Skip to main content

tv   Liza Mundy Meredith Hindley  CSPAN  December 10, 2017 2:30pm-3:16pm EST

2:30 pm
little tired of being a painter. he is blocked on his last two pages piercing he wrecked the coolest job application that is in history to the duke of milan. and is 11 paragraph long. and the first is about engineering and science.he says that i can make great weapons of war. something he had not really done but sketched out a lot of including the large crossbow. ... [inaudible conversations] >> ready? >> yeah. >> good morning, ladies and gentlemen. good morning.
2:31 pm
my name is jim hornfisher and it's my pleasure to welcome you to opening session of the 2017 texas book festival. thank you -- [applause] >> thank you. thank you for coming out in support. first of our authors and second of this wonderful annual event in the 22nd year. [applause] >> and, third, of al the books discussed and enjoyed throughout this bull texas capitol complex here in downtown austin. if i might pause a beat i would ask you to silence your cell phones. live tv, thank you, c-span. after our session, both authors will be relocated to book sinning tent down the street to autograph their books. books courtesy of book people, that wonderful independent seller. buy a book, you're supporting the author, the festival, and a
2:32 pm
great local indy store and also helping the texas book festival as a nonprofit entity, pure student to mission of support low income schools in texas with author visits, book donations via the reading rock stars program, and to fun grant ford libraries thought the state. the festival is running a benefit of -- book drive benefit this weekend to raise money to help rebuild texas libraries damaged by hurricane harvey. that program works like this. when you go to the cash register to check out and purchase your books, simply tell the cashier you'd like to donate an additional $15 to buy a book for a reading rock star student. the tbr and the talker foundation will match donations to rebuild a library affected by hurricane harvey, and so you can see buy one book, kids in texas and the library system, three books end up going to help people. all of this should make it quite
2:33 pm
clear exactly how your purchase can make a difference so thank you in advance. the book signing will take place down the street after the investigation. now to our panel two very talented narrative historians who write books on an unlikely theme, hidden histories of world were 2 -- world war ii, we have marry double digit hindley, writer and historian in washington, dc. the found her way at the national yo capitol after attending the university of wyoming and studied english and history and ventured east to taken american university and got her ph.d. meredith says one of great thing busy being a historian of world war ii is to having a tax deductible reason to visit london, paris, and casablanca. >> it's true.
2:34 pm
>> current lay senior writees in humanities in the national quarter hill review for the national endowment of the humanity us. he's here to discuss her first book, "destination casablanca." foreign policy magazine called it a compelling read, packed with a casablanca worthy cass of characters, history buffs will love the colorful storieds and scheming but there's if information, intrigue anded a vp tour milwaukee the book a perfect beach read, which is anti-because it's 90 degrees today. balmy november austin. liza mundy is a best selling author or three books, the richer sex, michelle, a biography, and now "code girls: the untold story of the american women codebreaked of world war ii" has written for the atlantic, politico and other
2:35 pm
publications. a forget commentator, "code girl" has been well-reviewed nationally. the boston globe wrote the story is one of women and men, bound together by their wish to serve the country, working side by side at equals, temporary but real. and in that picture is more than a marvel of patriot tick effort. it's a reminder that side-by-side as eequals it's who we are at our best and how we do our best so congratulations to you both and welcome to austin. [applause] >> thank you for the amazing welcome to texas. my first time here so thank you. casablanca is not surprisingly -- i'm going to be honest and say it was enfired by the movie. like many of you here i saw the
2:36 pm
movie over a number of years, and i would think, wow, i wonder what actually was going on at casablanca during the war. was there the fresh resistant in what was the problem for the refugees? and the historian in me decided to dig in and take a look around, and the results book is o'destination casablanca ." the story is much more interesting and i think compelling than the movie, although it shares a lot of the same elements. because casablanca was a port, it was one of the pop avenues to leave europe and escape the nazis. the fact it's a port meant it became logistically important to both the french war effort, the nazi war effort, and the allied war effort. show book looks at what happens to city when the refugees come
2:37 pm
and when the americans come, and the americans come in force. in 1939, only 100 americans in all of french morocco, in november 1942, with operation torch, which actually begin the 7th anniversary of operation is this coming week -- 33,000 americans would arrive in french morocco, and over the next three months another 30,000 would arrive as well. so morocco becomes swamped with americans, and the americans displaced the regime. the story is about who -- when people ask me what the story is about, i say it's about people who made choices to try to escape nazi germi, choices whether or not to collaborate with the regime, make choices about whether or not they want to join the war effort or sit on he sidelines.
