David Harris

in conversation with Peter Coyote

Recorded Sunday, December 13th, 2020

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David Harris in conversation with Peter Coyote

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David Harris’ newest release, My Country ‘Tis of Thee: Reporting, Sallies, and Other Confessions is a wide-ranging and incisive anthology conveying the spirit of the 1960s and ’70s.

David Harris is a reporter, a clear-eyed idealist, an American dissident, and, as these selected pieces reveal, a writer of great character and empathy. Harris gained national recognition as an undergraduate for his opposition to the Vietnam War and was imprisoned for two years when he refused to comply with the draft. His writings trace a bright throughline of care for and attention to outsiders, the downtrodden, and those who demand change, and these eighteen pieces of long-form journalism, essays, and opinion writings remain startlingly relevant to the world we face today. This career-spanning collection of writings by an always-independent journalist follow Harris from his early days as a prominent leader of the resistance to the Vietnam War, through regular contributions to many publications, including Rolling Stone and the New York Times, and on into the twenty-first century.

Peter Coyote’s memoir of the 1960’s counter-culture Sleeping Where I Fall which received universally excellent reviews, and has been in continuous print since 1999. His second book, The Rainman’s Third Cure: An Irregular Education, about mentors and the search for wisdom, was nominated as one of the top five non-fiction books published in California in 2015. His third book, Unmasking Your True Self (the Lone Ranger and Tonto Meet the Buddha) conflates 50 years of Buddhist practice and acting and uses masks and improv exercises to foster liberation experiences and teach people “how to get out of their own way.” It will be released by Inner Traditions Press in early 2020, and so will his first book of poems, The Tongue of a Crow.

Peter has performed as an actor in over 160 films for theaters and TV. He is a double Emmy-Award winning narrator of over 150 documentary films. An ordained Zen Buddhist priest and transmitted teacher, Peter is currently giving live weekly dharma talks on Facebook, preparing for a fourth book called Vernacular Buddhism.

David Harris writes like Hemingway would have wanted to–hard, no tricks, pungent, but without Papa’s shoehorning his judgments on everyone’s courage and manhood into his characters’ mouths. This collection of fine pieces perfectly embodies his high moral purpose without lecture or cant. Don’t miss a word he writes.”

– Peter Coyote 

Get ready to join David in conversation, Sunday, December 13th.

In the meantime, we invite you to take a moment now to help shape this upcoming conversation.

Check out the list of questions submitted by other registered attendees, and then vote to support any that match your interests.

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  • 5

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    What advice would you give to youth organizers at this moment?

  • 3

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    Who are inspirational figures (historical or personal) who influence your worldview?

  • 2

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    How has the pandemic impacted your writing? Your view of America?

  • 2

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    What is the last thing that you saw or read that moved you?

  • 2

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    Why did you decide to write My Country ’tis of Thee?

  • 2

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    What does protest mean to you? What kind of hope do you have for the future of this country?

  • 2

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    Did you watch The Trial of the Chicago 7? If so, what did you think?

  • 2

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    What advice would you have for journalists working in today’s world?

  • 1

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    What inspires you to start a new novel? What is the process like of beginning to write a new work?

  • 1

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    “The Last Stand” was an extremely powerful book that I enjoyed immensely, as I’d been an activist protesting Old Growth cutting in Humboldt County. How did Richard Powers’ magnificent novel, “The Overstory,” about Redwoods and activism amidst corporate greed affect you?

  • 1

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    Have you always been a writer? Since a young boy? Does inspiration come to you out of the blue or it is a more gradual process?

  • 1

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    What are you working on now?

  • 1

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    Is our democracy going to survive without a renaissance amongst our people and our leaders?

  • 1

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    I grew up staring at “Daybreak” on my mother’s bookshelf; she was a great fan. Do you still recognize yourself in that book that was written such a long time ago?

  • 1

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    Having worked with you on an early 1970s organizing project, the Constellation Vote, I am wondering which of your expectations from that era turned out to be most correct and which were least correct.

  • 1

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    David,
    The only question I have is:

    Do you fully realize that you have left in your wake a huge number of people who still carry you in their hearts, whose lives were forever impacted by your brilliance, determination, warmth, and kindness?

    I was the first business manager of your Congressional Campaign. I started working in your Menlo Park home, moving on to an office in Mountain View, before entering the Stanford Business School in late September of 1976. I first encountered you in 1966, when my brother was a freshman at Stanford and The Stanford Daily was sent to freshmen’s families. I was 16 in my home in Dallas when I saw you accosted and shaved by the Delts. Reading about you made you an early hero of mine. I have never lost that admiration. I was so honored to babysit Gabriel while you ran errands, and to attend your wedding to Lacey. I went on to co-found Electronic Arts, Inc., and now as a septuagenarian, I have reconnected with Diarmuid McGuire with great pleasure. You totally fit the quote from Maya Angelou that I try to live by:
    “I have found that people will forget what you said, and people will forget what you did. But people will never forget the way you made them feel.”

    Thank you for making me feel like a greater man than I ever could be.

    -Jeff

  • 1

    votes

    I see that, as recently as this Sunday morning, Trump, ever more dangerously, continues to incite his followers to riot. Do you see it. that way? If so, what response do you personally have, and what actions would you recommend to “Resisters”, young and old?

  • 1

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    What did you think of the profile of you in Alta; aside from thr title, which the writer Alan Goldfarb didn’t compose?

  • 0

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    Would love to hear another reading!

  • 0

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    Has looking back at the anti-Vietnam war protests of 1970’s and the effects of those protests on Vietnamese and US veterans changed your perspective about that movement? Thanks

  • 0

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    where’s the extended sessions enter button. there’s no way to join the session today

  • 0

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    What advice do have for young people today who want to balance career, family, and being an activist for social change and justice? J

  • 0

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    I’m confused. There seem to be two presentations going on at the same time….one with David Harris and one with Jane Smiley???

  • 0

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    How to access

  • 0

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    Actually, as a former Vietnam soldier, you should probably not include Agent Orange as an issue. The science didn’t really back that charge up.

  • 0

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    what is that womans name?

  • 0

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    Thank you for a great session..tuned in from Australia!