Clive Thompson — Coders: The Making of A New Tribe and The Remaking of The World — Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for The Better — Videos

Posted on September 4, 2019. Filed under: American History, Anthropology, Blogroll, Books, College, Congress, Cult, Culture, Data, Economics, Education, Employment, High School, history, Journalism, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, Math, media, Medicine, Money, Non-Fiction, People, Philosophy, Photos, Programming, Psychology, Psychology, Radio, Radio, Rants, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Resources, Sociology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

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Clive Thompson

CLIVE THOMPSON: HOW TECH REMADE THE WORLD

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Clive Thompson’s New Book Smarter Than You Think | Keen On…

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Coding Culture

“Learning to Code is Not Just for Coders” | Ali Partovi | TEDxSausalito

TEDx Talks

Published on Dec 1, 2016
COFOUNDER, CODE.ORG, ILIKE, & LINKEXCHANGE “Every child in America deserves access to Computer Science.” Described by the San Jose Mercury News as one of “Silicon Valley’s top angel investors,” Ali Partovi has backed Airbnb, Dropbox, Facebook, Uber, and Zappos. In 2013, Partovi helped his twin brother Hadi launch Code.org, which promotes computer science education and has introduced 200 million kids to computer programming via the “Hour of Code.” Early in his career he cofounded LinkExchange and later iLike.

How I taught myself to code | Litha Soyizwapi | TEDxSoweto

Learn the basics. Learn by doing. Apply Knowledge.

What do programmers actually do?

Programmer: Reality vs Expectations (Computer Programmer) Part 1

Programmer: Reality vs Expectations (Computer Programmer) Part 2

Rags to Microsoft Software Developer – My Life Story

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Microsoft ruined MY weekend… MY LAN party & My LIFE! WHY!

Microsoft ruined MY weekend… MY LAN party & My LIFE! WHY!

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Top 10 Worst Things about Programming

here i listed them all:
10-commute 9-your work doesn’t exist 8-constant changing 7-meetings 6-your company changes 5-visibility office politics 4-sitting at desk all day 3-stress 2-arrogant people 1-bad code/manager

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Uncle Bob Martin – The Clean Coder

“Uncle” Bob Martin – “The Future of Programming”

Published on May 18, 2016

How did our industry start, what paths did it take to get to where we are, and where is it going. What big problems did programmers encounter in the past? How were they solved? And how do those solutions impact our future? What mistakes have we made as a profession; and how are we going to correct them. In this talk, Uncle Bob describes the history of software, from it’s beginnings in 1948 up through the current day; and then beyond. By looking at our past trajectory, we try to plot out where our profession is headed, and what challenges we’ll face along the way. Robert C. Martin (Uncle Bob) has been a programmer since 1970. He is the Master Craftsman at 8th Light inc, an acclaimed speaker at conferences worldwide, and the author of many books including: The Clean Coder, Clean Code, Agile Software Development: Principles, Patterns, and Practices, and UML for Java Programmers.

The Future of Programming – .NET Oxford – April 2019

Published on May 1, 2019

The Future of Programming 2019 Update How did our industry start, what paths did it take to get to where we are, and where is it going. What big problems did programmers encounter in the past? How were they solved? And how do those solutions impact our future? What mistakes have we made as a profession; and how are we going to correct them. In this talk, Uncle Bob describes the history of software, from it’s beginnings in 1948 up through the current day; and then beyond. By looking at our past trajectory, we try to plot out where our profession is headed, and what challenges we’ll face along the way. Robert Martin visited .NET Oxford in the UK, where this talk was recorded. For more information about the .NET Oxford user-group, please visit https://www.meetup.com/dotnetoxford.

Interview With Bob Martin (Uncle Bob)

Artificial Intelligence, the History and Future – with Chris Bishop

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MIT Self-Driving Cars: State of the Art (2019)

MIT Deep Learning Basics: Introduction and Overview

Published on Jan 11, 2019

An introductory lecture for MIT course 6.S094 on the basics of deep learning including a few key ideas, subfields, and the big picture of why neural networks have inspired and energized an entire new generation of researchers. For more lecture videos on deep learning, reinforcement learning (RL), artificial intelligence (AI & AGI), and podcast conversations, visit our website or follow TensorFlow code tutorials on our GitHub repo.

MIT 6.S094: Introduction to Deep Learning and Self-Driving Cars

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Top 10 Computer Science Schools in the World

Coders: The Making of a New Art and the Remaking of the World

Clive Thompson. Penguin Press, $28 (448p) ISBN 978-0-7352-2056-0

In this revealing exploration of programming, programmers, and their far-reaching influence, Wired columnist Thompson (Smarter Than You Think) opens up an insular world and explores its design philosophy’s consequences, some of them unintended. Through interviews and anecdotes, Thompson expertly plumbs the temperament and motivations of programmers. Thompson explains how an avowedly meritocratic profession nevertheless tends to sideline those who are not white male graduates of prestigious university computer science programs, tracing this male-dominated culture back to 1960s and early ’70s MIT, where the “hacker ethic” was first born. Remarkably, though, he makes clear that programming is an unusual field in that successful practitioners are often self-taught, many having started out with only simple tools, such as a Commodore computer running the BASIC programming language. This book contains possibly the best argument yet for how social media maneuvers users into more extreme political positions, since “any ranking system based partly on tallying up the reactions to posts will wind up favoring intense material.” Impressive in its clarity and thoroughness, Thompson’s survey shines a much-needed light on a group of people who have exerted a powerful effect on almost every aspect of the modern world. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 12/24/2018
Release date: 03/26/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook – 978-0-7352-2057-7
Paperback – 448 pages – 978-0-7352-2058-4

 

 

KIRKUS REVIEW

Of computer technology and its discontents.

Computers can do all kinds of cool things. The reason they can, writes tech journalist Thompson (Smarter than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better, 2013), is that a coder has gotten to the problem. “Programmers spend their days trying to get computers to do new things,” he writes, “so they’re often very good at understanding the crazy what-ifs that computers make possible.” Some of those things, of course, have proven noxious: Facebook allows you to keep in touch with high school friends but at the expense of spying on your every online movement. Yet they’re kind of comprehensible, since they’re based on language: Coding problems are problems of words and thoughts and not numbers alone. Thompson looks at some of the stalwarts and heroes of the coding world, many of them not well-known—Ruchi Sanghvi, for example, who worked at Facebook and Dropbox before starting a sort of think tank “aimed at convincing members to pick a truly new, weird area to examine.” If you want weird these days, you get into artificial intelligence, of which the author has a qualified view. Humans may be displaced by machines, but the vaunted singularity probably won’t happen anytime soon. Probably. Thompson is an enthusiast and a learned scholar alike: He reckons that BASIC is one of the great inventions of history, being one of the ways “for teenagers to grasp, in such visceral and palpable ways, the fabric of infinity.” Though big tech is in the ascendant, he writes, there’s a growing number of young programmers who are attuned to the ethical issues surrounding what they do, demanding, for instance, that Microsoft not provide software to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Those coders, writes Thompson, are “the one group of people VCs and CEOs cannot afford to entirely ignore,” making them the heroes of the piece in more ways than one.

Fans of Markoff, Levy, Lanier et al. will want to have a look at this intriguing portrait of coding and coders.

About this book

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/clive-thompson/coders/

Book Summary

To understand the world today, we need to understand code and its consequences. With Coders, Thompson gives a definitive look into the heart of the machine.

Hello, world.

Facebook’s algorithms shaping the news. Self-driving cars roaming the streets. Revolution on Twitter and romance on Tinder. We live in a world constructed of code – and coders are the ones who built it for us. From acclaimed tech writer Clive Thompson comes a brilliant anthropological reckoning with the most powerful tribe in the world today, computer programmers, in a book that interrogates who they are, how they think, what qualifies as greatness in their world, and what should give us pause. They are the most quietly influential people on the planet, and Coders shines a light on their culture.

In pop culture and media, the people who create the code that rules our world are regularly portrayed in hackneyed, simplified terms, as ciphers in hoodies. Thompson goes far deeper, dramatizing the psychology of the invisible architects of the culture, exploring their passions and their values, as well as their messy history. In nuanced portraits, Coders takes us close to some of the great programmers of our time, including the creators of Facebook’s News Feed, Instagram, Google’s cutting-edge AI, and more. Speaking to everyone from revered “10X” elites to neophytes, back-end engineers and front-end designers, Thompson explores the distinctive psychology of this vocation – which combines a love of logic, an obsession with efficiency, the joy of puzzle-solving, and a superhuman tolerance for mind-bending frustration.

Along the way, Coders thoughtfully ponders the morality and politics of code, including its implications for civic life and the economy. Programmers shape our everyday behavior: When they make something easy to do, we do more of it. When they make it hard or impossible, we do less of it. Thompson wrestles with the major controversies of our era, from the “disruption” fetish of Silicon Valley to the struggle for inclusion by marginalized groups.

In his accessible, erudite style, Thompson unpacks the surprising history of the field, beginning with the first coders – brilliant and pioneering women, who, despite crafting some of the earliest personal computers and programming languages, were later written out of history. Coders introduces modern crypto-hackers fighting for your privacy, AI engineers building eerie new forms of machine cognition, teenage girls losing sleep at 24/7 hackathons, and unemployed Kentucky coal-miners learning a new career.

At the same time, the book deftly illustrates how programming has become a marvelous new art form – a source of delight and creativity, not merely danger. To get as close to his subject as possible, Thompson picks up the thread of his own long-abandoned coding skills as he reckons, in his signature, highly personal style, with what superb programming looks like.

https://www.bookbrowse.com/bb_briefs/detail/index.cfm/ezine_preview_number/13867/coders

Praise

“Fascinating. Thompson is an excellent writer and his subjects are themselves gripping. . . . [W]hat Thompson does differently is to get really close to the people he writes about: it’s the narrative equivalent of Technicolor, 3D and the microscope. . . . People who interact with coders routinely, as colleagues, friends or family, could benefit tremendously from these insights.” —Nature

“With an anthropologist’s eye, [Thompson] outlines [coders’] different personality traits, their history and cultural touchstones. He explores how they live, what motivates them and what they fight about. By breaking down what the actual world of coding looks like . . . he removes the mystery and brings it into the legible world for the rest of us to debate. Human beings and their foibles are the reason the internet is how it is—for better and often, as this book shows, for worse.” —TheNew York Times Book Review

“An outstanding author and long-form journalist. . . . I particularly enjoyed [Thompson’s] section on automation.” —Tim Ferriss

“[An] enjoyable primer on the world of computer programmers. . . . Coders are building the infrastructure on which twenty-first century society rests, and their work has every chance of surviving as long, and being as important, as the Brooklyn Bridge—or, for that matter, the Constitution.” —Bookforum

“Thompson delivers again with this well-written narrative on coders, individual histories, and the culture of coder life, at home and work. . . . In addition to analyzing the work-life of coders, he brilliantly reveals several examples of how they live in their respective relationships. Throughout, Thompson also does a great job exploring the various drivers that permeate the industry: merit, openness of code, long coding stints without sleep, and how the culture tends toward start-up culture even when companies are established. This engaging work will appeal to readers who wish to learn more about the intersection of technology and culture, and the space in which they blur together.” —Library Journal, starred review

“Thompson offers a broad cultural view of the world of coders and programmers from the field’s origins in the mid-twentieth century to the present. In this highly readable and entertaining narrative, he notes the sense of scale and logical efficiency in coding and the enthusiasm with which programmers go about creating new features and finding bugs. . . . [A] comprehensive look at the people behind the digital systems now essential to everyday life.”—Booklist

“Looks at some of the stalwarts and heroes of the coding world, many of them not well-known. . . . Thompson is an enthusiast and a learned scholar alike. . . . Fans of Markoff, Levy, Lanier, et al. will want to have a look at this intriguing portrait of coding and coders.” —Kirkus

“In this revealing exploration of programming, programmers, and their far-reaching influence, Wired columnist Thompson opens up an insular world and explores its design philosophy’s consequences, some of them unintended. Through interviews and anecdotes, Thompson expertly plumbs the temperament and motivations of programmers. . . . [Coders] contains possibly the best argument yet for how social media maneuvers users into more extreme political positions. . . . Impressive in its clarity and thoroughness, Thompson’s survey shines a much-needed light on a group of people who have exerted a powerful effect on almost every aspect of the modern world.”Publishers Weekly, starred review

“As a person who has spent a lot of time writing code, I can confirm that you need to be a little bit of a weirdo to love it. Clive Thompson’s book is an essential field guide to the eccentric breed of architects who are building the algorithms that shape our future, and the AIs who will eventually rise up and enslave us. Good luck, humans!” —Jonathan Coulton, musician

“Clive Thompson is more than a gifted reporter and writer. He is a brilliant social anthropologist. And, in this masterful book, he illuminates both the fascinating coders and the bewildering technological forces that are transforming the world in which we live.” —David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z and Killers of the Flower Moon

“With his trademark clarity and insight, Clive Thompson gives us an unparalleled vista into the mind-set and culture of programmers, the often-invisible architects and legislators of the digital age.”  —Steven Johnson, author of How We Got to Now

“If you have to work with programmers, it’s essential to understand that programming has a culture. This book will help you understand what programmers do, how they do it, and why. It decodes the culture of code.” —Kevin Kelly, senior maverick for Wired

“Clive Thompson is the ideal guide to who coders are, what they do, and how they wound up taking over the world. For a book this important, inspiring, and scary, it’s sinfully fun to read.” —Steven Levy, author of In the Plex

“It’s a delight to follow Clive Thompson’s roving, rollicking mind anywhere. When that ‘anywhere’ is the realm of the programmers, the pleasure takes on extra ballast. Coders is an engrossing, deeply clued-in ethnography, and it’s also a book about power, a new kind: where it comes from, how it feels to wield it, who gets to try—and how all that is changing.”  —Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

“Clive Thompson has deftly picked apart the myth of a tech meritocracy. Guiding readers through the undercovered history of programming’s female roots, Coders points with assurance to the inequities that have come to define coding today, as both a profession and the basis of the technology that shapes our lives. Readable, revealing, and in many ways infuriating.”  —Rebecca Traister, author of Good and Mad

“Code shapes coders, and coders shape the code that changes how we think, every day of our lives. If you want to create a more humanistic digital world, read this book to get started.” —Sherry Turkle, professor at MIT; author of Reclaiming Conversation and Alone Together

“Thompson has accomplished the nearly impossible task of portraying the coding world exactly as it is: messy, inspiring, naive, and—at times—shameful. Coders is a beautifully written and refreshingly fair portrayal of a young industry that’s accomplished so much and still has a lot to learn.” —Saron Yitbarek, CEO and founder of CodeNewbie

Coding Has Become Pop Culture

Exactly what I did not want to become …

But programming has not. And let me dive right into it.