2:38 pm
>> while meredith was doing her great research london and moore rocco, was in a lot of a cyst living facilities here in the united states -- assisted living facilities here in the united states, eating a fair amount of cottage cheese, and interviewing women in their early to mid-90s about this incredible secret effort to recruit them to come to washington and become one of a group of more than 10,000 women who were breaking the codes of the german naval codes, the u-boats, the japans nave codes, the japans army. they were reading signals from around the world, including some from north africa. so it was an tester recruit college women secretly. women were tapped, called in to private interviews with math
2:39 pm
professors and astronomy professors. asked who questions do you like crossword puzzles and are you engaged to be married? and a number of them actually lied at the second question and said they were not because whatever they were being invited to do sounded more interesting than waiting around while their fiancee was fighting and was risking his life in the war. so, the women came to washington. those women joined the navy and would be joined by enlisted women as well, women who had not had the benefit of a college education, who came from california, oklahoma, all over the country, and if they had at the aptitude, they were routed into the giant code-break compounds in washington, and the army was recruiting for codebreakers of its open. they hit upon a strategy to send handsome young army officers recruiting school teachers. they wanted women who were
2:40 pm
defendant at -- deft as languages andmast if and if you had a great liberal arts degree, you could only teach school. they were -- marriage was the theme. trying to lure the women to washington with the expectation of making a marriage to a handsome young officer like the one who was recruiting them, in fact a lot of these women were looking at this as getting out of hasty engagements. so they came to washington and the reason this story has been untold for so long is because the women were told that they would be shot if they talked, when they were in washington. it was wartime, the work was top secret. they all had security clearances, and to talk about their work would be treason. so they were told to tell people that they sharpened pencils, emptied wastebaskets, they were sects and that's what they continued doing after the war,
2:41 pm
and because they were women, people believed them. they were the ideal intelligence officer because people believed what they were doing, couldn't possibly be important. >> just phenomenal stories and yet here we are 70 years on and this all reads as very fresh, both your cases. can you talk about the journey to capturing the story to refining is, starting from the time you research the book in archives and interviewed, and it's lonely work. talk about the research process and what gave you the initial spark to go underground and search for the stories. >> the initial spark for me was obviously the movie but also inspired by the fact that when i was in the archives, working on another project, i would see glimpses of mentions of refugees in casa blank car internment camps in morocco, and that stayed with me. and of course the part of an
2:42 pm
historyian, you have to stay on task, but when i was looking for a new book, i kept remembering that -- those telegrams and those reports, and so i decided to actually dig in and see what was really going on as casablanca. i used state department documents at the national archives here. i also had to go to france to do research in archives there because morocco at the time was a -- was controlled the french, the french protector of morocco and when france left in 1950, when morocco gained independence. they took the documents to france. so there's some in in praise. i did research the holocaust museum in washington, dc which turned out to be ain't magazines resource for me because of all the recorded it checked. had the record of helen, who ran
2:43 pm
a refugee agency in casablanca. she is a great story because she decided -- she wanted to join the french resistance, moroccan jew, wanted to join the french resistant but can't when that's a massive humanitarian crisis at the port in december of 1940, when 200 ships show up carrying refugees and they can't dock, and then it goes on for weeks, and refugees are living in squalor and they're suffering health problems. she decided to step in and to help, and she started her own refugee agency. and she would run the refugee agency throughout the entire war and become a major resource for jews who would arrive in casablanca. the records are at the at the holocaust museum. >> host: you used research tools to come'll the release of certain documents. can you talk about how you reached that point and what you did. >> amazingly, a lot of the
2:44 pm
intelligence related documents from world war ii are still classifiedson was working with the nsa trying to get the story out, trying to find living women and find if there was documentary evidence of the work they that done. there was an enormous amount of documentary evidence. i started out by feeling a freedom of information act request to get oral histories, to get these incredible histories that were written about the wartime code breaking operations by very literal people. once the japan surrendered and the messaged dried up, you head really bright people who were still employed by the code-breaking operation ask they started grinding out great, beautifully written histories and memories and administrative reports beside the effort which they had been generating the whole time but they were top secret, classified, and the intelligence agencies like the nsa are so flooded by foia requests right now that in the end i had to sort of dish wouldn't call it the nuclear
2:45 pm
