tv The Last Goodnight CSPAN June 24, 2017 1:22pm-2:04pm EDT
there's a lot of chronicles about the fast food. the fast food label is unfair because when you're on the campaign trail that's what you're getting a lot of times. i do know he loves meatloaf and comfort food. otherwise we don't get a lot of information about what's going on in the trump white house kitchen. >> thank you thank you so much. [applause] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] >> the author howard recalls the life of american debutante turn spot.
next from hyde park new york. >> good afternoon and welcome to the presidential library museum. cap you could be here today for 14th annual roosevelt reading festival. the program from is the author will talk for about 30 minutes and then a ten minute question-and-answer time and then a book signing. c-span is with us today. if you're going to ask a question please use the microphone on the side so we can record your son. these reading festivals and programs are supported by our members and trustees. if we have any here today raise your hand. thank you. we could do this without you and we appreciate your support. if you have one of these buttons for attending today that will give you free admission to the museum. i hope you'll visit. we have a wonderful temporary exhibit called images of -- is important exhibit, the library
has never done an exhibit on a japanese internment before. very powerful. i hope you'll see. this afternoon we have well you might call our most sensational books. it has sex, drama, and beautiful women trip behind not see the lines. they made into a movie a thinker has the elements of it. we've nominated -- he wrote wanted the gold exodus, the floor of heaven but the book you will talk about is called alaska night, a world war ii story of espionage, and veteran betrayal. it has everything. you cannot believe you haven't heard this story before because it has all of the right elements. it will start angelina jolie and brad pitt. >> no, it was supposed to but they made a different movie.
when i think centricity is that we bring these stories together and authors and books and these stories are so universal and howard did a fantastic job on this book of putting you in the moment. you can smell it, taste and be right there. please welcome howard bloom. [applause] >> there is a moment in every authors life when he thinks he has found a story that interest him. when he feels he can wake up each morning, go to his desk and try to make characters, live on the page. but those moments are preludes and small ones to great energizing moment when he decides this is a story of love, but i have to write what i want to talk about is how i came to write the alaska night, the
story of a glamorous american debutante who became a secret operative who help the allies win the war on his activities admissions fdr followed quite carefully. betty story is primarily a spy story. it's appropriate my thoughts begin to coalesce my commitment begin to formalize as i was walking among the ancient stones of cambridge university in cambridge england. cambridge university has a long and often infamous connection to espionage, most notoriously the kim filby spy ring, group of long-term penetration agents or moles who brought them into the
english society while working for the soviet union. i'd not come to look into kim filby. i came in search of another spy, but i get ahead of myself. in the beginning when i first started looking for a new book to write i decided i wanted to write a women's story. i've done 11 other books before none was there central female character. perhaps this was a mission i was not up to the task. now i was older if not wiser at least a bit more battle scarred. had two daughters and their early 20s, and's wife, i have paid my dues not so mention elmont intuition. i thought i could handle a story of a complex and willful beautiful intelligent woman. even as i made this decision i was pulled back by another narrative concern. my books are true stories but usually filled with drama and suspense, i had to find the right woman so my thoughts gravitated toward a female spy.
i began making my way through the literature and i came across but a story what there was was sparse but intriguing, woman from a wealthy family grew up in minnesota and washington d.c., a debutante. she had many terran missions. then i came across her obituary time magazine. they called her of blonde to bond. a woman who used the bedroom and the way bond used a beretta. as i said, intriguing. so i thought this would be interesting. for a story about betty's work it had to be more than an espionage thriller. had to be able to explain how she made this journey from debutante to spy. how she is able to live with the moral ambiguities of her chosen profession. how she lived a life filled with
roller coaster romances and how she had been disloyal to everyone she encountered except the spy masters she served in the car she believed in. to get this i had to tell the story in betty's own words and thoughts. this was a challenge since betty had been dead for more than 50 years. that's why i made my way to cambridge university. cambridge is home to many ancient colleges churchill college, star collection of modernistic buildings that is also home to the churchill archives at the archive center that's her betty's papers are stored. there given to the archives by a man named hartford hide. he was also a former british sky, a barrister a member of parliament's a professor and an author at one point in his career when he was down and out
he thought he would do a quick book about the spy code named cynthia. that was betty whom he worked with. he spent some time with betty and collected her papers. after that is papers went to the churchill center. as i sat at the center and the archivists brought out boxes i realized i had struck gold. this was a treasure trove. it was not publish memoir betty had written. letters she has said during the course of her life, and address book in her own green ink. a diary she kept as a child and even a book that her parents had published for her when she was four years old but a time where
i cambridge it reached a number of conclusions. one i could tell a fairly accurate espionage story about betty's adventures. we can also write about the romantic life in their own words and host she had use the bedroom as her own battlefield. i can also create what might be a psychological detective story. i could begin to explain in her own words and thoughts how she had lived with the amorality of her chosen profession. how she had went from one relationship to another how she had lived a life of betrayal and how she made the journey from a washington d.c. debutante to a spy. i covered something else unsuspected. it was betty's final mission of how she was living in a castle
in the south of france and she decides to go off with high. she goes off to england another time she's keeping a secret that she is trying to come to terms with her life that she's making a decision she made and if they can make search to her now. she is a reveal tenet what she has cancer in the cancers metastasizing quickly. she goes off with hyde to try to understand her life. or how she makes with hyde as she goes off with hyde i told betty's life and her missions retrospectively. after leaving cambridge i began to follow in her footsteps.
