tv Open Phones CSPAN November 30, 2013 4:30pm-5:06pm EST
outline for the third and final volume is about 700,000 words long. it's more than twice as long as the book is golf. but it acts not only as a roadmap to tell me where i'm going when i sit down to write, but it also tells me where all the it tells me where in different files it is. so i'm ready to write and i sit down. having been an old newspaper man i can type fast. i read about a thousand words a day. for us old newspaper man, that is about equivalent to a typical day story that any reporter can knock out. switch 270,000 word book is the third and final volume. i tell myself it's only 270 days stories. that's less than a year of writing. so that's how i do it. i spend the afternoons. i write until i start to turn to mush around noon. i spend the afternoon at again
and reading back through what i've written in the morning and preparing for the next day's writing, which consists of taking that segment of the outline and further refining it and then i read it one last time after dinner and not. i put it away and i usually don't mess with it again until we are in the final editing of the book. the next and you know you've a book. that's it. we are out of time. thank you so much. [applause] >> host: "the guns at last light: the war in western europe 1944-1945" was the third of the trilogy. you can find the phone numbers on the screen. if you'd like to talk with mr. atkinson about his trilogy, he'll be joining us in about two minutes. 202-585-3890 if you live in the eastern and central zone.
sub one for those of you in the mountain and pacific time zones. if you can get through on the phone lines, you can send a treat. @booktv is her twitter handle. for make a comment on her face but page, facebook.com/put tv. this'll be the final event from this year's national book festival in washington d.c. this is the 13th annual began in 2001. it's been held on the ball every year since that first year would have installed on the capitol grounds. we are pleased we were able to cover both days live. everything is seen today, you've been watching all day while all briere this evening at 1:00 a.m. eastern time in the overnight. you'll be able to see the whole thing. go ahead and dial-in for rick atkinson. hubby over here in a minute. in the meantime, we will take a call from fred and plymouth meeting pennsylvania. thanks for holding. what's your question for rick
atkinson? >> caller: more of an assessment. my feeling is the great tragedy of world war ii was the entire italian campaign, totally unnecessary huge loss of life. i was wondering mr. atkinson's assessment of mark clark in the way he conducted that campaign. that's basically it. >> host: did you read the day of battle, by the way? >> guest: now, i read the last book, the third book. >> host: the day of battle he spends quite a bit of time on mark clark in the italian campaign. once mr. atkinson gets over here, we will ask him about that. next call is gail in san antonio. >> caller: yes, sir. the question is, why didn't hitler crossed the channel into england? and if he had done so, with the english have used gas?
>> host: okay, we'll ask that question as well. 202-585-3890 in the eastern and central time zones. 202-585-3891 for those of you in the mountain and pacific time zones. we are joined now by rick atkinson he's been listening to in the history and biography tent. thank you for being with us. fred in pennsylvania called a minute ago and he wondered about the italian campaign. he thought that was the biggest disaster of the war and specifically about mark clark, general clark. i told him that in the day of battle you spend quite a bit of time on mark clark. if you would, recount. >> guest: mark clark has been hit hard by many historians. i'm a generous to him than most. it is that he actually is a pretty capable battle commander among other things. there's 23,000 soldiers killed in italy in world war ii and not every commander is cut out to take those casualties and be
able to sustain the kind of emotional weight that ratings. clark can do it. you can't blame clark for being in italy. he's there because he is told to be there. the italian campaign make sense if you want air bases in southern italy. once you get those, which we do in the early fall of 1944, it makes less sense as you slowly away at the mountain saw the way until may 1945. it will be argued about as honest people are reading about world war ii. hosts are we another call from gail in san antonio. why didn't hitler crossed the english channel when he had the opportunity? or if he did have the opportunity and if so what are you finished off in one? >> guest: well, he wanted to. he had drawn careful plans for the invasion of england. one thing in particular stopped him and that was he never had air superiority.
he knew even though the english channel is not wide, that if you do not control the air, if in fact the british spitfires that prevailed in britain in 1940 have free access to your vision for his coming by to see that end in disaster. you've got to have air protection to mount amphibious operation. it stopped him from launching operations the lion. the second part of the question? >> host: what you finished up england? >> guest: if he managed to get across the english channel, you have to believe things would've gone very badly. the british isles are pretty big. 800 miles south to north. their would've been a guerrilla campaign as some sort certainly. it's hard to imagine the british would've been able to prevail had he gotten his forces of crossing the channel. >> host: rick atkinson, total deaths in world war ii?
