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tv   Book TV After Words  CSPAN  January 21, 2012 10:00pm-11:00pm EST

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. . what is unusual about herbert hoover the writer and the magnet cope as? >> guest: it may be true that herbert hoover wrote more books than any other president. he wrote more than 30.
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t.r. might be a competitor but jimmy carter has done quite a number as well. those are the two people in the same general vicinity perhaps and nixon with as many foreign-policy books in his ears after the presidency. hoover was a devoted writer and i think the intellectual in hoover is on display in this book that has just been published, "freedom betrayed." your question is what is unusual about freedom betrayed? let me just primitive it. this was initially an installment of hoover's multivolume memoirs that he began to write in earnest in 1940. he actually published three volumes in his lifetime, but volumes four, five and six were never published in the form that he envisaged. this ali himself or was what he called his war book. he it was to be his account, his memoir of the, of his views of
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world war ii and its aftermath, his participation in the debates at that time. this particular manuscript he worked on for about 20 years and he did not publish it where is the first three volumes of the project if that were published so what is partly unusual about this is the fact that it's only now that it is being published and it is also gargantuan. it's over 1000 pages and printed few count the front matter of the new volume and it was only one segment of this massive project which he worked gone with incredible determination and tenacity starting at the age of about 66 but the magnum opus he started when he was 78 he was the date -- tinkering just before he died at the age of 90 so the size of it, the fact that it was part of an even larger project is i think a significant point to make and they think well partly drove "freedom betrayed" was his desire was
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twofold, his desire for vindication in the eyes of his contemporaries and in the eyes of history. sows his memoirs were in a sense an apology for his life, a polity, an explanation of his life and he felt the need to do that after being so repudiated at the polls in 1932 and in being in his view pilloried by franklin roosevelt. he felt the need to set the record straight and that was partly for a matter of personal vindication but also because he felt the united states had united states had taken a wrong turning philosophically and ideologically and so on, in the 1930s and so this book, this war book or is the ultimate called it "freedom betrayed" was to be his effort to explain where mistakes are made and where lenders were committed. >> host: in addition to a personal vindication it is also
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something like prostitution of roosevelt foreign-policy. >> guest: yes, he argued that roosevelt made many mistakes and in fact the title of this manuscript ever evolving manuscript over 20 years, one title was lost statesmanship what he called the law statesmanship of franklin roosevelt in particular although he had some critical comments about some of harry truman's not to mention neville chamberlain and so forth but the main focus was on fdr. >> host: i suspect a lot of our viewers are not familiar with the surprising relationship that had existed to train a younger hoover and his washington near neighbor, franklin d. roosevelt. >> guest: herbert hoover and franklin roosevelt were initially friends. they became friends in 1917 when roosevelt was surfing woodrow wilson's assistant as assistant secretary of the navy and in that same year herbert hoover
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hood been doing relief work in belgium became the food administrator of the united states during our wartime legend cecil hoover and roosevelt were in washington at the same time. they have a common friend in the secretary of interior, man named franklin lane who brought them together now and then for social context sunday evening dinners now and then and they were friendly. and roosevelt i think looked up to hoover as did many younger men and wartime service a hoover had a manicure -- humanitarian reputation as a great figure on the world stage. mrs. roosevelt liked hoover and historians always like to cite this anecdote that i am sure you are familiar with. at the beginning of 1920 when the democrats were becoming desperate and woodrow wilson was ill and the democrats were looking for someone to run for president to save their party and run for wilson's successor roosevelt wrote to a mutual friend, the diplomat, that i
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wish we could make hoover president of the united states. there could not be a better one. the research i've done on the hoover roosevelt relationship i have become convinced that roosevelt secretly wanted to be hoover's running mate. running as a democrat in 1920. well it didn't quite turn out that way. they remained friendly during the 1920s. >> host: did that surface for example in the 1932 campaign? >> guest: in today's political climate, something like that would create -- >> guest: there were some articles about the fact that they had been friendly in world war i and neither man wanted to emphasize the fact or ticket really in 1932. they had been friendly in a somewhat distant fashion because they had gone their separate political ways but they have that wartime bond between them. that in 1928 hoover ran for
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president and fdr simultaneously ran successfully for domination and governorship of new york. at that point tensions began to surface in their night be the version from our story but after that the rivalry set in, clearly at the heart of what happened next was that roosevelt wanted hoover's job. also there were some behind-the-scenes incidents that occurred that led each to think that the other was not behaving as a gentleman should. so there was a personal animus that developed and of course during the 1930s, during roosevelt presidency hope are emerged as one of roosevelt's most tenacious critics. so, and then at the time of the outbreak of world war ii with pearl harbor, hoover took the position of the united states while aiding britain should not intervene militarily in the war in europe so he opposed roosevelts foreign-policy step after step in that of course
