Skip to main content

tv   Book TV  CSPAN  July 5, 2013 8:00pm-10:01pm EDT

8:00 pm
your wallets, that is the press right next to you there. he was great for jokes all the time at our expense. >> well we've now reaches 2:00. thank you very much for coming and i hope to see you next year. thanks for the panel. . .
8:01 pm
>> host: german women in the nazi killing field. what's the book about? >> guest: an entire generation of german women -- i call them the world war i baby boomers. there was an increase right after the first world war, a spike in births, about 1918-1919 coinciding with german women getting votes. you have a surge of female population coinciding with the opening up of women's opportunities politically. the stories about this generation that came of age during the period of the nazi regime in the 30s who saw, you know, opportunities that they didn't have before, take part in the political system, the revolutions, all exciting job
8:02 pm
opportunities, and their first way of getting out of the villages. many of the women, you know, living in small, remote villages wanted to get art to see the city and experience city life. it's about the women who come of age with their ambitions and dreams, but these coinside with the establishment of a criminal jen sigh dale regime. what happened when the political awakening is part of the horribly, kind of political system that they come of age in; right? i end up tracing the women to the eastern territories of the regime where the crimes of the holocaust occurred, the blood lands of the killing fields holocaust. they come in the german system, german proper, and mobilized to participate in the campaigns in eastern territories, and i had not read any books before that really placed women in large numbers in the sites, and that's
8:03 pm
what my story's about is how they get there, how they react to what they've seen, how some of them move into the role of accomplices, and the worst case that move into killers. we often think of german female perpetrators as camp guards, and in small numbers, about 3500 based on some very sparse documentation, but the reality is that this was a mass movement, german women were sent to the east to be part of hitler's colonial imperial project, part called the war of destruction, as nurses, imperial developers, colonizers, and all different capacities, and they directly participated in this project that included the holocaust and genocide programs. i -- in understanding the magnitude of this, discovering the mag any magnitude of this in the extent of research i've done, i wanted to make the book
8:04 pm
accessible to as many people as possible. granted, in a lot of research, they've been in the field for a lot of years working in archives around the world, and i went to ukraine initially in 1992 where i discovered the material and started clerking the stories, and it just took all these yearings of going, you know, to israel, spending time in washington, d.c., and there's a fab fabulous collection there, going to germany, collecting material from survivors in the u.s., a massive collection effort of stories to place these women in the killing fields, as it were, at the sites, and concluded that there was at least a half a million -- half a million, 500,000 women mobilized. this is new. not only that we're putting them in the eastern territories that the book is doing that, but in significant numbers and in a variety of roles, and that figure, half a million, is obviously quite a contrast to when we think of female camp guards in closed camp settings
8:05 pm
behind barbed wire, behind the walls, trained to be cool. now, suddenly, we have a scene of women in all different kinds of capacities in the open air settings where mass shootings were occurring. half the victims of the holocaust died, approximately half in mass shootings, ghettos, forced marchs, famine, starvation, and so forth. it became communities of violence that started to develop, you know, as the scenes that very much included women in these roles. i -- with this large number; right, i had to bring it down to individual spaces to put human faces on the perpetrators since in the history books they are often demonized and considered freaks of nature or statistic measures or porn graphically sew. these women, when they came of
8:06 pm
age were people we could relate to, likable figures, and so the book, you warm up to them in the beginning, and you cart to see how they are strains formed by -- transformed by being moved to the east and confronting, witnessing the violence, and we see different reactions of that behavior. this is really the main story of the book. >> host: were women supportive of the nazi regime in the early 30s? >> they were, but they were involved in many -- this is a political awakening, explosion, they are involved in the communism movement, involved in a number of people's movements, what would be right wing movements and moderate, social democratic parties. they were largely represented. they were really, you know, active in all. active in all the movements, and you cannot say, for instance, that women were responsible for voting hitler into power. he was actually placed there by an elite, but during the height
8:07 pm
of 32, look at the election results, for instance, hitler was made chancellor in 1933, you see in certain regions where the party was strongly represented in germany, female kind of participation in that, and in participation of the movement as such as, you know, aids to the storm troopers and so forth, but, no, we couldn't predict, for instance, 1933, and that's part of the tension that's important that, you know, these women would go completely 1 had 00%, you know, nazi and rush to the east to become killers if they processed the information that i'm trying to show through the biographers. >> whose picture is on the front of the book? >> that is redel willhouse, her married name, and it's a very chilling photo. i, you know, just the stare is
