Skip to main content

tv   Book TV After Words  CSPAN  January 22, 2012 9:00pm-10:00pm EST

9:00 pm
in particular. >> guest: it may be true that herbert hoover wrote more books than any other president. he wrote more than 30. tiahrt might be a competitor. i haven't done an exact count. jimmy carter has done quite a number as well. those would be to people in the same general vicinity perhaps and nixon with his many foreign policy books years after the presidency. hoover was a devoted writer and
9:01 pm
i think the intellectual and whoever is on display in this book that has just been published, freedom betrayed. your question is what is unusual about freedom of trade. let me for a minute of it. this was initially an installment of hoover's multi volumes that he began to write in earnest in 1940. and he published three volumes in his lifetime but volume of four, five and six were never published in quite the form that he envisioned. this volume freedom betrayed is what he called his war book to be his memoir of his views of world war ii and its aftermath of his participation and the debates at that time. this particular manuscript he worked on for about 20 years and he did not publish it whereas the first three volumes of the projected said were published. so what is partly unusual about this is the fact that it is also
9:02 pm
a gargantuan. it's over a thousand pages and print if you count the front matter of the new volume, and it was only one segment of this massive project which he worked on with incredible determination and tenacity starting at the age of 66 in the magnum opus he started around 70 still tinkering before he died at the age of 90. so the size of it, the fact that it was part of a even larger project i think is a significant point to make. and - what partly drove them memoir was his desire -- it's twofold. the desire in the eyes of his contemporaries and histories of his memoirs were in a sense an apology for his life, apology in the sense of an explanation of his life, and he felt the need to do that after being so repudiated by the polls in 1932
9:03 pm
and being than in his viewed. by franklin roosevelt and his supporters and hoover felt the need to set the record straight. and that was partly for the matter of the personal vindication but also because he felt that the united states had taken a long turning philosophically, ideologically and so on in the 1930's and so this book or as the ultimate free caulkett freedom betrayed was to be his effort to explain where the mistakes were made and blunders were committed. >> in additional to a personal vindication it is also something of the prosecution of the 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 went through many titles. one was lost statesmanship what he called the lost statements about franklin roosevelt in particular although he had some
9:04 pm
really critical comments out some of harry truman's decisions, not to mention mevel chamberlain and so forth, but the main focus is on the fdr. >> host: may be a lot of our viewers are not familiar with the surprising relationship that had existed between a younger hoover and his washington neighbor franklin d. roosevelt. >> guest: hoovered hoover became friends in 1917 when roosevelt was serving with roy willson as assistant secretary of the navy and in that same year who herbert hoover who had been doing work in belgium became the administrator of the united states during our wartime belligerency so hoover and roosevelt were in washington at the same time. they have a common for men and the secretary of interior a man named franklin lane who brought them together and for the social context and the dinners now and
9:05 pm
then and they were friendly. and roosevelt i think looked up to hoover as the younger men and of wartime service hoover already had a humanitarian reputation as a great figure on the world stage. mrs. roosevelt liked hoover and then historians like to cite this anecdote i assure 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 and save their party and run as paulson's successor, roosevelt wrote to a mutual friend of which we could make hoover president of the united states. there could not be a better one and in the research i had done on a hoover roosevelt relationship i had become convinced that roosevelt secretly wanted to be hoover's running mate running as democrat in 1920. well it didn't quite turn out that way.