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only deepens the cleavage between them. >> host: in fact hoover had in 1934 published a book called the challenge, the liberty which represented chapter and verse his first wave of philosophical criticism of the new deal. >> guest: yes. he said there were statist ideologies afoot in the 1930s, communism, fascism, nazism and would hoover called regimentation his word work for the new deal and he saw the new deal is moving in a collectivist direction and hoover argued that his own view which he called historic liberalism, would be called conservatism in contrast to roosevelts brand of liberalism or progressivism. so there was not just a personal rivalry between them but it took on ideological casts. >> host: it's interesting and we will get back to it in a moment but a more recent
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revisionist criticism of roosevelt from the left, that he did in fact use the crisis to move, a nearly radical enough position and he didn't nationalize the banks. was hoover, did he acknowledge that school of thought, or did it even exist at that point? >> guest: that school of thought largely came into fashion in the 1960s and 70s with the so-called new left historiography. their critiques of roosevelt on the left from time to time but a more organized fashion it came somewhat later. hoover i remember didn't think that once roosevelt nullified the banks by saving the banks and banking crisis of 33, crisis that hoover incidentally felt was totally unnecessary because he thought roosevelt had not cooperated with them in trying to ally the fear and stop the
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crisis before roosevelt took office, nevertheless hoover thought once roosevelt have done that he would swing to the last. in hoover's eyes roosevelt was always pushing toward the left, maybe zigzagging but hoover saw an ideological threat and not simply pragmatism a mock. in other words roosevelt in hoover's view, as he says in freedom betrayed in one passage was a leftist man. he was not a communist but he had sort of leftish sympathies and hoover saw the new deal of the case of what he called creeping collectivism as opposed i supposed to gallup and collectivism on the european continent. posted you see a parallel between 1933 and the bush obama handoff? >> guest: . >> host: given the economic uncertainties at the time? >> guest: my impression is the
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bush and obama teams cooperated more in the fall, in the interregnum of 08/09. it was a much more testy interlude and a longer one by the way. in those days the president didn't take the oath of office until march 4, 1933 for roosevelt so four months went by from the november election and there were meetings between them that were rather stiff and formal and in one of those meetings roosevelt apparently felt intellectually intimidated by hoover who got up and fall staring at the floor gave this hour-long discourse on the war debts and all sorts of matters and roosevelt had cue cards in his lap with questions that he could ask over and i suspect part of the relationship had this element that roosevelt in a way felt a little intellectually intimidated white hoover, hoover who knew so much about so many things or is roosevelt of course had the gift of the exposition
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of other political gifts. i sense that in that relationship that roosevelt felt a little uneasy with hoover. but in short, the interregnum between hoover and roosevelt was much more difficult and was marked by mistrust on both sides. in brief hoover thought that roosevelt was playing politics and trying to allow the crisis to deepens the roosevelt could come in and save the day and be the hero. roosevelt but hoover was trying to trap him into for closing on public policy options. in other words abandon the new deal before he could even implement it. so each distrust of the other so there was always that level of mutual suspicion and those days that curdled the relationship. >> host: we talked about 1940 being in some ways the starting point for freedom betrayed. that also is i do believe the finish line of hoover's presidential ambitions. i mean i assume that there is a
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relationship between the two. >> guest: yes. hoovered -- herbert hoover i'm convinced and i suspect you might agree with this is a fellow hoover biography, yearned for a rematch with roosevelt. it wasn't realistic in 1936 but in 1940 hoover was very definitely maneuvering for a deadlock contention in the hope that by addressing the convention with a address he could show himself to be the superior alternative to the lesser lights of the party that the convention would stampede to him. this may have been a forward help in any event but hoover definitely wanted to vindicate himself by running again. when he did not get the nomination, when it fell through and -- became the charismatic newcomer wendell willkie, hoover behaved in those next few weeks as that there was a great turning point in his life and he said as much difference. he wrote poignant notes to friends thinking for their gifts
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of friendship and within a few weeks of that time he started systematically scribbling out his memoirs almost as if he knew that the chapter in his life was over and he could never again hope to be president. at the next thing he could do with the to write for history. >> host: he could no longer make history, but he could try to shape how history was interpreted. >> guest: yes, there is a parallel here that we might want to talk about eventually today, and that is that winston churchill wrote his memoirs of world war ii which are in a way they magnum opus of winston churchill which can be compared and contrasted to would hoover and his staff formally called the magnum opus "freedom betrayed." there's a fascinating book by a british historian david reynolds as i recall called in command of history and arguing that churchill was seeking to shape history and churchill said something to the effect that,