8:08 pm
quite -- it still grabs me, startles me. she was a young woman, a baby boomer born after the first world war, world war i, who grew up in a working class family in the contested territory, a border region, a lot of nasty fanaticism, attempts to rejoin the mandate with germany in the 30s. she worked on a chicken farm, she had, you know, grammar school, grade school education, and, again, trying to get out and see the world, you know, these ambitions that are stirredded by the sights of the entire war period for women in particular, and trying to find her way, and what she does is find her way to a nazi newspaper office, and she's working as a typist there because she has clerical skills, and she meets her husband there, a real rabble-rowser, a street fighter,
8:09 pm
he's showing off scars and bruises to her, and she's enchapterred by that, by his brutality, and he's in the fs, and so he got a rising career, was part of the elites, and she attaches herself to him, and that's from the marriage application, the marriage application file. their marriage had to be approved by the furyk. >> host: because? >> they had to pass a racial examination, invasive examination of the women, to pass the test of their racial, not only their ancestries back to the 18th century, but the bilogical features. that's the front shot. the rest of the application has a profile and whole body image of her. her husband is eventually made the commander of one of the most notorious concentration camps in
8:10 pm
ukraine which was near western ukraine, a site where hundreds of thousands of jews were transported to belgium and so gassing centers and many died there and they set up a villa outside the camp perimeter, and when she got there, she said, well, i'd like a balcony. i need a terrace, a balcony, and they brought jewish slave forced labors to lay the tile and make it nice for her. what did she do with her 3-year-old daughter? who was also there, she brought, the whole family there, well, in the setting of this villa, sitting on the balcony where they would have their ritual coffee and cake, she would pull out her pistol, a typical weapon, domesticated weapon, a
8:11 pm
parlor room, people would -- the recreational kind of weapon, she would swirl, and they had one of these, and she pulled this out and would shoot at the jews who were in the jewish laborers in the garden and shoot across over the wall of the camp into laborers themselves who were, you know, making their way through the camp, and this is a routine for her. this not a one-time incident. she developed this reputation for these balcony shootings, and many women in these sites, they have testimony of shooting from balconies, which is an interesting kind of pattern, but it also just brings, really, literally home the fact that these are women killing and in these domestic settings, it's not their official task, but they are in the places where
8:12 pm
they realize this is possible. everything's possible here in the wild east, and, you know, -- >> wendy, how did you find her story? >> i found her story -- i first came across the story in the testimony of a very, very important scholar, a survivor, a very pioneering scholar in his field, who was from this region, and heard about her during the war through other survivors, and he wrote about this, i think it was as early as the 50s issue and ichesz shocked by this, and he, you know, identified her and even quoted survivors who had -- were astounded by her violence, and that got me, you know, that was the first indication here is
8:13 pm
an outstanding figure, let me test out, you know, whether or not this is true. let me try to corroborate the testimony with other materials, and then i got into the primary german documentation and found, in fact, her marriage application and verified who she was and what her own biography was, and she was, in fact, sent there, a real person there with her daughter. we saw that in the german documentation. i continued to collect more victim testimony about her, and that's really the primary source in this case. there are other cases in the book in the biography where i identified people in memoirs, that they came out, had the audacity to write memoirs, leave out history, and i used that as the starting point in starting to dig and make phone calls, send letters, and do all that. >> where did the women duoafter the war? what happened to them? >> most of them went back to
8:14 pm
west germany and austria. i have women from vienna in the gastapo there, went back to vienna, people went back to towns in west germany, and one couple in particular from what became east germany, and that particular woman figure is very prominent in the book, she was responsible for in the plantation, you know, she her and huer were running a farm, an estate, and, again, this is another case in ukraine, and they were jews that were trying to flee from the railway force, the boxcars, ended up trying to find refuge, and this couple would hunt them down, and they had a special site on their
8:15 pm
