and a playwright and understanding him as a reader, there's no one better than him to do that. you and i met sometime in the 80s you had curly hair and i have a lot more hair. and you worked for reuters and in the 80s it was a very
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cochlear until your place after this and there were pockets of people that were activists in a number of ways and working in their circles to try to give power to the palace. and so let's get into the end of this at the end of the 80s. >> i should stop by thinking of for being here and thank you for doing this with me. i left the ambassador 17 years ago and this bookstore in is one of my fondest memories of this time. so i'm really happy to be back. so i first met vaclav havel in
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late 1993 and we spent on spiders together and we sort of developed a liking for each other and for more of each other. but you haven't missed much. one thing led to another and we also started working together on a few things by the time that this was a part of things in 1989 and we were both not on what happened and then all of a
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sudden he said i refuse to go to the president with a group of people along because he was not -- at least in the beginning was not enthusiastic about accepting this post and he didn't want to do it alone. >> it's interesting because as i say you and i have met in the 80s and when i went back to czechoslovakia was in the 1967 when i found out that my other had been sentenced to death. and so i didn't should go back unless i was under the protection of the united states government. so i went as a person and an
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expert from the u.s. and so the american embassy at that time in probably was really a place where dissidents went and being they are on the fourth of july was always -- i traveled around communist countries primarily in the summers and was able to be in the embassy on the fourth of july or wherever. and in 1989 i was in washington and i had just written a not so nice op-ed. it really did take the checks while they were the last two really have communism taken in they were last to hold a show trial, so in this case it was the last but i have to say it was the most amazing revolution
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and that is what we have been celebrating this week. the crowds and those there as leaders. and i went back in january 1990 representing this institute and i first had a meeting but that case was foreign minister, so i never expected that that would be possible and i said yes. and so we go over he knew that he was meeting with some american delegation to have a copy of the book that i was writing on 20th century czechoslovakia and he said i know who you are you are mrs. fulbright and i said no i am madeleine albright. but michael was there as were a few other people and they all
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had on black jeans and black turtleneck sweaters and he said would you go with my advisors to this restaurant nearby and explain to them what presidential office should be like, which is what we did. so would you like to describe that may be? >> absolutely. we are very new to the game and the problem was that the previous president, the last communist president did not rule from this to the secretary general and so there are no typewriters, a few manual typewriters, no secretary no way to do documents and papers
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and etc. and so we had to went very quickly. telling us about the way to document forward and how we should get just and it took them a while. but most of us -- we have individuals we have married in to their family and i was still better off than many people in the group. and it was fun. >> i have to say that it was january and snowing and i had to walk back to my hotel and i had
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gone down the stairs and i had a genuine out of body experience which was that i thought that i had never left here and i knew what this was all about and i thought i would never know when a presidential office looks like if i hadn't actually been in one. so i got my head back together. but what happened was the next day they told me they were coming to the united states on their first trip. >> i am not 100% certain that he said he should go to the united states or you went to the united states to absolutely. i have to tell you that they treat me as a queen in an irritating older sister. [laughter] [laughter] anyway, so they came to the united states and the lot of this took place in my basement
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getting things together and then last night at the embassy here, we were talking about what it was like when this whole party arrived. and so that is when vaclav havel came and he was getting ready to give a speech for the joint session. what was truly fun was to liberate the embassy because it had all of this horrible socialist realist art and we got rid of all that and put up great pictures of everybody and the students on the president. and so then we decided that i won't go through all of the details of getting ready for the speech except that we went down and they were staying at blair house would you like to describe an expert? >> we should do justice to it. because we have to understand
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that it was like this, and i still don't much like it. but it is being gentrified. but the people in the embassy there was no time to replace the people, they had all of them for the first time in 20 years, they had refugees and dissidents and they were visibly part of this. it was like this at the embassy and then we rant to the blair house and that was the nice part about being a press secretary.
