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Crisis in Myanmar; Interview With Isabel Allende; Interview with James Patterson and Matt Eversmann. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired March 5, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Myanmar's new shoot-to-kill policy, that is what Amnesty International calls the junta's crackdown on protesters. We have
the latest on resistance to the coup, and I am joined by the U.N. envoy of the Burmese shadow government.
Then, Isabel Allende bears her soul, the great Chilean author on her feminist odyssey.
JAMES PATTERSON, CO-AUTHOR, "WALK IN MY COMBAT BOOTS": You really want to understand America, read this, and you will understand something you didn't
AMANPOUR: One of the best selling novelist of all times, James Patterson, tells our Walter Isaacson why his latest book is his most important.
And, finally, we're on the ground as Pope Francis makes the first ever papal trip to Iraq.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Myanmar's military junta has taken an even more deadly turn against pro- democracy demonstrators. At least 54 people have been killed since the military overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian on February 1; 38 people
were killed on Wednesday alone, making this the most violent week.
And Amnesty International says everything points to troops adopting shoot- to-kill tactics. And U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet warns the number of dead could be much higher than we know. Journalists trying to get
the news and the truth out are also targets, and six reporters have been arrested.
Today, the United Nations Security Council held a closed-door meeting to discuss the crisis, but it appears that any statement will not include an
arms embargo against the military regime.
Correspondent Paula Hancocks has a closer look now at this bloody week.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Protesters bang pots and pans on the streets of Myingyan in Central Myanmar, and aware it's about to
They duck and run for cover as security forces start firing.
Twenty-two-year-old Zin Kuo Kuzhou (ph) is shot in the head. His brother carries him to a waiting ambulance, but it's too late.
Reliving that moment, he tells me: "My brother was shot and fell down. Blood was coming from his mouth and his head. I dragged him away from
there, and he died in my arms."
His parents say he was the breadwinner of the family, working at the local market. They were all at the protest together, his mother says, but were
separated when the shooting began.
She says: "We are risking our lives to claim victory. We don't have any weapons, but they are fully armed. All we can do this protest. They're
shooting us with live bullets. Please help us."
Makeshift hospitals were set up for the injured, treating a steady flow of protesters with gunshot wounds.
TOM ANDREWS, U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON MYANMAR: And now we're seeing orders that police and military soldiers shoot people down in cold blood.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): Security forces were caught on camera taking three charity workers from their ambulance in Yangon and beating them with guns
and batons. The charity says the three are now in hospital with non-life -- threatening injuries.
(on camera): Is anybody safe at this point?
ANDREWS: No. No one is safe. I mean, here, ambulance workers, people that are there purely to save lives, to help anyone who is -- who needs
emergency medical care, they're not there to hurt anyone. They're there to help everyone.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): The level of force being used by security forces has increased since Sunday. Dozens have now been killed across the country.
Activists on the ground say the actual death toll is far higher than that the United Nations has been able to confirm.
Makeshift shrines are emerging on the streets where protesters fell. Funerals are becoming a daily occurrence.
As Zin Kuo Kuzhou's family prepares for his funeral, they say they hope his death has not been in vain. His parents praying the next to fall will be
the military dictatorship that took their son.
AMANPOUR: That was Paula Hancocks' reports there.
Critical to see what the military junta is doing.
And I have been speaking with a member of Aung San Suu Kyi's government, government in exile now.
Dr. Sasa says that he was with the ousted elected leader the morning of the coup. He managed to escape in order to help form a shadow government and to
represent the people of Myanmar to the world. We are not revealing his last name or his location.
Dr. Sasa, welcome to the program.
Can I start by asking you about the deadly force that the junta is using against protesters? Amnesty International is saying that its strategy has
turned to shoot to kill the protesters. Do you believe that's what's happening on the ground in Myanmar?
DR. SASA, ENVOY REPRESENTING MYANMAR'S PARLIAMENT TO UNITED NATIONS: Unfortunately, I'm afraid that is true and fact.
It's becoming -- getting worse, because they have been declaring the war against its own people. So, the snipers are on the trees. Snipers are on a
floor, on a roof. And they are on everywhere. And they are just shooting. And this is -- it's just so sad to see this happen again and again.
It has happened in '80, '88. It happened in '97. It happened 2007. It happened 2017, and now, in my lifetime, 2021, we have seen this crime
AMANPOUR: But let me just read you what the U.N. special rapporteur for Myanmar has said. He is basically saying that the junta is shooting down
people in cold blood, using .12-gauge shotguns, .380-millimeter rifles, semiautomatic rifles against peaceful protesters who pose no threat.
You have just talked about snipers in high -- at high points taking aim. What do you think the aim of the junta is now? Because, up until now, they
were using water cannon, they were using rubber bullets. Why do you think now, a month after the coup, they have turned to this escalation,
escalation of live fire?
DR. SASA: in a way, it's not surprising. That's what -- exactly what happened in 1988. That's what happened in 1997.
