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tv   Editorial Cartoonist Bill Mauldins Life Work  CSPAN  August 25, 2021 12:30pm-1:26pm EDT

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>> bill mauldin served in the fifth infantry division in world war ii and gained fame for his cartoons chronicling troops at the front. next u talking about the editorial cartoonist's life and work, during which he received a seconds pull tszer. this was part of an annual conference hosted by the national world war ii museum, which provided the video. >> now, let's kick off the 13th international conference presented by pritsger military foundation. the very first session of the day is one of the most famous world war ii chroniclers. this section will feature todd depasteeno, who latest book was published by the pritsger military library and museum this past year.
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todd will be interviewed by the museum's own senior historian and the executive director to our institute for the study of war and democracy, dr. rob sa tierks no. rob is the author of ten books, has been involved with basically every content aspect of the museum since he joined us a few years ago and we're fortunate to have him on the team and have him kick off this opening session. i will be joining you all after the conversation to handle the q and a session. but for now, rob, take it away and let's get the conference started. >> thank you very much. it's really good to be here to kick off this international conference on world war ii. fall digital format this year and we're really looking forward to it. i'm looking forward, very much, to this first session. todd depasteeno hold as ph.d.
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from yale and "bill mauldina life up front," if you haven't got a copy, you should. and he's also the editor of the book we're going to be discussing today. it's called "drawing fire." the editorial cartoons of bill mauldin. welcome the conference. >> thank you, rob. i can almost smell the chickry coffee and beignets from here in pittsburgh. >> that's great. cleveland or pittsburgh, that's a whole other section of conversations we could have and maybe next time you visit us, we will. without further ado, if you don't mind, let's wade into the questions. i think we'll have back and forth for 30 minutes, perhaps, thereabouts and we know there's going to be a lot of interest in this particular topic and there's a lot of people out there too. we'll go to the more unpredictable but perhaps more fun and exciting aspect of the
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program and that will be answering viewers q and a if that's good with you? >> that's great. >> anyone who's familiar with world war ii, knows bill mauldin and his cartoons. he's got the brunt's eye view of the world. his heros are two dog faces nanled willy and joe. he's obviously got a sense of the common man. this is a kid from pretty tough origins in new mexico, wasn't he? tell us about that. >> he was a hillbilly from the mountains -- the sacramento mountains in southern new mexico. he grew up on a small apple farm and that made him a hillbilly, literally. the ranchers were more affluent, more worldly. he spent most of his life at 3,000 feet or so and he was always poor. he said our family didn't even know the great depression happened. we were broke in the '20s. his father was an orphan, part
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chair cowau indian, had been raised in a brothel and he acted like a man raised in a brothel. he settled a lot of fights with a revolver, unstable. brilliant but unstable. his mother was also unstable. probably diagnose her as boarderline personality disorder or something like that. the men in the family tended to consider bill a runt and troublemaker. the women tended to consider him a genius and they were both kind of right. and the family fell apart when bill was 14 years old. he moved with his 15-year-old brother to phoenix and started the second part of his life, chapter two of his life, in phoenix on his own at age 15. >> you talk about -- obviously, bill's going to get into the cartoon business and going to make fame and fortune there.
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obviously this is a smart and talented kid, but still took him a while. we always think of overnight senitations. but usually the result of a lot of hours of painful work and preparation. you talk, in your article in the book, about the 10,000 hours bill might have put in to prepare himself to be a cartoonist. and that's from the famous phrase of malcolm gladwell, 3,000 hours of preparation. >> success is hard work and talent put together. this is the earliest picture of bill. you can see he has a pencil and piece of paper in front of him. that's his older brother, sid, in front of him. he was drawing from the start and doing complex mathematics, reading novels at age five. where he grew up, that was -- that didn't seem important to a lot of people. he didn't like farm work and that was the only important thing. the family kind of hopes that
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bill would become a famous orter or famous artist or surgeon, or even a preacher or army general or something like that. when it came down to it, a poor kid, high school dropout, he knew none of that was in his future and so he decided after reading an article about how much money chick young made, drawing blondy, that he partnered with a cartoonist. hillbilly larry drew probably ten cartoons a day. first thing he taught bill. he drew a picture. he drew a cartoon, showed it to bill and said this is breakfast. drew another one. this is lunch and this is dinner 367. he traded his cartoons for food. literally for food and he said cartoons are transaction. they're not works of art and
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that absolutely -- that's what bill was all about. what kind of artistic career could you have without any education? without any money? he didn't have years to apprentice. he had to start earning at age 14. how do you do that? through drawing signs, selling cartoons here and there. to him a cartoon was his breakfast, lunch, and dinner. wasn't something going to be framed or put on a wall or museum or anything like that. he borrowed from his grandmother $500 per year from the academy of fine arts, which was the only school he knew of that accepted high school dropouts. and he faked his way through one school, pretending he was trying to study to be a portrait artist but knowing he had to learn life drawings. he had to learn some of the finer techniques of fine art to be a really good cartoonist. his education came in the classroom.
