tv Book TV After Words CSPAN December 11, 2011 12:00pm-1:00pm EST
or seen the most recent movie with daniel day-lewis, that's the ford we are currently digging in the summer. through adirondack community college and through plymouth state university. however, this fall here on campus, here at plymouth state university, we are digging on campus. universities all across america are doing campus digs these days. it's hard for students to take the whole summer off to go for a way to dig something, but during the school year, campus digs, looking for the traces of the early university, that's what we'd love to do. i have students outdoors right now digging, and it's exciting for them. 100 feet from the classroom that are taking up a storm right now. >> thank you so much for your time spent it's good to be here. >> the c-span campaign 2012 bus
visits communities across the country. to follow the travels visit c-span.org/bus. >> up next on booktv, "after words," an hour-long program where we invite guest host to interview authors. this week a claim historian max hastings and his latest book, "inferno: the world at war, 193901945". mr. hastings latest volume on world war ii explores the great conflict and personal point of view. using detailed stories of the lives of everyday people. he reveals the end of the departures of civilians who struggle to survive anti-details the major departments that ultimately brought the war to an end. max hastings talks with the u.s. editor of "the daily telegraph, toby harnden. >> host: welcome to "after words." i'm toby harnden, and with it today is sir max hastings,
historian and journalist, a former editor of "the daily telegraph and the man who brought me internationalist ever chosen 17 years ago. max has written a superb single volume history of the second world war. it's been critically acclaimed on both sides of the atlantic already. the "washington post" has described as magisterial, a monumental achievement. "sunday times of london" gruesome, chilling but quite magnificent. max, first question, a different title on this side of the atlantic in britain it's all hell broke loose but here it is infernal. why the difference? >> guest: publishers always make up their own mind. i told -- chose the title all hell broke loose in britain because it seems to me in almost every account you read about all the people experienced in battles and ship sinkings and so on, at some point somebody telling the story will say all hell broke loose. because it's become a cliché,
subsequent generations tend to shrug. but i think in a very important since those words capture what being a second world war meant to hundreds of names of people, because the world is that they've grown up with was completely destroyed around them. they found unimaginable things happening to them. the reason i publishers also change the phrase, many of them saw spectacles that recalled renée sans pages, picture the inferno, human beings torn to fragments of fresh -- flesh and bones. cities collapsing and rubble, sundered into particle. these are all things we take so much for granted in our ordinary lives that we take for granted. we are protected from violence. if we pay our taxes and drive on the right side of the road. we'll be all right.
and, of course, these were the assumptions that were possibly destroyed for so many people around the globe. so that's a rather long winded explanation why told -- why i chose the title's. >> host: you mentioned the book, though so many books on a second world war and, indeed, it was almost impossible to please even the books that you yourself own. the obvious question is did the world need another book and why did you decide to do this volume now? >> guest: two reasons. first of all, i wanted to sort of complete my personal cycle about the second world war. i bring the ugly for many aspects. this is the ninth book. i wanted to do two things. first of all there were some things i still wanted to say about the war that i thought were worth saying. secondly i wanted to try and
answer the question that a great many younger people, generations fortunate enough not to experienced the war, grandpa, what was the warlike? the answer of course it was vastly different if you were an american paratrooper for british aircrew or a polish jew or a chinese constable. one tries to explain what it was like for all these different people. in my text for example, no pictures at all of the wars of the general. we've done that. we know all about that. this is about ordinary people. this is the war from the bottom up. so many things that people don't grasp about the global nature of this, for example, -- >> host: i was staggered by the statistics estimate a few months ago ahead of the british
army said to me, i read the new book about the second world war. what can you tell us that we don't know already. i said let's start by trying on a few numbers. what proportion of germans would you guess were killed on the eastern front, the russian front? you said well, maybe 60%. i said the true figure is 90% of all the german soldiers. the russian front was the defining area, the defining front in the war against not to use them. in the same way casualties, but i also said to my producer jennifer and, i said what percentage of the total casualties in the war, the allied casualties would you guess were british or american? he said maybe 20% each. 2% each. the russians took 65%. chinese took 23%. a lot of people don't even know china was in the war.
