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A Conversation With Barry M. Lando Author and Former award-winning investigative Producer With 60 Minutes
http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/6138/1/A-Conversation-With-Barry-M-Lando-Author-and-Former--award-winning-investigative-Producer-With-60-Minutes/Page1.html
Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

To read more about Norm Follow Here






 
By Norm Goldman
Published on June 24, 2013
 



Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com Interviews Barry M. Lando Award-Winning Investigative Reporter With 60 Minutes and Author of the Soon To Be Published The Watchman's File



                                                                                                                                                                                                            


Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is honored to have as our guest Barry M. Lando.

Barry is Canadian, a graduate of Harvard and Columbia University, and spent 25 years as an award-winning investigative producer with 60 Minutes. The author of numerous articles about the Middle East and Central Asia, he produced a documentary about Saddam Hussein that has been shown around the world. That film became a book about Iraq, Web of Deceit: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq, from Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush.

Barry is just completing a novel, The Watchman's File about Israel's most closely guarded secret (it's not the bomb). The book will be available on Amazon and other sites in the next few weeks. He currently lives in London.

Norm:

Good day Barry and thanks for participating in our interview

Norm:

How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?

Barry:

I started writing when I was 20 years old, after taking a trip to Morocco. It was before the Internet. I wrote endless typewritten letters to my parents back in Canada. I found I couldn’t stop. I wanted to describe and interpret everything I saw—the people, the land, the politics, the customs, the poverty. My letters ran into thousands of words. I’ve had that bug ever since.

Norm:

What was it like to become part of the 60 Minutes team and how did you become involved with this legendary television program?

Barry:

I had been a correspondent for Time-Life based in Brazil—hired right out of Grad school at Columbia University. It was a great job, but I wanted to get into TV. I got a job at CBS then lobbied the hell out of Don Hewitt, who had just launched 60 Minutes a couple of years earlier. I desperately wanted to go to work for the show. It was by far the most exciting thing on television, for me at least.

After pummeling Don and Mike Wallace with memos suggesting stories, I was finally hired in 1970 and dispatched to open an office for 60 Minutes in the CBS Bureau in Washington.

Washington was God’s country for someone who wanted to become an investigative journalist. Working mainly with Mike Wallace, I was able to develop new forms of muckraking television—using hidden cameras and mikes, setting up a fake Medicaid clinic, getting my researchers hired as security guards at Kennedy and Ohara Airports, following someone as they build up an amazing collection of legitimate I.D.s..but in the name of someone who had died twenty years before……and on and on. Always looking for new ways to amaze, educate—and entertain--our viewers .

From Washington, I went to Paris in 1979 and covered everything from the breakup of the Soviet Union to the opening up of China and the endless turmoil of the Middle East.

Norm:

What helps you focus when you write and do you find it easy reading back your own work?

Barry:

I try to become part of the story. I listen to the words. It’s a habit I developed writing scripts for 60 Minutes and interview questions for Mike Wallace. I’m not sure it’s the best way to write fiction.

Reading back my own work can be very disappointing at times, frustrating…but sometimes, if enough time has gone by, I’m surprised by what I was able to write. Can’t believe it was me.

Norm:

How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing and would you say that your experiences with 60 minutes helped you write The Watchman`s File?

Barry:

The Watchman’s File draws a lot from my own background and experiences as a journalist. It is very much rooted in fact, in describing the process of an investigative report--the way in which a show like 60 Minutes works. On the other hand, in order to make for an edgy thriller, I had to have my hero face far more danger than I ever did. That was the toughest part of writing the book.

Norm:

I believe The Watchman's File is your first work of fiction. How did you decide you were ready to write the book?

Barry:

It is based very much on historical fact as well as my own experience of working as an investigative reporter for 60 Minutes, much of that time in Paris.

It begins with Ed Diamond, the correspondent for an American TV magazine show [based in Paris, of course,] getting a call from an old friend of his in Israel, Dov Ben Ami, formerly deputy director of the Mossad—Israel’s CIA.

