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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  June 18, 2011 4:00pm-5:00pm EDT

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... [inaudible conversations]
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>> good afternoon everyone. welcome to this keynote session of the eighth annual roosevelt reading festival held at the franklin d. roosevelt presidential library, henry a. wallace visitor and education center. i'm bob clarke the center organizer at the library and it is my great push an honor to introduce our concluding session today, and james macgregor burns, conversations and ratings with james macgregor burns, michael beschloss and susan dunn. because of the special format of the keynote session there will not be a question and answer period. mega-band. i'm certain a wide-ranging discussion between these eminent historians will provide more than enough food for thought today. i would also like to balance the presence of our friends from c-span who are here today. we appreciated as always their support and participation in the roosevelt reading festival and the good work they do in bringing the festival and into the homes that are not able to come to hyde park in person. franklin roosevelt a great collector books and an amateur historian in his own right once wrote that books are always faithful friends and ever
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cheerful companions. the thing -- same could be said of our three guests on stage today. james macgregor burns can rightly be called the dean of roosevelt biographers. he of the pulitzer prize-winning political scientist and historian and a pioneer in leadership studies. indeed he is the devoted his entire professional life to the study of leadership in all its forms. small wonder then that he turned to franklin roosevelt as a focus of examination. in 1971 professor burns won the pulitzer prize and the national book award for his landmark study of fdr, roosevelt soldier of freedom. he is also the author of the acclaimed companion book, roosevelt the lion and the fox. together with another of our guests, susan dunn professor burns also co-authored the three roosevelts, leaders who transformed america and the 2004 biography of george george washington. professor burns' 1978 book "leadership" is still considered the seminal work in the field of leadership studies and the theory of transformational
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leadership has been the basis for more than 400 doctorow dissertations. what he has written about he is also lived. professor burns served as a combat historian in the pacific theater from 1943 to 1946 and he was awarded the bronze star and four battle stars. user democratic nominee for the first congressional district of massachusetts in 1958 and was also a delegate to four democratic national conventions. a member of the american academy of arts and sciences he is also the past president of the american political science association and of the international society of political psychology. he received his b.a. from williams college and his ph.d. in political science from harvard and attended the london school of economics. he is currently the woodrow wilson professor of government emeritus at williams college. james macgregor burns scholarship leadership and character have inspired devotion loyalty and friendship among the generations of historians and political scientist whom he has taught.
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one of those is michael beschloss who we are honored to have here with us today. a student of professor burns at williams college mr. beschloss attended the harvard business school. he holds five honorary darkness and lectures both in the united states and abroad. he has served as a senior associate member of saint anthony college at oxford, visiting fellow at the harvard russian research center and a senior fellow at the annenberg foundation. he is a trustee of mir at school the white house historical foundation and the national archives foundation. he has written nine books on american presidents the most recent of which residential courage, brave leaders and how they changed america and the conquerors, roosevelt truman and the destruction of hitler's germany were both on "the new york times" bestsellers list. his previous works include two volumes on lyndon johnson's secret tapes, the crisis years, kennedy and khrushchev and kennedy and roosevelt the uneasy alliance. he is currently writing his trip american presidents during wartime. i'm sure many of you also know mr. beschloss from his television work. he served as nbc news
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presidential historian on the "pbs newshour" and in 2000 by the one and emmy for his role in creating the discovery channel's decisions that shook the world of which he was a host. and last but certainly not least as professor susan is professorn dunn another protége colleague and friend. she is depressed in pairs third century professor of arts and humanities. most recently she has written roosevelt purge how fdr far to change the democratic party published in 2010 by harvard university's l press. roosevelts purge has received a henry adams prize awarded by the society for history in the federal government and was a finalist with "the los angeles times" but prize in history. as mentioned earlier professor dunn is is the co-author of james macgregor burns of the three roosevelts, printers and leaders who transformed american in a 2004 biography of george washington. i think that has everyone adequately introduced so enough of me and let's get to the real reason you are here. ladies and gentlemen please help me and welcoming james