That's what happened in 2007. That's what happened in 2017. And now it's happening again. So it's like a repetition of the same crime against
humanity. And I'm afraid. This is what has been happening to ethnic minority states, like chain, (INAUDIBLE) Rakhine (INAUDIBLE) chain.
This is what we have been living on for the last 50 years. And they are bringing the bombs by the fighter jets. It seems like they have the license
to kill. They have the license to rape, the license to torture, and the license to crime against humanity.
AMANPOUR: Dr. Sasa, you mentioned all these ethnic minorities. Of course, the world knows about the attacks and the brutality against the people of
Rakhine State. We have seen how the Rohingya have been pushed out of Myanmar.
So, we understand that. We put that into context. And I want to ask you this, because we also spoke to the U.N. special envoy for Myanmar, as you
know, Christine Schraner Burgener. She said this to us. I want to play what she told us about the protesters themselves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE SCHRANER BURGENER, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY ON MYANMAR: And I think this is the only thing they can do to resist, and in this peaceful mean,
because, in my view, the Tatmadaw, the army, is just waiting that also people will take arms and defend themselves.
So, it's very dangerous. And I beg the people in Myanmar not to fall in this trap, so to stay peaceful, but it's clearly very easy to say from a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Dr. Sasa, she is begging the people of Myanmar, your people, not to fall into the junta's trap.
Do you also -- do you -- would you reiterate that call? Do you beg the people also not to resort to violence themselves, not to get trapped by the
military into doing that, and then maybe an even worse crackdown?
DR. SASA: The people of Myanmar are brave, courageous and peaceful.
No, this is a peaceful country. We are peaceful people. No one is making any violence, except these illegitimate, illegal military dictatorship
regime. So, it's very, very difficult for me to see our people will take guns or any weapons to against the Tatmadaw.
There never was ethnic minorities or any other group of people in Myanmar who come and take weapons and against the Tatmadaw or the military regime.
It was always this military regime, dictatorship that go after ethnic people, that go after marginalized people, that go after the most
So, I mean, I don't -- I don't think that my people will be taking any kind of weapon against anyone. There's no history in my country that the people
Myanmar the police forces or the army forces. In some cases, we are just defending ourselves because they came to our door, and they are putting the
smoking guns to us.
So, in that kind of situation, of course, maybe some area, they may try to protect themselves. But I think that this should not be -- the people
should not be subjected to blame into any violence. All this violence are caused by the military junta.
AMANPOUR: Nobody's blaming them. Everyone is just very concerned about them.
Let me just read you something which shows their bravery, obviously, as you know. We have seen pictures of badges that a lot of the protesters are
wearing. They're saying -- and they put their blood type there -- "Don't save me if it's not certain that I will recover my full health. I want to
donate all my organs that are still of use, with thanks."
And this is Sanda Ku (ph). And we have translated this and verified that name.
It is quite extraordinary what the peaceful protesters are doing.
Can I ask you personally about your story? You escaped the day of the coup. I think you were with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Tell me what happened on that
day, and how you were able to flee to safety, as you are now.
DR. SASA: I mean, I was supposed to take part in the formation of the government. And I was to take some senior role in the government.
But we wake up in the morning of 1st of February, and we saw ourselves locked down. And we saw everywhere the military. It was terrible, terrible,
terrible. Elected officers, member of Parliament who were elected by the people of Myanmar for the people of Myanmar, they all saw themselves being
locked up by the military generals.
It was very, very terrible. And, I mean, it's intimidating, it was torturing on the face of democracy and the freedom that we want. And so I
was asked to leave as soon as possible, so that I can speak out about it.
So, I have to dress as taxi driver and with taxi driver. And in that way, it take me three nights and three days nonstop traveling from there to
where I am and where I will be most safer. So, it was terrible.
AMANPOUR: Have you been in touch with Aung San Suu Kyi since?
DR. SASA: No, no one. They all are -- be silenced by guns.
I mean, so even her lawyers cannot see her. So, we are worried, concerned about her health. We don't know what's happening to her. And our president,
women is be detained illegally, the same with her.
But there's several people. More than thousands have been illegally detained by illegal government, illegal dictatorship. So, I mean, 54 people
of Myanmar are under siege by military, illegitimate government.
It seems to me that they are trying to create a situation, so that the people will come out with anger, so that they can kill them all by
automatic guns, weapons. So, I mean, there's crazy situation, where this will happen.
So, it's a very, very worrying and concerning.
AMANPOUR: So, Dr. Sasa, you said you had to escape in order to be able to tell the world what's going on. You're telling us now.
But you are part of a group that is of sort of a shadow government, and you are liaising with the U.N. What are you telling the U.N.? What do you want
to tell the international community? And how -- what do you think you can get them to do?
DR. SASA: First, we need to protections. The people of Burma are protectless. There is no one who will protect them.