Fifteen years ago when people suggested I should become a programmer because of my introverted and shy personality, analytical mind and complete lack of social life, I laughed and shamelessly flipped them off. But I was a teenager, and in my teenage mind a programmer lived forever with their parents, in the basement, with pimples and large ugly glasses, has never had a girlfriend but plenty of wet dreams about princess Leia. Repeatedly. And that image did not sit well with me. Plus, I actually had a girlfriend, and a hot one at that.

Forward six years, and I was in Budapest airport casually reading a book about HTML…

Add another 6 years and I landed my first full-stack web developer job at a Northern Irish startup. Yes, I took my time, I guess. But how much time? I don’t quite know to be honest. But it was a lot. Was it the mythical 10.000 hours? No. If I would have to make a rough estimation, I would say, to date I have “coded” about 8000 hours. Technically, according to the 10.000 hour rule, in 2000 hours worth of “coding”, I shall be an expert in my field.

Or will I?

Here’s what I have done in those 8000 hours. Grab a seat, as this is going to be long and hard to follow. I have written code in the following languages: C, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Java (Android), Swift, PHP, Ruby, Python, Chuck, SQL to work with the following frameworks: Node, Angular, Bootstrap, Foundation, React, Rails, CodeIgniter, Ionic while building landing pages, websites, WordPress sites, eCommerce solutions, eLearning content, Moodle sites, Totara sites, Mahara sites, Common Cartridge packages, SCORM packages, Android apps, iOS apps, hybrid apps, in-house web applications, eBooks, magazines, games, and board-game companion apps. So what am I getting at?

Well, what I am trying to say is that there is no field, therefore becoming an expert in it, becomes unattainable. Coding is not a field. Computer Science is, but that’s an entirely different slice of cheese.

Coding is what presidents, educators, parents and employers and companies herd the young generations into, like cattle onto the holy grail of golden fields of opportunity.

The promise is a dream, the propaganda is well-crafted and simple-worded, heck it’s not even worded any more, it’s dumbed down to simple images for them lovely wee “rugrats” who definitely must learn logical thinking before learning how to feed themselves — please note the sarcasm.

Just 15 years later, coding has become the “pop-culturized” version of programming and what everybody now hopes will be the future army of coders upon which we shall build our AI controlled home, traffic, retail, entertainment, medical, industrial, sexual, illusional and delusional revolution, will turn out to be an absolute shit-show — and there truly is no better word for that. And all this, because programming is being sold as “coding” and “coding” is supposedly easy. Couldn’t be further away from the truth…

So here’s the fine-print. The “factualised” myth that anyone can learn a programming language in mere hours is only true up to a point and that point happens to be very early on in the learning process. Indeed, a and any programming language can be learnt in a single day. In fact if one’s goal is to become a programming polyglot in a month (while having a job), 8–10 languages can be learnt by studying during the weekends. But here’s the catch. Every programming language has its libraries and, its syntactic sugar and personality, and none of that can really be learnt quickly or easily or in a weekend. In fact, in the real world, every programming language becomes the least of your problems.

Just because you speak English, it doesn’t mean you’re good at writing novels, or even short stories. Same goes for coding.

Just because you’ve learnt the language, does not mean you know how to program. Add to that the myriad of frameworks, plugins, libraries, pre-processors, post-processors, coding standards, industry standards, TDD, BDD, content management systems, file versioning, CI, deployment and release management, debugging, ticketing, waterfall, agile, scrum and their combination thereof… and I am not even sure I’ve touched on everything. The point is, being a “coder” involves more or less all of the above. And programming itself is just a tiny tiny part of it. A crucial part, but nevertheless, tiny.

Yet programming is still continuously being dumbed-down …

Apple launched Playgrounds, MIT launched Scratch, Lego is launching Boost, all in an attempt to sell “coding” to younger and younger age-groups as if that will fill the quota of millions of new programmers by 202x.

The message is pretty much “don’t worry about the code, take these virtual puzzle pieces and off you go, you can program”. If only that were true. Here’s the thing about programming. It’s text-based. Has been, and will be for many more years to come. Kids who play with Lego Boost, Playgrounds or Scratch won’t be better programmers by the age of 22 than those who started learning programming at 16 and did it in an actual programming language. In fact, why should they be? I would not expect my child to be a bread-earning individual until the age of 22. Learn “coding” for 6 years, and I guarantee she/he will land a job in no-time.

GUI has also nothing to do with the real programming world, and logical thinking can be transferred to a kid in many other ways. When was the last time you saw a kid do a 1000 piece puzzle on the dining-room table? Exactly…

Kids are by default very logical human beings, in fact that’s how they learn how the world works.

They learn the value of the if-else-statement the first day they’re born. “If I cry, mum will make it stop, else I keep crying until dad shows up (who will probably make everything 10 times worse, but heck, I’m gonna t(c)ry anyway…).” Kids are very logical, hence their often brutal sincerity. You call it innocence, they call it a black-and-white world. There are no multiple switch statements yet. There are no shades of grey. That comes later. Both literally and literarily (in 3 volumes no less…). 😉 Bottom line, they are more than equipped with logical thinking, but put them in front of the TV, or hand them a tablet for 6 hours a day, and all that is going to become a pile of corrupted values as often there is very little thinking involved.

“Coding” is not a musical art, a piano or a violin that a child might need to develop muscle-memory for. It’s engineering.

What programming requires is analytical thinking, problem-solving attitude, stamina for failed attempts at coming up with the right solution, passion for technology, pride in your own code, but maturely accepting someone else’s improvements and observations, and a sense of responsibility for any code you write or contribute to.

Correct me if I am wrong, but none of these traits are easy to cultivate and develop. Certainly not at the age of 5! Yet, nobody seems to sell “coding” as it really is — a fun but difficult journey of discovery, success and failure and all that “da capo”, all year, every year.

Just because “coding” sounds cool, it does not mean it’s not the same ole’ hard-core programming. If anything, it’s even more so today than 15 years ago. Except we now all wear skinny jeans, walk around with even skinnier laptops, moved out of the basement and with all the “fill the gender-gap” hype, we might even end up with decent looking girlfriends.

P.S. Some things don’t change. The ugly glasses stayed. But they’re trendy now, so it’s all good. 😉

https://hackernoon.com/coding-has-become-a-pop-culture-939100f84b0c

The ugly underbelly of coder culture

Today’s developers are overwhelmingly young and male, and they’re barring the door from a more diverse workforce

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Roku 4 vs. Competition — Videos

Posted on December 2, 2015. Filed under: Articles, Blogroll, Business, Communications, liberty, Life, Links, media, Media Streamers, Money, People, Technology, Television, Video, Wealth, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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2016 Honda Accord — Vidoes

Posted on October 5, 2015. Filed under: Autos, Blogroll, Communications, Computers, liberty, Life, Links, Transportation, Video, Wealth, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

2016_Honda_Accord_172016-Honda-Accord-VS-2015-3resize-image2016-Honda-Accord-A22016-Honda-Accord-B52016 Honda Accord Sedan Touring

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John Twelve Hawks — The Traveler (Fourth Realm Trilogy) — Who is John Twelve Hawks? — Videos

Posted on February 6, 2015. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Books, Communications, Computers, Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Federal Government, Foreign Policy, Freedom, government spending, history, Law, liberty, Literacy, media, Non-Fiction, People, Philosophy, Photos, Rants, Raves, Reviews, Terrorism, Video, Wealth, Welfare, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Is this John Twelve Hawks?
john twelve Hawks

Michael Cunningham?michael cunninghamtravel novel

trilogy traveller

The Golden City

Realms

Who is John Twelve Hawks?

I AM JOHN TWELVE HAWKS: NYC

The traveler By John Twelve Hawks

SPARK by John Twelve Hawks (REVIEW)

Excerpt from audiobook version, narrated by Scott Brick. This book has been optioned for film by Dreamworks. “Spark” refers to the inner self or identity of a man who lost his sense of being alive after a motorcycle accident, in a future in which robots are taking over jobs and corporations spy on everyone and act as the mafia. Jacob is hired as a hit man for a company wanting to eliminate problems using him as an emotionless zombie-like tool. (He refers to his body as a “shell.”) An excellent dystopian first-person struggle toward regaining humanity in an age we are fast approaching. Scott Brick read  three books of the Fourth Realm Trilogy. I loved his
work then and asked that he read the SPARK audiobook.
John Hawks told me this about narrator Scott Brick: “This was a fairly difficult assignment because it’s a first person novel narrated by a professional killer who thinks that he’s dead. But Scott did a brilliant job…using his voice to convey Underwood’s personality and the unique way that he looks at the world. He conveys the strangeness of Underwood, but also makes it accessible for the listener. I think he’s wonderful!”

An interview with John Twelve Hawks

A Conversation with John Twelve Hawks, author of The Traveler

The Traveler evokes a variety of films and books–everything from George Orwell to the Matrix. Where did you take your inspiration from?
George Orwell is a favorite writer of mine and I liked the first Matrix, but the creation of the novel goes much deeper than that. When I sat down to write The Traveler I didn’t think about being published. I simply wanted to understand the world around me. Sometimes the best way to find the truth is to create a fiction.

Can you describe the differences between the three main character types in the book: Travelers, Harlequins, Tabula?
Travelers are a small group of people who have the ability to send their spirit to other worlds. The Harlequins are an ancient order of warriors who defend The Travelers. The Tabula is an organization that believes that mankind is a tabula rasa — a blank slate that can be scrawled with their ideas. They are determined to destroy The Travelers. These three groups are fictional but their struggle takes place within a very realistic environment.

Is John Twelve Hawks your real name?
I wasn’t given the name John Twelve Hawks at birth. It’s an adopted name — just like the names the Harlequins chose at a certain time of their lives. This name has great personal significance for me, but it’s not relevant to understanding the book.

One of your characters, Gabriel, lives “off the Grid,” avoiding detection by what you call the “Vast Machine.” Can you explain what you mean by this and why you yourself have chosen to live this way as well?
For me, living off the Grid means existing in a way that can’t be tracked by the government or large corporations. The Vast Machine is the very powerful — and very real — computerized information system that monitors all aspects of our lives.

I live off the Grid by choice, but my decision includes one factor that is relevant to the publication of The Traveler. I want people to focus on the book itself and not on its author. The typical “personal slant” of most media arts coverage trivializes the power of ideas — and there are a great many provocative ideas in this novel. Everyone who reads The Traveler is going to be entertained by an exciting story. A smaller group is going to be inspired to see our computerized world in a new way.

How do you correspond with your publisher and how do you plan to correspond with readers?
I have never met my editor or any of the staff at Doubleday. I talk to them using a satellite phone or we communicate through the internet. I haven’t really thought about how I’m going to answer reader questions but it will probably be through a non-traceable website.

Your message in the book about the end of privacy in our society is frightening. How much of what you portray is true and how much is pure invention?
It’s all true — based on years of research. Email messages are scanned by a program called Carnivore and programs linked to surveillance cameras use algorithms to identify you instantly. Some of the facts in The Traveler — such as the description of the new “computational immunology” program developed by the Royal Mail in Britain — have never been described in any book.

What, if any, suggestions do you have for people who are concerned about identity theft, the Patriot Act, phone and internet surveillance and other invasions of everyday privacy? Some of your characters agitate against the Vast Machine. Would you advise this?
This first step is to be aware of what is going on. Most of us have given up our privacy without even knowing it. At some point, we need to express our opinions to our elected officials. The growing power of the Vast Machine is actually not an issue that is tied to a particular political party. A traditional conservative like former Georgia Congressman Robert Barr is on the same side of the privacy issue as the ACLU. The most important thing is that we not succumb to the baseless fear that is used to justify our loss of personal liberty. People objected when the government proposed something called the Total Information Awareness system: a computerized program that would track virtually all of our electronic transactions. When the name of the program was changed to the Terrorist Information Awareness system — just one new word — all the criticism vanished.

The settings in the book are captured in vivid detail–the Charles Bridge in Prague, the California desert, the back alleys of East London. Was travel a big part of your research?
My agent once asked me how long it took me to write The Traveler and I answered: “All my life.” I didn’t do any particular research for the locations in the novel. I simply drew on the memories of different places where I’ve visited, lived or worked. Virtually all the locations in the book are real. For example, there is a system of abandoned missile silos in Arizona and Jeremy Bentham’s dead body is on public display at University College London.

The scenes of violence in the book also seem very real — not Hollywood fantasies.
I studied martial arts for several years and have fought both in tournaments and on the street. Maya and the other Harlequins have been trained since childhood to fight, but they’re not super human; they can be hurt or killed. Readers have told me that they’ve found the scenes of violence in The Traveler to be incredibly exciting because they’re not sure what’s going to happen. This duplicates my own experience creating the book. Every time I began to write a scene that involved fighting I had no idea if my characters were going to survive.

Family seems to be both a blessing and a curse in the novel. As Maya says: “Damned by the flesh. Saved by the blood.” Care to elaborate?
It was only after I finished the first draft of The Traveler that I realized how many of the characters are haunted by their fathers. Maya loved her father, Thorn, but he also destroyed her childhood. Gabriel and Michael Corrigan thought that their father was killed by the Tabula, but now there are signs that his ghost is alive. A crucial secondary character named Lawrence Takawa changes his entire life in honor of a father he has never met.

At one point in the novel, your protagonist Maya explains that there is a secret history of the world, a history of “warriors defending pilgrims or other spiritual seekers.” Do you believe this? What do you think is the role of faith in modern society?

There has been a continual battle throughout history between institutions that try to control our lives and those visionaries who emphasize the value of the human spirit. Right now, there’s a determined attempt to reduce all human behavior to biochemistry. If Joan of Arc was alive today she’d be put on Prozac. Faith can give us a larger perspective on our own lives as well as the world that surrounds us.

You seem to combine Eastern religion, mysticism and new age spirituality in your discussion of Gabriel’s education. The novel also suggests that Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, even an obscure Rabbi from Poland may have all been Travelers–which begs the question: What (if any) is your religious affiliation?