15 million chinese did, a million yugoslavs, they took 3%, so it goes on. so the statistics are enormous but they are still an amazing. you had, for example, if you are a russian soldier, you had a one in four chance of being killed. if you're a british soldier to have a one in 20 chance of being killed if you're an american soldier and one in 3 32. one has to qualify this by saying it's almost insulting to say to people who went through the experience of war with other people how it works. it's a privilege of historians, of us people sitting in our comfortable television studio to say here's some truth. but if you were a g.i. or a british soldier with your mates being blown to bits around you, perhaps some bastard come out of the court as they actually it's much worse on the russian front. this insult you.
if you're an american or british housewife struggling to cope with ration. in leningrad they are at each other teaching of in east bengal that the fathers are selling their daughters? so we always have to maintain that sense of humility. we must never forget that he we all are 66 years on, we can say other things but we must never lose the sense, forget about the statistics for a moment. anybody who went through the war went to a matter of things, but you are american or british or chinese or german or whatever, went through many things. >> host: one of the fantastic things about the book is that anecdotes, personal stories, not just about combat but about life in its broader sense across the world and how do we this into a coherent narrative, sort of
global narrative over six years. you've done a much more so in this book than in previous books. is that something that you've always wanted to? it is something you develop a sense over the years? >> guest: i tried to do all the things, i have to say in of the books for example, food. terribly interesting subject in this book i have not written it in an earlier one i wrote an entire chapter about dropping atomic bombs on japan. i haven't gone there again. i have written all about food because for most people who lived through the war, food, or lack of it, was absolutely, it was a defining reality. in many societies people were starving. terrifying what people went through. in leningrad, i mentioned 800,000 people die. 800,000, near twice as many as americans or british died in the war. died in the siege of leningrad. 20,000 people were dying of
starvation every day. every day. and these are ordinary educated people. they suddenly find there is nothing to eat. chinese peasants, 1942, find themselves eating dried leaves your i mean, you find, i quoted of the diaries of british housewives who complain like hell because they have too many dried eggs. a lovely story of this british boy, derek. you had your rations but in addition to russians everybody tried to supplement their rations with what they could, with vegetables and fruit and you try to make anything you could. this wonderful story of how one morning he said my father looked at what was on the table, spread
something on his bread and he tried it. he turned to his wife and he said, what was that? the wife said, carrot marmalade. he described us other picked up and carried it with deliberation out to the garden and poured on the compost heap. but, of course, carrot marmalade, if it were a prisoner of the japanese, or any kind of pressure, if you are a nation or russian peasants, these are delicacies. everything is relative. but food, the argument about food and who did what with food, you've got more than a million vietnamese died of starvation because the japanese who were administering the non-in those days, around vietnam with the interest of the japanese people. and elderly vietnamese set off that their experience of 1943-44 famines in vietnam was worse
than the wars with the french, of the united states. worse than all the b-52 bombings and so to give over a million people, some say a million and a half, died of starvation. food, food, food. these become obsessions. generally our parents or grandparents indiana states and britain, we were lucky because all the food was contrary and nobody got off me, american housewives complaint you couldn't buy stake, compared with what was going on editorials, other people did very well for germans with no significant hunger in germany until may 1945. because hitler systematically starved the rest of europe in order to keep his own people. the german started getting really hungry was when the war ended. suddenly without -- they were hungry host that one of the most horrific and compelling anecdotes is the siege of
leningrad, soaring off the leg of her husband to eat, to get to the family the unimaginable horror. >> guest: the stories we're only now really starting to get to this because these are not state secrets, or they shouldn't be. but a lot of wonderful material in russia. i had this wonderful russian researcher who have been coming up with wonderful stuff. you are suddenly getting these accounts servicing by russians of what happened. because after the war, stalin wanted the world to believe that the people of leningrad had survived the siege through sheer heroism. and, of course, it was a really, of course there was some, but, in fact, they had no choice because anybody who tried to run away was shot. stalin ran leningrad, was the one who first -- deploy troops
behind the front line to shoot at anybody who ran away. so the men in the front line new that. if the element and against the germans they might will get killed, but if they tried to turn and run they would get killed. >> host: the russians more than any other army killed more than own. >> guest: 300,000 of how may of their own people they killed. dereliction of duty. quite incredible. that's always uses me as the british army through the course of the war. so all this stuff is coming out of russia now because the russian this, we're being told the truth about the degree to which compulsion decided. for example, i quoted in the book some of these extraordinary, the seeker please report from the battle of kursk.