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and the translation was not quite complete and so the predecessor to the united states who grew up during the war it they had the english and then it came down to the three days of speech and he was a great writer but not a great reader. until madeleine had this wonderful idea of bringing in a speech coach and he was very experienced and he gave up on that and he said that this was hopeless and then he went to the joint session of the congress
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and had 17 standing ovations. >> michael is the one that read it in english. so i think that that was a very appropriate linkage of the two of them he gave this incredible speech and we had a wonderful week because people had been remembering that moment and the importance of the speech and the message that he delivered until he had been kidding about the fact that we we were not sure what everybody said what they meant with consciousness perceiving being. and it could be the other way around. people applauded, but i think the you should really explain what it meant. >> what it meant was that we all grew up on the indoctrination
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and we all still remembered it and the communists have the basis of all existence and being and that was the material and physical world. and then there were other things such as rubbish and so they might have said themselves that being comes before consciousness. and it's a way of expressing it. and it was refuted by vaclav havel and said no this comes before being, and then after the speech i teased him for years
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afterward and i said no you gave the speech to me. and so there was a reception after the speech and a few of the senators and representatives came up to us and asked what you meant by that. and so they were still enthusiastic and there were other parts that were quite pleasing to everyone. so it was a great experience. so may i follow up on that a jump of 20 years or 25 almost? and yesterday matalin and the congressional leadership
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jointly installed this in the u.s. capital one of only four non-americans and it was a very moving experience and it was a very moving ceremony. and then the rest was unveiled and i realized that this was somehow the prosperity and i realized that the book is based off a counterpart to that. because i couldn't create this sculpture and i never thought about how it would affect you.
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so what i try to do with the book is to re-create as much as i was able to the real man who could not be reduced. it was so interesting in so many ways and so complex and contradictory. at the same time he was part of this and it takes some time to realize how much integrity that is required because we all go through our lives playing various roles and all of a sudden it changes the language
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and the demeanor and it sounded different. this was a man who was a friend and husband and lover a prisoner a politician and then a retiree and he was probably the only person i've met in my life that has remained the same throughout who did not change his demeanor or language and sometimes it was not to his benefit because there were a lot of role-playing and you could just couldn't do it and woman do it. and for me this is the most fascinating fact about him. i accompanied him once when he was president on the first day of the school year in proper, that was the tradition for the
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president to go to the school on the first day of the school year and we went, 80 of us kids, and vaclav havel spoke to them and he never had children himself but he spoke to them about this. [laughter] and about the non-self-evident nature of this. and let me tell you that the kids loved it, they couldn't get enough of it because of this. he treated it in this way and they said why did the children like me so much. and i told him that it is because they had never seen anything like this before.
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it was like et. [laughter] and so it is impossible to re-create that even in the book. >> i think the dead because you really see the multifaceted part in the dedication. so what do you think were the parts of his of ringing that led him to take that role? it was obviously very difficult throughout the time. what is it that made him become the great moral leader that he was? >> early on he had to very consolatory experiences and he was born into a well-to-do family and well-connected family. his house were among the leading
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intellectual writers and politicians before the second world war. then when he was about 10 years old the war ended and the communists came in and all of a sudden he was the whole family there and he was an undesirable he was barred from getting a proper education and he went to his high school is a night school because they wouldn't have been in a day school. he wanted to study film end of the czechoslovakian film studios, not only do they not accept him into the school but
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they wouldn't accept him into the theater school and the only school that they were willing to accept him into was the school of engineering of transportation. which was of absolutely no interest in him. and so he lasted about two and a half years and then he quit. until early on he had the experience of life as it could be and life as it is and he had to deal with this very early on and then the 60s came and he was 30 years old by that time and there was a time in the spring of 1968 and already a time of relaxation and this
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became extremely successful and popular, i was 16 years old at the time and i saw maybe seven or eight times in six months and the people who sought 15 or 16 times it was a revelation and all of a sudden he was not undesirable. ..
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>> >> end wacked very hard at that different kind of place but he did not quite feel he was succeeding and was not quite happy with the way his life was going. so then he became active again and started the
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activist part with the dissident part of his career and became increasingly a pain in the next of the communist regime. logically he ended up in jail. and then he was let out of jail with the uncrowned leader of the opposition. and when the revolution came there was no dispute about who is a leader was or should be. it was a no-brainer. and the rest is history. >> the of book describes the evolution of the most remarkable way coming through the various phases it was always the same person no matter what.
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and we were about the same age. and why he went back and that responsibility that he felt to be the intellectual leader we talk about that a lot i did not make the decision to stay in the united states come to my parents did but it made me feel a little bit guilty. and then to say how come you have so much energy? i was not in jail and i did not smoke. [laughter] and then to be with somebody your own age a similar background for what life was like for him and me. i hope you see the evolution
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in the book but turning to the audience what would he be saying about what is going on now? and we will get to that but think about it. we should go to the audience the microphone is appear. if any of you have questions? >> we're so honored to have you tonight. very few politicians in europe for the u.s., to the integrity of view. he was my hero but mrs. albright touched upon that i read last week the subsequent politicians who in czechoslovakia have not lived up to the standards
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how do you feel about that personally. >> i will take a car about to hear. i amaze civil servants. as a serving ambassador so i do not feel entirely at liberty about speaking about my own current government. you would certainly understand that. but something i do want to say about it as the anniversary came up over 25 years a lively and he did adversarial part how they will end his role and his place in history.