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but it also came at night after he was done with his gig washing dishes at a local restaurant. he would go up to his room at the ymca and he would do 10 original drawings, cartoons every nite and submit them to ten magazines, every single night for one year. he probably drew 2500 original cartoon and that instilled in him working every day and taking in the femoral insights and observations. capturing them on paper, being original, insightful, timely everything single day. >> like a lot of poor kids in america, from the wrong side of the tracks, put it how you will, the military was bill's way out. so, he joins the army in 1940 and it's clear war is on the horizon.
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obviously a new phase of bill's life is about to begin. he's with supply services and transitions to the bloody infantry. what appeals to him most about the latter? >> we don't think of him as a romantic but he really was. he had a romance with the army that never died, even throughout all the grief that the army caused him, all the grief he caused the army. he did grow up with a dream of military glory but he joins the arizona national guard because he needs to be fed and needs a new suit of clothing. and gets put in the quarter master regiment. he said they were boot legers and loan sharks, mainly. he was punished for turning out crisp. ly every morning, for scoring the highest in the division iq test.
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anytime he showed any competence, he was punished. he requested a transfer into the infantry, which nobody does. because it was tough. is tough. it always is tough. you live your life in the ground. he became a foot vlogger. he had a kushy, but despiriting job and he traded it for a tough, but inspiring one. and man, it absolutely inspired him. the 45th division is such an interesting division. probably the most ethnically diverse in the country in world war ii. a lot of indians, mexican americans in his rifle company, company k of 180th regiment. he thrived in the training and in the pride that these men had in their soldiering. >> they're in action pretty early for the american division.
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the grinding fight of the italian. you make an interesting point in this book. this wasn't the kind of war that u.s. military planners had been expecting. they'd been a talking about aircraft and tanks and technology. and here were u.s. infantry men, dog faces slugging mountains, spiking the mud, much like their ancestors had done in previous generations. how does the italian campaign turn bill into the man of the hour? >> if that original war plan of winning through air power, long-range artillery, high-technology, small elite units like marine corps, sieging beach heads and simply police up later. if that war plan had stuck, bill mauldin would have been a footnote, a cult hero of the 45th division. but that war plan broke down and it broke down in the italian
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campaign. the weather, the terrain conspired against any kind of quick progress up the italian boot and the hundreds of thousands of men who were stuck in frozen fossils and the mountains of southern italy. you know, they were kind of reliving, in a sense, the trench warfare of world war i. it became a desperate, muddy boot slaug in the italian campaign. the war had devolved on to the infantry. here's the mud, mules and mountains campaign. the infantry now, suddenly was bearing on its shoulders the burden of the war effort. and this was not anticipated. and it required very much a shift in how the war dedepartment and the navy were publicizing the war, how the white house was publicizing the war. they turn their attention to the infantry. they got hardly any publicity before 1943.