officers being shot for drunkenness in the frontline, or you know, when they're supposed be leaving their italian into attack. and these were extraordinary stories which because of all those decades of the soviet era where this sort of stuff was hidden and we were supposed to believe the russians were just braver than we were, and it's amazing really becoming, i suppose when i complained to my wife and i say it's hard writing books that she said you'd love it. and, of course, i do. you have done it. this was a terrific book. it is so thrilling sitting in these archives, or reading the translated stuff that people have produced, and even now almost 70 years after the war we are getting stories for a very
long time people were unwilling to tell just how ghastly it was post-acute born in 1945. your father was a war correspondent. so the way you lived the post world war period, you were searching and writing about the second world war for 35 years. you have an incredible passion how is your perspective changed from comics to a child as to know? >> guest: i grew up as an awful lot of people in the united states grew up, my father adored the war. he find it exciting to get out of the adventures and yet a lot of adventures. when i was a kid in the 1950s i used to read memoirs and books about the second world war. and i grew up thinking the whole sort of thing was glorious. and my father brought me up to believe that i really -- he said
will you become a parachute and all those other dangerous things. is it unfortunate the germans are unavailable, temporary anyway. so i grew up with his ridiculous vision of the war. and it's only very grudgingly that one sort of grows up and/or the ensuing 40 or 50 years, once learned to understand the reality, when they really got to me. and that was what i find one of my first books about the second world war, in the late '70s when they were at lot aircrews still around. one evening i was sitting in a little suburban home talking to a navigator. river, only in his 50s who had been in the crew of a pilot had been awarded a posthumous medal
of cross to stay with the aircraft was badly damaged of the others could dump. he said to me, he said, i will always remember the night before that last ship we're all in the pub and he said we were teasing jamie, the pirate, because he said he was 19 years old and he never kissed a girl in his life. and i suddenly thought, what good does it do a young man to want a posthumous across? he's dead at the age of 19, never having kissed a girl in his life. that was one of the first moments when you feel a sense of the overwhelming tragedy that yes, for some unfortunate men flew mustangs are spitfires, or special forces or george patton or winston churchill, they found the were almost in the our exciting. but most people it was a terrible, terrible experience.
they were separated for their loved ones for years. he's been through four years on the other side of the world wondering about whether your wife at home was being faithful to you. now you're wondering what you see your kids and all the rest of it. it has undertaken 30 or 40 years fully to understand that. it's been a long journey from all those views to growing up a bit. >> host: so much military history concentrate just on the battlefield. i would even call -- >> guest: it's not intended to be. when i first went to the manuscript, i went through it and i cut out every single reference to division numbers or army numbers that i could possibly identify without making the story incoherent. although i tell the story of the war. people nowadays, they don't care whether the 53rd division went right or left. what they're interested in is what it meant human beings.