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macgregor burns, michael beschloss and susan dunn. [applause] >> michael you and i were freshmen at williams in 1973 together comics that you were freshmen student and i was a freshman faculty member. >> my memory is that susan was seven years old when i was a freshman at williams. [laughter] >> i like that version but you had the good fortune to be jim's student and i hope he will tell us about that and also tell us about the senior thesis that he wrote with jim. >> as you may have noticed by now the three of us have williams college in common. happy to say it again, just in case anyone did not get the point. [laughter] there is no better undergraduate teaching done on the planet then at williams college in williamstown, massachusetts, not far from here, and are only
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alumnus who was the president was james garfield who did not serve as president very long unfortunately, but didn't mean that he wasn't wise. one thing that garfield once said about his time at williams, he was talking about the mark hopkins with the president of williams college for think almost 40 years, jim, susan? and he said my definition of the best education is mark hopkins on a log and a student on the other end of the law. all i can say is jim burns was my mark hopkins. [applause] and experience unparalleled to be able to study with and work for one of the great scholars as an undergraduate, williams college is one of the very few places where that is possible. i thought i would talk a little bit about how jim came to write roosevelt, the lion and the fox. he claims that this is because his memory is not as good as his mind but actually it is because
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he is very modest and he doesn't like talking very much about himself. so i thought i would talk a little bit about how this happened as he is told me over the years and actually as i have gleaned it from other sources. perhaps to give a little bit of background on this, jim came into a family in eastern massachusetts that was not necessarily a new deal family, wouldn't you say jim? he had a father who was a dartmouth republican as i remember. there would be very large arguments add dinner and sometimes members of the family would go to bed without speaking. am i right on that? so that was his first exposure to the world of franklin roosevelt. it began to get him very interested. that fact did not prevent him in 1936 from being a central part of the national franklin roosevelt campaign. i think you are living in lexington, massachusetts at the time? and jim organized his own soundtrack with an amplifier and speaker and he spoke through a
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microphone loudspeaker. we want roosevelt and other roosevelt slogans. the problem was that there was a thunderstorm and it lieu out the speaker and amplifier shorted out, so at least as jim has said, that was the end of his campaign for front and roosevelt in 1936, but it worked. every state but maine and vermont. >> i elected him. >> he elected roosevelt and by a great landslide history so i think we should thank jim for that. [applause] amazing because of jim's role and roosevelt scholarship. he actually only got to see the man once, which was if you had to choose a moment to see fdr if you had known this would probably be one of the seven moments i would have liked to have seen him if i had the choice. he was there at a the boston garden in 1940. i think it was the night before halloween as i remember. roosevelt was speaking and the
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famous thing he said was, i will say this and i will say it again and again and again, your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars. and he got a round of applause and carried massachusetts, including many isolationists in massachusetts. many people later on faulted roosevelt for having said something that was not true. the way he explained what he had said was that, i might have said come except in the case of attack and that begin a is attacked it is not going to be a foreign war so he felt that was a pledge that was fair. and they think he was probably trying to be very exact because he knew jim was in the audience and he would be writing about him later on. [laughter] so he had better be very careful. in any case, jim, as bob was nice enough to mention, spent much of world war ii with a combat historian where franklin roosevelt was his commander in chief. jim once said when i came back from world war ii, i knew i must write a book about franklin
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roosevelt, and he started very quickly with 1945 not long after the president died. i think at that point the presidents -- were still in the torpedo factory and alexander virginia. than they were moved here and procedures at the roosevelt library in those days were little bit more relaxed than they are nowadays. jim has told me more than once of the fact that he and frank friedel, the great roosevelt biographer, were both here and they were here for long spells and they were away from their family so they wanted to get as much done as possible while they were here and hyde park. as much as they otherwise had to do it in hyde park of course but they wanted to get back to their families. and so in the relaxed atmosphere of of the time they were able to pay a security guard to stay until midnight silk they could just work until midnight and gets their research done a little bit more quickly. it is not quite done that way anymore, i don't think, bob?