And these illegal military regime has declared the war on the people of Myanmar. So, no one is safe. So, number one, we need safety.
That means the international community have the responsibility to protect, where the state fell to protect its own people. So, we are asking
international community to look at that.
And, secondly, we need international community to recognize and work with democratically elected member of Parliament. And in the coming months --
coming weeks, we are going to form these interim governments. When we form interim government, there will be alternative government against this
illegitimate military-run government.
So, we are asking international community to recognize the November 8, 2020, election, where the people of Myanmar have spoken loud and clear.
They have chosen us to represent them. And now it's being silenced.
So, free and world cannot silence with the generals. They must stand up with us. They must uphold the will of the people of Myanmar. And they must
help us to uphold the will of the people of Myanmar. People of Myanmar, my people, are not asking money. We are not asking anything.
We are asking that we gain back our freedom. We want freedom. We want justice. We want democracy. We want (INAUDIBLE). We want peace.
So, if we have that, we have everything.
AMANPOUR: Dr. Sasa, thank you so much for joining us and putting your case for the people of Myanmar for the world to hear. Thank you.
DR. SASA: Thank you very much, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Now, the U.N. special envoy says -- quote -- "How much more can we allow the Myanmar military to get away with?" And she added: "People are
losing faith that the U.N. will help."
And, of course, we have asked the military regime for comment. They have yet to respond.
Now I'm joined by an author who herself had to flee a U.S.-backed coup in her homeland in 1973. Today, the prolific Chilean writer Isabel Allende is
famed for her novels like "The House of the Spirits" and her touching nonfiction, like Paula.
Just as restless and imaginative as ever, she is now releasing her new book, "The Soul of a Woman." It's one of the most highly anticipated of the
season. And this is a memoir of her feminist journey.
Isabel Allende joins me now from San Francisco.
And welcome back to the program. Thanks for being with us.
Let me ask you about the origin story of your feminism. And you trace it back to your mother. And you essentially say that your mother and what
happened to her, left by her husband, your father, basically planted the seeds of your feminism, or, as you have said, rebellion in you.
Tell me about that.
ISABEL ALLENDE, AUTHOR, "THE SOUL OF A WOMAN": My father -- my mother was married for years and had three babies. My father abandoned the family
before she gave birth to my youngest brother. She was pregnant.
And, eventually, she had to go back to live in her father's house, my grandfather, where I grew up. And it was a male household, my grandfather,
my bachelor uncles, and my mother, who was a sort of charity case, because she didn't have any resources, any money of her own, no independence.
It was at a time in Chile where there was no divorce. Actually, divorce in Chile was allowed in 2004. So, my mother's only way out was to annul the
marriage. And she was able to do that with the condition. My father put the condition that he didn't have to take care of his children, which was
We never saw my father again. And my mother was very vulnerable, poor, I would say, although she was sheltered by her father, and she lived in a
nice house, and the college the school of the kids was paid. She didn't have any resources of her own.
And I saw her, so vulnerable, so limited in many ways. I adored her. And very young -- I must have been 5, 6 -- I already knew -- I already rebelled
against some something that for me was incredibly unfair. But, of course, the word feminist had not arrived in Chile, and nobody knew what the heck
was wrong with me. I was just an angry child. Maybe I was a lunatic or something.
And I -- it wasn't until late puberty or adolescence that I realized that there was a movement out there called the women's move.
AMANPOUR: Well, as you say, you came to it very, very young and instinctively.
You -- as I said, you have written so much fiction. You have obviously read -- written nonfiction as well. But what is it that you want to tell? What
is the key vision that you want to tell in this book, which I described as your journey as a feminist? What is it that you're trying to say with this
ALLENDE: I don't have a message. It's not a manifesto. It's my experience as a woman and as a feminist.
I was born in the '40s in the south of the south, in a very conservative, Catholic, patriarchal, family and society. And I have lived all these years
as a feminist. And I have seen how the movement has gone forward and has stalled and has made mistakes, and there's a backlash and then, again, a
new wave of young feminists come in and push history again.
So, what I wanted to tell probably young women is, there -- this is what we have done. This is what your grandmothers and your mothers have done. And
now's your turn. And so there's a lot to be done.
What is the goal? The final goal is to replace the patriarchy by a management of the world in which men and women in equal numbers have equal
power to make decisions, in which feminine and masculine values have the same weight in the society.
We are a long ways from there, but we are getting there. And I'm sure we will. But young women today might not -- might not know what happened
before, how hard it was before.
AMANPOUR: A lot of the book me, you're very passionate. You have got so much vision. But you also pretty funny and quite wry.
Just to pick up on what you're saying right now, abolish the patriarchy, you also have written -- and I think I'm going to get it right -- what
makes us feminist is not what's between our legs, but what's between our ears.