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all the publicity was on the air core, the elite branchs, even naval construction battalions but not infantry. here for the first time, there's a need to publicize the role of the neglected foot so soldiers and what they had was mauldin. by that time mauldin had become well known these newspapers were being passed by hand to uthder visions. and there was a cartoonist doing the seary gritty, and funny cartoons. wish i could stand up and get some sleep. there's nobody else doing anything remotely like this in
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world war ii. ernie piles doing it a lot in words but mauldin's doing it in pictures. >> that's fantastic. you said something important. er for it's got to be funny. you have to have a chuckle at it or it doesn't qualify. there are certain moments. i think what we love about willy and joe is they're in the situation. they're joshing with each other and keeping their humanity. >> mauldin always balanced comedy and tragedy. absolutely he kept that balance and that's what makes him a great artist. he kept that balance. he could show the most awful things but there's always a redemptive element. i think of the one cartoon of willy's, they're walking through a blasting battle scape that looks like armageddon and a branch of a tree, there's a
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little flower that has bloomed and willy says spring is here. and that, to me, sums up mauldin's whole approach. finding that little bit of redemptive humor in a horrible situation. >> that's great stuff. so, there is a critical day, i think we can say a crucial date in bill's career and it's january 15th, 1944, todd. ernie piles play as crucial role in making bill mauldin famous, doesn't he? >> yeah, i've told my students that, there's no way to prove it but ernie pile was read by more people than any other writer. the fact that ernie pile was syndicated on 300-plus newspapers on the home front. everybody read him, everybody read him during the great depression. and when he went over seas to cover the infantry in the pacific and for ernie pile to focus a column on you, i mean,
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it was to make you instantly famous. i mean, instantly famous. mauldin went to bed on january 14th an obscure three-stripe sergeant in the 45th infantry division and he woke up on the 15th a national celebrity. >> that's great. we're looking at the headlines, looking at the stories right there. the man, ernie pile is giving you his endorsement, means you certainly have arrived. >> and he's saying mauldin is the greatest cartoonist of the war. they're funny but grimly realistic. and he teases the readers on the home front saying too bad you can't see them because they're only published in stars and stripes. but the men here think he's the greatest. i mean, the next day, literally, mauldin starts getting sindication offers. he eventually signs one that makes him a wealthy man and
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pretty much puts his cartoons in every newspaper that piles' column is in. >> i think the proof of ernie piles' influence is may 1945, very next year, bill mauldin wins the pulitzer prize at the age of 23, the youngest pulitzer prize in history. how does he process that? look, we all have fame, you struggle for it, you seek it and you want to be successful and people to love you. and here it's happened at a tender age. how does he handle it? >> the first thing he asks is what's a pulitzer prize and they explain it's called pulitzer prize. i think he was more impressed with the legion of merit that the army had to rush to give him to recognize him with something
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remotely equivalent to a pulitzer prize. it changes his life. er for that's going to be the first line of his obituary, he's told. pulitzer-prize winning cartoonist. and he left the u.s. as a hillbilly three-stripe general and he comes back a celebrity and a millionaire and it ruins his life. >> tease us a little bit. is it too much fame too fast? >> oh, yeah. >> drinking? the effect of the war? >> oh, yeah, all that rolled together. it's absolutely. imagine going overseas, being a rifleman, surviving the war. when all of your comrades were either captured, killed or wounded, all of them, you not only survive, you become a celebrity and a millionaire. and how? by depicting their suffering of
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your comrades. the worst the war got, the better his cartoons got. for example, in -- in september of 1944, when, you know, the allies are -- the germans are retreating and the allies are rushing to the line, his cartoons are tame. battle of the bulge starts, they're great. the worster worse the fighting got, the better his cartoons got and he knew that. it was almost as if the more his friends suffered, the better off he was. so he lived with that guilt the rest of his life. got to see his wife he married before he went overseas. didn't know her that well. and found she'd been living her own life for a couple of years. the couple didn't get along and
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they divorced within months of his return to the home front. and man, that was a dissolutioning experience for him. >> so, you're write in the essay in the book that bill came home a changed man and you just kind of referenced that.essay in the political turn that bill's work now took, he was angry at the injustices about him. if you don't mind, i will quote you. he needed a battle to fight to overcome his disillusionment. that's how you put t what were the targets of bill's battle in this period? >> mainly civil rights. mainly civil rights. you can see here is a great cartoon. you could tell that there's something wrong with the mauldin family from this cartoon. this is right before the divorce. bill had not been political, you know, before -- during the war and immediately after the war, but after the divorce he needs to fight a battle. he had fought the battle for the combat infantry in world war ii, he was kind of a crisis-driven