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i think the federal marshals may be coming to take jim away for doing that. but life has changed. in any case, as both bob and susan have said, the lion and the fox is one of the classics of not only roosevelt but historical literature in this country. virtually everything that has been written about franklin roosevelt in that time in the last 55 years has been influenced by what jim wrote at the very beginning and the lion and the fox. and, he has often been asked by people who do not read every word of the book, where did the title come from? and this is a particular question because i remember jim telling me that when the book came out in 1956, he was promoting it on "the today show" and at the suggestion of his publisher he brought a stuffed lion and a stuffed fox. they wondered what this was about and perhaps getting them interested in the book. needless to say it comes from
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machiavelli that a great leader must have elements of a lion and a fox. jim drew true that have been teased about in the second volume to make the point that a great leader has to be a leader who has central principles but ultimately he or she adheres to that at the same time must be able to be as crafty as a fox at times to carry those principles out. so in any case the book came out in 1956 and was nominated for a pulitzer prize. it was one of the finalists and it was edged out by a book that we have not heard anything of sense which was called profiles in courage. [laughter] there were many professional historians and i was six months old at the time so unfortunately i wasn't one of them but who felt as good as profiles in courage was that the price should've prize should have gone to a professional scholar. and i will not vote one way or
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the other except to note that the second volume, roosevelt the soldier of freedom, which came out in 1970 was the winner of the pulitzer prize of the judges finally made it up to jim as was well deserved. so, we are going to hear jim reid from roosevelt, the lion and the fox, but i think one thing that you will know is that i reread it again recently, knowing that i was coming here. i first read it when i was 16, and i knew very little about the roosevelt period. i did not know who father coughlin was or many of the issues, particularly of the 1930s and it just made those things real to me. i felt, by the time i had finished as if i had lived through the period and that is one test of the great work of history. is a book of great litter airy element. the way he sets the scene and you will hear this in the first excerpt of jim reeves is, it is almost -- you have the sense you are there but the most important
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thing and susan alluded to this, is that there is now a very well developed discipline and american colleges and universities and also abroad called leadership studies. leadership studies did not exist in the early 1950s when jim was writing this book. little did he know that hammer writing this book, he was doing a lot actually to create what will ultimately become the discipline of leadership studies. and more than once i heard him tell the story that when i began he said this book on franklin roosevelt, i felt this would basically be a political science book looking at fdr as a case including leadership and what you can glean from him, the mistakes he made and also the successes, what we can use to develop other american leaders in the future and also be better citizens. and he said you know the problem was that fdr is a personality that completely took over and the result was he became a much more conventional list, anything
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but conventional but a much more orthodox biography and he said my leadership study shrank to a think it was about seven pages at the end of the book. there is a note on political leadership which jim modestly says you know, that is the way my original in intention began to shrink. but what is really key about the book and i will close with this and let jim. >> , is that when you read it, it is a wonderful story. how could it not be? it is beautifully told and you feel as if you are there but jim did something that is much more common now than it was in the early 1950s. he is saying we shouldn't just know about this period because roosevelt was an important president, because important things went on in the 1930s in the 1940s, but one reason that you were called in studies and past national leaders is to use him or her to make ourselves better, to make society better and essentially grabbed a lesson that you can and this is my language, not his, from this
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life and from these times. that is what he did and if you read books now that do that a lot of the reason is jim burns. so that being said one further -- one final comment. and talking about how jim wrote roosevelt, that line in the fox, jim has on other occasions reminded me that my undergraduate record of williams college and -- capable of being revised downward, so a little careful with what i've been saying that in any case with great affection all i can say is that you are getting to hear something that i have never heard and i think nearly 40 years of knowing jim byrne since i was 17 years old and that is, it never heard him read from any of his books in public so we are on now about to have a very great treat in a very great honor. jim come , can you begin reading for us? [applause] >> thank you very much for that
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wonderfully exaggerated report on my life. much appreciated. well, i think i should just get to doing what i'm supposed to do here, which is to read from my work, and i want to apologize to the two or three of you who might have read my book on roosevelt having double jeopardy now having to hear it read from this table is i think maybe a little too much so please forgive me. election, 1933, the evening of february 27, 1933 at hyde park was a cloudy and cold. a stiff northwest wind swept
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across the dark waters of the hudson, and toss to the branches of the grand old trees around the roosevelt home. inside, a warm living room, a big thick shouldered man sat writing by the fire. franklin d. roosevelt's pencil glided across the pages of yellow legal paper. quote, i am certain that my fellow americans expected that in my presidency, i would address them with a candor and a decision which they present the present situation of our nation and tells. the fire hissed and crackled. the large hand with a stick fingers moved rapidly across the paper and wrote, the people of the united states want direct,
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vigorous action. they have made me the instrumene instrument of their wishes. he scratched out humble because he realized there was no time for humility. during the next two days, frightening reports continued to reach hyde park. piece by piece, the nations credit structure was becoming paralyzed. crisis was in the air. but it was a strange numbing crisis, striking federally and the western cities and then in the south a thousand miles away. it was worse than an invading army. it was everywhere and nowhere, for it was in the minds of men. it was fear, but at hide bark, the next president was serene.