9:06 pm
they remained friendly during the 1920's. >> host: did that surface for example in the 1932 campaign did people -- can you make -- in today's political climate you can imagine something like that would create. i don't recall that the letter surfaced but there were some articles about the fact that they had been friendly in world war i and neither man wanted to emphasize the fact particularly in 1932. they had been friendly in a somewhat distant fashion because the it on their separate political ways. but they had that bond between them. in 1928 when hoover ran for president and if the are simultaneously ran successfully for the democratic nomination and the governorship of new york at that point the tensions began to surface and that might be a diversion from our story but after that the rivalry set in clearly at the heart what happened next is roosevelt
9:07 pm
wanted to first the five job and also there were some behind-the-scenes incidents that occurred that led each to think that they were not being as a gentleman should. so, there was a personal animus that developed and of course during the 1930's during roosevelt's presidency who first emerged as one of the most tenacious critics. so, and then at that time of the outbreak of world war ii until pearl harbor, hoover the position of the united states while aiding britain should not intervene militarily in the war in europe said he opposed roosevelt's foreign policy step after step and that of course only deepened the cleavage between them. >> host: in fact hoover had a i believe in 1934 published a book called the challenge of the liberty which presented sorry chapter and verse is his first wave of philosophical criticism of the new deal. >> guest: yes. he said that there were status
9:08 pm
ideologies a foot in the 1930's called miss of fascism, socialism and what hoover called the regimentation is the word for the new deal. and he saw the new deal moving in a collectivist direction and who argue that his own view which he called historic would be conservatism in contrast to roosevelt's brand of liberalism or progressivism. so there was not just a personal rivalry between them but it took on an ideological past. >> host: we will get back to the trade in a moment, but the more recent revisionist criticism of roosevelt from the left that he didn't in fact used the crisis on the position given internationalize the bank was hoover -- did he acknowledge that school of thought or didn't
9:09 pm
even exist at that point? >> guest: the school of thought largely came into fashion in the 1960's and 70's with the so-called new left historiography. there were critiques on the left from time to time but i think in a more organized fashion and became somewhat later. hoover as i remember did think that once roosevelt will fight the banks might saving the banks in the banking crisis of 33 the crisis hoover incidentally thought was totally unnecessary because he thought that roosevelt haven't cooperated with him joining to believe you're in solve the crisis even before roosevelt took office, nevertheless hoover thought once roosevelt had done that he would swing to the left. so in hoover's eis, roosevelt was also pushing toward the left may be zigzagging, but hoover salles a and ideological threat and not simply pragmatism in other words roosevelt in
9:10 pm
hoover's view as he says in one passage it was a left, he said his anti-communist but he had a sort of left sympathy and hoover saw the new deal as the case of what he saw creeping collectivism as i suppose to the galloping collectivism on the european continent. >> host: do you see parallel at all between 1933 and the bush obama handoff? given the economic uncertainties of the time? >> guest: my impression is that they cooperated more in the fall, welcome in the internet, 08 and 09. it was a much more interested interlude in the 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
9:11 pm
them that were rather stiff and formal and in much of those meetings roosevelt apparently felt intellectually intimidated by hoover who got up while staring at floor gave this hour long discourse on the war and all sorts of european financial matters and roosevelt had little trends in his lab that he could ask and i suspect part of the relationship had this element roosevelt any way felt a little intellectually intimidated by hoover who knew so much about so many things whereas roosevelt had the gift of exposition and other political gift by sense that in that relationship roosevelt felt a little uneasy with hoover but in short, the interactive dump between hoover and roosevelt was much more difficult and was marked by mistrust on both sides and hoover thought roosevelt was planning politics and trying to allow the crisis deepens of
9:12 pm
roosevelt could come in and save the day and be the hero. roosevelt hoover was trying to trap him into foreclosing on the policy options in other words abandon the new deal before he could even implement it. so each distrusted the other so there was always that level of the mutual suspicion in those days that quibbled the relationship. >> host: we talk about 1940 being the starting point for the freedom betrayed but that also is arguably hoover's presidential ambitions. i assume that there is a relationship between the two. >> guest: yes. culbert hoover i am convinced and i suspect you might agree with this as a fellow hoover biographer year and for a rematch with roosevelt. it wasn't very realistic in 1936 but in 1940 hoover was definitely maneuvering for a
9:13 pm
deadlocked convention and he helped by addressing the convention with a blinding address he could show himself to be thus appear superior that the convention would stampede to him. this may have been a forlorn hope hoover definitely wanted to vindicate himself by running again. when he did not get the nomination, when it fell through and they became the new speaker of the charismatic newcomer, hoover believed in the nose next few weeks as if there was a great turning point in the life and said as much to friends thinking of them for their gifts of friendship and within a few weeks of that time he started systematically scrolling of his memoir. it is almost as if he knew that the chapter in his life was over and he could never again hope to be president but the next thing he could do would be to write for history. it's almost as if he could no longer make history, but he