option but i had to ratchet it up to a mandatory declassification review request, and was able to procure more than 20 oral histories that had been taken of women over the -- over a number of years and a couple of the volumes of great histories of the code-breaking effort. unbelievably still a couple that are still classified because the nsa has to talk to other intelligence agencies, all of which came out of these wartime intend -- the oss or wartime intelligence gathering that are still -- there's the usual sort of washington infighting over whether or not we can yet declassify these records that are 75 years old. >> when you got the transcripts were they blacked another or snipped with redactions? >> yeah. it sort of even more kind of random than that. sometime in the national archives you can find the history and you'll see redacted
2:46 pm
sections, but they also -- the administrative records that the larger histories are based on do exits and you can actually see what is in the redacted sections if was taking pictures of on me phone and send thing thome couldn't tax in to nsa there's a redacted page, please get this, and they did ultimately get that volume. >> just as like -- >> don't necessarily know what is in the national archives. >> maybe you don't want to tell them. >> no, i pounded on the door. they were very cooperative and motivated because -- they really wanted to get this story out. female historians and curators and male historians were helpful and if you're the nsa, what do you want, one more story about edward snowden or a book about wartime. >> this is where we have to give a shoutout to archivists and librarians who helped us because without the care they give to
2:47 pm
the records, we would want be able to do this kind of work and wouldn't be able to write this kind of history. >> so, meredith -- [applause] >> let's talk about the movie casablanca as history or not history. it's amazing the movie was released literally week, if not days, after the campaign was actually won. so was this movie propaganda? >> no. warner brothers had been making the movie in 1942, already in the can, and on november 8th, 9th, 10th. americans woke up to discover its forces invaded north africa and one of the primary targets was casablanca which was taken by major general george patton, and warner brothers, being the good cappagists they are, said we have a film about casablanca.
2:48 pm
hmm. maybe we should rush that out. so they did. the movie had the premier in new york around thanksgiving, and then it would go into larger release in the beginning of 1943, but one of the great story about the movie is that on new year's eve, room. watches casablanca at the white house. part of the new year's party. watching the movie and there's only a handful of people in the white house at that time would know that less than two weeked later he would be flying across the ocean to go to the casablanca conference in morocco, which was another great -- just happened to be a great sort of piece of publicity for the movie as well. so warner brothers lucked out. of course it helped that the movie is actually good. so, that helped, too. >> box office wasn't huge, though. >> it wasn't huge but it would
2:49 pm
be studied. >> best picture. >> right. the book is war history and the set -- set piece of operation torch is stunning, filled with action and detail. the book is a culture portrait as well. can you talk about the cultural figures, the ones tom jumped out another me were josephine baker and arthur kessler. >> kessler is the author of darkness at noon, one of the most important books of the 20th century, critique of the soviet system, and the finished that book and sent it to the publickers in london ten days before the nazis invaded france help is also a jew and hungarian and had been active in the communist party, anti-nazi and he knew when the german -- if the germ wants were able to roll into paris he would be in major
2:50 pm
trouble. so he escaped south like so many refugees did, and ends up through a series of calculations, joining the french foreign legion and changing his name. so he makes it to marseille, hooks win the british p.o.w.s who are trying to escape and the ends up in casa black could. he has no papers proving who he is and he is actually arthur kessler this is well-nope hungarian journalist. end upped at the american consulate andtles his start, and herbert gould, the consul general, listened, and he believes him and issues him an emergency circuit which allows him to get to lisbon and make it to britain. the french foreign legion is an important part of my book one of the pore surprising things about the book is keep rung into the
2:51 pm
french foreign legion because of its influence in north africa and upper french leadership. then there's josephine baker. the woman who takes paris by storm in the 1920s and and '30s, an amazing performer, dances and sings and gets recognition in paris in ways she could not get in the united states because she is african-american. baker loved france because of it opportunities. so when france fell to the germans and -- she surround up with the french resistance. so, a celebrate as a spy. you think, that might be a problem, except everybody loved to talk to josephine baker. nazis, friend officials, portuguese officials. wherever they would go, doors would open and they were tell here things. baker make it to north africa and morocco and use morocco as a
2:52 pm
base to travel to spain and portugal, and goes to parties and would basically write the information she collected on to her sheet music, using invisible ink and then bring it back to morocco. it's quite amazing, quite daring. she could hey been seen as a spy and captured. then she suffers a major health crisis and winded up in a clinic in morocco for 19 months and even then she is still spying because her hotel -- the hospital room becomes a place for everyone to meet, and people come and they talk, and it becomes another way to gather intelligence. >> right. so this is great cover for status as the cia would call it, cover for status, being a celebrity, nobody would suspect. liza, i love how your heroines have their own cover for status, they're working secretly for the
