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tv   QA A.J. Baime  CSPAN  January 14, 2018 11:00pm-12:01am EST

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taking questions are the house of commons. later, religious leaders and civil rights activists on ways to combat racism in the u.s. ♪ announcer: this week on "q&a," a.j. baime. he discusses his book "the accidental president and the four months that changed the world." brian: a.j. baime, you have a book called "the accidental president: harry s. truman and the president that changed the world." when did you get interested in making a book like this? a.j.: i grew up thinking that truman was this man of integrity.
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but i never really understood the trajectory of this man until i was writing my last book, the arsenal of democracy in. that book there was a book where senator truman goes to detroit to investigate the car companies and their failure to produce airplane pieces. it struck me as amazing that this on cure person should become the most powerful president in the history of the world. even my last book was done i was beginning in my head to structure this one. brian: in your book to talk about a newest session. what does that mean and what were they? a.j.: when you research this book, you end up eating a lot of peanut butter sandwiches and going through cheap hotels. you talk about something newest
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asession. it just means this is a document that's new. and it will list the date when it showed up. so the great truman biographies all came out in the 1990's, right? anyway, so i knew if i found these documents that they hadn't been available to biographers in the 1990's and i knew these were pieces of gold. i can't look you in the eye and said i found documents that changed history. there were more elements of color that to me as a narrative writer meant a lot to me. brian: so what's the most important thing about harry truman's first four months? a.j.: well, one thing this is very difficult -- brian: no, i mean -- the whole package. a.j.: the thesis of the book is this that this four months is the most action packed that any
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president has ever faced to this day. so he becomes president by accident in 1945. and we see the liberation of the camps. the fall of the reich. fire bombings in japan that killed thousands and thousands of civilians. the fall of berlin, the pottsham conference, the beginning of the cold war, the first nuclear explosion, the first atomic bombs dropped in the beginning of the war. all of that happens in four months' period. what was the most important thing? it had to be the dropping of the bomb which was the most controversial decision that any president has ever made. brian: let me put on the screen some dates so that everybody can go through these dates and put it all in context. what was this teheran context and then you have the conferences that you can see on this list and the potsdam
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conference. how do those three conferences fit together? a.j.: well, these were extremely important events. the first two, they were secret conferences. secret, so nobody was supposed to know about them. and i think the most important thing about these conferences that we brought together the three leaders, the three allied leaders. you had joseph stalin of russia -- of the soviet union. frank lincoln roosevelt. and all of the trusted leaders. first at teheran then at yalta. yalta was -- is regarded today as highly controversial because there were many secret agreements that were made at yalta. when roosevelt died at 145, the new president had no idea of the secret meeting. truman realized that at yalta there-in all these secret agreements and he has to figure
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out whether they should be upheld. brian: let me she you some video so you can see stalin and f.d. in yalta. >> ♪ president roosevelt, winston churchhill and stalin, outline the steps of victory over germany. roosevelt's personal prestige and his words of councils were invaluable. president roosevelt met with stalin and churchhill. the war was going very well. brian: how cordial were those three men? a.j.: they were fairly cordial. they all got along very well, surprisingly well. roosevelt got along with people -- even people who was in his best interest to get along with, someone like joseph stalin who
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was responsible for the death of nine million soviets. he probably killed more people than hitler did. but he was good at it. now we get to pottsham. truman now president. and he has no experience in international relations. he's never met stalin. never met churchhill. and three months into his presidency. he doesn't know if the bomb is going to work yet. he has to sail across the country -- i mean, the atlantic. and the war in europe was over. so the whole world knows teheran and yalta there were secret conferences. the whole world knows this is going on. and the american people are expecting their new president to bring something home to them. there's a tremendous amount of pressure. truman is at the negotiating table to map out the future of the world. brian: when truman became president, president truman did the oath, how much did he know about what was going on in the
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war? a.j.: the way -- let me frame it to you this way. he knew, he was an expert on the home front. he knew as much as anybody what was going on in the production of the military, the home front effort to win the war. in terms of the international emergency, he probably didn't know all that much more than your average person who studied the "new york post," "baltimore sun." he didn't even know the existence. when he took the oath, he didn't even know of the existence of the manhattan project. a.j.: right now, the vice president of the united states has a big mansion. he lives up on massachusetts avenue. the day where f.d. died where was harry truman living? a.j.: in a small apartment on connecticut avenue. this described him. think of him as the best schools and etc., etc.
