eisenhower executive office building. you see the state may be building. all three departments sitting in that building. that tells you something. they all knew each other. they were a community and the state department of the 1920s and the 1930s showed admirable tolerance for the eccentricities of george f. kennan. i always thought george f. kennan resigned from the foreign service more times than anybody else in the state department would always come back and say don't do it. ..
technologies available to us. it was just making the point that if you ask about -- look at history through aviation, you would say history has not changed much in the last 60 years. we still fly at exactly the same speed. on airliners that, if anything, are less comfortable than they were then. if you look at the speed of communication, and the declining cost of communication, that is a totally different world. from the world when the first jetliners were developed. and in that sense, yes, it looks like history has speeded up. but i'm going to be flying to england next week, and i think i'm going to have the sense, as i fly there that history is moving very slowly indeed. >> john gaddis is the author of
this book "george kennan: an american life." he joins us here at the book philosophy. thank you so much. i. >> now, several hours left in our coverage today. it's book tv, and three more authors will be discussing their books in the history and biography tent. we'll bring those to you live. up next, is furring gus bordewich, who has written about the compromise with henry clay and stephen douglas. he will about be there at 3:30 or so eastern time. then falling him is lien-hang, an international history of the war of peace in vietnam. and finally, gened one-third smith will be join by julie and david eisenhower to talk about president eisenhower, and a chance for you to call in and
participate in the conversation. coming up in a minute is rajiv chandrasekaran. he is his book about the war in afghan. you may know him as the author of emerald city, which is bat the war in iraq. he is coming up in just a minute to do a callin with us so you'll have a chance to speak with him in a minute. the national book festival is sponsored by the library of congress, and the library of congress has an exhibit at the actual physical library, and a booth down here at the book festival, called "books that shaped america." our book tv colleague was talking with people who are walking through the exhibit and people attending the book festival this year, about what books they thought shaped america. this is taped earlier today. >> we're here on the national mall in washington, dc. tell me you name and what you
too for the library of congress. >> i'm tracy north, reference librarian in the hispanic division. >> how did you come up with the list of books that shaped america. >> the list was put together by a committee of representatives from all different offices and units of the library. it was not meant to be a comprehensive list. just a list to get people started talking about the topic. >> when the kind of criteria did you use? >> no specific criteria i know of. it was just an idea to get people started, baseline to think about what books maybe changed the way you think about this nation and the founding of our country. >> exhibit in the library of congress as well? >> there's an incredible exhibit. i highly recommend you get there as soon as possible because it closes in one week. but we ended up coming up with, i think, the final number was 58 books to get people started talking about it. there is a copy of each of the books on the list in the exhibit
at the library. some'm chirp's -- children's books, cookbooks, along with some of the novels that set the foundation for our country and how we are today. >> what books would you recommend for people to get them started? >> being that i'm a mom, too, a four-year-old and a one-year-old, i have to mention the cat and he that, and good night, moon, along with where the -- and they're in my house and probably in houses of people across the country. >> in your opinion, what is one of the most influential books? >> that's a tough one for me. i think going back to my middle school years and reading "to kill a mocking -- bird," and learning about race relations and the relationships between generations is important for me. >> great lakes thank you. >> no problem. thank you. >> we're here on the national
mall in washington, dc at the national book festival, get something reaction to the books that shaped america exhibit. please tell me your name and where you're from and what book do you think shaped america? >> i'm steve barbie from san antonio texas. >> and i tend to think of books in terms of children, because children are going to shape the next generation of america. i think one of the most recent books that has come out that has an impact would be -- a tough story and the style it is a combination of novel and mixed in with a chapter book style of book. talks about how visual our society is. >> i believe any book about our history of america, very strong about where we come from in this country. anything with our historical science and technology, they're just all wonderful.
>> do you recommend any books for anybody else to read? what would you recommend? >> i would say anything by bryan selznick, and also say the harry potter series is a an amazing opportunity to open up the imagine of children and adults. >> for me, the continuing point was a good one. a lot of black belt books i enjoy. i can't think of any authors. those are books i believe in going forward with industry. >> what books are you reading right now? >> i work at a library so i'm usually reading about three different books at a time. so right now i actually am reading the battle hymn of the tiger moms, which is very interesting, and i'm also reading a innocency drew book. >> i just got out oft a leadership class so i'm reading a book called changing
leadership down. know the author yet. i just got the book. >> thanks a lot, guys. >> could i have your names and where you're from. >> i'm christine wiggins from alexandria, virginia. >> what books do you think shaped america? >> i think probably young adult books. i loved -- not the list but harry potter, and things i have -- student and fahrenheit 451, and to kill a mocking -- -- mockingbird. >> do yaw have any books you haven't read yet you might be interested in reading? >> some of the classics i've always meant to read and haven't. i want to go back and take a look at them. invisible man. i don't think i ever tackled that one.
>> and we are back live at the national book festival here in washington, dc. this is day one of two days of coverage. the book festival has now expanded to two days and book tv will be live both days. of you want to see our schedule go to booktv.org and we're pleased to be joined with rajiv chandrasekaran, an associate editor at the was post, and most recently the author of this book, "little america" about the war in afghanistan. but where did the term little america come from? >> it came from a remarkable project in the 1950s, led by a team of american engineers, to develop parts of southern afghanistan to dig irrigation candles, build dams, in the very same terrain that the current troop surge unfolded in. back then, these american
engineers decided to build a model town for themselves. right smack dab in the middle of the desert in the province. eight square blocks. four blocks by two blocks. instead of traditional afghan homes, big tall walls, they built suburban style american homes, ramblers with white stucco walls. man cured front lawnsle them country's first and only code high -- co-ed high school, and a swimming pool where boys and girls could square together. and weekly square dances and a bar tender who could pull a mean gin and tonic. afghans looked at the model and said, that's fine for you americans. we don't want to live that way. but the afghans came up with the name for it, called it "little america" and that's where i got the title of the book because the grand development experiment, which failed to achieve its goals in the 50s,
60s, and 70s, in many ways was a parable of sources for the grand nation building our country has engaged in over there for the past decades. so i start my book with the story of americans in afghanistan six decades ago, to set the stage for discussion of the troop surge. >> host: welling, the subtitle of your bikes the war within the war in afghanistan. what due you mean. >> guest: there wasn't just the war unfolding on the ground in afghanistan. as our government decided to surge more forces in there, to adopt a new strategy for trying to stabilize the country, i discovered that all of the key origins of our american bureaucracy fought amongst one another. we had wars within the pentagon. you would think if you were sending more troops to
afghanistan, those troops would go the places that are most critical. the places the taliban were seeking to take over. the places most at risk to insurgent gains and potentially a takeover of that country. instead, we wound up sending the first wave of new forces to a part of the country will relatively few people, and i discovered the answer was simply, tribal rivalries. not in afghanistan but in the pentagon. the first wave of troops were u.s. marines and they wanted to bring their own helicopters, their own logistics units and didn't want to work with u.s. army soldiers in the areas in and around the city of kandahar, and here was this tale of our own services fighting with each other instead of fighting in common purpose against the enemy. and the stories go on. there was internal fighting within the state department, within the u.s. agency for international development.
in one other tale i recount in the book, we had some real serious infighting between president obama's own national security team and senior people at the state department over the whole question of, was it wise to try to broach potential piece take the taliban? and we wound up spending 18 months fighting with one another in washington as opposed to uniting in common purpose to try to achieve the president's goal in the country. >> host: who is summer koy. >> guest: she is a young american woman who -- there she is on the bottom right there -- who has extensive foreign development experience and put her hand up to go to a afghanistan to try to rebuild the country to work for the u.s. agency for international development, and the south she'd be out there, able to work with afghanses, trying to pursue
projects that would be helpful to the afghan people and support the overall american strategy for trying to stabilize the country. the problem was that when she got out to kabul. she was essentially a prisoner on the giant u.s. embassy compound. she couldn't get authorization to drive out and about, in kabul. was restricted in terms of her ability to meet with the afghans. found herself asked to sort of sit in an office building and a cubicle, much like she could have been in washington, drafting memos and cables, as opposed to getting out and doing the development work she wanted to do. she provides this wonderful insight into just how our surge of civilians that were supposed to go there and help rebuild the afghan government, how that serge was squandered because most of these people wound enstaying in the embassy compound doing paperwork as
opposed to getting their fingernails dirty in the field trying to do the difficult work of building governments, providing meaningful reconstruction assistance to the afghan people. >> host: rajiv chandrasekaran just annoyanced the surge is over. all those troops, we're down to 68,000 americans in afghanistan. how much was spent, what grade would you give it? >> guest: i'd give the surge a c-minus, and -- maybe even a d. i'm not sure -- a c minus means it technically passed, and in my book it wasn't a pass. it was a failure, and before i explain why i should note we probably spent about a quarter trillion dollars on the surge. we spent $100 billion there last year and 100 plus billion the you're before. when you add it up the troop
surge cost us north of $250 billion there. an enormous amount of money. at a time when we're facing real economic crisis here at home. the idea was woe send in more forces to stabilize broad sectors of the country, to train the army, rebuild the afghan government, and we finally succeed in doing what we should have down in 2001 and 2002 when, unfortunately, we took our eye off the ball in afghanistan to invade iraq. the problem was in 2009, the situation in afghanistan was simply too far again, and we ahave no eye assumed that president hamid karzai were partners with us. they were far from partners. they were working at cross-purposes. the neighboring country of pakistan, we assumed the pakistans would crack down on the sanctuaries of they never did. the taliban i still allowed
humongous opts of freedom of movement in pakistan. we assumed that the afghan military would stand up and really take charge of security in areas. well, as we've seep from news reports, seemingly every day, afghan soldiers are now focused on shooting american troops in many cases as opposed to defending their country. and so we've just had a pretty horrible turn of events there. has security improved in some areas? yes. i want to be very clear on that. when we send our men and women in uform to places, they do good things, and security has gotten better in pockets of southern afghanistan. but will those gains be sustained? will the afghans be able to take the baton from our troops as they come home. the surge forces that come home this summer the additional troops coming home next year and the year after. will the afghans do what is
necessary to make the blood and treasure we spend thread worth it? i don't believe so. >> host: rajiv chandrasekaran is our get. an associate editor with the washington post. this is his second book. his first, about iraq. 202, you can see the numbers on the screen. divided by time seasons. so if you want to participate in our conversation go ahead and dial in now and we will begin with a call from hunter in loveland, colorado. high, hunter. >> caller: yeah. i was wondering if he got the reasons for the war was an establishment of a democratic government or more of a western capitalistic economic system? >> guest: well, certainly when the taliban was overthrown in 2001, the bush administration wanted to build a more democratic government in afghanistan. that was certainly not hard to get more democratic than the taliban, who have no great love for democracy, and the
government hat has been created there is a democratic system. it is, however, beset by corruption and cronyism and incompetence and a lot of backroom dealing and a number of fairly undemocratic despicable war lords have been brought in, in positions of power. so, it's hard to look at the government there and say it's a true democracy, that it's a clean democracy. it certainly is better than what the afghans had in the past, but the incompetence of that government, the corruption, really does bedevil our effort to provide meaningful efforts at reconstruction and development in the country. it's been a huge impediment for the u.s. surge strategy over there, and it's unfortunately the real victims in this are the afghan people, who find themselves often victimized by their government instead of helped by their government. when people who live in remote villages and valleys often find themselves shaken down for
bribes by police officers instead of being helped by the police officers. being forced to pay judges to hear cases as opposed to being expecting that they will get impartial and speedy justice. the government just doesn't work for the people there, unfortunately. >> host: kell y, cottage grove, oregon, go ahead with your question or comments for our author. rajiv chandrasekaran. >> caller: yes, hello. >> guest: hi. >> caller: i just wanted to say, thank you. i've been wondering about this for a long time. in fact i was just talking yesterday with someone. if we took all the money spent on the war and just helped the people, you know, of course, one person's idea of help is different. i would have thought that build them nice houses and excellent infrastructure, whole nine yard and probably come out saving a lot of money. but apparently that's not what they wanted. i just want to say, thank you. you've answered a lot of
questions in the back of my head that you don't read about in the local media. >> guest: well, thank you for your comment. you know, i sort of joke with friends that at times, had we just flown a bunch of military cargo planes over the country and push out big pallets filled with dollar bills we might have done more good than the billions of dollars that were spent through contractors, some contractors who hired expensive security guards and only a fraction of it actually got to the afghan people. look, i want to be clear. the afghan people need our help. the rate of malnutrition, illiteracy, infant mortality, it's off the charts in the country. they need modest, sustainable international help, and what we unfortunately tried to do doo during the troop surge was spend too much money too quickly. in 2010 we tried to spend -- we didn't do it all but we tried to spend, our government,
$4 billion, that's with a b -- billion dollars on reconstruction in afghanistan, in one year. in one -- just in one little district in afghanistan, a place i visited many times. sort of a county-level type place. we wind up trying to spend more money than the per capita income for every man, woman and child in the area. nose surprise i wound up exacerbating the very corruption we were trying to stop. >> what was the avipa program? >> guest: it was not successle and one of those programs that i was just alluding to there, where we were just trying to shovel the money into the country. so, in southern afghanistan, where the bulk of the troop surge unfolded, the economy's principally agricultural, most men do some sort of job related
to agriculture. so the u.s. government concluded, rightly, that one key way to help the afghanistan people during the surge would be to assist them with farming, to try to provide them with some better seeds, some fertilizer, in some cases tractors, try to improve what they were growing on their fields so you'd improve their livelihood and win their allegiant. that was a good idea. the problem was we tried to do too much of a good people. think of the program or think of southern afghanistan and the farmers there as a parched man on a hot day. instead of giving him a tall glass of ice water, we turned the fire hose on him, wounding him in the process. we tried to pour so much money in through the program it wound up being counterproductive. i it was trying to spend $300 million in just two provinces in one year.