9:14 pm
could try to shape how history was interpreted. >> host: there is a parallel we might want to talk about actually today and that is that winston churchill wrote his memoirs in world war ii which are in a way the magnum-opus of winston churchill which can be compared and contrasted to what hoover and his staff formerly called the magnum-opus freedom the trade and there is a fascinating book by a british historian david reynolds as i recall called in command of history, and are doing that churchill was seeking to shape history and churchill said something to the effect if history will be kind to me because i know i will be one of the historians, so hoover perhaps was seeking also to set the record straight. >> host: you brought that his name -- in some ways we are jumping ahead but again, with hoover, you know better than anyone that clearly so long and he of course had run ins with
9:15 pm
churchill in the first world war, and he is very rough on churchill in the freedom they trade. so talk a little bit about that relationship. >> guest: yes, hoover of course made his oral reputation as a humanitarian with the humanitarian relief of belgium, the entire country of belgium in world war i. that required the cooperation of the acquiescence of the british government as well as the germans who occupied belgium and one of the people in the british government who held initially against allowing a natural relief to go out and get food to the any occupied territory was the first floor of the admiralty. the was a policy dispute. i don't know that they actually hoover at that point but going ahead to 1940 while the war was on in europe and the germans had just overrun much of france in the low countries in the 1940's hoover attempted he pleased his
9:16 pm
role in the humanitarian in europe by proposing an effort to set up a kind of analog of his belgium relief agency of world war i and do the same thing for the oppressed peoples under the german control arguing that the germans were promising that they did not to seize any of the import of food and he said i can administer this if the cheek with a stockpole project so he argued many of people's lives were at risk. churchill by then the prime minister was adamantly against the suit argued that the british agree to british weapon was their naval blockade and to permit any weakening of the blockade even for aid to civilians was only in effect to prolong the war matt. over the next war they tried to reestablish an organization to bring food to the five small occupied democracies of europe, german occupied democracies, but again, roosevelt and churchill blocked him at every turn. they felt that this would be
9:17 pm
militarily advantageous to the germans and hoover i think became quite disturbed, pritchard that roosevelt and churchill would block what he thought was a manifestly humane thing to do and what have no significant military impact one way or the other. churchill was an open the gates and less roosevelt made him do it you might say because churchill is cultivating roosevelt. roosevelt had no particular reason to be friendly to his art critic herbert hoover was not trying to be but running for president and being a critic of roosevelt. >> host: you write very objectively about this period there is clearly some kind of reached from the roosevelt white house to hoover about a
9:18 pm
humanitarian effort, and can you clarify that? >> guest: yes, one of the interesting little points above history is that when poland was invaded in september, 1939, they sent an emissary named myron taylor and asked whether hoover would be willing to go to europe to lead american relief efforts of a sort in in this new lady phill looking war and it seems that the idea for this was eleanor roosevelt and had a great respect for the intellect and admired him and she i think was seeking a way to reconcile them at that point actually, and hoover declined. i think that he suspected that the offer was not genuine, it was an attempt to get him out of the country and out of roosevelt's here so to speak and he wanted his freedom of action to engage in the opposition to roosevelt's policy should that
9:19 pm
be necessary foreign policy and also hoover had to run again so he didn't want to go into the roosevelt administration in some way even for humanitarian work. so who virgil winston said the red cross can handle the problem. so hoover said no and there are many steps in the process. the wheel turned again a few months later when the russians invaded finland and hoover jumped in and set up a finnish relief fund and with great fanfare and a publicity successfully raised millions of dollars to help. this of course not only helped the fans but it helped hoover's own prestige as the humanitarian in the eve of 1940. so the roosevelt handlers and fdr himself in the white house said it looks to us like roosevelt, like hoover is trying to use the finished relief to present himself in a favorable form so they then leaked to the story that three months before
9:20 pm
hoover had been offered a humanitarian role and had declined for political reasons and hoover of course was very upset about that and thought that this is a very low blow and the united, and in the effort fell through that is the effort to have hoover do anything with roosevelt. the was the last i think moment where they had any possibility of a rapprochement. said he was free to pursue his own political and missions to date his own independent humanitarian work which he did come and with some notable success the aid for finland and poland, and he never had the administrative role on the ground scale that he had had in world war i, and i 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 of the nonpartisan relief.