Expand on that. What do you mean? Do you mean that it's not just women who should be feminist, but everybody? What do you mean by that sentence in
ALLENDE: That is not so much about sexuality or gender or women's rights because you are a woman. It's something that concerns humanity, really,
because the system that has ruled the world for millennia, the patriarchy, is unsustainable, and it creates a lot of misery.
It's destroying the planet. It creates also great inequality. And it's sustained by violence. What is the patriarchy? It is a system of dominance
that gives supremacy and dominance to the male gender over women, over nature, over other species, and over other men, because not all men are in
that position of power.
And what is feminists? An uprising against the system, not against men, because men -- many men, most men are also victims of the patriarchy. So,
we need them as allies. And when they try to depict these feminazis as men haters who don't shave their armpits, men have been very successful in --
very successful in depicting feminists as these bitches.
Well, that's not the truth. The truth is that is it's most women and girls who can think about what's happening and who experience it who live in fear
of the system. Those are the feminists, potential feminists. And if you don't like the word, don't call yourself a feminist. Call yourself whatever
you want. Just do the work.
And there are not very many people who would disagree with you, at least I hope not very many women who would disagree with you, and also male allies.
But let me get back to what you talked about, fear, because you also say in this book, going back to your childhood, that living, as you had to when
your mother retreated to her parents' home when she was basically abandoned by your father, that it was a place and a time of fear and darkness for
But you have written in the book: "I'm grateful to that unhappy childhood because it provided ample material for my writing. I don't know how
novelists with happy childhoods in normal homes manage."
So, how did that take you to the literary heights that you have -- that you have reached?
ALLENDE: Well, I don't know if it's related.
But one thing is for sure. That kind of childhood and the tough, stoic school of thinking that my grandfather had has helped me a lot. It has
served me well.
I was instilled in my brain since I was really little discipline: You have to perform, don't complain, don't whine, don't talk about your ailments,
because nobody cares, just honor, dignity work.
Those were the -- that was the voice that I still have in my head, the voice of my grandfather. And, as I said, it served me well. But now I'm 78.
And I need to relax. I wish that I could shut up that voice of my grandfather.
AMANPOUR: Well, it's a voice that still motivates you.
But I want to just read this, because you talk about violence as an instrument of control. And I'm going to then ask you to read a passage,
which we have asked you to read, about what you discovered in India.
But you said: "Why are aggression and harassment not civil rights or human rights concerns? Why are women silenced? Why isn't there a declared war
against such violence, like the war against drugs, terrorism or crime? The answer is obvious. Violence and fear are instruments of control."
So, just break that down a little bit to us in terms of your experience, but then I want you to read a related passage that you discovered from your
experience in India.
ALLENDE: Well, when I say that women have fear in their DNA, it's because, subliminally, we are raised from birth with the idea that we have to take
care of ourselves, protect ourselves, because we are in danger.
Don't go into a bar alone. Don't walk alone in the street at night. Be careful what you wear, because that might provoke some violence against
you. Not even a campus at the university is safe. Not even the military is safe for women. So, we are always watching, especially during our
Then there is a point when we become invisible, and then we start losing fear, because nobody sees us. But all the -- our youth, the time when we
should be, like men, exploring the world and enjoying the world, we live in fear. So there is a war against women that has not been declared, but it's
there. And we should be very aware of it in order to stand against it and to put a stop to it.
AMANPOUR: Against women and against women's control of their own bodies.
Please, can you read that piece when you were in a village and you were talking to Indian villagers, women, about -- you were talking to them. The
passage will tell our viewers about what you discovered.
ALLENDE: Yes, it was a rural area in Rajasthan, very remote.
And we were in a car with a driver. And the engine got hot. We stopped. And my friend and I, my friend Tabra and I saw a group of women. We went to the
women. And we didn't share a language, but with touching and smiling and kissing the kids -- they had several little kids -- we sort of connected.
And then there was a point when the driver honked. And we said goodbye, and we started leaving.
And let me read the paragraph, although I know it by heart: "As we were leaving, one of the women came up to me and handed me a small parcel of
rags. It weighed almost nothing. I thought she wanted to give me something in exchange for the bracelets. But when I opened the rags to see what was
inside, I found a newborn baby.
"I blessed the baby and tried to give it back. But the mother stepped away and wouldn't take it. I was so surprised that I was unable to move. But the
driver, a tall bearded man in a turban, ran over, took the baby from me, and shoved it into another woman's hands. He grabbed me by the arm and
dragged me to the car.
"We left in a hurry. Several minutes later, when I had recovered from the shock, I asked: 'What happened? Why had that woman tried to give me her
'It was a girl. No one wants a girl,' the driver answered."
AMANPOUR: It's really chilling. And we know that happens a lot in India and many other parts of the world.
What did you feel in that moment? And it did lead you, didn't it, to try to help in these situations with your foundation.
ALLENDE: That girl has haunted me all these years. What happened to her? Did she live? What kind of life did she have? Was she married to some old
man when she was nine? Did she die at childbirth? Why -- what happened to the mother, to that poor woman that was willing to give away the child
because she could not raise her properly?