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on march 1, the president-elect left hyde park from new york and then for washington. washington was somber under her cold march rain. the crowd quietly waited while the train, glistening with its jewellike lights, backed into union station. policeman in black raincoats bustled around the rear car. secret serviceman, hands in their overcoat pockets, searched through the faces of the crowd. wearing a grey hat gray hat and overcoat, hardly visible, roosevelt walked slowly out on the back platform, his wife at his side. his sons, james and john, helped move him swiftly to a car. he sat back confidently with a
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smile. tension in washington was mounting. the federal reserve lord reported that a quarter billion dollars -- a billion dollars was quite a bit of money in those days, a quarter billion dollars worth of gold had poured out of the system and a week ago it seemed likely that the new york banks would have to be closed. in his hotel room, roosevelt worked over his speech. nearby was a copy of thoreau with the words, nothing is so much to be feared as fear. saturday, march 4 donned cloudy and jealous. chen alvarez, face great, gray, roosevelt repeated the oath of office. the cold wind rippled the pages of his speech as he turned to face the crowd.
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roosevelt's face was stern and that. quote, if i read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other, that we cannot merely take that we must give as well. that if we had to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline. the people had asked for direct, vigorous action, for discipline and direction under leadership. quote, in the spirit of the gift i have taken, unquote the plea for divine providence.
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at the end, roosevelt waved to the crowd and suddenly smiled his great electrifying smile. it was very, very solemn and a little terrifying. eleanor roosevelt said afterward as she talked with reporters in the white house. the crowds were so tremendous that you felt that they would do anything if only someone with tell them what to do. [applause] >> okay susan, what do you think? [laughter] >> it is magnificent writing and here in here you see political scientist at work, but also a
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historian's art and some of the lyrical descriptions and jim's incredibly rich vocabulary, the golden trees in the numbing crisis and the invading army of fear. that is not the way someone writes an encyclopedia. that is an artist writing and certain key lines about fdr crossing out the word humble. i don't know if you remember george washington's inaugural address. and his other addresses whenever he accepted a position of authority. he was always hedging his bets and emphasizing his deficiencies and inadequacies and saying to people, you were the ones who elected me in case things go wrong. [laughter] but fdr realized this was no moment for washingtonian humility because if he spoke about his deficiencies, there could be mass suicide in the country at that point. the people needed confidence and
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hope. general jim creates a juxtaposition between the bleak atmosphere, the bleak landscape, the hopelessness, the banking crisis and fdr's serenity, it sure fullness, optimism. i think that is such a precious gift that he gave to the nation, and then be and not guerilla dress itself in which he speaks about people's interdependence and they think this is the great revolutionary transformative moment, because it is goodbye to the laissez-faire doctrine into the rugged individualism, that characterized american ideology and society for decades. now there is a new ethos of community and interdependence. we are citizens and the same community and the same society and now we are in the same boat. we have to help one another. it is not time for social darwinism, survival of the
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fittest. this is what a society really is. it is a national community of people who are interdependent. >> nicely said and i was thinking that roosevelt referring to himself as humble, you can imagine roosevelt haters and maybe even jim's dad would have find it politely laughable when fdr would refer to himself as humble and any circumstance. more fodder for the roosevelt critics. i agree with susan and one thing that she said that really said a lot to me was the way that, and you will see this all through this book and all of jim's writing, it works so well on the level almost a fiction it is written so politically especially the expert -- excerpt which is her but at the same time almost without you knowing it he goes back and forth between that and making very important political science points. you know there are some very interesting devices. one of them is not in one of the excerpts he is going to read today but as i remember think it was in his treatment of the first 100 days and he says
