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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  July 4, 2013 8:00am-9:01am EDT

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african-american who migrated from the south as we explore the history and literary life of bakersfield this weekend on c-span2's booktv and american history tv on c-span2. .. >> i'm john geoghegan, author of "operation storm," and i'd like to start this evening's presentation with a question.
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does anybody in the audience tonight know who this is? >> [inaudible] >> say that again? >> [inaudible] >> that's correct. that's admiral yamamoto, the commander in chief of the imperial japanese navy's combined fleet. and admiral yamamoto was a fascinating guy for those of you who don't know him. he lived in the united states twice during his naval career. he spoke pretty good accomplish. he attended harvard university briefly -- >> could you, could you elevate the microphone slightly? because it's very uneven, what's coming through. >> sure. is that better? this way? >> up. >> up. >> closer to your mouth. >> how's that, that better? okay. so as i said, he attended harvard briefly, he even read "life" magazine.
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so yamamoto had a pretty good understanding of america. he knew what japan was getting into when she declared war against the united states. and as he told the prime minister at the time, he told i can guarantee a tough fight for the first six months, but i have no confidence as to what will happen after that. now, it's important to understand that yamamoto was a bam -- gambler. he loved to play games of chance. he played billiards, roulette, bridge, my john. it almost didn't matter what the game was as long as it had a gambling component. in fact, yamamoto often threatened to resign from the imperial japanese navy to become a professional full-time gambler, that's how good he was. and though i don't think they took his threats seriously, it's important to understand that yamamoto's love of gambling really affected his military strategy, it influenced his
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military strategic thinking. and that's why he has a mixed record as a naval tactician. he was a fascinating character nonetheless, though. in 1905 when he was a young ensign serving aboard japan's naval flagship during the japanese/russian war, the ship's deck gun blew up, and he was severely injured by the explosion. in fact, if you look at this photograph here, you can see the scars peppering his face from the shrapnel. now, yamamoto was pretty self-conscious about his facial scars which was one reason why they were often air brushed out of his official photographs. he also lost two fingers on his left hand in the the explosion, his index and middle fingers. now, the price of a manicure in japan at the time was 100 sen, but the geisha that yamamoto
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love today hang out with teasingly named him 80 sen because they felt a man who only had eight fingers didn't deserve to pay full price for a manicure. yamamoto thought this was very funny which is actually something i liked about him, because you don't usually associate humor with the commander in chief of the imperial japanese navy. but as you probably know, yamamoto's most famous for being the architect of japan's surprise attack on pearl harbor. now, the attack was hugely innovative for its day which many people don't realize. the dominant naval strategy at the time was the decisive naval battle. you were supposed to go out and find your enemy's fleet far out at sea and destroy them. but yamamoto turned that thinking completely on its head with his attack on the u.s. pacific fleet. it was the first time in naval history that so many aircraft
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had ever been launched from the sea to attack a navy's fleet in its own home port. and so as the attack on pearl harbor shows, yamamoto could be a very daring and unconventional thinker, but he had a problem after pearl harbor. he had no second act. and that's why in january 1942 yamamoto gathered his senior naval officers on his own naval flagship to discuss what could the imperial japanese navy do as a follow-up to pearl harbor. he needed to do something as equally bold as pearl harbor that would somehow convince the u.s. to sue for an early peace, thereby allowing japan to keep her recently-conquered territories. now, yamamoto's follow-up punch to pearl harbor was characteristically awed days,. as i said -- audacious. as i said, he was a daring and unconventional thinker. he knew he'd never slip another
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carrier task force past the americans. so what he did was he decided to build 18 gigantic submarines specifically designed to attack the united states. now, i'm not talking about another attack against the hawaiian islands or midway or guam. i'm talking about an attack against mainland america. now, that's something that hadn't occurred since the british bombarded new orleans in the war of 1812. these e-400 class of subs as they were called -- and this is an illustration of one -- they were a pretty e are mark bl -- remarkable achievement for their day. they were far bigger than any submarine built up til then. in fact, they were so big we initially mistook them for surface ships. to give you an idea of just how big they were, that's the e-401 there at the top. that's the squadron's flagship, and it was over 400 feet long.