9:21 pm
but once the opportunity past, roosevelt during world war ii gave hoover no more. >> host: and the urge fdr in the spirit of the national unity to bring hoover out of the time and to organize all the crimes and roosevelt says i'm not jesus christ and i'm not freezing and from the dead. >> host: you see that he wasn't an isolationist, can you explain the difference? >> guest: i think there is a kind of character in our popular culture and understanding of the term isolationism that is to mean someone wants no contact with the outside world. isolationism in the sense of simply being insular rather than burma at the present time. hoover actually favored joining the league of nations after world war i. he believed that that was a necessary part of european recovery from the great war. he believed in ratifying the
9:22 pm
treaty of first-line and reservations and hoover as president actively pursued international disarmament projects and the hoover moratorium of 1931 on the debt payments was one of the most creative parts of the presidency and hoover of course had lived abroad probably more than any other president in many different countries, said he was a man of the world. and so, and all senses of the word isolationism he doesn't fit. he called himself a long interventionist and explicitly avoided the term of isolation because i think that he saw that even then it had a kind of negative connotation. so he argued that his point is we should not intervene in the war militarily and he had various reasons for making that argument. and those were reasons of course that set them in opposition to what she saw as the interventionist tendency of franklin roosevelt.
9:23 pm
this is the ultimate work of the revisionist history. i mean, to those of us raised on the heroic story of lonely embattled britain, you know, fighting on because of the verbal encouragement of churchill and eventually rally in the united states to the cause of freedom, there are statements in this manuscript that mcgeorge will drop to become -- make your jaw drop to the use of basically chamberlain appease hitler but not enough, and by that he meant as i understand hoover's strategic view of the war situation europe
9:24 pm
was basically what hitler and stalin eventually they would be fighting each other to the point of exhaustion and above all encourage germany and its expansion to the east so for example the guaranteed later would draw to the czech and the polls and comes into criticism in hoover's account. that was to be one of the more surprising features of the book as i, pardon me, began to do the research for my editors introduction. it's not a unique production. a few historians may be on the right have occasionally made the argument. hoover's view is the very essence of hitler, adolf hitler might see ideology was to turn eastward in the living space and that meant ukraine and russia
9:25 pm
ultimately and that hitler was a fanatic anti-communist and would turn his sights on the russians as he eventually did. hoover's view is that adolf hitler and the nazis had no desire to swing west. that is the data along the historians, but that is hoover's viewing and there is an argument as to what hitler's intentions were. so, and herbert hoover's opinion, the what happened at munich was lawfully that the germans seized the land and took away from czechoslovakia or which hoover thought was acceptable under the circumstances but he felt that it really was opening the gates for the eastern expansion and said the western democracy should stand aside and were not really in nazi germany's line of fire, this again is i think still debate among historians, but it was as i encountered a
9:26 pm
rather unusual viewpoint. >> host: what about the jews, where do they fit in this strategic? >> guest: hit her of course ultimately engaged in the holocaust. that wasn't of course known until much later, so in 1938 and 39 men who were hoover was written with the nazi oppression of the jews and denouncing it. sincerely not reached by it and went on the radio announcing it and gave support to the law that would have permitted many jewish children to immigrate in the united states in excess of the quota. >> host: didn't to cooperate in actually raising funds to blame german academics? so hoover had no use for the regime it was the oppressive and
9:27 pm
brutal regime. he did argue that it would contain the seeds of its own destruction and his view was the great evil dictators adolf hitler and joseph stalin were bound sooner or later to clash because of the aggressive urge expressed on the part of a of hitler said he believed if they did in the vast terrain of eastern europe, that both sides would weaken each other and so what was best for the united states and even the british and the french to encourage that kind of mutual self destruction hopefully of these two fanatical regimes. and so that was a central part of the hoover geopolitical vision. now he did not envision and i don't think that many did at that time what we know now of the polling orchestrated
9:28 pm
systematic killing of the civilian juice's. >> host: by the time of the writing of this book went through many drafts over a long period time and we should be clear that the holocaust was a historical reality did that cause him to rethink his view in any way? >> guest: i don't see evidence of it. he makes a favorable reference to the creation of a state of israel and one of the leader passages in the book. one of his closest friends and associates as a man who had been his secretary in the part of oral or one became an admiral and that of the atomic energy commission so hoover was that some interesting ideas for reorganizing the middle east after the war meccas the trend essential to your question, but he had sensitivities there. he thought once the war began in june of 1941 perhaps we should discuss that at this point
