Free Forum Q&A- Philip Caputo, Author of The Longest Road: Overland from Key West to the Arctic Ocean in Search of What Holds America TogetherWritten on September 24th, 2013
Standing on an island off the Alaskan coast, PHILIP CAPUTO marveled that Inupiat Eskimo schoolchildren pledge allegiance to the same flag as the children of Cuban immigrants in Key West, six thousand miles away. And a question began to take shape: How does the United States, peopled by every race on earth, remain united?
CAPUTO resolved to drive from the nation’s southernmost point to the northernmost point reachable by road, talking to everyday Americans about their lives.
Fourteen years later, nearing 70, CAPUTO, his wife, and their two dogs drove a truck and an Airstream trailer from Key West, Florida, to Deadhorse, Alaska, covering 16,000 miles. They avoided interstates, and invited conversations with Americans you meet when you avoid interstates. Somewhere in many of those conversations, Caputo would ask two questions: What holds a country as vast and diverse as the United States together? Was it holding together as well as it once did?
This week’s show is about a Los Angeles institution and source of local pride, nurtured to greatness as a family-owned business, purchased by someone from out-of-town who knew little about the business, put up little of his own money, and ran the property into the ground so that it is now a shell of its former self. And many customers have reacted by not buying the product.
No, we’re not talking about the Dodgers, but the Los Angeles Times.
After buying Times Mirror, The Tribune Company sent JAMES O’SHEA to LA to run the Times. Sam Zell bought the Tribune Company in a deal that even I – no financial expert – thought was both bad and doomed, and soon the Tribune Company was in bankruptcy where it remains.
O’Shea refused to do his bosses’ bidding in terms of cutbacks and he was let go. Over the next two years the Times cut nearly 40% of its journalists. JAMES O’SHEA has since founded a Chicago news cooperative of which he is editor, attempting a new model of journalism.
JAMES O’SHEA is editor and co-founder of the Chicago News Cooperative, former editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Times and past managing editor of the Chicago Tribune. Under his leadership, the Tribune’s news staff received six Pulitzer prizes. O’Shea is the author of THE DAISY CHAIN about the savings-and-loan crisis of the 1980s, DANGEROUS COMPANY, an examination of management consultants’ role in corporate decision making, and his latest THE DEAL FROM HELL: How Moguls and Wall Street Plundered Great American Newspapers.
ROBERT THURMAN, the author of more than 20 books and the first American ordained as a Tibetan monk by his friend of more than 40 years, the Dalai Lama, is Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University, President of Tibet House US, a non-profit dedicated to preserving and promoting Tibetan civilization.
ANDREW BACEVICH, professor of history and international relations at Boston University, served twenty-three years in the U.S. Army, retiring with the rank of colonel. He also lost his son in Iraq last year. A graduate of the U. S. Military Academy, he received his Ph. D. in American Diplomatic History from Princeton University. His writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, the Atlantic Monthly, the Nation, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal. He is the author of several books, including THE NEW AMERICAN MILITARISM; THE LIMITS OF POWER: The End of American Exceptionalism; and his newest, WASHINGTON RULES: America's Path to Permanent War.