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that's longer than a football field. it's conning tower sail structure which is this section right here on top was three stories tall. and the sub itself carried 204 officers and crew. now, if you compared that to a u.s. combat sub, like a -- [inaudible] they carried less than 80 men. so it gives you some idea of just how huge the 400 class subs were. and as you can see here, the e-401 submarine is comparable in size to a fletcher class destroyer. now, that's a surface ship intended to hunt submarines. given that that the e-401 buzz 26 foot -- was 26 feet longer, it's not exactly clear who's going to be hunting who. the e-400 subs were basically so huge, they could travel one and a half times around the world without refueling, something no other sub in the 1940s could come close to doing, and they
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also incorporated some of the earliest stealth technologies. the conning tower sail structure was, painted a huge radar signature normally, so they indented it three feet at the base to reflect the radar waves back into the sea. and each one of these subs was painted with a special stealth coating that was not only designed to dampen noise, but to absorb radar waves as well. but the truly amazing thing about the e-400 subs was that they were underwater aircraft carriers. each sub carried three 6a1 attack planes in a water tight deck hangar that they launched by pneumatic catapult off their bow. an e-400 sub could surface, assemble three of these planes and launch them in under 30 minutes. now, the japanese weren't the first to experiment with airplane-carrying submarines. germany, great britain, the
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united states, france, even italy all experimented with plane-carrying subs with mixed results. but japan was the only nation to ever perfect plane-carrying submarines and to deploy them widely in their navy. in fact, there were 11 plane-carrying submarines surrounding oahu on december 7, 1941, and the imperial japanese navy had three times that number in the construction pipeline. so this was a technology, a strategic weapon they very much believed in. now, this is the only known photograph of one of yamamoto's subs, and if you look carefully, obviously, it's surfaced. you'll see two of its planes here on the bow getting ready to be launched. now, historians often dismiss these plane-carrying subs as white elephant technology, but japan had a logical reason for deploying these types of subs. they extended the ability of the sixth fleet to scout out our
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navy. submarines, as you may or may not know, sit relatively low in the water. they can only see 6 or 7 miles towards the horizon. that limits their scouting ability, particularly in the days before they had radar. and when these subs were conceived, there was no radar. but a sub with an airplane can easily extend its range and its field of view by 2 or 300 miles. so that meant the farther away japan could discover our fleet, the better and sooner it would be able to destroy our fleet before it reached japan. so the incredible thing about these e-400 subs wasn't their size, and it really wasn't the fact that they were underwater aircraft carriers. it was the audacious mission that yamamoto dreamed up for them. yamamoto built the e-400 subs because he wanted to change the course of world war ii. and the way he intended to do
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that was to send these subs more than halfway around the world, surface them off the east coast of america and launch their planes in a surprise aerial attack against new york city and washington d.c. now, clearly yamamoto was thinking big, which you would expect of a daring and unconventional thinker. but he knew that the 44 aircraft that he intended these subs to carry wouldn't be enough to destroy two of america's biggest cities. however, he did believe that the scroll blow of the attack -- psychological blow of the attack would be enough to force the u.s. to the negotiation table and to sue for an early peace. now, remember, doolittle only fielded 16 bombers over tokyo. yamamoto was talking about 44 bombers, so it's a magnitude greater. okay. so one of the remarkable things about these e-400 subs is that
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they marked the first time any submarine had been designed to launch an offensive attack against an enemy city. up until 1945 subs had been used either for scouting or to sink capital ships or merchant ships. nobody dreamed that a submarine could be used to attack a city. that's one reason why the e-400 subs were so revolutionary, and it's also why they're still relevant today. aside from being an amazing story, the e-400 subs are the historical predecessors of the u.s. regular missile-carrying subs from the 1950s which are shown here. now, these subs surfaced just like the e-400s. they launched a nuclear missile out of a watertight hangar. so in other words, our subs are the direct descendants of the
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e-400 subs. there's also no denying that the e-400 subs foreshadowed today's ballistic missile-carrying submarines, the boomers. the boomer's mission is to destroy our enemy's land-based targets, including their cities. same mission as the e-400s. is the story of the e-400 subs is not only an incredible story of overcoming insurmountable obstacles to launch a hair-raising hail mary mission in the final days of the war, their strategic legacy still very much alive with us today. now, this is the plane, one of the planes that the e-400 subs launched off their bow. as i mentioned before, it's the 61a attack plane. it was one of the most technologically sophisticated aircraft ever built by the japanese navy during world war ii, and they were nicknamed as what translates from japanese as
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storm from a clear sky because that's exactly how they were to appear over new york city and washington d.c. now, the planes could be torpedo bombers, dive bombers, they can drop conventional bombs, bun of the most versatile qualities that hay had was that their -- they had was that their wings and their tail stabilizers could fold up so that the plane made a small enough package that it could fit in a deck hangar that was only 11 feet, 6 inches in diameter. and this is not a small plane. if a man was standing next to this plane in the photograph, his head would just about reach the top of that bottom pontoon. so these were pretty large aircraft. okay. but perhaps the most shocking aspect of these aircraft was that they were painted to look like u.s. military aircraft. and this was done to make it easier for them to slip past u.s. air defenses. the japanese believed tha
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birdies guising these planes, that would buy them enough time to reach their targets before they were discovered. so all in all, it's a pretty hollywood-type mission, not something you'd actually expect somebody to dream up in the course of a war. >> i'm sorry -- [inaudible] >> pardon me? >> there was a cylinder just to the right of that photo, was that the hangar that came out? >> yeah. that's the deck hangar. >> it's so small. >> right. well, of course, the plane could fold its wings and its tail so it could slide in there, and they all sat on trolleys, and the trolleys were lowered so that the plane could back in. the minute it came out, they raised the trolley so that the nose was lifted. >> thank you. >> okay. so this gentleman is a commander, the squadron commander of the e-400 subs of their aircraft. he was descendant from the samurai. he came from a naval family.
