An Interview with R. Emmett Tyrrell.

Abstract to Interview

00:01:29 Mr. Tyrrell mentioned that he would like to think the interview came about due to “popular demand”, though he admitted that his publisher probably arranged it. He thought the interview was a lot of fun, and clarified his thoughts on liberals and conservatives to some degree. Tyrrell went on the express these thoughts.

00:03:02 Mr. Tyrrell believed that he must have prepared meticulously but admitted that he did not remember. He joked about having a cup of strong coffee, perhaps.

00:03:29 Tyrrell thought that the Booknotes Intervew was not as “exciting” as another CSPAN interview, In Depth with R. Emmett Tyrrell, during which the interviewer spilled a cup of coffee all over his lap. Fortunately, the camera was on Tyrrell, who felt compelled to give a long answer (possibly 15 minutes) so that the crew could clean the interviewer up. On Booknotes Brian Lamb’s “deadpan” questions were what he remembered best. He described that experience as “a bit intimidating.”

00:05:14 Mr. Tyrrell recalled that he wore a Red Army lapel pin on the program, joking that he was the last communist left in America. He thought that it caught Mr. Lamb off-guard for a moment.

00:06:51 Tyrrell saw no drawbacks in Booknotes’ hour-long format especially “if the author has something serious to impart.” He commented on current late-night interview shows and thought that that they were quite superficial and lacking substance.

00:08:50 Lamb’s program reminded Tyrrell of the book show Apostrophes on French television with host Bernard Pivot. He thought that while Lamb was quite “friendly,” Pivot was “somewhat arrogant.” Tyrrell thought that most book shows have been “very unsatisfactory, and Brian made it essential that a guest know what he or she was talking about.”

00:10:01 Tyrrell suggested that “writers are always interested in how other writers research, write, and spend their days.” Compared to talk shows of today “[Booknotes] has been the last outpost of the intelligent mind on TV.”

00:10:59 Tyrrell was not surprised by Lamb’s line of questioning as he had watched him before. Tyrrell had competed in sports , which interested Lamb. They spoke about it at length. When on another show he asked Tyrrell about his divorce he was surprised. He joked that he would have preferred to talk about his second marriage and could have “shown him [his] wife’s picture.

00:13:06 Tyrrell joked that when Lamb had asked about his first marriage he was surprised and his mother was “outraged.” Tyrrell suggested that “most of the rest of the questions were meant to encourage me to tell the audience what kind of man I am.” He characterized the interview as “well thought out.”

00:13:53 Tyrrell suggested that Brian Lamb is not an “odd ball,” but rather “a friendly American with a lot of curiosity.” Lamb was “trying to get me to talk about my books and about things related to my books.”

00:14:57 Tyrrell suggested that the Booknotes collection will “tell you about the concerns of thoughtful Americans… from the Cold War to the war against terror, from sociology to political science, the whole gamut of Americans’ concerns.” He suggested that the collection “will reveal that our absorption with the Cold War almost completely died in the early 1990s”, although our interest in World War II did not.

00:16:08 Tyrrell spoke a bit more on the decline in the interest in the Cold War.

00:17:51 Tyrrell mentioned that he was not aware of his rule, as he had appeared on other CSPAN programs. He stated that he would be “delighted to return [to Booknotes] and talk some more.”

00:18:48 Tyrrell believed that his interview “certainly did not hurt” sales of his book, though he also believes that “people seem to be less and less interested in books” or at least less interested in much of what Tyrrell has to say, particularly about the Cold War.

00:19:49 Tyrrell thought that his interview caused him to review his thoughts on history and liberalism and conservatism. Though he maintained many of his earlier conclusions, his thoughts regarding Bill Clinton’s behavior had changed.
00:21:22 Tyrrell described some of his other projects, such as the book he is researching on the Kennedy family. He considered his most prized books to be Boy Clinton: The Political Biography and The Clinton Crack-Up: The Boy President’s Life After the White House. His most recent work, The Death of Liberalism, also rates high on his list.

10. 00:22:33 Tyrrell thought that Booknotes has “held up the book as an incomparable exercise in thought.” He suggested that “next to a book and its author [he did] not think there is anything comparable using language.”


Misha Griffith (Oral Historian) , “An Interview with R. Emmett Tyrrell.,” One Book. One Author. One Hour., accessed December 6, 2022,



Output Formats

Dublin Core


An Interview with R. Emmett Tyrrell.


Misha Griffith (Oral Historian)


7 August 2014


R. Emmett Tyrrell is interviewed as part of the Booknotes Oral History Project on 7 August 2014. Mr. Tyrrell discusses his appearance on C-SPAN's Booknotes program on 7 June 1992, where he discussed his book "Conservative Crack-Up."


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


Booknotes Oral History Series. R0143 Box 01 File 18


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