When I was in my twenties, I was an atheist and proud of it. Now I believe in God and pray every day but I’m not a member of any organized religion. Travelers are guided by teachers called Pathfinders and I’ve dedicated the trilogy to my own personal Pathfinders. I’ve had several and they’ve included a Catholic priest, a Presbyterian minister, a scholar who was an orthodox Jew, and a Buddhist monk. I’m not going to minimize the differences between religions but they all have one thing in common: they teach the power of compassion and encourage that quality in our own hearts.

This is the first book in a trilogy. Any hints for readers about what they can expect from Books Two and Three?
In Book Two, a tough Irish Harlequin named Mother Blessing will enter the story; she’s already forcing her way into my dreams. Expect some surprises involving Maya, Gabriel, and the Tabula mercenary, Nathan Boone. I’m not manipulating these characters to fit a plot. They seem to have their own ideas about what they want to do.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

https://www.bookbrowse.com/author_interviews/full/index.cfm/author_number/1159/john-twelve-hawks

 

The Traveler (novel)

The Traveler
The-traveler.jpg
Cover of the Doubleday paperback edition

AuthorJohn Twelve HawksCountryUnited StatesLanguageEnglishSeriesThe Fourth RealmGenreScience fiction novelPublisherDoubleday

Publication date

2005Media typePrint (Hardback &Paperback)Pages449 ppISBNISBN 0-593-05430-XOCLC58828401Followed byThe Dark River

The Traveler (The Traveller in the UK) is a 2005 New York Times bestselling novel[1] by John Twelve Hawks. The Dark River, book two of The Fourth Realm Trilogy, was published in July 2007. The final part in the trilogy, The Golden City, was released September 8, 2009. The trilogy has been translated into 25 languages and has sold more than 1.5 million books.[2]

Traveler

The book is set in the near future and lays out a world where the real power lies not with people or governments, but in the hands of a secret organisation who call themselves “the Brethren” but who their enemies refer to as “the Tabula”. The Tabula are a centuries old secret society who believe in the importance of control and stability, making them in essence advocates of a kind of extreme Utilitarianism. Influenced by the ideas of the philosopher Jeremy Bentham the Tabula wish to enforce a Virtual Panopticon: a society where all individuals become so accustomed to being watched and monitored that they act at all times as if they were being observed and are as such completely controllable.

This Virtual Panopticon is made possible through the use of surveillance cameras, centralized databases, RFID-like tags for each citizen, and assorted spy gear (heat sensors, infrared cameras, X-rays, etc…). The Tabula are a relatively small group, operate largely in secret, but they have great power across the planet, in part by manipulating politicians and other powerful individuals/organisation, and in part because of their great wealth and advanced technology, which is in some cases far beyond the technology available to other groups and even governments.

The underlying premise for the realms in which this book is set greatly resembles the cosmology of Tibetan Buddhism (and other eastern cosmologies). Most notably, the second realm is explicitly labelled the realm of the Hungry Ghosts, but each realm in the enumerated hierarchy is associated with a given human shortcoming, much like in Hinduism and Buddhism. The world we inhabit is the fourth realm, and different Travellers can visit one or more of the other realms.

Although the basic plot is not new, the author provides a setting for discussion of larger issues, such as free will, the rapid increase in public surveillance and information gathering, the culture of fear, etc. While the motivations of the Tabula are explored in the book, this is kept at a rather superficial and crude level. Individual members are generally portrayed as either power hungry, psychopathic or deeply prejudiced, and the Tabula are set up as villains set to enslave humanity rather than misguided humanitarians.

The author has written a post-script at the end of the book in which he talks about his reasons for writing the novel and discusses, among other things, the development in western countries regarding surveillance (such as CCTV), data-mining, RFID and GPS, the Information Awareness Office, etc. He claims that all of the technology referred to in the book is either already being used or in the advanced stage of development.

Travelers, Pathfinders and Harlequins

The Travelers are individuals with a special gift, often but not always inherited, which allows them to detach from their bodies and journey through elemental barriers (water, fire etc.) to other realms. They do this by detaching their “light” (internal energy seemingly analogous to the soul but found by the Tabula to be empirically measurable) from their body. Travelers’ experiences and gifts (they can view the world around them with greater speed and clarity than normal people) can lend them great charisma, wisdom and vision. Many Travelers become religious prophets, or opponents of the Tabula, and the random element they add to societies makes them enemies of the Tabula who have hunted them almost to extinction.

The idea that all people possess the “light” within and can travel through other states of consciousness or “realms” is also a basic tenet of Gnosticism.

The Pathfinders are individuals capable of teaching potential Travelers how to break the light free from their body. Pathfinders can be priests and holy men, agnostics or atheists – different Pathfinders will use different teaching methods and have different beliefs, but all can help Travelers to realize their gifts. Pathfinders are also hunted by the Tabula.

The Author

Main article: John Twelve Hawks

The only information one can get on John Twelve Hawks is that he is living “off the grid“. This means that he is invisible to the network of surveillance and authority. He has no fixed home, no bank account or internet connection, and John Twelve Hawks is not his real name.

Plot summary

In the shadows of modern society an epic battle is fought. One woman is standing between those who try to control mankind and those who will risk their lives for the freedom of us all. On one side the Brethren, using high-end surveillance technology for control, supported by officials and politicians. On the other side the Travelers, the gifted ones, who are able to leave our realm and cross over into other realities. Because of their knowledge they are a great threat to the Brethren. The Travelers are supported by the Harlequins, a group only trained to defend the Travelers and to save them from the Brethren. Harlequins are trained since birth by their parents and other Harlequins. They are able to use all kinds of weapons, but their favored arm is a unique Harlequin sword they carry with them all the time.

Maya, a pretty young woman, is trying to live the life of a normal citizen. Her background, on the other hand, is anything but normal. She is the daughter of a famous German Harlequin named Thorn, who had been badly injured in an ambush by the Brethren. On a mission she killed two men of the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia. As a consequence Maya had tried to hide and leave her Harlequin past behind until one day her handicapped father calls for her. When visiting him in Prague, she finds him slaughtered by his enemies.

Fulfilling her father’s last wish, Maya takes a flight to the States supporting Shepherd, the last American Harlequin. She is determined to help him defend the last two Travelers alive. However, Shepherd has become a member of the Brethren. Working for the other side now, he tries to kill Maya. With the help of a young woman named Vikki she is lucky to get away. Vikki is a member of the I. T. Jones Church, a church of followers of the Traveler Isaac T. Jones, who was killed by the Brethren in 1889 with Lion of the temple (known as Zachary Goldman) a harlequin. Together they are able to find an ally, Hollis, a Capoeira trainer from Los Angeles and a former member of the Isaac T. Jones Community. The three of them are able to find the last living Travelers, Michael and Gabriel Corrigan. Before they are able to give them protection, Michael is captured by the Brethren. Instead of killing him immediately they try to convince him to help them. The Brethren recently started a new Program. They were in contact with a technologically advanced civilization dwelling in another realm. Aiming to travel through the realities, they need the help of a guide, someone who is able to travel without technology – like a Traveler.

For achieving help, they offer the Brethren high technology, weapons and plans for a quantum computer. The Brethren want to use a real Traveler that can find this other civilization and guide it to the Earth. By offering Michael power, money and everything else he wants, the Brethren convince him to work for them. With a new drug called 3B3, Michael is able to leave his realm without any usual way a Pathfinder would offer. A Pathfinder is a person that helps a Traveler to cross over. He or she is a teacher, but never a Traveler himself.

While Michael gains his first experiences with other realms, Maya tries to find a Pathfinder for Gabriel. She herself knows little of other realms and the process of crossing over. At all time they must be careful and live “off the grid”, because the Brethren use all their power to get hold of them.

Hollis stays in Los Angeles to place a false track. Within little time the Brethren show up at his house and try to kill him with a new weapon called “Splicer,” some kind of genetically engineered animal designed to search and destroy. But, Hollis defeats them.

In the meantime Maya and Gabriel find a Pathfinder in the desert in Arizona: an old woman researching king snakes in an abandoned missile silo. While teaching Gabriel how to cross over, she tells him everything she knows about the Travelers and the six realms. There is the first realm of a town like hell, the second realm of a city full of “hungry ghosts”, the third is inhabited by animals ignorant of all others, the fourth realm is our own reality, where the sin is desire, the fifth realm is the reality of the “half gods”, where the sin is jealousy, and the sixth realm of the “gods” themselves, where the sin is pride. The “gods” and “half-gods” of the fifth and sixth realm are not meant like God as the creator of all life, but like the Tibetans describe them: human beings from parallel worlds.

The realms are separated each by four barriers: one barrier of fire, one of water, one of earth and one of air. A Traveler that is capable of passing these four barriers is then able to enter one of the five other realms. If his body on earth dies, his soul, called the light, is condemned to stay forever in the realm it visits at that time. Crossing over into other realities, a Traveler can only carry special objects, called talismans, with him. Such an object is the sword Gabriel’s father gave him. Equipped with this sword, he meets his brother in the realm of the hungry ghosts.

His brother tries to convince him to join the Brethren. Gabriel resists the temptation, but he tells his brother where he left his body. As a consequence Gabriel is imprisoned by the Brethren within hours and brought to the research centre where Michael is kept.

Maya realizes that an immediate counterstrike is necessary. After an exciting battle in the Brethren’s research facility, they free Gabriel but have to realize that they can not convince Michael to leave the Brethren. Maya and her allies are able to find refuge in a house on a beach in Cape Cod – but only to recover. At this point the first book of the fourth realm has a cliffhanger ending.

Literary significance and reception

David Pitt in his review for Booklist said that John Twelve Hawks is “a gifted storyteller, makes this surreal and vaguely supernatural good-versus-evil story entirely believable.” About the novel he says that the “pace is fast, the characters intriguing and memorable, the evil dark and palpable, and the genre-bending between fantasy and thriller seamless”.[3] The New York Times reviewer Janet Maslin began her review with the statement: “It takes outlandish nerve and whopping messianic double talk to inaugurate a new science fiction project on the scale of The Traveler.” She then concluded “Amazingly, this novel sustains a new voice even when its roots show. And the list of obvious influences is long indeed. There are traces of Star Wars, The Matrix, Kill Bill and Minority Report. There are echoes of Stephen King, Michael Crichton, Joseph Campbell, Jeremy Bentham, various samurai stories and (could it not have been thus?) The Da Vinci Code.”[4]

Published: June 27, 2005

Film adaptation

On March 23, 2012, Deadline Hollywood announced that Warner Bros. acquired film rights to the Fourth Realm Trilogy.[5]

The Traveler Music Album

In October 2014, British DJ and Bedrock Records producer, John Digweed and his partner Nick Muir released an album inspired by The Traveler.

John Twelve Hawks made the initial contact, sending Digweed his novel with a note saying it had been written while listening to Digweed’s Transitions radio show. After reading The Traveler Digweed immediately emailed Hawks to say how much he’d loved the novel. Eighteen months later Digweed found an email from Hawks in his junk folder and they finally arranged to collaborate. Initial attempts to record Hawks’ narration via Skype failed, forcing Hawks to make a rare personal appearance in the studio. Digweed and Muir met with John Twelve Hawks in the UK and recorded his voice as he read passages from the novel. JTH’s voice was changed electronically and weaved into the 13 tracks.[6]

Reaction to the album was positive. Music critic, Rich Curtis called it “a very engaging and superbly crafted meeting of artistic minds.” [7]

References

  1. Jump up^ “New York Times Bestseller Hardback Fiction List”. July 17, 2005.
  2. Jump up^ “Warner Bros. Acquires ‘Fourth Realm’ Trilogy”. March 23, 2012.
  3. Jump up^ “The Traveler (Book)”. Booklist 101 (17): 1540. 2005-05-01. ISSN 0006-7385.
  4. Jump up^ “It Takes a Superhuman Effort to Escape Human Control”. June 6, 2005.
  5. Jump up^ “Warner Bros. Acquires ‘Fourth Realm’ Trilogy”. March 23, 2012.
  6. Jump up^ “DJ John Digweed Collaborates With Paranoid Author John Twelve Hawks”. October 1, 2014.
  7. Jump up^ “WORLD EXCLUSIVE ALBUM REVIEW: JOHN DIGWEED, NICK MUIR, JOHN TWELVE HAWKS – THE TRAVELER (BEDROCK)”. September 30, 2014.

External links

John Twelve Hawks

John Twelve Hawks (pseudonym) is the author of the 2005 dystopian novel The Traveler and its sequels, The Dark River and The Golden City, collectively comprising the Fourth Realm Trilogy. The trilogy has been translated into 25 languages and has sold more than 1.5 million books.[1] The trilogy was followed five years later by a fourth book, Spark (novel by John Twelve Hawks), and a non-fiction eBook, Against Authority. “John Twelve Hawks” is a pseudonym and his real identity is unknown.[2]

Reason and origin of his name

In “Against Authority” Twelve Hawks describes writing The Traveler. His decision to use a different name was triggered by a combination of personal and political reasons:

“For the first drafts of the book, I kept my birth name off the title page. The old me wasn’t writing this book. Something was different. Something had changed. I had always admired George Orwell, and had read his collected essays and letters countless times. When Eric Blair became Orwell, he was set free, liberated from his Eton education and colonial policeman past. And there was another factor about the title page that troubled me. I was telling my readers that this new system of information technology was going to destroy our privacy, and that they should resist this change. It seemed hypocritical to go on a book tour or appear on a talk show blabbing about my life when our private lives were under attack.” [3]

During an online conversation he had with his fans on the We Speak for Freedom website he explained the origin of his name:[4]

The real story is this …I was walking through a forest and encountered a hawk nesting area. Twelve hawks circled around my head for about ten minutes …so close that the tip of their wings brushed the side of my head. That was why I picked the name. REAL hawks. Not symbolic ones.

Information

In the sources listed and in his interviews, he has stated that he was born in the United States. He is a Buddhist who had meditated for most of his life. In the Spiegelinterview he states he is not a Native American.

