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Neil Sheehan

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

Neil Sheehan: I got the Pentagon Papers for The New York Times. I got them and brought them to the Times. I was very proud of the paper because the executive editor -- first of all, I briefed all the editors. I spent two weeks hidden down here in the Jefferson Hotel, which was a dump at the time, with one of the assistant foreign editors, and the two of us went through all of this stuff, and I was astonished at how much they had been able to hide. It was astonishing, because I knew, obviously, Vietnam. I had lived through these events. And also, what was astonishing was here were their documents, their telegrams sending the armies in the field, the airplanes in the air, their memoranda. It wasn't some unidentified source in the Pentagon in a news story. It was their stuff, the real thing. It was the archive of the war. So we spent two weeks reading, and then we went up to New York, and I briefed the editors in New York, and I was very proud of their reaction. No one in the room said, "Should we print this stuff?" It was all classified "Top Secret: Sensitive." Unjustly, I mean. They had in there a 1945 telegram from Ho Chi Ming appealing to President Truman to help him get rid of the French, and they had these classified "Top Secret: Sensitive."
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Neil Sheehan

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

This tremendous battle occurred within The New York Times between Rosenthal and the other editors, mainly the business side, and the main legal counsel for the paper. The outside counsel was a famous establishment New York lawyer named Louis Loeb, who told the publisher that if he published this material, the government would take him into court, and he would lose against the restraining order, and Loeb would not defend him! He would refuse to defend him. It was such an arrogant, incredibly arrogant thing to tell a man who's running The New York Times and whose editors are telling him, "You've got to publish this material. This belongs in the public domain. We have a duty under the First Amendment to publish it. It doesn't matter what these people say. You've got to publish it. That's it." The publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, who also was called "Punch," the father of the current publisher, decided to go ahead and gave the editors their head. He fired the chief counsel afterwards. He fired Louie Loeb.
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Neil Sheehan

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

I wasn't afraid going to war. I almost got killed six months later in a so-called "friendly" artillery barrage. This incompetent Vietnamese general shelled his own troops. That put the fear of God into me. From that day forward, I was always afraid when I went out, but you had to go out. You just had to learn how to control your fear. That's all. Soldiers -- most soldiers who are sane -- are afraid, but they control. The professionals learn to control their fear, and that is what you had to do, because you had to go out.
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Alan Shepard

First American in Space

The excitement really didn't start to build until the trailer -- which was carrying me, with a space suit with ventilation and all that sort of stuff -- pulled up to the launch pad. I walked out, and looked at that huge rocket, the Redstone rocket, for the first time. Of course it's not huge by today's standards, but it seemed pretty big then. And I thought, well now, there is that little rascal, and I'm going to get up on top and fly that thing. And you know, pilots always go out to the airplanes and kick the tires before they fly. Nobody would let me get near the rocket to kick the fins, but I kind of walked around and thought, well, I'll take a good look at it, because I'll never see that part of the machine again. And then the excitement started building, I think, at that point.
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Alan Shepard

First American in Space

We had a couple of cliff-hangers on Apollo XIV. In the first place, we tried to dock with the lunar module, and that didn't work, so it could have been the end of the deal, but we finally got that organized. And then, the actual landing on the surface. We were supposed to get an update from the radar, we couldn't go below 13,000 feet, and that came in only at the last minute. So there were a lot of little nervous things that kept you awake all the way down until you landed. But then you are there, and you say, "Well, we're not going to take off for a couple of days, so let's relax and enjoy it."
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Carol Shields

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

When my first two novels -- even the first four novels -- were published, they were reviewed very much as "women's books," "domestic novels," as though we don't all have a domestic life. I think the secret is out, we all do. I think probably they were marginalized somewhat. Now, did I mind? Probably not a great deal. I always had a sense of where things really -- where important centers were located. I suppose I also realized this is the only kind of novel that I can write. I wrote a novel called Swann in 1987, which is very much a departure from those first four novels in every way, in form, style, in a kind of a -- with a post-modern ornamentation. I was very fearful about the reception of that novel, that some people would say, "Why doesn't she write the way she used to write?" At the same time, I had an exhilarating sense that the novel could be opened up, that it was a much more expansive, elastic form than I had previously thought, and that I could do anything with this novel. I could even have, as my final section of that novel, a film script. Now I have to say my publishers were -- they tried very hard to dissuade me from these more eccentric parts of the novel. But for some reason, and maybe this is because it was a fifth novel, I felt I could insist on doing it the way I wanted to do it. But I was frightened.
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