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something like, if fdr had ever stopped during the 100 days to consider what were the qualities that allowed him to be effective and made a list of them, this would be the list, one, two, 34 but roosevelt said he was much too busy and it was never like him to do things like that anyway. the point is he never forgot roosevelt was probably the best example of that time and that century and in the retrospect still how we can look at a president use it to draw larger lessons. i want to say a word about the second expert -- excerpt. >> the second excerpt is about the buildup to the war and roosevelt's caution and even his wavering. here jim goes into quite a stringent critique of fdr and 1938, 39 and 40 when one there is a powerful isolationist block both in american society and in
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congress. >> the other thing that the shows and we should cover jim here is because he is going to turn red with embarrassment that it shows his intellectual honesty. jim burns at the time was a roosevelt democrat. to this day i think he would say he is a roosevelt democrat, but that does not allow frank roosevelt to pass through this book and he is very critical at moments where he feels that he needs to be. so the result is that as much as he agreed with probably most of fdr's aims during the presidencr becomes a political tract and he is very tough on the man at certain moments. jim, do you want to read part two? >> i think this will illustrate what you say. buildup to the war, roosevelt's caution. back in february, 1939, a friend of the president's had sent unto
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him a letter from a man who had long supported the administration. risen and to spare and indignation, the letter spoke for the millions of americans who could not understand roosevelts cautious tactics. quote, why don't you tell our idol, fdr, to quit beating around the bush. get on the radio and be honest with his people. of course we cannot afford to let friends in england gets. of course we should prepare to help them. if that is not enough, then everything we have got. why stall? why not talk realism to the american people before it is too late? all the passion in that letter
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left the president unmoved. other persons, even heads of nations, had asked him to take the leadership against the aggressors. he had not done so. on the contrary. the president's behavior had been almost a caricature of godlessness. what was the matter? in the gravest international situation, the nation had ever faced, where was the leadership of the man whose very name since 1933 had become a symbol of candor and courage? one explanation for his caution lay in the nature of the opposition in congress and among the people. in a 1937 poll, 19 out of 20 people answered a flat no to the query whether the united states should enter another world war.
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the late 1930s was a period when father coughlin and john l. lewis were ripping up isolationist feelings when tucson constituted, remember some of you, the wave of the future. two decades of fairness over world war i and its aftermath had left a hard scar issue. roosevelt felt that events and facts themselves would educate the public, so they did, but not quickly enough. he did not lead opinion toward a position about war. he tagged along with opinion. sometimes he lagged behind the drift of opinion, favoring more commitment by the united states to join efforts against
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aggression. during his second term, roosevelt seem to forget the great lesson of this and not the real speech of 1933. that courageous affirmation in it self changes the political dimensions of the situation. that speech was more than a speech. it was an act that loosened a tidal wave of support by the new administration. the most important instrument a leader has to work with is himself, his own personality, and its impact on other people. when the people people's opinions are vaguely directed away the leader is headed but lack depth and solidity, action by the leader can shift opinion in his own favor. to be sure, more than speeches were needed after 1937. but the not real speech of 1933
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stood as an index of the leaders influence when he takes a posture of bold affirmation. indeed, roosevelt to a surprising degree was captive to the political forces around him rather than their shaper. in a democracy, such must ever be the case. but democracy assigns a place for creative, political leadership too. the forces of roosevelt stemmed as much of his own actions and personality as from the unmuted political environment. he could not reshape his party of foreign-policy attitudes, reorganize congress and the bureaucracy or solve the economic problem. largely because he lacked, in my
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view -- that is added -- a necessary intellectual commitment to the right union. roosevelt and in a sense was captive to himself as well as to his political environment. he was captive to his habit of mediating among pressures rather than reshaping or responding eclectic lead to all the people around him. in balancing warring groups and leaders against one another, of improvising with brilliance and festival. inpatient of theory, insatiably curious about people and their ideas, sensitively attuned to the play of forces around him, he lacked that burning and almost fanatic conviction that great leadership demands.