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he attended japan's a naval academy which is just like our nap police, and -- annapolis. he spent his entire career involved with submarines either as a staff officer or line officer. he was a patriot. he was a warrior. he subscribed to the by she doe code. he was certainly a hard coal militarist, as hard core as they came, and he was also a pretty nasty piece of work. he was the brains behind the midget sub attack at pearl harbor, as well as some of the worst atrocities committed by japan's six fleet submarines during the war. you can't really tell from this photograph, but he had straight hair, limp, straight hair. he had a tiny little moustache and skin that more than one person described as being oily, saying he had an oily sheen. i came across that several times with people i interviewed. so he's definitely the villain
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of our piece. he was a martinet, as you'd expect, and he was a heavy, heavy drinker which is really saying something. he didn't hesitate to discipline his men by slapping or kicking them. in fact, the crew of the e-401, his flagship, called him gangster because of his ruthlessness, and they used the term gangsta in rap. it's the japanese pronunciation of our word. they knew what a gangster was. he believed that to die on behalf of the emperor was goer yous, and the crew of the e-401 knew that he would not hesitate to sacrifice them on behalf of the cause. so surrender was not in his vocabulary. in other words, this guy was the boss from hell. now, this is lieutenant commander nambu. he was captain of the flagship.
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so nambu was in a reporting relationship to the squadron commander who was also aboard the flagship. manbu was really different from his boss. first of all, he was over six feet tall, and he was rail thin. he was so handsome, his crew used to gossip behind his back that he looked like this particular famous japanese movie star. and as you'll see in this photograph, he's got quite a full moustache which was considered very stylish in the day. now, nambu's crew trusted him. they knew that he had their best interests at heart. whereas arizumi tended to command respect through fear and intimidation, nambu really earned his men's respect. i could see what his crew liked about him. i interviewed nambu several times for "operation storm." he's still alive today. he's, i think, about 101 at this
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point. he was very charming, very articulate, very internationally-minded. and 70 years after the fact, a number of his former officers and crew sought me out to tell me that they felt they owed their lives total way lieutenant commander nambu conducted himself at the end of the war. the other amazing thing about nambu was he was one of the few sub captains to survive the war in the japanese navy, and that's pretty remarkable considering that he served aboard a submarine at pearl harbor. he told me how he looked through his periscope waiting for u.s. capital ships to escape so that he could sink them. he was also the executive officer aboard the e-17 which was the submarine that shelled the facility just north of santa barbara in february 1942. so this guy really got around. i think he was in the war for something hike 1800 days -- like 1800 days. that's a long time. so it's a miracle he survived
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the war given the casualty rate of japan's six sixth fleet, and it's also a miracle given the fact that he served under arizumi. okay. so what you may not know was that the e-400 subs were on their way to complete the mission when the war ended. when emperor hirohito accepted the surrender terms on august 15, 945, arizumi was so outraged that he refused to tell the crew of the surrender. in fact, arizumi refused to surrender, and instead he decided to go rogue and continue with the mission. now, this was an unprecedented situation, of course. nothing had prepared arizumi for defeat or surrender. but the situation aboard the e-401 was about to get very, very bad. because these guys, u.s. combat
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sub the uss she gown doe, was breathing down their neck. and the segundo was having some of her own command and control problems, and we'll get into that when i do a section of the reading from the book. but the encounter between the e-401 and the segundo is the scene i'd like the read to you now, and after i'm ooh done can, if there's time left, i'll take a few questions. everybody still with me? okay. okay. this is chapter one, "faceoff." and i promise not to read you the whole chapter. [laughter] a -- okay. the uss segundo was five days out of midway heading towards japan when her crew received news that the japanese government had accepted peace terms. as the submarine's executive
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officer lieutenant john -- [inaudible] noted in the fifth war patrol report, heard the good news -- heard the good word of the surrender and in 11 languages too. ballson was second in command of the sub, one of the newest u.s. fleet boats. nicknamed silent joe for his reticent manner, ballson was responsible for insuring that the captain's orders were carried out in a correct and timely manner. he'd been with the segundo since before her commissioning and had served on all five of her war patrols. 28 years old and already balding, ballson was a man of sly wit and few words. his all-cap entry was an uncharacteristic display of emotion for the officer. then again, the war with japan was finally over. the segundo had been patrolling islands when the surrender was
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announced. she hadn't seen much activity. now it was august 24, 1945, and the segundo was ordered to tokyo bay to represent the u.s. submarine force at the upcoming surrender ceremony. the invitation was an honor for the crew, but they weren't ready to relax just yet. they were still in enemy territory. finish and though the ceasefire agreement specified that the japanese military were to lay down arms, some units hadn't gotten the message. it was two weeks since the japanese emperor had asked his subjects to endure the unendurable, and the segundo was heading to tokyo with orders to mop up remnants of the once-formidable fleet. not much was left of the japanese navy, and what was wasn't expected this far north. there was isolated resistance, so the segundo continued on wartime footing. her first skipper, commander
