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Public Figure Malcolm Gladwell On His Ideas And The Need To Challenge Our Own; Nick Broomfield, Explores The Troubled Relationship Between The Musician And His Muse; Pulitzer Prize-Winning Historian, David McCullough Talks To Our Walter Isaacson About The Pioneers. Aired 11-12a ET
Aired October 21, 2019 - 23:00 ET
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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." This week, we're dipping into the archives and
looking back at some of our favorite interviews from the year. Here's what's coming up.
AMANPOUR (voice over): The intellectual extraordinaire whose books have sold in the millions. Public figure Malcolm Gladwell on his ideas and the
need to challenge our own.
Then, it's one of Leonard Cohen's most iconic songs. But who was Marianne? Award-winning filmmaker, Nick Broomfield, explores the troubled
relationship between the musician and his muse.
Plus, the mid-western pioneers who helped shape the ideals of the nation. Pulitzer prize-winning historian, David McCullough talks to our Walter
Welcome to the program everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The 2020 presidential race is officially in full swing with Democrats in back-to-back TV debates for the first time. So far, they have focused less
on insulting on each other and more on actually answering tough questions about how they plan to reform things like criminal justice and education.
That is right in the wheelhouse of my first guest tonight, Malcolm Gladwell, who has been called one of the leading thinkers of our time. His
books are best sellers and they tackle the big-ticket issues facing us all.
It was Gladwell's book, "The Tipping Point," about how small ideas can lead to big shifts in human behavior that first propelled him into the public
eye back in 2000. Now, he is turning his attention to what he calls the underreported and misunderstood events that shape our societies, in his
popular pod cast, "Revisionist History," which just has started its fourth season.
A core theme of Gladwell's work is about getting us to think again about our own long held beliefs. And he joined me from New York to discuss why
he thinks that fixing inequality and education should be a top priority for today's world leaders.
Malcolm Gladwell, welcome to the program.
MALCOLM GLADWELL, HOST, "REVISIONIST HISTORY": Thank you. Happy to be here.
AMANPOUR: Well, I want to talk, first, about your podcast, which have now become perhaps as famous and listened to as your books were read,
"Revisionist history." And I want to know why you took that theme and that strand. Essentially, as you say, to re-examine things overlooked or
GLADWELL: Yes. Well, you know, it's -- I was attracted by the idea that that word is typically used in a derogatory fashion, right? You know, you
dismiss something as vicious history. So, I love rehabilitating phrases and suggesting that sometimes revisiting things can lead to good outcomes
or at least interesting outcomes.
But mostly what that -- the podcast is about is, it's you want a broad enough rubric that you can examine anything you want. And I -- each season,
I broaden the definition of whatever I want.
AMANPOUR: You take on standardized testing. I mean, now that might sound whimsical, but it's about education, which is your passion, and you
come at it from a non-American perspective. You're famously Canadian and you have different experiences.
GLADWELL: I love the phrase, "Famously Canadian."
AMANPOUR: Because you see in a "Revisionist" episode, you know, Canada is now the sort of the new sensible or, you know, in terms of what it can
tell other parts of the world, particularly your neighbor to the south. So, on education and standardized questioning, what gives?
GLADWELL: I do two episodes. The first two first episodes of this season of "Revision History" concern the LSAT. But I'm really interested in --
I'm using the LSAT as a kind of proxy for all standardized testing and have a very simple question, which is, why do they place such strict time limits
on the test? What is gained by making someone hurry through those tests?
Why am I more interested in the result of a standardized test where I make the student rush through all the questions than I would be in the result if
I gave the student the time necessary to think deeply about how to answer them appropriately, right?
So, we have a -- those tests are constructed so that you do not -- so that you are under constant time pressure. What is this theory behind the time
AMANPOUR: And what did you find out?
GLADWELL: Well, I went to the people who make the test and it turned out they don't have a terribly good explanation for why they speed them up.
And then I talked to people about who sort of think about tests conceptually and they said, well, when you place a time limit, a strict
time limit, as we do on things like the SAT or the LSAT or the GRE or any of these tests, you change the result.
So, you privilege a certain kind of thinker over another kind of thinker over another kind of thinker. And it's not clear that the people that
you're privileging are smarter or more capable than those who you are biasing the test against, you're simply arbitrarily choosing one group over
another. I call them hares and tortoises.
The person who is careful and meticulous and thoughtful and likes to read things three times and likes to make sure they don't make mistakes and is
reluctant to guess, that kind of person -- and we all know that kind of person, and they can make -- I, you know, have a little podcast company
now. I look for that kind. That's the person I want to hire, right, a thoughtful, careful, methodical person.
That person is disadvantaged by the way standardized tests are set up. The person who is advantaged is the hare. You know, ears back, racing through,
happily guessing, reads really quickly, doesn't need to digest something and think about it in order to -- before they make -- before they respond.
That person excels at standardized tests.
Why are we more interested in the hare than the tortoise? It doesn't make sense to me.
AMANPOUR: Okay. But let's face it, I mean, even a soccer game has a time limit.