i made a simple so again. this is just, it's trying to tell what it's like for the little people. they knew so little, for instance. only the great generals and the warlords do much of anything beyond what they were seeing. most people, even in britain in the united states, there have been propaganda and uncertainty. if you're in the frontline, let's say, you could get something about who was winning and how things were going by what he was side move forward or backwards. but even that wasn't a reliable indicator. i remember looking at mmr of an american private soldier, and he described how his unit was cut
off from the american army in the philippines, for 17 days. but he didn't really understand the predicament of his unit until his company commander explained to him after the war was over. roy jenkins who is an old friend of mine who is a british politician, who worked beside during government courage, terrific job. i understand social movies about coulter, all these people who are doing the decrypting, they understand what they're doing but i remember roy santini, he said yes, we know what we're doing. it was important because the urgent but nobody does anything about how it impacted on the battle of what it meant ships that suck or they didn't but that's only the moviemakers afterwards to present it that way. so this terrible uncertainty who can you trust, who is telling the truth. and so much propaganda, so much
bull should frankly. and, obviously, that was worse if you lived in japan or if you lived in germany. but it was pretty bad even in the united states and britain, that you'll have the luxury of time the truth when the war was over. >> host: has always been a sense in britain, this was a good war, morally, unambiguous and use up at the end say the bottom line is the alternative -- >> guest: what i tried to explain, very important to all of us both our parents and grandparents civilization, and our own, provision of the war is a good war, but first of all one thing i emphasize which i think is very important is that we are sometimes reluctant to recognize how the compromises we made, the united states by allied themselves with the soviet union in order to defeat hitler are letting stalin's tyranny do most of the dirty work of defeating
the nazis. this was a huge moral compromise. and it seems to me that except for the one, the holocaust, stalin's tyranny, morally indiscernible from hitler's tyranny. pertaining the soviet union was anything but a journey which did terrible things. and the result of it all was at the end of the war in 1945, stalin demanded his price for having us play the business of defeating nazism. and the price was of course the empire elites, 19 million deeply unhappy people, checks, poles and so on. we are all celebrating and every was dancing in times square, trafalgar square and solar. these poor people in poland, the
british and the french a gone to war in 1939, they just exchange the nazi tyranny for the soviet tyranny. what i said at the end of this book is we just have to recognize, look, the victory did not produce universal justice, fairness, freedom, decency. it produced some of those things, portions of those things for some of the oppressed, and occupied peoples of the world. we hope that the victory brought a new and glorious era. the other thing we can say with certainty is that the other side of the world it would have been far, far worse for the world. so you can never have the complete satisfaction of saying yes, we were the guys in white coats.
it all ended gloriously. it's not like they. we should now -- recognize that. under no circumstance, my admiration for those generations that went through the second world war and what they did is absolutely unfounded. but we just have to wait to look at it in a bit more nuanced way that we used to. >> host: and you don't shrink from some uncomfortable truths. you highlighted the u.s. greens, japanese had come sticking them on polls. the victorious cross winner, upsetting his name by machine-gunning survivors. >> guest: just trying to see the perspective. what i mentioned in some of the people who do these things, they would have ended up in the dock at nuremberg. it wasn't that nuremberg was in just that it was partial justice because more or less the winning
side, whether you are russian or british or american meant nobody ended up in the dock. american gis, prisons, no one even mentioned them. >> host: you mentioned austria. >> guest: we chose to treat austria after the war, as if it had been a victim, occupied. the austrians, a lot of austrian nazis who have done unspeakable things, got off scott free. we just have to recognize after all these years the mistakes, we have to, things just aren't quite as convenient or quite as black is white as we want them to be. but they never are in history. history is not, there's a wonderful phrase, one of the great guise of the war but a
german guy, berlin, about the april, may, 1945 period. she wrote this is the stuff of history. the story of tales untold and songs unsung, which she said history seen close-up is an uncomfortable model for burdensome vision but she said tomorrow i will have to go out and try to find some nettles to eat. find some call to avoid freezing to death. that's how it is. all history is local. all history is about what it means to you, and talking about what's happening to other people on the other side of the world, but all you know is if you're a housewife in ohio, you don't really want to get a thing about what a terrible time they're having in china or leningrad or
summer else but you just know the issues pretty hellish for you. all one has to do is explain all these different queues to try to explain how different it was for all this extraordinary variety of people. one of my favorite, i must i must join and become a but should write autobiography. i don't mean all of them will find publishers but for the children and their grandchildren. especially the supply of those who went through this period, second world war. it was not surprising, sometimes sitting to say oh, we're all too obsessed with the second world war. but this was the greatest event in human history. it was almost a terrible event in human history. scarcely surprising that we want to try to see what can we learn, what do we understand from the. i don't think we know in the least sinister about the way in
which we continued to read about, in my case, right about the second world war. we are just trying to learn more about it. the only thing that can assist us, there is almost a decent obsession of minority called trances, all this business with nazis, about how some people are obsessed with nazis. secondly, those people who glamorized. there are few writers who do glamorize it. i suppose, the only bad review, i made all seven to clean. the reviewer said, he said my dad was a submarine commander that he loved it. what does that prove? of course you're a submarine commander, you had a lovely time. but. >> host: you mentioned her own father. having myself reported from afghanistan and also been in iraq extensively, maybe it's in
in the moment thing, but soldiers are trained to do, it's almost like all their lives it's bad and serving their life is bad at this moment they're coming, you do highlight that. he can't believe he is on the bridge of the ship and apple is paying attention to what he's saying but it's the most magnificent thing. ..