not surprisingly, we wind up just shoveling goods at the afghans. and what did they do? in some cases they took what we were giving them and drove it to the border to pakistan and sold it for cash because it was more than anybody could meaningfully absorb. >> host: gary, in miami, go ahead with your question or comment for our guest on book tv. >> caller: thank you for taking my call. it's a pleasure to speak on c pan. i want to take issue with your crash-minus grading the surge. we sent to afghan as a result of -- 3,000 americans were killed. 2,000 were soldiers, at last count, have been killed in afghanistan. plus the 5,000 in iraq. so that leaves us with 7,000 americans dead since 9/11. how do you justify that as a c
minus? putting aside all of the terrible financial wasted finances on these wars, putting aside that. just in terms of american lives, how can you say it's a c-minus when we've -- osama bin laden, if he is smiling somewhere in hell right now if he is able to smile, because we have done ourselves in by perpetuating this war when it should have been finished in 2001. >> host: all right, gary, got the point. >> guest: yeah, so look, i said c-minus initially, but probably more -- as i was noting earlier, probably closer to a d. i certainly wouldn't give is a passing grade. look, it's very true. we've lost more than 7,000 americans on the battlefields of iraq and afghanistan since 9/11, plus nearly 3,000 americans who died in the towers and the pentagon. look, had we not surged and left
afghanistan the way it sort of was when president obama took office, i think we -- far greater likelihood the taliban would be controlling larger part office the country and may well be in a position or well have been in a position to have swept into kabul and other major cities over there. so, the surge did buy some breathing room. but it was advertised as an awful lot more than that. so i can see some benefits there. we did push the taliban back in certain areas. we have started to build an afghan army. we have provided some services to the afghan people. so i can't look at this and say, we did nothing. we certainly did do something. the question is, the cost benefit analysis, and is everything that we've done at the cost of american lives, limbs, and billions of dollars, is that worth it when it comes to looking at the most core
issue of american national security? certainly the death of osama bin laden, the evisceration of al qaeda at the mid-and senior ranks had nothing to do with the troop surge in afghanistan. that's central intelligence agency's drone program in afghanistan. so we did some good there, but with all that good work, did the price in american lives and dollars? and i don't think so. >> host: last call for our guest comes from mike in syracuse, new york. >> caller: hi. thank you for taking my call. my question is, what do you think that the war in afghanistaning going to do to the delicate turmoil of the situation that has been going on for almost 2,000 years over there? >> guest: well, look. there's been an awful lot of tribal factional fighting that has occurred in afghanistan, as
you note, for centuries. our presence there isn't going to end that. and in fact, as our troops start coming home, you'll once again start to see various ethnic groups, various tribal alliances, starting to jockey for power. much as they have over the previous many, many years. the idea that somehow you can create this post tribal, big tent government, that will pacify the country, i think, is a bit of a dream. we will continue to have a messy, chaotic future there for some time to come, unfortunately. >> host: when were you over in afghanistan to write this book? >> guest: i traveled there initially in early 2009. i made 15 trips from 2009 through this year. many of them several weeks at a time. i traveled all over the country,
but i emphasized me time in the south. i spent a lot of of time with our military forces, with u.s. marines in helmund province, with army soldiers in kandahar, american diplomats and reconstruction workers, and with the afghan people. traveled around by helicopter, by mine resistant truck, pickup truck, by donkey. >> host: were request you able to get out on your own? fortunately, though aim american, i'm blessed with a dark skin and this beard. >> host: did it make a difference? >> guest: it did. allowed me to blend in ways that would be difficult for you in kandahar. >> host: rajiv chandrasekaran, the war for afghanistan, he has been our guest here on book tv on c-span2. thank you, sir. >> guest: thank you, real mess sure. >> coming up next in the history
and biography tent is fergus bordewich, and his book is, the compromise that preserved the nation. he'll beginning in just a minute. dan balls, rajiv chandrasekaran's colleague at the washington post. will be introducing him. after that, lien-hang nguyen, a book about the vietnam war from a different perspective and she'll be speaking and we'll carry that live, and then finally, julie and david eisenhower will be joining jean edward smith to talk about president eisenhower and we'll join all three of them for a callin so you can all participate. that's our coverage in the history and biography tent this afternoon, and i you good to booktv.org you can watch our webcast or the contemporary life
pavilion. right now we're just about to hear from dan balls introducing fergus bordewich. live coverage. >> hello again to those who have been signature through many presentations. i'm dan ball for the washington post. a couple of house keepkeeping matters. the pavilion's presentations are being filmed for the library of congress web site, and for their archives, and by c-span for airing on book tv. please be mindful of that during the presentations. please do not sit on the camera risers, and of course, silence your cell phones and other various potentially noisy devices. i work at the washington post. we have been a cosponsor since this wonderful festival startedle we love being part of it and audiences like you are a great gift to every author who is here today and aspires to be
here in the future. so thank you for all the attention you give. insure it's a cliche, shousely, history illuminates the past, but in the hands of fergus bordewich, helps to illuminate the present. the story of politics, the story of american politics the last few years has been one of partisan polarization and legislative gridlock and a congress that often seems incapable of governing. but the current generation face nothing comparable to that of lawmakers in the mid-19th mid-19th century as the united states was on the bring of breaking apart, and the book that we're about to hear about, america's great debate,tles the story of the compromise of 1850, which helped to resolve at least for a while, the conflict over how to bring the vast mexican territory into the united states. the reviewer who did this review
for the washington post happened to be don graham, the chairman of the washington post company, who is a student of history. he called this book original in concept and stylish in execution. the compromise that mr. bordewich will tell us about resulted from some of the most creative legislating that the country has ever seen, although mr. bordewich will be quick to point out that the compromise was also deeply flawed. but it did prevent an earlier breakup of the union. this is also a story that includes a magnificent cast of characters. befitting the epic struggles that played out during the course of the great debate. this is the third work be fergus bordewich which explores how slavery distorted the development of this country. you can find more about him and his works at his web site. fergus bordewich.com and he'll
be signing books at 4:30, and i ask you now to welcome him to the stage. thank you. [applause] >> good afternoon, everyone. thanks, dan, and i certainly also want to send my thanks to washington post, library of congress, and the other sponsors of this terrific festival. in previous years my wife and i have sat in many, many audiences here, listening to other speakers, and it's a privilege for me to be talking to you today, and great to see so many people out here, hungry for books. toiling away in front of my computer, more electronics than live people. of course i'm wright about history. all the people i write about are dead.
they can't talk back. it's nice to see live people. so, engrossed in the kind of things i and other writers here write about. i was very fortunate to have grown up in a home that was filled with books. i grew up in yonkers, new york, a suburb of new york city, with thousands of books, all filled with books. and as a little kid, the sense of books around me is one of my most indelible memories of childhood, and remembering also that as a tiny kid, starting to climb, i thought of the bookshelves from floor to ceiling as mountains that i could climb up, and my mother would find me five shelves up crying to get down again. and both my parents were
fortunately great readers. my father was a self-educated working guy. he installed boilers and heating systems and my mother, on the other hand, had a degree in classics. she was a poet. she was a human rights activist. she worked with the american indians back in the 1950s. a frequent adversary of the federal government at that time. and she put me to bed at night reading things lick the odyssey and the illad. german mythology, and a wonderful, wonderful series of history books -- those who are my age may remember these, the landmark books by random house. they're absolutely terrific books, and i would love to see a comparable series done again today. and i must have read 100 of them. first they were read to me.
then i read them myself. and there was really no turning back after that. i burrowed into whatever they published the book on, i read. and when i got a little older, i discovered in the 1950s, bruce compton's beautiful books on the civil war, and the battle on the potomac, which brought the war in lit gary fashion. but at the same time, my grandmother, who was born in 1882, and had grown up among men who had fought -- these men of her father's generation, fought in the civil war, including one -- her father, who had fought in the 88th new york, the famous regiment in the irish
brigade and i'm here today because he ducked at the right moment at fredericksburg. but at any rate, when i was a little did, my grandmother entertained me with his war stories, and it was a while before i realized that the war actually occurred in the 1860s and hadn't just happened. so, at any rate, what i'm trying to say is how close history was in the environment that i grew up in, when we went on vacation, we stopped for every roadside marker on a historical subject. and taken to gettysburg at the age of nine and was rivetted. taken to little big horn in montana. places like that. and i grew up with the sense
that the present is meaningless unless we understand the past that it came out of. and i think when -- i think what my mother did. she was a human rights worker with the american indians -- that history -- and a particular war -- i'm talking now primarily about the civil war -- really can't be divorced from the politics that produced it. i like walking across the gettysburg battle field today and so on. but, you're seeing history in a -- the war in a vacuum without understanding the politics behind it. and that in this country is primarily the politics of slavery going back to the beginning of the republic. and the book i'm primarily here
to talk to you about today. america's great debate, book about the compromise of 1850, and the great ten-month-long debate that led up to it, is in a way the culmination of a group of three books which dan mentioned. one of them about the underground railroad. the first national history of the underground railroad since the 1890s. and of that, a book entitled, not very imaginatively, "washington. the making of the american capitol." but is primarily about how the politics of slavery shaped what became this city, that is to say, the politics that produced it, and the first congress, the politics that sustained the commitment to a potomac capitol rather than a three-state capitol in the 1890s and the experience of the slaves who built washington.
and in different ways these books look at the ways in which slavery distorted and corrupted american politics, and more than politics in america. and in america's great debate, particularly the years -- the decades before the civil war. now, what were the origins of this particular book? now, i kept checking the weather today because, as you probably know, storms, thunderstorms were predicted for approximately this time originally. and i was prepared for this, for thunder out there at this moment, which it isn't cooperating. because i was going to evoke the thunderous voice of daniel webster, which i won't intend to try to imitate.
i'm not at open -- when i was writing my underground railroad books i came across a speech he gave to a group of businessmen in syracuse, new york, in central new york state, hot bed of underground railroad abolitionist activity and this was in the weak of -- wake of the great compromise, and he ranted in a voice that resonated like thunder that he would perfectly see it to that slave law would be executed in every city of the north and that anyone who dared opposed it, were traitors, traitors, traitors, and i what startled by his ferocity. because webster, known as the god like daniel in his day, the great voice for decades, or
believed to be the great voice of the antislavery north, thought, heed been misquoted or taken out of context, and surprisingly still happens in politics. but it was not in this quote, and webster made a lot of speeches in that winter, and he did everything he could to see that the law was enforced. and wondering what happened to webster led me to the great debate of 1850. which produced this stupendously ambitious compromise that the crafters believed would bring sectional peace in their time. fillmore, who was president when it was completed, sounds a little bit in his optimism like neville chairmanber lane coming bram from munich in 1938. i will say, parenthetically, that millard fill fillmore, probably the least warmly remembered -- well, one of --
presidents in our history. actually plays a very interesting plate -- politically deft roll in the compromise. so don't write him off. so in any wait, this is the story of the compromise -- i should say, to disstill it, it's a great story. it its an incredibly dramatic story filled, as dan said, with larger than life, fascinate can personalities. fillmore may not be one of the more fascinating ones, but extraordinary individuals. the longest debate in american political history. world class gridlock, and res summonses with today's gridlock?
yes there are, though this book was not written as an argument about today's politics, but if you read it, you will draw some conclusions about the problems of compromise and what the kind of courage it takes to break gridlock and to compromise. it's a story -- the history, not just to divert it this way but history is full of cliffhangers. with the country going to war? nobody knew. could congress, anyone in congress, break the gridlock? nobody knew. the speechmaking was spectacular. guns were drawn on the floor of the senate. as far as we know. maybe some guys are packing today and would like to do it as well. can't speak to that. but i'm not going to read much
at all but die want to read you a fragment of one of henry clay's magnificent speeches on the floor of the senate, introducing what would become the framework for the compromise, and clay was at this moment great, great senator from kentucky, one of the longest serving politicians in 19th 19th century american history. he has been inspired as a boy by hearing patrick henry in virginia, so he is a link with the founders and so on. at any rate, clay, who in effect drives this debate in the senate, often is called a slave driver or an overseer in the senate, but very few moments in american history when it was so that the country's fate hinged on one man0s ability to
overkomrij edly held beliefs and to change minds almost on the spot. and the nation clay declared had become like some kind of monstrous industrial hell full of uproar, confusion, and menace. the states like 20 -- full blast in heat and passion and imtemperance, the disintegration of the union was an immediate possibility, he warned. he begged this fellow senators in the north and south to pause at the edge of the precipice before the leap is taken into the yawning abyss below. these guys didn't let 21-year-old staffers write their speakers. they read -- they wrote their own speeches. the country, as i said a moment ago, was much closer to war in
1850 than we generally realize. the proximity of war is overwhelmed by the civil war when it finally occurs. but it the closer i looked at the political struggle of 1850, the more astonish id i was that at the country didn't disintegrate. congress was paralyzed across the south talk of secession was ripe. texas was raising troops to attack federal fourses in new mexico. journalist predicted that blood would soon be spilled in the halls of congress, and guns were drawn. in fact. and yet in the end, a solution, a compromise was found. the questions i began with were, how? how did congress make a paralyzed system actually work? and what would a close
examination of the debates reveal about the costs of unyielding partisanship, and about the nature of compromise, and about the human qualities that it took to bridge a divide that many americans feared could never be crossed. and i should say, i also fell in love with the orator of the 1850s. the politicians of the time spoke per swayssively and provocatively and passionately in language that was so splendid it reached the level of literature. incidentally, all the speeches were available, down loadable for free, the library of congress. they make great reading, most of them. and thanks to the library of congress, they're making them available. the spin doctors argued and grammatically challenged messages that that today passes for political communication truly is pathetic and incoherent
in comparison to the way political men spoke in 1850s. then congressmen and senators who as offer as not leaked college education, spoke from the bearest of notes or no notes at all for hours on end. three, four hours at a clip, and were confident that their colleagues and the public would understand them. in speeches that were pep erred with illusions to shakes spear, the bible. american history, british common law, classical literature, and then also said what they meant. men who believed in slavery said. so those who hated it. no matter how much odeum it attracted. and the nakedness of how people spoke politically at the time is very powerful when we -- in comparison to trying to parse what many people in our politics today seem to be avoiding.
and i am -- that applies, frankly, across the board. not everyone. not to everybody. i'm not a cynic about politics. and indeed, reading the history of politics in this country, and the difficulty of making anything happen politically, it wasn't easier in 1850 than it is today. and it takes a lot of courage for people to enter this gigantic citywide nationwide cement mixer that is politics in america today and i have colassal respect for people who embark on that. and nothing in this leads me to disparage today's politicians, except i wish they wrote better english. so, anyway, quickly the background here, members of congress, all americans, were tormented by seemingly unanswerable questions. how were the new territories
gained in the mexico war to be governed? could the country expand and survive or crack into a slew of unfriendly states that would fall prey to amibitions of foreign powers. this were all questions in 18 50s. how would the demands for slavery to be play indicated. southern africa were demanding the right to go to the pacific. calling for a state of south california. would the south secede if its demands weren't met? would the federal government fight back? nobody knew. could northerners be made to stem the flow of fugitive slaves? those weren't academic questions that were tearing the country apart in congress, and the senate, 15 free states matched evenly against 15 slave states, giving the south virtual veto power over any legislation that
even remotely seemed to threaten slavery. california, californians, 200,000, people fled to california during the gold rush. very quickly they demand admission to the union, as a free state. which will tip the balance in the senate. abolitionists are battling slavery advocates over the expansion of slavery elsewhere in texas, and is the most likely ignition point, is claiming the entire vast new mexico territory, which is far vaster than the present-day state of new mexico, and threatening to carry slavery across it at gunpoint if necessary, raising troops to do so. and the civil war had begun in 1850, it wouldn't have been in charleston harbor. it would have been in santa fe. think about it.
so, this is not entirely a cliff-hanger in that we do know, there was a compromise. in short, did it boil down to? california would be at played mitted as a free state. congress was one territorial government, and the rest of the mexican, no mention of slavery. congress would fix texas' western boundary where it is today, just east of new mexico, and if texas reel helping quiched its claims can the.s. would pay off its states debt. texas was begging for a bailout. think of general motors. they took the money. another part of the compromise, the slaves freed in washington d.c. would be ended but slavery itself would be affirmed, and a
new fugitive slave law would sharply increase punishment for anyone who aided run away slaves. the net effect of the compromise, in short, would be that it staved off wore for ten years. this is not a small accomplishment, given what was perceived as the impossible of changing it at the time. it was a decade that ultimately transformed the north so that when war finally came, it was a war that the north could actually -- was willing to fight and could actually win, which which was not true in 1850. parenthetically, i think i should say that a question i am typically asked is whether i think war was inevitable -- a civil war was inevitable. sluicely inevitable.
it's perfectly clear, reading, listening to, closely reading the debate office 18 50, that representatives of the deep south, most of them -- those who were most influential, john c. calhoun, who died dramatically on n the middle mid of the deba. jefferson davis, his heir, and others, had mentally already seceded in 1850, and jefferson davis, i quote him in one of his many ringing interventions in this debate -- on behalf of secession -- made it clear that he was willing to be drafted any time as the leader for a new confederation of slaves that would protect slavery in 1850. and there was one possible
peaceful way of terminating slavery and preventing civil war. it was available at any time from the founding of the country from the first congress in 1789 on, up to the civil war. it would have been expensive but only a fraction of the cost in money of the civil war, and at comparatively little, if any, cost in blood, and that was compensated emancipation. it was practiced -- well, it was advanced by some abolitionists and some other politics. it was an absolute nonstarter in the slave states. why? because slaves were reproducing property. there was no interest in it whatsoever. now prefer to fight a war than to emancipate slaves at a price. second, northerners, frankly,
imbued with race simple of the time, did not want the north but it would free africa african-americans either. so this is an add dimension to what happened in 1861. so, the great story here -- i told you -- i've given you the punchline, told you what the compromise consisted of, basically, but the great story is how this happened. and it's a legislative tour deforce, full of extraordinary personalities. i mentioned henry clay already. daniel webster. stephen douglas who was called by journalists of the time a steam engine in britches. because of his ferocious
dynamism. had these men, clay, webster, conservative wigs aligned with stephen a. douglas, a northern democrat, essentially, on behalf of compromise, on one side, against an extraordinary group of men who really defined the old term about -- president zachary taylor, old rough and ready, again, a president who is largely forgotten by most americans. played a fascinating role in that's events. much more interesting role morally, very courageous individual. a lifelong slave owner. had a plantation in louisiana but is absolutely dead set against, against, the expansion of slavery westward. very, very staunch in opposing clay's compromise because he
figured it might permit the slavery to go westward. on the other hand, politically unfortunately clueless, john c. calhoun, who i mentioned. brilliantly termed by a great american historian as the marks of the master class. because he saw society in terms of labor and capital or labor and slave owner. ...