9:29 pm
herbert hoover to feed to the airwaves on june 29th 1941 in a speech he said was the most important of his life. he said now they are confronting each other at ramsdell in the best thing to do is let them engage in what he called a fratricidal war which he said was weakening them and letting britain off the hook. and even if germany shut temporarily when in the sense of knocking them out of the war and overthrowing the regime and hoover's viewed they could never successfully control population as the conquest we spies in the justin that is one of his low at prisons. he argued that there would be readily in guerrilla warfare and indeed some of that happened during the war on the eastern front partly because the germans had the master race viewpoint and they were subhuman and not
9:30 pm
to be treated as in any way allies but simply as an inferior race to be dominated. hoover argued even if the germans were to win the couldn't conquer britain or even control the population. they would be a ball down and that is the movement. >> host: obviously in addition to the eastern front, hitler controls the continent not quite apart from britain. >> guest: i don't think it is in the magnum-opus precisely but he said of the world would be very unpleasant but we could survive because he argued that the most of the atlantic ocean what keep us from any attack directly from germany, and he seems to think the germans were biting off more than they could chew. now in retrospect, one can ask whether that would have transpired in that way. it's one of those counterfactual questions that historians
9:31 pm
simultaneously say is impossible to answer. i don't think what people knew what time has recently become obvious is that the germans had a truly genocidal intend not only for the jews but for tens of millions of poles and others in the east and recently a historian has argued timothy snyder at yale in his book that if the germans had knocked the russians of the war in the fall 41 the senior nazis had plans drawn up for simply starving people to death. i don't think herbert hoover knew that, so the germans might not so much have been bogged down in the east as simply engaged in utterly missile behavior on the scale even greater than what they engaged in that we know about. >> host: i know this is speculative and i also appreciate the approach that a
9:32 pm
historian takes to expose the material. is it possible that hoover's antipathy toward all things roosevelt in any way colored his judgment? there seems of the very least a degree of naivety about the extent of the threat that the nazis posed to the west. >> guest: he didn't think the nazis had any intention of getting to the new world and argued the couldn't get across the english channel how are they going to have any meaningful. it is endangered just because of the distance involved in the military operations there wasn't much danger.
9:33 pm
some historians have argued and i am not sure that hoover address this point anywhere, not in the magnum-opus that the germans might have been content with economic penetration with friendly states for the time fascist states and south america that they wouldn't have staged an over frontal assault in 1943 they wouldn't have been capable of that but in a time there would have been an unfriendly environment closer to the american shores. i don't know whether it is tied into the franklin roosevelt antipathy to franklin roosevelt completely hoover does say in the magnum-opus and in freedom betrayed and i think sincerely that he was sympathetic to the british survival and a sympathetic to the american age what he didn't want to have been was the the americans within the transporting and away the would bring on the war with the germans so he didn't like the convoy system, he didn't like the seizure of iceland.
9:34 pm
>> host: about the land lease? >> guest: fascinating case. hoover favored the aid to britain embodied in the lease but he argued that the land lease bill as written was far more than a simple bill. the foreign aid elements he said yes he approved that, but the land lease bill was very broadly written and that is something that surprised me when i went and looked it up. the bill actually allowed -- congress gave roosevelt the power as president to order any federal agency to either manufacture or procured any defense article that any government who is interest we favor could receive at the decision of president roosevelt up to over a billion dollars which should be at least 10 billion today. so the president of the united states was being given the power to order the production and procurement of military aid
9:35 pm
equipment of what ever kind to send to any country who was threatened and roosevelt's own judgment that is a pretty broad gift of power, and hoover thought that i was a constitutional aberration so he opposed all of the verbiage around, not the aid itself but the manner in which it was given and of course it was ultimately given to the soviet union and other countries. again roosevelt had the power to do it and clearly he believed that japan could have been averted. 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
9:36 pm
rattlesnake and eventually the rattlesnake will strike that. he cited two cases in point. the first was the cutting off of the shipments of aviation fuel and scrap iron to japan which was at war with china 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 vehicle driving the japanese into the corner because they felt they are being deprived of the supplies they need. their economy will collapse unless they get the surprise somewhere that means they will have to see is moly our 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 didn't understand the japanese psychology which our ambassador was pointing out but the japanese might choose to start a war knowing that they would lose