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history will be kind to me because i know i will be one of the historians or something to that affect. hoover perhaps was seeking also to set the record straight. >> host: you brought up is name and in some ways we are jumping ahead but not really because again with hoover you know better than anyone, his career were so long and so varied. he of course had run-ins with churchill in the first world war and he is very rough on churchill in freedom betrayed. can you talk a little bit about that relationship? >> guest: yes. huber of course made his world reputation as a humanitarian at the humanitarian relief of belgium, the entire country of belgium in world war i. that required the cooperation or the acquiescence of the british government as well as the germans who occupied belgium and one of the people and the british government to who held out initially against allowing a neutral relief agency to go in and give food to enemy occupied
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territory was winston churchill was first lord of the of multi. that was a policy dispute and i don't know that they met over it at that point but jumping ahead to 1940 now, while the war was on in europe, the germans had just overrun much of france and the low countries. in 1940 hoover attempted to reprise his role as humanitarian in europe by proposing an effort to set up a kind of analog of this belgian relief agency of world war i and do the same thing for the oppressed peoples under german control. arguing that the germans would promise, as they did, not to seize any -- he said i can administer this if they germans do so he argued that many millions of people's lives were at risk. churchill by then prime minister was adamantly against this and argue that the british, the great british weapon was there naval blockade and to permit any weakening of that locate even
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for aid to civilians was only ineffective for the war. over the next year or more hoover tried to set or he did establish an organization to bring food to the five small occupied democracies of europe, german occupied to democracies but again roosevelt and churchill blocked him at every turn. they felt this would be militarily advantageous to the germans and hoover i think he came quite disturbed, perturbed that roosevelt and churchill would lock what he thought was a manifestly humane thing to do and that would have no significant ella terry impact one way or the other. so the net of this was that churchill wouldn't open the gates and less roosevelt made him do it you might say because churchill was cultivating roosevelt. roosevelt had no particular reason to be friendly to his art critic herbert hoover who was not only trying to be humanitarian but simultaneously running for president and also being a political critic of
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roosevelt. >> host: you write very objectively about this murky period when there was clearly some kind of outreach from the roosevelt white house to hoover about a humanitarian effort, and killed -- can you clarify that? >> guest: yes, one of the interesting little points about history is that when poland was invaded in september of 1939, franklin roosevelt a few days later sent an emissary a man named myron taylor to hoover and asked whether hoover would be willing to go to europe to lead american relief efforts of some nebular sort in this newly developing war. and it seems that the idea for this was eleanor roosevelt. eleanor roosevelt i think it always had a great respect for hoover's and select and admired him and she i think was seeking
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a way to reconcile actually and hoover declined. i think he suspected that the offer was not genuine and it was an attempt to get them out of the country and out of roosevelt here so to speak and hoover wanted this freedom of action to engage in opposition to roosevelt policy should that be necessary and also hoover had the -- to run again so he did not want to go into the roosevelt administration and some vague way even for humanitarian work. so hoover challenge roosevelt and said look the red cross can handle is so it so hoover said no. there were many steps in this process. the wheel turned again a few months later when the russians invaded finland and hoover jumped in and set up a finished relief fund and with great fanfare and publicity successfully raised millions of dollars to help the finns. this of course not only help the
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finns but helped hoover's own prestige as a humanitarian. >> host: on the eve of the 1940 contest. >> guest: the roosevelt handlers and probably fdr himself in the white house said it looked like hoover was trying to use the finished relief to present himself in a fairer folk forms that they been leaked the story that three months before hoover had been offered humanitarian role and had declined it for political reasons. hoover of course was very upset with that and thought this was a low blow and tonight it. again, the effort fell through, that is the effort to have hoover do anything with roosevelt. that was the last i think moment where they had any possibility of a -- so hoover was free to pursue his own political ambitions, which he did and with some notable success in aid for finland and eight for poland and get he never had the administrative
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role on a grand scale that he had had in world war i. and they think that roosevelt, for all of his differences with hoover, was aware of and appreciative of hoover's great administrative skill and his great reputation as an administrator, nonpartisan relief. but once that opportunity pass, roosevelt during world war ii gave hoover -- >> host: hoover goes to the white house in urges fdr in the spirit of national unity to bring hoover out of retirement to an effect organized it and roosevelt says, i am not jesus christ and i'm not raising him from the dead. >> guest: that's right. >> host: you said hoover was not an isolationist or the noninterventionist. can you explain the difference? >> guest: i think there was a kind of caricature in our popular culture and understanding that term. isolationism didn't mean that