>> modern science and modern anthropology and so on. there's also a guy, and there's no time to dellive into the personalities, but thomas park benton who was a proud, frightening guy, a senator from missouri, and others adamant against the expansion of slavery, the nuances and complexities of some of the men are quite fascinating. you don't find everybody where you expect to on the playing
board, and thomas hart benton, i'm not searching for the exact quote, but had the sin of an al gaiter and said he was fond of taking a morning scrub in the basement of the capitol, and it was used a cur ky comb used for a horse. he'd scrape upper body in the morning and lower part in the afternoon, and if there was somebody there to talk to, he said things, like, for example, sir, sir, if this brush merely touched you, you would cry with pain. he was a blunt and great figure. he had a gun pulled on him by henry foote, another one i want
to talk about, but i can't, a blood rival from mississippi that has -- although a ferocious defender of slavery, but his unionism trumped his southern national ambition. henry is a very short, baldy -- and he at one point is so terrified by benton, benton's motions, he pulls out a gun and threatens to shoot him. anyway, these things are happening, and my -- i mean, this book is about the process of how clay, finally seconded by
douglas, took over when they crashed and failed often known the wreck of the omnibus. the omnibus was the streetcar, the public bus of its day, and it failed, and douglas went on to engineer the passage of the component of clay's compromise in separate pieces with separate coalitions within the senate and helped to stage manage the passing of the same pieces in the house of representatives where he had members of the house acting essentially on his behalf and how this was done is a terrific story of inside politics, and of day-to-day drama, often as they said, day-to-day, week to week, nobody
knew how it would come out. my desire was to take you into the world of these men, and take you on to the floor of the senate and the floor of the house, and inside the debate as they were happening so that you don't know anymore about what's happening, people who were participating in them, or than the public knew at the time. this was particularly a challenge with -- particularly a challenge with pro-slavery members, the defenders of slavery, who, as you might imagine, since the writing is about abolitionism and slavery and so on was morally a challenge to get into the heads and to a degree into their hearts and understand why they believed in what they believed in to a degree that could actually sway americans who were
not southerners or slave owners. now, i've -- i absolutely want to take some questions. i got a sign of 10 minutes. i'm going to speed, speed through a couple of final remarks here, and throw away all kinds of wonderful antedotes i was going to tell you. simply to say, this is a story, finally, about compromise. compromise doesn't seem like something that's dramatic, but on the other hand, it took ten months to wring this compromise out, and it shows creative politics, the story -- the example of creative american politics at its best, politics in the hands of masters, and it shows how compromise has nothing to do with a friendly group hug whatsoever, and, you know, one
hears all the time, people say why can't they just all get together? maybe you can do that over a beer, but that's not political compromise. it's brutal. it's costly. it leaves everyone wounded, clay, calhoun, webster all died within two years after this. webster, in particular, who i began with, i think i'll end with, was pivotal in bringing conservative, northern wigs around in support of clay's compromise, and he was destroyed politically by it, and this was not entirely selfless. his political call calculus didt work, but there was a political courage in it although his embrace of the fugitive slay law which none of us today can
really honor, but at that moment, it took great political courage. the point is that if real compromise is going to be wrought, even the best must, perhaps contemplate falling on their source, and that these men, webster, others, were doing something much bigger than themselves to allow the union to survive, and they show us that the highest calling is not just to survive politically. there's much more i could say, but i wanted to take questions so let's do that now. thank you. [applause] >> thank you very much for your talk. i had a question about your encounters in your research with some of the dissenters to the
compromise. people that either thought that it was odious to discuss compromise beyond slavery or people who just thought the compromise would not work. >> okay. i'll try to answer it briefly. the individual who with whom caused me to wrestle with was was a senator from new york state, and seward, lincoln's rival in 1860, you know he was then regarded as a republican conservative. in 1850, he was regarded as thee most radical man in the senate, and he had a heroic record as an anti-slavery record in new york stay, and seward, particularly famous for articulating in the senate, the idea of a higher law, there's a higher moral law
than the mere laws of men and that required him to oppose compromise because the compromise included an acceptance of slavery, something he could not vote for, and, you know, my heard is with seward. he was the most modern man. he could walk out of that debate and sit down with us today and know what we're talking about in america today, and he'd like it, you know? yet, he was very much on the fringe of his moment, and while, if i were there in 1850, think, go, bill, you know? i also believe that the compromise is imperative at the time because the north was not ready to fight a civil war. it was not militarized. it was not radicalized in the way that the deep south already had become i so i think there'sa
paradox here and confronts historians with the danger of not imposing the present on the past. hi. >> hi, i'm a graduate of university of buffalo where we remember millard philmore, and we remember him as the guy on the wrong sigh of every issue he ever took a side on. could you talk a little bit about millard philmore, and how did we get to this side of compromise to bleeding kansas and john brown? >> again, i'll try to be very brief. we could be here for years answering that. i mean, a word about fillmore. within the context, if you believe the compromise was necessary, as i do, and that its long term effects in helping ironically, partly by the passage of the fugitive slave law that radicalized northern
whites who couldn't care less about slaves and slavery in the south, but they hated the idea of their own rights being taken away by being requested to collaborate with slave hunters in the north. if you believe the compromise was ultimately balanced and a good and necessary thing, fillmore's support therefore was wise. his record after that is doubtful. in 1864 he supported mcclellan. what happened between 1850 and 1861, quick tour. bleeding kansas, kansas-nebraska bill, steven a. doug los, the political compromise of the bill, and it's brilliant. if you want to know why steven a. douglas was known for his political brilliance, read about him in 1850. that's when he became the great
steven a. douglas. now, he was forever in slow and rapid after wards because he in effect by promoting the kansas-nebraska act years later, and essentially ofuated what had been achieved in the compromise of 1850. that, too, helped radicalize northerners. the blood in kansas that came out of the kansas-nebraska act helped radicalize northerners. john brown, harper's raid and other abolitionist activity radicalized northerners, and so it would certainly be wrong to suggest the compromise all by itself somehow was all that mattered in that decade. these other things were partly offshoots of it, but, again, war would have come in 1850 without it. hi. >> i was wondering if it's tough
to deal with hypotheticals, but if you could comment on compromise would have been different or would have happened if james polk had run for president, run for a second term and won? >> wow. i have to say, that's too hypothetical for me to take on. i mean, sometimes these questions are fun. let's say -- i'm not sure i -- i'm not sure i have a really interesting answer for that. i could answer it, but i like for it to be interesting. i think would he have won? i mean, that's one question. i mean, by no means certain that he would have won. there was huge opposition to the war, justly so. it was a terrible war, although, here we are today with the nation we are because james polk wageed a terrible war and
acquired everything from texas to california, and, you know, we can let that keep us awake at night too, and the disgust with the war and therefore the does -- disgust with democratic policy, and taylor, a great candidate, but he was -- well, like other presidents, even at present day, he said as little as possible about himself. he was everything to everyone. he -- i don't think he released his taxes. [laughter] and i'm skeptical of polk. i wouldn't have been a walk-in for polk, and had he been -- had he won, it would have been a very troubled presidency. on the other hand, he was a strong pro-slavery man, and it would have been harder to
achieve compromise. all right. >> we have time for one more question. >> thank you for your speech here today. i would like to talk about a statement made by frederick douglass, one of the former slaves who found freedom in the underground railroad and got assistance from the abolitionists up there up north. he said that he found that some of the slave masters who were or claimed to be the most christian were some of the most severe with their treatment and punishment towards the slaves. my question is with some of the individuals that you researched, how did they reconcile god and slavery in the building of the christian nation? >> this is a great question. there's so much to say on this subject. i'll try to say it little and concisely. as i suggested earlier, you can go into these debates and read
what they said. i quote it that defense at length because it's important to understand what slave owners and what defenders of slavery had in their head. they thought they were moral people mostly, and there was an entire industry of parsing the bible for language that either defended or failedded to criticize slavery. a great deal. i mean, for example, jesus never explicitly condemned it, so it must be in accordance with the teachings of jesus. there was an abolitionist reading of the bible too. they were counter readings, but there's much, much on this. by the way, i recommend to everyone a book that's coming out soon, henry wincheck who wrote a book about washington and its slaves is bringing out a book next month about jefferson
and its slave addressing not jefer's religiosity because he didn't have any, but jefferson, the way jefferson who considered himself a enlightened man, how he dealt with his slaves. there's a lot of new things coming up in that book. thank you. thank you, everyone. [applause] [inaudible conversations] ♪ you've been watching live
coverage of booktv at the national book festival, day one of two days of coverage here in the history and biography, one of 12 tents down here on the national mall. now, coming up next in the biography tent is talking about international history in the war for peace in vietnam. after there, gene edwards smith, and david and julie nixon eisenhower in the tent live on booktv on c-span2, and after that, we'll do call-in with the eisenhowers and gene edwards smith. stick around for a couple more hours of live coverage today from the national book festival. joining us here on our set at the national book festival is paul hendrickson whose latest book is hemmingway's boats. everything he loved in life and lost. what was the pillar?
>> it was a fishing cruiser that hemming way bought in 1934 and owned for the last 27 years of his life, the most beloved material possession he ever owned, and so i thought maybe i could tell the hemingway story in a new way as a figure story telling devis. >> could you do it? >> well, i went to cuba in 2005, to havana, and when the guards were not looking, i certain tishesly touched the boat, a moving experience. the boat was dry dock, on a hillside at hemingway's home, and it was in terrible condition. it looked as if it were dying of
thirst and only wanted to get into water, but that further convinced me i had a story to tell through the prism of this boat because when hemingway got the boat, he was the reigning monarch of american literature. he was at the very apex, and when he lost the boat, when he lost everything, when he killed himself by shotgun 27 years later, this boat lasted him through three wives, the nobel prize, and all his ruin, which is why it's sub titled everything he loved in life and lost. >> when it was built? >> it was built in a shipyard in brooklyn by the wheeler manufacturing company which in the 1930s was a very, very rep reputable fishing boat, cruiser boat, wooden hold construction boat company, and typical hemingway studied it out and looked for a long time before getting the boat, the exact boat
he wanted, and he had it custom fitted, a stock boat, and it was fitted out to specifications, but went into the gulf stream off key west and began catching these 850 pound marlin, and that became his refuge from the world. >> how much did it cost? >> in 1934 cost -- [inaudible] had a down payment given by the editor of a new magazine in america called "esquire" and the editor gave him $3,000 to the new dream boat if you write articles for me. >> paul, you spent time on hemmingway's family, why? >> you know, i wanted to understand all the people, not just hemingway himself who came
across the boat. one of the most power. story is the story of his third son, gregly ri, who was a doctor, but ended his life as a tran december diet and a transgender, and, yes, it is a kind of multibigraphical approach which seems to be what i know how to do. >> gregory was gigi? >> papa's nickname was gigi, and he actually became gloria. at the end of his life, he had had a complete sex change and died tragically in 2001 in a woman's jail cell in miami, and
i knew him because of a washington post reporter. in 1987, i tracked down all three hemingway sons and spent time with the eldest, with the middle son, who was alive, and with gigi the third son who died in 2001. >> one is still alive? >> yeah, patrick. he's 84. he lives in montana. he is the surviving hemingway son who had a lot to do with the life of his father's boat. >> all three sons spent time on the boat? >> absolutely. as i said, he was married four times, three wives spent time on that boat, but, you know, through a combination of our research and letters own going to the various repositories of hemingway material, i was able to find out this boat just became such a central idea to
his existence. you go out there, peter, and your dmons follow you, all your problems on shore, they, as we know, they come with us. we know about the alcohol in earnest hemingway's life, and how extensive was it, paul, and what about depression? was that a factor in the life as well? >> what? >> depression. >> oh, there's no question that hemingway suffered from what we recognize today as manic depression, bipolarrism. there was alcoholism. i think if he was alive today he might be medicated to prevent some of these things and possibly his suicide which raises a very thorny question. would he have written as brilliantly as he did if he was not suffering so much?
that's a hard, hard question that too many artists have to face up to. >> paul, long time reporter for the washington post, what other topics have you written about as an author of books? >> i wrote about robert mack that mar, a name in this city, architect of vietnam, that book published in 1996 called "the living and the dead," and i wrote a book called "sons of mississippi," the book previous to this, a study of the civil rights south and integration of james meredith at the university of ol miss. i like to pick out subjects that i feel have a lot of resonance to the culture history biography. >> and paul's most recent book national book critic circle award finalist. thank you for joining us on booktv. >> thank you, peter, for having
me. >> back to the biography and history tent as the author is being introduced. live coverage. >> regardless, we're left with the same overarching question, what was behind it all? our history books and i lym nations of vietnam has been hampered by a lack of inside information from the governments. further, the politics discuss in the war histories usually focused on hanoi, saigon, and washington, d.c., but, in fact, the vietnam war was a more global concern that we might have thought. it included key players from the soviet union, china, and other countries. bringing the entire picture into play is a specialty of our guest author today, and she's done this with astounding me tick cue
louse, hanoi's war. it's published by university of north carolina academic press. she was born in 1974 in saigon in which was five months old when she and her family came to the united states. living in a post-war america from her book, she said my family and i were shameful reminders of a war that should have never been fought. the war was distant and approximate. i did not live it, but who i am is a direct result of it. she received her ph.d. from yale in 2008 and she is now teaching at the university of kentucky in the department of history with her husband and is reported as one the field's imminent scholars in the field in the united states with an interest in southeast asia. she's a long list of awards, books, fellowships, and articles to her credit. this book, in particular, is a recipient of the prestingous
award, and hanoi's war, her book, is a page turning and passionate detective work. using recently released materials from vietnam, the united states, europe, translated communism block documents, firsthand interviews with former officials, she pieced together a fascinating, informative, and very readable account of reasons behind the extended conflict of the vietnam war. we welcome her to talk more about this and her book, and you'll find out she's a wonderfully engaging speaker. please welcome her. [applause] >> wow. how do you live up to that introduction? thank you so much. it's great to be here today.
