David Remnick

  • Aired:  05/07/14
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David Remnick describes "The 40s" and The New Yorker's evolution from a comedy magazine to a groundbreaking source of investigative journalism. (5:57)

>> WELCOME BACK, EVERYBODY,MY GUEST TONIGHT SAY

RENOWNED JOURNALIST WHO HASA NEW COLLECTION OF NEW

YORKER PIECES FROM THE1940s.

PREVIOUSLY ONLY AVAILABLE INTHE WAITING ROOM OF A

90-YEAR-OLD DENTIST.

PLEASE WELCOME DAVID REMNICK.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)THANKS SO MUCH FOR COMING

ON.

I HAVE TO GET RID OF THESENEW YORKERS, THEY STACK UP

AFTER A WHILE.

THANKS FOR COMING ON, WEHAVE MET BEFORE, I HAVE

NEVER HAD YOU DOWN FOR ANINTERVIEW.

NICE TO FINALLY HAVE YOUHERE.

>> GREAT TO BE HERE.

>> Stephen: EDITOR OF "THENEW YORKER" SINCE 1998 ALSO

A PULITZER PRIZE WINNINGAUTHOR OF LENINS TOMB, HAVE

WRITTEN OVER A HUNDRED ARTICLESFOR YOUR OWN MAGAZINE, YOU

MUST KNOW SOMEBODY.

AND YOU'RE THE AUTHOR-- NOTTHE AUTHOR, YOU'RE HERE WITH

A NEW BOOK CALLED THE 40s.

THE STORY OF A DECADE.

AND THESE ARE SOME OF THEBEST ARTICLES FROM THE 1940S.

>> IT WAS A TIME WHEN "THENEW YORKER" GREW UP WITH THE

COUNTRY, THE MAGAZINE WAS AKIND OF COMIC LIGHT MAGAZINE

OF THE JAZZ AGE AND SUDDENLYWITH THE ARRIVAL OF THE WAR,

THE MAGAZINE REALLY GREW UP.

IT WAS KIND THE BIRTH OF ALITERARY JOURNALISM BOTH AT

WAR AND AT HOME AFTERWARDSAS THE NATION BECAME THIS

KIND OF SINGULAR POWERDURING THE START OF THE

AMERICAN CENTURY.

>> Stephen: WHAT WAS THEMOST OBVIOUS CHANGE TO THE

MAGAZINE?

WERE ALL THE DOGPSYCHIATRISTS OVERSEAS

FIGHTING HITLER.

>> YEAH, THEY WERE ON EYEDESERT ISLAND, IN THE SAME

CARTOON.

I THINK IT WAS AN AMAZINGTHING, THE IDEA THAT YOU

WOULD SEND A JOURNALIST TOJAPAN, A JOURNALIST AND

MAYBE EVERYBODY HERE HASREAD THIS IN HIGH SCHOOL.

>> Stephen: IN 1946.

>> THAT'S RIGHT.

AND THAT WAS CONSIDERED INSOME WAYS AN INCREDIBLY BOLD

THING TO DO.

BUT EVEN SUBVERSIVE TOREPORT ON THE FALLEN ENEMY

IN BASICALLY SYMPATHETICTERMS AND SEE WHAT THE

EFFECT OF AN ATOMIC BOMB HADBEEN ON THIS ISLAND.

>> Stephen: SO "THE NEWYORKER" SENT SOMEBODY TO

HIROSHIMA IN '46 TO REPORTFROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF

THE PEOPLE THAT GOT BOMBED.

>> EXACTLY.

>> Stephen: THAT WASN'T SEENAS TREASONIST.

>> THIS ARTICLE WHICH TOOKUP THE ENTIRE ISSUE OF "THE

NEW YORKER", NO CARTOONS,JUST FROM BEGINNING TO END WAS

SUCH A SENSATION THAT IT WASREAD OVER THE RADIO, ARMED

THE WORLD AND TRANSLATEDINTO MANY, MANY LANGUAGES

AND IT BECAME, YOU KNOW, ASTAPLE OF HIGH-SCHOOL

STUDENTS EVERYWHERE.

>> Stephen: I NEVER READ THEARTICLE.

GIVE ME A PREVIEW, DID THEJAPANESE LIKE IT?

>> THEY DID NOT SO MUCH.

>> Stephen: THE UNITEDSTATES DID IT SO IT HAD TO

BE THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

>> THAT HAS A CERTAIN LOGIC.

>> Stephen: WHY WAS THEREANYONE LEFT TO WORK ON "THE

NEW YORKER"?

WHY WASN'T EVERY SINGLEPERSON IN THE 1940s OFF

FIGHTING.