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someone wants no contact with the outside world. isolationism in the sense of simply being insular, rather like erma at the present time. hoover actually favored joining the league of nations after world war i. he believed that was a necessary part of european recovery from the great war. he believed in ratifying the treaty of versailles with reservations. hoover as president actively pursued international disarmament projects in the hoover moratorium of 1931 on war debt payments was one of the most creative parts of his presidency and hoover of course had lived abroad probably more than any other president in many different countries, so he was a man of the world. and so in all those senses of the word isolationist, he does not fit. he called himself the noninterventionist. he explicitly avoided the term isolation because i think he saw that even then it had a kind of
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negative connotation. so he argued that his point was that we should not intervene in the war militarily. he had various reasons for making that argument. and those were reasons of course that set him in opposition to what he saw as the interventionist tendency of franklin roosevelt. >> host: this is i think as i said, the ultimate work of revisionist history. i mean to those of us raised on the heroic story of lowly embattled britain fighting on because of the verbal encouragement of churchill and eventually rallying the united states to the cause of freedom. there are statements that make the jaw drop and i'm wondering
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if you were surprised? i remember talking about neville chamberlain and basically chamberlain didn't abuse hitler but they did not abuse him enough and up and buy that as i understand it he meant, hoover strategic view of the prewar situation in europe was basically to let hitler and stalin eventually fight each other to the point of exhaustion or worse, and above all, encouraged germany and its expansion to the east, and so for example the guarantee later would draw him to the czechs and even to the polls. he comes in for criticism in hoover's account. >> guest: that was to me one of the more surprising features of the book as i began to do the research for my introduction.
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it's not a unique position. few historians perhaps were on the right and occasionally made that argument. herber's -- hoover's view was the essence of adolf hitler's nazi ideology was to turn eastward, living space and that meant ukraine and russia ultimately and hitler was a fanatic anti-communist and would turn his sights on the russians as he eventually did. hoover's view was that adolf adolf hitler and the nazis had no real desire to swing west. that is debatable among historians but that was hoover's you and there is some argument as to what hitler's intentions were. so in herbert hoover's opinion what happened at munich was not only that the germans seized the land and took it away from czechoslovakia, which hoover thought was acceptable under the
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circumstances but he thought it really was opening the gates for an eastward expansion and he said western democracies should stand aside and were not really in adolf hitler's nazi germany line of fire. this is again i think rapidly still debated among historians but it was as i encountered it a rather unusual viewpoint. >> host: what about the jewish? where did they fit in the strategic vision? >> guest: hitler of course ultimately engaged in the holocaust. that was not a course known until much later so in 1938 and 39th in herbert hoover was writing about the nazi oppression of the jewish, he joins many other american citizens and announcing it. he was sincerely outraged by it. he gave support to a law that would have prevented many german
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jewish children to emigrate in the united states in excess of the quota. >> host: i think also didn't he cooperate with the president of harvard in raising funds to bring german acod thanks to this country, german jewish exile academic so hoover had no use for the regime. he did argue it would contain the seeds of its own destruction ultimately and his view was that the two great evil dictators, adolf hitler and josef stalin were bound sooner or later to class particularly because of the oppressive verge in mein kampf on the part of adolf hitler. he believed if they did in the faster rain of eastern europe, that those sides would weaken each other and so it was best for the united states and even the british and the french to encourage that kind of mutual
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self-destruction hopefully of these two fanatical regimes. and so, that was a central part of the geopolitical vision. now he did not envisage, and i don't think too many did at that time, what we now know, the appalling orchestrated systematic killing of the jewish. >> host: by the time obviously that the writing of this book went through very many drafts over a long period of time during which it became clear that the holocaust was a historical reality, did that cause caused him to rethink his view in anyway? >> i don't see evidence of it. he makes favorable reference to the creation of the state of israel in one of the later passages in the book. one of his closest friends and associates was a man who had then his secretary when lewis strauss became an admiral and then of the atomic -- so hoover
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had some interesting ideas for reorganizing the middle east after the war and is perhaps tangential to your question but he had sensitivities there. he thought that once the war began on the eastern front in june of 1941, herbert hoover took to the airwaves on june 29, 1941 in his speech that he said was the most important in his life. he said that now that the two dictators were confronting each other hitler and stalin the best thing to do was to let them engage in what they fall a fratricidal board, which he said was weakening them and letting britain off the hook. even if germany should temporarily plan in the east in the sense of knocking the russians out of the war and perhaps overthrowing the stalinist regime, in hoover's view, the germans could never really successfully control the