In the Spiegel interview he talks about visiting East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the USA Today article, his response to a question about religion began with, “When I was in my twenties…” and when an editor asked him whether the “realm of hell” could be compared to current conditions in Iraq, Hawks replied “it’s more like Beirut in the ’70s“. In the Spiegel interview and in the Daily Telegraph article, Hawks states that he drives a 15-year-old car and that he does not own a television.[5]

The SFF World interview indicates that Twelve Hawks once lived in a commune and learned about literature by stealing books from a restricted university library and then returning the books the next day. In the same interview, he states he wrote The Traveler after passing through some sort of personal crisis. In the interview in SFF World Twelve Hawks claims that he has “no plans to go public” regarding his identity.[6]

According to Twelve Hawks’ agent, “He lives in New York, Los Angeles and London”, and The Traveler sets its story in all three of these locations.[7] In a 2008 interview on Joseph Mallozzi‘s weblog, he answered a series of questions about this life:[8]

QUESTION: Is there a reason for the pen name? One you’d be willing to share, I suppose. As in, is it because you’re actually a secret CIA agent and/or Russian spy, or merely because you don’t ever want your mother knowing what you’ve written?

JTH: My mother and the rest of my family don’t know that I have written the novels. Those people I know who aren’t close friends see me as a failure by the American standards of success. Being a “failure” in such a way has been a continual lesson. It’s helped me realize that we make quick judgments of others based on little real information. We assume so much – but don’t know the secrets held within the heart.

Against Authority

On August 20, 2014, John Twelve Hawks released a free non-fiction book called Against Authority: Freedom and the Rise of the Surveillance States.[9] The book is dedicated to the novelist, Thomas Pynchon. An excerpt from Against Authority was published on Salon.[10]

Against Authority begins with a personal description of the neurological experiments performed on Hawks when he was a child and states that all of us have the ability to reject the “right” of those in power to control our lives. JTH describes how the reaction of governments to the September 11 attacks led to the Patriot Act in the United States and the proliferation of Closed-circuit television cameras in London. He references his 2006 essay How We Live Now [11] that was his first published reaction to these systematic attacks on privacy.

The book explains how the Total Information Awareness program developed by John Poindexter at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) led to the expansion of the National Security Agency and the revelations of Edward Snowden. Hawks criticizes the assumption of “mass surveillance” strategies against terrorism and shows how “trickle down surveillance” has spread to small towns and developing countries.

JTH believes that surveillance technology has given those in power a crucial tool for social control. He describes how the culture of surveillance is used to track citizens for commercial reasons and gives examples of how people are now routinely watched at work. In the conclusion, He advocates a strategy of “parallel lives” that allows people to exist in the digital world while protecting their private actions and thoughts.

Spark

Spark was published in October 2014 in the United States and Great Britain.[12]

The book is narrated by Jacob Underwood, a man who suffers from Cotard delusion, a real-life neurological condition in which the afflicted person thinks that he or she is dead. Underwood is hired by a New York investment bank to work as an assassin, eliminating threats to the bank’s clients. “Underwood’s strength as a hired killer is the emotionless, robotic nature that allows him to operate with logical, ruthless precision.” [13] But, when the bank asks him to track down Emily Buchanan, a minor employee who has absconded with financial secrets, Underwood gradually becomes more human and feels moments of empathy. Hawks describes adystopia where people are beginning to be replaced by robots. Underwood’s journey is an exploration into what human values will survive in a world of machines.

Reviews of Spark were generally positive. The Publishers Weekly review mentioned JTH’s writing style: “Twelve Hawks’s prose, cold and clinical at times, yet punctuated with moments of great sensitivity, matches the tone and mood of his setting perfectly.” In a starred review in Booklist, reviewer David Pitt wrote: “It’s been several years since the Fourth Realm trilogy ended, and some readers might have wondered if the author had only one story to tell. But guess what? As good as the Fourth Realm books were, this one may be even more appealing: less fantastic, more grounded in a contemporary real world, with a narrator who is deeply scarred and endlessly fascinating.” [14]

In October, 2013 Deadline Hollywood reported that the film rights to Spark were sold to Dreamworks.[15]

Bibliography

  1. The Traveler (2005)
  2. The Dark River (2007)
  3. The Golden City (2009)
  4. Spark (2014)
  5. Against Authority (2014)

References

  1. Jump up^ “Warner Bros Acquires ‘Fourth Realm’ Trilogy”. March 23, 2012.
  2. Jump up^ “Those remaining literary recluses in full”. The Guardian (London). 1 February 2010.
  3. Jump up^ John Twelve Hawks (2014-08-20). “Against Authority”. johntwelvehawks.com. Retrieved 2014-08-20.
  4. Jump up^ John Twelve Hawks (2009-05-24). “Live chat with John Twelve Hawks”. wespeakforfreedom.com. Retrieved 2009-05-25.
  5. Jump up^ David Thomas (2007-04-01). “Like Dan Brown, but better”. The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2007-04-01.
  6. Jump up^ Rob Bedford (2005-12-04). “Interview With John Twelve Hawks”. SFFWORLD.COM. Retrieved 2006-08-12.
  7. Jump up^ Carol Memmot (2005-06-27). “Cryptic ‘Traveler’ has book world buzzing”. USA Today. Retrieved 2006-08-12.
  8. Jump up^ Joseph Mallozzi (2008-10-30). “Interview With John Twelve Hawks”. josephmallozzi.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
  9. Jump up^ John Twelve Hawks (2014-08-20). “Against Authority”. johntwelvehawks.com. Retrieved 2014-08-20.
  10. Jump up^ John Twelve Hawks (2014-09-14). “New Surveillance States Have Placed Us In An Invisible prison”. salon.com. Retrieved 2014-09-14.
  11. Jump up^ John Twelve Hawks (2006-02-01). “How We Live Now”. California State University, Northridge University.
  12. Jump up^ “‘Spark,’ the Latest Dystopian Novel From John Twelve Hawks”. http://www.nytimes.com. 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2014-10-06.
  13. Jump up^ “Spark”. http://www.publishersweekly.com. 2014-08-04. Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  14. Jump up^ David Pitt (2014-09-01). “Review of SPARK”. http://www.booklistonline.com. Retrieved 2014-09-01.
  15. Jump up^ Mike Fleming Jr. (2013-10-14). “DreamWorks Buys John Twelve Hawks Sci-Fi Thriller ‘Spark’”. http://www.deadline.com/hollywood/. Retrieved 2013-10-14.

External links

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Twelve_Hawks

 

Who is John Twelve Hawks?

Back in August I wrote a piece about John Twelve Hawks’s so-called thriller The Traveller (aka The Traveler in the US). I thought the book was a dud, but noted, as one would have to, that it was being given a tremendous amount of hype by the publishers, in both the UK and the USA.

I think it was always fairly obvious that John Twelve Hawks was a pseudonym, and I made a brief reference to the kind of person, or persons, who might be involved. But I can’t say that I gave very much serious thought to who the author might really be, largely because I felt that the book was so feeble. And, of course, I was irritated by the fact that, yet again, a publisher was putting enormous weight behind something that really didn’t deserve it.

However, it turns out that that there are in this world a number of people who are giving some fairly detailed consideration to the identity of The Traveller‘s author. And one of them, Janet Rice, has come up with the suggestion that the real author is Michael Cunningham. Yes, that very same Michael Cunningham who won the Pulitzer Prize with The Hours and has recently published Specimen Days, another book which I felt wasn’t worth anyone’s trouble.

Janet Rice first posted her piece of deduction as a comment on my review of The Traveller, and I certainly recommend that you take a look at her detailed reasoning.

I have to say that this linking of Cunningham with the Twelve Hawks identity question is the smartest piece of lateral thinking that I have come across in a long time. Janet has clearly read both The Traveller andSpecimen Days with far greater care than I have, and has come up with several features which the books have in common.

Having written her piece as a comment on my blog, Janet has posted her further thoughts on this issue on the discussion page of Night Shade Books, where you will find several other speculations about the mystery man’s identity.

Janet, please note, is not insisting that she is right; she is simply putting forward the Twelve Hawks = Cunningham idea as a hypothesis, and inviting others to test it out. For my own part, I have to say that I find the idea tolerably convincing.

First of all, both books are, in my opinion, of much the same standard: i.e. just about publishable but no great shakes. Secondly, the existence of a previously ‘successful’ author behind the pseudonym would certainly explain why the publisher was willing to invest so heavily in the book; although, having said that, one also has to say that publishers seem quite ready to invest substantial sums in unknown quantities on every other day of the week.

Perhaps somewhere out there is a computer whizzkid who could do some textual analysis and see how the prose style of Cunningham and Twelve Hawks actually compares. Always bearing in mind, of course, that such analysis was not wonderfully successful in identifying the real author of the Belle de Jour blog/book. And also bearing in mind that an author can deliberately adopt different styles and tones of voice for different books.

Janet also adds some speculation as to why Cunningham — if he is the one — should bother to write a commercial thriller; her own hope is that he was trying to find a way to get his ideas through to a wider audience than he could achieve via his literary work.

Well — ahem — forgive my cynicism, but one should never underestimate the power of the dollar. In publishing, the money is never as much as the hype suggests, whether you’re Cunningham, Twelve Hawks, or anyone else. And in my view it might well be the case that some erstwhile literary chap has got tired of scuffling for a living and has tried to cash in.

I have absolutely no objection, in principle, to a writer going flat out for the money, but perhaps whoever is responsible for The Traveller now understands that writing a successful commercial novel is rather harder to do in practice than the literary elite of this world think it is.

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Richard A. Clarke — Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror — Videos

Posted on January 27, 2015. Filed under: American History, Ammunition, Babies, Bomb, Book, Books, Business, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), College, Communications, Computers, Constitution, Corruption, Dirty Bomb, Documentary, Drones, Economics, Education, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Fiction, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Genocide, government, government spending, history, Islam, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, media, Missiles, National Security Agency (NSA_, Non-Fiction, Nuclear, People, Philosophy, Photos, Pistols, Politics, Press, Rants, Raves, Rifles, Security, Talk Radio, Technology, Terrorism, Video, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Welfare, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

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Richard Clarke, Former Counterterrorism Chief, Apologizes for 9/11

Ex-Counterterrorism Czar Richard Clarke: Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld Committed War Crimes

 

Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror 1/2

Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror 2/2

Richard Clarke on Foreign Oil, Saudi Arabia, and Iran – The Scorpion’s Gate (2005)

Richard A. Clarke

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Richard A. Clarke
Richard clarke.jpg

Clarke in October 2007
Born Richard Alan Clarke
October 27, 1950 (age 64)
Dorchester, Massachusetts, U.S.
Nationality American
Citizenship United States
Education Master’s Degree from theMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Alma mater University of Pennsylvania
Occupation Counter-terrorism expert/analyst
Author
Notable work(s) Against All EnemiesThe Scorpion’s Gate,Breakpoint
Political party
Democratic
Website
http://www.richardaclarke.net/

Richard Alan Clarke[1] (born October 27, 1950) is the former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism for the United States.

Clarke worked for the State Department during the presidency of Ronald Reagan.[2] In 1992, President George H.W. Bush appointed him to chair the Counter-terrorism Security Group and to a seat on the United States National Security Council. President Bill Clinton retained Clarke and in 1998 promoted him to be the National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism, the chief counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council. Under President George W. Bush, Clarke initially continued in the same position, but the position was no longer given cabinet-level access. He later became the Special Advisor to the President on cybersecurity. Clarke left the Bush administration in 2003.

Clarke came to widespread public attention for his role as counter-terrorism czar in the Clinton and Bush administrations in March 2004, when he appeared on the 60 Minutes television news magazine, released his memoir about his service in government, Against All Enemies, and testified before the 9/11 Commission. In all three instances, Clarke was sharply critical of the Bush administration’s attitude toward counter-terrorism before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and of the decision to go to war with Iraq.

Background

Richard Clarke was born in 1950, the son of a Boston chocolate factory worker and a nurse.[3] He studied at the Boston Latin School (graduated in 1968), received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1972 where he was selected to serve in the Sphinx Senior Society.[4] After working for the Department of Defense as an analyst on European security issues, Clarke earned a master’s degree in management in 1978 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[5]

Government career

In 1973, he began work in the federal government as a management intern[6] in the U.S. Department of Defense. Beginning in 1985, Clarke served in the Reagan administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence. During the Presidential administration of George H.W. Bush, as the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, he coordinated diplomatic efforts to support the 1990-1991 Gulf War and the subsequent security arrangements. During the Clinton administration, Clarke became the counter-terrorism coordinator for the National Security Council. He remained counter-terrorism coordinator during the first year of the George W. Bush administration, and later was the Special Advisor to the President on cybersecurity and cyberterrorism. He resigned from the Bush administration in 2003.

Clarke’s positions inside the government have included:

Clinton administration

Clarke advised Madeleine Albright during the Genocide in Rwanda, to request the UN to withdraw all UN troops from Rwanda. She refused, but permitted Gen. Dallaire to keep a few hundred troops who managed to save thousands from the genocide. Later Clarke told Samantha Power “It wasn’t in American’s national interest. If we had to do the same thing today and I was advising the President, I would advise the same thing.” He directed the authoring of PDD-25[7] which outlined a reduced military and economic role for the United States in Rwanda as well as future peacekeeping operations.

Islamists took control in Sudan in a 1989 coup d’état and the United States adopted a policy of disengagement with the authoritarian regime throughout the 1990s. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, however, some critics charged that the U.S. should have moderated its policy toward Sudan earlier, since the influence of Islamists there waned in the second half of 1990s and Sudanese officials began to indicate an interest in accommodating U.S. concerns with respect to 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, who had been living in Sudan until he was expelled in May 1996. Timothy M. Carney, U.S. ambassador to Sudan between September 1995 and November 1997, co-authored an op-ed in 2002 claiming that in 1997 Sudan offered to turn over its intelligence on bin Laden but that Susan Rice, as NSC Africa specialist, together with the then NSC terrorism specialist Richard A. Clarke, successfully lobbied for continuing to bar U.S. officials, including the CIA and FBI, from engaging with the Khartoum government.[8] Similar allegations (that Susan Rice joined others in missing an opportunity to cooperate with Sudan on counterterrorism) were made by Vanity Fair contributing editor David Rose[9] and Richard Miniter, author of Losing Bin Laden.[10]

Clarke was also involved in investigating Ramzi Yousef, one of the main perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing who traveled to the United States on an Iraqi passport. Yousef is the nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a senior al-Qaeda member. Many in the Clinton administration and the intelligence community believed this was evidence linking al-Qaeda’s activities and the government of Iraq.