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james d. fault jr., had been assigned to the sub while she was still under construction at the port mouth navy yard in new hampshire. he had put an indelible stamp on the boat's crew while commanding her first four war patrols. he'd sunk two japanese warships, eight merchants and accept sam pans -- seven sampans and earned the segundo four ballot stars. these weren't surprising given the fact that he was a an experienced sub captain. tall, athletic and matinee-idol handsome, he radiated the kind of confidence his men had come to respect. he was 34 which was old for a a sub captain and quiet by nature. but that only contributed to his command presence. fault prosecuted the war with just the right balance of aggressiveness and caution. his crew knew he was somebody
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they could count on to sink a combatant the ship and get them home safely. though he could be remote, that wasn't unusual for a co. it was better for fault to be distant than overly familiar since the crew's lives depending on his objectivity. in other words, the segundo's first skipper had everything a crew liked in a sub captain. he was mature, steady and reliable. all this had changed, however, before the segundo departed on her fifth and final war patrol. the sub was still in midway undergoing refit when fault received orders transferring him to pearl harbor. he had eight war patrols under his belt and was due for rotation. but he had built the segundo into a formidable fighting machine, and if it's true that a combat submarine operates like a family, then his departure was like depriving the crew of their father. unfortunately, the boat's new
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skipper, lieutenant commander steven johnson, was a different breed of captain. he was young and brash with a cockiness that put his crew on edge. the first time seamen first class richard fox brinkley saw his new skipper, he was shooting dice with the men. to brinkley, johnson didn't make a good impression. he acted more like a crew member than an officer, not the kind of captain he was used to serving under. lieutenant victor horgan also had concerns. horgan had overheard the tall, lanky vonson when we get off this patrol, they'll be throwing medals down our hatch. was in the kind of guy you could respect? horgan wasn't sure. in fact, the more the crew saw of johnson, the more they worried he was a hollywood skipper. he may have had other
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capabilities, but he was noticeably lacking in fault's gravitas. it almost seemed as if if the segundo was the 29-year-old's first command. it wasn't. it was his third. but if his officers had known that, it would have worried them all the more. lieutenant ballson remained as the segundo's first officer. he recognized their new captain was different. johnson was a smooth talker, highly polished and well dressed. even his nickname was slick which wasn't always a compliment. but ballson knew a change in command was nothing to worry about. he'd seen his share of sub captains, and no two are alike. given time, most crews adjusted to a new skipper's foibles. if not, the u.s. sub force was 100% volunteer. you could always ask off the boat. the bigst issue captain johnson faced, though, was the tight-knit crew. most of the men had been aboard
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since the boat's commissioning 15 months earlier, and thawd been shaped by -- they'd been shaped by fulp's command style. he'd gotten them out of some pretty tight spots. would their new skipper be as talented? of course, captain johnson's impetuousness was a presumed issue. the one thing the men didn't want to see was for something stupid to happen. sailors are a superstitious lot x they didn't want any last minute screw-ups setting them to the bottom. home was the preferred direction. in the meantime, anything could happen. it was 15 minutes before midnight on august 28th, 1945, when lieutenant rod johnson -- no relation to captain johnson -- relieved lieutenant mac mclaughlin as officer of the deck. the segundo was on the surface about 100 miles heading south
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toward tokyo. it was the 14th day of the ceasefire and not onenmy warship had been -- enemy warship has been sighted since the patrol had begun. it was a cold night, and visibility was poor, but the ocean was calm, and lieutenant johnson decided to take advantage of what little moonlight there was to scan the horizon. when he first spotted an object south of the sub, johnson thought his eyes were playing tricks on him. but the more he looked, the more certain he became that something was out there. meanwhile, alex leech was sipping coffee when a blip appeared on his radar screen. leech was surprised at how large the object was. something that size should have been picked up at 15,000 yards, yet it hadn't appeared until it was within a third of that distance. leaving the few steps to get under the bridge hatch, leech shouted, radar contact, 5500
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yards. at first nobody was sure what they were dealing with. no u.s. ships were reported in the area, and it was unlikely to be an enemy vessel this far north. there was no mistaking the blip though which was sizable and doing 15 knots. if it was american, fine. but if it was japanese, they had a problem. captain johnson flew into the conning tower demanding the target's range and bearing. determined to take a closer look, he called for tracking stations. when the segundo closed within 3,000 yards, the dark silhouette materialized into the shape of a gigantic submarine. the sub was so big, it easily dwarfed the segundo. since the allies had nothing remotely close in size, the sub had to be japanese. before johnson could declare battle stations, sparks began flying out of the mysterious sub's diesel exhaust. clearly, they'd been spotted.