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truman lived in a small apartment on connecticut avenue. there were two bedrooms. he shared one with his wife beth's. of course, they had separate beds as was custom at the time. and the other one was shared by margaret their only child at the time and mrs. wallace which was his mother-in-law. there was a little hook where mrs. truman hung her apron and she would make toast for her husband. and they had a telephone which was exciting. yeah, that's who he was. brian: how much money did he have in those days? a.j.: very little. i don't remember the number off the top of my head. in my quest to be able to find
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the details that would eliminate who this person was, i managed to sift through his bank records in the book i can quote exactly what his bank balance was, something like $3,000 and something dollars. he also had taken out a lone from the hamilton national bank. and he had to pay those back and you see the payments in the banking records. brian: what was his relationship with mrs. wallace has mother-in-law? a.j.: interesting. wonderful question. mrs. wallace -- ok, so this family comes from independence, missouri. the wallaces were considered aristocrats. truman was a former. and the wallace lived in independence. all the letters exist of this courtship. and she was very much not in favor of this farm boy because
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she said "he was never going to go anywhere. and even when they were living in the white house in 1945, mrs. wallace was living in the white house, she still looked down on harry even though he was president of the united states. brian: how much education did harry truman have? a.j.: again, a great contrast to roosevelt who went to harvard law. truman never finished college. the family was broke when he finished high school. so he had to go and work on the farm. and he worked in kansas city for a little bit. at some point he took law classes at night. i think he had pretty good grades, a's and b's. but he never finished. no college degree. no law degree. this was the man who took over for fdr. brian: what did he run in his
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life? a.j.: what did he ever run? it's interesting to think, he had never been mayor of the subsidy, never been governor of the -- never been mayor of the city or never been governor of the state. he had been the head judge of jackson county, missouri. which he was the chief executive of the county most of which was rural. had kansas city in it. but most of it was rural. he had never been chief executive of anything. brian: how did he ever get elected to the united states senate and what role did mr. pendergas play? a.j.: mr. pendergas, fascinating figure. a fun person to write about because he was this larger than life man. he had a bull frog head and bull frog eyes. extraordinarily powerful man. he was the last of the big city bosses. and he essentially picked this random -- seeming little random
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gentleman named truman with no political experience. up and gave him a political career. and the thing about it is, essentially you have to imagine harry truman at 38 years old. he had been a partner in a haberdashery in 1922. and mr. pendergas found this boy who was friends with his knew few. he creates a career for him. mr. pendergas was involved in all sorts of illegalities. and true man had lived there so long. he was an honest man. people knew truman's father. this was an honest family. truman was thrust into these offices. you know, how rigged were these early elections? we really don't know.
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we know a lot of people worked pendergas were con convict of fraud. he helped harry win the election. i think it was 1984. so harry goes to washington, he has a pretty bad reputation because of mr. penergas. when harry goes up for re-election. he was in leavenworth. this is not going to go well for harry. he wins the 1940 election. and was one of the most fascinating senatorial elections that i ever come across. >> why? >> because nobody expected him to win. he had no allies. pendergas had done everything for his credit, and now pendergas was gone. a man named loyd stark who won a lot of money. who had become very rich growing apples. stark delicious apples. and his term in the governor's
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office was up. he ran for truman's seek. it was like this rocky moment where miraculously he wins. he ron i'm an honest guy and the state voted for him. and he won. brian: how close was he with fdr.? a.j.: they didn't know each other very well. roosevelt was even quoted saying that -- i'm trying to remember the exact quo. i barely know truman. that's what he said. officially once truman was vice president they met together twice.