AMANPOUR: But I guess the question is, have you been able to see whether there's an actual consequence, whether it's in the quality of the lawyer
after a rushed LSAT or the quality of the professionals who emerge from this very, very time constrained testing?
GLADWELL: Yes. So, we get into this in the second episode. It turns out there is vanishing little evidence that your score on the LSAT is a useful
predictor as your ability as a lawyer. In fact, there is some evidence that there may be -- that I talked to someone who had sort of -- a guy who
does data analytics for law firms, such a thing does exist. And he basically said, the relationship between both your LSAT and the quality of
law school you attended and your ability as a lawyer is essentially zero.
So, this is a useless exercise and we do it merely because we have done it for decades and we can't be bothered to re-examine our methodology.
And I think this is a powerful metaphor for what ails the American educational system, is that we are attached to a series of rituals that
have no justification and we haven't -- we just -- we don't revisit them. Why? Because I don't know. Because we're stuck in the mud? Because we're
Because we think -- because we've done it and always done it that way, that's the way we should always do it. It's baffling to me.
AMANPOUR: What would the alternative be to standardize time to LSAT, for instance?
GLADWELL: Well, I don't object to having a time limit. But I object to a time limit that makes people rush. Imagine if you were an English teacher
and you would like your students to write an essay on "Moby Dick." We have two alternatives, we could say, I would like you to write an essay on "Moby
Dick" and you have 24 hours to read "Moby Dick," or could say, read "Moby Dick," understand it, think about it, and write me an essay.
Who says -- who does the first? Who says, it is crucial that you read this in 24 hours. Right? If you asked an English professor that, they would
say, that's madness. And you know why? Because it's madness.
AMANPOUR: Yes. It's like making them -- I heard you say, it's like, you know, you wouldn't ask people to read "War and Peace" in 24 hours.
GLADWELL: No. I mean, who does this?
AMANPOUR: Yes. But let's move on to another issue of education that is very prominent. And actually, right now, we've got the American
billionaire, Steve Schwarzman of Blackstone who has, again, famously donated 150 million pounds to a specific purpose at Oxford University, to
the study of Humanities and, you know, that expands, he says, to the development of A.I. and the understanding better of how technology will
rule our world sooner rather than later.
Why not? What are your objections? Obviously, a lot of people have said this a vanity project, he just wants his name, you know, on a building. He
said that -- why did he choose Oxford having never gone there? Because he was 15 and he went there and he saw what a beautiful place it was and that
GLADWELL: Well, that's a good reason.
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, what is wrong to giving money to a prominent seat of education and learning that has a reputation for, when it can,
developing some of the most far-reaching effects on public sector and public society.
GLADWELL: Well, they already have a lot of money. I mean, it's like saying, if I go out to dinner with a billionaire, I don't pick up the check
even though that's a nice thing to do. Why? Because that person has a lot of money, right? Why would you give --
If A.I. is so crucial to the mission of education at Oxford University, they would have already done it, right? Why? Because they have a huge
amount of resources and they can anything they want.
The whole point of giving is you give money to an institution that without your gift, absent your gift, would be unable to do that truly important
So, if I were to go to a community college, somewhere in -- anywhere in the world or if I were to go to a -- to some -- you know, some college with no
money in the bank and I would have given them $150 million and say, I see you don't have books in your library, or, I see you don't have an
engineering school. It would be great if you had an engineering school, or, I see you can't afford to pay your teachers adequately, here is money.
That -- there's a return on your investment.
The return on any investment that is made in to Harvard University or Oxford University is zero, right. What -- if you give money -- Steve
Schwarzman and his ilk also love to give money to Harvard University. Harvard University has $36 billion in the bank, right. If they wanted to
spend money on something, they just go and take cash out of the bank where they have $36 billion sitting there.
AMANPOUR: But in their defense, they would say, it's not just the individual student, it's the ripple effect, it's the research, it's the
mass place in public sector and in public life ...
AMANPOUR: ... that these big research universities are responsible for.
GLADWELL: But I want to make -- because this is one of my hobby horses that the other assumption is that people who are most capable of doing high
quality research can only be found at these handful of elite universities. There's absolutely no evidence to suggest that's true.
Why does he assume that at some large public institution somewhere else in the world there are plenty of extraordinarily capable people who would
benefit enormously from having additional resources?
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you about another episode you focused on, another issue, it's kind of, I guess, education related. It's about memory. And
you have an interesting take on memory and how one should treat people who many in heightened circumstances say something, remember something and the
details turn out to be wrong, but the big story is not necessarily wrong. Dive down on that. Because I know in our business --
AMANPOUR: -- you know, journalists and politicians, they jump on anybody who makes the slightest deviation from whatever, so-called -- you know, the
GLADWELL: So, this was an episode I did last season called "Free Brian Williams." It was all about -- remember Brian Williams famously got in
trouble for telling a story about the Iraq War, about how his helicopter was shot at that turned out not to be true. And he was called a liar, he
was shamed, he had to step down from his job, et cetera. His career was derailed, et cetera, et cetera.