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as johnson scrambled his men, the japanese sub took off. lieutenant horgan was plotting the course. he knew fighting was still going on in the pacific, but he couldn't understand why a jap sub would run away. nevertheless, the situation seemed dangerous as hell. as the chase extended into the early morning hours, johnson pushed the segundo to 20 knots. every time he tried drawing near the japanese sub, it pulled away. johnson didn't trust the enemy not to fire, so he settled off their stern quarter at a distance of 4,000 yards. he also made sure his torpedo tubes were loaded and ready. if the jap sub tried anything funny, he'd sink her. first one hour passed, then another. as the pursuit dragged on, the crew began worrying. but as dawn approached, something unusual happened.
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johnson wasn't sure what she was up to, but the enemy sub suddenly began to slow. maybe she was ready to surrender, or maybe she was getting into firing position. shortly after 4:00 in the morning of august 29th, johnson called quartermaster third class carlo carlucci to the bridge. it was his first war patrol. a tough kid from bronx whose accent was like a punch in the face, he'd been sleeping when the segundo first spotted the japanese sub. he was wide awake now as he hoisted the signal lamp to the bridge. rapidly flickering its shutters, he pounded out the international code for stop. the enemy sub failed to acknowledge the message even though it was impossible to misunderstand its meaning. the sub may have slowed, but she showed no signs of stopping. finally, after a few minutes, carlucci received an affirmative
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reply. two minutes later, the enemy sub lay dead in the water. as dawn slowly illuminated the japanese boat, johnson and his men were in for a big surprise. they weren't facing a typical submarine. it was, in fact, the largest submarine the segundo's crew had ever seen. horgan thought she was huge, at least twice as wig. carlucci thought she was three times as large. whatever her actual size, the japanese sub loomed over the baa lay owe class boat. johnson knew they'd stumbled across something unusual, but what he didn't realize was that he faced the largest submarine in the world. a sub so huge she would remain the largest until the uss try tan was commissioned in 1959. johnson's men had ever reason to feel small. it wasn't just the jap sub's
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size that made for such a menacing spectacle, she also bristled with weaponry. with a five-and-a-half inch gun on her aft dick, three triple barrel and a single millimeter mount on the bridge, the japanese sub was all business. there were also eight torpedo tubes in her bow, two more than the segundo had, and it was reasonable to assume she carried the deadliest to have pee toes of the -- to have pee toe -- torpedoes of the war that had nearly three times the range and were faster to boot. if captain johnson felt alarm at the enemy sub's contradictory behavior, he didn't show it. you could never underestimate the frosty of the japanese military though even in defeat. if johnson misjudged the situation even slightly, the
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segundo was going to be in for trouble. to unsure that doesn't happen, he brought his bow torpedo tubes to bear on his adversary and ordered his helmsmen to slowly close the distance. by all rights, the japanese sub should surrender but her decision to flee and her reluctance to stop suggested they didn't intend to give up easily. after all, she still flew her naval ensign with the red and white rays of the rising sun. one thing was for sure, nobody in the united states navy had ever seen a sub like this. for the submarine the segundo now confront z was the e-401, the largest, most powerful class of submarine built by japan during world war ii. she'd been designed for a mission so secretive that the u.s. military didn't know anything about it. a mission that admiral yamamoto, the architect of the attack on pearl harbor, had planned
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himself. a mission so audacious that the imperial japanese navy saw it as a way to change the course of the war in their fair. in their favor. what captainson also didn't appreciate was just how reluctant the 401 was to surrender. not only was the sub part of a top secret squadron of underwater aircraft carriers, it was the flagship that carried the squadron commander arizumi. commander arizumi had been involved with the development of the e-400 subs almost from their beginning, and given her pedigree, the e-401 wasn't going to surrender without a fight. in fact, surrendering to the enemy would be more than unacceptable to commander arizumi, it would be an embarrassment and a disgrace. it went against all his years of training as a low until subject of the emperor and a commander in the imperial japanese navy.