i went to the south of france whether she went off or went to ireland and i followed her footsteps into the bar where she sat in front of the redwall and on the wicklow hills. i went to spain to madrid and valencia where she was in the civil war and how the bombers aren't about and how one didn't have to worry about the next corner. then i went to washington, d.c. she had almost street which was the site of many of her operational missions. as i followed in her footsteps i had a surprising realization. i set off look into her life,
she had been such a disloyal spouse, complicated, treacherous mother to both her children. when i was never a sympathetic. the end of a journey after following her footsteps i had a great deal of sympathy and respect for the woman she was, the decision she made for the continuity of purpose, for her courage and for what she contributed to the allied cause. what i mean by that? let me go over some of her missions and you can judge for yourself what you think. >> a good place to start with any spy story is when they cross where it separates their formal life into the covert world. for betty when she became a spy this took place in 1938. she was in prewar poland. as she wrote it was a sad, great
place and for betty it was more because she was at a disastrous spirit. she is married to a man 20 years older than she, british diplomat. he seemed at least three times that age difference. use pinstripe, umbrella caring diplomat and she was a vivacious 26-year-old looking to charm every man she met. this complicated marriage more complicated on new year's eve. her husband had a severe stroke. so the beautiful wife takes him back to england to recuperate. soon as they get there he tells her, i would like you to go back to warsaw, keep the house up. i want the investor to understand i'm coming back and if he sees you he will realize i'm not that desperately ill and will be returning. so she returns to warsaw, it's winter in poland which is all by yourself what is she do? she follows her heart and she
meets a young polish diplomat and as she describes it in her diary, rivers of icy vodka flow, he played japan, they would sit at night and huddled on the bear's again, tiger skin rug in front of a blazing fire. one night when she's in his arms he happens to mention something he's on the office that day. he said he saw document how poland has made an agreement with germany that germany is going to move into checklists of lucky and poland will not do anything about it. and she says yes and goes back to watching the fire the next morning when she goes back she picks up the phone and calls the british embassy and asks for the passport control officer. the passport control officer is a cover and a thing cover at
best for the mi six their secret intelligence service man at the embassy. she calls me and says how would you like to play a round of golf today. it's the middle of winter and the greens and poland are never actually very good. in the german army is mobilizing and he listens to this request and he says sure, why not. and at the same time he admires her tradecraft to be able to speak on the golf course without anyone overhearing or attracting attention. they go on the golf course and she tells him what she is hurt and he says let me pass it on to the spymaster from london. let's see what they have to say. several days later he comes back they said london thinks this is great, they want you to get all you can and they don't care what you have to do to get it. so betty at that point gets a salary and became a spy. she stays with us you polish diplomat for a while until the
spymaster's tell her she should spread her wings and move up higher and betty has no regrets, she didn't really have romances, she had adventures. one day her handler comes and says do you know michael and she said no. well would like you to meet him. he's an aide to joseph beck. a jared kushner type. a guy who knows where everything is happening. so betty approaches the american ambassador whose no family friend tells him i think you should throw party and she says why because it would be fun and i would like to sit next to -- so betty is put's to count lubinski, the orchestras playing, they dance cheek to
cheek and that evening she goes home with him. she develops the relationship and she would line his arms all night and he would talk to her about what was happening at the office and as soon as he left you a type up everything he said and pass it on to her handler at the embassy. that was betty's great gift, it's the gift every spy has to learn. you believe something the moment you set and when that moment passes you believe something else. my not be a gift for spies by politicians too. betty's days and in the process she learned about what was happening at the black chamber which was a basement room in the tenth century city. it was there that a group of
young polish specialists were trying to crack the machine. enigma is the encoding device developed before the word for german merchants when they wanted to send trade secrets. the german army takes it over as more wilson belsen muscles and it become so complex he can make any message the two devices need to be hooked up and you need a codebook to understand but after three years of working they had cracked the machine. betty passes it on to the spymaster's in england, there able to purchase this cracked machine and bring these young polls it is one of the key