>> guest: about 60 million. >> host: total cost? >> guest: to the united states alone, if you calculate in $2012, it is about $4 trillion. now to the entire world, i don't know. i don't have that anybody would know. >> host: next call for rick atkinson comes from herb in weatherford, texas. you are on booktv on c-span2 this author rick atkinson. >> caller: yes, sir, an honor to talk to you. i just finished reading the books back to back to back. a little postscript on dealing with my father. my father fought in world war ii and battle of the bulge and he received the bronze star and purple heart in the battle of the bulge. you know, the calls are fathers generation the greatest generation. i.t. without my father.
you are talking about the draft. my father was the youngest of 15 and quit school in the fifth grade and went to work. was drafted in the army in 18, was blind in one eye. went to world war ii, sent his paycheck home to his mother and supported the family. my mother was in five years to marry him. i understand why now. she was able -- he was 60% to 70% disability, walked with a slight bump, which you would not notice. his whole life, would never even get a handicapped parking sticker. he came back from that war. i only saw my father cried three times in his life. that's when his mother died and right before he died. the other time, my mother said mr. and the gulf war sitting there watching it on tv. she looked over at him and tears
were coming down his cheeks. i know now from reading the books where he went back in his life to that war experience. i just want you to know that your book is absolutely on the mark with so many things. i've read several books, but i kind of lucked upon yours. i'll end with this. i have a question. you deal with the european war. i am about to get into the japanese side of it, which i don't know much about. do you have any suggestions for reading on that? i'll let you go. >> guest: thank you for your question and thank you for the comment about your father. sounds like a mixture of every man. there's a lot of good stuff out there about the pacific were. my friend richard frank is a very fine historian working on a
trilogy about the war in the pacific. max hastings writes well about the pacific. if you look on my website, liberation trilogy.com, you will see a short essay on suggested reading and there's reading they are about the global war beyond the war in europe. >> host: rick atkinson, we spent three hours 50 mid-may when "the guns at last light: the war in western europe 1944-1945" came out. we has to then, are you working on a specific trilogy? >> guest: peter, i'm not. i decided some time ago that i wasn't going to do the pacific. 15 years is long enough on world war ii. and so i've begun working on another trilogy, but it on the american revolution. it has had my -- it's captured my imagination since i was a boy as it has for many of us.
i've been added in earnest for about three and i've got a long way to go. it's a whole different set of archives among other things. a different century needless to say. idc presents this. the beginning of the army have read about in world war ii, i see parallels between washington and eisenhower that are very surprising to me sometimes. they have more in common then they don't have in common. so that's what i'm doing. it's another long project that will take me probably for five years to do. >> host: bought in dallas, good afternoon. >> caller: hi, good afternoon. thank you for taking my call. you answered one of the questions i have just now, so i'll substitute another. how did she go about deciding what to leave out? is there something you've left out that you now wish you could put in? if roosevelt -- to churchville
ever finally determine are realized there was nothing soft about the underbelly of europe from the mediterranean? >> guest: well, to answer the last question first, churchville never acknowledged that the italian campaign and his approach to try and defeat germany they come in the mediterranean was fundamentally bankrupt by the time i get to 1944, 1945. he was not the sort of guy to make apologies. he believed what he believed. so we find churchville in the late 1944 are still arguing for the mediterranean strategy. he tries to persuade first eisenhower, then roosevelt to have been in the invasion of southern france coach is going to take this on august 15. the troops are in the ship and churchill is dull hammering away
at this. he wants a landing to go through the head of the asiatic and go through the topographical feature known as the ljubljana gap, kind of a backdoor to vienna. eisenhower said i'm not going to rent a gap i can't pronounce. so churchill never acknowledged that this was not the proper course. do i regret leaving things out and how do i decide what to leave out? well, deciding what to leave out is part of the narrative art as much as deciding what to put in. obviously a subject as enormous as world war ii, many, many volumes have been written about it and will be but about it. trying to find the sweet spot of the narrative account of an individual episode, trying to find the emotional sweet spot, trying to find the sweet thought of individual characters is all part of what writers try to do. you know, sure, there are things
i wish there was room even in a very big but to have been able to put and, but nothing i lose sleep about. >> host: here is the last volume in the "liberation trilogy," "the guns at last light: the war in western europe 1944-1945". george is calling from norwalk, ohio. georgia, you are on with rick atkinson. are you with us? >> caller: just, i am calling to find out what source you use -- [inaudible] >> host: you know what, i apologize. i didn't catch what she said. >> guest: i heard carl timmerman. >> host: we are going to move on to enact in hayward, california. good afternoon. >> caller: good afternoon.