I think I can say this, that absolutely every memory researcher in the world, if you ask them about Brian Williams they have the same response,
they roll their eyes. Why do they roll their eyes? Because anyone who knows anything about memory knows that it is the most error ridden,
inaccurate, problematic. It is not -- our memory is not a snapshot of the experiences we live in that we retrieve when we have a memory and kind of -
Our memory is the most kind of flawed fragmentary. And when we remember something, half the time we're not remembering the original event, we are
remembering the last time we talked about the event, right? So, each time we talk about a memory, in a sense, it gets changed.
So, all of us, all the time, have memories which are fundamentally flawed which we don't realize because when -- you know, when ordinary people tell
a story about something that happened to them 20 years ago or 10 years ago, it doesn't get fact checked.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I find it really interesting because -- I mean, famously, again, Brian Williams did actually do the hard slog. He was fired, as you
say, but he went to the cable outfit and he kind of slogged his way back up and he's rehabilitated himself in a pretty extraordinary way in our medium.
Are you saying that you're trying to make a distinction between mistakes and lies and are you also saying that nothing we remember may be -- we may
be held into account for, that we could say anything and attribute to it to faulty memory?
GLADWELL: No. What I am saying is that you cannot perceive on the assumption that if someone says something that turns out to be erroneous,
they are deliberately misleading. So, if I am to say, you know, you and I met years ago. I remember it as being at, you know, my friend Bruce's
house in 2011.
You know, if there -- if I'm going to go on record at saying, I met you at my friend Bruce's house in 2011, without a certainty, I should really
pause, call up Bruce and say, did you have -- did we all meet at your house? Or was that -- or if I have -- I actually have date books, you
GLADWELL: I should check any date book and see did it actually happen in 2011? It's a very clear -- I believe, that Brian Williams was not
deliberately deceiving anyone. I think if you examine the way that faulty memories emerge and how they look, his statement about being fired on
really sounds like it falls in the category of an erroneous memory.
I only fault him in telling a story without pausing and checking with other people to make sure it's true. In other words, he should be aware as a
professional journalist, that his own memory, like all of us, like of our memories, is flawed. And I think he has now learned that lesson. But all
of us should learn from that and be a little more cautious both in how we state memories and how we make sense of others.
AMANPOUR: It's really an interesting way to look at this actually because it's quite fundamental to the whole construct, the whole debate that
President Trump has created around facts and fake and all the rest of it.
GLADWELL: Yes. Well, I just wanted to say with Trump, I actually think that a lot of his falsehoods are not deliberate in the sense that I think
he honestly believes they are true. But I think his sin is one of laziness, right? He is unwilling to go back and check the original fact or
source the fact is lodged in his head or I don't think he, you know, thinks the -- thinks X and is deliberately saying Y.
I think -- you know, I think that he is completely blissfully unaware of the fact of much of what comes out of his mouth is not true.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, finally, you are a runner. You have an event that you focus on, which is The Mile. And I just want to know how that
plays into your life, how it plays into the way you think, you know, this sort of individualism, some say the loneliness of the long-distance runner.
Tell me how it affects you and your thinking, if at all.
GLADWELL: I don't know. That's an interesting question. I mean, I suppose, yes, runners are -- as a group, tend to be kind of introverted, a
little bit delightfully nerdy. We spend a lot of time with our own thoughts. If you think about, you know, going -- people who will routinely
go out and run for an hour or hour and a half, that's actually a lot of time to be alone with yourself.
Particularly now. You know, not in the 19th Century, but in the 21st Century, an hour and a half all by yourself, in silence, essentially, just
thinking thoughts is highly unusual. So, running -- and I find that alone time to be extraordinarily useful in my work because I think good work
requires some degree of reflection.
AMANPOUR: Well, you know what, on that note, thank you so much, Malcolm Gladwell. It's always a pleasure.
GLADWELL: No, not at all. Always a pleasure. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Reflection and memory comes in all shape and sizes. And around the world, Leonard Cohen is considered music royalty, with hits like
"Hallelujah," "Suzanne" and "So Long Marianne," which continue to capture new generations.
But how did Leonard Cohen become the musician the world knows and loves? Nick Broomfield is the award-winning director who set out to answer that
very question. Over the years, Broomfield has turned his lens on cultural icons like Kurt Cobain, Tupac Shakur and Whitney Houston.
And now, in his new film, "Marianne And Leonard: Words of Love," he examines and reflects on the all-consuming and often complicated
relationship between Cohen and his muse, Marianne Ihlen, who was the inspiration behind the music and, of course, this iconic ballad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEONARD COHEN, SINGER: Now, so long, Marianne. It's time we began to laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And what makes this story perhaps even more poignant and interesting is that Marianne also had a relationship with Nick and inspired
him to make his first film. So, while this is a story about a brilliant male superstar, it is also about a great woman who was a muse like very few
Nick Broomfield, welcome to the program.
NICK BROOMFIELD, DIRECTOR, "MARIANNE AND LEONARD": Thank you.