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populations. he said conquest always dies of indigestion. i think that was one of hoover's aphorisms. he argued there would be rebellious guerrilla warfare and indeed some of that happened on the eastern front partly because the germans had a master race viewpoint and therefore the slots -- slots for subhuman enough to be treated as allies but as an inferior race to be dominated. so hoover argued that even if the germans were to when they could not conquer britain and they could not even control the population. they would be bogged down and that is the argument. >> host: does that apply to occupy europe as well because obviously in addition to the eastern front hitler controls the continent not quite apart from britain. >> guest: i don't think it's in a magnum opus precisely that in one of his public speeches he said the world the very end pleasant and we couldn't survive
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because he argued the mode of the atlantic ocean to keep us from any attack directly from germany and he seemed to think that the germans were biting off more than they could chew. in retrospect one can ask whether that would have transpired in that way. is one of those counterfactual questions that historians amble -- indulgent but say are impossible to answer. i don't think what people knew at the time and is fair only recently become obvious is that the germans had a truly genocidal intent not only for the jewish as it worked out but for tens of millions of poles and others in the east and recently a historian has argued that if the germans had, knock the russians out of the war and the fall of 41 the senior nazis had plans drawn up for simply starving millions of people to
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death. i don't think herbert hoover knew that so the trumans might not so much of an dog down in the east is simply engaged in utterly bestial behavior on a scale even greater than what they engaged in that we know about. >> host: i realize this is speculative and i also appreciate the dispassionate approach that a historian takes to explosive material. is it possible that hoover's antipathy toward all things, roosevelt, in and anyway collared his judgment? i mean there seems in theory at least a degree of naïveté about the extent of the threat that the nazis posed. even the west. >> guest: he did not think that the nazis had any serious intention of getting to the new world and the argued that they
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couldn't get across the english channel then how are they going to have any meaningful military assault. >> host: for example in latin america, he didn't think it was endangered. >> guest: just because of the distance involved in military operations that there was not much danger. >> host: historians have argued and i'm not sure hoover addresses this point anywhere, not in the magnum opus that the germans might've been had tent with friendly state, fascist states and south america that they wouldn't have stationed over frontal assaults in 1943. they would have been capable of that at any time conceivably there would have been an unfriendly or environment closer to the american shores. so i don't know whether it's tied into franklin roosevelt's antipathy to franklin roosevelt completely. hoover does say in the magnum opus in "freedom betrayed"
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sincerely that he was pro-british and sympathetic to british survival and he was sympathetic to american agents. what he did not want to happen was that the americans would end up transporting the ate a way and bring on a war with the germans of the didn't like the convoy system and he didn't like the seizure of iceland and -- >> host: . [inaudible] >> guest: fascinating case, hoover favored it but he argued that the bill as britain was far more than a simple foreign aid bill. the land lease bill was very broadly written and that is something that surprised me when i went and looked it up. the land lease bill actually about, congress gave roosevelt the power as president to order any federal agency to either manufacture or procure any
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defense article and any government whose interest we favored could receive solely at the decision of president roosevelt up to over a billion dollars which would be at least $10 billion today so one present of the united states was united states was being given the power to order production and procurement of military equipment whatever kind to send to every country who was threatened, which was threatened and roosevelt's own sole judgment. that's a pretty broad gift of power and hoover thought that was a constitutional aberration. so he opposed the lend lease, all the verbiage around it. not the aid itself but the manner in which the aid was given and of course it was ultimately given to the soviet union and other countries. again roosevelt had the power to do it. >> host: clearly he believed
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that -- how so? >> guest: hoover argued a couple of things. he argued that american policy toward japan in 1940 and 41 was rather provocative and perhaps in a juvenile way. he said we are putting pins in a rattlesnake and eventually the rattlesnake will strike that. he cited two cases in.. the first was the cutting off of shipments of aviation fuel and scrap iron to japan in 1940 and more seriously roosevelt's imposition of a total economic sanction embargo against japan in july of 1941. he argued this had the effect of driving the japanese into a corner because they thought they were being deprived of vital supplies that they need and their economy will collapse unless they get this from somewhere. that means they will have to
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seize malaya or the dutch east indies and the united states might be in the way. he argues that we drove the japanese into a corner and we did not understand the japanese psychology which our ambassador was pointing out to him that the japanese might choose to start a war and knowing that they would lose rather than surrender to american pressure. so that is one side of the coin and the other side at will be brief about this point, was in the fall of 41 there was for a time the japanese prime minister, who wanted a summit conference with roosevelt as we would now use the term, and he had certain peace proposal he wanted a kind of modus vivendi with the united states and roosevelt was very cool towards this and secretary of state holt was even colder. hoover argued, i think thought at the time and certainly felt and so expressed himself at length in the book that we had