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roosevelt was less a great creative leader than a skillful manipulator and a brilliant interpreter. given the big decisive event, depression at home or naked oppression -- aggression abroad, he could traumatize its significance and convey its importance to the american people. but when the crisis was less frightening but no less serious, and when its solution demanded a union of intellectual comprehension, and unified and continuing strategic action, roosevelt saw his efforts turned to dust. as in the case of the court-packing, the purge, putting his country behind efforts towards collective security. he was almost -- always a superb
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tactician and sometimes a courageous leader but he failed to achieve bad combination of tactical skill and strategic planning that represents political leadership. [applause] >> the that is quite a critique that jim has articulated about roosevelt and i wonder if jim would agree that, in this case, fdr wasn't aligned, wasn't it -- a lion and wasn't a fox either because i assumed the fox has some goal and strategy in mind too and hear fdr was wavering and so cautious, as you say a caricature of cautiousness, that i don't think that he had had the commitment to a clear foreign-policy.
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and i find that interesting. here jim is operating not as a historian but as a political scientist and a scholar of leadership, who is injecting his own prescription for leadership in his discussion of fdr. and jammies to talk about the for c's of leadership, conviction, commitment, courage, and compassion and sometimes compromise, but when it comes to -- in some cases compromise is necessary and helpful but when it comes to naked nazi aggression, it is certainly not an occasion for compromise. so here jim is criticizing fdr for being passive in the face of the mounting crisis and he stresses the opposition between this cautiousness and the affirmation of leadership in the inaugural address. >> yeah, i just had to quit
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once. one is that remember again, he was writing 10 years after fdr died in which most people in this country looked at fdr retrospectively as god. so for him to be this critical was a very courageous thing at the time in his critique really stands up all these years later. the other thing that occurs to me is another book of jim's i am sure many of you have read, the deadlock of democracy it came out in 1963, seven years after the lion and the fox. president kennedy read it. it was one of the most influential books politically at the time. one of the themes is how much residents are foiled by the deadlock of their intentions in congress. he saw it in 1963 perhaps even more sharply but i will bet the first time was when he was beginning to comprehend it as it related to fdr in his second term. so, with that one more reading,
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jim? >> this is not part of my report, but i think i was too hard on fdr. this may partly be because of some of the presidents we have had since fdr. [laughter] the third and last, election of 1940, the sphinx and convention. it had long been certain that 1940 would be no ordinary year in american history. for three years, politicians in both parties had been jockeying and maneuvering in preparation for a crucial election year. since fall, it seemed likely too that the waiting armies and bombing squadrons in europe
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would swing into full action during the new year. and decisive events overseas would have fateful consequences for america. above all, 1940 would ring an answer to the riddle of the sphinx, the riddle of the sphinx. would roosevelt see that -- and if so could he win a third term? what will the presidents secret thoughts on the matter? every shred of evidence, every offhand presidential remark, every list of presidential appointments was scoured for possible hints. by 1940, his intentions were a national guessing game. most of the guesses however jumped to the false assumption that roosevelt had made his decision to run or not to run and that all his actions stemmed
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from this simple sad decision. they did not know their man. roosevelt was not want to make a vital political decision years or even months in advance and then stick to that decision through thick and thin. his method through most of his career was to keep open alternative lines of action, to shift from one line to another as conditions demanded. to protect his route to the rear in case he wanted to make a sudden retreat and foxlike to cross and snarl his trail in order to hide his real intentions. more than any situation roosevelt ever faced, the third term demanded this kind of delicate -- delicate handling. he was charged at the time that the president was insuring his
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renomination by killing off the chances of all his prospective rivals. quite the contrary it was true. in a series of shrewd yet bold moves, roosevelt helped build up a host of presidential possibilities. not only did he encourage the rest of the candidates to contend with one another, he enlarged the field so that there would be a host of rivals wrestling for delegate votes. the president did not miss a trick. he never closed the door completely, nor the possibility of his own availability. yet, he told a the visitors time and time again that he and neither desired nor intended to run. roosevelt's basic help him is if he chose to run, was not how to
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get the nomination. his ability to get a decisive convention majority was never in doubt. but, how to be nominated in so striking a manner that it would amount to and emphatic and irresistible call to duty. this party call would be the prelude to a call from the whole country at election time. only eight party summons in july in short would make possible a popular summons in november. the chicago stadium, tuesday, july 16, 1940. bad evening, senator alvin of kentucky gave the keynote address at the democratic convention in old-fashioned,
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stem winding speech. partway through, and incidental mention of roosevelt's name unleashed a spontaneous demonstration, but rockaway pounding his gavel managed to quiet the hall. finally he came to his climax, a message roosevelt had sent him to deliver. quote, tonight at the specific request and authorization of the president, he said, i am making this simple fact clear to the convention. the president has never had and has not today any desire or purpose to continue in the office of president or to be a candidate for that office or to be nominated by the convention for that office. a hush spread across the convention hall.