AMANPOUR: What drew you to this subject, to Leonard and Marianne and words of love, particularly?
BROOMFIELD: It's definitely the most personal film I've done. When I was 20, I happened to go to Idra, this idyllic island in Greece, and I met
Marianne. I was pretty lost 20-year-old, just started university, studying law and Marianne kind of completely opened my eyes to this whole other
AMANPOUR: So, when you met her, did you know she was the Marianne of Leonard Cohen?
BROOMFIELD: Well, at that time, I had never heard of Leonard Cohen or Marianne or never heard the song. So, I just so saw this incredibly
beautiful Norwegian woman who was several years older than me and I was like, wow. This is -- heaven has landed, kind of thing.
But we had a sort of enduring friendship and she encouraged me very much to make my first film and had a very big influence, really, on my future. And
when she and Leonard died three months apart, I was -- well, they were such a big fixture, I think, and I think Leonard's work has resonated with so
many people that I've just felt I wanted to revisit that time.
AMANPOUR: You know, people will be fascinated because everything Leonard Cohen seems to fascinate people and he did have that massive revival of his
own career before he died and he went on tour and suddenly, a whole another generation got to learn about Leonard Cohen.
How did Leonard Cohen become Leonard Cohen under Marianne's tutelage? How did this kind of geeky guy who was getting by on maybe books and -- or not
getting by, turn up on the Greek Island of Idra and return a major recording star?
BROOMFIELD: Well, I think Idra is very, very beautiful. And Leonard, I think, bought a house for $1,500.00 and could live there for virtually
nothing. So, people were able to explore their art. And I think he and Marianne met very early on.
Marianne's first marriage had split up. And I think Leonard very much befriended her and was looking after, helping and being a father to her
young son, Axel.
AMANPOUR: I want to play a little clip. I mean, it's much later. It's Leonard Cohen bald and perhaps during one of his monastery periods and he
is talking about love. And I want to play it because you are talking about love. "Words of Love," is the title of your film and then we'll talk about
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COHEN: The love is that activity that makes the power of a man and woman, that incorporates it into your own heart, where you can embody man and
woman. When you can embody hell and heaven. When you can reconcile and contain. When man and woman becomes your content.
In other words, when your woman becomes your own content and you become her content. That's love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: She clearly was, to an extent, his content, right? He wrote so much --
AMANPOUR: -- about their relationship.
BROOMFIELD: Yes. And I think they didn't have the conventional chocolate box kind of love. I think they had an enduring love that went for many,
many years. And if you remember, Leonard wrote that beautiful message to Marianne when she was dying, which clearly meant so much to her.
AMANPOUR: Well, I'm going to have you read this because -- if you don't mind.
BROOMFIELD: Okay. I mean, this is a great man's work. So, "Well, Marianne, it's come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies
are falling apart. And I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can
"And you know that I've always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom, but I don't need to say anything more about that because you know all about
that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye, old friend, endless love. See you down the road."
I mean, I think, you know, you want to hear Leonard reading that rather than me reading it. I feel, you know --
AMANPOUR: Uncharacteristically, shy.
BROOMFIELD: Well, I feel very -- yes, of course, humbled by -- I mean, I think it's such a beautifully written piece of precisely enduring love and
friendship. And I think when you see the scene of that letter being read to Marianne as she is lying on her bed, you also reflect on your own life
and your own loves. And I think it takes on a very deep meaning for anyone seeing it.
AMANPOUR: Because even though they've maintained this lifelong friendship after they were no longer lovers, it had been quite hard for her, right? I
mean, suddenly --
AMANPOUR: -- here is this guy who, you know, she sort of directed into what became massive global stardom, women hurling themselves at him. Him
having loads of affairs but also, trying to keep her close. Just describe what became of her as their relationship progressed and his career
AMANPOUR: Now, I think it was -- yes, it's painful for Marianne. I mean, I met Marianne in the period where Leonard was in New York. Because I was
on Idra in '68 and I think his first album came out in '67. And it was, obviously, a very difficult time for Marianne. She was alone. She had her
eight-year-old with her, and I think she pursued him or went to New York.
AMANPOUR: Because he called her.
BROOMFIELD: He called her and -- yes, exactly. And his life had, in a sense, moved on. You know, he was living in the Chelsea Hotel and it was a
very different life to living on Idra.
AMANPOUR: So, you say that you visited her there but she had come to visit you in Cardiff, when you were working there.
AMANPOUR: And there is a clip, which I'm going to play, about you narrating these pictures and about her in Cardiff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROOMFIELD (voice over): Marianne came and visited me in Cardiff where I was student living down by the docks. I was concerned she might get bored
but Marianne was naturally interested in everyone. She regarded being receptive and open as the highest of qualities.
Marianne made friends with all the kids in the street who followed her around all day. And she encouraged me to make my very first film on slum
clearance, as the whole community was being torn down.
Marianne liked to throw the I Ching every day and get stoned. She talked about Leonard a lot. His favorite meat sandwich shop in Piccadilly, his
spiritual search, even dabbling in scientology and est.