2:53 pm
intelligence services and people would tell people would say i just sit and laugh at the officers. >> right. >> what a great cover for status. >> yeah, and as i said, people believed them. i love these stories of women who sort of used this -- there was another only would what intelligence officer for the mender or the british, and she would hob knob with the nazis and say you couldn't possibly have those rocket systems and they would say, yes, we do. never underestimate a man's ego. [laughter] >> wasn't all sweetness and light. these women really were subject to sexist stanford performance and -- standards of performance, is that why a reviewer in praising the book said the poock was somewhat infuriating to
2:54 pm
discovers the injustice and their success was temporary? >> right. think they -- it was a variety of -- the army operation was civilian mostly, and so school teachers who came to work for the army civilian operation, were in many cases put in charge, even if they were very young, 22-year-old, 23-year-old woman was really good at breaking the radio address this japanese army was using, she would be elevated to direct the unit, and anne, the first female deputy director of nsa was such a woman. so genius was recognized and remarried that civilian operation, no matter how old or the gender of the person. that was a pretty egalitarian -- a reasonably egalitarian environment to work in. the women who wore working for the navy code-breaking operation can -- they were at compound where the department of homeland security is now. they joined the navy so they --
2:55 pm
it was so interesting to read the records and as the navy was trying to cope with having women in the military after the waves were created, for example, there would a rule that woman couldn't be pregnant and so there were a couple of women who were really talented code breakers and got married and got pregnant and they would be not quite drummed out but they were thrown out in no -- short order it and was very traumatic for them to be -- one minute they were breaking the code that the japanese mayor mayor was using to communicate and then next minuted they were booted, wearing the raincoat they were commission -- issued. and that was infuriating to them. it was interesting in the documents to see as they're -- the already a dot of people had to carry pistols because they would put -- papers had to go into burn bags and the burn bags taken to the places where where i that are burned and if they weren't on the compound, they
2:56 pm
would have the pistol. you can see the weekly memoranda of the male officers, thank you men even left the compound, saying so, what are the rules, can the will be taught to shoot? we have pistol range and need them to be able to. shay didn't really know, and so somebody in the meeting would say, i hear that the other group of waves are letting their women shoot. so let the women shoot. and so it was just sort of ad hoc being made up as exigency required. >> this generation of women, many of them born in 1920, the year women secured the franchise. did they seem themselves -- looking back, the great its generation to the women you veer see their generation as transformative or just doing what they were supposed to do. >> i think of this particular group of women as the hidden figures of the greatest generation and so glad we're at a period of time when we're recognizing, increasingly willing to recognize the
2:57 pm
significant contributions that women made to major epochs in american history. this generation have become very attach to them. they were born in 1920 when women got the vote. the women in any book went to college when to college when only four percent of american woman had a college degree and they worked hard to get there and received a mixed mess taj -- they left through through depression so they were the oldest daughter in their households and very responsible for thisholds at a time when i just came to believe that we forget the deprivation and the trauma these families experienced during the depression, but they were so patriotic, they ran to the recruiting station when the waves waves and washington, dcs were created. they wented to serve their country and join up the way they're brothers and their boyfriends did. so i don't know they saw themselves as transformative. they accepted the idea that it shouldn't get credit. they accepted it at the time when they were told not to talk
2:58 pm
about what they did afterward, even though their husband could talk about what he did. they accepted that. by the time i was talking to them, the did understand what they did was significant and did want credit. and one of the women i interviewed said i, i just hope i live long enough to see the book published. , and she did. >> i understand question have 10 or 15 minutes left for question. do we have -- if anybody has questions, raise a hand and a volunteer can bring a mic to you -- i'm sorry. come to the center aisle where the volunteer is. please do come forward and the authors would love to engage you in conversation. meredith, let me ask you, i'm interested in the way -- you focus on north africa as a stage
2:59 pm
for drama but in the background is the crisis of france. can you talk about what was going on -- imaginure country overrun by nazi storm troopers, institution is destroyed, puppet regime set up and then a shadow go. what choices we are the citizen france faced with when the country falling around them. >> even though -- as part of -- start over, as part of the armistice that france signed with germany, france is allowed france, is allowed to keep its colonies, in north africa, so it gets to keep algiera, tunisia, and french morocco and that meant...
