An Interview with Judith Shelton.

Abstract from Interview

1:29 – Judy Shelton is not sure how her book came to be on Booknotes but she was a fan of Brian Lamb and CSPAN so she was glad to appear on the show. As one of the first authors on the program, she wasn’t familiar with Booknotes itself.

3:50 – After appearing on the show she was able to work with the Americans and Soviets at the end of the Cold War as talks began. Her economic work was very unique at the time and these meetings were some of the first confirmation she was able to get that her work was accurate in such a closed system.

6:23 – On Booknotes Shelton remembers most that Lamb was very personable and seemed genuinely interested in her topic.

7:34 – The longer format of the program allowed her to get into the process of research and writing, and gave her more time to tease out implications. Shelton hopes this affected policy and public opinions towards policy. She worries that this long format could get boring for the viewer. 

9:40 – The specificity of Lamb’s questions surprised Shelton. He pushed her to talk about concrete prices and currency. She then goes on to discuss the breakdown in consumerism in the Soviet Union and the idea of “buying off” the Soviet people with consumer goods. 

14:47 – The extent to which Lamb read the book was not normal for interviewers. Booknotes was one of her first interviews so she learned its rarity over time. Lamb asked questions which others did not because of the degree to which he had read the book.

16:10 – The recommendations made in the book were provocative so she was glad that Lamb allowed her to walk through them. She then discusses the writing and editing process undertaken with her publisher. Based on this book and her recommendations she came to work with the DOD.

19:51 – Very shortly after her book came out the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended in just the way Shelton had predicted. But she was surprised by how aggressive some in the military and government community were towards her assertions that the Soviet Union was going bankrupt before and after it happened.

23:44 – In her experience, readers, writers, and publishers are all interested in the process of writing.

24:42 – Shelton was very surprised by being asked biographical questions by Lamb because this is not the norm in interviews. 

28:00 – Even though she had not seen Booknotes before appearing on the program, it being so new, she had watched C-SPAN. Shelton was a fan of the idea of the station as a transparent view into democracy.

30:17 – The blank set made Shelton very conscious of being on camera, which was somewhat intimidating. But it was a compliment for the set to be so bare so that viewers would focus on her and what she had to say. 

31:36 – Shelton thinks that the advantages of the Booknotes book collections would be to see which of the political and policy books turned out to be accurate, in what way, and why. 

33:07 – If asked back Shelton would have returned for another interview “in a minute” as being on the program the first time was one of the “greater opportunities and privileges” in her life. 

34:24 – Appearing on the show spurred interest in the book. One of the most surprising responses was the amount of political attention appearing on C-SPAN lent Shelton and her book. She was contacted by the defense community, Congress, and former President Nixon. 

39:36 – Appearing on Booknotes reinforced her researching and writing processes based on Lamb’s questions. 

40:38 – Shelton has been working on international monetary reform since appearing on the program, having written one other book and many papers and opinion pieces on the topic. She goes on to call for an international currency akin to the gold standard to allow for stability and prevent governments from manipulating the value of currency because that hurts citizens. 

47:13 – Shelton thinks that having an archive and oral history program around Booknotes shows the lasting impact of the program and will ensure the show’s impact into the future. Shelton thinks that Lamb’s personal integrity was also a lasting impact of the show. 

49:12 – Shelton thinks that having the program available online where it can be categorized by topic is invaluable for researchers.

50:35 – “God bless Brian Lamb” for his service to American is Shelton’s closing remarks regarding C-SPAN, Booknotes, and Brian Lamb.


Misha Griffith (Oral Historian), “An Interview with Judith Shelton.,” One Book. One Author. One Hour., accessed October 7, 2022,


Output Formats

Dublin Core


An Interview with Judith Shelton.


Misha Griffith (Oral Historian)


11 June 2014


Economist Dr. Judith Shelton is interviewed as part of the Booknotes Oral History Project on 11 June 2014. Dr. Shelton discusses her appearance on C-SPAN's Booknotes program on 9 April 1989, where she discussed her book "The Coming Soviet Crash."


Booknotes (Television program)
Lamb, Brian, 1941-
C-SPAN (Television network)


Booknotes Oral History Series. R0143 Box 01 File 09.


George Mason University Libraries


Copyright held by George Mason University Libraries. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections & Archives, George Mason University Libraries.


Video recording