So, the pain of what had happened was very raw at that moment because this happened right after my daughter had died. And so, I decided to create a
foundation to honor my daughter, and the mission of the foundation would be to help women like that mother and little girls like that girl. And that's
what we have been doing more than 20 years in the foundation, and it's been very, very rewarding.
AMANPOUR: I bet it has. And, Isabel Allende, your life is now going to be getting the full Hollywood treatment. There's miniseries based on your life
that's going to come out on HBO. And tell me about that, because I know you wanted to consult or be involved, but you approved the project. Tell me
ALLENDE: Well, Megamedia the group in Chile approached me some years ago that they were going to do a docuseries about me. That means it's
fictionalized. Some actors represent the people, the real people. And being a public figure, supposedly I am, they had the right to do it. I could not
stop them. And they were kind enough to tell me that they were going to do it. And I said that we would collaborate as much as we could and they came
to the archived in my office and they saw hundreds, thousands of photographs. And they did an extraordinary production.
First of all, the actress who is very pretty -- not even remotely look -- I never looked like that. She's wearing dresses that I copied from the
photographs of each period of in the movie. The jewelry was copied exactly. The hairstyle. The house. So, it is, it is fascinating and at the same time
painful for me and for my son to watch it because it starts with my daughter when she falls in a coma in a hospital in Madrid, and it ends with
my daughter's death. So, it's -- for us who lived all of that is really painful.
But it is interesting apparently when I see my life summarized in three episodes, pretty interesting. I have a lived a long life and a very
AMANPOUR: You certainly have, and everyone should read "Soul of a Woman" because there's much more in there, including and people can read about it,
your merit badges. I want people to read about it because it is encouraging and lively.
Isabel Allende, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
Now, many Americans will, at some point, have thanked a member of the military for their service. But my next guests say that most are not aware
of the day-to-day realities for those who do serve their country. "Walk in My Combat Boots," true stories from America's bravest warriors is a new
book by bestselling author, James Patterson, and also retired U.S. army sergeant, Matt Eversmann. It tells stories of 85 veterans from Vietnam to
Iraq and Afghanistan. And here they are, the authors, telling our Walter Isaacson why we need to understand the military better than we do.
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Christiane. And James Patterson and Matt Eversmann, thank you so much for joining the show and congratulations
on a book about people who truly, truly are worthy of teaching us lessons.
JAMES PATTERSON, CO-AUTHOR, "WALK IN MY COMBAT BOOTS": Yes. You know, when Matt and I -- when we decided to do the book, we had two things in mind.
One, if you had served, if you've been in the military, you would say that Sergeant Eversmann and Patterson got it right and they gave us a voice,
which we haven't necessarily had in the past. And if you don't really understand the military, and a lot of people think they do, but they don't,
you will understand what it means to serve and you will understand what it means to put your life on the line for somebody else. And the next time
that you thank somebody for their service, you will know what you are thanking them for.
ISAACSON: Yes. Well, Matt, you were truly a hero. You were in Mogadishu. You were part of Black Hawk Down. You've served in Somalia and many other
places. And yet, the book is about some of the ordinary people, the ones who don't go rushing into crashes, you know, and fighting, but they are
just there doing their duty in ways that are awesomely inspiring.
MATT EVERSMANN, CO-AUTHOR, "WALK IN MY COMBAT BOOTS": Yes. Well, thank you for picking that out because that was by design. And, you know, the -- our
military is made up. Like Jim said, these are just great men and women down the block. You know, they cover, you know, the A-to-Z wide path. And, you
know, whether you are a truck driver driving down around Irish (ph) in Iraq every day for a year, dodging IEDs or a logistician Kandahar, you know, you
are carrying as much water as any, you know, Delta Force guy, and that's not a knock on anyone, it's not this scale of courage. Just -- it's a great
big team of teams. And we were glad to tell their stories.
PATTERSON: And they are so humble. I mean, they are so humble. They would -- you do the interviews, you'd write it up or whatever, and they would be
thanking you. Thanking you.
You know, one of the things about this, and one of the reasons that I was interested and Matt as well is that, you know, like when my father came
back from World War II, he never talked about it. He would never tell us anything about what happened. And I think a of it -- that's our experience
with our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, whatever, friends from -- you know, of my era, the guys who went to Vietnam, they won't talk about
it, mostly. They will talk about other events.
And the thing I saw -- Matt do some interviews, and, you know, a lot of times when you do interviews, and you've this, Walter, there's a -- you
don't totally trust the person you are talking to 100 percent. I don't trust you at all here. No. But they trusted Matt and they would tell the
stories, and Matt knew the right questions and he knew the right follow-up questions, and that's why -- you know, interview report we had 50 pages and
we go so much truth, they talked about everything. And then, the next thing was to turn those into five, six, seven-page stories so that it would all
ISAACSON: You know, you are bestselling author of our time. I mean, more than 240 New York Times bestselling --
PATTERSON: I know. That's sad and tragic. But it is true. Yes.