mr. atkins and, i first heard about you just recently on george will's blog and i started with the first book, an army at dawn. i just want to say how much i appreciate what a great writer you are, to specifically and clearly give the overall great picture and done with care or an personalities, the drama of the situation. >> guest: thank you. thank you, very much. >> host: is that it? any question? >> caller: that they appeared no question. >> host: on her face but, michael post, with a two-year mr. atkinson's take on a broad front versus the single full press debate. does he think eisenhower's strategy was the most expedient way to win the war? or with a single bow thruster that the possibility of shortening the war related to
this, did eisenhower make a mistake not trained to take berlin? >> guest: there is a lot there. i will try to be sustained. that issue is hotly debated at the time. it is hotly debated in the years after the war did 70 years later still hotly debated. eisenhower in brief believed that, in that the german right in a fashion where you had major thrust here and a major thrust here was the best way to keep the germans off balance and to keep them moving. that they would have to ship their forces back and forth and that this would cause them to use fuel. this is the achilles' heel of the third reich. they were running out of fuel. eisenhower knew this. putting all of your forces and one powerful thrust through northern europe into north or germany was the more sensible way to do it. they argued about it interminably for months.
eisenhower having the privilege of being the supreme commander had the last word. his strategic, operational approach is the way in fact that the war played out. my feeling is that eisenhower was correct. there was enough evidence to suggest that had montgomery single thrust been followed, the germans could possibly have blunted that single thrust, that spearhead. they could've attacked it from the flanks. it would have been problematic if he didn't have an alternative. he didn't have the other face to publishers. related to that very briefly, berlin, eisenhower decided in march 1945 for months and months segued are going to go to berlin, that that is the object of the outlined army coming from the west. he changed his mind. the reason he changed his mind
as the russians had 2 million soldiers poised outside of berlin. they had been on the order river in january 1945, only 40 miles from berlin. he knew it was going to be an undertaking to capture berlin. he came to the conclusion that it made more sense to hang all his forces further south and to cut the rate in half to prevent the germans from reinforcing the alps and having what was known as the national guerrilla warfare campaign operating from the alps. my feeling is this is exactly the right decision, but going to berlin and they wouldn't have beaten russians there. it would have been pointless. he's wrong about the intelligence was erroneous. germans didn't have the capacity to mount the guerrilla warfare
campaign. but in fact, eisenhower did breaking. >> host: was there ever is trying truly rick atkinson they could've won this war? >> guest: i think you can argue that after they've been invading the soviet union in june 1941 but the handwriting is on the wall. there's a lot of blood that needs to be shed before you sit back and give me. it is certainly true the germans initially are successful in the soviet union. it is fighting an war against a very powerful ad are scary. my feeling is after 1943, the worst loss for germany. there are many german generals and german politicians to recognize that all of the. hitler is not the kind of guy to acknowledge that these laws a world war was going to drag on until 1945. >> host: michael in seattle,
thank you for holding on. you were on with author trent reappeared >> caller: thank you very much. your books are terrific mr. atkinson. my father was a man at who volunteered in december 1941. he was a front-line medic. i would like your comments about the medical care that our soldiers received in europe. what was that like? what could be done? what were we not able to do? any now, where did they take them to after that moved away from the front lines? thank you again for your time. looks are terrific. >> guest: thematics are an important part of the war. there are a lot of american veterans alive today because of mannix and american veterans of world war ii who survived the water and went on to have life
after world war ii because of mannix who are very much as your father was in the line of fire. the next iraq are crawling around basically protected by an armband with a red cross on it. the medical letter that the united states, particularly in the second world war is pretty extraordinary. they discovered a lot of things that help save lives. there were discoveries like penicillin that were absolutely indispensable to preventing carnage from being even worse. there were many men who date because the pen of ellen and the ability to convert that discovery by british scientists into an industrial strength operation whether it's penicillin available ultimately by the time. the discovery of things like the import games of plasma and more and how would mix them together. these are battlefield, lessons learned, learned the hard way
