"A Full Cup" by Michael D'Antonio
Jeff Glor talks to Michael D'Antonio about "A Full Cup: Sir Thomas Lipton's Extraordinary Life and His Quest for the America's Cup"
Jeff Glor: What inspired you to write the book?
Michael D'Antonio: I grew up in a small island village called New Castle, N.H. where I spent a great deal of time on the water, admired sleek sailing yachts, and was awed by the freighters, warships, and tankers that passed on their way to the port of Portsmouth. This experience, it turns out, echoed young Tommy Lipton's childhood on the River Clyde. I was also influenced, early on, by the American tradition of the self-made man, which became a sort of romantic ideal in my mind. Today I understand the nuances of success and failure and the truth that individuals can never make it "on their own" but I am still drawn to stories of remarkable, over-coming-the-odds success.
JG: What surprised you the most during the writing process?
MD: I was most surprised to discover the humor and irony in Lipton's story. He was someone who enjoyed having a good time, made fun of himself, and didn't much mind if he became the object of parody. He was, in fact, a very ironic fellow. He knew that intelligent people saw past his many constructed selves - the Irishman, the Scot, the American, the Yachtsman, the boulevardier - and joined them with a wink and a smile. I was also delighted to discover that he was quietly, and effectively involved in high-level politics and used his fame and wealth for the greater good in ways that weren't publicized.
JG: What would you be doing if you weren't a writer?
MD: I might be some sort of social scientist, studying the ways people develop and organize themselves to be in the world, or I might own a café, which would involve roughly the same interest. The first would take me out into the environment to meet different people. The second would allow the people to come to me. Either way, I'd be engaged in learning about the variety of human experience.
JG: What else are you reading right now?
MD: I just finished "The Enigma of Capital and the Crisis of Capitalism" by David Harvey and I'm starting Milton Friedman's "Capitalism and Freedom." I'm also reading "A Secret World, Sexuality and the Search for Celibacy" by Richard Sipe. The Sipe book is for my current project. With the others I'm hoping to find, somewhere, a better understanding of what people call the New Normal and how it arrived.
JG: What's next for you?
MD: I'm working on a sort of current history of the sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church. The first signs of trouble arose about twenty-five years ago and I think the time is right for something that puts it in perspective. It's hard going, but I like the challenge.
For more on "A Full Cup," visit the Penguin Group website.