In February 1999 Clarke wrote the Deputy National Security Advisor that one reliable source reported Iraqi officials had met with Bin Ladin and may have offered him asylum. Therefore, Clarke advised against surveillance flights to track bin Laden in Afghanistan: Anticipating an attack, “old wily Usama will likely boogie to Baghdad”, where he would be impossible to find.[11] Clarke also made statements that year to the press linking “Iraqi nerve gas experts” and al-Qaeda to an alleged joint-chemical-weapons-development effort at the Al Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan.[12]

Michael Scheuer is the former chief of the bin Laden Unit at the Counterterrorist Center at the CIA. Matthew Continetti writes: “Scheuer believes that Clarke’s risk aversion and politicking negatively impacted the hunt for bin Laden prior to September 11, 2001. Scheuer stated that his unit, codename ‘Alec,’ had provided information that could have led to the capture and or killing of Osama bin Laden on ten different occasions during the Clinton administration, only to have his recommendations for action turned down by senior intelligence officials, including Clarke.”[13]

Bush administration

Clarke and his communications with the Bush administration regarding bin Laden and associated terrorist plots targeting the United States were mentioned frequently in Condoleezza Rice‘s public interview by the 9/11 investigatory commission on April 8, 2004. Of particular significance was a memo[14] from January 25, 2001, that Clarke had authored and sent to Condoleezza Rice. Along with making an urgent request for a meeting of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee to discuss the growing al-Qaeda threat in the greater Middle East, the memo also suggests strategies for combating al-Qaeda that might be adopted by the new Bush administration.[15]

In his memoir, “Against All Enemies”, Clarke wrote that Condoleezza Rice made a decision that the position of National Coordinator for Counterterrorism should be downgraded. By demoting the office, the Administration sent a signal through the national security bureaucracy about the salience they assigned to terrorism. No longer would Clarke’s memos go to the President; instead they had to pass through a chain of command of National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and her deputy Stephen Hadley, who bounced every one of them back.

Within a week of the inauguration, I wrote to Rice and Hadley asking ‘urgently’ for a Principals, or Cabinet-level, meeting to review the imminent Al-Qaeda threat. Rice told me that the Principals Committee, which had been the first venue for terrorism policy discussions in the Clinton administration, would not address the issue until it had been ‘framed’ by the Deputies.[16]

At the first Deputies Committee meeting on Terrorism held in April 2001, Clarke strongly suggested that the U.S. put pressure on both the Taliban and Al-Qaeda by arming the Northern Alliance and other groups in Afghanistan. Simultaneously, that they target bin Laden and his leadership by reinitiating flights of the MQ-1 Predators. To which Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz responded, “Well, I just don’t understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man bin Laden.” Clarke replied that he was talking about bin Laden and his network because it posed “an immediate and serious threat to the United States.” According to Clarke, Wolfowitz turned to him and said, “You give bin Laden too much credit. He could not do all these things like the 1993 attack on New York, not without a state sponsor. Just because FBI and CIA have failed to find the linkages does not mean they don’t exist.”[16]

Clarke wrote in Against All Enemies that in the summer of 2001, the intelligence community was convinced of an imminent attack by al Qaeda, but could not get the attention of the highest levels of the Bush administration, most famously writing that Director of theCentral Intelligence Agency George Tenet was running around with his “hair on fire”.[16]

At a July 5, 2001, White House gathering of the FAA, the Coast Guard, the FBI, Secret Service and INS, Clarke stated that “something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it’s going to happen soon.”

9/11 Commission

On March 24, 2004, Clarke testified at the public 9/11 Commission hearings.[17] At the outset of his testimony Clarke offered an apology to the families of 9/11 victims and an acknowledgment that the government had failed: “I also welcome the hearings because it is finally a forum where I can apologize to the loved ones of the victims of 9/11…To the loved ones of the victims of 9/11, to them who are here in this room, to those who are watching on television, your government failed you. Those entrusted with protecting you failed you. And I failed you. We tried hard, but that doesn’t matter because we failed. And for that failure, I would ask, once all the facts are out, for your understanding and for your forgiveness.”[17]

Many of the events Clarke recounted during the hearings were also published in his memoir. Clarke charged that before and during the 9/11 crisis, many in the Administration were distracted from efforts against Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda organization by a pre-occupation with Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Clarke had written that on September 12, 2001, President Bush pulled him and a couple of aides aside and “testily” asked him to try to find evidence that Saddam was connected to the terrorist attacks. In response he wrote a report stating there was no evidence of Iraqi involvement and got it signed by all relevant agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the CIA. The paper was quickly returned by a deputy with a note saying “Please update and resubmit.”[18] After initially denying that such a meeting between the President and Clarke took place, the White House later reversed its denial when others present backed Clarke’s version of the events.[19][20]

Criticism

Before and after Clarke appeared before the 9/11 Commission, some critics tried to attack his credibility, launching a full-scale offensive against him: impugning his personal motives, claiming he was a disappointed job-hunter, that he sought publicity, and that he was a political partisan. They charged that he exaggerated perceived failures in the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies while exculpating the former Clinton administration from its perceived shortcomings.[21]

According to some reports, the White House tried to discredit Clarke in a move described as “shooting the messenger.”[22] New York Times economics columnist Paul Krugman was more blunt, calling the attacks on Clarke “a campaign of character assassination.”[23]

Some Republicans inside and outside the Bush administration questioned both Clarke’s testimony and his tenure during the hearings. Senate Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist took to the Senate floor to make a speech alleging Clarke told “two entirely different stories under oath”, pointing to congressional hearing testimony Clarke gave in 2002 and his 9/11 Commission testimony. Frist later speculated to reporters Clarke was trading on his former service as a government insider with access to the nation’s most valuable intelligence to sell a book.[24]

During Clarke’s earlier testimony, he stated that Bill Clinton did not have a comprehensive plan on dealing with terrorism. During later testimony, he stated that President Clinton did have a comprehensive plan on dealing with terrorism. As summarized by the Toledo Blade, “In his August 2002 briefing, Mr. Clarke told reporters (1) that the Clinton administration had no overall plan on al-Qaeda to pass on to the Bush Administration; (2) that just days after his inauguration, Mr. Bush said he wanted a new, more comprehensive anti-terror strategy; (3) that Mr. Bush ordered implementation of anti-terror measures that had been kicking around since 1998, and (4) that before Sept. 11, Mr. Bush had increased fivefold the funding for CIA covert action programs against al-Qaeda. … It’s reasonable enough to argue that Mr. Bush could have done more to guard against terror, though it isn’t clear what. What is incredible is to argue – as Mr. Clarke did before the 9/11 Commission – that President Clinton was more concerned about al-Qaeda than Mr. Bush was.”[25]

Clarke was criticized for his suggestions in 1999 of intelligence indicating a link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, despite the fact Clarke and others concluded after investigations by 2001 that no link had been established. In Against All Enemies he writes, “It is certainly possible that Iraqi agents dangled the possibility of asylum in Iraq before bin Laden at some point when everyone knew that the U.S. was pressuring the Taliban to arrest him. If that dangle happened, bin Laden’s accepting asylum clearly did not,” (p. 270). In an interview on March 21, 2004, Clarke claimed that “there’s absolutely no evidence that Iraq was supporting al-Qaeda, ever.”[26] Clarke claimed in his book that this conclusion was understood by the intelligence community at the time of 9/11 and the ensuing months, but top Bush administration officials were pre-occupied with finding a link between Iraq and 9/11 in the months that followed the attack, and thus, Clarke argued, the Iraq war distracted attention and resources from the war in Afghanistan and hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Fox News, allegedly with the Administration’s consent, identified and released a background briefing that Clarke gave in August 2002, at the Administration’s request, to minimize the fallout from a Time magazine story about the President’s failure to take certain actions before 9/11.[27] In that briefing on behalf of the White House, Clarke stated “there was no plan on Al-Qaeda that was passed from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration,” and that after taking office President Bush decided to “add to the existing Clinton strategy and to increase CIA resources, for example, for covert action, fivefold, to go after Al-Qaeda.”[28] At the next day’s hearing, 9/11 Commission member James Thompson challenged Clarke with the 2002 account, and Clarke explained: “I was asked to make that case to the press. I was a special assistant to the President, and I made the case I was asked to make… I was asked to highlight the positive aspects of what the Administration had done and to minimize the negative aspects of what the Administration had done. And as a special assistant to the President, one is frequently asked to do that kind of thing. I’ve done it for several Presidents.”[17]

Another point of attack was Clarke’s role in allowing members of the bin Laden family to fly to Saudi Arabia on September 20, 2001. According to Clarke’s statements to the 9/11 Commission, a request was relayed to Clarke from the Saudi embassy to allow the members of the bin Laden family living in the U.S. to fly home. Clarke testified to the commission that he passed this decision in turn to the FBI via Dale Watson, and that the FBI at length sent its approval of the flight to the Interagency Crisis Management Group.[29]However, FBI spokesman John Iannarelli denied that the FBI had a role in approving the flight: “I can say unequivocally that the FBI had no role in facilitating these flights.”[30]

Clarke has also exchanged criticism with Michael Scheuer, former chief of the Bin Laden Issue Station at the CIA. When asked to respond to Clarke’s claim that Scheuer was “a hothead, a middle manager who really didn’t go to any of the cabinet meetings,” Scheuer returned the criticism as follows: “I certainly agree with the fact that I didn’t go to the cabinet meetings. But I’m certainly also aware that I’m much better informed than Mr. Clarke ever was about the nature of the intelligence that was available against Osama bin Laden and which was consistently denigrated by himself and Mr. Tenet.”[31]

On March 28, 2004, at the height of the controversy during the 9/11 Commission Hearings, Clarke went on NBC’s Sunday morning news show, Meet the Press and was interviewed by journalist Tim Russert. In responding to and rebutting the criticism, Clarke challenged the Bush administration to declassify the whole record, including closed testimony by Bush administration officials before the Commission.[32]

Cyberterrorism and cybersecurity

Clarke, as Special Advisor to the President on Cybersecurity, spent his last year in the Bush administration focusing on cybersecurity and the threat of terrorism against the critical infrastructure of the United States. At a security conference in 2002, after citing statistics that indicate that less than 0.0025 percent of corporate revenue on average is spent on information-technology security, Clarke was famously heard to say, “If you spend more on coffee than on IT security, then you will be hacked. What’s more, you deserve to be hacked.”[33]

In June 2012 Clarke discussed issues of cybersecurity in depth in an interview on The Colbert Report in which he was seemingly misled into thinking that they were discussing cyber-security threats from the Chinese through the use of mobile devices such as iPads. Instead, Stephen Colbert was doing a humorous piece on the threats of Orangutans learning to use iPads. Indeed, when confronted on the issue directly, Clarke himself clarified that he was not discussing non-human primate based cyberterrorism threats. “Orangutans? You mean like apes?” said Clarke, “Are you sh**tin’ me? I’m talking about the Chinese.”[34]

Post government career

Clarke is currently Chairman of Good Harbor Consulting and Good Harbour International, two strategic planning and corporate risk management firms; an on-air consultant for ABC News, and a contributor to the Good Harbor Report, an online community discussing homeland security, defense, and politics. He is an adjunct lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School and a faculty affiliate of its Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.[35] He has also become an author of fiction, publishing his first novel, The Scorpion’s Gate, in 2005, and a second, Breakpoint, in 2007.

Clarke wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post on May 31, 2009 harshly critical of other Bush administration officials, entitled “The Trauma of 9/11 Is No Excuse”.[36] Clarke wrote that he had little sympathy for his fellow officials who seemed to want to use the excuse of being traumatized, and caught unaware by Al-Qaeda‘s attacks on the USA, because their being caught unaware was due to their ignoring clear reports a major attack on U.S. soil was imminent. Clarke particularly singled out former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

In April 2010 Clarke released his book on Cyber War. In April 2012, Clarke wrote a New York Times op-ed addressing cyber attacks. In stemming cyber attacks carried out by foreign governments and foreign hackers, particularly from China, Clarke opined that the U.S. government should be authorized to “create a major program to grab stolen data leaving the country” in a fashion similar to how the U.S. Department of Homeland Security currently searches for child pornography that crosses America’s “virtual borders.” Moreover, he suggested that the US president could authorize agencies to scan Internet traffic outside the US and seize sensitive files stolen from within the United States. Clarke then stated that such a policy would not endanger privacy rights through the institution of a privacy advocate, who could stop abuses or any activity that went beyond halting the theft of important files. The op-ed did not offer evidence that finding and blocking files while they are being transmitted is technically feasible.[37]

In September 2012, Clarke stated that Middle Eastern governments were likely behind hacking incidents against several banks.[38] During the same year, he also endorsed Barack Obama‘s reelection for President of the United States.

Following the 2013 high-speed fatal car crash of journalist Michael Hastings, a vocal critic of the surveillance state and restrictions on the press freedom under the Obama Administration tenure, Clarke was quoted as saying “There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers — including the United States — know how to remotely seize control of a car. So if there were a cyber attack on the car — and I’m not saying there was, I think whoever did it would probably get away with it.”[39]

In 2013, Clarke served on an advisory group for the Obama administration, as it sought to reform NSA spying programs following the revelations of documents released by Edward Snowden.[40] The report mentioned in ‘Recommendation 30’ on page 37, “…that the National Security Council staff should manage an interagency process to review on a regular basis the activities of the US Government regarding attacks, that exploit a previously unknown vulnerability in a computer application.” Clarke told Reuters on 11 April 2014 that the NSA had not known of Heartbleed.[41]

Written works

Main article: Against All Enemies

On March 22, 2004, Clarke’s book, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror—What Really Happened (ISBN 0-7432-6024-4), was published. The book was critical of past and present Presidential administrations for the way they handled the war on terrorboth before and after September 11, 2001 but focused much of its criticism on Bush for failing to take sufficient action to protect the country in the elevated-threat period before the September 11, 2001 attacks and for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which Clarke feels greatly hampered the war on terror, and was a distraction from the real terrorists.

Affiliation

  • Chairman, Good Harbor Consulting, LLC, a strategic planning and corporate risk management firm.
  • Contributor, Good Harbor Index, an online resource for homeland security, defense and political issues, operated by Good Harbor Consulting, LLC.
  • Faculty Affiliate, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Advisory Board Member, Civitas Group, LLC
  • Cyber Security Consultant, SRA International, Inc.
  • On-air consultant, ABC News.