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for me it is a silly debate because i don't think his place in history is threatened now matter what anyone says. but it can be damaged. but people trying to use havel on both sides that they try to beat each other over the head with havel. and i know for sure that havel would not have it. i sometimes recall his first encounter with gorbachev in 1987 when he first came to power. and havel was noticing
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because havel was walking the dog and the prague where gorbachev just emerged from the kremlin if he was applauded by the onlookers on the street. and then he seemed to look in the direction where havel was standing and havel the dissident leader of the opposition but then we go back home to see how confused he was acquitted is the motivation. and as a very polite person
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is somebody waves i will waved back. and there is nothing wrong with waiting to a liberal russians are who was coming in with some reforms a etc., etc.. then he says what's wrong? the cheering of the people come was the people expecting somebody from the outside will come to solve their problems. and he would say the same thing about the debate today. havel is dead. he cannot solve the problems for us i'm sorry. is using him mr. mentally with his other issues. >> it will be interesting to see the effects to see the
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statute, the bus than their real recognition of havel importance in the united states a pass to have any effect over there. everything was live streamed to into prague and we celebrated something that happened 25 years ago i do think it will have an effect for the future. we will see that it is clearly here. >> good evening. my question is the same. i interested in what you think havel reaction from monday? i was in the czech republic when he was elected in think what will he be invited to have a beer with barack obama llord joe biden?
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>>. >> what about the aging -- egging. >> first of all, he would think that throwing eggs that anyone is in bad taste. and port manners. -- poured menders and would not know what he was talking about because when we were both pelted with eggs in late 1991 i think it was in the main square with the of rally of slav six nationally and they did not much like me or havel or most of the other folks.
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it happens to politicians and there are probably more effective ways. [laughter] but that was a play shotgun. >> i vividly remember the 1990 visit on the same visit that he spoke with george washington university. i was working at the time and i attended the lecture that was a memorable day in the history of george washington university. but one detail about the 1990 visit was at the time
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the senior george bush was the president. and with a certain admiration. if you have particular memories of senior president bush and his reception of that visit? >> i have to tell you when we were at blair house he said come with me to see the president i said not think that is appropriate. >> right. [laughter] >> we still have a photograph together but you
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did not escape it. [laughter] but first of all, i should be clear within the confusion that when we went to georgetown and we did go to george washington the next visit 1991. not just as a president to give him a gracious reception and he did not treat him like a president but with respect and affection and later the same year on the 17th of november president bush came
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in they spoke at the square and was a little alarmed because somebody had sausages in nearby. [laughter] with that speaking platform but my fondest memory of that relationship but after president bush retired we went to see him in the kennebunkport 1995 state with president bush and barbara it in the evenings
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that i could remember it was even better to go to portsmouth. and president bush came in his cigar boat in drove all the way to kennebunk porch and was never afraid in his life. [laughter] but the way bush row the boat i could see havel. [laughter] so yes it was a great great great time. >> i'd like your explanations why with post-communist societies that people have come
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through fascism that uc the nostalgia and for full totalitarian regimes in why has the membership in the european union living it free and open societies not replaced this vestiges of the past? i find it hard to understand. but some of it could be that there is a certain sense of chaos and also concern about
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corruption. democracy is the difficult concept. it is not in any event but a process. even in this country people are discouraged and it is a very hard process. also people don't have enough in they were not alive at the time were to have different recollections therein is attitude surveys people are asked to deal like what is going on or do you prefer a stronger hand? there is a question about to order that i find a hard to understand frankly. >> first of all, that
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happens, it is true. and greece in different countries and is somewhat related also to outside factors with the countries in the neighborhood like russia. it is not limited although it may be more pronounced with those totalitarian governments but you find everywhere in europe today in countries like sweden that we think of its the most stable liberal countries you will find the
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populous groups the policies that are is you know, phobic in it is a problem for the whole continent. and europe has gone through the financial crisis. four years from 2008 through 2012 and it is still recovering has economic problems it has leadership problems since there are no leaders showing its way around. that people live in some countries field that is threatening them. and the result of all of
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this imagines some shadows better put to rest in europe everywhere. but we have to confront it. >> good evening. mr. ambassador one of the integrated parts of havel personality is all the effervescent part of him him, his edition, poetry edition, poetry, remarkable creative sense was also a great sense of practicality the steps he made as president came from a deep commitment for what had happened in the past as much as he could and i have been
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told he had been clear there would be three important steps to the future stability of the czech republic and that was to do three phaetons -- there is not self-serving but i want confirmation for radio free europe brought to prague, to gain easy entrance and to gain participation in nato that is from the history to validate some of that? >> in the spirit of full disclosure the question was posed from a former chief executive of radio free europe. [laughter] >> i confess.