farm, and actual killing site, and this figure, you know, she was on her balcony serving coffee and cake and overheard men talked about what should be done with the jew, and details of how to be killed, what's the proper method, and so one day some jewish boys were found along the side of the road leading to the estate, brought them back to the house, calmed them down, fed them, you know, something to seat, and they kind of gained their trust, and then she escorted them out to the killing site and shot them in the back of the neck. that was -- that's a pretty detailed story because -- and i tell you the story because she was arrested by the east germans, and she was subjected to harsh interrogation in 1960-61 with her husband, and so
8:16 pm
they confessed to the crimes, and i, you know, since corroborated her confessions with other testimony and gone to the site and matched up what she said with the actual layout of the place, and talked to local witnesses there. her husband was guillotined, given the death punishment, and she got the life sentence. when women went back to the different places in the context of the cold war, their faces varied quite a bit. one got a life sentence, but this is not what happens in west germany, for instance, where there's another case of a secretary who, with her boss, was indicted for the murder of 9,000 jews, and they were both acquitted in the 70s, or the case of the austria perpetrators who go back to vienna, and they don't even -- i mean, their cases are heard and in closed court so they are treated with the utmost, kind of respect as
8:17 pm
ladies and told to go home and -- >> host: so most of the women who worked with the nazia faded back into normal, so-called normal life; correct? >> guest: yes, yes. this is another astoppedding piece of the story, how much the con -- tennessee -- context and settings brought out their braver, but then they slipped back into society, got away with murder, they did, but what we -- what i call a scholar referred to psychologists referred to as the cay mealian effect, the airport for perpetrators to slip in and everything's normal. they don't go on -- they are not psychopaths who continue to kill after the war. they become normal, and it's a different system. the system that nurtured that, incited that horrific behavior has been defeated, and so they
8:18 pm
move into these earlier roles. they slip back into the mother, the secretary, the nurse. >> host: wendy is chair of the history department at mckenna college; right? >> guest: the professor of history, a chair of history, yes, not the chair of the department. >> host: there we go. and this is her new book coming out in september, hitler's furry, german women in the nazi killing scheme. this is booktv on c-span2.
8:19 pm
8:20 pm
>> host: rick, what is the liberation trilogy? >> it's a project, pete e i began 15 years ago, and it's an account of the liberation of europe, particularly from the perspective of american and other western allies. the first volume begins where the liberation of europe begins in north africa in 1942 with ht invasion of mobilized measure morocco, algeria, moving north to the med mediterranean to the invasion of sicily in southern italy and 1943 #, and then the third volume, this one that just came out beginning on the eve of the invasion of normandy, rome fell june 4th, 1944, and, of course, -- of course, d-day, and normandy, this final volume tells the final chapter of the story
8:21 pm
through ve day, vehicle try in europe in 1945. >> host: army at dawn, why begin in north africa? >> guest: because that's where the story really begins. the decision was made by franklin roosevelt at the urging of winston churchill to not try to cross the english channel in 1942 or 1943 partly because the american army was green, green commanders, and partly because we didn't have the landing craft and the other materials necessary to undertake that enormous feat, so roosevelt, contrary to the advice of almost all the senior military commanders agreed to invade north africa in november 1942, and that took place on november 8th, american and british forces fighting not the germans because they were not there yet, not the italians, but the french, and that's where the story begins with us fighting the french. >> host: why begin with fighting the french? >> guest: well, the french
8:22 pm
made a deal with the germans when hitler invaded france in 1940, and he immediately made his way to pairings. he offered the french the deal with the devil, and the gist was i'll keep the northern two-thirds of france including paris. you french keep the southern one-third with a new capital and keep overseas possessions, particularly, the colonies in north africa, and most french agreed to this. there was a few renegades who refused like a general, but most agreed to it, and so consequently, when we invade north africa, it's the french still there, french possessions, algeria is essentially a state of france. >> host: how long did it take to defeat the french? >> guest: three days, and the french army fought pretty indifferently. the french navy fought fer rochely and the biggest battle is casablanca in 1942 #, but
8:23 pm
then the french, it so happened a a senior french admiral was in algiers at the time, the son had polio, at the bedside, finds himself trappedded by the forces, and he negotiates a deal with the americans and the british and agrees that he will surrender north africa which happens in the middle of november. three days of fighting and couple days of heavy rangeling. >> host: well, rick, i want to to -- you've got a recurring theme throughout all three books, and from "an army at dawn" you write, "in september 1939, the u.s. army ranked 17th in the world in size and combat power behind romania. when those 136 german divisions conquered western europe nine months later, the war department reported they could field five
8:24 pm
