A Historian Puts His Money Where His Mouth Is

Screen shot 2009-10-26 at 1.12.21 PMCan you beat that moment? A few moments after I wrapped up my interview with historian Taylor Branch about his book ”The Clinton Tapes,” Molly Peterson and David Lazarus were making their pitch to listeners to pitch in to contribute to KPCC, and the award-winning writer opened his wallet right there in the studio and slapped down a double sawbuck — twenty bucks, and the newest KPCC member!

On top of that, he was one terrific interview, so I can imagine what kind of interviewer he must have been, in those 79 sessions with Bill Clinton throughout the Clinton presidency. The switcheroo is that Clinton kept those tapes — in his sock drawer, as it turned out — and Branch, who had first met Clinton during the 1972 McGovern presidential campaign, recorded his own impressions on his way home from the interviews. I thought Branch’s storytelling about those sessions made for a more engaging book than just reprinting big hunks of Clintonian transcript would have been.