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personality. if there wasn't a war going on he was going to start one, you know? his best work was always done when things were at their worst. always. and so it's almost as if he had to scan the horizon to find an injustice to, you know -- to defend. find an injustice to, you know, advocate for or find -- you yeah, find a victim or whatever to advocate for. you know, the most -- living in california at the time, it was the japanese-american, 442nd regimental combat team veterans, he saw them discriminated against in california. did he this cartoon on september 11th, 1945. this was his first civil rights cartoon. very first one. and it would become a signature issue for mauldin throughout the rest of his 50-year career. civil rights would be with him always. he was always cartooning about civil rights. it was very much a personal issue with him. he said i don't -- you know, i
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believe you've got to give a man a chance to prove his inequality before you treat him unequally. you know. he felt racial discrimination just didn't do that. so he lashed out at the rise -- the resurgence of the ku klux klan after world war ii, the lynching of black veterans in the south after world war ii. he lashed out against segregation, jim crow. he lashed out at the rising power of the house on american activities committee and the rising voices that seemed to want a world war iii with a new enemy or ally, the soviet union, he lashed out at those who began immigration from europe, displaced persons from europe. he was a big supporter of immigration. you know, he took the liberal left side of the -- of politics in the media post-war years and he ran with it and he did a lot of hard-hitting cartoons in
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1945, early 1946. >> like the cartoon we have up on the screen right now. go home, jr., you're making me look silly the klansman says. bill was an extremely popular guy as the representation of the champion of the infantry, the common man in world war ii. how do people react to the new bill? certainly they loved him when he was championing the ordinary grunt but not everyone appreciates the new political cartoons. isn't that the nature of a political cartoon, some people are supposed to say right on and other people are supposed to spit their coffey out against the morning paper. i wonder how the new bill was accepted from his legion of fans from the old career. >> he got a lot of hate mail. a lot of hate mail. worse than that he got newspapers that were refuse to go print his cartoons. he got a syndicate, the united feature syndicate, who started
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censoring his cartoons, changing captions, erasing images from the cartoons to tone down the political image. it was a real professional crisis, but, you know, bill had a pretty disagreeable personality and i mean that in a neutral way. you know, he kind of felt comfortable disagreeing a lot with conventional wisdom and popular opinion, but he always knew that line. he always knew when he pushed it too far and i think he sensed in 1946 that he was pushing it too far. here is an example of the kind of censorship that the united features syndicate was doing of his cartoons. here is the original caption to this cartoon from 1945. the united nations is about to have a headquarters in the united states. about your hometown's offer to let united nations hold its conference there, senator, don't you think the abyssinian delegation might object to riding the back seat of the buses. >> real african -- right.
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>> right. about jim crow in the south. that's what this cartoon is about. the syndicate erased this caption and replaced it with this. about holding the united nations conferences in your hometown, senator, you may be all 100% americans but you see united nations including other 100% nationalities, too. >> i consider myself a fairly well-read person and i'm not quite sure what that means. >> and that's what mauldin said. >> not the hard hitting nature of the original. >> mauldin said they're sabotaging me and trying to make me look like an idiot. and this, gentlemen, i believe i am speaking for all patriotic pure-blooded 100% airians -- americans. and that's replaced with, and so, fellow americans, i claim the add tomorrow belongs to us. we invented it, didn't we? it was so toned down. bill knew that he had pushed it too far. that he had gone too far. he said, you know, with this
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post-war cartooning, political cartooning, you need to use a stiletto not a sledgehammer. you need to have that steel in the gut four inches deep before they each know they've been stabbed. you have to be subtler, more nuanced. he knew that. he learned a lesson. >> tell us a bit about bill's foreign policy views, especially about one specific country, the soviet union. there is a new conflict on, no one knows what to call t we eventually settle on cold war. our former ally had played a massive role in bringing hitler down, but times had changed now, hadn't they? how is that reflected in bill's own cartoon view of the world. >> one of mauldin's virtue and, believe me he had many vices but one of his great virtues was his capacity to change, his capacity to grow, his capacity to admit that he was wrong. he did that often with many issues in his career and one of
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them was with the cold war and the soviet union. he began immediately after the war -- he wasn't very much a big fan of the soviet union and of stalin, i mean, in a sense that they had kind of rescued the allied cause, had sacrificed so much for victory in world war ii and he really resented the idea that our country would go to war for another world war iii with that ally. by 1946 -- by about today, which is the 75th anniversary of winston churchill's iron curtain speech at westminster college in fulton, missouri. by about today 75 years ago mauldin was beginning by about the iron curtain speech he was beginning to understand that the soviet union was a problem and that their imperialism, their squelching of human rights, free speech, civil rights that they couldn't be trusted. he reluctantly became kind of a moderate cold warrior, but he