i'd like to thank the library of congress to be a part of this event. i'm sure everyone here in the tent would agree with me that the vietnam war figures largely in the american memory. although this year marked what president obama declaredded as the 50th anniversary of the start of that war, it doesn't seem like the conflict started a half century ago, but the war is recent, kept alive by constant references with the result of hollywood films like the ones max lifted or national headlines eluding to comparison with the war in afghanistan, and, indeed, my own new york times op-ed called exploding myths about vietnam appeared last month. it's a shameless plug for an article i wrote. the vietnam war feels very present. this is not surprising.
the war, arguably america's longest war, shook the foundations of society. it reached into nearly every american home through military service, through participation and protest movements b # and even through television sets as everyday citizens and their leaders debated the merits of u.s. intervention in the far off place in southeast asia. by the war's end, 56,000 american lives lost and the nation nearly torn us under. no wonder why it doesn't seem like ancient history. for me, as a vietnam-american, the feeling that the veal nawm war just transpired is more pal pble, although my parents, who are here today, rarely talked about the lives in vietnam, and here, i can just imagine my mom saying, no, the past is in the past, why bring up sad memories while my father would admonish me, just focus on the present and get your homework done.
i was, though, finally able to piece together what happened to my family in 1975. in fact, and i know this will make my parents sound like typical working class immigrants, but they only sharedded their story with me, the story of how we made it in 1975 to the united states when i told them that it was for a class assignment. [laughter] so, yeah, in one fell swoop, the past was finally in the present, and i got my homework done. what i learned was that when i was five months old as max said, my family, and you have to understand family in the vietnamese context does not mean nuclear family. my family, like my mom and dad, maternal aunt and grandmother, my eight elder brothers and sisters, my paternal uncles and cousins just barely escaped saigon in 1975. our escape was a heroing one full of twists and turns and
happenstance and could have been sucked back in vietnam rather than escaped to america. on that day, and it was april 29th, 1975 as white christmas played out, for those of you who don't know, it was the signal for u.s. personnel to move to the evacuation points in the city, and my father, who served in the south vietnamese army up that it was time that we, too, prepared to leave our home country. for months, he and his kin planned possible escape routes and decided on one. his cousin had access to a helicopter to carry everyone to safety. he and my dd decided on the day of the escape, he'd fly the helicopter above the house in the city indicating to round up the family members and get them to the nearby high school. on that chaotic morning of april
29th when many in saigon scrambled in the streets, my dad drove the pilot cousin to the air base, which basically had suffered forces, and when they got there, they were denied entry. when dad returned home, he attempted entry himself, and-fortunately, eventually successful. when he heard the workers' blade the house, he knew it was time to go. one snag, though. my mom didn't want to leave the native land. understand back then, nothing was clearer. in her head even if you escaped the city, where would you go? with no solid plans in sight, my mom turned to my dad and said basically, take the sons, and go, flee. her immediate fear was the new
regime would conscript her young sons into the military, not that of a family that could be divided. she didn't think that could be a prospect. unable to convince her to leave, dad turned to the eldest brother, who was a wee 16 years old at the time, who had the plan to bring my maternal grandmother into the equation. he was the smartest one, that one. it makes sense. he got a ph.d. in nuclear physics here in the united states. back to the story. my grandmother, my grandmother, she was, you could -- she was an adventurist spirit. she fled her home village in central vietnam at 19 years old in the late 1920s. she did this because she didn't want to be married off to an older gentleman. instead, she set sights on saigon, which back then was a beautiful city which the french colonialists made their own. my grandmother then raised her family in the city and watched as the paris of the orient
transformed into an american town with the add vent of the american troops. eager to explore new lands again, my grandmother did not need convincing to leave in 1975, and beautiful daughter, my mother, and her sister here today, had no choice but to follow among. once the parents decided that the whole family had to escape, the next step was to gather all the children and belongings and locate a safe passage out. it was no easy task because as you recall, i said i had eight elder brothers and sisters. moreover, the first attempt failed. after waiting two hours at the agreed upon rendezvous sight, the helicopter never showed. my dad found out later when we were safe in the united states that his cousin actually ran out of fuel and had to return to the air base. at this point, my paternal uncle set out to find another means of escape while the rest us of
returned home to await word. our second and successful attempt of fleeing came by sea. when my uncle phoned us with the good news he skiered a space on a cargo boat docked down by the saigon river front, we prepared to leave again, but just as we were about to s out, one of my brothers, 10 years old at the time went out to play without telling a single adult where they were going. fortunately, he didn't allow his younger brother, who is also here in the audience, to tag along so what i can only gather was that the proverbial last minute, we found him in the nick of time and proceeded to the saigon river. by the time we got down to the river front, the cargo boat that could perhaps, you know, safely carry a dozen people on a good day, was jam packed. fortunately, there was still room enough for our large group. the story doesn't end there, though.
although we were safely on the boat, all be it huddled closely together, it didn't leave immediately. my dad figured this gave him enough time to locate possibly locate more relatives and help them flee. his first, and what would be his only stop was to my maternal aunt's home finding my mother's sister caring for the four children including an infant son. she wanted to leave, she couldn't since her husband was not with them. my dad couldn't convince her to go, and it would be twenty years until we saw them again in the united states. we found out through their letters that her husband, who had served also in the south vietnamese army was sent to reeducation camp for years after the war. upon leaving my aunt's home with a heavy heart, the sound of gunfire brought dad back to the moment. he realized at that point that he had to abandon his plans to locate more relatives. the saigon streets had become too dangerous.
upon returning to the river front, however, he was agas to find that the goat, which carrieded all that he loved had crossed to the other side of the river. his heart sank. can it could take on a good day, a half day's drive to reach the other side of the river, nevermind dodging bullets on the way and boat could set out at any time. spying a dingy at the last minute, he got across the river. our boat, then, left saigon at night on april 29th, and by mid-morning the next day, we made the way several miles offshore to a coastal city 80 miles south of saigon. the boat's captain said he would go no further and ordered all passengers to disembark on to an abandoned u.s. ammunition barge. can you imagine my parent's dismay? our family, along with several hundred other passengers or so,
this is how much we crammed on to that boat, were stuck on the barge with absolutely no idea what to do. meanwhile, the barge was floating dangerously closer and closer back to the coast, back to the shore, and to a country that had just fallen that day. once communist forces discovered there were people, actual people on the barge trying to flee, they began firing mortar rounds at us. what must have seemed like a whole lifetime later to my parents, we were finally rescued by the uss blueridge, the flag stipof-- ship of the u.s. 7 fleet. we went to guam, wake island, and then pensz. when i asked my sister who just entered her teens in 1975 what living in a refugee camp was like, she described it as fun, a long sleepover with good friends. to the adults, it was anything but fun. the camps, however, were only
temporary measures. with good forchip, a congregation of the holy church of the redeemer in pennsylvania agreed to sponsor us, and we eventually settled in springfield, pennsylvania, where my family still resides today. growing up in a working class neighbor, my family faced much discrimination. we were the only neat that -- vietnamese in town, and many loved ones lost in that war. the wounds healed, and our neighbors once hostile became good friends. for my parents, they had to quickly get over their shock of loseing their homeland and being separated from loved ones since sib lings failed to escape. we are not alope. when i returned to vietnam, there were countless stories of how families became divided as a result of split second decisions made under duress. brothers walking off boats and planes thinking their sisters
had been sucked back only to find upon returning home that their sisters managed to escape. my mom and dad, though, looking at their nine children must have had to set their grief aside and focus on new lives in the united states. possessing only rudimentary english, my father found work as a welder for the rrld, and my mother found employment as a u.s. postal clerk. they worked the night shifts for 5 years, but -- 25 years, but they woke up before i did. i don't know how they did it. they worked so hard in order to provide better lives for their children. they didn't attend college, and in vietnam, this was a luxury that was basically only reserved for the elites, and my parents managed to put all nine of us through university. we went on to become engineers, scientists, surgeons, lawyers, and, yes, even a college professor. [applause] thank you.
a truly happy story for what was a nightmare resulted in the american dream. as you can see from the story. i feel extremely fortunate. i cannot help but recognize this good fortune came at such tremendous cost to so many people in so many countries. this position drove me to find out more about the car, what caused it, why did it end in the way it did, why did americans and overseas vietnamese population have such a tough time reconciling defeat? when i went to college, i sought answer to the questions in my history books. while some questions answered, others remained and new ones emerged. how did the united states become involved in vietnam in the cold
war? why did it become an international conflict? my own journey, an intellectual one, began in graduate school and in the office of the dissertation paper, and he was here today. john's work on the cold war, including mining, classicking thes of american foreign policy in the post war era inspired me to do the same with the war. it was no easy task. books on the war built library shelfs, and you can go in and see. how could they say anything new about an event studied thoroughly? what i discovered was we knew very little what was happening in hanoi in the enemy's capitol. while historians wrote countless
studies on american leaders, vietnamese counterparts, especially those in the north, received shockingly little attention. how do we know so much about the american side and so little about the vietnamese? it just so happens i entered graduate school when arian kyes from the former and present communist world opened doors. i attempted what previous historians could not, to tell the story in hanoi's eyes. i wanted to answer questions that eluded previous score lars. why was the struggle an international conflict, and how did they manage to defeat the strongest superpower the world had ever seen? talk about being in the right place at the right time. although it was difficult for overseas vietnamese to return to the country in the 1980s when i started researching in the late 1990s, things were different. nonetheless, i faced
discrimination. as is the case with most societies around the world, it was difficult for me, as a young vietnamese american woman to be taken as a serious scholar of the war in vietnam. this was a weighty topic that only older men dared to tackle in the country, but in many other ways, my gender and youth may have helped me. as a woman, male officials gurnet estimated me, and being only five months old meant i couldn't have made the decision to stay or to leave. although the party, the military, and the foreign ministry archives are closed, archives that shed the most light on the war, i managed to get in the foreign ministry archives, and this is amazing because they don't allow their own scholars into the archives, only officials from the party and the foreign military and foreign ministry could research in there. i got to see the documents of
the foreign ministry archives. now, what i have to admit, what i saw was not equivalent to what we are able to see, the same sort of documents we would be able to see in the very own national archives in college park maryland. oifs, however, great -- i was, however, grateful to the opportunity, and i hope i'm not the only score lar to enjoy the privilege. in addition, i gained entry into the vietnamese archives. one exciting story to share with you what i call the closest indiana jones moment. after a few months of doing research in the archives, basically, the entire staff had become, like, they got used to me. after awhile, they started to let me get my own documents, my own folders that were sort of behind the ark vieses in the reading room. i got my own folders when arrived in the morning, and i was able toe look through them. what i saw was about, you know, a month into every day they would leave for party classes.
she had to go and attend classes. so ouch times i was -- often times i was alone in the reading room. there was no other researchers using the collection. on one occasion, she was gone, and i went back into the closet and saw a file, a bunch of folders with my name, and i knew they were for me, and like i did before, when she was in the room, i grabbed them, went to the desk, but there was one with a big "x" on the cover. what was that? i was shocked. it was basically a folder that included documents on the negotiations with henry kissinger, the negotiations that took place in paris. i was like, wow, how do i get to see this? before that, i had not saw much. i started to copy by hand the contents of the letter. i couldn't have a computer into
the reading room. well, the next day when i went back because i returned the folder without finishing copying down the documents, i went back the next day, and the archives were back. i go up to her, and this time, she gave me the folders, and i tried to find the one with the x. i was like, oh, i'm missing a folder. there was one with an x. she said, you were not allowed to see that, no, no, no. i was like, okay, but, of course, after she said i couldn't see it, i wanted to see if. i had to finish and get the documents. i waited, i bided the time, waited, and she went back to classes, and i was able to copy the entire contents of that folder. it was amazing. you know, i had visions of myself being arrested and languishing this jail and my family would have to spring me, but it was a successful story. despite, and i'll put danger in
quotes and politics of doing research on the war as a vietnamese woman, my journey through the war with out of print books was not one i would trade for anything. i immediately fell in love with the country my parents were loathed to leave and my people who could have before my countrymen. with many challenges, it was worth any difficulty i encountered. in particular, my book challenges the receivedded wisdom with the war. i put forth many new arguments that overturn what we thought we knew both the conflict. although nothing is definitive until all collections are available to some scholars, i want to review finds with you. first, most vietnam war history books identify ho chee men and the primary leaders in the united states. in reality, the person who was
the architect main strait jigs and commander in chief of the war effort is largely unknown. his name was wan serving in the party, and although he ruled from 1959 until 1986, his death, he somehow escaped the scrutiny of scholars working on that war. much of this was his own doing. he knew he lacked the grandfatherly demeanor of ho chimen, and so he turned it over to the cars -- charismatic men. behind closed doors, thanks to an unrivaled organization know-how, he dominated decision making within the vietnamese communism party. thus i argue in order to understand hanoi's war, you have to analyze the life and career of the man, and i do this in the book. i trace, you know, the rise to
power from the time that he's operating in the delta, the wild south in the 1940s and 1950s to when he rises to power and assumes the general secretary position in 1960. related to my argument regarding the centrality, i challenged the convention pore travel -- portrayal. although it is true the north vietnamese party was less bloody than the soviet communists, i organization that oftentimes power struggles within the leadership resulted in bloodshed. in particular, i found they marginalized the very men we thought were associated with the vietnam war. through the course of research, i found evidence and established official histories as well as fist hand interviews that
basically tried to oh pose at every -- oppose policies at every turn to no avail. he couldn't do away with him, he did the next best thing. he put deputies in prison and eventually sent them off to hard labor camps. what was perhaps my most amazing find in the archives was the connections between the arrests of the deputies in 1967 and a large scale purge numbering in the hundreds of influential party moderates in hah know. they carried out arrests to ensure what was to become the 1968 offensive, a very controversial offensive and the military plans for it debated heavily in hanoi. it's not only important to understand the complex personalities of the members, you have to understand more
generally the impact of the domestic politics on the making of the war. history books portray the decision to go to war, and it was solely as a response to the situation in south vietnam. basically, during the period, south vietnamese forces were e rad eradicated by troops, and so they called upon the party for help and hanoi did support them. according to this interpretation, then, hanoi's were was a defensive protected measure, although i agree that the southerner's cries for help were important to north vietnamese leaders, party leaders might have also had internal problems. their own internal problems on their minds when they made the decision to go to war. following an unpopular and unsuccessful land reform campaign facing increasing opposition and criticism from among the intelligents and major cities in north vietnam, and
finding the road to socialism difficult with state plans not coming to fruitio party leaders concluded that revolutionary war in the south had the power to deflect powers in the north, wag the dog so to speak. in addition to parting the bamboo hedge that obscured decision making in hanoi and bringing them to center stage in the story, i recall how his military strategy prevented him from compromising at the negotiation table, and how war weariness affected the society, and how they were marginalized in the struggle, and how they were bullied #, and how america's allies in the saigon government managed to obstruct u.s. withdrawal, something we're going to see in afghanistan, and timely, how hanoi's small power defeated the politics.