ISAACSON: I mean, that's like, you know, more years than we have. So, that's amazing, the number of best sellers. But you turned your attention
to this. Why?
PATTERSON: It is rare for me that I'll read a book or watch a film or a series or whatever, where I really learn something, it changes me in a
significant way. I think that understanding the military is really important for people. I think understanding police is really important,
really understanding, and then we can make decisions.
We are sending the book to everybody in Congress because, I think, it's useful for them to read it. Matt is -- we reached out to West Point in
Annapolis, and they're going to give it to everybody in West Point because they think it's useful for these men and women to read about this before
they go out in the field. And then, they get it. They understand something they didn't understand before.
EVERSMANN: You know, also remember that this is -- and I don't say this speak for Jim, but they had the color that, you know, we have been at war
for 20 years, you know. I mean, let that sink in for a second. And it's below the fold. People don't -- you know, they have forgotten that we have
got men and women, our sons and daughters over fighting. So, when Jim approached me, I thought that that was -- what an opportunity of time to
reintroduce these kids too.
PATTERSON: You know, and interesting here is, as this piece goes around the world, this is a way for people who aren't in the States to understand
-- you really want to understand America, read this, you will understand something you didn't understand before. I always say, you know what, it's
very similar to what goes on in your own country, there are good people, there are bad people, there are smart people, there are not so smart
people, and the military isn't what you think it is. And if you want to understand the American military, this is a good place to start.
ISAACSON: Well, I think it's also important for people at home to understand the military because we've been, as you say, at war for more
than 20 years, and yet, there's a big division in our society between those who have gone and served and those for whom the war is sort of this distant
thing that's now relegated to the inside pages of the newspapers.
So, what did you -- I will toss this out with Matt, what did you want to tell to an ordinary American citizen who sort of tuned out the fact that
we've been at war for so long?
EVERSMANN: Yes. And thank you for asking because that's really a longest theme when Jim opened up talking about why we wrote it in our mission for
writing it. You know, this idea that we see this -- there's almost like this little microcosm of America that people just don't understand. They
see this young guy or gal at the airport with a sleeve of tattoos and an Iraqi freedom hat and we just sort bypass them. It's just, you know, white
noise on the side.
And, I think, really, Jim summed it right up. Boy, when you see that and you like digest it and like, wow, I had no idea what that young man, you
know, has done. And now, I say, I got it. I had no earthly idea. And I think that's really valuable all of the way around. And again, I don't want
to go down the rabbit hole of what is going on necessarily today like up in D.C., but by the same token, we have got a lot of great men and women that
have done a lot of heavy lifting.
PATTERSON: And piece of it is for people to stop thinking that the world is black and white. It isn't. It is complicate. It's nuanced. The -- if you
really want to understand things, you got to dig in a little bit, which is what we did.
One of the things that I've been -- striking to me about the book is when you -- as I said, we went from these 30-page interviews, 30 to 40 pages, to
these very short pieces, and these men and women who are so humble about what they have done, the way they describe things. I mean, here's -- this
is like two -- I would never want to, you know, read. But this is from Jodi Pritchard, an air force flight nurse, which is major now.
But she says, I have a full sleeve tattoo dedicated to the patients that I have lost over the years. It's a reminder of what I have seen. It's also a
reminder for me to remember that it is Ok to feel the way I do, which is really an important statement in terms of the vets that we have -- 10
percent of this country is vets now. She says, I wouldn't trade my life for anything in the world. I love wearing the uniform. And there's like --
that's like -- that's been seconds in this book but it's full of these nuggets in terms of understanding another human being and what they do and
why they do it.
ISAACSON: You know, you pick Jodi Pritchard section to read and that one struck me really hard when I read it because it said to me addiction to
duty and that's a theme of the book, right?
EVERSMANN: And, Walter, she -- incidentally, you know, Jodi is still serving. I mean, she's still flying, and like literally. I talked to her
like a week ago, she's still flying and doing this mission, addiction to duty, that's a great term. I might plagiarize that.
ISAACSON: But, Matt, you got them to talk., I mean, it almost feels as if it's very cinematic. This isn't some dry recounting, but there's dialogue,
there's back and forth. How did you get their voices out?
EVERSMANN: Yes. One thing about the soldiers and sailors and airmen and marines, like, you know, you catch them on the right day and you put a
quarter in them, I mean, they almost won't shut up. I say that with affection. The backdrop is, Walter, you know, as Jim mentioned earlier, you
know, when they're like, Matt, I don't know why you want to tell my story, I didn't do anything. You know, well, let's just have a conversation. You
know, let's just have a chat. And, you know, an hour and a half later, I would sit here just sometimes in tears, sometimes laughing at these stories
that a 22-year-old --
PATTERSON: But tell about the door gunner, because -- I mean, this is a movie, this woman's story.