Marianne, too, was on her own spiritual search and Leonard, was in many ways, was her teacher.
One day she asked me to drive her to Bath. She said she was pregnant with Leonard's child.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, that's pretty startling admission to you. What happened? Were you surprised when she said that to you?
BROOMFIELD: Well, I was. And you know, obviously, I felt a very sad moment and that must have been a very big moment, I guess, in Marianne's life, you
AMANPOUR: I mean, she didn't keep this child?
BROOMFIELD: She didn't. No, she didn't. And I think -- yes. And I think it was a source of great unhappiness for her. But she was also, you know,
a very proud and dignified person. I guess she felt that that is not something he wanted.
AMANPOUR: You say she was your muse, to an extent. Were you guys lovers?
BROOMFIELD: We were lovers, yes. But I feel that I was a sort of passing lover. I think her real love was always very much Leonard, right the way
through her life. And I think she had a special place in his heart, too.
AMANPOUR: As proven by that letter.
BROOMFIELD: That's proven by the letter.
AMANPOUR: And then he died several months after her.
BROOMFIELD: Yes, exactly. Exactly.
AMANPOUR: The whole trajectory --
BROOMFIELD: Yes. So, it's a very unconventional love, you know. But I think we all have those kinds of loves and relationships in our lives that
aren't sort of textbook loves, but are deep.
And I think making the film made me very much reflect on so many friends that I've sort of almost semi lost touch with that, you know, in our busy
little lives we do things that probably aren't as important as reflecting on some of our friendships. So --
AMANPOUR: Is that kind of what lead you to do this? Because it's quite different in tone from some of the other films you've done.
AMANPOUR: You've done a lot of films about music and musicians. Some of which have gotten you into trouble, and we'll talk about that. You've done
films about, you know, murder as well. This one was particularly sweet. Is it because you're an older Nick Broomfield, you are reflecting on
friendships and love? Is it -- are you changing the way you look at the world?
BROOMFIELD: Well, I think it certainly made me reflect on a very personal time in my life, much more so than most. Most of my other subjects were
about subjects, they were sort of out there. And what I've noticed with people seeing this film is they have very intimate conversations with me
afterwards because I think it reminds them of their own loves.
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, literally it is a bit of whiplash now because the next clip I'm going it play is from the film you did on the U.S. serial
killer, the woman, Aileen Wuornos.
AMANPOUR: She was on death row. You saw her even just before she was killed. And she insisted on saying this to you. It was about her, you
know, trying to tell you that her claim of self-defense was a lie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROOMFIELD: I heard, you know, that you just couldn't stand being on death row after 12 years.
AILEEN WUORNOS, SERIAL KILLER: Nick, and this is the last time I'm going to say it. You have to kill Aileen Wuornos because she'll kill again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What did you take from that? I mean this woman telling you that I have to be killed.
BROOMFIELD: Well, I do think it was -- the film basically investigates that statement and I think Aileen was an incredible victim herself if you
look at her life. She was abused by both her grandfather and her brother and all his friends from pretty much the age of nine.
And she was living almost like a sort of feral animal in the woods and was a truant from school and I think Aileen was having a terrible time in
I think, you know, being so-called America's first female serial killer was not an enviable position and prison guards hated her. And I think she was
very much losing her mind.
She felt that her mind was being controlled by radio waves coming in. You know, this kind of thing. So, you know, it was a complex study, really, of
someone who I think wanted to be executed by the end.
AMANPOUR: And why do you think she liked you so much and bonded and gave you so much?
BROOMFIELD: You know, I don't know. I mean sometimes there's just a connection. And after I made the first film, I think it was a 14-year
period before she was executed. She would write me these incredibly long letters with lots of drawings and stuff on them and I would send back a
miserable postcard. But there was a real element of trust between us.
AMANPOUR: You've got unlikely reactions from quite a lot of your movies because you do put yourself into them quite prominently, whether it's "Kurt
& Courtney." She got the film pulled before it was released in Sundance. She was mad at you. And we'll talk about that in a second. Lily Tomlin
sued you because, apparently, you were going to do a spoiler alert on her stand up.
And, of course, you did the film on Biggie and Tupac and that got a little bit of pushback, too.
What is it about you and about the films and the stories that you tell that really gets these subjects or their families or their estates angry?
BROOMFIELD: Well, I think I've tended to do unauthorized stories. I think it's very difficult to do an authorized story that is the way you want to
tell the story.
And I think with "Kurt & Courtney," that was a great story to tell but it certainly wasn't one that anybody seemed to want to have told.
AMANPOUR: Which is the one that you wanted to tell?
BROOMFIELD: Well, it started off as a portrait really of Kurt, his musical influences. And then the more Courtney tried to close it down --
AMANPOUR: And she wouldn't let you use any of the music.
BROOMFIELD: She wouldn't. And so it became about these attempts to close the film down. It really became more a film about freedom of the press and
freedom of speech which was being defined by Courtney. I mean she was really defining the film.
AMANPOUR: We've got another clip which actually goes to the heart of what you're saying. It's about, you know, impinging on freedom of expression.