it on a convoy down the road and they try to get shelter from nearby village. and their interpreter said in the end after a day again pleaded with the local merchants, they slammed the door in the states implement it go away. peter kemp said he realized how we're british, with no stake at all. it's all been a great rock. for these people, they knew that what we've done -- the chairman italian punishment were going to be long, within days are probably hours. and they were going to burn the village and they were going to -- it was quite likely that they would kill the adults.
tonight will the children. they would destroy the crops, so those local people had a stake in what was happening and in the inventions that these soa people that peter kemp road. he said we british have these rather selfish idea that other nations they refuse help with wars just don't understand properly. if you're an albanian peasants you don't see anything but protect your family and your livelihood and your height and all the rest of it. all these huge issues that they're busy fighting to the caller, the same way for an indian peasant. an awful lot of people in india remain loyal to britain. to a remarkable degree. but an awful lot of indians couldn't see the point of the allies defeating the axis of the
war. if they come in indians are going to remain half the british empire and be denied freedom and independence. and i quoted in the book, the first and greatest prime minister of independent india. he wrote from his prison cell. he said after pearl harbor he wrote -- he said if i am asked to swear in my sympathies for this sort then i say hesitating, america, britain, russia, china. but he said that i mast, am i going to fight for their cause? she said how can i fight for freedom, which is denied to me as an indian because here i am sitting in a british prison cell. it was extraordinary. the british were pretty up their mind about this. roosevelt of course passionately pleaded with judge held to permit indian independence.
now, there were huge practical problems if india recruited dependence in the middle of the wherewith the japanese gave to what might have happened. but nonetheless, churchill was in my army and he was not expecting the indians just to be loyal. when the indians have moved onto this, most indians won at the british to go. they didn't want the japanese and we were pretty and our reluctance to see that. >> you mention roosevelt and churchill. although you say you don't focus on the war is clearly a strong presence in the book and indeed your other books. i talked about you not shrinking from truth. with churchill, they clearly admire him ntd say it's hard to see how britain could have continued after june 1940 that it wasn't with churchill.
but you read about the bengal famine, for instance, which i would guess many young people would now have been. >> host: is probably the greatest single block on the allied destruction in the war. but this is 1943 and 44. as you say, many people haven't heard about it. as many as 3 million people died while they were dying and hundreds on the streets of calcutta, on the british clubs, i was still able to get unlimited asian debate on issues is not a pretty story. what happened was bengal had traditionally gotten most of its rate from burma and the japanese occupied term. and then there was a cyclone to which east bengal is proud and suddenly they're standing.
and the viceroy appeals to the british government in london to divert shipping to supplies and wouldn't do it. he plays the strategic needs of the war. he says we need every ship with god for all the landings daily for all the other operations we are carrying out. we can't relieve starvation in india. it was a shocking story. he did behave very callously, very poorly. the british general who became viceroy, who was in charge of india wrote later when there is starvation in holland and hundreds of british bombers were diverted to drop food and supplies to holland. he wrote that really, it's very different sense of priorities available on the british government when its europeans who are threatened with starving
to death because some dutch people to starve to death. so it was a very ugly story. this is what i mean about moral compromise. it would be quite an truthful to say would've been easy to relieve famine in bengal. it was going to be very difficult in the midst of the world war. but the fact the judge refused to try and the shipping allocations to india and the rest of it were actually cut excess of the demands of amphibious operations in other places. it was not as bad, but there is famine, which is also british possession. people were very, very hungry. they didn't quite starve to death. and these are stories, which 20, 30 years ago nobody really wanted to go there.
