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This Week: Mark Twain
This Week
March 19, 2004

This week on NOW:

The popularity of actor Hal Holbrook's long-running one man show about Mark Twain is sustained by the universal relevance of Twain's candid observations on politics, culture, race, and the world. After 50 years of getting inside the mind of this extraordinary humorist and social critic, what can Holbrook's experience tell us about the unique nature of the challenges facing America today such as war, religious fanaticism, race, and censorship? Bill Moyers interviews Holbrook, probing his experience with bigotry and censorship while playing Twain and examining why Twain's work is particularly relevant in a post-September 11th world. "We don't have truth delivered to us very often, especially in this very commercialized world we live in," says Holbrook. "Mark Twain cuts right straight through that with a knife."

Bill Moyers talks to Richard Rodgriguez, one of the country's most intriguing and controversial writers on how the mixing of races and cultures has influenced his life, his work and American culture. "We have these categories: white, black, and now this new, ludicrous category that Richard Nixon invented for me, Hispanic. In 1972, I became Hispanic," says Rodriguez, "Until then, I was a Mexican-American. And suddenly, I see myself over 30 years, in concert with Cuban-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Colombians." Rodriguez's books include HUNGER OF MEMORY: THE EDUCATION OF RICHARD RODRIGUEZ and the Pulitzer Prize Runner-up DAYS OF OBLIGATION: AN ARGUMENT WITH MY MEXICAN FATHER. He talks to Moyers about his book BROWN: THE LAST DISCOVERY OF AMERICA, where he argues that America has been brown since its inception and reflects on how Hispanics are being Americanized at the same rate that America is being Latinized.

In Depth

Mark Twain
Hal Holbrook

The Trouble with Twain: The HUCK FINN Debate

Man with tape over his mouth

American Political Satire

Take a Twain Trivia Quiz

NOW's Book List

Defining Indecency

Richard Rodriguez, author of BROWN

Election 2004: Courting the Hispanic Vote


Talk about race in America on the message boards.


Learn more about the life and writings of Mark Twain.

Read the complete transcript.

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