And this is an ACLU meeting.
BROOMFIELD: Oh, my goodness.
AMANPOUR: Or an awards benefit and she's there because she's friends with the head of the ACLU and she's being lauded by this guy and you take
exception to that. And somehow you get yourself on the podium behind the mic and you're basically speaking up against Courtney Love. Let's just
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROOMFIELD: In the interest of prestige, I wanted to ask a couple of questions. I think Courtney would always have a problem distinguishing
reality from death or image, and unless it is considered appropriate behavior to threaten or cajole or manipulate journalists, esteemed
journalists who have written matching reviews. I find it a strange decision on the part of the ACLU to choose Courtney Love as a special guest
As for Courtney Love, I would like to just ask what you feel if I were to - -
BROOMFIELD (voice over): That's the president of the ACLU you can hear shouting. He is a good friend of Courtney's. This clearly wasn't going to
be my entry into the world of after dinner speakers. But I also wanted what kinds of things might be done to try and control this film in the
future and thought maybe I'd record as a kind of epilogue any such attempts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What do you think all these years later seeing that?
BROOMFIELD: I just felt that this was such a ridiculous Hollywood moment where they were so caught up in the celebrity of the moment that the fact
that I think it was, you know, Lynn Herzberg was almost bludgeoned with Quentin Tarantino's Oscar by Courtney, that it was appropriate to have her
as his guest of honor presenting the Torch of Freedom Award.
I thought this is so ridiculous. One has to do a bit of agitprop to point this out.
AMANPOUR: And did you get any pushback? I mean --
BROOMFIELD: Well, I did. My agent -- my own agent was just -- he was telling me about this lunatic who had gone up. And I said it was me, Dan.
It was me. He said, no. How on earth am I going to get you a job when you behave like -- so I got a lot of pushback.
AMANPOUR: Have you ever been nervous, afraid of any of the subjects that you've chosen to focus on and, you know, some of them have been quite
BROOMFIELD: The most frightened I ever got was when I was doing a film about Margaret Thatcher and I was looking into her son's illegal arms
And we suddenly realized we were being followed by some Secret Service group or another. And, you know, I really felt we were on the parameters
of the law, as you know it. And you're suddenly outside the regular police force.
And I think we all slept, the whole crew slept in the same hotel room that night. That was the most frightened that I've been.
AMANPOUR: And I thought it was kind of interesting that I think you have an uncle who was a cameraman back in the day and he was working with the
great -- now great David Attenboroug.
AMANPOUR: Just tell me about that because he's so inspiring. I find him so inspiring.
BROOMFIELD: Well, he was called Uncle Chunk. He is still alive. He lives in Mauritius now. Incredibly, sort of modest guy who always did the most
dangerous things. He had a little wind-up camera and he and David used to literally put a rucksack on their back and just disappear for six months at
a time and get all these exotic animals and did those early programs.
And I always thought wow this is the life for me. This is so wonderful. And they came back with so many different stories and blowpipes and masks.
AMANPOUR: And diseases, malaria.
BROOMFIELD: Yes, of course.
AMANPOUR: What sticks for you?
BROOMFIELD: I'm not sure. I just did a film about my father, which will coincide with an exhibition at the VNA. He was an industrial photographer.
Sort of had different views of photography and film to myself.
So we were very close but, also, I think, you know, his work was beautifully crafted, incredibly lit and he had enormous respect for the
worker because he grew up in factories. And I think he regarded my work as much too bit slapdash, a bit too confrontational.
So we went through a difficult period, but I think we had a wonderful relationship, really. It's partly about that.
AMANPOUR: Look forward to that and, of course, to "Leonard & Marianne, Words of Love" which is out in the next few weeks. Thanks.
BROOMFIELD: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And isn't inspiration what we're all looking for? We turn now from that groundbreaking musician to the early pioneers of America's
It's a focus of the new book by the Pulitzer-Prize winning historian David McCullough. And it's called "The Pioneers, The Heroic Story of the
Settlers Who Brought The American Ideal West".
It documents the figures who overcame incredible hardships to build a community that was based on freedom of religion, free universal education,
and the prohibition of slavery.
Walter Isaacson began by reading McCullough the opening sentence from his latest work about the crucial role of a Massachusetts' Reverend.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
WALTER ISAACSON, CONTRIBUTOR: I'm going to read the opening sentence of this book, "The Pioneers" because it's amazing to me.
"It's never before as he knew had any of his countrymen set off to accomplish anything like what he had agreed to undertake. A mission that
should he succeed would change the course of history."
I think it's impossible not to keep reading. What was that mission?
DAVID MCCULLOUGH, HISTORIAN AND AUTHOR, THE PIONEERS: To create what was called a northwest territory, which is that territory ceded to us by the
British after the end of the revolution, which would eventually include five states Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, an area that
was all still wilderness and would double the size of our country.
MCCULLOUGH: The Ohio Company which it was called, which was hatched in the old bunch of raves tavern in Boston by veterans of the revolution. It was
to create a new America in effect out there, which would be based on four fundamental precepts, four fundamental objectives.
