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Frank McCourt

Pulitzer Prize for Biography

I wasn't particularly intellectual, I think I moved a lot by instinct, and then a hint at intellect came along after it. I worked out this equation: What am I doing in the classroom? And I wanted to move the kids from what I call "From F to F: from Fear to Freedom." And I would explain most of us are fearful of something or other. So if I accomplished anything in the class, it was to help the kids to think for themselves, because we had never been encouraged to think for ourselves. We were told we were worthless. The only thing for us to do was behave ourselves, observe the edicts or the pronouncements of the Catholic Church so we could go up to heaven. But eventually I knew the kids lived in a state of fear. Over what? You know, being teenagers, worried about their looks, worried about their popularity with the opposite sex, worried about their future, and I wanted to try to help them think for yourself.
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Frank McCourt

Pulitzer Prize for Biography

I didn't know Angela's Ashes would be successful, and if it hadn't sold the way it did, it hadn't brought me all these prizes and so on, I would have gone back to teaching. But the book would have been written. It would be on the bookshelves. It would be -- it would have its Library of Congress catalogue number and I would have been satisfied. I would have been profoundly satisfied, and I would have gone back to teaching, and that would have given me such satisfaction, too. I'd stay there till I died. I'd be in front of the class some day talking about dangling participles, and I'd get an aneurysm and keel over, and they'd take me out feet first. A warrior, a pedagogical warrior!
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David McCullough

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Biography

Jefferson was very contained, very restrained, did not want anybody to know what he truly felt, what kinds of passion was within or at odds with him -- at odds within. Whereas Adams wore his emotions on his sleeve. Adams, who was very eloquent on his feet, a great speaker, a great convincer of juries and delegations at the Continental Congress; Jefferson, who couldn't speak on his feet to save his life, a terrible public speaker, but who could express himself on paper, as few people ever have. And how they started off as friends and co-revolutionaries, ultimately became political rivals, even adversaries, in a harsh fashion nearly. Who didn't speak to each other for years, who, in a way, were responsible for the political divisions that set up our two-party system, and who then have a great reconciliation after each has served in the presidency and become great friends, again. And correspondence! Carrying on some of the most eloquent correspondence in our history, and in our language. And who then -- incredibly, unimaginably -- die on the same day, and the same day is the 4th of July, 50 years to the day of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which they created! Now, that doesn't happen in real life. That couldn't happen on the stage or in a movie, because nobody would believe it, but it did.
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William McRaven

The Art of Warfare

William McRaven: What I'm always happy to tell folks is the phenomenal work of the CIA. Our part of the mission was really pretty straightforward. I mean, it's kind of viewed as the sexy piece. We flew from Afghanistan into Pakistan and got Bin Laden and came back. And there was an attractiveness to that aspect of it. But that was a pretty straightforward mission for us. In fact, I would tell you that it was -- I mean, it had a political aspect of it and an angst aspect of it that was higher than the rest of the missions we do -- but from a standpoint of a pure military operation it was pretty straightforward. What I have said before is the credit really belongs to the CIA, who in fact located Bin Laden, and the President and his National Security team who made the decision, the President who made the decision to go after Bin Laden when our intelligence really at best had us at about 50/50. So the President made a decision to risk American lives and frankly to risk his political fortune, I think, to do the right thing for America. And I'm always very appreciative that he did that. And I think those are the big takeaways that the American public ought to have is that the President and his National Security team did the right thing. The CIA -- the best intelligence organization in the world -- along with the National Security Agency, which was part of their ability to figure out where Bin Laden was, those were the real stars of this mission. I'm very proud of what my guys did, but that's the sort of things we do pretty much every day.
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