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missed what was a genuine possibility for some kind of peace for a period at least with japan. when roosevelt and the administration, and his administration, proved unresponsive to this japanese initiative prince conaway's ministry fell and he was replaced by a hardliner and a few weeks later pearl harbor came. >> host: this is a book full of surprises and one that i found remarkable, hoover takes the view that among the other reasons why we should not have gone to war with japan was that we were put in a position of an effect, defending the imperial domination of the white race in asia, which he thought was -- and historically doomed i think it is fair to say. we were in effect doing the
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dirty work for the british and he had very little sympathy for british aspirations, british treatment of asiatics as he put it. in that sense he was a visionary. and he believed in america's policies towards asia was relatively clean through the open door concept and he said we were sack of icing our creditable record. i think he would argue, for the sake of pulling the european chestnuts out of the fire. his relationship with harry truman which is worthy of a book unto itself but it still comes as a surprise to people but i imagine it caused certain hesitation on hoover sparred in writing an honest, fully documented account as he wanted freedom betrayed to be because foreign policy with which he took exception. how did he deal with that? >> guest: a good question.
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he did take issue with several key decisions by truman. the two that perhaps are the most notable was herbert hoover opposed the dropping of the atomic bomb. he said it was in that immoral order. hoover's view was that there had been peace deals in the japanese government. they reached out to sweden and russia in the early months of 1945 and some of the japanese were evidently looking for some way out and hoover thought that we should have tilts on that and permitted the emperor to say as a figurehead and not have gone all the way to drop the bomb. that is an issue we can discuss. >> host: did macarthur agree with him? >> guest: martha rick reid and in my book i included an appendix of about 28 documents including some drafts of earlier versions of this book "freedom betrayed" which are more accusatory in some cases, more direct in their argument and hoover permitted himself to be
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in the final version, so one of his critiques of truman was hoover's disagreement and the argument that dropping the atomic bomb was not necessary at that time. the japanese could have been induced to surrender without it. the other great objection to truman was the way that the administration of truman tried to impose a coalition government on chiang kai-shek, coalition government with mouse hutong and the communist so hoover is highly critical of that. >> host: my senses hoover is no apologist. hoover is often with eight who lost china lobby. he and henry luce were joined at the hip of this romanticization as a latter-day freedom fighter. that is not how i sent hoover's view. >> guest: is not the view that the expressed in a murmur and it called going to war with the
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yellow races which he wrote a few months after pearl harbor were he certainly says he was an oligarch and so forth but in the final section of freedom betrayed, hoover has a thick chapter on the case history of china where he is more sympathetic to chiang kai-shek's predicament if not idolizing chiang kai-shek is a personality. hoover thought that he had made a great error in trying to impose a coalition government on two parties that were bound to fight it out until one or the other side fail. >> host: he was at least implicitly -- which is later. >> guest: he said marshall was the executor of the advisers. marshall was appointed by truman to be a special ambassador to china for about a year in 1946,
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where truman sent him and marshall labored unsuccessfully to bring about a reconciliation of the two chinese warring factions, and hoover came to the view that general marshall was a naïve about the communists. and as some if some people argued at the time that mouse hutong was an agrarian reformer and not a hard-line communist and hoover thought that was poppycock and marshall simply was out of his element in trying to deal with that kind of a confrontation. >> host: so how did hoover respond to initiatives and anti-communist like the marshall plan and nato and the truman doctrine? >> guest: he did support it and you may have some knowledge of this that you would share with me if i'm saying this to schedule it, that truman, rather
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hoover felt that truman was taking a good step with the marshall plan that he wanted patients. he was always suspicious that the europeans might become our dependencies we were too lavish and they needed to steps towards their own reconstruction. he was up those dissenting american troops i believe to europe under nato. there was great debate in 1950 or 51 about that and the basic point that hoover made was that these were hostages and again the red army, the russians would be far superior in numbers so it was not only militarily risky but we were letting the europeans off the hook. >> host: may i come back to harry truman because i didn't quite answer your question on how hoover felt about chairman. he obviously had criticisms of truman but i do not think the personal dimension was there. i mean with roosevelt, there was a feeling of dislike of