put simply, i've put forth answers to questions that have long consume me; however, while the journey from the vietnam war was successful, my his tore yap's brain already has new questions to shape the next book into that war. with that, i'll take any questions if you have any. [applause] >> in your experiences in the archives in hanoi, in vietnam, a lot of times governments make decisions based on intelligence that goes on, and in the 60s, they knew, a, a lot of americans were against the war. how do we milk it? does that determine the strategies of 68 or whatever? did you discover these things? >> excellent question. i mean, what i saw in the archives, the north vietnamese
were much better at analyzing u.s. domestic politics than our american leaders were, and that was very unfortunate. they spent a lot of time looking at what was going on in the united states, and you can even see it in henry kissinger's meme roars and -- memoirs and historical records and archives here how the negotiator for the north vietnamese brought this up to kissinger, he would bring up what was going on in congress, what was going on in the streets to try to rattle kissinger who would always answer this is beneath me. i'm not talking about what's going on in the united states, but in the end, i believe that north vietnamese leaders never really relied on negotiations to win the war: they knew that they had to win on their own, and it had to be militarily on the ground. thank you. >> several years ago, i had the opportunity to travel around vietnam for six weeks, about
half the time in the north, what used to be the north, and half the time in the south, and in talking with people, my impression was people in the north, very proud of having defeated the united states, the great power. people in the south, very sad that the united states had not, in some way, managed to stay to keep away the communists. is that consistent with your understanding of the point of view of people in the northern and southern parts of vietnam today? >> i would generally say that's true mainly because where you were pre-1975 when the country was divided, the north being the democratic republic of vietnam, and the south being the republic of vietnam, america's ally in the war, there was not much movement after 75. there was an influx of party officials in hanoi who movedded south to take over key
positions, but on the whole, i don't think many south vietnamese moved north. you still have, you know, sort of those allegiances for some. for the vast majority who didn't have any political allegiances, in the countryside, i would say that, you know, generally, i also think that it would be true that those in the south might have also possibly been sad about their defeat, and the north being pao, but i think that has to do with the fact that the population at 1975 didn't really leave, and so you have those political allegiances that existed during the war with the north, you know, figging against the united states with the south fighting on the same side as the united states. that's how i would answer that question. >> thank you for your work. i'm a fellow refugee.
i came over at the same time. we talked a lot about the class war fair that existed in south vietnam and how it devastated the war efforts there, but the, i guess, the mythology about the north is that this was a war that coalesced, unified the nation, and i was wondering if you found any evidence of similar class drives in the north during the time? in the south, my parents said that life in the north was hell. ..
and so that was obviously what you can -- it was class war warfare, and the policies were deeply unpopular, and there was bloodshed. there were kangaroo courts and by the time the war began, initially, there was much enthusiasm, people volunteered, served, and it was a rallying cry for the people who wanted to liberate their southern comrades. so, the war was extremely popular and this makes sense after so many years, after dozens of years-it became unpopular. there was war weariness, and although i can't -- the evidence is quite hidden, you can't easily fine it in the archives, what i did see were the
materials from the ministry of public security, and the ministry of public security is in charge of maintaining security, and what it was used to clamp down on any dissent. so only through the speeches and the materials i found in the ministry of public surety was i able to know they existed. they said themselfs there are so many people opposing the war, they don't know what is going on. we need to nip this in the bud. i found stories of what they called yellow music, back then it was banned. you weren't allowed to play and it i found these four musicians and they have been interviewed since them in hanoi. they were arrested for playing romantic songs, pre1975 songs, songs from other countries, because it was considered unpatriotic and not something you do when people are dying. so, there are hints of that but it's very difficult to fine out the extent of war weariness in
north vietnam. >> i was involved with opposing the war in chicago, very much part of our civil rights movement. chicago was the most segregated city in the country at the time. baltimore, maryland, was the second. and what concerned us, and we felt that we had read a lot about the history, the treatment, the poor treatment of the french toward the vietnamese, we were funding that war. in the 1950s. france as well. and, do you have any comments on our use of agent orange against the country that, as far as we could find, hadn't done anything to anybody? and were there any observations you came across on the 1968 democratic convention, and do
you see any hope for this country learning something rather than perpetuating -- i did meet soldiers who said they saw shell oil trucks crossing the front lines into north vietnam. i don't know whether you came across any ties to the oil industry. as part of this. thank you. >> in terms of agent orange, i didn't actually run across much of that in terms of what i saw of the documents in the united states. it's one of these issues -- i mean, if i were alive in vietnam, i would have opposed american intervention. i think the situation over there was already complicated, and what u.s. intervention ended up doing was making the war much bloodier than it had to be.
tame i feel extremely fortunate and owe a lot to the men who served, both in the united states and in the republic of vietnam. so i have this very difficult -- i find myself in a very difficult position. in terms of your question about what was going on in terms of north vietnam and did they sort of analyze what was going on in 1968? i did come across documents that the north vietnamese leaders were saying we hope humphrey wins and we should try to help him win. nixon, we would get terrible terms under nixon, and they realized that too late to launch -- trying to help humphrey, and instead the u.s. allies in saigon were much here
calculating and worked to help nixon win, and he won be a very razor-thin victory. >> thank you very much for your good work. i have a question about the intelligence reports, because before the united states goes into a war with any country, they have to go to the d based on intelligence report. so my question is, is there any politics like on the intelligence, from the intelligence, or they get -- just didn't get it right? >> we just found out recently in the national security archives has this on the web site -- i see recent, it's been two years -- that if you look at the golf of tonkin documented not
not happen. and lyndon johnson knew that. and you can see so many similarities with what happened with we war in iraq. so in short what i can say is that the gulf of tonkin documents reveal that -- they were doctored. >> with the benefit of hindsight and archive research, there any policies or strategies the united states could have adopted at the time to change the outcome and achieve our >> there are two types of historians. the historians what love to play with counterfactuals and do that, what if. and those who don't like it. i don't like it. but it's a good question request -- question and i would say no. in some ways the unsung heroes of my book are basically ho
which hi min. i think the war would have been far less bloody for the vietnamese communist, but there was no way we could have up seated the president so one of the things his detractors kept pointing to was the dam that american bombing was doing to social gist development in north vietnam. had we been more supportive of the peace knicks knick and moden north vietnam, would that could have forced them to go at the negotiating table earlier? if we had pay more attention to the power struggles going on, something could have opened up. >> can only take one more. >> i think you may have partially addressed this question. and may not want tubes --
wantons from your previous response. i see a lot of parallels between vietnam and afghanistan, supporting of -- installing and supporting basically a corrupt government. war of insurgency. one mint they're plowing the fields, the next minute they're shooting. and misguided policy, would you care to draw any other parallel observations? >> you know, i'm going to fob off this one, but if i can get your e-mail address, i can send you my op-ed which has more comparisons, and that will answer a few of them for you. >> okay. great. >> i'm sorry, i think time has run out, but for those who still
have questions, i can be over here and take them. thank you so very much for coming. [applause] ♪ >> you were listening to lien hang nguyen, a professor at the university of kentucky and this is book tv's live coverage of the 12th null national book festival here in washington, dc. there's one more event in the history and biography tent we will bring to you live, and that is jean edward smith, an eisenhower biographer, along with julie nixon and david eisenhower. and then after that, we will have a callin with the
eisenhowers and jean edward smith. so that's all coming up in our live coverage today, first day of the two-day national book festival 2012. we're pleased to be joined by an old c-span fav, doug brink lee, whose most recent book is this, cronkite. one word. doug brinkley, if you had to describe walter cronkite's influence in america, how would you do it in 20 wards or less? >> the most trusted man in america -- there was great pressure to be called the most trusted man but he carried our can you go country through the things lick gemini and mercury and the voice threw the civil rights movement, vietnam war, watergate, nixon's resignation, the birth of earth day, the person who brought begin and sadat together which led to the
camp david peace accord. in broadcast journal jim, it'sed world're murrow, walteron tight, and local thomas. >> host: how did he get to be that guy? >> guest: he was a good wire service reporter, and the wire service for the united press you have to condense the stories. you're given about a thousand words and you can't but a lot of adverbs and adjectives in it. so he learned how to write unknowingly the wire service was the perfect for television where you only have 15 minutes within a half an hour news broadcast. the writing has to be tight and get to the point. so cronkite didn't throw lose lange around him was very precise. >> host: doug brinkley, was he political? >> guest: cronkite was a new deal democrat. he was -- >> host: was that known? >> guest: . no he became a fan of franklin roosevelt, cheered for him as a boy growing up in the 1930s.
in the 1950s some people thought cronkite he was republican because the founder of cbs work directly for dwight eisenhower, and ike, personally loved walter cronkite so when you have the 20th anniversary of d-day, dwight took cronkite there. so there is would feeling cronkite might be a republican but the vietnam war showed him to be a liberal, and he came out publicly saying, i'm a man of the left, in a speech with barbara jordan. >> host: did that hurt him? >> guest: no, because at that time he had stepped down as the anchor manin' 1981. he played mr. objective quite bell, and if you go to a doctor and are getting surgery you don't care if the doctor is a democrat or republican, but when he came out and voiced some
disseptember own the vietnam war, it was the beginning of him editorializing, and today we see people in television who are editorializing all the time, and that's a slippery slope we're on now. and also, you see, with cronkite the berth of celebrities and television. where cronkite would go to a rally with senators and people running for president, everybody bum rushed them. they wanted to meet cop cite, not a senator from wisconsin. >> host: how would you describe him as a private person? >> guest: a lot of fun. he could not stand pompous people. at parties he would trunk a lot, sing old time songs, sometimes take part in a strange kind of strip tease act just to get people to crack up. but that's why -- i interviewed so many different people, from his good friends on he left. likicy buffett, to on the right,
all the reaganites liked walter cronkite to know him is to like him. >> host: what is or was your connection to walter cop cronkite? came to a book party for my biography. he thought i was david brinkley's son, which i am not. and i had to correct him. then later we would have lunch with arthur schlessinger, jr. in new york, and i got to know him and he did a blush for the history of the united states. he knew i was doing my book before he passed. i was with him six months before his taught some some dementia was setting in, and he was -- >> host: this book came out five or six months ago. what's the next book for you? >> guest: well, i have been working on what i'm calling the
wilderness cycle. conservation history but i like the wilderness more than conservation, but i did the wilderness warrior on theodore roosevelt, and then the quiet world, on saving lack wilderness, and now i'm writing forester in chief, franklin roosevelt, the ccc, and wild america. i'm looking how fdr and gifford-pinchot got two billion trees planted through the youth car in the 1930s. so i'm waiting of the death bowl. everglades. >> we were indicating before this interview, you were telling me you spent seven hours with neil armstrong. >> guest: i did. i grew up in ohio, and i don't have time to get the detail but i go to be do the official history for nasa right after
9/11, and he doesn't like talking, mr. armstrong, so i was able to burn some tapes with him, which i'm very proud of. rosenthal, an editor of news week, tune out about and it i wrote a little piece -- a long piece in "newsweek" about neil a remember strong, and my university rights, we celebrated the 15th anniversary of john f. kennedy challenging america to go to the moon on the campus i teach. and kennedy said we go to the moon because it's there, and listening to kennedy years about the moon shot, you wonder why politicians today don't get behind a war on cancer or don't talk up a going to mars or something. we seem to have lost that sense of bigness. hopefully it will come back. >> host: we've been talking for a short time with doug brink eley. his most recent book, cronkite, and we appreciate you being with us. >> guest: thank you for all c-span2 does. i appreciate it.
>> as i mentioned earlier, one more event in the history and biography tent and we're going there now. this where is you get a chance to talk about dwight david eisenhower. jean edward something i has written a very recent biography of president eisenhower, and he is joined by david, his grandson, and julie nixon eisenhower, who is the daughter, of course, of president nixon and the wife of david eisenhower, and they will be joined in their conversation by jonathan yardley of the washington post so four people on stage. we want to show you the room now so you can get an idea of the crowd size. pretty much standing room only. and they will be introduced, the introducer who will be coming on stage in just a minute, is with wells fargo bank, and he will be introducing the -- all these folks here in just a minute, and that is mike golden, who is
regional president of the washington area wells fargo bank. so you can see the crowd, and just another reminder, after this presentation, we will join the eisenhowers and jean edward smith on stage and you'll have a chance to, with your phone calls, talk with them as well. so, back to the history and biography tent as we continue our live coverage of the 12th 12th annual national book festival. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
call yip show with the eisenhowers, and peter from book tv. they will be taking questions from the audience so we have two microphones. we hope you will stay. i think it will be really enjoyable. so please stay tuned until a little later than you planned. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
[inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. i'm jim millington, library of congress. we hope you have been enjoying this extraordinary national book festival. [applause] >> we have involved more authors than at any time in the 12 year history of this festival, and it's for them we're especially thankful. your responses make the free public event possible, and one of them is the wells fargo, which has been the sponsor of this particular pavilion,
history and biography. in a moment, i introduce to you michael l. golden, wells fargo's regional president for greater washington, d.c., who will introduce our closing authors today. we're privileged to have with him, of course, not only an extraordinary biographer but also the two inheritors of the legacy of the man who is not only led what is often called the greatest generation to victory in the world war ii, but also led the country to eight years of peace and prosperity, which are now becoming recognized in good part thanks to these authors we have with us today, to close things out. being recognized by historians
for the contribution he has made to our national life. so, ladies and gentlemen, i'm happy to hand over for the last act in your main tent, wells fargo sponsored for us, mr. golden, who will introduce everybody and it's a tremendous closing act, if you like, to a wonderful day, blessed with sunshine, with all your presence, and i think we've got an extraordinary cast for this which he will be pleased ands to introduce, and i'm sure we're all going to profit from this wonderful last act to a memorable day. thank you, and all the best to the people in the discussion. mr. golden. [applause] mr. golden. [applause] >> thank you, dr. billingsley.
wells fargo is delighted be one of the desponsors of the book festival and the history pavilion. next we have a very special program devoted the life and legacy of dwight david eisenhower. i'm especially pleased to introduce this segment because i was born at the end of the eisenhower presidency. some of my grandfather's favorite memories -- my favorite memories were spent with my grandfather who was a huge president eisenhower fan. such a fan that when he visited my mother and i in the hospital for the first time, he told my mother, his daughter, i have the perfect name. let's name him dwight david gelden. my mother preferred michael, obviously, but throughout my childhood, my grandfather reminded me many times, you were really supposed to be named dwight david golden. how delighted would my grandfather be if he knew who i was about to introduce today.
we're fortunate to have david eisenhower and julie nixon eisenhower joining us, david is an author, public policy fellow and grandson of dwight david eisenhower, a scholar at the an anyoneburg school of communication in pennsylvania. in 1987 he was a finalist for a pulitzer prize for his book, eisenhower at war, 1942 to 1945. david's new book, co-authored with his wife julie eisenhower, is going home to glory iry, a memoir of the life of dwight d. eisenhower, 1961 to 1969. like her husband, julie eisenhower is also an author. she is in addition the daughter of the 37th president, richmond m. m. knickson from 1,973rd to 1975 she was assist stand managing editor for the saturday evening post, and weles welcome jean edward smith,
white house book is, eisenhower in war and peace. he has written much praised biographies for franklin del know roosevelt roosevelt and ulysses s. grant. mr. smith is a senior scholar at --s' spent time at the at toro. and our moderate you're will be jonathan yardley. he has been a feeman fellow at washington university. his most recent book, a compilation of the most memorable reviews of noted and neglected book from the past. please join me in welcoming david and julie eisenhower, jean edward smith, and jonathan yardley. [applause] ...
first as a general and then as president. we are dealing with really one of the most underrated figures in american history both as a general and as president. one of the reasons for that is because eisenhower made everything he did look easy. you may recall those bumper stickers in the election of 56. ben hogan for president. if we are going to have a golfer, let's have a good one.