of course the big picture of the war is the big battles. d-day and all the great battles of the pacific war. we just have to be aware of all these other things going on in which more people would die. one absolutely fundamental simple fact is you had a chance of coming out of the war in one piece if you're wearing uniform, if your servicemen and mutated civilian. most of the casualties were civilians. you never carry the firearm were shut anybody else. whether it's in china or east bengal or russia. i mean, you had a chance at being a hero if you were wearing iga uniform are you produce uniform or russian uniform. enough a lot of these housewives
and children. i mean, russian soldiers -- were really ground the town was when you saw tiny children who could do nothing, who could play no part that suffering this terrible fate. it was tough being old in the war because in russia, zero, started to not work, can't to anything. as a guide to the minimal rations. if you're very young or very old, you are more in the notches after death. if you're fit and income you might make a peer but if you're 80 something years old, your challenges of making it through the wearer pretty slender. >> host: i'm fascinated in the book by your discussion of the different armies. in terms of efficiency, it seems was fearless. the red army is incredibly
fertile. is it easier to produce a betty army for totalitarian regime because you talk about the bourgeois sensibility? >> it was a simple fact the british and american troops always knew during the war that if they tried pretty hard and the other side had them surrounded that the civilized thing to do was to put your hands up. the notion that the gangster culture of moderation and respect for human life to go for futile sacrifices. but the german didn't shoot as many of their own people as the russians did. especially in the last year of the war if you try to run away, then you got shot. but i'm very interested in one of my teams that i think is very interesting or certainly fascinates me is that it is a sort of contradiction that i'm the one hand that german army
fought lately well. and again and again statistically when i'm feeling more russians are british americans that we took casualties themselves. but this was completely fed up nothing. it was completely by the fantastic stupidity with which the germans and the japanese from their whole war. the americans in the british ran their war machine far, far better than the germans. for example, we mobilize civilians much better. the japanese or germans ever gave civilians asserted authority and running the system are running any aim. or for example the intelligence operations. but we did come as we mobilize the civilians brilliantly. both the american and british war machines ended up absolutely magnificently run.
and also i think the united states navy with american's outstanding force and i think the royal navy was britain's forests. ii think the more i learned abot the united states navy was also pretty good. overwhelming the officer by men who had been civilians before the war never seemed to see and make it brilliantly in the pacific especially. and that was remarkable. it is this peculiar constitution . but thank god create hitler broadside. the were some commentate you find here are all these gangsters, no more, no less. the sidekick and although sort
of people. these are just gangsters who were given enormous authority and fantastic control, which of course they were quite an fit to exercise. the only thing they need to due to do this carry all of these came to the fall in the way we mobilize our countries to organize the worst of the american industry did this fantastic job in the american economy provided the means for all the allied nations, including the russian and the russians march to berlin. why do they have to be made in america? , so american boots traveled in studebaker tracks up their radios were mostly made in the united states. the eighth american can meet. it's what kept him going. so the american and british
achievement comes economically and industrial were absolutely fantastic. when one looks at how incredibly incompetent -- take one example. how the japanese thought they were ever going to make a successful. but then to launch a war, knowing that is completely dependent car imports. most of our materials have to be imported. and yet they did nothing to create all these wonderful aircraft carriers or battleships they did nothing to create a credible defense force. their anti-submarine type makes her males behind the allies. they had radar, variable effective maritime air patrols. so when american submarines really got to work, they almost had a free run. and the latter part of the war,
american submarines were able to operate on the surface because the japanese. i should say certainly if one was singling out americans always get enormous praise to the band of brothers and this is all absolutely just that they all deserved the attention and so on and so forth. but actually was one group of people who did more than anything else in the united states. the united states navy submarine surged were 16,000 men, just tiny portions which made the submarines. they made the decisive contribution that defeated japan what they did was fantastic. they lost a lot of people, but what they did was terrific. >> host: take the american experience. you talk about the pre-pearl