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roosevelt's personality and modus operandi. >> host: and questioning of his character. >> guest: he might disagree with truman's judgment but it wasn't that kind of critique. in 1963, as this book was nearly completed in its own team edition, hoover actually sent word to harry truman that he hopes truman would not take umbrage at the publication of a book called "freedom betrayed" and hoover was thinking about the to trail of freedom by the communists in truman without having seen the manuscript said nothing that herbert hoover could do would lower my estimation of him so hoover had a sensitivity that some of the people being criticized might have said and that tended to make them hold off and realize even more. he wanted the manuscript to be perfect in every way, factually
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perfect but he also was concerned about what he called mud volcanoes that might erupt on the left from some of the object of desire. >> host: this is a man who is almost 90 years old who has been fully you know, regained a certain measure of the luster that he had enjoyed before his name had become has become synonymous with the great depression and i assume not only he but his family harbored some real reservations about putting him at that age into the controversy that such a book would be sure to engender. >> guest: i think you're right in starting in the early 1950's in the midst of this project as it happened he said he thought the time was not yet for publishing some of it as it would engender controversy and might give offense to living persons and i don't think he wanted to harm his friendship which it truly was, with harry
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truman. herbert hoover felt very grateful to president reagan for giving him a role in the hoover commission and the humanitarian relief work after world war ii and some are hoover wrote that he thought harry truman added 10 years to hoover's life by giving hoover a constructive role to play a role that he did not have during roosevelt's presidency so hoover was not out -- >> host: hoover's name to hoover dam and a portrait of mrs. hoover was hung in the white house, telling gestures of personal respect. >> guest: yes, so i think that would have caused some hesitation on hoover's part. he wanted to cut things. he wanted to tell the truth. he called this book is well in testament to the american people. he said this is a story i'm uniquely able to tell with my documents at my disposal. he wanted badly to set the record straight. he said it was a record that the american people needed to know.
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at the same time he was seeking a kind of personal, more than vindication, a recovery of respect and he succeeded somewhat in that before he died and then he had a dignified state funeral and i believe in the aftermath of that the family thought the time was not right to reopen the old battles and publish a book that might engender significant controversy. essentially it was put into storage where it remained for a long time. >> host: but i think it wasn't that need. he didn't go to the hoover institution and open opened the door and find a manuscript called "freedom betrayed." tell us a little bit about how this book came to be. >> guest: in 2000 i was approached by the director of the hoover institution and told at the herbert hoover foundation, which herbert hoover himself had created and which on the literary rights of this manuscript, was interested in having that published at last
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and i was asked whether i would be willing to serve as the editor. and i presume they came to me because they have heard of my biographical series so i was asked to consider and i accepted and suggested that the time had come to publish the manuscript. i think that the principle member of the hoover family who thought that this was something that should now be made available to history was herbert the third, the grandson known as pete hoover who passed away last year before he could see this project in print, but i believe it was initiative that led to the decision to bring the book out now 47 years after hoover's death. time heals all wounds it is said and we are now at a point half a century after hoover's death approximately when the people that he was criticizing and
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their families and others are long gone. harry truman was still alive at the time that hoover died so there is some reason for perhaps holding it back for a time so that the time can heal the wounds and now we are at a point where really this is as historians say, is a primary source. this is a matchless window into hoover's find in his later years and it's a book which he thought was his most important of his life. so i have felt honored to be given the opportunity to prepare it for publication, to edit it. >> host: how many came together in whole or part to form this? >> guest: well this version of that which was the last version, the ones he wanted to publish and was essentially completed just before he died in 1964, this version was one of many
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editions that started way back in the 40s. this final version i had i think 10 different areas. he called them renditions and he got tired of revising them and call the last addition z for the last letter of the alphabet and that was when he was 88. there are over 100 linear feet of materials pertaining to this book and that includes many many many early drafts. the man was an inveterate revisor and i don't know how many different versions. >> host: there were another -- number of other works along the way. he wrote that marvelous and i think unique sympathetic and count of woodrow wilson. i think it was the only time that a president had written a biography of another president. the ordeal of woodrow wilson based upon their shared experiences of the conference. >> guest: at one point he was writing several books simultaneously including this
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massive one. his research assistant, man named arthur kent, said it seems sometimes we were riding eight, 10, 12 books of one's. this was the way he works so hoover had fantastic energy and the mental discipline to do this. >> host: how did he use the research? this is a hugely documented work of history. who collected all of that? >> guest: he wrote everything by hand, by pencil and then it would be typed up and then he would revise the typescript and revise it again after new typescript and so on and eventually it would get to the point where he would set it off to the printer. that was an expensive proposition i'm sure but he wanted to see how it looks of his writing practice was remarkable in its own right. how did he assemble materials? camps usefulness to him was as a kind of a scout to go out and