[laughter] eisenhower was franklin roosevelt's first choice to command the d-day invasion. eisenhower had three amphibious landings under his belt at that time. he got along well with the british and was churchill. that was very important and professor roosevelt there was no question he was going to pick eisenhower although he gave general marshal the opportunity to accept -- text to command the invasion if he wanted and eisenhower was characteristic, self disciplined, refused to express an opinion and president roosevelt selected ike. no one else could develop the western armies together as he could and his decision to land on d-day in spite of the weather caught the germans totally by surprise. they had no idea that innovation was coming. can you imagine 5000 ships in the english channel and the germans not knowing it because of the weather? that happened. the decision to want to take pairs with ike's decision, to
take paris was his decision as well. they were to bypass pairs and continue to the german army. he said he would not destroy it if the allies could get their and they really only had two days to do that. otherwise he would relieve them. ike changed his plan to paris. ike took the command really to the battle of the bulge after upon which they broke through in december of 1944. eisenhower took personal command, gave the command to patton and the command of all the troops north of the montgomery including the american seventh core and let them run out of speed, run out of gas and when they did the german army was no longer capable of any type of offense of action. it was an incredible decision that eisenhower made any made it on the spot. eisenhower also was grossly
underrated as president. eisenhower made peace in korea immediately assuming office in before sending off as he went to korea on a piper cub. he looked at the back line and decided -- over the objections of the party, the generals on the spot in korea. eisenhower made peace. after eisenhower made peace in korea not one american served died in combat for the next eight years. [applause] eisenhower believed limited war with the contradiction in terms. you don't go to war unless you mean to go to war and you do it all out and as a result you remain at peace for the next eight years. eisenhower also was even-handed in its approach to his
foreign-policy. when britain and france and israel invaded, took the suez canal our two oldest allies, our youngest allies general eisenhower insisted that they withdraw and he not only insisted that he organized or the secretary of secretary of the treasury a round, a run on the british pound which left the british with no alternative but to withdraw. domestically eisenhower's progressive conservative. he believed largely in a balanced budget and he was against deficit spending but he also believed the government had a positive role to play. the interstate highway system, which eisenhower -- which was eisenhower's brainchild. [applause] more money was spent on the intraday -- interstate highway system than the new deal from 1839 to 18 to 41 with zero impact on the budget because it was paid for through gasoline
taxes. [applause] thethe st. lawrence seaway connecting the great lakes, opening the great lakes to traffic again had been on the drawing board since the administration of theodore roosevelt and eisenhower -- eisenhower took, assumed the presidency in a time of mccarthyism and incredible communist witchhunt. he did it as he did so many things in the background. it was eisenhower orchestrated the army's response in the army mccarthy hearings. i'm not going to get into a contest but that stunk. and when it was over mccarthy had him vanquished but i think it was the desegregation issue perhaps in which eisenhower most often underestimated.
president truman had ordered the army to be desegregated in 1950 but the that the army had not complied. 85% of the army was still segregated when i had to power. ike ordered the military services to desegregate and of course this was a new supreme commander whose words they immediately obeyed. he culminated the segregationists of will service and after brown versus board of education, and he ordered the integration of the central high school in little rock and the demonstrations there which blocked the desegregation eisenhower ordered the 101st airborne division from fort campbell to little rock to enforce desegregation with a forceful message to everyone in the south that the desegregation integration was the loss of land and eisenhower was going to
support it with the armed forces of the united states. what a powerful message. [applause] but finally, eisenhower did not take the lead in rgb advantages of integration as john f. kennedy and lyndon johnson to. eisenhower felt this was a difficult till -- pill to swallow and the best way to get them to do that was to stress that this was the law. this was the rule of law and he is president was going to take care of the law. it made it much easier, and easier pill for the south to swallow. [applause] >> jonathan is great to be with you today and with all the booklovers at this fabulous festival and with a very distinguished biographer, jean edward smith way think has
contributed immeasurably to the eisenhower scholarship and i have to agree he was underestimated definitely and i'm so glad that you have written such a powerful book. i think it's fascinating in reading the book to see that more of the book is focused on the military career, even though as you've just spent almost most of your time talking about the incredible eight years of of the eisenhardt registration, the estate leaned over and whispered to me i have never heard the interstate highway system applauded before. pretty exciting. first-time. >> all those people who were applauding are now going to get on 395 and be stuck in traffic or three hours. [laughter] powerbook is a different kind of book. it's a memoir. it's david's memoir about life with his grandfather and it starts the day that his
grandfather left office and really, the book you get to get it three ways. it's an intimate story of the grandson and a beloved grandfather. it's a story of the 60's and that whole turbulent time after the war in vietnam and the protests. and it is also a study in power because on january 20, 1961, dwight eisenhower was the most powerful man in the world. and as we do in our democracy, peacefully he surrendered power to his successor, john f. kennedy. he got it in 1957 chrysler imperial with mamie and they went on to gettysburg and to do the horn and say goodbye to the secret service. one of the things that we do that really david helped him write it so i don't want to say we so much but the assistant, one of the things david does with my help us to talk about how eisenhower filled a very important role in the 60's counseling his successors.
kennedy, johnson and nixon and when you think about the war and i think jane smith made a very good point that eisenhower didn't believe in incremental steps in a war. he tried to counsel johnson. certainly when my father came into office because he died only three months after my dad, presidency my father missed having that but again it's great to be with all the booklovers and i'm also among your ranks and now i turn it over to the author of the book. i am the helper and the assistant but is the one -- it's really his story, so david. [applause] >> it it's an honor indeed to be here at this book festival which is extraordinary if and to be in the presence with mr. smith who has done something i really admire and that is right and
antithesis and that is synthesizing a military career and a political career all in one or her medical subject each. my efforts in this field were enumerated at the beginning of the program and i am proceeding at as much slower pace. actually the book that julie is referring to, "going home to glory" is about eisenhower's third career. he was an army general and then he was a president and he than he became a farmer. in gettysburg and my family, my father, my mother, my three sisters and i, the eight of us lived in gettysburg and this was about growing up with dwight eisenhower and experiencing him as a neighbor, grandfather on the scene, a boss, a former president of the united states. julie made a very important point and that is the significance of this transition,
where this book picks up. dwight eisenhower is the first president to serve under the operation of the 20 2nd amendment. under the 20 2nd amendment, america, and this is different, america requires men like dwight eisenhower, men with extraordinary vitality -- we required them to give up our. these were people who would rule forever in lots of societies. we not only require them to surrender power but we required them to be good sports about it. [laughter] and so on january 20, 1961 as he is turning over the reins of power to his successor and he knows his legacy is now in the loving hands of the democrats, he is required to be a good sport about this and to make this work. i think that this is a very important dimension of an ongoing story that is chronicled by jean edward smith, "eisenhower in war and peace." what america is doing is,
america's rewriting the ruleboof mr. smith's book deals with the military-industrial complex that eisenhower issued as the leading officer. that is a speech which above all addresses what i think is the great paradox of the 20th century and that is how we can combine such growth in such progress, i highway system being part of this, with the horrors of the 20th century, the first world war and the great depression and world war ii and the cold war and the threat of nuclear annihilation. reads great horrors and great progress coexisted throughout the 20th century and the idea was come in eisenhower's mind, but that this was a paradox and american democracy which was growing so quickly on such an overwhelming scale, had to understand or are reorients itself in these new circumstances, and so he ran.
he was a republican particularly when i knew him in the 1960's, very much a republican and in fact i was raised in sort of a nonpolitical family. i was a perfect -- for one of the greatest practical jokes in va history and that was my nomination and election and acclamation in absentia the only political office i've ever held in that as secretary of treasury of the young democrats. [applause] this became a news story which was how my parents found out about it and they thought it was kind of funny. my granddad did not think it was funny at all. the man i've known his granddad i became to know is general and he was a partisan and 1960's was also a trustee. he was somebody came to power at the end of this enormous victory which had costs and raise complex issues for our society, like every surviving society of world war ii.
and stepped forward as someone determined to restore a two-party system, restored constitutional balance between the presidency and the congress and then by his example, depart office into establishing a 20th century, 21st century custom. as a reminder that we are a nation under laws and that no one in america is indispensable and that's what it's distinguishing about our country is leadership at all levels and in all places. and i think that is what his life and legacy really is. it is an honor to be here in washington at this wonderful event and we are looking forward to responding to anything the members of the audience would have to say. again i admire mr. smith's ability to synthesize on this subject and he dealt with the areas we have covered in great
depth. and these are various approaches to a very wonderful subject and one that i am glad to see is receiving such attention today. thank you very much. [applause] >> i would like to urge those of you who would like to address questions to the panelist would come up and line up behind the two microphones that are in these isles. we will be ready for you to start in just about a minute. i just wanted to make the observation that we are talking this afternoon about a president whose reputation has fluctuated fairly substantially over the half-century since he left the white house and mr. smith in particular would be able to address this because the first book of his that i read in many ways the book that i still
admire most passionately as his biography of ulysses grant who of course waited for more than a century to see his reputation pulled out of the ashes in the great misunderstanding of the service in the white house so anything you all might like to say about where ike's reputation is now and raise it going, think it would be interesting. >> i think there's no question that eisenhower's reputation is of only -- is on the upswing just as general grants was on the upswing. eisenhower had three careers. he was also president of columbia university. he is president of columbia for five years and then he did a marvelous job at columbia. the budget was in terrible shape. he balanced the budget in the organize columbia's first funds drive. he defended academic freedom at columbia at a time when i was not popular and he defended columbia faculty. he provided really a -- for
which every university present could hide. in november of 1948 come dewey lost the election and when tom dewey lost the election in 1948, eisenhower had bigger fish to fry. because the republican nomination in 1952 is going to be open at that point and he had lost interest a little bit at columbia and went to nato to defend that nato's forces and so forth but he did an outstanding job at columbia and he would have gone on to do an outstanding job except he had a higher calling. >> david as i recall rather early in your book you say that you saw ike's reputation editing someone. do you still feel that way? >> well live look, in fact the connection with grants to me is very interesting. i think we look back
nostalgically on world war ii in this great unqualified success and so i think the one thing we have not recognized both i believe in voters and the electorate in the 1950's did recognize is that we were really undergoing a post-war reconstruction period and the 1940s and 1950's so the parallel between eisenhower and grant, lincoln and roosevelt is a very compelling one and i think another reason that people have not focused on this parallel is because of ulysses s. grant's reputation and i remember that subject by all people -- was a friend of ours and came to visit us when julie's dad was in the white house in 1969, and we were standing in a room where ulysses grant signed treaties and i made some crack about his reputation and as a marine,
chuck said this is a career that has to be completely re-examined and for the reasons that i think you have laid out. america underwent the post-war reconstruction and i think it lasted until the moment that julia and i were involved in 72 and 73 first-hand. this was the end of the vietnam war and this was a long post to your war in which america rebuilt asian rebuild europe and rebuilt the better world and eisenhower is a global version of grant as fdr is a global version of it abraham lincoln. >> thank you. we have about 10 minutes for questions and use you sir are first. >> president eisenhower first ran 60 years ago. where do you think he would be if he were running today and on the issues of today? [laughter] [applause]
>> this is directed to mr. smith. [laughter] >> i am will say one thing. i believe that jean edward smith would agree about this, is the motive for the connection between the contemporary republican party and the republican party of the late 1940s and early fifties is the value it places on the private sector and for enterprise. and this is the episode of the eisenhower of administration that i remember best and i have to say i think is the most important and certainly part of his second administration and that was the desegregation of central high school in little rock in 1957. i can remember we were living in northern virginia and we were driving past the school every day. we were in school in the northern virginia area and what
the gop has done since the late fifties, it has established itself in the south but it did so in julie's dad's as well as reagan and other important republican politicians. when the south became a two-party region, it became that on the basis of economics and private enterprise. texas became a republican state because it was having tremendous economic development and virginia and north carolina and other states. the idea was the republicans were not going to go south and help the democrats on segregation but they would try to transcend the issue by emphasizing economic development. this is the connection between the republican party for as long as i can remember. julie and i were actually gets in the white house about six
years ago and we had an occasion after dark to walk along the south lawn and around the driveway where we had walked so often before and julie excused herself to walk up the walkway to peer into the oval office. she saw the busts and president george w. bush's office of dwight eisenhower and he kept the busts there throughout his eight year presidency as a texan and as somebody who recognized as his father did and the southerners did and as republicans did that the eisenhower presidency and 52 begins a dialogue that we have had ever since in which the position will wax and wane and there will be stronger arguments and weaker arguments at any given time that we have a robust are and we also have an effective public sector. and the republicans basically are advocates for the private
sector and that is the connection. >> what is something we would know about president eisenhower as a farmer after he retired from public service or his public life? >> what would he know about him? something that we talk about in "going home to glory." i learned an early lesson i think in leadership that i articulated before he went i went to college and that is he was a leader and i saw the way people responded to him and understood that to be the case. i knew he was special but above all he was a leader on the farm because he took everything we did so seriously and he was so well informed on everything we did. i think the lesson i take away is that you do not ask others to do that which you are unwilling to do yourself and he was
someone who understood his operation. he was also the first person to hire me so i was grateful. he was the first to hire me so i was sort of surprised by that. i worked for six years on the farm and i relate to this end "going home to glory." we played a game of honeymoon bridge over lunch hour that when a little long and we thought the general was downtown. as it turned out he was on the grounds, broke up our game and i experience the eisenhower temper. that was seeing the mouth move and i wasn't sure exactly what it was saying except i did pick out, you are fired. [laughter] he was a very dynamic fellow. two hours later we had a golf date and i was unsure whether he was going to show up. he did and he came to our home and the 4:00 we went out to the gettysburg country club and we played the first hole and silence in the second hole in silence silence and at the end of the third hole and i'm sure mr. smith encountered this come he said david i allow my sissy is one mistake a year and you have that yours. and by the fourth hole i had
been rehired. [laughter] to air his human introvert give his divine. what he knew about them and gettysburg is this was a leader. someone who take things seriously forgive the new went to be tough and he knew when to be forgiving. >> i have a question for david eisenhower. in 1960, and this goes to julie's, she might understand some of it. 1968 richard nixon looking for the republican nomination of the president and i'm just and eisenhower was basically trying to be neutral in the entire thing but at some point he felt compelled and i have always tried to figure out, was the influence or what was the process? i know he was facing a coalition of reagan and rockefeller and i guess even george romney is in there somewhere but i'm just curious what you have to say about that. >> the sequence goes like this. julie and i were engaged in
november of 1967. richard nixon announced to the white house january 31, 1968 and dwight eisenhower endorsed him in late july of 1968. now i'm describing the happiest day of my life. when finally he stepped down from his position of neutrality to endorse richard nixon. i think the idea there is that in 1968 was a year in which republicans could win and i think that therefore quite eisenhower extended an endorsement very carefully and made it very clear to me when julie and i were together that he would be doing, observing his own practice and so forth in the election. he finally became persuaded that his vice president, richard nixon, had the qualifications to