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and so, much to their surprise, the men of the uss segundo were about to learn that world war ii wasn't over just yet. because along with their unproven skipper, the crew found themselves in the middle of what promised to be the last great shooting match of the pacific war. okay. so before -- [applause] ah, you're too kind. okay, so before we open the floor to questions, i wanted to acknowledge that one of the segundo's plank owner -- a plank owner is somebody who served on all of the sub's war patrols. so the uss segundo had five be war patrols, and the family of one of its plank holders who is alive and was a chief petty officer aboard the segundo is
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here tonight, in fact, three generations of that family. and i want to thank you guys for coming out, and i want to particularly thank you for your father's support of the research of my book. okay. so if you have any questions, we ask that you come up to the mic, otherwise you won't get on c-span tv which is filming this -- [laughter] and i won't be able to hear you, because i'm deaf as a post. so any questions just take them up to the mic so i can hear you. don't be shy. here we go. excellent. >> i don't have a question, i have a comment. i read the first quarter of the book, and it's just a great book, so i can't wait to get through the entire thing. [laughter] what i wanted to comment and ask you to maybe share with the audience, i found it fascinating for those of us on the pacific coast, the west coast here your
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very, very elaborate and detailed chronology of exactly how people responded to the very limited but highly effective attacks of the to japanese submarines on the west coast. the reaction, seems to me, would lead, lend one to believe that yamamoto's projection that perhaps this attack that he had foreseen and planned for against washington and new york might have had the psychological impact and might have resulted in what he anticipated and hoped for. so i thought that evidence that you put in the first half of the book about how we reacted on the pacific coast went to validate yamamoto's theory. >> thank you for that. you know, you're absolutely right. few people realize that the west coast was lousy with japanese submarines between december 1941
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right up to about september, october 1942. they were sinking our coastal shipping, they actually did launch the first attack on the mainland united states since the war of 1812. and at the time there was a tremendous invasioning fear. -- invasion fear. people didn't quite understand what they were dealing with. they thought japan was planning on an invasion of the united states. in retrospect, that's ridiculous, but that part of yamamoto's strategy was quite effective for the first six months of the war, up until about june of 1942. but there are a number of merchant ships that were sunk off the coast of california, actually from vancouver right down to san diego. and as i said, nambu who i, who i had interviewed for the book, you know, described to me what it was like in february 1942 to surface in the waters off of san diego and to be so close that he could hear people talking on
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shore. i remember when i initially was interviewing him for the book, just to understand what was going on with the e-401 subs, and when the interview was over, i asked him, he was telling me about this trip he'd made recently to new york city, and i just said, oh, that's interesting, was that your first visit to the united states? and he said, to -- oh, no, i've been before. and i said, oh really? when was the first time? and that's when he looked at me, and he said pearl harbor. [laughter] >> i haven't read the book, but i wonder, did you include the bombing that occurred in oregon, the two plane, the plane that took off from a submarine and bombed, i'm not sure whether it was brookings or -- >> right. there was -- yes, in fact, i
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have a chapter in the book about that. he bombed oregon and northern california. he made two flights off of his sub. and, you know, this is another one of the things that when i started to do the research, you know, i kept asking the question why would the japanese want to bomb the forests? redwood forests in northern california and oregon? it just sounds so crazy. and, of course, all of the western accounts about that, you know, dismiss it. but when i started to interview the japanese and i listened to what their logic was, well, they had quite a clever idea which was they knew that in september the forests in oregon and northern california are usually tinder dry. is they expected the weather, the dryness to be a force multiplier for these incendiary bombs that they dropped. i mean, they anticipated setting on fire a good part of northern california and southern oregon. now, what happened there, lucky for us, was it was the most unseasonably rainy september in a hundred years.