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was never virulent anti-communists. he disliked virulent anti-community kisses very much, loved calling them the unamerican committee for the investigation of activities, you can see the congressman here says where is that sign painter? mauldin originally put out a nazi eagle and swastika underneath the writing on that door and the syndicate whited it out. >> you are an expert on bill mauldin, todd, and i would go so far as to say the expert nationally. in your opinion what's bill's legacy? how much impact, for example, did he have on other cartoonists? i'm thinking, for example, of charles schultz, the much beloved inventor of snoopy and peanuts and the entire charlie brown world. tell us about that a bit. >> boy, that's such a good -- i saw that you were going to ask that question, rob, and i thought about it a little bit
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and i think -- and i was going to say -- i was going to hem and haw and say charles schultz -- which he did. charles schultz was a machine gun leader in world war ii, younger than mauldin. he worshipped mauldin. i mean, absolutely worshipped bill mauldin. charles schultz said that bill mauldin was the greatest cartoonist that ever lived and there would never be anybody close to him. every year many of the viewers will know schultz paid tribute to mauldin on veterans day, this is the last veterans day cartoon schultz ever did. schultz drew 10,000 copies of -- 10,000 cartoons of peanuts, never did he allow anybody else's work, he never had an assistant letter, he never had an assistant draw, he did all his own work except for this cartoon. he used mauldin's images in this cartoon and there's willie and joe walking down a muddy battle scape. the new replacements are getting
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smaller all the time. willie and joe my heroes. happy veterans day, men. it's signed schultz and my hero bill mauldin. so schultz -- mauldin was one of these cartoonists that other cartoonists worshipped. greatly admired. but i can't say that mauldin changed cartooning. he wasn't a thomas nast. he wasn't a pat olefant. he didn't introduce a new style necessarily that then got replicated everywhere. mauldin was like a one of a kind. he was kind of a one-off. the mold was broken after him. there was nobody quite like him before and nobody like him after. his political cartooning which was distinct from his world war ii cartooning, he kind of was the -- a tradition that started with thomas nast but he didn't transform the art of political cartooning. i'd say he didn't have a
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transformational impact on the profession of cartooning, but he had a transformational impact on the consciousness of the culture. >> we have one last question which i knew i was going to ask you this the moment i found out i was going to be interviewing you, todd. what are your three favorite mauldin cartoons or perhaps the three favorite wartime mauldin cartoons. play it any way you wish but you must have some favorites. no one is as steeped in this man's work as you are. >> i do have some. it's funny because there are some cartoons you admire and some cartoons you just love. this one actually i can't say that this is what my -- one of my favorites, but i think it's poignant for today on the 75th anniversary of winston churchill's iron curtain speech, this is the cartoon that mauldin did when churchill died in january of 1965 at age 90 i
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think he was. and this kind of exemplifies so much about mauldin. i'm not saying it's a great cartoon or it's the greatest cartoon, but it's mauldin was great with grief. he was wonderful expressing grief. it was part of his tragic awareness of the world. the world is a tragic fundamentally a tragic place and what his cartoons are a response, a living response to that tragedy. one that inspires you to go on. so, you know, times of grief, moments of loss, that's when mauldin really shines. and he was not a big admirer of winston churchill, you know, after the war, certainly when churchill was booted out of office and then he came back in as a conservative force in british politics. he was not an admirer of that, but he greatly admired him as a giant of history and of course as the inspirational leader
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during world war ii. >> so there is the british lion presumably shedding a tear for the loss of one of its greatest sons, winston churchill in 1965. what else? what other cartoons by mauldin would you if you were trying to get someone to understand the work, the oove of this great artist, which ones would you point to? >> just give me the aspirin -- no, let's do this one. which -- wasn't house broke? i mean, look at that. look at that. yes. you know, i'm a historian, i have never served in the military, i don't come from a military family, i now lead a veterans organization. i remember seeing this cartoon and thinking what the heck is this about? what does this mean? because why would i have ever thought about what a soldier has to face when they're under fire in a fox hole and they have to relieve themselves, you know? they either expose themselves to deadly fire or they go in their holes. that kind of like little glimpse