address the conundrum of 1968. ere was a dominant issue in 1968. the vietnam war and we were losing in richard nixon campaigned on almost a brittle pledge to end the war and dwight eisenhower came to understand what that meant and finally decided to cause via the qualifications to be president in 1968 that he would prevail. finally he endorsed him in july. julie had something to do with it because my grandfather was very entranced by julie. and i prompt you i had nothing to do with it. i knew that if i raised it or even asked, this was taking liberties so i had nothing to do with it. >> we have time for only one more question for those of you who are in line, you can ask questions shortly, but here in
the studio audience one more question. >> thank you. you mentioned being a good sport about turning over power and i think it's very interesting that both your grandfather and father were clearly partisan but had to be a good sport. that capacity seems to be largely missing. you have respect lives on where we are and what has gone wrong and maybe even how we can fix that? >> eisenhower had a republican congress for the first two years. joe martin was speaker of the house and he had a very difficult time dealing with republicans on capitol hill. the democrats took over in the election of 1954. >> sam rayburn became speaker can and lyndon johnson was majority leader. eisenhower got along marvelously with rayburn johnson. eisenhower have did to be born
in the district which it heard. they thought alike and they put the national interest first. they were aware of the party interest as well and almost all of the legislation in the eisenhower period period stems from a time when it was a democratic congress. it was a different time in that respect and that differ slightly from the answer to the first question as to where eisenhower would be today. back in 1952, running for the republican nomination, seems to me and eisenhower defeated the republican party of today. >> on that note -- the. [laughter] [applause] >> see would be defeated in the republican party of today. [applause] >> it would like to thank our distinguished panelists and it's
been an honor to have the three of them here. i urge you to read their books which are as every bit as good as you think they are. i hope you have had a wonderful time. >> i have an announcement so please stay in place for just another moment. c-span will be here shortly with david and julie nick's and eisenhower and with jean edward smith. they will be on the national call-in show. they will take questions from here, so it starts at 6:00 p.m. and that is just about five minutes. stay with us. thank you. ♪ >> yes you just heard from the history and biography tent we will continue our live coverage with a call-in on president dwight eisenhower with cade edward smith and david and julie
nixon eisenhower. so we'll put the numbers on the stranger land you will be able to dial in and talk with the eisenhower's and jean edward smith as well. as we continue our live coverage here from the national mall, so we can get set up on the stage up there at the history and biography tent they want to show you a few videos of president eisenhower that we have in our booktv archive. all of these are available to watch on line at your leisure but here is just a little bit from the booktv archive is as we get ready for our national call-in. >> it is a special challenge as i learned this spring, special challenge to speak to people in abilene about eisenhower. the first question is did and he just play golf? so rather than review his presidency, i thought i would focus in on a particular
relationship that stands at the intersection of my two books, the recent examination of his presidency the white house years and my 2006 biography. ike and warren had a rocky relationship that it climaxed in a powerful and much misunderstood moment in american history, one with profound ramifications for democracy, civil rights and the relationships within the branches of our government as well as between the federal and state governments. does dohsa relationship to rely upon a plan of power and mutual respect and this particular episode, the little rock crisis of 1957 provides a vivid example of what happens and what occurs when the fundamental deference to reason and authority in this case during the state and federal government falters and gives way. it is i hope a reminder that our government and indeed our society itself depends upon a modicum of mutual respect and common sense. we put much faith in our courts
but we must recognize that our judiciary authority derives only from the appeal to reason and opinions. no order in in the court will mandate no matter how the state exists with someone to make a sale. reason is binding agents of social justice. when reason fails all that's left is force. dwight eisenhower and earl warren for berman fmat is beginning to build successful careers although they were somewhat different iceberg ike was born in texas andraised 100 yards from here and in white house smaller than the office he would occupy as army chief of staff. as you know his parents were members of -- passages group and when eisenhower left the west wing it was the only time his brother milton had ever heard his mother cry. it was of course they try and the hero of world war ii
responsible for the destruction of hitler's regime first in north africa and then italy and finally with a push across the european plane beginning with the d-day landings at normandy. is urged to run for president in 1948.declined and then agreed in 1952. once elected he distanced himself principally in foreign and military affairs but he also embraced the construction of the st. lawrence a way to open up the center of the country to commerce and trade and later of course the federal highway system, that times the largest public works project in american history. eisenhower was a military man but he was not relativistic. bat as he did not think that war was often a solution to anything. he was what one would call slow to pick up the sword. ike's public persona to grandfather the man with a big smile was largely ike's personal invention. behind the scenes he was strategically vigorous and a tough-minded commander in chief. the people who worked work for him never doubted who was in
charge. eisenhower was -- more than any other person. he never had forgotten where he came from and that is why his presidential library is in abilene kansas, close to where i live. ike was not a professional politician that he was one of the most successful politicians in our history and supremely protective of his image. ike did not hesitate to use support like secretary of state john foster dulles as lightning rods for controversial politics that were in fact his creation. eisenhower had a temper, temper that exploded like a rocket but a tense moments required great decisions he was a flailing like cool, and delivered. this was a profoundly religious man who had prayer at the beginning of his cabinet meetings given that famous temper erupted he could turn the air blue with profanity and did so frequently. above all eisenhower saw himself
not as a warrior that as a and that is what this book is about. from his exposure to intelligence and his ability to use it during world war ii eisenhower knew that the soviets were behind and he knew how primitive their economy was especially after world war ii so he essentially said we don't have the a need to increase defense. it's more important of the balanced budget. any other president in the 1950's who had done that probably would have been crucified. >> how much of that was in the newspapers? how big were the headlines at the time and how contemporaneous with the government? >> a lot and maybe for a few viewers who may not remember what that was, made in 1960, an american spy plane called the u2 went down the soviet union and khrushchev revealed that fairly quickly and it was an enormous raucous. at the time i wrote that book
which was published in 1986, when that book was published the general view of this was that it was an incident but it didn't have to much affect on t history of the world. one reason i wrote it was that was the moment of which, in the american soviet relations and soviet history we could get the recent documents classified. this was the early 80s and these were documents from the 1960's and if they wanted the documents with some hindsight he began to realize that this action was a lot more important and influence world history much more than certainly eisenhower had allowed. eisenhower as i suggested really wanted to reduce the harshness of the cold war. who used to say make a shift in the granite so he had khrushchev here and agree to have a summit in the spring of 1960 and there was a general thaw in the cold war and i think at that summit
in may of 1960, serious business could've been done that would have accelerated this thawing of the cold war. so when his plane went down and khrushchev demagogue and said the americans have sent planes over our territory, eisenhower incident with the khrushchev in a position of having to be extremely tough. eisenhower had to be tough in response and so they air that was a full campaign during the era in which sometimes people
think that creates all kinds of barriers and in fact it brings many families very close together because families are a principle source of support and solace, a friendship really even so then he moved up to gettysburg in his retirement years and my father worked with him on the writing of the two volumes on the white house. so i think i saw him two or three days a week for many many years and i was extremely fortunate to have that opportunity i think. >> what do you remember most about it? >> well if i were to stand back
and think about what he was like as a grandfather had one quality that i thought was absolutely marvelous in retrospect. i always admired when i would find it and the people and that was that he always knew where you stood with him. he wasn't a soccer and he wasn't the kind of guy who would get angry and then not express himself on the subject. you always had a sense of where you were with him. he was extremely affectionate and engage with us. c-span: your father is? >> guest: my father is john eisenhower. he is my grandparents only surviving child. they had aged young son who died at the age of three back in the 20s, so my father ended up being an only child. and i think that consequently brought us much closer to my grandparent too. c-span: where is he today? >> guest: well he lives outside washington d.c. on the eastern shore and he is a
professional writer as you may know and he has written many distinct books on military history. c-span: your brother david? >> guest: he is a writer too and he and his wife julie lived outside of philadelphia. >> hears here's some the top-selling nonfiction titles and independent bookstores around the country.
[inaudible conversations] >> we are back live at the national book festival on the mall in washington d.c.. booktv on booktv on c-span2. [applause] and as you can see we have a great audience still here in the history and biography tandem we are joined by jean edward smith and eisenhower biographer and of course david and julie nixon eisenhower, grandson and granddaughter in law and of course daughter of president nixon so we are very pleased to have everybody here. [applause] we are going to put the numbers up on the screen, 202 is the area code 585385 if you leave in the eastern central timezones and 585-3886 for those in you in the and the mountain and pacific timezones and the eisenhower's and mr. smith were talking earlier, jonathan yardley so you heard a lot about the presentation. i have one question breach again we have people lined up so i'm going to give everybody a chance and get my questions out out of the way really fast.
jean edward smith, did president eisenhower like campaigning? >> certainly not in 1952. in 1952, this was the new job that he had but he learned it effectively ended 1956, he campaigned. no, he did not like it. >> david eisenhower, in "going home to glory" the book that you and mrs. eisenhower wrote, you said president eisenhower once described you as very able. was that an a+ complement from the president? >> yeah, but the point, the very able comment, that was his way of complimenting people. kevin mccann was a speechwriter and somebody who helped him write books, including his informal memoir, memoirs, aziz, as somebody who re-created for me, and i, we try to capture
that in "going home to glory," the amphion surround our office in gettysburg in the 1960's. people were sitting around and enjoying a quiet morning over coffee and so forth antonette period rusty period rusty brown and dr. mccann picked up a lot of things that delight eisenhower did conversationally and one of the comments they made that really stayed with me and i reproduced it was his highest praise for anybody was to call you able and what he was trying to do was to deflate the language. he felt that everything was being inflated in the 1960's, our notions of drama on the national level. in fact, a very telling book, a very searching an interesting book on the year 1968 by a trio
reddish writers entitled american melodrama. what eisenhower is trying to do and i think he was doing this is as president as well, was to restore a sense of proportion and so being very able. i want to add something to what doctors miss that about campaigning. i spoke to a lot of, spoke to a lot of my grandfather's colleagues over the years including eisenhower's books in one particular was when paul was in theater -- and i interviewed him in oyster bay new york very close to the teddy roosevelt homestead some years ago, and i asked him that very question. and i think that he would have agreed with your response entirely that delight is in our was not somebody who enjoyed campaigning but he said, the two greatest natural politicians, the two greatest national politicians he had seen in his
entire life war al smith and dwight eisenhower. he said these were two people who have a natural talent for it. that is the ability to say the right thing at the right time, to make the gesture and so forth and he had talent for a campaigning. i think that is something that he probably -- he was also older remember. he was in his 60's when he was running so he did not have the energy of richard nixon running in 1960 or obama running in 2008. >> and mrs. eisenhower, lott has been written about your parents relationship with the eisenhower's. how would you describe it? >> well i think that one of the things i enjoy doing when i was working on the project of eisenhower's retirement years was to look at that relationship and to think about it more and
i'm amazed that eisenhower and nixon got along as well as they did because when you think about it, you have two presidents rumbling around together. a president is going to be someone who is very driven. he has an agenda. he has a vision. he knows where he is going so you have dwight eisenhower and then you have richard nixon who in 39 becomes a vice president who already is showing signs that he is on his way so the fact that they got along so well, i mean as well as they get i would say, think is a testament to several things but i think first of all eisenhower made the vice presidency significant. he sent my parents to 53 nations around the world ambassador's. they were in vietnam in 1953. they were in africa and asia and all over the world and 53 nations because he believed in person-to-person diplomacy still uses vice president i think my father like that.
making the vice presidency more than would have been called a warm bowl of spit or -- see what julie was saying is something than mr. smith's book covers as well. this idea that they got along well in spite of their respective circumstances and their abilities. the case in point in the alternative would be eisenhower and macarthur. when you see pictures of eisenhower and macarthur together in his cozy situation in manila, you have a general and then you have a staff aide in the staff it is leaning over respectfully and providing the general was a message that he is to to approve and so forth and he is all very humble but what i think, they are going to blow up. this is a relationship that's going to blow up and if you look at it in retrospect and you say of course it was going to blow up. the person who commands u.s. forces in except the japanese surrender in tokyo bay and
september 1945, this is macarthur the great theater commander and dwight eisenhower commanding the american theater. these are two people who are not naturally supportive -- subordinate relationship. no wonder they blew up, and they did. eisenhower nixon in hindsight, this was mentioned, ambition with an engine that never arrested. and you have to have that be a president, to even be eligible to become a president, to even be within the zone of people who are considered for the presidency so they both have this tremendous inner dynamism and they were bound to clash and i think what is remarkable is that i think the answer is they were of separate generations. i think they had been contemporaries they would have been -- >> the first call forecast comes from carl in elizabeth, new
jersey. carl you are on booktv. please go ahead. >> thank you peter. this is a great privilege. mr. smith's book on eisenhower i got at the library and i am the middle of drafting a letter to david and his father. now that i see the two eisenhower's onstage together, it's going to have a third addressee, mrs. eisenhower as well. i have a -- i also want to say my earliest political memory is my mother saying general eisenhower was nominated at the 52 republican convention so that gives away what my age might be but i have a serious question concerning how history is recorded regarding the incident of may 1, 1960 and i have reference to mmo
of general who was in a two president eisenhower. after checking with the present i informed mr. bissell of the cia that the u2 makar pressure may be undertaken provided it is carried out prior to may 1. that memo and less is written to cover general goodpaster -- suggests that the u2 might not have been authorized by a president president eisenhower but in fact would would have bea rogue operation directed by the director of central intelligence. if anyone can draw on that. thank you very very much. i appreciate it. >> general goodpaster did not go out on anything. the president approved the u2 flied. there is no question the
president approved it as a president regretted approving it but he approved it because the cia insisted on it and he allowed them to have one last flied. of course it was shot down by the soviet union and eyes and are always regretted it. to eisenhower's great credit he did not blame this on mr. dulles or mr. bissell. he took personal responsibility for it even though khrushchev gave him ample opportunity to place the blame on someone else. eisenhower refused to do that and he took his own responsibility for it and he did it -- >> next question comes from here in the audience. hi. >> i had a question about eisenhower's ability to affect nice talent. i have read that he was quite good at identifying maybe would other people considered hidden talent and i wondered if you could comment about that, if you also found that in your study of him and whether that was a particular trait that he looked for an pupil that allowed him to
identify people who might have otherwise been overlooked? >> he had a military career as president eisenhower did. one of the things you learn very early on is how to identify talent. and eisenhower was a superb identifier of talent and i will give you one example. they were very close with president eisenhower. after eisenhower was elected president in november of 1952, he immediately took off to play golf and let clay and brownell brownell -- because he knew these people and he recognize their talents and their abilities and he understood that they knew more about who should be in the cabinet more than he did at that point because he had been at
nato for the previous three years. and so, eisenhower was a superb judge of talent and as they say he learned that through his military career. >> i would say amplifying that, i would say that is probably his most important political contribution as president. dwight eisenhower was a republican and proud of being a republican and he believed in limited government that he was governing in a democratic era. he was governing and the fdr era so what the eisenhower frustration does he is it applies the brakes to overreaching and makes bipartisan many policies in the new deal but applies the brakes on others but it is not an aggressive administration presenting a republican blueprint in driving for a mandate on policy questions.