See also

References

  1. Jump up^ Dobbs, Michael. “An Obscure Chief in U.S. War on Terror”. The Washington Post, April 2, 2000.
  2. Jump up^ “Profile: Richard Clarke”. BBC News. March 22, 2004. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  3. Jump up^ “Richard Clarke Biography”. Encyclopedia of World Biography. Advameg, Inc. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  4. Jump up^ Senior Society, Sphinx. “Class of 1972”. Sphinx Senior Society. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  5. Jump up^ Bio.Richard Clarke, “NNDB.com”
  6. Jump up^ Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006, p.206.
  7. Jump up^ “Text of Presidential Decision Directive 25”. Federation of American Scientists. May 6, 1994. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  8. Jump up^ Carney, Timothy; Mansoor Ijaz (June 30, 2002). “Intelligence Failure? Let’s Go Back to Sudan”. The Washington Post. RetrievedDecember 1, 2008. Retrieved from http://www.mafhoum.com/ Jan. 2015.
  9. Jump up^ Rose, David (January 2002). “The Osama Files”. Vanity Fair. Retrieved December 1, 2008.
  10. Jump up^ Belz, Mindy (November 1, 2003). “Clinton did not have the will to respond”. World. Retrieved December 1, 2008.
  11. Jump up^ The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 134.
  12. Jump up^ Vernon Loeb (January 23, 1999). “Embassy Attacks Thwarted, U.S. Says; Official Cites Gains Against Bin Laden; Clinton Seeks $10 Billion To Fight Terrorism”. The Washington Post. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  13. Jump up^ Continetti, Matthew (November 22, 2004). “Scheuer v. Clarke”. Weekly Standard. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  14. Jump up^ http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB147/clarke%20memo.pdf
  15. Jump up^ “Bush Administration’s First Memo on al-Qaeda Declassified”. Gwu.edu. January 25, 2001. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  16. ^ Jump up to:a b c Richard Clarke: “Against All Enemies, Inside America’s War on Terror” by Free Press, a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster
  17. ^ Jump up to:a b c “Transcript: Wednesday’s 9/11 Commission Hearings”. Washington Post. March 24, 2004. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  18. Jump up^ Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror–What Really Happened (ISBN 0-7432-6024-4)
  19. Jump up^ Dean, John W (April 9, 2004). “Bush’s attack on Richard Clarke”. CNN. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  20. Jump up^ Marshall, Josh (September 11, 2001). “Talking Points Memo” (Press release). Talking Points Memo. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  21. Jump up^ Ratnesar, Romesh (March 25, 2004). “Richard Clarke, at War With Himself”. TIME. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  22. Jump up^ “White House Tries to Discredit Counterterrorism Coordinator”. Common Dreams. March 22, 2004. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  23. Jump up^ Krugman, Paul (March 30, 2004). “Smearing Richard Clarke”. History News Network. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  24. Jump up^ “Talking Points Memo”. Retrieved from Internet Archive Wayback Machine, 20 January 2015.
  25. Jump up^ http://www.toledoblade.com/Opinion/2004/03/27/The-Blame-Bush-approach.html
  26. Jump up^ CBS: Clarke’s Take On Terror. March 19, 2004.
  27. Jump up^ Kaplan, Fred (March 24, 2004). “Richard Clarke KOs the Bushies”. Slate Magazine. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  28. Jump up^ “Transcript: Clarke Praises Bush Team in ’02”. FoxNews.com. March 24, 2004. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  29. Jump up^ “Richard Clarke Testifies Before 9/11 Commission”. CNN Transcripts. March 24, 2004. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  30. Jump up^ Craig Unger: Letter To the Editor NYT March 30, 2005
  31. Jump up^ Leung, Rebecca (November 12, 2004). “Bin Laden Expert Steps Forward, Ex-CIA Agent Assesses Terror War In 60 Minutes Interview”.60 Minutes (CBS News). Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  32. Jump up^ “Clarke Would Welcome Open Testimony”. MSNBC.com. March 28, 2004. Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  33. Jump up^ Lemos, Robert (February 20, 2002). “Security Guru: Let’s Secure the Net”. ZDNet
  34. Jump up^ Colbert, Stephen (June 13, 2012). “The Enemy Within: Apes Armed with iPads”. Viacom. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  35. Jump up^ “Richard Clarke’s bio at Harvard Kennedy School”. Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. May 29, 2008. RetrievedJanuary 9, 2009.
  36. Jump up^ Richard A. Clarke (May 31, 2009). “The Trauma of 9/11 Is No Excuse”. Washington Post. Archived from the original on August 22, 2009.
  37. ^ Jump up to:a b Clarke, Richard A. (April 3, 2012). “How China Steals Our Secrets”. The New York Times. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  38. Jump up^ “Rhode Islanders react to cyber attacks on banking websites”. ABC6 Rhode Island. October 1, 2012. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  39. Jump up^ Hogan, Michael (June 24, 2013). “Was Hastings’ Car Hacked?”. Huffington Post.
  40. Jump up^ The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies (12 December 2013). “Liberty and Security in a Changing World – Report and Recommendations of The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies”. The White House.
  41. Jump up^ Mark Hosenball; Will Dunham (11 April 2014). “White House, spy agencies deny NSA exploited ‘Heartbleed’ bug”. Reuters. Retrieved16 April 2014.

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Kenneth R. Timmerman — Shakedown: Exposing The Real Jesse Jackson

Posted on January 26, 2015. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Books, Business, College, Communications, Corruption, Documentary, Economics, Education, Ethic Cleansing, Faith, Family, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Friends, Genocide, government, government spending, Heroes, history, Islam, Islam, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, Non-Fiction, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Press, Rants, Raves, Religion, Reviews, Security, Shite, Sunni | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Ken-Timmermanshakedown

ktimmerman

Kenneth Timmerman on persecution of Iraqi Christians

Kenneth Timmerman executive director of Foundation for Democracy in Iran at the National Press Club

 

Kenneth R. Timmerman

Kenneth R. Timmerman (born November 4, 1953) is a political writer and conservative activist who was the 2012 Republican nominee for U.S. Representative for the newly redrawn Maryland’s 8th congressional district, facing the incumbent Chris Van Hollen, aDemocrat.[1] Timmerman lost to Van Hollen in a landslide, 33% to 63%. In 2000, Timmerman was a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator from Maryland. Timmerman is executive director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, an organization that works to support democratic movements in Iran. He authored Shakedown: Exposing the Real Jesse Jackson. Timmerman has also written on the spread of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. He is currently an Expert at Wikistrat.[2] He was the running mate for Republican Charles Lollar in the 2014 Maryland gubernatorial election.[3][4] The Lollar/Timmerman ticket finished third in the Republican primary.

Early life and career

Born in New York in 1953, Timmerman obtained a BA from Goddard College in 1973 and an M.A. from Brown University in 1976. He moved to France, where he pursued a career as a novelist, publishing a novel called Wren Hunt in 1976 and a novella called The Iskra Scrolls in 1980.

Middle East and defense correspondent

In the early 1980s, Timmerman became a Middle East correspondent for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and developed an expertise in the Middle East and the arms trade. In 1982, he was taken prisoner for 24 days by Fatah guerrillas in Lebanon. He was the first journalist on the scene when Islamic militants bombed the US Embassy in 1983.

From 1985 to 1987, Timmerman was a correspondent for Defense and Armament Newsweek and Military Technology, covering the Iran–Iraq War and the arms industry in the Middle East. He won the Joe Petrosino Prize for Investigative Reporting in 1987 for an investigation of an Iranian arms procurement group.

From 1987 to 1993, Timmerman published the Middle East Defense News and was international correspondent for Defense Electronics. He also wrote monographs for the Simon Wiesenthal Center on efforts by Iraq, Syria and Libya to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

Author and activist

In 1991, Timmerman published The Death Lobby: How the West Armed Iraq after the Gulf War. Timmerman advised the United Nations Special Commission for the Disarmament of Iraq on the location of weapons plants.

In 1993, Timmerman returned to the US where he worked as a member of the staff of the U.S. House Committee on International Relations. In 1995, he founded the Foundation for Democracy in Iran with Peter Rodman, Joshua Muravchick and Iranian opposition expatriates to attempt to topple the Iranian government. He founded the Middle East Data Project to advise governments and private companies. In 1998, he made suggestions to the Rumsfeld Commission supporting the deployment of a national missile defencesystem.

In 1998, he wrote a piece on Osama Bin Laden and his training camps in Afghanistan just before Al-Qaeda attacked two US embassies in Africa. He also wrote features for the American Spectator criticizing the export of high-technology equipment to China, which was published as a book in 2000. In 2000 Timmerman sought the nomination of the Maryland GOP to run against Democratic incumbent Paul Sarbanes. Timmerman won less than ten percent in the party primary; Paul Rappaport won the Republican nomination but lost to Sarbanes, who won with 63% of the vote.

Timmerman wrote Shakedown: Exposing the Real Jesse Jackson as a change of pace from his focus on international issues in 2002. The argument claimed that Jackson alleging connections with criminals and claiming that Rev. Jackson practised extortion of businesses. It proved to be highly successful making the top ten bestseller list with 200,000 copies printed.[5] It also reached the top of the Amazon bestseller list.[6]

In 2003, Timmerman published Preachers of Hate: Islam and the War Against America. The French Betrayal of America was published in 2004. Timmerman returned to his field of greatest expertise with the publication of Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran in 2005.

On February 7, 2006 Sweden’s former deputy prime minister and Liberal party leader Per Ahlmark asserted that he had nominated Timmerman for a Nobel Peace Prize along with UN Ambassador John Bolton for “their repeated warnings and documentation ofIran‘s secret nuclear buildup and revealing Iran’s repeated lying and false reports to the International Atomic Energy Agency.”[7] The Nobel Foundation won’t confirm nominations, however, until 50 years have passed.[8]

Bibliography

  • The Wren Hunt Bran’s Head Books 1976, 1982 ISBN 0-905220-32-3
  • The Iskra Scrolls novella Handshake Press Paris 1980
  • Fanning the Flames: Guns, Greed, and Geopolitics in the Gulf War syndicated by New York Times Syndication Sales, 1987, published in book form as “Öl ins Feuer Internationale Waffengeschäfte im Golfkrieg” Orell Füssli Verlag Zürich and Wiesbaden 1988ISBN 3-280-01840-4
  • La Grande Fauche: Le vol de la haute technologie (Gorbachev’s Technology Wars: How the U.S.S.R Arms Itself in the West) Editions Plon Paris 1989
  • The Poison Gas Connection: The Chemical Weapons Programs of Iraq and Libya Simon Wiesenthal Center Los Angeles 1990
  • The Death Lobby: How the West Armed Iraq Houghton Mifflin Boston 1991 ISBN 0-395-59305-0
  • The BNL Blunder: How the U.S. Policy Allowed a Bank in Atlanta to Finance Saddam Hussein’s War Machine Simon Wiesenthal Center Los Angeles 1991
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction: the Cases of Iran, Syria and Libya Simon Wiesenthal Center Los Angeles 1992
  • Selling Out America: The American Spectator Investigations Xlibris Philadelphia Pennsylvania 2000 ISBN 0-7388-2858-0
  • Shakedown: Exposing the Real Jesse Jackson Regenery Washington DC 2002 ISBN 0-89526-165-0
  • Preachers of Hate: Islam and the War on America Crown Forum 2003 ISBN 1-4000-4901-6
  • The French Betrayal of America Crown Forum 2004 ISBN 1-4000-5366-8
  • Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran Crown Forum 2005 ISBN 1-4000-5368-4
  • Shadow Warriors: The Untold Story of Traitors, Saboteurs, and the Party of Surrender Crown Forum 2007

Notes

  1. Jump up^ “Conservative Timmerman tries to capitalize on shift in 8th Congressional District”. MarylandReporter.com. October 8, 2012. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  2. Jump up^ “Wikistrat profile on Kenneth Timmerman”. Wikistrat. Retrieved January 17, 2012.
  3. Jump up^ Wagner, John (February 24, 2014). “Md. GOP gubernatorial hopeful Lollar chooses Kenneth Timmerman as running mate”. The Washington Post. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
  4. Jump up^ Wheller, Tim (February 24, 2014). “GOP gubernatorial hopeful Lollar names running mate”. The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
  5. Jump up^ “Regnery’s Latest Score (Behind the Bestsellers)”. Publishers Weekly 249 (12): 18. March 25, 2002.
  6. Jump up^ Dreher, Rod (April 22, 2002). “He is Somebody (Exposing the Real Jesse Jackson book review)”. National Review 54 (7): 41.
  7. Jump up^ “All eyes on Nobel Peace Prize possibles”. BBC News. October 12, 2006. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
  8. Jump up^ “Statutes of the Nobel Foundation”. Nobel Media. Retrieved February 25, 2014. Such permission may not, however, be granted until at least 50 years have elapsed after the date on which the decision in question was made.

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_R._Timmerman

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Posted on February 2, 2013. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, College, Culture, Economics, Education, Entertainment, government spending, history, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, Movies, People, Philosophy, Politics, Psychology, Quotations, Raves, Video, War, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Go see Lincoln — now, now, now!

Raymond Thomas Pronk

Lincoln_meeting_advisers

President Lincoln meets with advisers to discuss the timing for passing the 13th Amendment

Credit: http://www.examiner.com

“Lincoln,” the film, is a riveting and moving masterpiece of an historical drama that covers the last four months of Abraham Lincoln’s life and his efforts to pass through Congress the 13th Amendment and end the Civil War.

Lincoln is played by Daniel Day-Lewis, who spent a year researching the life and time of the president. Lewis’s memorable performance transforms Lincoln from a white marble statue in Washington, D.C., to an in-the-flesh father, husband, lawyer, storyteller, politician, strategist and visionary on the screen. His performance should earn Day-Lewis another Oscar, which would be his third Academy Award for best actor.

The focus of the movie is Lincoln’s efforts in January 1865, with the assistance of his close adviser and Secretary of State William Seward (played by David Strathairn), to round up enough Democratic and Republican votes to pass a bill in the House of Representatives that would lead to the passage of the 13th Amendment that would abolish slavery in the United States.  Lincoln directs Seward to enlist three unscrupulous political agents to offer patronage jobs, once they leave Congress in March, to lame-duck Democrats, who lost their seats in the November 1864 election, in exchange for their voting for the bill in January.

Lincoln seeks the assistance of Radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones), leader of the abolitionist movement and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, to secure the votes of radical Republicans in the House.