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he wishes in all earnestness and sincerity to make it clear that all the delegates to this convention are free to vote for any candidate. that is a message by i bear to you from the president of the united states. there was a moment of stunned silence. delegates looked at one another uncertainly. then, from loudspeakers around the hall, came the cry of a single thunderous voice, we want roosevelt. a few delegates seized their state banners and started parading down the aisles. everybody wants roosevelt roared the loudspeakers. the world wants roosevelt, roosevelt, roosevelt, roosevelt.
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in an hour, order was restored but everything was anticlimactic. the next day, roosevelt's name was put in nomination, an ailing old senator glass nominated jim folly and if you rest the words that could hardly be heard over the scrape and shuffle. occasional boos and catcalls. impatiently the convention waited while they were nominated, seconded and given sad little demonstrations. the only ballots was the first, roosevelt 946, farley 72 -- 61, tidings nine, whole five.
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then they rolled roosevelt's nomination by acclamation two-way roar of ayes. late at night on thursday the president addressed the convention from hyde park. it is with a very full heart that they speak tonight. i must confess that i do so with exceeding. >> as i find myself in a conflict between deep personal desire for retirement on the one hand and that quiet in visible thing called conscience on the other. lying awake as they have on many nights, i have asked myself whether i have the right as commander in chief of the army and navy to call on men and women to serve their country and at the same time declined to
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serve my country in my personal capacity if i am called upon to do so by the people of my country. like most men of my age, i had made plans for myself, plans for a private life of my own choice. today, all private plans, all private lives have been in a sense repealed by an overriding public danger. only the people themselves can draft a president. if such a draft should be made upon me, i say to you, i will with god's help continue to serve with the best of my ability and with the fullness of mike strank. [applause]
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-- i have just two quick points. one, you see a combat historian writing history here. i don't think anyone else would talk about alternative lines of action and roosevelt protecting his route to the rear. jim served as a combat historian in the pacific during the war and his job was to interview soldiers before, during and after battle. he was at all the great battles, okinawa, guam and others so this is really that technique the technique in order to combat historian. the other bottom line here i think is roosevelt strategy of the draft. two weeks after the convention, burke and wadsworth introduced to the senate senate and the house they burke wadsworth selective service act, the first peacetime draft ever. universal compulsive tory training and so roosevelt strategy here was to maneuver behind the scenes to engineer
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his own draft and then he could say, well i can't refuse the draft and that was a prelude to the drafting of millions of young american boys. so that was brilliant, and of course the international situation is what compelled roosevelt to seek a third term. if it hadn't been for the international crisis there would have been no justification at all for a third term. >> and i think also jim wrote about roosevelt very great machiavelli and tendency to set people against one another especially 1940, divide and conquer. that is the way he was nominated because there were so many people running that they split up the delegates so roosevelt could be easily drafted. and there was a cost of that. for instance we are sitting this afternoon in a center that is named after henry wallace who is franklin roosevelt's third term vice president. when wallace went to chicago in
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1944, hoping for renomination, fdr issued a statement saying personally if i were a delegate i would vote for the nomination of my friend, henry wallace. it was at the same time that behind the scenes he was doing his best to pull the rug out from under wallace and nominate either harry truman or perhaps william douglas, supreme court justice. he was very angry at fdr until the day he died and really quite generous of his family these many years later to sort of close the circle with healing by supporting the center. but you see stories like that all throughout fdr's residency. one story or remember jim telling me of was about someone else who felt foiled by fdr and that was across the massachusetts line, great figure in massachusetts political history, james michael curley, the former mayor, the inspiration for the last hurrah, known for serving two terms at once both in prison in also in
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public office at one point. i came from chicago said he made me feel very much at home. jim once told me going to a democratic convention i think it must have been 1952, and there was james michael curley in the delegation. i think it was 52 engine can fact check me on this if i'm wrong. he was deep into writing his book book alina fox a gym earnestly went up to governor curley and said, well did you have a strong memory of president roosevelt, mr. curley? he said yes, what a. [laughter] he also mentioned to me once that i think he overheard a member of congress saying to another member of congress, fdr is his own worst enemy and the other member of congress replied not as long as i'm alive. [laughter] so that was another side of this. i think we have run to the end of our time. all i can say is you can see why jim burns is one of the great
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founding fathers not only a roosevelt scholarship that of american political science and historical writing in this country and all i can say is thank god for williams college for bringing us all together. thank you all for being here. [applause] [applause] >> thank you very much. thank you overcoming and let's give one more hand to our guests, susan dunn, michael beschloss and james macgregor burns. [applause] the we'll see you all next year at the ninth annual reading festival. have a good evening.