but the eisenhower frustration did in the 50s however methodically was it recruited talent. it is hard to find a republican presidency that does -- to the eisenhower frustration, george w. bush being the latest actual encumbrance in the white house to acknowledge that. mitt romney who is running, the republican nominee this year's father was identified by eisenhower in the early 60's in michigan and promoted romney's fortune. the idea is that the power of the presidency and control of the executive branch the republican party in the 1950's have an opportunity to train a whole cadre, thousands of future leaders who would go out or make a difference in the future and i think that is one of the great accomplishments abetted administration. it was early republican administration governing against the new deal tied, governing
sensibly, governing in a bipartisan way and getting a lot done and governing well but above all promoting and creating opportunities for people down the road and i think they succeeded really well. see our next question comes from steven right here in civil -- silver springs maryland in the suburbs. high steven. >> caller: i would like to ask particularly david and julie, someone who is writing his own book on president nixon, i would be very interested to find out what if any advice president eisenhower they have given to president nixon on an informal basis about how to conduct the war in vietnam? >> we talk about it quite extensively in "going home to glory," we discovered an effective cover that in a certain way and i think it was, what happens in late 1967 and attackers is wonderful account the richard nixon wrote that was
basically his last business meeting with dwight eisenhower. and what i see here is that by eisenhower was somebody who knew two things and first of all in his era he knew the nature of the soviet communism and he knew america's important than sort of holding up and defending the free world but he also knew that his perspective and his wisdom was generation bound and that the next generation and nixon represented the next generation, would have to make its own evaluation of the situation. i think what nixon was presenting eisenhower and 67 was for eisenhower probably confusing. what you said about the eisenhower doctrine and that is if you fight a war you mean it, you are going to win. that was not applied in the non. and richard nixon was running for president in 1967 on a platform. he was not promising to obliterate north vietnam or when
would plan an all-out total victory. what he was promising to do was send toward. this was a complicated sort of rearrangement and what happens in eisenhower's and richard nixon's final meeting, eisenhower is read the articles and he approves. he thinks he understands and he realizes that he is now older and he will not have the energy to see this, to see this project through and this is why we turn to able people. this is why we turn to energetic leadership and why we regenerate the presidency because nixon was in a position to make the call in 1968 that would have endless positive international ramifications, ending the war and winning the peace. >> mrs. eisenhower did you want to add anything to that? been the only thing i would add is that last farewell meeting where my father travels to gettysburg, has a copy of foreign affairs in which he says, we need to end this
isolation of china and we need to recognize that the united states and china have to move forward together and of course eisenhower -- no recognition of red china has been called but at the end i eisenhower came to agree that it was time for a new shift. see you are watching the tv on c-span2, live coverage of the national book festival. jean edward smith, biographer of president eisenhower and david and julie nixon eisenhower, "going home to glory" about president eisenhower's post-presidency. the next question from here in the audience. >> the 60's was a tumultuous time and feminism was certainly in the air and i'm wondering, at home on the farm, if president eisenhower had anything to say about these changes and also made me, what was her role in these discussions and what she
was she consulted by your grandfather, your grandfather in law and some of these issues and the general eisenhower have anything to say about women in the military as possibilities for them and is course we have seen what has happened over the past decades. >> i just was chained -- exchanging glances with jean. i don't think eisenhower made comments about women in the military. >> hold on. the women's army corps was created. that was during world war ii and eisenhower -- you are right. see one of my favorite clips is on pbs and the presidential, the american experience. there's a wonderful two-part documentary on dwight eisenhower and one of my favorite clips is eisenhower returning to uniform in 1951 and taking up his nato command and they show him exchanging a salute with a
female officer. it is all business. in other words quite eisenhower does not see it as male/female. he is an officer and she is a superior offers are and they are exchanging. it's a very interesting picture selection. dwight eisenhower was somebody who come the closest i can come to that as he gave the commencement address. he was very proud of my sister, my three sisters and there were four of us grandchildren and he addressed the shipley school in the spring of 1967 and he was addressing these hemlines that were going up, the miniskirts. he said remember that ankles are always neat but needs arise now become something like this. he was not very moderate that he was somebody who loved people, male or female, he loved humanity and that really came through in everything that i experienced around him and i'm
talking about the evenings in gettysburg and dinner and gas and so forth. i don't know how he would have formulated a position about feminism but i think the key to human relations in his field was mutual respect and he had tons of relationships like that, male and female. >> the next question, john and woodland hills california, good afternoon. you on booktv. >> caller: thank thank you. good afternoon. let me first say president eisenhower is one of just a handful of presidents for whom the office of presidency was not the greatest accomplishment of his career. he would have been a historical figure even if he never ran for president for my question concerns the nomination of senator nixon for vice president. reports have stated on tv that eisenhower was approached after
he was nominated and they asked who should be vice president he said it's up to the convention and his staff said the convention will vote for whomever you suggest and they recommended senator nixon. that story always seemed to me to be a little insincere. it seems to me there was more to that then met the eye. i think general eisenhower and president eisenhower was very good at appearing less involved than he actually was. and it always seemed to me this was an occasion where he had made the choice and he wanted the responsibility to fall in the staff. since we have people here who are intimately involved with the eisenhower and nixon families, i wonder what they can say about this appointment or this obligation of senator nixon for vice president. >> professor smith? >> many years ago i had an interview with herbert brownell who is eisenhower's attorney
general and really ran eisenhower's presents a campaign and in that interview mr. brownell told me, he said that evening after ike won the nomination in chicago he and lucius clay and the general having dinner at the hotel and mr. brownell said, so i asked the general, general whom you want to be your vice presidential candidate? and he said the general looked at me and he said well, i think mr. smith, at american airlines was an enormously if executive. i think you would be a good vice president and brownell said lucius and i were sort of rolling our eyes at each other at that point and i rallied and i said general they are all very fine men. i'm sure the convention is going to want to know whom they can recognize. and i'm sure they are going to look to you exclusively for
guidance. and so, general nodded his head apparently and mr. brownell then said general if you haven't thought about it very much, lucius and i believe you should go with richard nixon. nixon is young. he was in the navy. he is from california. he is a good record in the house and the senate, and in the house and the president said well, general eisenhower said according to brownell, i think i have met him. i think i have met him. cleared with attack people and epitaph people say okay that's fine. i can't say that is exactly how it happened but certainly that is what herbert brownell said was a the way it happened in mr. brownell was a key player at that time. >> i think that the first two presidents, vice presidents to be selected with the idea that they would be future presidents,
the first two or harry truman in 1944 and there is an argument right now between roosevelt scholars and truman scholars over whether that is the case but based on stories that i've heard growing up, that is pretty true that truman was elected and 44 and the idea that roosevelt would not survive his term. the second was richard nixon in 1952. there is, and i have some personal insight into this, richard nixon in his memoir, recounts how in 1951 he had given an address in the presence of governor thomas thomas dewey and dewey came up to him at the end of the speech and he said, make me a promise senator, don't get overweight, stay in shape and someday you will be president. i believe governor dewey was the one who is behind brownell and the idea was that nixon would be the political arm of the eisenhower years and he was.
nixon had taken on enormous responsibility for keeping the republican party in that period and the reason i think there is a lot to this is that when richard nixon was elected in 68 and julie and i spent so many -- with him and 69 in and 70 and so forth one name that kept coming back and coming up and coming up over and over again and i think this would actually be an interesting article someday documenting the personal relationship based on complete confidence and fondness between richard nixon and thomas dewey. nixon's wanted to name two week foreign successor. he wanted to elevate him to the supreme court and do he basically said i'm too old. i can do this. he wanted to be secretary of defense. he wanted to be anything in government and this was gratitude that the relationship that was forged without question i think back in a time when thomas dewey identified nixon as
a young political person. >> just one thing to both of those comments. i know after my father was nominated and eisenhower and my father met come eisenhower admitted that he didn't realize just quite how young my father was when he made the decision to be the running mate. i don't think he realized him he was 39, so he -- you thought he was 42? >> that's right. 39 years old. >> let me go at back to what david said about governor dewey. that's exactly right. isenhour's campaign for president was run by dewey, brownell and clay but do we is always staying in the background because he had run and 48 and 44 and lost both times and do he remains very much in the background but do he indeed invited nixon to give the keynote address for the link and a address for the republican party in new york in 1952 and at that time nixon went up to the
suite afterwards with brownell and was duly and that is when they formed that opinion, that he should be a candidate. >> the next question from right here in the audience at the national book festival. >> hi. this is for david primarily. you talk about him having a mild manner and -- in pennsylvania and toning down the rhetoric and thing things should be on scale and i was wondering if you are any of your sisters if they are listening have any comments on the proposed memorial for washington d.c.? >> well i think i just heard my sister susan i think was on c-span as we were coming and that i was listening to her comments. all i will say about the memorial commissioner are two things. first is the gratitude or the satisfaction that our family
feels bad as many senators and congressman and many distinguished people who served on the eisenhower commission would devote the time and resources and so forth to memorialize them eisenhower and this means a lot to us and second we drove right through that area over the eisenhower memorial is supposed to happen. as we were coming in this afternoon and it was a reminder, it was very close to the capitol landed fact presidential nod girls for tens of hundreds of years to come looking over the shoulder of the president towards the crowd will see the site where the eisenhower memorial is supposed to happen. i think scene outside was a reminder that this is precious real estate in the district. this is a really important spot and we have got to get it right or going other words the memorial has got to satisfy
everybody, the congress that is going to look out on it, the citizens to come who will attend the inaugural ceremony, so i think the commission is made enormous progress. it took 40 years to build an fdr memorial and this has been and business for a little over 10 and it doesn't surprise me that given dwight eisenhower's career which mr. smith covers in such -- this is such an incredible life really, really a career which stands on its own in the presidency and how to do all of that in a single site, probably 500 ways to do it, maybe 1000 ways to do it but it doesn't surprise me the controversy has arisen over the very designed and i think that will be sorted out. it has to be because this is a beautiful site in washington and the commission and the people responsible will have to get it right. >> we are talking with authors david and julie nixon eisenhower
and "going home to glory" is the name of their most recent book and of course jean edward smith, "eisenhower in war and peace" and the next call comes from mike in los angeles. hi i. >> caller: my question is for david. your father was an amazing president, one of the greatest presidents ever to actually serve over our country. but it seems that the republican party has fallen short in recent years. i need looking at the last republican president and his eight year demonstration, looking at where the republican convention is a prime example of the problems that the republican party is having and the current events happening today. inside the republican party you have the tea party movement which is part me for saying, a joke in itself but where how do you think your rant but it would have viewed the republican party and what would his advice be to republican leaders today?
>> both isenhour's on the evolution of the gop and also mr. smith who has interesting views on this. my view of it is to pose that question and the very interesting what what-if, to pose that question is like asking how franken roosevelt would have you the democratic party in the jimmy carter era. in other words, he's the same idea but is being carried forward under dirt different circumstances. in fact a very interesting speech that we studied at the university of pennsylvania is a speech that jimmy carter gave, famous beach. douglas brinkley is here and he is among the authors who has written the best book on present carter, the unfinished presidency. he gave a speech and the national speech and line that up to the franklin roosevelt first and not girl in 1933, the same values, the same arguments, the same everything with one exception.
and that is the role of the american people. in 1933 the american people overwhelmingly ratifying the new deal in the 1970 and the american people have more or less abandoned the new deal and so what you see is a change in circumstances. i think that the gop right now and the vicissitudes have a lot to do with circumstance that i would say in this is going back to the 50s and the depth of the bushes and the republican party, what quite eisenhower did in the selection of vice president, in 1952 being charlie wilson and other businesspeople, he is somebody who greatly admired the private sector of america and look for ways to delegate the private sector in his era and that is my response. what would you say, jean? >> i think i would assert the -- rule of this point. some of you in the audience may be old enough to remember him.
he played first base with the senators back in the 1930s. he was a big role. he could move around very much but he always loved the american league's and one time a newspaper report said how can you possibly leave the american league failed when you are immobile in some respects? i think it's pretty simple. if you don't touch the ball you cannot make an error. so i think i will pass. [laughter] >> he was a heck of a hitter. >> the next question is from our audience. >> i just finished reading the book that talks about the role of the former presidents helping the current presidents regardless of party and you talked about how eisenhower helped kennedy and nixon and johnson so i'm curious how truman helped eisenhower?
>> the question is eisenhower worked for the successors. gouda truman work with -- how did president truman work with -- [inaudible] eisenhower was president of columbia and let's go back before that. in 1945 president truman offered to step down as presidential nominee if eisenhower take the democratic nomination. there was a bit of hero worship in relation to general eisenhower and when it came time to get nato off the ground in 1950 and 1951, eisenhower and president truman asked eisenhower the big leave the presidency and take leave from columbia and go back to europe to organize nato which general eisenhower did and eisenhower was their when he came back in 1952 to run for the republican nomination so if there was a
great respect between the two and one of the reasons truman did not seek a third re-election in 1952 was because ike got the republican nomination. if taffet got the republican nomination truman would have remained as democratic candidate that year so there was a great deal of respect between the two. they sell out during the campaign, during the 1952 campaign. ike was not prepared
's. >> it think they met briefly in 61 but that's right, there was estrangement and that happens and again this is going back to this question of how richard nixon would have gotten along with dwight eisenhower. one of the things you can pretty well rely on i think is that relations between a successor and a predecessor tend to be frosty, and because of the very nature of executive leadership you come into office and the ideas i'm going to change the world. i see everything that has been done wrong and now we are going to do it it my way so generally a predecessor tends to be your target and so eisenhower and truman all into that pattern. eisenhower and kennedy to a lesser extent, kennedy and johnson, johnson and nixon much lesser and carter reagan is phenomenal in that way and so on.
skeel is a change of parties from democrat to republican that facilitated the changeovers well but kennedy's funeral is where they really got back together. they rode in the same car and i think they got along marvelously with each other. i guess maybe it's talking out of school but they both thought president kennedy's funeral was overdone, that it was too grand and eisenhower and truman said that and so when eisenhower was buried, this was a very simple funeral but it was deliberate on eisenhower's poor. eisenhower was buried in a g.i. casket, $98. there was no big parade and no
morning and they body laid in state in the capitol and went back to abilene. i am sure you were there. >> one more thing about eisenhower and truman and that is i don't think any two presidents have more in common with each other than those two. they were different personalities that one can easily imagine harry truman in the abilene high school yearbook. you might've been wearing big losses and holding a violin or you might've been a piano player but he was a midwestern type in ike was a midwestern type. there was an episode and 52 campaign that i think is amusing and i'm not sure what to think of it but we are talking about an strange men between ike and truman and ike's bitterness towards truman and truman or less asked him to run for president. about september or so truman goes along the -- and i'm not sure stephenson won them on the hustings and he goes on the charge that he is a
snarly costs are. starley guster is apparently a fighting warrior in the midwest and no one else would have any idea what it is but eisenhower and truman would have an i.d. and apparently this is a fighting word. and snarly guster means something like kind of a turncoat. is the idea that ike would work with democrats and now he's running as a republican and so forth. this, truman knew how to get under eisenhower skin and so he did in 1952 and i think that contributed to the very frosty relations. >> david is quite right to point out that truman is from missouri and very similar but truman began his career working at a bank, working in kansas city. his roommate for the first year was arthur eisenhower, eisenhower's oldest brother. they live together in the same room. the same rooming house.
been back there is a document that is in the war papers and i don't know how many historians have seen this one but it was a message in effect being relayed to eisenhower through his older brother from harry truman who was then a senator in missouri and had not been elevated to the vice presidency yet and had and it was about 1943 emma before the political year began. this is from the u.s. senator of missouri to be commander of the european forces, the supreme allied institution of forces. you are the inevitable successor of franklin roosevelt and as it turns out harry truman finds himself in a role like andrew johnson after the american civil for somebody who has been dropped into this natural succession.
>> unfortunately we could probably go for another hour and we'll have 150 questions. we have one minute left. you get 15 seconds of it and we will give our panel is 45. >> david t. recall personally speaking with your grandfather about the normandy invasion in a particular beforehand is concerned about intentional failure or success. >> from a grandchild's perspective and he would know this from a larger perspective, world war ii was the subject that he left alone. as my father put at once, he would accept criticism on anything regarding his presidency but he could not really bring himself to revisit the controversies of world war ii i think because so much was at stake. when you think of all the lives that depended on the decisions that were made then, an t