9:37 pm
rather than surrender to the american pressure so that's one side of the queen. the other is in the fall of 41 there was a time a japanese prime minister wanted a conference with roosevelt as we would now use the term and she had a certain peace proposals he wanted a kind of modus with the united states and roosevelt was very cool towards this and the secretary of state was even colder and hoover argued at the time and certainly felt and expressed himself that plank in this book that we had missed what was a genuine possibility for some kind of peace for a program at least with japan. when roosevelt and the administration prove unresponsive to this japanese initiative, the ministry fell and he was replaced by a hard
9:38 pm
liner 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 was that we were put in a position of in effect defending the imperial domination of the white race in asia which he thought was on just and historical the doomed i think it's fair to say that we were in fact doing the dirty work for the british and he had very little sympathy for the british aspirations, a british treatment as he put it. in that sense he was a visionary. and he believed that america's policy toward asia was relatively clean to the open door concept and so on and said that we were sacrificing our
9:39 pm
creditable record i think he would argue for the sake of pulling the european chestnuts out of the fire. >> host: his relationship with harry truman which is worthy of a book itself but still is a surprise to people but i imagine it caused a certain hesitation on hoover's part in writing and honest fully documented account as he wanted freedom retreat to be because clearly there are parts of the foreign policy with which he took exception. how did he deal with that? >> guest: good question. he did take issue with several key decisions. the two perhaps the most notable is that herbert hoover opposed the of thing to do to dropping of the atomic bomb. he said it was immoral. the view is there had been some peace feelers from elements in the japanese government that reach out to sweden and russia
9:40 pm
in the early months of 1945 and some of the japanese were evidently looking for some way out and hoover thought we should have built on that and permitted the emperor to stay is a figurehead and not have gone all the way to drop the bomb. that is an issue we can discuss. >> host: did in the agree on that? >> guest: they agree on that and in this book incidentally i might mention that right now i have included an appendix of about 28 documents including some drafts of earlier versions of the book freedom betrayed which are more accusatory in some cases, more direct in their argument than hoover permitted himself to be in the final version so one of his critiques was the disagreement and argument that the dropping of the atomic bomb wasn't necessary at that time that the japanese could have been induced to surrender without the other great objection to truman was the way the administration tried to impose a coalition government
9:41 pm
with mao zedong and the communists and so hoover is highly critical of that. hoover is no apologist he's often in the who lost china lob lobby where they are joined at the hip in this room amortization of came and the kind of latter-day freedom fighter. that is and how i sensed the view. it's not the view that he expressed in a memorandum is in the appendix called going to war with the yellow races which he wrote a few months after pearl harbor where he certainly says it was no small d democrat, he was and all the dark and so forth, but in the final section of freedom betrayed, hoover has a fit chapter on the case history of china where he is more sympathetic to the predicament if not idolizing as
9:42 pm
a personality they felt we had a great error in trying to impose a coalition government on the two parties that were balanced to fight it out until one side won. >> host: he was critical of general marshall. which is -- he said that marshall was the instrument or the executor of the will of truman's left-wing advisers. what it marshall do? he was appointed by truman to be a special ambassador to china for about a year in 1946 where truman sent him and marshall labored unsuccessfully to bring about a reconciliation of the two chinese war infections and hoover came to the view that general marshall was naive about the communists and as some people argue that the time that
9:43 pm
it was an agrarian reformer and not a hard line communist and hoover thought of as poppycock and that marshall solid military man that he was simply was out of his element and trying to deal with that kind of a confrontation. >> host: how did hoover respond to the initiatives like the marshall plan and nato and the doctrine? >> guest: he did support and you may have knowledge of this and share with me if i am saying this to sketchily that truman -- rather hoover felt that truman was taking a good step with the plan but he wanted qualifications. he was always able suspicious that the europeans might become our dependence if we are too lavish and the need to take steps toward their own reconstruction. he was opposed to sending
9:44 pm
american troops to europe under nato there was a great debate in 195051 about this and the basic point that hoover made is that these would be hostages, and again the russians would be spared the khator superior in the numbers so it wasn't only militarily risky but we were letting the europeans off the hook. may i come back to harry truman for a moment because i didn't quite answer your question on how hoover felt about truman he obviously had criticisms of truman but i do not think that the personal dimension was there. with roosevelt there was a feeling of dislike of the personality and modus operandi. >> host: and question of his character. >> guest: he might disagree with truman's chief of judgment but it wasn't that kind of critique. in 1963 as the book was nearly