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that's it. unofficially we don't know. but he meets with him twice before he died. there's wonderful picture of the two men sitting on the magnolia team. they're having tea and talking about the election. it's a great photo wrap because there are a few of them. they barely know each other. brian: go back to the chart we showed of the dates. this was the first year that inauguration was on january 20th. it was a fourth term for d.d.r. if you look up there on the screen you see the conference in february 1945. and fdr.r. died april 128th on the day that he dies on april the 12th, how much does harry truman know about the bottom? a.j.: nothing. this is debated.
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it out came across the secret project going out in pasco, washington, which is the hanford side. and fred canhill was going to go out and investigate this thing. secretary of war henrik stempson said please don't investigate this. i was at yale university. i found a transcript of the conversation. it's quoted in the book. the secretary of war says mr. truman please don't -- just pull or investigation away this is a secret project. truman said that's all you've got to say and he did. brian: in truman's memoir -- shortly after taking the oath. the secretary of war poses on the side. and says by the way, mr. president, mr. truman must have been like, i'm president of the united states. he said there's the secret project going on.
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and that it's so secret that all i can tell you right now. he used the word "puzzled" it wasn't until april 25th his 139 full day. that with the girls. and he's holding this document. and said within the next four months we will be -- this is highly likely that we will have a bomb big enough to destroy an entire city. brian: how did stemson get there? a.j.: he was a fascinating character. he was the only one in roosevelt's gap net. he had been in government since early in the century. he was 77 years old. so he's been an administration and different positions. he feels secretary of war when truman took over.
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and he becomes this amazing character because he's really the point person in government that is supervising the manhattan. so simpson is the one who knows more about anybody. he's advising the president. and all of the documents exist. lots of details ant his meeting with -- about his meeting exist. brian: here's what he looks like back in 1943. >> hopelessly immobilizing his troops, guns and ammunition. for us, this would be a military victory of tremendous attitude. but it will be a problem for staggering proportions.
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brian: how important was he for harry truman's presidency? a.j.: it's so interesting to hear him talk. he was a character as if he had walked out of a henry james novel. because he was a relic. he was of another generation. he was the man interesting -- sorry i'm sort of taking out to left field here. i found it nauseating about mr. stimpson, he had not entertained people who were divorced. he was a man of a previous generation. so for him to be the point person of the bomb -- he was really an incredible person to be able to nut perspective what the science was and how miraculous and terrifying he was. brian: he resigned right after the war.
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september 1945, he left government service, but again, to have him -- he was the point guy in the bomb. so to go through his paper, you rarely see the narrative unfolding and the mystery around it. a.j.: they really didn't know until, you know, until they knew for sure that the thing was going to work. brian: where do you do live? a.j.: i love in a beautiful town in northern california. i didn't live there when i started 24 books. i was in chicago and new york for 15 years before that. brian: what were you doing there? a.j.: i was a journalist. i had a unique trajectory, you might sigh. brian: and what is that? a.j.: well, i was an editor at playbook magazine. people can which dom all sorts of conclusions which are likely incorrect. you know how many people would say i read it for the articles. brian: for how long? a.j.: 10 years.
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and it was a wonderful job. and i'll tell you a funny story about it. selfishly. i didn't really -- i didn't care -- it was a wonderful job in which i mad young kids and i made good salary. especially during the down turn of the economy. at the same time there was a job that i could happy while lunching a career running books. so i wrote too books there. i finished on the last book and then i got started on this one. but, you know, for someone who is writing books like this, think it might be surprising for people. for me i was blessed to find a job that paid so well that offered me enough time. that i really wanted to do. >> what else did you do besides playboy? >> i've been waiting for "the wall street journal" since 2009. >> where is home originally? >> new jersey. >> how much school do you have? >> masters in literature from n.y.u.