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read the current literature, the new volumes being released and identify key areas and say here, have the type is copy of these passages form cordell hull's memoirs or the book of roosevelt and hopkins by robert sure word, churchill's memoirs which he read carefully it appears and so hoover would then have all that material in front of him and he would write and he would incorporate and some of the sections he used a lot, a lot of chunks from other works. so hoover was constantly -- also he learned from consulting people who were there, douglas macarthur you mentioned. hoover would keep memoranda of conversations with notable people whom he met like joseph kennedy, colonel truman smith and james farley, the democratic postmaster general have under
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fdr. he had all sorts of sources and hoover had the habit of writing memoranda afterwards of these conversations and i give two or three samples in the appendix of this habit of his. that was one of collecting inside information. he had a marvelous confidant, man named john mclaughlin in washington who is the publisher of the army and navy journal and you happen to be a close friend of general marshall and at the japanese ambassador before pearl harbor. he evidently met with him every day so once a week he would write multipage single pays -- singlespaced small type whether some of the latest news. this was contemporary with the happenings in the 1940s. some of that material worked its way into the magnum opus because for hoover it was inside information that he could drop on. and so he had a research assistant, camp, kemp, who was
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an economist teaching and earning a doctorate wall working for hoover halftime and camp i think was an intelligent man, very conservative in his foreign-policy outlook, very loyal to hoover and he was not rewriting who are. hoover was willing to accept suggestions. >> host: you said -- how was he a stylus? >> guest: i think he could be a very effective stylus. he could write with pungency. sometimes he would get into the habit of quoting, big lockwood patients from others to make his point and part of his strategy toward the end was not so much to point a finger at the arpad to collect the information that could be presented that would make hoover's.out of the mouths of the people who are making these erroneous decisions so hoover thought that is better strategy ultimately was to be a little more detached. he still had his convictions. he wasn't changing does what he
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felt a more effective method of convincing people would be to write as a historian rather than a prosecuting attorney. >> host: what did he hope to accomplish? >> guest: i think he wanted americans to understand their history and it would obviously compel revision of the reputations of some key people if one accepts hoover's judgments of them. he argued and that famous phrase that those who cannot remember the pastor doomed to repeat it so he thought there was didactic value, that if we had learned about the mistakes we had made and how we had made a wartime alliance with soviet russia that in hoover's world made the world safer stalin. we had learned about the mistakes we have made perhaps he would have a more realistic and sober awareness of the world and a better way of handling future crises. and he certainly felt that
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america had much to offer the world. he was an american exceptionalism in the term that we now often use and he thought that america could return to its roots as a kind of beacon of liberty if we could see where we went off the track again in hoover's judgment. so i think he hope that we would understand the predicament we were in. he is writing at the time of the cold war, the time of the cuban missile crisis are earlier in the korean war, the war that during -- so there's an urgency to dealing with these issues of what mistakes they make and tehran are dealing with the chinese communist are handling the korean war. said these were not old chestnuts at the time he was writing them. >> host: i realize this is speculative and probably unfair, what would he think of the extraordinary extension of american military power around
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the globe today? >> guest: well, that's a good question and i'm often asked that now. i have been doing radio interviews in a concept frequently because people want to draw some kind of line of inference from his history to our current involvement in the world. i suppose if hoover remained consistent, and we are speculating here, he died nearly half a century ago but central to his conviction was america's role in the world should be that of a kind of paragon state, of the nations lighting the lamp of liberty as he put it, an example to the world not an enforcer of our way of life in the world. and he argued that enforcement in any case would be very difficult to achieve. that was one of his reasons for wanting to stay out of europe's war in 1939 and 40. he thought that they had, that europe was immersed in a pool of hate and it had roots 1000 years old and that it would he foolish for the united states if they
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would come in and transform europe. it is argument was america should conserve his strength and use its strength for peaceful purposes through humanitarian work which of course he exemplified and in that way the united states could help to make the world better longer-term. so he probably would have remained a noninterventionist and i'm saying this as one who approached this as an editor, not as an advocate or a critic of hoover. i think one could make that kind of inference from his basic worldview. >> host: you i think without a doubt are the preeminent hoover scholar and have written three volumes of definitive hoover biography. you know the man better than anyone and you have certainly seen more of his papers than anyone. is there anything that applies to you in the course of doing this project and is


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