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>> that brings to a close booktv's live coverage from the 2011 roosevelt reading festival from the franklin d. roosevelt presidential library and museum in hyde park, new york. by the way if you missed any of today's author presentations, watch tonight at 1:00 a.m. eastern for a re-air of the entire day's events. >> i began to years before the bombs began to fall on cuba. exactly two years and back to the day. april 15, 1959. that evening fidel castro arrived in the united states for a visit. this was his first visit to the united states cynthia taken over
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cuba at the start of the year. dwight eisenhower was still president. richard nixon was vice president, john kennedy was still a junior senator from massachusetts. castro came to deliver his speech to some newspaper editors but the visit was something more like an invasion in its own right. he and his bearded entourage arrived in washington loaded with cuban cigars and cases of cuban rum and castro spent most of his visit hugging and smiling and saying all the right things. there were some americans including some in eisenhower to including dwight eisenhower himself, who had pretty serious concerns about eisenhower. mainly that he was a communist in the making. but many found it to be quite charming and certainly charismatic. after a few days in washington castro took the train to new york city. from the moment he arrived at penn station where he was greeted by 20,000 people, he had a grand old time ago he went to the top of the empire
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state-building in the shake hands with jackie robinson. he went down to city hall, went to columbia university. having lots of fun in new york city where the policemen who were assigned to attack him because there were all these assassination plot surrounding castro and these were reported in the press every day. none of these turned out to be real but the police didn't know that and castro was completely impossible to protect. he would throw himself into crowds hugging and kissing people with no concern for safety. one afternoon on a whim, he decided to go to the bronx zoo. the press followed, federal agents followed and new york city police follow. castro did what everybody does at the zoo. he is a hot dog and the nets to the elephants. he wrote a miniature electric train and before anybody could stop him, he climbed over a protective railing in front of the tiger cages and stuck his fingers through the cage and pet a bengal tiger on ahead. this is the sort of thing castro
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did to make people think he was a little crazy. besides trying to save castro from assassins and tigers, americans spent much of his visit trying to decipher his politics, which meant answering the following questions. was fidel castro communist? now you have to recall that in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the battle against the so-called international communist conspiracy was the organizing principle in which american foreign policy was based and it wasn't just the spread of communism that was so feared. it was the fact that the communists had nuclear weapons. and given the rhetoric coming out of the kremlin khrushchev was saying all sorts of things like we will bury you and those were literally his words. they seemed warren more willing to use them. i emphasize this to point out that the spectrum of the communist country 90 miles from american shores with simply tolerable, and not just to conservatives like barry goldwater or richard nixon but really to everybody.
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so, fidel castro was interrogated on the subject of communism everywhere he went on his visit. by vice president nixon, by congressional subcommittee, by scores of journalists, everyone asking the same question, dr. castro are you a communist? indians are the same every time. no, he was not a communist, never had been, never would be. in castro finally left new york on april 25, the police were relieved to see him go but most the new yorkers were happy that he came to visit. an editorial in "the new york times" summed up the general attitude towards castro as he left. quote, he made it quite clear that neither he nor anyone of importance in his government so far as he knew was a communist. by the same token it seems obvious that the americans feel better about castro than they did before. >> you can watch this and other programs on line at


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