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>> where did you get your original interest in writing? >> on my shelf in the office i have a book i wrote in the first great it's a book about a racehorse. when i was in the first grade, i wrote this book. we had wrapped the cardboard in wallpaper. and she stitched bindings. after i finished this book thunder, i said i really love this project. this is something i love. >> and she said, you're going grow up to be a an author. i wanted to be an author, i want to write books. so i'm one of those lucky people who have known a my whole life knowing what i wanted to do and i feel so blessed that i've been able to do it.
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brian: why the a.j. instead of albert james? a.j.: everybody calls me something different. so my father calls me jim. i don't know where it comes from. brian: and what's the background on that? a.j.: we're from european jewish immigrants, and i was giving a talk at the truman library. and a woman showed up and said i live here in kansas city. and i have the same last name as you. there are very few of us. we must be related. we couldn't quite figure out. there's not a lot of us. >> go like hell, ford ferrari and their battle for speed and grow that was a wonderful product.
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>> it's my second book, but it's the first sort of book that i considered any good. it's a motor raising rivalry in the 1964's of the world to extremely powerful men and record the second probably the most sbk and enzo ferrari who is this speed racing impresario. probably the most fascinating character. he spoke. just everything he said was strange and wonderful. the rivalary was played out, which still existed today. brian: the other book i want to ask you about is big shot.
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the men behind the booze. >> and so for my previous that was the book. i was a prosecutor at the time. and each chapter, it's the story -- it's the history of liquor and history changer. so who is the real johnny walker? through that, i can tell about what scott whistler z. there was a jim in there too. and jose cuervo. for you yeah all these champions you donned get a piece of writ that comes from fdr.r. died. when fdr died, and you portray this in the book. harry truman is scared to death. >> i think the most important thing in this book is that a human portrait of a man who
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becomes the most powerful man in the history of the world by accident. i really try to paint a picture of him so does the date where this happened. i wanted the reader to understand what he was feeling and thinking, and the and yeah, he was terrified. even his wife in his conversation with his wife she was goutable thater had the. can you imagine? his own wife. >> here's some video four days after. he's in front of the congress. tell us what you see in a man that said he was scared about this job. >> prove that there can be no most mobile understanding. both germany and japan can beat certain, joined never -- no doubt beyond a shadow of a doubt.
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>> let me put in context, this is morning. >> his funeral was saturday. the he pried to go. and he would not mess it up. he climbs the stairs. he looked out. and he sees the wife in the crowd and she's crying. she's crying because roosevelt is dead. the nation is in shock. she never wanted her husband to be president. he's frightened for him. meanwhile, he has to get up there and inspire confidence in his administration and the world will continue that the war will continue. everything seems in question because people don't know who
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this man is. they're used to roots vefment longer than any presidents. a lot of people serving in the military. any other president in their lifetime. one fact i love is after this speech i guess. the stock market sores. he sends the right message. this as man of integrity and this is someone who americans can relate to. "the new yorker" wrote, published the story, roosevelt was for the people. truman is the people. americans felt like he was one of them. brian: you talk about probably the worst thing about fdr has two things. one, he was very sick. maybe he shouldn't have run.
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a.j.: that's correct. i would not be the first to say that roosevelt's greatest error as a president had to be failing to inform his vice president about what was going on in the world for example the secret agreements of yalta just as an example to prepare the vice president what we now know was inevitable because a lot of people realized this that this man was in poor health. >> these are complicated a agreements. it's difficult to sort of blurt them essentially. we had to convince the chinese to concede a whole bunch of things to them. the secret agreement which was the chinese would give
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concessions for the soviets to enjoy the war against japan, ok? the only problem is know informed the chinese. so they were going to give up all these things to the soviets. the soviets agreed to end the war in japan. so truman finds out about this. and he's like -- i now have to figure out that they're going to have to give up all this stuff to russia and convince home to do this of course, that occurs through a series of diplomatic relaxes. it doesn't go well. so the chinese refuse. however, the soviets realize this is when we start the american -- our state department realizes there's going?. the soviets were like hey, don't worry about it. we're going to go into japan. they there wasn't going to be a power vacuum there.