harbor. when americans did not go to war. roosevelt was sort of ahead of its people. and then we discussed already relatively speaking that i casualties of the american forces and of course the american mainland was attacked and there wasn't the suffering you the suffering you have been many, many other parts of the world. and i was struck by a quotation, what you said there is no sense of victimhood among the americans. it was about americans -- i think it was the last time having a hubristic consciousness of their own dominance. how did that out world war and form the conflicts afterwards? a quotation to me would bring somewhat true today. >> guest: it was extraordinary that every other nation that experienced the second world war emerged with a strong sense of it amounted. they have suffered and they knew
it. the british were utterly impoverished and hardly formed and rocketed and god knows what. there is the united states, which emerged victorious richer than it's ever been in its history. if you recall may have been expanded dramatically during the war, americans cannot have the worst hitting did not only been virtuous, which indeed they had, but they've not only been right, they felt so hugely increased a large american power in the world and they felt fantastically good about themselves. there was this terrific contrast between the british wanted to feel good about themselves. they thought the british generation fought the war and thought -- have we done well. but then they find their utterly broke. they've got no money. they entirely depend on american months to pay the bills.
there they are living through this terrible collapse of the british empire. at the united states did enter a golden era. in each of the postwar era where the returning heroes in one of the very few cases in history where america is returning heroes did come back to the land of milk and honey. it was sort of bound to be that way, but obviously it meant the shot leader, when america found later that it always couldn't get its way in the world when you mentioned viet tom was correspondingly great. america had this wonderful 30 years after the second world war whenever he came seemed to go his way. there was the soviet union out there who is the cold war, but i'll never forget it first came to this country in 1967 and i came from a prosperous english
middle-class background. it was certainly odd ipo wealth of the united states and the confidence in the united states. that was still -- that was before the sense of defeat in vietnam came through. it is before really obviously i write, just about the time the movement is getting going and things started to go a bit sour. but i just caught this last glimpse of what it felt like to be americans of the wartime generation, which was terrific. post with a combination nonlisted nsn and confidence in sort of american can-do explains a lot about the courseware. as you say. >> guest: well, it was extraordinary. one never ceases to be i suppose -- if you believe as i certainly do come and there is such a thing as the american
genius. but americans felt more consciously in the later postwar era that they've ever been able to sense because obviously in a way they've had to have a reality check because for most of us, most of the time may be things were sufferable when they don't go away because they don't always expect them to go our way. for that postwar period after american challenge of world war ii, americans expected things to go their way. so the eternal did. >> host: you talked about adventuress. it's fair to say you're adventured herself. he's been an 11 war zones, most famously before clinton's. i don't need to retell the story, but how is there an experience of war close up and living? in a way, you were taking matter. how is that inform your view of history? >> guest: the first thing one
has to say is that everything that i've experienced wanted nothing compared to 50 people went through at the second world war. i remember so well after the balkans war in which there was a battle which certainly outside britain had 17 killed. i remember hearing the british prime minister has served in the first word or. i remember listening to him talking about the screen which was better and someone says that's my word. the battalion lost 17, wouldn't have recognized its been in a battle. it is. but already seen as i learned a lot from personal experience about the lives of soldiers in what it's like. i give you one example. soldiers talk a lot about women, but actually my experience when you're on the battlefield, the
ones you care about you would do absolutely anything for a hot meal and to build to sleep in a bed, preferably alone. so you don't want to believe all the stuff about how it's the sort of thing the soldiers. you have to talk about women, but there are other priorities. i quoted an american marine in the pacific who said the real thing he was waiting to get back was when he got home, apart from wind sleep in pajamas, the really thing he was going to flush the toilet for our just hear the water run. and what you learn from having been on battlefields, you learn -- first of all you learn how terrifying it is to be under fire anyway difficult it is to make your limbs move from one place to another when you really scared. so you learn plenty about that. and he just learned about what it's like -- i spent nothing like the periods of the people who went through the second world war went through being
exhausted, hungry, desperate for a drink. so you learn a little bit about that and you learn how soldiers talk, think and weapons and you see in cells exploding and aircraft shot down. you learn about that, so it helps. but the main thing you learn is just to be unbelievably grateful that one has survived into the unbelievable grateful to those addicted things on their parents and grandparents generation. >> host: tell me how you go about writing a book like this. >> guest: one of the things that strikes missouri news paper editor and has always been incredibly prolific and assorted details that you write. even now, you churn out i hope you don't mind me using other british newspapers in it you also do this. i mean, how do you do it?