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into the every day indignities and discomforts of life in the military is such a revelation to me, just like it was a revelation to readers 75 years ago on the home front when they would open up their newspapers, see this image, read the caption and sit back and think for just a moment about what the humor was. they had to try to get the joke and that was the magic of mauldin's cartoons. you had to work to get the humor. once you got the humor, you understood something about the life on the front lines in world war ii. >> any more for us that you would like to share? >> just give me the aspirin, i already got a purple heart. we need cartoons. we need images, we need picture makers because words fail us. you know, how do you describe -- i could sit here and give you 500 words about what medals meant to soldiers at the time in world war ii or the soldiers in
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vietnam or any war, what medals mean. and the fact is that medals tend to mean more later in life than they do at the time. willie needs an aspirin. he doesn't need another purple heart. you know, that just is -- that captures in just a clipped sentence the sardonic realism, the enlightenment of willie, how smart he is, what a survivor he is, you know, how down to earth he is. and how the infantry when you're living in the war zone, you know, your world dee involves down to the patch of ground you're standing on, you're not thinking of higher ideals, you're not thinking about god an country, you're thinking about yourself and your comrades. >> i'm going to give you the last word, todd, before we take it over to the question-and-answer session which promises to be a lot of fun. some up bill mauldin's career, his legacy, his meaning for
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americans today. why should we still care about the work of this great cartoonist? >> i mean, he was truly, you know -- we don't think cartoonists as great artists and he would absolutely -- he explicitly said i'm a cartoonist that's because i'm not good enough to be an artist. so he would never call himself an artist but i do. he think he was one of the great popular artists of the 20th century, i think his work really defined a broad swath of 20th century american life for a mid century to the end really. he stopped cartooning seriously in 1990, 1991. i think -- i mean, this -- i'm plugging a book in a sense, leaving through, drawing fire, which has a selection of 150 cartoons from, you know, 1940 through 1991. you find yourself revisiting things that you've forgotten about. you find yourself kind of understanding in a smart incisive way what a particular moment in history meant to the people who lived it.
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that's what mauldin did. at one point in his political cartooning career he was doing six cartoons a week. six a week, every day, and he had to be funny, original and insightful every -- and timely every single day and he was very, very good at it. so it's a chronicle, it's a wonderful chronicle of our history. >> todd depastino, expert on bill mauldin, both the wartime bill mauldin and lartd the editorial cartoonist. what a marvelous presentation. thanks so much for your insight into bill mauldin. at this point i'm going to call my pal jeremy collins back into the virtual room to oversee the q&a. there he is by the magic of digits, jeremy. >> todd, rob, thank you very much for such an engaging conversation. todd, it's another great work. this is, i think, the second conference you've been to. first one virtually. >> won't be the last.
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>> it's great to have you back even if it's only over the internet. we do have some questions now for all of you and what we are doing in the production booth is pulling it up on the screen. todd, did mauldin develop a way of jotting down cartoon ideas as he traveled, experienced the war and then drew them later, or did he sketch as he went along? and this is from scott matson. >> what a wonderful question. yes. this was really key to his work. he did keep a sketch book -- he would visit the front and keep a sketch book, sketch very quick ideas, maybe a scrap of a sentence, maybe an observation, maybe just like firing artillery what if -- or maybe just an image. he would spend a week, maybe five days, up to 14 days at the front lines, in the front lines, in the fox holes with his sketch book and then he would go back for a luxurious two weeks in the rear where he had wine, women and whiskey waiting for him and
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he would do two weeks' worth of cartoons for stars and stripes. he would take each one of these scraps of ideas, develop them into a full cartoon, submit, you know, all 10 or 12 of them to stars and stripes and then he had to screw up the courage to go back to the front. that was always the hardest. he said once you were at the front you were okay, but it was getting there that was the fear. that's where the fioricet in because you would be coming from the relative safety of the rear, then you would start hearing artillery and then artillery shells would start falling and then you would hear small arms fire and then it would be very quiet and that's when you knew you were in danger. and mauldin went to war as a tee totaler, his father was an alcoholic, he didn't want to drink but he found that he couldn't go back up front, it was really, really hard and ernie pyle said you get drunk, that's how we all do it. drink, get drunk and land at the front lines drunk and then you are okay once you're there and
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that's what he did and he became an alcoholic because of it. >> thank you. our next question is coming up now. can the author comment on the varieties of reception his cartoons were received by the senior commanders, such as patton and bradley in the european theater of operations? this is from -- >> let me just say hello to jim. let me say hello to jim. good friend. >> hey, jim. i thought i might get away with a talk on mauldin without mentioning patton but there is no way to do that because so many of high-ranking army brass of course hated mauldin. absolutely hated him. mauldin said -- or patton said to mauldin the krauts ought to pin a medal on you for how you're undermining the american war effort, you know? patton didn't like how scruffy and out of uniform willie and joe always were. other officers didn't like how mauldin was criticizing them,