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>> who did president truman bring with him to washington from kansas city and who was around him from kansas city is in the white house. >> when he came into the building. there was a lot of missourians around him. his buddy eddie in the first championship. he doesn't really join the staff. so he bring eddie mckim, an building. and suddenly you have people trying to tell them what to can. they're mortified. they're just -- they're mortified by the fact that
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roosevelt wasn't the new president. and to hear them crosswalk around -- one of the narratives in the book is that how staffers realize who truman. is it happens fairly quickly. you see their opinions of him start to form. at first they're considered because these weird he was very well educated although no college degree. your question is important who is harry vaughn and >> he's one of the americans. he was white house gesture. he made him a nable aide. he was in the restembs. >> he wasn't any important general. and suddenly you had harry von keeping. >> a couple of other people that you i write about. we've got sharp video so you can
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see. what did he do? what was he job? reveres he was one of very few people who served in all three branches of government. right before his he became president had. i was called tell assistant president in the white house. controversial figure. >> let's watch. >> the wall is going well. we have the emits in on the ropes. his knees are buckling. this is the time to finish the job. >> that was 1944. was he right? >> actually, yes. burns is fascinating the figure. one point to make -- burns' was
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absolutely outraged that he should have become president. he should have become president an not truman. he meets with him and said i want to make you secretary of state. and very quickly burns becomes truman's most important advisor. and in a way that i explain in the book it's complicated. we can get into it. but it becomes very important in the decision to drop the bottom. >> how? >> they had tree ear. and it really came down to potsdam. truman had to make this decision.
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it is an ultimatum to japan saying "you need to surrender or we're going to do something really, really dark." the language is clear in retrospect that they are talking about the bomb, but of course it was a secret. now, the term unconditional surrender is in that document. we know that truman was reading the ultradocuments. we were intercepting japan's secret documents and we have them. truman knew exactly what the japanese were thinking. they were thinking that unconditional surrender meant we were going to incarcerate and execute the emperor. if unconditional surrender were in the document we needed japan would refuse to surrender and we bomb.drop the
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a lot of advisors said let's drop the word unconditional. it is amazing to think that these two bombings -- we could put historians are on the table and debate this for hours -- but it is probable if we had removed unconditional from the ultimatum, japan probably would have surrendered. burns was the loudest voice saying we can't do that because there would be political upheaval, america would be upset, roosevelt would never do this kind of thing. burns was the loudest voice in his ear, demanding that unconditional remain in the ultimatum, which it did, in we know what happened after that. >> he became president on april 13, 1945, and we showed earlier that victory i was may 8. how much should he know when he was standing in front of europe that the war would be over soon?
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>> i think it was pretty clear that we were winning and that we were closing in from one side and the soviets from the other. it was fairly clear to him. what i find fascinating is on his first day as president he was briefed by his military officials and he was told that there was a lot of war left to fight in the far east. i think truman knew the war in europe was going to be won but that there was a lot left to fight. >> i am going to put some dates on the screen -- we have moved to august. hiroshima, the ball was dropped august 6. the soviet invasion on august 8. nagasaki was august 9. victory in japan was a month later, september 2. b-29re talking about the on its way to japan to drop the
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bomb and there was cloud cover over the city and they moved on to hiroshima? >> that's incorrect. hiroshima was the primary target. the second bomb, nagasaki was not the primary target. >> what would have happened if there hadn't been cloud cover? who would have gotten it? >> you cut me by surprise, i would have to look it up. hasimportant reason -- there been much talk in history about the fact that the city wasn't bombed just because -- >> oh, sure. and people on the ground, hundreds of thousands of people on the ground in that city to had no idea the cloud cover save their lives. august psyche was the second target. -- nagasaki was the second target. there was a tremendous amount of debate about which city should have been the target in the first place.