Lincoln also needs the votes of all the conservative Republicans in the House. To accomplish this, Lincoln seeks the help of Preston Blair (Hal Holbrook), founder of the Republican Party, and unofficial adviser to Lincoln. Blair gives Lincoln his support provided he is given the authority to go to Richmond, Va., the capitol of the Confederacy, to initiate peace talks.

Blair is successful in getting the Confederacy to send a three-man peace delegation headed by the Confederate States vice president Alexander Stephens (Jackie Earle Haley), that is delayed en route by Lincoln in order to first get the emancipation bill through Congress. The bill almost fails at the last moment when the Democrats disclose to the House the rumor that a Confederate peace delegation is in Washington. Lincoln replies to the rumor by sending a misleading message to the House and the historic bill passes on Jan. 31.

Lincoln finally meets with the Confederate peace delegation on Feb. 3, 1865, in Hampton Roads on the River Queen steamboat. The meeting ends in failure because Lincoln offers no concessions and demands the end of slavery as a condition for peace — the unconditional surrender of the South.

The Civil War’s massive death toll exceeding 600,000 and destruction are graphically illustrated on screen with Lincoln’s visit on April 3 to the Petersburg battlefield after the Union victory to meet with Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant (Jared Harris).

“Lincoln” is a Hollywood blockbuster film with record box-office receipts of more than $175 million and 12 Academy Award nominations. The film faces stiff competition at the box office and at the Academy Awards from the films “Argo”, “Les Miserables”, “Life of Pi,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Zero Dark Thirty”.

I believe Lincoln will win at least five Academy Awards including best picture, actor (Day-Lewis), director (Steven Spielberg), adapted screenplay (Tony Kushner), and cinematography (Janusz Kamiński) at the 85th Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 24.

Celebrate the anniversary of the birth of this historic president on Feb. 12, 1809 or the Presidents’ Day and the Washington’s Birthday holiday on Feb. 18 by seeing “Lincoln”.

Film rating: A

Raymond Thomas Pronk is host of the Pronk Pops Show on KDUX web radio from 3-5 p.m. Fridays and author of the companion blog http://www.pronkpops.wordpress.com/

Lincoln Official Trailer #1 (2012) Steven Spielberg Movie HD 

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(l-r) cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, costume designer Joanna Johnston, production designer Rick Carter, make-up designer Lois Burwell

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Film History: Columnists and Historians Assess Spielberg’s “Lincoln”

by Kelly Candaele

“…ONE OF THE MOST gratifying aspects of Steven Spielberg’s movie Lincoln has been the debate that its release has generated among historians and journalists, a debate more important than the movie itself. What were the complex dilemmas that Lincoln faced as President? What were the political realities and conduct of the time? How should we interpret the decisions that Lincoln and others made? What role did slaves and free blacks play in their own liberation?

Despite the fact that the film focuses on a short period of time in Lincoln’s presidency and deals primarily with the political cut and thrust associated with the passage of the 13th Amendment, there is a real sense in which the film can be described as deeply philosophical. Lincoln is portrayed as a man of discipline, concentration, and energy, all characteristics that sociologist Max Weber defined as part of the serious politician’s vocation. By forging an effective and realized political character — one aspect of Weber’s definition of charismatic authority — an astute politician can change the nature of power in society. By controlling his all-too-human vanity, he can avoid the two deadly political sins of lack of objectivity and irresponsibility. For Weber, a certain “distance to things and men” was required to abide by an “ethic of responsibility” for the weighty decisions that leaders are often required to make.

Lincoln has always been a man for all political seasons. There is Lincoln the principled politician, who believed that war was a necessary and legitimate means to sustain the Union; Lincoln the timid compromiser, who as late as 16 months into the war declared that if he “could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it”; and Lincoln the reconciling healer of “With malice toward none, with charity for all,” of the Second Inaugural.

Conservative New York Times writer David Brooks argued in a November 22 column that it was Lincoln’s internal strength and ability to compromise that allowed for the possibility of public good. For Brooks, the temptations of fame and ideological rigidity are what undermine the average politician’s ability to compromise. Weber called the losers in that wrestling match with fame, political “windbags.”

But for liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, it was Lincoln’s principled stand on the 13th Amendment and the need to ban slavery that accounts for his iconic status as one of our greatest Presidents. In an October 19 piece, Dionne encouraged Obama to “follow Lincoln’s example” by refusing to compromise with current economic and financial injustice.

While most political journalists have viewed the film with an eye on the current political stalemate, our most prominent historians have looked for accuracy and context.

Columbia University Professor Eric Foner, one of the most eminent historians of the Civil War and Reconstruction, sees the film as an “inside the beltway” rendition of the period. In a recent interview on Jon Wiener’s KPFK radio show, Foner points out that during the period that the movie covers, General William Tecumseh Sherman’s Union Army was marching through South Carolina. Slaves, in full-scale rebellion, were seizing plantations and “occupying” the land that they had worked. Slavery was “dying on the ground,” Foner insisted, not just in the House of Representatives. In Lincoln, “We are back to the old idea of Lincoln freeing the slaves by himself,” Foner says, reinforcing a one-dimensional view of a complicated historical process. The problem is not what the movie shows but what it doesn’t show. Additionally, as Foner points out in his Pulitzer Prize wining book, The Fiery Trial, Lincoln was “non-committal” during the failed 1864 attempt by Congress to pass the 13th Amendment. This was at a time when abolitionists, including the Women’s National Loyal League headed by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, were delivering “monster” petitions to congress urging them to pass the amendment. They had gathered 400,000 signatures by mid 1864, but Lincoln was pushing for state-enacted emancipation in the border-states and occupied south.

Lincoln was also a “passive observer” of Senator Charles Sumner’s “crusade” to pass legislation that would allow blacks to carry mail, ride on streetcars, and testify in Federal courts in the District of Columbia, although he signed the bills that managed to pass in Congress. It was not until John C. Fremont was nominated for President in May 1864 — as a challenge to Lincoln — that Lincoln encouraged his party to embrace a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery.

Foner also challenges the “race against time” plot of the movie, whereby recalcitrant Republicans and pro-slavery Democrats stall the work of Congress while a Confederate peace initiative threatens to undermine the amendment’s only chance at passage. In reality, Lincoln had told the lame-duck congress that if they did not pass the amendment he would call a special session of the new Congress in March of 1865, made up of enough Republicans (elected that November) to easily pass the amendment.

Historian James Oakes, in his book Freedom National — The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, published in early December, suggests that Lincoln screenwriter Tony Kushner might have that part of the history right. Oakes points out that a large number of Republicans felt that the amendment abolishing slavery was a “civil” rather than “military” measure, and that the basis for changing the constitution was thus linked to the winning of the war. As the war’s end drew closer, the justification for the 13th Amendment was potentially undermined.

In an email exchange with me about his book and the movie, Oakes speculates that Lincoln and his Republican allies were worried that public support for the passage of the amendment would dissipate as the exigencies of war diminished. “If abolition were imposed AFTER [Oakes’s caps] the South surrendered it might seem vindictive to northern voters, or voters might think Republicans were liars or were disingenuous for having claimed that abolition was a war measure,” Oakes wrote. Although this argument does not appear in the film, it was a central theme for New York Congressman Fernando Wood, the Democratic attack dog in Congress and in the film.

What Oakes finds more troubling in terms of historical accuracy is the scenario set up by Kushner, whereby conservative Republicans (represented in the film by Montgomery Blair) and Radical Republicans had to be brought in line to defeat the Democrats and pass the amendment. Oakes points out that the Republicans were united all along, as demonstrated by the House vote to pass the 13th Amendment that took place the previous July. There was only one Republican “no” vote at that time, cast by Ohio Republican James M. Ashley. Ashley was a strong supporter of the amendment, but realizing the amendment was about to lose, he voted no as a procedural maneuver that would allow him to call for reconsideration of the amendment when Congress returned in December.

Blair, who had represented Dred Scott in the famous Supreme Court case, was Lincoln’s Postmaster General until he was replaced in late 1864. Blair had influence in Maryland and Missouri and was called upon to secure Border State Unionist votes, not to cajole conservative Republicans. Between July 1864 — when Democrats and Border State congressman had defeated the amendment — and January 1865, both Maryland and Missouri had abolished slavery. So Congressmen who had represented slave states the previous July were representing free states in January. They were the Congressmen that Blair went after.

Historians and journalists will and should continue debating the historical accuracy and limited context of the film, especially the invisibility of blacks as central participants in their own liberation.

In his blog, Brooklyn College Professor Corey Robin quotes from the 1992 book Slaves No More (by Ira Berlin et.al.), making it clear that despite Lincoln’s great accomplishment, historians overturned long ago a Lincoln-centered view of emancipation. The destruction of slavery was:

[A] process by which slavery collapsed under the pressure of federal arms and the slaves’ determination to place their own liberty on the wartime agenda. In documenting the transformation of a war for the Union into a war against slavery, it shifts the focus from the halls of power in Washington and Richmond to the plantations, farms, and battlefields of the South and demonstrates how slaves accomplished their own liberation and shaped the destiny of a nation.

The relegating of African Americans to secondary roles, even in films where black civil rights is the central topic (2011’s The Help is a recent example) is unfortunately the rule rather than the exception. But on the positive side, Lincoln has accomplished something that historian and literary critic Irving Howe suggested is very rare for American artists: the ability to portray politics as “a distinctive mode of social existence with manners and values of its own.”

The history of slavery, its origins, extirpation, and consequences, becomes more fascinating and illuminating once the context is expanded. Robin Blackburn’s new book The American Crucible — Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights argues that the success of anti-slavery movements involved some combination of class struggle, war, and a re-casting of the state’s relationship to the claims of property — New York Congressman Fernando Wood, for instance, spoke against the 13th Amendment as a “tyrannical destruction of individual property.” Wood was pointing to the broader underpinnings of both the Constitution and state law.

For Blackburn, who writes in a Marxist vein, dominant economic interests, both North and South, needed a “different type of state.” In the South, slaves, who were legally property, could run away, while northern manufacturing demanded state regulation of finance, funding for internal transportation and communications infrastructure, and tariff protection. These Unionist and Confederate “rival nationalisms” were both expansionist, the Union looking to overtake the continent and the Confederacy eyeing new slave territory in the West, the South and in Cuba. The clash, according to Blackburn, “was thus one of rival empires, as well as competing nationalisms.”

Foner also places the state in the center of Civil War and Reconstruction history, focusing on how shifting political dynamics shaped the economic and social relations that followed the abolition of slavery. Slavery was a mode of racial domination but also a system of labor that a “distinctive ruling class” was fighting to retain. The “labor question,” and what role the state would play in re-constituting a disciplined and docile labor force after the Civil War became central to the battle between former master and former slave.

It was Radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens (portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln), Foner points out, who recognized the “hollow victory” that liberation would bring unless accompanied by the “destruction of the land-based political power” of the agrarian ruling classes. In Nothing but Freedom — Emancipation and Its Legacy, Foner reveals some striking similarities between post-emancipation southern politics and similar developments in the Caribbean and Africa. Struggles over immigration, labor laws, taxation, fiscal policy and the definition of property rights “reveal how much of post-emancipation politics was defined by the ‘labor problem.’ In the southern United States, sharecropping became the common solution to an economic struggle whereby resilient planters and large landowners where eventually (after Radical Reconstruction) able to deny blacks access to productive land, capital, and political power.

If this seems a bit far afield from the central focus of Lincoln, it shows how difficult — how impossible — it is to present complex historical “moments” through film. History is not a series of “moments” but is, as the recently deceased historian E.J. Hobsbawn reminded us, something that surrounds us. “We swim in the past as fish do in water, and cannot escape from it,” Hobsbawm wrote in On History. The historian’s role — from Hobsbawn’s (and Marx’s) point of view — is the examination of how societies transform themselves and how social structures factor in that process.

Getting history wrong, as Ernest Renan noted over a century ago, is an essential element in the formation of a nation. Historians will continue to inform us about whether Spielberg and Kushner got Lincoln wrong in the service of polishing a national myth. Perhaps it is an unfair criticism to direct at a two and-a-half-hour movie on one of our most important political figures, but this story of emancipation is woefully incomplete. How could it be otherwise?

Tragedy very often accompanies politics practiced a high level. Has any American President avoided making decisions about the life and death of others? Lincoln was a man able to control his vanity by casting a cold eye upon both the virtues and the corruptions of human beings. He was able to reject cynicism, that reliable psychological shield for feelings of political impotence, and this the movie demonstrates clearly.

The film succeeds in portraying Lincoln as a political man in Weber’s sense, a man of ambition who was willing to be held responsible for the results of his decisions.

Moving away from the sterile debate over whether he was a “compromiser” or a man of “principle,” the film shows he accepted the fact that, in his political life at least, there would be a constant tension between the two. …”

http://lareviewofbooks.org/article.php?type=&id=1251&fulltext=1&media=#article-text-cutpoint

Spielberg’s Lincoln: A Historian’s Review

By Nicholas Roland

“… Steven Spielberg’s latest historical drama chronicles the 16th president’s final months and his struggle for passage of the 13th Amendment by the House of Representatives in 1865. Lincoln’s enduring popularity means that this film will be subjected to intense scrutiny and debate by historians, movie reviewers, and culture warriors alike.

Fortunately, Lincoln is blessed with a remarkably accomplished cast. Daniel Day Lewis is Abraham Lincoln. Having supposedly read over 100 books on Lincoln in preparation for the role, he manages to convincingly replicate many aspects of Lincoln’s persona and physical aura: Lincoln’s purportedly high voice, his wry sense of humor and knack for storytelling, his slouched posture and awkward gait, and the overwhelming weariness incurred by the “fiery trial” of war all ring true.

Mary Todd Lincoln (Sally Fields) is portrayed as a more or less sympathetic character, in accordance with more recent scholarship rejecting long-standing depictions of Mrs. Lincoln as a shrew, possibly suffering from a mental illness. Fields plays a First Lady who is grief-stricken over the loss of her son Willie and weary from the stress of a wartime presidential marriage. During a scene at a White House reception, she draws on her social training as a daughter of the Kentucky elite to skillfully defend against political critics.

Secretary of State William H. Seward (David Strathairn) also appears as an important source of support for Lincoln. Seward cuts patronage deals with lame duck Democratic Congressmen in order to help secure the passage of the 13th Amendment and acts as a sort of political muse to Lincoln. Seward harangues and cajoles Lincoln on policy and political strategy but ultimately serves as a loyal ally in carrying out Lincoln’s intent, a depiction born out in the historical record.

Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) is also a convincing secondary character, albeit with some historical problems. A leader of the radical wing of the Republican Party, Stevens is accurately portrayed as an advocate of racial equality and a vehement opponent of secessionists. However, a scene revealing the purported relationship between Stevens and his African-American housekeeper risks conveying the sense that this relationship was the primary motivation for Stevens’ crusade for the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.

Despite the excellent performances turned in by the star-studded cast, Lincoln has a number of shortcomings from a historian’s point of view. Based on Doris Kearns-Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, the film is at times a taut political thriller and at times the inspirational story of the final abolition of American slavery. The choice to focus on the last few months of Lincoln’s presidency is appropriate given the ultimate outcome of the American Civil War: the defeat of the Confederacy and the end of legal slavery. However, this narrow focus glosses over Lincoln’s famously ambiguous views on slavery and racial equality.

Spielberg’s Lincoln appears committed to rapidly ending slavery and even suggests that suffrage might eventually be extended to black men. In his lifetime, Lincoln was consistently criticized by radical Republicans and African-American leaders such as Frederick Douglass for his equivocation on slavery and lenient plans for Reconstruction. Lincoln seems to have held a lifelong commitment to the free-soil ideology that every man, white or black, has the right to earn for himself by the sweat of his brow. Despite this conviction, Lincoln repeatedly stated that he wished to preserve the Union, either with or without slavery. Lincoln viewed the Emancipation Proclamation and the enlistment of black troops as a wartime expedient to preserve the Union.

To its credit, Lincoln does make some references to contradictory statements Lincoln made earlier in his presidency about slavery.

Despite this nod toward the complexity of Lincoln’s political career, Spielberg risks reviving the Great Emancipator myth. The best evidence suggests that Abraham Lincoln personally abhorred slavery as an institution while simultaneously denying the concept of racial equality.

Some historians have argued that Lincoln’s personal beliefs underwent a significant change during the last year of the Civil War, and Lincoln did in fact suggest to the reconstructed government of Louisiana in 1864 that “very intelligent” black men and “those who have fought gallantly in our ranks” might be given access to the ballot box. As depicted by the film, during the 1864 Presidential campaign Lincoln threw his support behind passage of the 13th Amendment and was active in securing its passage in 1865. But he never became a radical abolitionist like Thaddeus Stevens, or an outright advocate of racial equality. Lincoln continued to put forth plans for the resettlement of freedmen to the Caribbean even after issuing the Emancipation Proclamation and possibly even after the passage of the 13th Amendment.

Too narrow of a focus on the actions of Lincoln and other white politicians unfortunately downplays the role played by both enslaved and free African Americans in the Civil War-era struggle for freedom. Black characters largely appear passive in Spielberg’s account. Kate Masur points out that White House servants Elizabeth Keckley and William Slade were deeply involved in the free black activist community of Washington, D.C. Instead of appearing as dynamic characters within the President’s household, they are relegated to cardboard roles as domestics. The most assertive black character in the movie is a soldier who confronts the President about past ill-treatment and future aspirations. Lincoln artfully deflects the soldier’s concerns and the scene ends with the soldier quoting the Gettysburg Address. The one-dimensional black characters in Lincoln are unrecognizable as depictions of African Americans during the Civil War.

Early in the war, when Lincoln strenuously wished to avoid confronting slavery, black enslaved workers fled to federal lines and congregated around federal camps such as Fortress Monroe, Va. Congress passed the Confiscation Act of 1861 in reaction to this development, marking the first movement by the federal government to separate rebellious slaveholders from their enslaved workers. While Lincoln continued to insist that the war was a struggle to preserve the Union, African Americans did not wait for the Emancipation Proclamation to turn the war into much more than a sectional conflict. Slavery was destroyed as much by their individual actions as by the political workings of white politicians.

The film also has a number of smaller inaccuracies and stylistic issues. For example, Alexander H. Coffroth is depicted as a nervous Pennsylvania Democrat pressured into voting for the 13th Amendment. Coffroth actually served as a pallbearer at Lincoln’s funeral, indicating that he was more than a simple political pawn of the White House. And in a scene supposedly taking place after the fall of Richmond and Petersburg, Lincoln solemnly rides through a horrific battlefield heaped with hundreds of bodies. A battlefield such as this would likely represent one of the worst instances of combat in the Civil War. Richmond and Petersburg fell primarily due to General Ulysses S. Grant’s maneuvering to cut Confederate supply lines rather than through bloody fighting on the scale Spielberg depicts. Lincoln did in fact visit Richmond after it had fallen and was greeted there by hundreds of jubilant freed slaves in the streets of the former Confederate capital. The chance to depict such a poignant scene is not taken up by the filmmakers in favor of a continued focus on the political and military struggle waged by white Americans.

Perhaps most inexplicably, the movie does a poor job of identifying the various cabinet officials and Congressmen central to the plot. The average moviegoer is likely to be somewhat unsure of the exact role or importance of several characters. This is especially curious given the fact that obscure members of a Confederate peace delegation such as Confederate Senator R.M.T. Hunter and Assistant Secretary of War John A. Campbell are explicitly identified onscreen.

On the whole, Spielberg’s Lincoln is a masterful politician and a dynamic character, able to carefully mediate between his own evolving beliefs and the political realities of his age. This interpretation falls solidly in line with the mainstream of Lincoln scholarship. For an incredibly complex, sphinxlike figure such as Abraham Lincoln, perhaps we shouldn’t expect a more thorough interpretation from Hollywood.

http://alcalde.texasexes.org/2012/11/spielbergs-lincoln-a-historians-review/

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Joseph J. Ellis–His Excellence: George Washinton–Videos

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“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

~George Washington

 

“The men shedding most of the blood at Valley Forge, and throughout the remaining years of the war came from the lowest rung of American society. “When men are irritated, and the Passions inflame,” Washington observed somewhat caustically, “they fly hastily and chearfully to Arms.” Those exuberant days of popular enthusiasm for the war were now gone forever, as were the enlistments by yeoman farmers and men of “the middling sort” who had manned the barricase during the Boston siege. Their place in the ranks of the Continental army were now filled by indentured servants, former slaves, landless sons, and recent immigrants from Ireland and England. These were the young men, usually between fifteen and twenty-five years of age, who lived in the makeshift log huts at Valley Forge and singed on “for the duration” of the war because, in most cases. they had no brighter prospects.”

~Jospeh J. Ellis, His Excellence: George Washinton, page 113″

 

 

The American Revolutionary War

The American Revolutionary War

 President George Washington – The Greatest Man in the World

 

The Battle of Trenton

Favorite part of The Crossing

John Adams – President Washington – VP John Adams

Alexander Hamilton on a National Bank

The Founders and Us

 

Joseph Ellis on Exporting Democracy

An excellent biography of George Washington is Ellis’ His Excellency: George Washington with extensive notes for further readings on Washington, the Founding Fathers and the American Revolutionary War.

“…Unlike Julius Casear and Oliver Cromwell before him, and Napoleaon, Lenin, and Mao after him, he understood that the greater glory resided in posterity’s judgment. If you aspire to live forever in the memory of future generations, you must demostrate the ultimate self-confidence to leave the final judgement to them. And he did.” 

~Jospeh J. Ellis, His Excellence: George Washinton, page 275″ 

“The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon”

 ~George Washinton

Background Articles and Videos

BOOKS OF THE TIMES; Washington Minus the Myth: Ubiquitous but Remote

By MICHIKO KAKUTANI

Published: October 26, 2004

“…Mr. Ellis concludes that for Washington, ”the American Revolution was not about destroying political power, as it was for Jefferson, but rather seizing it and using it wisely.” His life, in the end, ”was all about power: facing it, taming it, channeling it, projecting it.” This assessment places Washington in the forefront of the realistic tradition in American public policy; he believed that nations would always behave solely on the basis of self-interest and that ideals on their own must never define a government’s or military’s agenda.

Such arguments are not exactly new but grow out of other biographers’ and scholars’ writings. Unlike Mr. Ellis’s book on Adams, which did much to resurrect that founding father’s reputation, this volume does not break much new ground, but it nonetheless provides a lucid, often shrewd take on the man Mr. Ellis calls the ”primus inter pares, the Foundingest Father of them all.” And it does so with admirable grace and wit.”

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C05E6DC173DF935A15753C1A9629C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=2

 The Human Washington

By FORREST MCDONALD

“…IN a historical profession that is scornful of what it calls dead white males, Joseph J. Ellis has emerged as an eloquent champion and brilliant practitioner of the old-fashioned art of biography. He concentrates mainly upon the founders of the American republic, and while those who have particular favorites among the founders may cavil at his interpretations, Ellis has a gift for getting inside the skins of his subjects and showing what made them tick.

Now he has taken on the greatest and most enigmatic founder. To describe George Washington as enigmatic may strike some as strange, for every young student knows about him (or did when students could be counted on to know anything). He was born into a minor family in Virginia’s plantation gentry, worked as a surveyor in the West as a young man, was a hero of sorts during the French and Indian War, became an extremely wealthy planter (after marrying a rich widow), served as commander in chief of the Continental Army throughout the Revolutionary War (including the terrible winter at Valley Forge), defeated the British at the Battle of Yorktown, suppressed a threatened mutiny by his officers at Newburgh, N.Y., then astonished the world and won its applause by laying down his sword in 1783. Called out of retirement, he presided over the Constitutional Convention of 1787, reluctantly accepted the presidency in 1789 and served for two terms, thus assuring the success of the American experiment in self-government.

But as Ellis puts it, though Washington is ”an inescapable presence that hovered all around,” he ”remained a mysterious abstraction . . . like one of those Jeffersonian truths, self-evident and simply there . . . that no one needed to talk about.” He is ”always an icon — distant, cold, intimidating.” …”

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B05E3D6123DF934A35752C1A9629C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1

Joseph John Ellis

“…Joseph John Ellis (born 1943) is a Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College who has written influential and award-winning histories on the founding generation of American presidents. His book Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation (2000) received the Pulitzer Prize for History in 2001.

He received his B.A. from the College of William and Mary, where he was initiated into Theta Delta Chi. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University in 1969. He served in the United States Army and also taught at West Point until 1972.

That year Ellis joined the faculty at Mount Holyoke College. He is the former dean of faculty at Mount Holyoke and also served as Acting President for part of 1984 while President Elizabeth Topham Kennan was on leave.

Jefferson and Hemings

Main article: American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson

Ellis in his book American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson suggested that evidence for an affair between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings was “inconclusive”.[1] Specifically, Ellis states in the appendix to American Sphinx,

Unless the trustees of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation decide to exhume the remains and do DNA testing on Jefferson as well as some of his alleged progeny, it leaves the matter a mystery about which advocates on either side can freely speculate… This means that for those who demand an answer the only recourse is plausible conjecture, prefaced as it must be with profuse statements about the flimsy and wholly circumstantial character of the evidence. In that spirit, which we might call the spirit of responsible speculation, after five years mulling over the huge cache of evidence that does exist on the thought and character of the historical Jefferson, I have concluded that the likelihood of a liaison with Sally Hemings is remote.[2]

On November 5, 1998, Dr. Eugene Foster published an article, “Jefferson Fathered Slave’s Last Child”, in the weekly journal Nature. Foster reported that DNA testing proved that a male from the Thomas Jefferson line was the father of Sally Hemings’s son Eston. Given that, he believed that Thomas Jefferson was the father of Eston and probably Hemings’ other children.[3]

On November 2, 1998, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer featured this topic and stated, “According to an article in an upcoming issue of the journal Nature, DNA analysis shows that Jefferson almost certainly fathered at least one of Sally Hemings’ children, her last son, Eston.”[4] Ellis, who was interviewed during this broadcast, stated that he had revised his opinion due to this new evidence:

It’s not so much a change of heart, but this is really new evidence. And it—prior to this evidence, I think it was a very difficult case to know and circumstantial on both sides, and, in part, because I got it wrong, I think I want to step forward and say this new evidence constitutes, well, evidence beyond any reasonable doubt that Jefferson had a longstanding sexual relationship with Sally Hemings.[5]  …”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Ellis

His Excellency: George Washington

“…His Excellency: George Washington is a 2004 biography of the first President of the United States, General George Washington. It is written by Joseph Ellis, a professor of History at Mount Holyoke College.

Through examination of the George Washington Papers, among other sources, Ellis indicates that his purpose in writing the text was to explore Washington’s periods in order to offer a profile of the man “first in War, first in Peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” Indeed Ellis states that his goal in writing His Excellency was to produce a work that examined not George Washington’s life, but his personality and how his life shaped it.[1]

 Events and themes

In the text, Ellis focuses on three main areas of Washington’s life:

  • his military adventures during the French and Indian War
  • his generalship in the American Revolution
  • his time as the first President of the United States.

According to Ellis, Washington was always searching for a means to control his inner passions and his destiny. He fumed under the control that the British held over him during the Colonial America period. In particular, he was frustrated by the lack of respect offered for his military achievements to granting land claim rights in the west. As a general, he bemoaned the lack of control the fledgling Continental Congress had over the colonies which composed it (later as President, he created acts to ensure control of the federal government over the states).

As a man forced to make his own destiny, the theme of control would become a central issue for him. This was particularly true in the case of his beloved Mount Vernon.

 Chapters

  • Preface: The Man In The Moon
  • Chapter One: Interior Regions
  • Chapter Two: The Strenuous Squire
  • Chapter Three: First In War
  • Chapter Four: Destiny’s Child
  • Chapter Five: Introspective Interlude
  • Chapter Six: First In Peace
  • Chapter Seven: Testament

 Reviews

Gordon S. Wood of The New Republic commented that, “Everyone keeps wondering why over the past decade or so there have been so many books on the Founders, that remarkable generation of men who led the American Revolution and framed the Constitution. Joseph J. Ellis is surely one of the explanations: he has been a one-man historical machine…Ellis has entered the ranks of that tiny group of popular historians, including David McCullough, Walter Isaacson, and Ron Chernow, who sell copies of their books in the tens and even hundreds of thousands.” [2] …”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/His_Excellency:_George_Washington

How the founders differed from the English Bill of Rights

Why the US Rebelled Against England

Book Haul?

Jefferson’s best moments from John Adams

The Patriot – Battle of Guilford Courthouse

War and History, Ancient and Modern

 

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