events and cracking it enigma. there are many heroes who deserve a crown. alan and the other geniuses, the british facility for co- breaking. there were british seamen who are taking enigma machines off of submarines. but she played a key role and said she played an essential role in helping crack the machine. the height of the war the germans were sending 85000 messages a month. general eisenhower said a short the war by more than several years and i counted thousands of lives. betty made this possible. then there's another operation that betty was involved in this was seated highly in -- this is
1940 the british rented for her for discreet entertaining. it's a lovely little college the british rented it was recently sold for 7.85 million. the betty is there in the house in a flash cable arrives which is based in new york and rockefeller center which is being run by william stevenson, the man called intrepid. this telegram they say they need the italian naval site which they say they don't have to explain why they needed, it's the british navy than across the mediterranean. and if the navy is attacked the
italian naval ciphers will help provide the missing link. betty is told by the handler that the man in charge of the italian naval is a man by the name of alberto lay then alberto's family goes in washington. she knows alberto lay. now she's determined to convince them that there's no longer a little girl but a woman. they go to the house for dinner that mel is 65 or so, partly with grown children and betty is about 28 in beautiful and chose her winds very carefully. and they wind up in their bedroom. the admiral comes by several
times a week in bed the finally tells him that she needs help in getting it. the admiral is shocked. he said you're asking me to commit an act of treason, connect to that. he storms out of the house. it's a very rough moment, she doesn't know he's going to return with security or notify the fbi because she is working for british intelligence the u.s. is not in the war at this point. she thinks there leaving town. but she stays at a week later the admiral returns and says he has an honorable solution. he says i can tell you the name of one of my clerks charge of one of the ciphers in the rest is up to you. this still allows admiral to
return to the bedroom. betty now uses journalistic and she goes to meet the clerk. she tells him that she's doing the story of the little people in that embassies and people behind the scenes control things. she can tell he's quite flattered by this. she invites him over for dinner and she concedes not a womanizer. he's sitting there this wonderfully appointed room that's paid for by the british taxpayer and he says i wish i can live like this. when betty seizes that moment says, well, you can. she has been authorized by the british government to pay $100,000 and economical son for the ciphers. but betty knows "the art of the deal" and she gets there for $2500. and they are photographed and returned and how important are they, while on march 28, 1941 off the southern tip of greece
the british led by admiral cunningham approaches the atelier native which is spread out. they open up their 15-inch guns and bites on three destroyers, two cruisers and one battleship are sunk. 2400 italian seamen lose their lives. churchill describes the encounter and says at that moment on the mediterranean renamed the british see and betty help make that possible. there is another incident involving betty ciphers. the years 1941, and it is a low point in the war for the allies. pearl harbor has just been bound, the british have been pushed off the continent of europe, germany is marching into
russia and at this point churchill comes to this united states and is meeting with fdr and tried to convince him of what the next move. eventually the operation towards north africa. even if they're working towards this decision the british government decides they need the ciphers if they're going to get into north africa. betty is told about this missi mission. to explain it when the nazis invaded france paris of the north became part of germany in effect, while the south and central area with its headquarters at the town that's famous for the mineral waters are an independent state which really just answers everything germany says. they are allowed to have an embassy in the united states. they have one on wyoming avenue in washington, d.c.
betty is told to get the ciphers from that embassy. thankfully the ciphers are on the second floor in a locked safe. there's an armed guard, he has a dog, it's an impossible mission. betty says, i will take it. she goes about the mission as she goes about all the other missions. she looks for a friend. she finds one and charles bruce. bruce is a very french frenchman. he liked his wines his good foods, according to the u.s. records he had been married either three or five times. betty interviews him. the next day a dozen roses are delivered and he calls and asked her for lunch. after lunch they wind up in betty's bedroom. the relationship with bruce something happens that never happened her before in her
career, she falls in love with him. she describes it in her memoirs as being the large greatest love of my life. even while betty is in love with bruce she has no problems about leading him on the road towards treason about taking everything he's saying and passing it on to both the british and american spy masters whom she is working for. as john has written, petroleum is a very repetitious profession. betty finally tells bruce what she wants and it's bruce who comes up with a plan. he said the key is we need to be able to get into the embassy. he approaches the guard andre
>> betty figures she will wait and they fall asleep as he waits until the night her son makes her way to the code room. this time the safe opens up quickly. as the safe open she hears footsteps going down the hall. she's getting nervous about it she do? she starts taking off her close abuses where you doing this?