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amazingly, one of the reasons hiroshima was chartere chosen ws because we hadn't done anything to it yet. >> march 9, 1945, we kill somewhere in the order of 70,000 b-29s -- the number was huge. 200 people -- americans killed. why wasn't that as big a deal as dropping a bomb on hiroshima? >> that's a great question. the answer is that there was such a psychological factor to the discovery of atomic warfare, atomic technology. i take issue with the whole idea of all these people coming out of the woodwork to criticize truman later for dropping the bomb, because all the way up to the bomb you are firebombing these cities and killing women
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and children. the firebombing is collectively killed far more people than the atomic bombs did. so why is that not the debate? there is such a psychological factor to the discovery of atomic science, which mesmerized people. clifford, who was working at the white house at the time, he recalls learning about the atomic bomb and realizing that this was going to be the most important event of the human century, and that is how we think about it today. >> more video of the potsdam conference, where we can see the people. i want you to explain how churchill -- she's there one day, gone the next. july to august, 1945. >> ♪ handshake, the last time they meet together.
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outstanding results announced, terms for germany even more clear than the versailles treaty. franco spain now barred from the united nation, and the council of foreign ministers to write a peace treaty. >> i remember the labour party, did he know anything? >> he had been a politician for a long time and he had been at the conference. there was an election. when the conference begins everybody knows that there had been this election and they didn't have the final results. churchill does not know he will remain prime minister. in fact he loses the election. right in the middle of the conference -- this puts a real damper on it. everybody loved churchill.
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him the soviets respected even though they might not have liked him, they were used to negotiating with him. mesmerized the man that the british chose to represent them, they are very surprised, soviets a particular. -- it changes the mood of the conference in a dark way. soon after, the conference ends without any of this major agreement that everybody had hoped would occur. 2,what happened after august when the conference was over? what happened to harry truman? where did he go? >> he goes and he meets the king of england, and i love this because the king of england asked him to sign his autograph, so he signs this autograph for the king's daughter, who becomes the queen.
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there's this fascinating seeing that happens at this lunch. they are sitting around, and admiral william leahy is the chief of staff at the white house, a person who didn't know truman at all when he became president. >> let's see 12 seconds of william leahy. it is pleasing indeed to be again a part of the national avenue of thehis president's confidence in me is a high honor indeed. >> what was his impact? >> they are sitting at this lunch, and leahy claims to be an explosives expert, he has been in the military his whole life. he is insisting that the bomb isn't going to work, right up until the point that it does. -- after pottstown, they are having this lunch, talking about the bomb, and everyone is amazed that the king knows as much as he does,
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because it is still a secret. the trinity test had gone off -- july 16, the day truman meets churchill for the first time at potsdam. it is the first test of an atomic explosion. and it works. >> why do they call it trinity? >> robert oppenheimer was the father of a bomb. he named it trinity, a reference to a john dunn poem, because oppenheimer loved poetry. so they are sitting at the launch, and even after trinity, lay he says to the king of england, i don't think this atomic bomb will be a big deal. and the king turns to him and says, you want to lay a bet on that? true medleys, sailing across -- truman leaves, sailing across potsdam. we have all the communication going back and forth between his room and the white house. truman is dying to find out, he doesn't know when the mission is
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going to be flown. he knows we will drop the bomb but we don't know when, because it is military secret. >> why wouldn't you know? >> that is the level of security. >> did he have a say? >> no. the decision to when and where was up to the military. truman had very little to do with the decision, certainly no decision on when it would be dropped. he wanted it to be dropped after he left potsdam. >> he gave permission. >> correct. and we have that documentation, too. i found these wonderful documents where one of his aides sends these messages to the white house, asking for information about the manhattan project, which would have been a grave violation of secrecy, of security, and it was so secret that the military map room, where all the military documents
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back tot, they cabled the ship saying we don't even know what this manhattan project the aide writes back saying don't look into this. they realize they made a mistake just by inquiring. it is not until august 5 aboard the boat, august 6 in japan, when truman learns that the bomb has been dropped. >> august 6 video of harry truman on the ship. he's announcing to the american people -- it is not live, but announcing on film about the bomb. >> a short time ago, an american airplane dropped one bomb on hiroshima and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. that bomb has more power than