9:45 pm
completed, who were actually sent word to harry truman that he hoped truman wouldn't take umbrage of the publication of a book called freedom betrayed. what hoover was thinking about is the big trail of freedom by the communists and truman without having seen the manuscript said nothing herbert hoover could do little lower my estimation of him. so hoover had a sensitivity that some of the people he criticized might be upset and that i think tended to make him hold off and revise even more. he wanted the manuscript to be perfect in every way, factually perfect but he also was concerned about what he called mud volcanoes that might erupt on the left from some of the objects. >> guest: >> host: this is a man who is almost 90-years-old and has been fully regained a certain measure of luster that he had enjoyed
9:46 pm
before he had become synonymous with the great depression and i assume that will only he and his family harvard real reservations about plunging him at that age into the controversy that such a book would be sure to deliver. >> guest: you're right starting in the early 50's in the midst of this project as it happened, he said that he thought the time was not yet for publishing some of it because it would in generate controversy and give a sense and i don't think that he wanted to later on harm his friendship which it truly was with harry truman. herbert hoover felt very grateful to him for giving him a role in the commission and the humanitarian relief work after world war ii and some where he wrote he thought harry truman added ten years to his life by giving him a constructive role to play that he didn't have during roosevelt's presidency,
9:47 pm
so he was sent out to -- the member who first came to hoover dam and hung a portrait of mrs. hoover in the white house telling gestures of personal respect. so i think that would have caused some hesitation. he wanted to things. he wanted to tell the truth. he called this book is well and testament to the american people. he said this is a story that i am uniquely able to tell with my documents at my disposal and so on. he wanted very badly to set the record straight. he said was a record that the american people needed to know and at the same time he was seeking a kind of personal more than vindication, a recovery of respect and he succeeded somewhat on that before he died and then he had a dignified state funeral and i believe that in the aftermath of that the family thought the time wasn't right to reopen the old battles and publish a book that might
9:48 pm
engender significant controversy comes essentially was put into storage where it remained for a long time. but i take it wasn't that need. you didn't go to the hoover institution and open a door and find a manuscript called freedom betrayed. it talks about how this book came to be. >> guest: in 2000 when i was approached by the director of the hoover institution and told that the herbert hoover foundation, which herbert hoover himself had created and which owned the literary rights to this manuscript was interested in having that published at last and i was asked whether i would be willing to serve as the editor. i presume they came to me because i've written extensively on the biographical series about herbert hoover and so i was asked to consider, and i accepted and suggested that the time had come to publish the manuscript.
9:49 pm
i think that the principal member of the hoover family who fought that this was something that should now be made available to history was the third grandson known as pete hoover who passed away last year before he could see this project in print, but i believe it was his initiative that led to the decision to bring the book out now 47 years after his death and time heals all wounds it is said and we are now at a point half a century after the death approximately when the people that he was criticizing and their families and others are long gone. harry truman was still live at the time that he died. so there was some reason for perhaps holding it back for a time so that the time can heal the wound and now we are at a point where really this is a as historians say plenary source.
9:50 pm
this is a matchless window into his mind and in his later years and it's a book which he thought is most important of his life and so i felt honored to have been given the opportunity to prepare it for publication to -- >> host: how many new stripsach chollet came together to form this? >> guest: this version of it which is the last version that he wanted to publish and it was essentially completed just before he died in 64, this version was one of many additions the stored wheat in the 40's. the final version i think at ten different variants he called them editions and then he got tired of revising and called the last edition the last letter of the ultimate and that is when he was 88. there are over 100 linear feet pertaining to this book and that
9:51 pm
includes many many early draft. he was an inveterate revise your and i don't know how many different versions because -- >> guest: a number of other works along the way. he wrote that marvelous and i found to this day unique sympathetic account of what rules and is the only time that a president has written a biography of another president. woodrow wilson based upon their shared experience. >> guest: at one play he was written several books simultaneously including this massive one his research assistant a man named roger said that it seemed sometimes we were writing eight content of 12 books at once that is just the way that he worked so hoover had fantastic energy and mental discipline to do this.