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and so when they dropped the incendiaries, well, they went off, but they can't have the effect that the japanese intended. so we tended to just kind of dismiss that as, oh, that was a crazy japanese plan, but the truth of the matter was they just got unlucky, and we got tremendously lucky. >> one other question. pbs had a show on these subs a year or two ago. that's the first time i've ever heard of them. but i think they mentioned that yamamoto was a proponent of this, and after he was killed early in the war, 1942 -- >> i think it's '43 actually. april '43. >> was it '43? the development of these subs really slowed. and when they were finally developed, it was is late in the war that they really didn't have a chance to do much. >> right. you're talking about, you're talking about the documentary japanese supersub which appeared on pbs. >> yes. >> and i was actually the
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producer and the technical writer on that show. >> okay. >> that was based on an article i had written. so, yeah. when yamamoto was killed in april -- you know, it's like any other pure rocky. yamamoto, when he was succeeded -- first of all, as far as pearl harbor goes, the imperial japanese navy did not want to do pearl harbor. they wanted to stop it. the only reason it happened was yamamoto was the commander in chief, told the naval general staff if you don't accept this plan, i will resign. so he forced them to do pearl harbor. well, when pearl harbor succeeded -- and as far as the japanese were concerned, it succeeded tremendously -- he was a god. he could do whatever he wanted. so when he came up with this idea of 18 gigantic underwater aircraft carriers and 44 planes, nobody was going to stand in his way at that point. but there were factions in the naval staff who did not want in this plan. they did not think -- they were very conservative, and they thought this was just, you know,
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a bridge too far so to speak. so they, once he died, they came out of the woodwork with the long knives, and they almost killed the plan. at one point they had it scaled back, and at another point the franks went -- faction went out, so there was this tug-of-war just as in any bureaucracy. but they stayed with the plan right through the war even though this were so many men involved in the construction and the manning of these submarines. i mean, it was like a japanese battalion size number of men, 2-3,000 number of people involved, this was not a small operation. and at great cost. they stuck at building these subs even though they didn't have any steel left. so they were committed right up to the end. >> thank you. >> i'd like your confirmation or correction if i'm mistaken. doolittle and yamamoto had something in common as far as the date. if i'm not mistaken, doolittle's planes bombed tokyo on april 18th, '42, and i think yamamoto
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was shot down in '43 on the same date. correct? >> yes. >> yeah. thank you. >> yes. >> this is perhaps slightly tangential. for a lot of us, our most recent exposure to that war was the movie "emperor." and i was just wondering if from your perspective it was and based on what you know of those personalities whether it was more or less accurate. >> i'm sorry, i'm not sure i completely understood the question, if what was more or less accurate? >> the movie "emperor" in terms of the portrayal of the -- >> oh. and what was the title of the movie again? >> "emperor." >> i have not seen that movie. >> oh, it's -- recently released in the last month or two. >> right. i have not seen that. well, that's one on my list then
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to see. [laughter] you know, it's funny, the way american history was ought concern was taught to me during world war i, the japanese were monolithic and fanatical, and i got a different perspective when i went over there and had a chance to interview imperial japanese navy officers. one of the guys i interviewed who was a squadron leader, yeah, i thought he was ready to get in his plane and come back here and finish the job. but the rest of them, you know, were quite logical and rational, and it was a point of view that i had never in a million years encounter ld, and i was fascinated to hear what their reasoning was, why did they hear it was a just war, why did they do what they did? and i kept finding out these crazy little incidences like bomb withing oregon. well, they made more sense than i ever was taught. part of it is the u.s.
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submariner's ebbs appearance, and the other talks about what it was like to be a japanese submariner and what the war was like from their point of view. okay. well, i think we should stop. it's getting late, and i want to thank you so much for coming out. i'll be right here signing books for anybody who wants me to sign one. thank you. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> for more information visit the author's web site, >> what are you reading this summer? booktv wants to know. >> the first book on my summer reading list is something i'm actually a little guilty i haven't read already, it's called "the victory lap," by sasha isenberg, and it's about how political campaigns are run and how they use data and
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analytics to make their decisions. you end up covering a lot of how do campaigns work in terms of talking and communications, and this is kind of the hidden side, really the doings that happen. and it seems like an important thing to read. that's the first book. the second book is another political book. it's a biography of tip o'neill by with john farrell who's a terrific writer. it's an older book, but it's the perfect thing to read. it's tip o'neill and the democratic century. won awards when it came out. the third book on my summer reading list is "lean in" by sheryl sandberg from facebook. it's probably a book that needs no introduction, it's about women in the workplace and how they can succeed or how they should succeed. seems like an important week to try to -- book to try to read. huge baseball fan, want to read "the art of fielding."