EVERSMANN: Absolutely. Yes. So, there's one female marine, Lisa Bodenburg, who I was introduced to. And, you know, she was compelled by 9/11 to go
serve, and she marched right down to the recruiter's office. Again, this is right out of the central casting stuff. Walks right down to the recruiter
and says, I want to be in, you know, force recon, in the marines. And they, of course, laughed at her and say, you know, you can't -- we don't have
And she's like, well, what's the next hardest thing. And they said, well, you could be a door gunner, you know, on a helicopter. You could be the one
that mans the machine gun, that does everything to keep the helicopter flying. And she's like, fine. And they're like, but you've to be number one
in your class at every step along the way in order to do it. And she said, fine, OK.
And so, about six or seven classes, you know, to -- just to get to go to deploy, she has to be number one and she does it. I mean, it's so
inspiring, you know, the highs and the lows and the peaks and the valleys. And, again, an average kid from Buffalo that is just a superstar. I tell my
daughter who is going to be a college athlete and she knows this, you know, when you want to be inspired and motivated, read about Lisa Bodenburg
because you'll feel badly for complaining. You know, it's that kind of stuff. You can't make it up. It's the heroes among us, is what you say.
ISAACSON: Lisa Bodenburg who signs up after 9/11, you've talk about, it was a great piece, but somebody tells her, I think, you are throwing your
life away. Jim, tell me how this book is somewhat of an antidote to that type of attitude.
PATTERSON: I think most of the people who are in don't think they're throwing their life away. They have a sense of purpose, which is another
big theme in the book, that sense of purpose. And how difficult it is, and that's one of the things now as we have people moving out of the army and
the fort, various, you know, marines, et cetera, they have to find a sense of purpose again.
And several times, you know, we have talked to people who have counselled vets, and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, and they go how important it is
for people coming out to get another mission, that can be their family, it can be a new career, it can be -- but they have -- if -- and they just have
get that mission, that sense of purpose, and it is very hard to get it. You know, like a lot of us go through life we never find something that we love
ISAACSON: Well, 9/11 seemed to have helped on that in many of the instances, and there's a story of, I think, Mario Costagliola, who comes
in. Matt, tell me about how that struck you.
EVERSMANN: I loved all these stories. And whenever it's hard to -- you know, you can't really rank them. But Mario's is such amazing, and if I had
a better vocabulary I would think of another word, but, you know, he was the battalion commander of a national guard unit on Staten Island on 9/11,
you know. A brother at Cantor Fitzgerald.
You know, we've heard 9/11 stories, again, for 20 years, and yet, listening to Mario talk about, you know, without guidance from above, so to speak,
literally leading his soldiers, his unit across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to get into ground zero, not even knowing what they were going do,
just they got to do something.
And when he described going across the bridge and just seeing the smoldering ash from the towers, I mean, it gives me goosebumps just
thinking in tears in my eyes, and yet, he is crying as he's driving across the bridge and you think of that. No one is shooting at him, you know, no
IEDs are going off, but, boy, it is every bit as powerful as any, you know, gun fighter battle that I have ever been in. And I loved that story.
PATTERSON: And, Walter, it's in -- I mean, I think all of us have read several thousand pages about 9/11, and yet, that six or seven pages is
stunning. Stunning. And here -- I mean, yes, we know that story, we kind of know that story, and here it is and it's fresh.
ISAACSON: Well, Matt, you are now working, you know, and helping people who have come back, veterans who have come back. What are you seeing and
what type of help do you have to give them?
EVERSMANN: You know, it is a 50/50 proposition. And it took me a while to figure this out. Forget business models. But, you know, veterans need
education, and employers need education. I was more shocked to what -- you know, after being retired or (INAUDIBLE), I was more shocked at how little
industry knew about the military.
And, again, thinking we've been at war for a long time now, and there's this pipeline of really good talented, you know, men and women coming out
that could add value to your business and yet, so many people, so many of these C-suite executives, the HR folks, they've not been touched by
soldiers in their life. So, they really -- it's like they don't even know what they are missing and they don't know how to get into that pool.
So, you know, I've tried to focus a lot on helping employers just to understand the basics, which, again, I don't want to damn anybody, but I
was really quite amazed at how little a lot of industry didn't know about the military, and that's part of this whole book, too, not that that was
our mission, but, you know, we're introducing these men and women, you know, back to America. And they are good kids. I say that with affection,
ISAACSON: Jim, one of the things that struck me this the book is that there's not much politics. And, boy, that was refreshing.
PATTERSON: There's no politics.
ISAACSON: Yes. Is there some way that these lives and these tales can help us rise above making everything so partisan?
PATTERSON: The way Matt and I did this, you wish that more news stories and whatever operated this way. Here's the information. We're not going to
-- and we did not editorialize. Here are the stories. You come to your own conclusions about them. We don't editorialize. We're not on the right.