9:52 pm
this is a huge lead documented work of history. who did all that? >> guest: he wrote everything by hand and then there would be typed up and he would revise the script and again after the new script is creative and eventually it would get to the point he would set it off to the printer and galleys and that was an expensive proposition nine sure but he wanted to see how it looked so his riding practice was remarkable in its own right. how could he assembled the materials? the usefulness to him was a kind of scout to go out and read the current literature, the new volumes being released by governments, and identify the key areas and say copy of these passages from cornell's memoirs or the book roosevelt and hopkins by robert sure what, the memoirs which he read carefully
9:53 pm
it appears and so hoover would then have all that material in front of him and he would write and incorporate and in some of the sections used a lot of chunks of quotations from other works so he was constantly on the lookout but also he learned from consulting people who were there, douglas macarthur you mentioned, hoover would keep memorandum of notable conversations with notable people when he met like joseph kennedy, colonel truman smith, and james farley and the democratic postmaster general under fdr. he had all sorts of sources and who burt to the car hoover had the habit of reading of these conversations and i would give two or three samples in the appendix of this habit of his that was one way of collecting inside information. he had a marvelous confidante named john in washington who is the publisher of the army and
9:54 pm
the navy journal and happened to be a close friend of general marshall and of the japanese ambassador before pearl harbor when he evidently met with every day. so, once a week she would write multi page single space smaltite letters or of the latest news. this is contemporary with the happenings in the 1940's. some of that material worked its way into the magnum-opus because for hoover it was inside information he could draw upon and so he had a research assistant who was an economist who was actually teaching and learning a doctorate while working for hoover halftime and i think that he was an intelligent man, very conservative in his foreign policy of look, very loyal and he wasn't free riding. no one of the road hoover but he was willing to accept suggestions. >> host: how does he have a stylist?
9:55 pm
>> guest: i think that he could be a very effective stylist if he could write with pungency. sometimes he would get into the habit of quoting big block quotations from others to make his point and part of the strategy toward the end was not so much to point a finger at fdr, but to collect the information that could be presented that would make hoover's points out of the mouths of people who were making these decisions, so hoover thought that his better strategy ultimately was to be a little more detached. he strutted his convictions he wasn't changing those but he thought a more effective method of convincing people would be to write as a historian rather than as a prosecuting attorney. >> host: what did he hoped to accomplish with the book? >> guest: i think he wanted americans to understand the history, and but obviously compel the revision of the reputations of some of the
9:56 pm
people if one accepts the judgment of them. he argued in that famous phrase those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it so he felt there was a dalia that if we learned about the mistakes we had made and how we had made a wartime alliance with soviet russia that in hoover's words made the world safe for stalin if we have learned about mistakes we had made perhaps we would have a more realistic and sober awareness of the world and a better way of handling the future crises, and he certainly felt that america had much to offer the world. he was an american excerpts shall list in the term which now often used and he felt 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 that he hoped we would understand the
9:57 pm
predicament. he's writing this in the time of the cold war, the time of the cuban missile crisis or even earlier the korean war and so forth that very early became hot at times so there is an urgency to dealing with these issues of what mistakes did we made to the comedian dealing with the chinese communist or in handling the korean war cities were of old chestnuts of the time he was writing about them. >> host: i realize there is a speculative and probably unfair, all we think of is extraordinary extension of american military power around the globe today. >> guest: that is a good question and i've been doing some retial interviews it comes up frequently because people want to draw some kind of a line of inference from his history to our current involvement in the world. i suppose if we remained consistent we are speculating
9:58 pm
here he died nearly half a century ago but central to his conviction was the view that american's role in the world should be that of a kind of parent on state of a nation like to the land of liberty as he put and exceed those of the world were not an enforcer of a work way of life on the world, and he argued that the enforcement in any case would be a very difficult to achieve. that was one of his reasons for wanting to stay out of your web's war in 1939 and 40. he felt that europe was immersed in a pool of hate and would be foolish for the united states if they could come in and transform your up and so his argument was that america should conserve its strength and then use its strength for peaceful purposes to the humanitarian work which of course he exemplified and in that way the united states could help make the world better longer-term. so he probably would have demand
9:59 pm
and an interventionist and i am saying this as a one who approached this as an editor and not as an advocate or a critic of hoover i think one could make that kind of inference from his basic view. >> host: you are a thing without a doubt the preeminent hoover scholar. you've written three volumes of the definitive hoover biography. you know the man better than anyone and certainly see more of the speakers than anyone. is their anything that surprised you in the course of doing this project and is their anything you don't know a lot hoover that he would like to? >> guest: i was surprised by the emphasis he played on the polish guarantee as a blunder of the british diplomacy. i was less surprised because he had said so publicly but he develops at a laboratory in this book by his argument that we had made the


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on