Dov convinces Ed to come to Israel to meet him. It’s a matter of great urgence—he says—concerning Israel and the United States.

Ed flies to Israel. But before he can meet his old friend, Dov is blown to bits by a car bomb. Ed attempts to find out what Dov had wanted to warn him about.

That leads to the discovery of an old Mossad dossier, “The Watchman’s File”,which dates back to 1943, and describes secret links between a major American corporation and Nazi Germany.

As he unravels the mystery, Diamond himself becomes the target of a radical group of Israelis that is continuing to use the “Watchman’s File” to control the president of the United States.

To know more, you have to read the book.

Actually the novel grew out of a report I did at 60 Minutes about how Swiss banks were accused of attempting to hide the assets of many Jews who had put their money in those banks before the war—and then disappeared in the Holocaust.

Exploring that subject, I was surprised by the extent that certain major U.S. corporations aided Hitler’s Reich to rearm in the 1930’s—and how many American business leaders—like Henry Ford and Joe Kennedy—were pro-Nazi---right up to Pearl Harbor.

That was all fact. But what if some of those close connections had continued AFTER the outbreak of the war??

The Watchman’s File explores that possibility. [That’s the fascinating aspect of being able to write a novel largely “based on fact”.]

Norm:

Did you enjoy the process of writing fiction?

Barry:

Very much so. I had no difficulty in sitting down to right three or four hours every day. On the other hand, I find that fiction is more difficult that non-fiction---because you have to invent everything.

In my book on the history of Iraq, for instance, which was non-fiction, the challenge was unearthing the relevant facts and putting them down in a logical, interesting fashion. Fiction offers the freedom—and problem—of having to create everything.

On the other hand, the incredible development of the Internet—of tools like Google and Wikipedia—enable someone like myself to research history and retrieve vital nuggets as never before.

Norm:

Do you agree that to have good drama there must be an emotional charge that usually comes from the individual squaring off against antagonists either out in the world or within himself or herself? If so, please elaborate and how does it fit into The Watchman's File?

Barry:

That’s certainly what I attempted to do—pitting our hero, Ed Diamond, against a certain Israeli villain—no names given away at this point. But Diamond is also doing battle with his own jaded self, trying to rediscover the idealistic, dedicated reporter he had once been.

Norm:

How did you create the characters of Ed Diamond, Arik Ben-David and Gabriella Ben-David? As a follow up, were these characters based on people you know or have encountered or are they strictly fictional?

Barry:

As I’ve said, Ed Diamond is partially myself—but only very partially. Arik Ben-David and Gabriella come from composites of Israeli characters I’ve run into over the years.

Norm:

Was it improvisational or did you have a set plan when writing The Watchman's File?

Barry:

Part was set plan, but the part I enjoyed the most was improvisational…one of the big kicks I get out of writing fiction is sitting my characters down at a table or wherever to interact with one another—then simply trying to keep up with them as they “spontaneously” bounce off each other. Often I’m surprised about what they come up with. About new twists in the tale I had never thought of—until suggested to me by my characters.

Norm:

Is there much of you in The Watchman's File?

Barry:

There is some of me, as I mentioned above. But there’s also a considerable amount of daring and life-threatening situations that I’ve never encountered, and would never hope to.

Norm:

What would you like to say to writers who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep creating, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?

Barry:

Do it!

Norm:

Where can our readers find out more about you and The Watchman's File?

Barry:

I invite them to visit my AUTHOR'S SITE,   MY BLOG—and the Watchman File’s Facebook page, which I hope they will like. Of course, if they like the book, I would ask them to do a short review for Amazon.

Norm:

As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.

Barry:

Question: How are you planning to promote your book?

Answer:

Well, Norm, that’s what I’m now exploring through all the various new social media tools—such as your blog.

I find this process of discovery almost as fascinating as writing the book itself. And I’m always open to tips.

Thanks for the opportunity.

Norm:

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors

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