One, that there would be complete freedom of religion. Two, that the native peoples living there would be treated with respect and faith in
Three, that there would be public education for everybody starting at grade school all the way through college. No state had anything remotely close
to that. And of course, it turned out to be the birthplace of all of our state universities.
And fourth, and most important of all, most radical of all, there would be no slavery. This man who is starting it up was determined that the idea of
all men are created equal, would not just be words on paper but would be in fact part of American life, that there would be no slavery in that huge new
empire, as it were.
ISAACSON: This is Manasseh Cutler.
MCCULLOUGH: Manasseh Cutler who was a classic like your Ben Franklin, 18th century polymath, who was a doctor of law, a doctor of divinity, and a
doctor of medicine -- all three at once.
And probably because he was a Minister and probably because he was, therefore, completely trustworthy and rightly so, he succeeded. He got it
through -- through Congress.
And as a consequence, slavery would not be permitted in this new empire. Up until a point when after years later when Jefferson became President,
there was a big movement to end that rule and to admit slaves.
ISAACSON: Getting to the slavery thing, Jefferson is an interesting figure here because he's in favor at first in the northwest ordinance of keeping
slavery out. And he wrote that sentence. You know, we hold these truths to be self-evident but he backslides.
MCCULLOUGH: Yes, he did. He said it wouldn't be good for his political standing back home if he voted for it. Also, he was leaving to become our
representative, our Ambassador to France.
So he had that much on his mind. He was going out and leaving the stage, as it were.
ISAACSON: How do we judge from today these people of the past like a Jefferson who is a larger than life character in the formation of our
values and yet has this thing where it just is so, you know, bad in our current light that he keeps arguing for slavery?
MCCULLOUGH: History is human. You know that as well as I do. It's about people.
And many of the great figures of history of the civilization have been often quite imperfect. And -- but that doesn't mean what they accomplished
wasn't important or valuable or admirable.
Jefferson was a brilliant architect. If he had been nothing but an architect, he would be someone we should know about.
But my feeling strongly now, I think it's one of the motivations that drove me in writing this book is that we have heroes all through our history who
have never been given the light that they deserve. Never been brought on stage or brought to center stage.
These are all people -- the people that figure in my new book are people you've never heard of.
ISAACSON: This is in Marietta, Ohio?
MCCULLOUGH: In Marietta, Ohio. Marietta, Ohio was the first legal settlement in all of the Northwest Territory. The white men and women in
that territory were either hunters or trappers or squatters.
They're there legally. And they're there because they're being compensated as veterans for how they've been paid for their service to the country,
which was in what was called scrip and it was virtually worthless. Ten cents on the dollar.
MCCULLOUGH: So everybody was saying here is this land which you can have by very inexpensive price, where the topsoil is five feet deep, where
there's every kind of tree from which you can make boats or anything else you want to build or make.
And they were going build boats because it was on the Ohio River. They were going to take it down Ohio to the Mississippi, down the Mississippi to
New Orleans, and out to sea.
And nobody had had the imagination to realize this was going to be possible. The river isn't the heart of the story.
When they decided to create this new settlement and the juncture of the Ohio in Muskego which is about 90 miles downstream on Ohio from Pittsburgh
where Ohio begins. A beautiful location, and still is absolutely stunning. One of the most beautiful locations in our whole country.
They named it for Marie Antoinette -- so Marietta because they felt that she, as much as Ben Franklin, maybe more, they felt, had brought France in
to help us win the war. And of course, we wouldn't have won the war without the help of the French. Not just with money but with military
And so as a tribute to France and then they set about to create this ideal community and they did.
ISAACSON: It was Manasseh Cutler who help get the ordinance --
ISAACSON: -- passed. His son who helps found Marietta, these are sort of the unsung heroes --
MCCULLOUGH: Right. Rufus Putnam --
ISAACSON: -- that you're writing about. Were they doing it mainly as a commercial enterprise?
ISAACSON: Or mainly as an errand into the wilderness?
MCCULLOUGH: Absolutely not. No, they were not doing this to get rich or to get famous or to have a lot of possessions. They were doing it to create
what they hoped would be an ideal community and to be sure, essentially a New England community and essentially a New England community which was
based on the puritan traditions.
ISAACSON: One of the core values of the northwest ordinance and of this group, besides eliminating slavery, was to live in peace and harmony with
the Native Americans.
ISAACSON: And the Indians there.
ISAACSON: They fail at that
MCCULLOUGH: Well, they themselves didn't fail at that, but the white settlers that came after them and to some extent some of their own people,
to be sure, failed. But Rufus Putnam who was the leader, he was really the man that made it happen.
He stuck to the principle as best he possibly could. When this warfare began in 1891, there was never any attack on Marietta because they had
respect that the native tribes had for Rufus Putnam and his integrity.
ISAACSON: Well, to some extent in the book, you call these people the settlers. But of course, it wasn't a real wilderness that hadn't been
settled. There was a flourishing civilization back 2,000 years really, right, which you talk about the mounds of the Native Americans.