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you know, john lee quarter master and chief in france didn't like him. general in charge of the naples base section didn't like him. but there were other generals, more powerful who did support -- who really supported combat soldiers, the infantry and therefore supported mauldin and saw that what mauldin was doing was really important. that he was building more rail and omar bradley was one of those, general mark clark was one of those and lucian truskett and theodore roosevelt jr. big supporter of mauldin and eisenhower in the end a big supporter of mauldin. that allowed mauldin to go and succeed and do his subversive work during world war ii. >> todd, you mentioned general lee. three stars in the front and three stars in the back, the famous six-star general as he called himself. the definition of -- the
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definition of the brass. mark clark tolerated and enjoyed the work of bill mauldin. that's a surprise to me given clark's own personality. >> rob, it's very much a surprise to me. i never quite got to the bottom of it. mauldin himself remained mute on mark clark because he knew that clark was not popular. i think he didn't like him, but clark was smart enough to protect mauldin. mauldin had a constituency that clark needed and that was like the infantry commanders in italy. and so mark was smart enough to tolerate mauldin. >> great. thank you. we will get to the next question now. >> how much do you credit mauldin with helping bring about the combat medical badge? this is from jack mccaul. >> i love it. i love it. i love it. jack, oh, man, you -- by the fact that you ask that question means that you know more than i do about it but that is such an
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important point. mauldin did a wonderful cartoon of some clerk behind a desk in a tent saying to a ragged-looking combat soldier, well, you don't get a combat medal because you don't fight. and he was a medic, the man that ragged looking combat soldier was a medic and medics didn't get special recognition or combat infantry badge. the badge didn't exist until 1943, i believe. mauldin was, of course, loved medics, as all combat soldiers do, medics, corpsmen. and so, yeah, mauldin was really one of those who campaigned along with the editors and underwriters for stars and stripes for special recognition for the important work that medics do. >> todd, the question coming from david trail is did mauldin have any close calls in combat himself? anything that shook him personally. >> yeah, he did have close calls.
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he actually received a purple heart. a mortar exploded at his foot in the mountains of southern italy in december 1943 and he had a lot of close calls. that was just one. a mortar exploded at his feet. he got a nick in his shoulder. he was determined by ve day not to go to the pacific and he was afraid that the army was going to send him there and, you know, his friend ernie pyle went there and that didn't end well and he didn't want to have any part of that. >> great. we will go for the next question. what about the kill roy cartoons? this is from cim bassman. did he have any comments on kill roy? >> i have never heard mauldin comment on kill roy. a demonic piece of folk art. it to me is kind of like -- it
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to me is kind of like the folk version of the combat infantry badge. the badge says i was there. i was there. it doesn't say that you liked t doesn't say you were good, you know, in combat. it doesn't say that you did anything valor ous or heroic, it just says i was there. that's kind of what kill roy says, i was there. >> how did mauldin react in his cartoons to the vietnam war. this is from jim benjamin. >> another great one, jim. yeah, here is an example of mauldin really changing his mind, flip-flopping we might say on vietnam. he was a skeptic about vietnam in 1954, he thought that it could be a quagmire. he didn't think it was a good battlefield for americans to fight in. but then he visited vietnam and he happened to be there in january/february 1965 and he happened to be visiting his son
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bruce who is a helicopter pilot stationed at camp holloway and he happened to be there the first week of february 1965 when the vietcong snuck into the base and shelled it, killing several american servicemen, wounding many others, destroying a lot of helicopters. mauldin himself tended the wounded that night that he was at camp holloway. mauldin took everything personally. you know, he was not -- he was not the kind of like intellectual who sat back and thought broadly or universally about problems. he reacted when he was -- when he felt the pain and, man, did he become pro war, pro vietnam war, very much a hawk from 1965 until 1967 then his old skepticism crept back in by the end of 67 he was anti-war. you could trace that development and we do that in drawing fire,
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you can trace the changes in his views of the war over time. >> great. thank you. next question, we have a few more, how close was bill mauldin's relationship with the 101st airborne division? this coming from kenneth cassler. >> i don't know. i mean, he had -- i'd say he was probably closer with the 82nd airborne. he was always a little afraid of airborne soldiers, rightly so, they had a fear some reputation. the big airborne story that i know of with mauldin is that somebody gave him a gift while he was in italy of paratrooper jump boots and the problem was that paratroopers weren't getting paratrooper jump boots in italy. the paratroopers were poorly shod in italy. these airborne guys would jack them up on the streets of naples and say where in the hell did you get those boots and pretty much want to take them from him. so he learned not to wear the jump boots around even though he