We're not on the left. We're not -- here's the stories, you make your own decisions. And I wish there was more news like that. Here's -- you know,
let us figure it out.
ISAACSON: I was reading this wonderful book as I was going through an airport yesterday and then they boarded the plane, they said active duty,
military, you know, board first, of course, and then they were saying, thank you for your service, thank you for your service. And having read the
book, that phrase, thank you for your service, all of a sudden resonated in a deeper way. How do you feel when you hear that phrase and does it
sometimes feel shallow to you?
EVERSMANN: I will tell you I think that it always makes me smile. I'm always very grateful when somebody say it. I must say now that I have been
out for 12 years, you know, I look at those men and women that are in uniform, I'm like, no, thank them. But at the end of the day, listen, this
idea of civility, it was going to that whole picture, I think, is so important. And I believe everybody when they say it, and even if you can
tell they are just being perfunctory, I think it's a good thing. I hope we never lose that.
I hope that, again, clearly after reading this book, when you think about - - we've asked a 21-year-old to -- you know, to go out and to do whatever it is we're doing and whatever -- the Horn of Africa or somewhere in the
Arabian Peninsula, and they have witnessed the most horrific things that a human being probably isn't designed to comprehend, to digest and yet they
do and they've done this all before their 21st birthday, I think we owe them a thanks.
ISAACSON: Matt and Jim, thank you so much for joining us.
EVERSMANN: Thank you, Walter.
PATTERSON: Thank you. Thank you, Matt.
AMANPOUR: And finally, speaking of wars, Pope Francis is making the first ever papal visit to Iraq. Stepping off the plane at Baghdad International
Airport, he was greeted by Iraq's prime minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. Security in a recent spike in coronavirus cases there makes this his
riskiest trip yet. But the 84-year-old pontiff said that he felt duty-bound given how much the country gas suffered and how much the Christians there
have suffered. The Iraqi Christians in particular have been persecuted at the hands of Al-Qaeda and ISIS and thousands have fled the country.
So, let's turn now to Correspondent Ben Wedeman who is in Baghdad for more on this symbolic but also historic papal visit.
Ben, so, the pope said he felt duty-bound. He talked about how martyred this country has been. Talk to us about how the Christians there have
suffered and how their ranks have been depleted.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, just look at the numbers, Christiane. In 2003, there were about 1.5 million Christians here. Today,
maybe 300,000. And when we speak to the Christians here in Iraq, we spoke to many up in the northern part of the country where they are most
concentrated, they tell you that sort of a critical mass that has been reached whereby so many of their relatives now live abroad, that they feel
sort of a pull of gravity in that direction of what they have seen over the years has just, you know, one catastrophe over the -- after another.
For instance, I spoke to one man, he served for eight years in the Iraqi army during the Iran/Iraq war. He was call back to duty during the Kuwait
invasion and that situation. He moved to Mosul, opened up a liquor store, was frequently threatened by extremists there. And then one day, he was
five minutes late and closing the shutters to the store, and the police came, arrested him and throw him in jail. And he said, while he sat in jail
for those three days, he decided, I will leave this country for good. And that's what he did.
Twenty-one years ago, he moved to Sweden where there is a very large Arab Christian community. People have -- and it's important to stress that the
Christians particularly have suffered because they were the focus of the terrorism Al-Qaeda here in Iraq and then ISIS and, of course, there were
the Yazidis as well who were also targeted.
But Iraqis have suffered across the board from war with Iran, from these sanctions, from the chaos that followed the American invasion in 2003, and
finally, from the war against ISIS. So, there is a feeling among many Christians that even though this is the land that they trace their roots
back centuries and centuries that Christianity has such deep roots here, that the soil has become so infertile for that community that it may be
better to leave. Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So -- but so it must be very encouraging for them to see the pope. How has he been received?
WEDEMAN: He's been received with a real outpouring of enthusiasm and joy. And it is not just Christians. If you have looked at the ceremony when he
was met at Baghdad International Airport by Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, the prime minister, and later at the presidential palace by Barham Salih, the
president of Iraq, there seem to be real happiness that, you know, finally a leader of such international stature has come to Iraq, unlike American
presidents who show up here unannounced, make a very quick visit, spend most of their time with American forces, very quick, very, you know,
tightly controlled visits with Iraqi officials and then they are gone.
Pope Francis announced this trip back in December. His schedule has been made public. So, for Iraqis, there's a feeling that despite the troubles
that still exist, the attacks, the corruption, the unrest, that this is a moment that they are savoring, whether they are Christian or Muslims.
AMANPOUR: Yes, it's amazing to see and given all that we know about being on the ground in Iraq. And, of course, he is going to be meet with the
world's leading Shiite Ayatollah, Ali al-Sistani, and that's an amazing encounter as well. He's already met with the leading Sunnis.
Ben Wedeman, thank you so much for being there for us.
And that's it for now. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.