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20,000 tons of tnt. it is an atomic bomb. it is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe, the force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed to bring war to the far east. we have spent more than $2 billion on the greatest scientific gambling history, and we have won. >> you didn't look up by chance what $2 billion would be today? >> i don't have the number, but here is one i do have. amazingly, that cost the united states more to develop the weapon system that dropped the bomb then the bomb itself. to realizee campaign that between nine palmer had cost more than $2 billion. of course, there was more than one of them. interesting fact. >> i assume that was on radio life. >> it would have been on the
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radio life. the information was shut out to the world in many different ways. there had been a press release that the president had approved to be released in his name before this, because he didn't know when the bomb was going to be dropped. there was this document that could be released to the press the moment it was appropriate, and amazingly, the assistant press secretary described in his diary what it was like to find out what the bomb was, he had to announce to the press in the white house. the assistant press secretary said, "it's an atomic bomb, it is the first time it has been done." the captain when they dropped the bomb on hiroshima, do you remember who it was on nagasaki? >> it is in the book -- >> they were flying different -- >> correct.
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>> we have some video. >> he didn't fly on the second mission but -- >> here is video of what it looked like at nagasaki. where did more people die, hiroshima or nagasaki? >> i believe it was hiroshima. wow. we can never know the exact number, especially because of all the people who perished due to the aftereffects, but even as of recently the united states department of energy has put the number at 200,000 for just the hiroshima bomb, may be more. >> what happened and how fast did it happen with the japanese after these bombs were dropped? >> let me set a scene for you. amazingly, when the second bomb was dropped, truman didn't know when the mission would fly. there was no order from him given to drop the second bomb. he is back in the white house and the white house is august 8,
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and he has been gone for months. i found all of these checks he signed. he is literally going through his mail as this is happening, writing checks for white house groceries, because he was responsible for that and his wife was not there to open the mail. he didn't know this was happening. soon after, the japanese conceded. down to thise whole notion of unconditional surrender. the japanese agreed to surrender after the second bomb under certain conditions, and they were very concerned about their emperor. we had to figure out how to connect the dots, and i believe it was the navy secretary who had this brilliant idea -- if the emperor, himself, surrenders unconditionally, thereby giving -- sending the message to the
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japanese that we will not incarcerate or execute this man, we will accept their surrender. that is exactly what happened. >> the replica of the two bombs, the first one was dropped, little boy, then the second one, fat man. there's little boy on the screen. anything we should know about why they named them this? fat man was the one dropped over nagasaki? >> correct. >> the difference between the bombs, anything? >> here's an interesting fact. i believe these replicas are at the air force museum in dayton. 1.i can make about little boy which is fascinating,, the trinity shot used a certain firing mechanism. that was july 16 the first test of an atomic, tom, the only test. that used a certain firing mechanism that was different than hiroshima.
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when the little boy bomb was dropped on hiroshima, we still did not know for sure was going to work. fat man was different. fat man did use the same firing mechanism as the trinity shot, so we were quite certain it was going to work, and it did, obviously. >> here is a video of harry truman announcing the acceptance of the japanese at the potsdam declaration. we're near the end. >> i have received this afternoon a message from the japanese government and forwarded to the secretary of state on august 11. i deem this reply a full acceptance of the potsdam declaration, the unconditional surrender of japan. >> if you watch this, how do you feel he handled his job? answer, this i can
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book is about the first four months. in january,office 1953 with the miserable approval rating. 24% or something like that. low 30's, but it would have varied according to which coal. -- which poll. this is an inspiring story about a guy who comes out of nowhere it is expected to fail but doesn't. his approval rating at the end of these four months is higher than roosevelt's had been. i think that answers your question about how did he do. this moment we just showed is such an important moment in our nation's history because he is the one to announce the end of the greatest catastrophe the human race has ever faced. the estimates, we never know how many people died, but we know the soviets lost the most civilians and military. people estimate it was around 25 million, just the soviets alone.