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prides them. i don't know specifically about his relationship with the 101st airborne division but he had enormous respect for airborne soldiers who had a lot more courage he said than i do. >> did mauldin feel as if he was being patriotic or just realistic? this coming from william james. >> boy, that's a great question. i would say that his allegiance at the time, i mean, if you were to ask mauldin, if you were to go back right on the ground in naples in 1944 and ask mauldin where is your allegiance lie, is it to art? is it to representing the world in a realistic way, is it to the united states of america? he would say it's not dog faces in the mountains. that's my allegiance. that was the alpha and the omega of his work. it had to past muster. his work had to serve those dog faces in the mountains who were
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facing a death sentence in those fox holes, who were suffering losing their feet because of trench foot, who were being malnourished because they weren't getting c rations only k rations, his allegiance was to them. anything that came later was after the fact. i mean, later he would talk about the meaning of the war, the larger meaning of the war, but at the time that wasn't part of his calculus. >> you know, todd, that's an ernie pyle characteristic as well in a sense. you read ernie pyle you are not reading a lot about the ideals for which the war was being fought or the four freedoms of whatever it might be, you're reading about a lot of individual americans facing extremely difficult circumstances. >> right. right. and he knew that he was serving the country in a broad sense by doing the cartoon work. he said a lot of men could have served the country doing a lot better than dying in a fox hole, too. he knew the privilege that he had and he was -- you know, as i said before, he carried that
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guilt but that was his -- that was his focus. that's why he won't call himself an artist or anything like that. he was a servant, a suffering servant up there on the front lines, that's how he wanted to be viewed. >> beautifully put. >> well, gentlemen, thank you very much for getting us off to a wonderful start here. todd, thank you for your insightful presentation and answers to rob's question and the audience's. rob, thank you for steering us straight here. audience members, thank you, keep the questions coming and we will get to as many as we can. this book is wonderful. i have had a chance to go through it, drawing fire, and you can buy copies of any of our speakers' books on our web store. all of the purchases go towards the museum's educational mission. >> vice president richard nixon and his wife pat circled the globe in july of 1956 with stops in hawaii, the philippines, south vietnam, thailand, taiwan,
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pakistan and turkey. during every stop then vice president nixon encouraged allies to resist the influence of chinese and soviet communism. >> a visit to the refugee resettlement area was another opportunity for mr. nixon to see the extraordinary job vietnam is doing in rehabilitating the hundreds of thousands who fled the communist north. being a father himself he especially enjoyed meeting the children. there were hand shakes, too, for their elders. for the parents and the aged who had given up all they had to escape communist tyranny and live in a land that offered liberty. the vice president met the roman catholic priests and others who had worked long and selflessly to make this camp a living and a growing thing. he saw new farm equipment, made
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available through united states assistance. he saw a deeply religious people awaiting distribution of these tools after their blessing by a bishop who was a refugee. it was an unforgettable experience for the vice president. he felt he was witnessing here one of the great stories of southeast asia. the story of south vietnam's fight for freedom and a better life for all. >> watch the full program and many more at tools after their blessing by a
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>> watch the full program and >> this week we're looking back to this date in history. >> general mcclure's armored forces rolled triumphantly into their beloved city. many of these men have carried on the struggle since 1940. for four long years they dreamed of this day. the dispossessed have come home again. although present unofficially it was fit that go these tommys found their way into the city. soon they were lost in the united celebration.
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♪♪ >> the spotlight fell brilliantly on the general as he set foot in paris. with his presence joy was replete. ♪♪ >> to him was given the honor of rekindling the ever lasting flame at the arc de triomphe.
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>> follow us on social media at c-span history for more this date in history posts. >> u.s. army command and general staff college history professor jeremy maxwell discusses the integration of the marine corps beginning in world war ii. he focuses on their training at camp montford point in north carolina and the initial resistance of marine corps leadership to african-american troops. the kansas city public library hosted this event and provided the video. >> welcome to one of our longest standing and most popular partners the u.s. army command and general staff college at forth leavenworth. over more than 13 years now going back to january 2008 when the library was just ramping up what would become this nationally renowned signature speaking series, we've been fortunate to draw from the commander general sta


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