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it's not just a book, it's a novel. and the fifth book is sort of a guilty pleasure reading that i haven't done yet which is "game of thrones." it's a, you know, very popular tv show. my big fear is once you start reading those books, i've been told, you have to read all of them. so i have to carve out quite a bit of time, but i may try to tackle the first one this summer. >> let us know what you're reading this summer. tweet us @booktv, post it on our facebook page or send us an e-mail at >> you're watching c-span2 with politics and public affairs. weekdays featuring clive coverage of the u.s -- live coverage of the u.s. senate. every weekend the latest nonfiction authors and books on booktv. you can see past programs and get our schedules at our web sites, and you can join in the conversation on social media sites. >> now, i have been trying for,
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i guess, the last 20-something years to stop writing books. [laughter] and i keep, you know, i totally get with it that i work for the ancestors. and i sometimes will feel very free. you know, i finished something. i remember finishing "the color purple" 30 years ago and just weeping in joy, you know? okay, you know, i'm done. [laughter] and i have had that scenario with myself many times. [laughter] thinking i'm done. but anyhow, so this book i'm going to read first from "the cushion in the road," and i wanted to read a little bit about how that came about, how did i come to think of the life that i lead which is very -- when i'm not, you know, on the road somewhere, it's so quiet. it's so meditative. it's so contemplative, it is so
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happy with me and my sweetheart who is a musician. one of the ironies of life, of course, is that i love quiet so much that i -- [laughter] that i fell in love with a person who plays trumpet. [laughter] so, you know, life, i'm sure it's the same with you. life is always, you know, just telling us who do you think is in charge? [laughter] finish did you by some dream did you imagine that you are in charge? [laughter] well, i'll just show you. so, so this is, this is a very short introduction to this book, "the cushion in the road." i have learned much from daoist thought. it has been a comfort to me since i read my first daoist poem which was "sitting quietly, doing nothing; spring comes and
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the grass grows by itself." to me, this is a perfect poem. but there is also from that tradition this thought: a wanderer's home is in the road. a wanderer's home is in the road. this has proved very true in my own life. much to my surprise, because i am such a home body. i love being home with my plants, animals, sunrises and sunsets, the moon. it is all glorious to me. and so when i turned 60, i was prepared to bring all of myself to sit on my cushion in a meditation room i had prepared long ago and never get up. [laughter] it so happened, it so happened that i was in south korea that year, of course, and south koreans agreed with me. in fact, in that culture it is
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understood that when we turn 60, when we turn 60, we become eggy. it sounds like eggy, but perhaps this is not how koreans spell it. and this means we are free to become once again like a child. we are to rid ourselves of our carers, especially those we have collected in the world. and to turn inward to a life of ease, of of leisure, of joy. i loved hearing this. [laughter] what an affirmation of a feeling i was already beginning to have. enough of the world. where is the grandchild? where is the cushion? and so i began to prepare myself to withdraw from the worldly fray. there i sat finally on a cushion in mexico with a splendid view of a homemade stone fountain
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with its softly-falling water, a perfect soothing backdrop to what i thought would be the next and perhaps final 20 years of my life. unlike my great, great, great, great grandmother who lived to be 125 -- [laughter] i figure 08 is doing really well -- 80 is doing really well. [laughter] and then a miracle seemed to be happening. america, america was about to elect or not elect a person of color as its president. what? my cushion shifted minutely. then, too, an unsuspecting guest left the radio on, and i learned that bombs were falling on the beam of gaz -- people of gaza. a mother, unconscious herself, had lost five of her daughters. didn't i have a daughter? would i have wanted to lose her in this way?
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wasn't i a mother? even if reportedly imperfect in that role? well, my cushion began to wobble. i had friends who became eggy and managed to stay eggy. [laughter] i envied them. for me the year following my 60th birthday seemed to be about teaching me something else that, yes, i could become like a child again and enjoy all the pleasures and wonder a child experiences. but i would have to attempt to maintain this joy and the vicissitudes of the actual world as opposed to the meditative universe i had created with its calming, ever-flowing fountain. my travels would take me to the celebrations in washington, d.c. where our new president, barack obama, would be inaugurated. they would carry me the morning after those festivities to
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faraway burma, myanmar, which would heed to much writing about often san suu kyi. they would take me to thailand for a lovely trip up a long river where i could wave happily at the people who smiled back when smiled upon. they would take me to gaza, yes, and much writing about the palestine/israel impasse. to the west bank, to india, to all kinds of amazing places. like, for instance, petra in jordan. who knew? i would find myself raising a nation of chickens in between travels and visits to holy people in oakland, wood acre and -- [inaudible] my cushion, the fountain, the peace because of my attention to some of the deep suffering in the world sometimes seemed far away. i felt torn, a condition i do
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not like and do not recommend. and then in a dream it came to me. there was a long asphalt highway like the one that passed by my grandparents' place when i lived with them as an 8 and 9-year-old. my grandfather and i would sit on the porch in the still georgia heat and count the cars as they whizzed by. he'd choose red cars. i would choose blue or black. it was a is sitting on cushions, of sorts, i suppose for the two of us because hours could go by, and we were perfectly content. perhaps that is why in the dream the solution to my grandly was available. quandary. there in the middle of the long perfectly straight highway with its slightly faded center line that i had known and loved as a child sat my rose-or colored
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meditation cushion. directly on the yellow line, right in the middle of the road. so what do i believe? that i was born to wander and i was born the sit. to love home with a sometimes almost unbearable affection. but to be lured out into the world to see how it is doing as my beloved, larger home and paradise. >> you can watch this and other programs online at >> up next on booktv, "after words" with guest host susan glasser of foreign policy magazine. this week, christian caryl and his book, "strange rebels: 1979 and the birth of the 21st century." in it, the senior fellow of the center for international studies at mit argues that a
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left-leaning con enus developed across the western world after world war ii and that a counterrevolution representing a new era began in 1979 with the election of margaret thatcher as british prime minister and the overthrow of the shah in iran. the program is about an hour. ..


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