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that is why they made so many demands, because they lost the most blood. so true it makes this announcement, an extraordinary moment, even the drama leading up to the announcement. the secretary of state is in his office, an official comes in and hands in this document, he hands it to truman, he calls the press secretary around; oh 2 p.m. and makes this announcement. a people go nutsnd. -- and people go nuts. he goes outside, 75,000 people gathering, yelling "we want harry." he goes outside and he can still hear the chanting. think about the success story, this man who comes out of nowhere, becomes the president, accomplishes this after everything goes wrong. >> of all the people he wrote
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about, taught about, researched, who would be another person you could write a book on? >> curtis lemay. >> why? >> i think curtis lemay is the architect of these firebombings me,ities, and he, to faces, in a way -- how do i say this? he embodies the struggle between good and evil more than any figure i have come across. he makes the decision to fire bomb the cities without approval from anyone. >> at low level. >> and he knows women and children will die. but the reason he does it is because he thinks it will win the war and save american lives. >> how concerned were you when you took on this subject that you're up against a tremendous amount of people who have written about harry truman? >> that's a great question. when i began, i dedicated the
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book to my father. when i called him, he is a truman fan, he has had a portrait for years. he said, you can't write a book about truman. maculla! he is one of the great presidential biographers ever. this is a very different book, exploring different topics, putting a lens on four months. half the book is about truman, half is about all that happened. off.ught i could pull it it was a gamble, and i was very nervous and when it came out and people seemed to like the book. the amazon reviews are great. >> how did you check yourself on the facts? you say that in the back, that this had to be factual. how did you assure yourself you had the right facts? who backed you up?
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>> well, i had a whole bunch of readers, my publisher, but really, it's on me. i can't rely on assistants. if an assistant makes a mistake, it is my mistake. i can tell you, during the process of fact checking this book -- i would do it with one of these blood pressure cuffs on, sentence after sentence. when you read a book like this, you are added a lot. you can't make an error. fact checking this book was probably the most grueling part. >> you have another book scheduled. >> i have some ideas. >> you haven't started? >> i'm not even convinced i should write another book. it's a very grueling process. >> it took you how many years? >> four. >> our guest has been aj baime. the name of the book is "the
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accidental president: harry s. truman and the four months that changed the world." thank you for coming. >> thank you for having me. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] announcer: for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at programs are also available as c-span podcasts. announcer: if you enjoyed this "q&a,
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"citizen soldier." there's also a married couple who spoke about the story behind president truman's decision to recognize the state of israel. and paul read on the life of winston churchill as depicted in the final book of the three volume series he finished for the late historian william manchester. you can find those interviews and more online at announcer: the c-span bus continues its 50 capitals toward this month, with stops in raleigh, columbia, atlanta, and montgomery. on each visit we will speak with state officials during our live "washington journal" program. follow the tour and join us on wednesday at 9:30 a.m. eastern for a stop in raleigh, north carolina. our guest is north carolina attorney general josh stein.
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>> british prime minister theresa may faced questions about exit negotiations, the british economy, and unfair housing practices. this is 45 minutes. crimes and i promise her from the cabinet office to the home secretary. >> questions to the prime minister. >> question number one. >> thank you, mister speaker. thank you, mister speaker. i hope it is not too late, a happy new year. and ministerial colleagues in addition to my duties in this house, further meetings later today. >> mike amesbury. >> i wish members


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