3:00 pm
>> so people do make choices do you resist or
3:01 pm
collaborate? actually it is just that i go along and hope the war is over before i have to make a decision amerid they had to make a choice for them. >> these women started to break the code before the days of computers. kid you tell us anything how they break the code?. do youmuch time have? [laughter] so some of those favorite parts try to hide to the radio transmitters. some of our code groups that could be replaced by four or five digits then further
3:02 pm
enciphered with more number so the women on the great assembly line is stripping of the encryption figuring out the additive of the code groups so he said chile tapping into enemy communications and systems with the cybersecurity and theec they were doing the math down to the code groups and trying to determine the w message with what those japanese ships would announce where they would be at noon the next day with that american intelligence. oso they were doing the math but then they're using language skills to determine and to be scrambled by a
3:03 pm
machine so the word whether maybe at this point to how to turn a w. into five different letters before a merges. there was jiggling and there was math with their early versions of the computer menus when they tried to figure out the settings how they had changed to what ever letter they were actually looking at the with the algorithms. >> have a hunch this could be the way the code works. >> that is why it was so hard to develop because to have intuition and a willingness to guess. >> was there any interaction
3:04 pm
or collaboration? we were uneasy partners have first i abuts it wasn't so much the women that were communicating with men a communicated every day and her codename was pretty weather and his was a virgin surgeon but she never met him. [laughter] they had a relationship. >> did either of you in the later history with the time i period so after the war did they live in relative
3:05 pm
obscurity? how did they manage the fact and nobody knew about it?. >> this 22 year-old who waeak the japanese army co as she did become the first deputy director as a female there was a whole cohort that stayed on in the early formative time there was a significant number of women with the cold war working those east german codes end that was in the backwater crisis the penumbra of them did retire into private life and another reason the story was forgotten but friday '80s and the '90s when it was lifted they could not eeach them they did not have
3:06 pm
their maiden names a remarried twice nobody told them it was okay to talk. so they were eligible for then gi bill it was an interesting mixed bag. >> but and then to continue the of career. and then continued her work after the war after the moroccan jews would emigrate to israel but also not the only thing that they both
3:07 pm
did. >> what do they think in some cases have not made these days did you talk about current events at all?. >> i have my own thoughts but we continue to debate if they are fit for working in silicon valley that we forget the women pioneered the field and to put off a the residential dorm involved with computer programming sabir finally recognizing that i would imagine a number of adult children that i talked to said they felt their mothers were very frustrated to be
3:08 pm
at the of the work force after the war. if they had children they felt like they had to quit. in the '50s you really were pressured to be home with your children and child care that was provided with bros eating predator was withdrawn. -- rosita ritter was gone. one adult that we seeded feminism because i knew that meant staying in though work force a was a pretty complicated legacy. >> how was the movie "casablanca" compare?. >> but at the time but the
3:09 pm
collection n of people to show what because it is where people went if you could find some housing who was of reputable jeweler it is also where you would go to get a medical exam as part of your visa it is where a lot of allies on how to -- how rick would have then been extraordinarily rare figure.
3:10 pm
and then some of missionaries. i only found records of one african-american in morocco working for the u.s. consulate. >> - any japanese-american women using code?. >> not that i know of some men were translators because forr some for those whose translates of message but what is interesting is missionaries were used because they were among the few and those that came from bethany.
3:11 pm
and those of those code talkers to avail ourselves of the communication schedules of that marginalize population groups but not to use japanese americans the way that we should have. >> you were the men that were smart enough to recruit though women? [laughter] [applause] >> that's a great question. in terms of the army a man named william friedman married to a a female code breaker so here appreciated intelligent women and was not threatened by that even before the war to have led tiny clay dust nine code breaker incredibly important
3:12 pm
and then communicating back with the intentions of hitler to provide information and a woman that he hired that could not find work as a university math professor and friedman was willing to hire women. and the federal government in general was reasonably equal opportunitylo employer by he hired her and she is the one the statistical relationship between the of relationship she had that key insights. in depending on the is d-day landings. and trying to figure out to get bad communications and
3:13 pm
with women's colleges. and there is no name on the record. >> and those generalities?. >> more drama. more interesting men and women that we don't know about yet. >> history of world war two. thanks for coming. [applause]
3:14 pm
[inaudible conversations] >> content is king and she wears the pants in the family and that is the content for.
3:15 pm
>> everybody can get together to do incredible things for go there are stories about what others have done with the social media out. it is not really new. it is these delivery platforms for al and that is social media every ready on the block. so of course, it is amplified with how far that you reach. [inaudible conversations]


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on