>> GOOD POINT.

FOR THE FIRST TIME "THE NEWYORKER" REALLY HAD MANY MORE

WOMEN ON ITS STAFF BECAUSETHERE WERE SO MANY STAFF

WRITERS AND EDITORS WHO HADGONE OFF IN UNIFORM TO

EUROPE AND TO ASIA.

>> AS "THE NEW YORKER"CHANGED FROM A COMEDY

MAGAZINE IN THE 1920s AND1930s INTO WHAT IT BECAME

WHICH WAS SORT OF A-- REALLYJOURNALISM IN THE 1940s,

WERE THERE PEOPLE THAT Y'ALLREJECTED THAT LATER YOU SAID

BOY, WE WERE DUMB.

>> YEAH, I MEAN NO MAGAZINECAN GET EVERYBODY.

SO A POET LIKE ELIZABETHBISHOP FLOURISHED IN "THE

NEW YORKER".

AND WE MISSED THE BOAT ONSOMEBODY LIKE WALLACE STEVENS

AND IT IS INEVITABLE THAT AMAGAZINE IS GOING TO DO

THIS.

AND IT'S GOING TO SET THETONE OF THE MAGAZINE, NOT

ONLY WHO YOU ARE RIGHTABOUT, AND SOMETIMES WHO YOU

ARE WRONG ABOUT.

>> Stephen: NOW YOU, AS ISAID YOU WON A PULITZER

PRIZE FOR YOUR BOOK LENIN'STOMB.

YOU KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT THERUSSIANS AND THE RUSSIAN

MIND.

>> YEAH.

THINGS ARE GOING GREAT.

>> Stephen: OKAY.

I-- I'M WORRIED ABOUT THEUKRAINE.

ALL RIGHT.

WHY AM I WORRIED?

>> AND HOW MUCH LONGER AM IGOING TO HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT

IT, BECAUSE RIGHT NOW I'MJUST WAITING THROUGH AN

OMELET OF CONSONANTS WITHEVERY WORD IT WAS BAD ENOUGH

TO MEMORIZE THE ABU, BINLADEN OR WHATEVER.

AT LEAST THAT IS LANGUAGEHAS SOME [BLEEP] VOWELS IN

IT.

>> Stephen: IT'S A CONSONANTHEAVY DIET OVER THERE.

LET'S BIND THEM UP A BIT,THEY SHOULD GET A CELL

PHONE.

THAT IS THE CENTER OF THECONTROVERSY, IT A DISASTER.

THERE MIGHT BE A CIVIL WARIN UKRAINE IF WE DON'T WATCH

OUT.

THERE MIGHT BE A-- .

>> Stephen: IS IT REALLY ACIVIL WAR OR A WAR BETWEEN

RUSSIA AND UKRAINE.

>> A CIVIL WAR IN MY VIEWTHAT IS BEING PROVOKED BY

RUSSIA.

THERE IS BLAME TO GO ALLAROUND.

EVERYBODY HAS MISHANDLEDTHIS BUT AT THE CENTER OF

THIS, THE REAL CULPRIT OFWHY WE ARE IN THIS TERRIBLY

DANGEROUS SPOT IS VLADIMIRPUTIN.

VLADIMIR PUTIN.

>> Stephen: HE IS A STRONGLEADER.

YOU HAVE TO RESPECT THAT.

>> YES, HE SHOWS HISMUSCLE.

>> Stephen: YES, HE DOES.

>> HE DOES SHOW HIS MUSCLE.

>> Stephen: HE TAKES HISSHIRT OFF.

HE HAS BEEN TAKING HIS SHIRTOFF FOR A LONG TIME.

WHEN WILL WE KNOW THINGS AREGETTING REALLY DANGEROUS,

WHEN HE TAKES HIS PANTS OFF?

>> YOU KNOW, FOR MANYREASONS I'M PRAYING HE KEEPS

HIS PANTS ON.

I THINK THAT WOULD BE BETTERFOR THE WORLD.

>> Stephen: DO THE RUSSIANPEOPLE LIKE THIS?

>> UNFORTUNATELY, YES, HISAPPROVAL RATING IS IN THE

80s.

>> Stephen: DO YOU THINK HEDID THIS FOR APPROVAL

RATINGS?

>> YES.

>> Stephen: BECAUSE HE COULDHAVE JUST GONE ON "BETWEEN

TWO FERNS" AND TAKEN CARE OFIT THAT WAY.

>> YES, YEAH.

THAT WOULD HAVE WORKED.

>> Stephen: DAVID, THANK YOUSO MUCH FOR JOINING ME.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)DAVID REMNICK, "THE NEW

YORKER".

THE 40s.

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.

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