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michael was the major figure to get it to prod. >> that was my next admission. [laughter] and third you are absolutely right you felt strongly to bring the radio to prague it would not have happened without him i don't think. it emanated from his sense of shared responsibility not just for oneself for the people closest to you for those in many places and in similar situations. and if we are lucky enough to extricate ourselves then
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it was our duty to assist those for the struggle so the radio is essential to bring that to information to the country. it is the only means in the age that is hard to imagine before the internet. in to be the only game in town. and the security of the
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country to go on building the economy and prosperity and all the other things governments are expected to do and sometimes do. so there was the entry and one of the main tasks i had when i was in washington and this lady had a little to do with that. and one coming to prod in 1984 was a trip by a madeline that it was no
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longer a question of when and how. is and if you look with every event in history there are revisionist who will tell you it was the wrong move and nato should never be enlarged. if you look at the situation in the late 90's that means the four countries of central europe from romania and bulgaria. and a contrast that with the situation in is in ukraine or moldova or belarus and some of the countries of southeastern europe and macedonia, etc., etc..
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you can see an enormous source of stability which enables us to take the next up to join the european union says the political and economic integration so they all three words linked and most importantly in recall zero him for that. >> can let me say the trip, the first lady hillary clinton gave a speech of radio free europe that was an important signal. and i have to say that i have no greater pleasure than to be able to announce the succession of the czech republic to nato and prague.
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it was amazing. >> one more quick question. >> to follow up how would you explain the success of the czech republic from the revolution from a thriving democracy to join the e.u.? is a part of the havel leadership gore in the spirit of the czech republic why were they successful those that have not had that success? >> end i would be the first to say it is a work in progress.
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id continue to be happy about it the will have to do that some more. and like many of the countries in that part of the world he did have a genuine and indigenous tradition of a democratic government before the second world war and the government that madeleines father had. in not just starting from scratch but to have politicians and a similar type and immorally as havel was.
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and by communist standards it ended 1989 founded to make progress. so all together we did quite well. in those times we did not do so well. over the five or six years at the moment looking in slovakia from the czech republic from 1982 been many people saw it is difficult
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to make a go of it. so i am over careful because it only last for so long. >> the only thing that is better with this story and the relationship to recollect some of the stories that diplomats feel and president's talking about the 1994 trip, i had come earlier and what happened is president havel had planned to give a saxophone to president clinton but president clinton's mother had just died so the question was they would go to a jazz club and the question is if that
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was appropriate or not. . . i was supposed to give him a yes or no so on the plane i did ask president clinton and he said he would be very happy to do that and it would be great. and then one of the really nice parts i have to say on that trip warren christopher was coming in also and he said madeleine because this is where you were born i think it makes sense for you to go down the stairs with president clinton and he obviously outranks me. so we did come down the stairs
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and i gave a hug to the president and i said yes. [laughter] it was great. so then we had all the meetings and everything am so then we did go to a jazz club that night and we walked across charles bridge and we went to the jazz club. president clinton was given the saxophone and he as usual played my funny valentine. and then there was a great saxophonist that played with him and how they'll got up and also this is when i said he had no rhythm because he had maracas that he could not shake. [laughter] anyway he sat down. president clinton came back and sat down and he said madeleine you have no idea how hard it is to play it brand-new saxophone. but it was one of those great evenings and then when we had an
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official meeting we went up to the castle and i have said this a couple of times during this week. as we are standing there they played the "star spangled banner" and the national anthem which always brings me to tears because as we all know the "star spangled banner" says land of the free and home of the brave and the title of the czech national anthem is where's my home home. when they played those two together and his influence always makes me put those two together. thank you all very very much. [applause] [applause]
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>> up next on booktv "after words" with cass sunstein former administrator of the white house office of information and regulatory affairs in the obama administration and co-author of "wiser" getting beyond groupthink to make groups smarter. mr. sunstein shares his thoughts on a group decision-making can be flawed and offers ways to make better collective decisions. he discusses his book with susan cain author of the bestseller quiet, the power of introverts in the world they can't stop talking. >> host: i love this book. it was fascinating and i would love actually it was pretty complex ideas so can we start with the laying out the basic thesis? >> guest: if there are two parts of the book. the first is why the groups fail and the second is how can groups


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