>> guest: i love to write. it's what i do. a colleague of mine some years ago we were both young men was asking what we do. my friend said to me then, he said it's the only thing we know how to do. but i can only say that thrill. my father and as a teenager used to talk to me about the challenge of a blank sheet of paper. i didn't understand what he meant when as a teenager, but i do now because everyday when i sit down at a blank screen and feel that excitement -- i love to write and i feel so fortunate and privileged that people are willing to read some of the things that one race. >> host: neocon scum of the former city editor i think said you were complaining about some thing in the telegraph building and he said, well, it beats working for a living, doesn't it?
>> guest: some of the people in the world are unlucky enough to have two jobs to pay the rent and don't ensure they do. you and i are terribly poor rich people because we do something we enormously enjoy doing. certainly a part of it. i can say nothing has given me greater pleasure than the privilege of traveling around the world, including up-and-down to about 35 american states listening to old men talking about the extraordinary things when they were attaching young man. i never cease to be absolutely fascinated by listening to those tales and have a chance to translate all the stories of men, women and children from nations and all the rest of it. as neil senator said to me, it beats working. it's fascinating. one assassinated by human hands and how they behaved.
what's you find in wars, especially world war ii, were able to -- some people scaled heights of courage and their ability and others from the depths of evil in a way that commands the prosperity and certainly commands the odds myself. >> host: and tell me about your day. fascinated by how writers get through the day and you're doing newspapers still. >> guest: i take my dogs for a walk at 6:00 in the morning whenever it's late and then i said down and you just start writing. and i think when people have different techniques, for example, writing this historian who is a friend as i have he
agree with ray may be 500 words a day. and when he agreed to me was very reluctant to change them. i work completely different. iraq not a lot of words and then i changed them so i might bring in the face of the morning 6000 words for a book like that. the very few of the 6000 words will emerge in the final draft of what i do. but one is constantly refashioning it. america lacourse of working with a computer -- about my early books in the precomputer age when you are doing it on a typewriter isn't so easy to spot things in and take things out, but all the time to get their scale and the other things that are indispensable it you can't we do here tonight. i wrote in 1914 the beginnings of what happened before the first world war come but also the first campaign. unspooling together the scattered material about the serving and night had a young
german working for me in austria or germany. and i've stopped myself, but you end up at the moment where i have about 500 pages of typewritten notes. and i suppose one will spend the next 80 months or two years refashioning all that stuff that occurred here in the narratives. but you still get that thrill. i just sent my e-mails this morning that my russian research had given me wonderful stuff from a russian memoir, he published russian memoir of what happened to them in 1914. it's a truth that is, a terrific arrow. you know i find it fascinating and exciting to use, but you know somebody also find this fascinating. but it's -- i suppose the hardest part is getting started.
writing the first 50,000 words, especially booklet that is tough because even if you for -- i've written about 23 books now all told. and when you get started, you never quite believe that you're going to get to the end. after you've done that, my wife says i'm terrible to live with through the first 50,000 words. and after that you think maybe this is going to work. >> host: you talked about the 1915 book. have you finished at the second world war or have you still got more to say? >> guest: the important thing is i've never written a book yet just for the money. but we sat down and rip the book because i thought i had something to say. i feel that constitutes the last big things i want to say about the second world war and it's the turn of another generation, ap