frequently that are absolutely indispensable. as to your question of what happened to a soldier when he was wounded, there was a whole system of stations and hospitals depended how badly she was hurt, dependent on the position of the lines in that one. essentially the effort was to stabilize them hasn't changed much these days 70 years later he had stabilized them. you've got the golden hour if you can get the bleeding stopped and if you can do other things that prevent the downward spiral that leads to death. and then you get them to the first level of care, where there are physicians and can do more emergency help in ultimately get them into a bigger hospital. so it was an extraordinary part of the logistical effort of the war and the medics are very much at the point of the spear. >> host: conference sylvester, georgia. john tv.
>> caller: i have a quick question. i read in a previous book another author that roosevelt and churchill worried that stalin would take the soviet union out of the were before concluded in europe and find a peace treaty with germany like they did during the bolshevik revolution. but that it mattered on the western front in the outcome of the war? >> guest: yes, there was anxiety about that and that's one of the reasons roosevelt in particular was so eager to get the american army into the war in 1942. even if it meant going to a place that seemed as improbable as north africa. roosevelt knew if you could keep the soviets bleeding for the allied cause that that was that much less leading the american soldiers had to do. there's a certain cynicism to it, but israel politics. it was a clear eyed view by president roosevelt that the soviets were the most important
component in the western -- in the alliance generally in defeating the germans. the soviets did much of the dying. they did most of the killing in the soviets were absolutely indispensable. it's hard to imagine the british and americans winning the war without soviet participation. there were great efforts taken to ensure that stalin did not do what he had done previously and that was to make a separate piece of sort with hitler, which was broken in the nation and the soviet union in june 1941. there is precedent for that kind of soviet decision-making. and so roosevelt was always very, very attentive to soviet demands. he had a long correspondence with stalin. he recognizes stalin was a mass murderer among other things, but also recognize that as he put it
in times of trouble it's permissible to cross the bridge and the company of the devil. his handling of the soviet union, his insurer chose was a deployed diplomacy. >> host: how many deaths are soviet? >> guest: about 26 million. >> host: next call, jim and jim and sunset, louisiana. they're attacking with author rick atkinson about "liberation trilogy" on world war ii. >> caller: mr. atkinson, wonderful, wonderful presentation. i loved it. i was born in paris, france in 1945. by mother was french. my dad was american. she told me a lot of stories about the german occupation and the liberation ethic came in. she was telling me the most -- the worst part for her was being put in a position of being ready
to come to america to be with my father. she said some thing about ships and all parts of europe coming over. did you do any research or run across anything in your book search is for this type of thing? she said is very true mattock for her. >> guest: the short answer is i did spend much time looking at the postwar aspects, in putting the travels of war brides. i think there are 50,000 of them in england, with a lot of little anglo-americans who had been born out of unions between american soldiers and british girls. so i don't know much about that. i do know that there was great concern that first of all the
british government was concerned. i'm talking about the breadth now, not the french, were concerned that there were so many british women who are impregnated by american soldiers that there is a certified site treaty signed in english laws of bastardy invoked and there is a support scale set up. the soldier had to agree to pay i think it was a pound a month until the little anglo-americans was 14 years old. with the french, there was an interesting issue particularly in normandy with american soldiers behaving badly around frenchwomen. the french were so concerned. this includes general de gaulle with whom we had fought in italy and he was essentially chief of staff of the french military, the day wrote several very tart letters to eisenhower, telling