she says well if he thinks were doing something naughty were not doing it with a close on. so she's standing there just in her pearls in the door is open and there's andre the watchmen others betty and her girls she makes a halfhearted attempt to cover herself up. and he says excuse me and backs off. betty puts on her slip and is able to get the codebooks out to be for the graft and the replaced in time for betty to leave for noah to know the difference. how important are they? that november 30, 3000 allied troops landed on the beaches of north africa. it's largely possible because we know about the activities we were able to center boats in the right places. churchill goes before parliament says the invasion of north africa is the end of the beginning. were now coming forward. and betty helped to make that possible. according to the osf she change
the course of the work. after this the british decided they will do great things, they'll be a team and infiltrate them into france. chris's family is well-connected, they will know everyone in paris, betty speaks perfect boarding school french in the suddenly members of the tech team say wait a minute, betty is still married to a british ambassador she's an american citizen. the be looking at everything she does. so the americans decide though not to get a new biography from her but they can't quite think of one. one of the americans look at her and bruce .-ellipsis, that old gold is old enough to be her father they say that's it, will go in as bruce will be the father betty the daughter.
except now they'll have to convince bruce's wife that betty is going to be the stepdaughter and not really the american spy. betty does her part. she cuts her hair gets glasses, doesn't wear makeup addresses differently. it seems to be working and then something happens. the germans take over in one of the first things they do -- we have to respond in winter the french diplomats when we send them? to the hotel hershey and hershey, pennsylvania which is on a couple hundred acres. yet the french is not happy. there's a letter in the state department whether french ambassadors complaining about the wine list at the hotel hershey. it's not up to his standards.
they compromise to bring in his own wine. betty goes up there and she is being passed off as bruce's stepdaughter. one morning bruce's wife walks into the bedroom and there is betty naked in bed with him. she goes screaming through the hallways, this woman is not my daughter, she's a spy. with that event it puts it into betty's operational career. but what a career it had been. she had been able to look at her wayward motion city sensibilities, she was able to do things her ways and she was able to help the allies win the war. when i went to the cia to talk about betty to the spy masters i asked, do you still mention betty? and they say we tell her new recruits that the last person to
whom he say good night is the most dangerous area think about it. the last person whom he say good night's most dangerous. and betty is the personification of that warning. our spy masters today seem more concerned about electronic intelligence and were more concerned about hacking into computers or iphones and eyes in the sky. we want information from the enemy more likely to get aboard for waterboarding. but perhaps what we need is water bedding. perhaps we need more agents like betty pack. thank you. [applause] [applause]
[inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] >> mark is the name, my question is with oss, was their interface with other spies like the virginia crawford are those type of things and did you find any records of that? >> betty did not really interface with the other spies. she was on her own and part of the reason for her anonymity was that she is the bedroom as her operational battlefield. the honey trap is what it's called. the oss didn't want to have all their other agents with betty's
activities. but they were willing to take advantage of them. james bond does it. it's not frowned upon but applauded. for betty. >> thank you. >> other questions? >> this information you wrote about was it in the diaries? or how did you piece it together? >> i had to piece a lot of it together. it's not in her memoirs, diaries and letters their other sources to the oss records have many references to her. . .
the gestapo realizes and she didn't go back to france until after the war. does she live 50 years? >> no, she dies at 52. she dies at the castle she's living in with her husband, bruce, who she marries ins southeast of france and bruce, ten years later. there's an electric blanket fire and he dies and the castle goes up in flames. . >> could you just please expand on the after connection, if briefly? is that possible? >> sure. i'd originally written a lot about it in the book and it was too tangential. and he was a spy and he and fdr would meet up here and they would-- the president would ask his
handler and they'd talk about spy activities and before the war ran a group of well-connected new yorkers in a town house on east 61st street. it was called loom 1610 or whatever, i can't remember the exact name. they were intelligence gathering, different bankers about different trades and he would take his own yacht out into the seas and try to find the locations of japanese installations and report this to the president and when betty was coming back on a ship, william stevensson asked them to get a navy man to check her out and they do the sort of first check on betty to see if she is as effective as they would think and this navy man, who portrays himself as a-- just an officer, but he's really just not an officer yet, he's really just sort of a