divisions, the homeland was vulnerable as guns had not been test fired in 20 year, and the army lacked enough antiaircraft guns to protect even a single american city. the building of the armed forces was likened to the reconstruction of a dinosaur around an ona and three vertebrae." from the second in the trilogy "the day of battle," "from the beginning to the end, war training was improvisational,," and finally, from the "guns at last light" that just came out, you write, "the incoherence assured victory that the better alliance won, and it was possible to look at allied war making on any gifnlg day and feel heart sick at missed opportunities and pure blind personalities and wretched wastage to wonder why they were not braver, smarter, shrewder,
8:25 pm
or intuitive, but despite this, the allied way of war won through,," and to finish that up, an e-mail from harry lynn beck in pennsylvania, "at the bottom, we have the soldiers who won the war rewarded for the diligence and stoke demeanor with trench foot, dissen tear, lack of clothing, ammunition, fuel, support, and food, slaughtered by the hundreds by the poor planning of the division, core commanders, and because of the plen were wasted for no good purpose. my question, how did we win the war?" >> >> guest: well, that's a complex question as you suspect. i'll try to simp fie it. we won the war through ray variety of advantages. we had far more of everything than the germans had first of all. our material advantages were enormous. we created tens of thousands of
8:26 pm
airplanes at the time when germans struggle to make thousands. we made more tanks, more trucks, more am mu nice. that's important. we meat -- made it in america, the armed forces, and our friends. we outfitted the british, outfitting everything the french used, and then a substantial portion of what the soviets enothers were supplied with, so that's important. you learn how to fight. that's way r part of what the trilogy is about. we learned from the mistakes that were made beginning in north africa, then italy, and there were more mistakes in western europe, but there's a great sifting out that goes on, and it's a sifting out of the competent from the inexe tent, commanders to platoon leader to army commander, of the physically fit from the physically unfit, of the lucky from the unlucky. this is the trait that that
8:27 pm
polian prized in generals, and it's incredibly important in war, and so by the time we get to the summer of 1944, we're pretty good, and we have a sizable army, and so i think when you put all these things together and remember that the soviets are hammering the third reich from the east, they do most of the fighting, most of the bleeding, most of the killing, and they do most of the dying. 26 million soviets died in the war, so it's a very goods ally to have in the soviet union. you put all those things together, and you have a winning coalition and a winning formula for global warfare. >> host: you write "in the guns of last light," the typical soldier was five foot eight weighing 144 pounds, and physical standards were lowered to accept defects that once kept many young men out of uniform. a man with 20/400 vision was conscripted if sight was corrected to 20/40 in one eye.
8:28 pm
towards the end, armed forces made 2.3 million pairs of eyeglasses for the troops, but they just counted them had come true. were we short on men? >> guest: terribly short, but not only that, initially, to be drafted, you had to have 12 of the natural 3 # 2 teeth, and by 1944, it's zero because they drafted a third of all dentists in the country to make dentures to pull teeth, fill teeth, that sort of thing. you could be drafted in 1944 if you were missing a thumb, three fingers like the trigger finger, if you were deaf in one year, drafting 121,000vd patients a month by 1944, most sigh littic. how could they do that? pencil lain that was made in huge quantities in 1944. all of this because we were short of men, infantry men and
8:29 pm
riflemen. this is an effort to fill ranks, casualties ran high, can't forget 400,000 americans died during the war, and of that 291,000 killed in action, and the war falls heaviest always on the infantry men, all part of the effort to keep infantry ranks filled. the brits ran out of men so we were in bad shape. the brits were in terrible shape. >> host: rick, if you could, give us the macroview of the split was pacific and european theaters, how many men, how much resources, ect.? >> guest: well, the american army put 89 divisions in the field, and two-thirds of those are in europe. a little less than a third is in the pacific, and all six marine divisions, u.s. marine corp. divisions are in the pacific. most of the navy is in the pacific including virtually all the aircraft carrier, and most the bigger battleships and heavy
8:30 pm
cruisers and so on. looking at it that way, you see the weight between the pacific theater african-american atlantic theaters are pretty evenly split, but when you just look in terms of manpower, you see the weight was begin to fighting the germans, and this is because the decision was made early in 1942 of principle calledded germany first. ruse vellet, churchill, and the senior commanders believed that if you could defeat the strongest of the axis powers first, and that was clearly germany, the others fall from the tree like rotten fruit. that was the first and most important strategic principle of the war that turned out to be true, and that's why you see the weight placed on europe even although it's the japanese that defended us nirnlly and grievancely with the attack on pearl harbor. >> host: the year 1942, what was that like for the u.s.?