him frenchwomen could not go out of their houses in normandy at night without being accompanied by french men because they were being accosted by american soldiers. eisenhower took it very seriously. he hang several perpetrators and cracked down hard on it because he recognized among other things that this is bad behavior and thus undercuts everything had been trying to do in trying to present himself as liberators. i know more about that aspect of the relationship with the french french -- frenchwomen in particular than i do about the postwar aspects of it. i read about it actually. >> host: a few minutes left. paul and indianapolis. go ahead with your comment. >> caller: i just picked up your book. looking forward to it. most of my reading in the last 40 years has been the appearance of marlboro to the poets and
which would include the american revolution that you're just not getting into. most of your reporting, your writing has been in the modern era of warfare, where you now go back injury. with the experience of battle is totally different paper you expect as many casualties one day as would come, for example come the french army last month working on one day than the american lost in the entire campaign. when airing -- do you think you have to do some readjustment to keep you the experience of battle? >> guest: that's a good question and i can't answer it yet. but i'm thinking about it. i'm thinking about precisely that. i do think that there is some adjustment that is necessary. but i also think war is war. ..ngton's army in 1776 the weather isn't sent dwight eisenhower's army in 1944 or whether he's an army in afghanistan.
today there are certain salient in certain eternal verities of soldiering life. certainly haven't just seen to my research for the american revolution. i'm adjusting to all different sorts of things. artillery doesn't play a very large role unlike 20th century war. their small battles for the most part. although ultimately with 25,000 americans killed in action in the american revolution, second only to the civil war in tes it second only to the civil war in terms of the number of americans killed in action in a population of 3 million. so that's a good question and i'm thinking about it. i appreciate it. >> roi in portland, oregon. good afternoon. >> caller: i'm interested in world war ii.
it's written on an. nick: and magic and the only thing was this paragraph is said neither the germans nor the japanese were able to make meaningful headway towards solutions of the sigma machine. can you tell me anything about the sigma machine? i had never heard of it before terry at. >> i can't tell you much about it as i'm not really a signals historian. the germans kept changing their codes. they practice reasonably good operational security. they were aware that codebreaking had come a long ways. they were not aware it had come as far as it had with the abilities of the british in particular and the amazing efforts going on in leslie park north of london to crack the german codes, to intercept the
radio transmissions, to take those codes using the enigma machines that coded and ultimately that the british decoded those messages and to keep all of that secret. that secret of all threat as it was called remain secret until 1974. it was considered the deepest secret of the war and so consequently the germans had no idea that their mail was being read essentially. it was a great advantage as you can imagine for the western allies. you know when it came out in 1974 historians said will we have to rewrite the history of the war? this is such a big deal and it turns out now. you find very few instances where really had a tactical or operational impact on the war. it allowed the americans and
british to have a larger strategic sense of what was happening with the germans. it didn't tip us off for example on the attack of the bulge and of course they did not transmit those orders and communications via radio. so it's a very interesting part of the war. >> host: danny and rainbow texas, we have one minute left. >> caller: yes, i was interested that you said the northern part of the italian campaign was more or less uses uses -- useless and that was pretty much my father's contribution. >> guest: i did not say useless. i didn't say that danny. get. >> caller: you said it was a very small value. >> guest: i didn't say that either. it was a cul-de-sac of swords and every soldier who for that felt that. they can continue to campaign in italy was to tie up as many germans in italy so they cannot oppose the forces landing in
italy. there were more 204 divisions otherwise there was a good possibility that any of those if not all of those we been in normandy on june 6, 1944 so i would never say it was useless. i would say was heartbreaking. there's no doubt about that. >> host: rick parkinson you begin an army of dawn, before the war. how big was the u.s. army in 1944? >> guest: the u.s. army had about 190,000 in 1938 and 39. it was a puny little thing, poorly outfitted. by 1945, how big is the army? the army alone is 8.4 million. there were 16 million in uniform in a country of 130 million. you can see it's a 40 four-fold increase in the size of our army in five years basically. >> host: rick atkinson is the author of the liberation trilogm