Morning Joe | February 19, 2013
>>> we have "gq" magazine's deputy editor, michael hanie, the author of the memoir, after visit i visiting friends, a son's story .
>> what an incredible story . i never knew.
>> that's why we read a book, right?
>> give us your background.
>> tell us about your parents.
>> willie and i were talking offset, both sons of newspaper men in chicago as well as my mother a newspaper woman . grew up in chicago, my father died when i was very young, he was 34. this personal story i heard but very universal about family and secrets. every family has secrets and inside those secrets are truths and if we can find those truth, that's what unites us.
>> the story we've been told about how he died was not what i had always been led to believe and spent 10 years reporting this story .
>> what did they tell you? how did your dad die?
>> we were told he died by my uncle. he got off work late, the lobster shift, 2:00 in the morning and had a heart attack on the street. when i was in high school , this story never rang true to me. i searched the oh bit tuairies and said he died after visiting friends. having never met these friends, i went in search of them.
>> what was it that made you think the story wasn't quite right? why did you think there was something suspicious about your father dying of a heart attack .
>> what was most suspicious, who were these friends? i find them very curious, never met anybo with him that night. our absence is never greater than our presence, when we lose someone whether we lost a boy or sibling or spouse, we always want to know what happened and what were their last moments like?
>> as you teased it out were people reluctant to speak with you?
>> many people were reluctant, especially his old newspaper pals. more of sense of honor protecting a son and my mother as well. we want the truth. no one really wants to be the messenger. we know what happens to messengers. these people were acting out of a code of honor one can understand.
>> what can you tell us about what you discovered without --
>> without giving away. willie, what would you say we can tell?
>> it's very difficult not to give it away.
>> it was a complex relationship, complicated story , perm very universal story as well because inside all these things are these truths.
>> the story you got turned out not to be true?
>> yes. the story my uncle devised, this cover story was a story he had written to protect us, a great last moment i see in the book the moment between the front page rare and information age when cops and reporters were still on the same side of the coin.
>> was there any feeling you starred down this path wanted to know how your dad died, did you get to a point, i'm ability to blow up the myth of the story of my dad i had in my head all these years, you ever think about stopping, i don't want to know?
>> there was also when i learn it, how do i go forward with this story ? as i say in the book, there comes a point in all our lives, the great question is who am i? in order to know who we are we have to go in our past sometimes and family's past and with where we came from and i tell my mother what i learned, a very powerful moment.
>> your mother was also told this story ?
>> but she didn't believe it, did she? did she believe he died of a heart attack ?
>> she did. she was 33 at the time. she had two boys in 1980 . it was a different era.
>> did she want to know the truth?
>> when i told her i knew the truth, yeah. in this book, i went looking for my father but found my mother .
>> how did your mother respond?
>> she's very proud of the book.
>> she's here. she's seated right over there.
>> my goodness.
>> that must have been very difficult when here she is believing one thing all these years and you can see she a's stopped and welled up. it was very difficult for her to hear that.
>> when you started out, did you conceive of it as a book from the beginning?
>> i conceived it as the universality is. we long to search. our stories are intertwined with our parents stories, to know ourselves we have to know them. i need to solve this mystery. i believe there was a story here and the story became the journey and the journey became the book.
>> are you glad you went on that journey at the end of it?
>> sure. yeah.
>> there are some things best left unknown.
>> i used to think that, joe. ultimately i think there are secrets and inside those secrets are truths. we know in our own lives once that truth comes out, oh, now i have information and can go forward in my life. it's that fear of those things that holds us back and one of the things i talk about in the book. believe me, i had a great amount of fear going in search of this. having come out the other side, i hope this book will inspire people to think about this and even having conversations.
>> so many people don't want to pursue truths that are in their family and everybody's family has a truth that through the years, through the generations, people decide to bury.
>> right. i got an e-mail from a man who read my book, the man is 75 years old, i realized my father, what my mother told me, that he died of a heart attack , he said i finally looked up the hospital record. he had been beaten to death and died in the hospital after five days. this was in the '40s and said, i think my father was beaten to death because he was gay back then. i can't ask any about it. i talked to my cousins and they say, we don't want to talk about that. i'm 75 and i still want to know that story . that's again this book -- my book connects those -- makes people think about those conversations they want to have.
>> after a decade of digging into the truth about your dad, how do you feel about him sitting here today?
>> i feel like i see him as a man in full. i started this journey from looking at him from a son to father and now i see him man-to-man. i think that's the great -- when we take these journeys, that's the power of it. these people leave us but we never leave them behind and always carry them with us. joe, you lost your father. we think about these folks everyday, we always are wondering, how am i like them? how do they form me? whether you lose a spouse or someone, you're always looking to see what's left of them and how do i carry them forward.
>> can you talk about this spectacular cover?
>> this is done by a colleague of mine, taken of my parents the year before they were married. the architect director at "gq." you can tell a book by its cover.
>> your mother is here.
>> she's come in. today is
>> she's come in.
>> that has to be exciting. so what does your mother sympathy be the you putting kate upton --
>> i need to talk to her.
>> i'm sure she's concerned.
>> it all loops back.
>> it all loops back, i know.
>> i just have attorneys, this is a beautifully written book. it's heart-breaking. i'm not just saying that because he's a friend.
>> i can't wait to read it. wow. the book is "after visiting friends, a son's story ." michael hainey, thank you. up next, mayor michael bloomberg tests the limits of the nra's influence. that story 's next. we'll be right back. weight