MCCULLOUGH: Yes. And dated back to maybe 1000 B.C. And one of the things that Rufus Putnam did was to make sure that that property, 90 acres would
not be molested and changed.
So he made that where the mound is about 30 feet high. He made a graveyard for people who were living there then and would die there and be buried
there, including Rufus Putnam. In that way, it would be saved and it is still there. It's a treasure.
ISAACSON: You have some of the settlers here. You quote them as calling the Indians savages.
ISAACSON: And even you mentioned that a couple of times. And yet there's a guy, Hara Sny (ph) who is one of the settlers who says maybe we're the
MCCULLOUGH: Oh, absolutely.
ISAACSON: Could you have done more or try to find more to see it in the other direction of what the Native Americans may have thought about people
taking their land?
MCCULLOUGH: Well, I think -- I would like to think I've included everything that related to my story, to my characters. I wanted to see
things through their eyes.
MCCULLOUGH: And they didn't call them Native Americans, for example. They called them Indians or they talked of the tribes. I think one of the
things that most people don't understand is how many different tribes there were and how they weren't the same. They weren't all the same.
And I think one of the most telling examples of all this empathy for the Native Americans among several of them, five characters who were the
principal subject of my book is that when Samuel Hildreth, Dr. Hildreth went to speak before a medical convention in Cleveland about 1831, I think
it was, he in effect delivered what was a hymn to the vanished wilderness by then, vanished and to the original occupants that once occupied that
ISAACSON: And do you understand the criticism now that some of the Native Americans have felt about that? Or do you think that's sort of --
MCCULLOUGH: I don't know that they felt criticized, besides, I know some of them. It's garbage to feel that way, but I hope that he would know that
I'm all for what they're doing. I'm all for anything they can do.
One of the things we don't have is the letters and diaries and memoirs written by the Native Americans. We don't even have a picture. We don't
even know what Blue Jacket, one of the key figures in this drama, we don't even know what he looked like.
And one of the thrills of this collection that I had elected somewhat is that there is an oil portrait of each of the five characters and all were
living -- they are playing out their roles in life before photography had been invented. Otherwise, I would have to try to suppose from descriptions
written about them what they look like.
ISAACSON: You started your career as a journalist. To what extent do you bring your journalistic skills to writing a book?
MCCULLOUGH: I never imagined I would be writing history. I don't know about you. I never imagined I would be writing a biography. But I was
working for the USIA during the Kennedy years and I went up to the Library of Congress to look for some material, I was editing -- the editor of "Life
Magazine," style magazine. These are a lot of pictures.
I came in one day in a big table that spread out, photographs taken by a photographer who got over the mountains down south within a few days after
the terrible flood there. And I couldn't believe what I saw.
And when I saw in the photographs, I thought whoa how in the hell did that ever happen? And I got going on reading about it and I realized I love
doing this. This is what I'm going to do from now on.
ISAACSON: You talk about the values of decency, caring about community and neighbors that were part of the founding. You do that in all your earlier
books and then here with the westward expansion of America.
So you look at our leadership today. And you keep talking about humility.
MCCULLOUGH: Yes, right.
ISAACSON: Not bragging, having the basic values of Kennedy. Do you think we've really lost that in Washington? And what should people do?
MCCULLOUGH: They should straighten up and look back at the values that they were brought up with, that were taught in school, the lessons of
Many of our finest Presidents have been historians as well as political leaders. I think history should be required if, for no other reason, that
young people should realize, if they don't already, that some things in life are required.
And one of them is to be honest and truthful and decent to your fellow citizens and helpful to the needy. Treating everybody alike. Recognizing
that it's from immigrants that so much of what we've achieved in this country has happened because of a genius of people who have come into this
country from elsewhere.
ISAACSON: Throughout your career, you've had a really important partner, your wife. And I've watched her influence on you. Tell me a story about
MCCULLOUGH: She was reading my book about Theodore Roosevelt when he was on horseback aloud to me. We were making changes and so forth.
And we got to a point near the end of the book and she was reading aloud and she stopped and said there's something wrong with that sentence. And
said, I don't want to hear it. Well, read it again. She read it again. And she said something is wrong with that sentence. I said no, there
isn't. Give me that.
MCCULLOUGH: So I took it from her, and I read it aloud to her and she said -- there's something wrong with that sentence. I said, forget it. We'll
move on. So we moved on. Finished the book. Sent it to the publisher.
The book was published and it got a very favorable review in the "New York Review of Books" by Gore Vidal. And he said, sometimes, however, Mr.
McCullough doesn't write very well. Consider this sentence.
ISAACSON: Well, it's probably worth it to have that badge of honor because you got a good story out of it.
MCCULLOUGH: Yes. Thank you.
ISAACSON: David, thank you for being with us.
MCCULLOUGH: Walter, thank you for including me.
AMANPOUR: That's it for now. Thanks for watching this Special Edition. Remember you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at
amanpour.com. And you can follow on Instagram and Twitter.
Goodbye from London.