8:31 pm
>> guest: it was fraught. there's this bitter argument over where to attack first, where to counter punch. when the decision is made we're going to do it against the germans and where, we go to north africa for reasons we discussed, but this is a mission, an operation, it was called the torch, to go to north africa, that was perhaps the greatest gamble of the war for the americans. it involved secretly crossing the atlantic at a time when the german u-boat, german submarine threat is at the great ease, involves attacking a hostile shore, one of the most difficult kinds of military operations and amphibious operations against the entrenched enemy, involves aligning ourselves with the british in raging war in ways we're not accustomed to, making this up as we did along, and that involves finding the men who can lead other men in the
8:32 pm
dark of night, which is what combat is fundamentally about. all of this is high wire act of the first order, and this is what 1942 is about. it's letting that play out. >> host: what was it like on the home fronts? >> guest: i would say after pearl harbor, all deviciveness that existed in the united states over whether to get involved in yet another european war, whether to participate in any way including providing material to the british and so on, all of that fell away, and so by 1942, there's a unanimity of feeling about this strategic direction of the country, there's a feeling that we're now in it with our allies, and we're in it until the ends, and there's a recognition this is an existential war, our existence, our very way of life is at stake. don't forget that in 1942 there
8:33 pm
are about 130 million people in the united states. 16.11 million of them will be in uniform by 1945. everyone had someone they loved in harm's way. everyone had skin in the game. everyone has a blood stake in this. that becomes clear to americans, almost all americans throughout the course of 194 #2. con frass that today to a country of 313 million, 2 # # million in uniform, and almost no one has someone they love in harm's way, almost no one has skin in the game in the same sense so it's quite different psychologically between that period, world war ii, and america today. >> host: from the guns at last light, may 1944, england, proud britain soldier on, amid wars and dignities, outside the hotel
8:34 pm
plays you would not dare insult me, sir, if jack were here, as large crowds in oxford street sang along with gusto. the west end cinemas screened for whom the bell tolls starring gary cooper and destination tokyo. patrons saw john play hamlet or flight spirit. in the third year at the theater, at ascot sunday, may 14th, 1944, thousands pedaled the bikes to the track to watch king's way, a cope of the first class gallop past merchant, navy, and gone, app play poe of the cold snap. the royal geographical society had a lecture on the formation of ice on likes and rivers, that's may 1944, london. >> guest: yeah, the british were in war since 1939, seriously since 1940. they've been under attack relentlessly by the germans in
8:35 pm
the blist, and they are soon to be under attack in a different way from b-1s, clumsy, but deadly flying bombs, and this is part of the landscape, and in the midst of this, there's a couple american million soldiers showing up in the country the size of oregon. it's potentially combustible, but by good leadership, by good humor, mostly good humor by the brits, they managed to show great forebearance by taking on this challenge by the allies, and they contributed a lot to our well being to tents, housing to what little food they have. it's the beginning of the alliance we think of today as the special relationship between the united states and britain. it has not developed on the
8:36 pm
battlefield especially in the high command, but even though there's aggrieved british people because of the fact that you got millions of ji's around and can be rude and over bearing and noisy, and they show great character in this. it's fun to right about, a very interesting part of this long relationship with what was the mother country. >> host: how did you do your research? >> guest: well, i'm an archive rat, as it turns out. i spend accumulatively, weeks, months, years in places like the national archives in college park, maryland, the library of congress, the u.s. army military institute in pennsylvania, a couple hours north of washington, various british archives, imperial war museum, and over 15 years, i got to know
8:37 pm
the archives very well, and every state university has a world war ii archive within its library or its archives somehow. i get an enormous amount of stuff over the years from readers, saying my dad left this memoir. i don't know what to do with it. it's very, very interesting and valuable to me. i don't interview many veterans, and that's because my father will be 89. he's a world war ii veteran, completely accomplished, and yet what happened 70 years ago is for everyone who's still alive from that time, an off told tale that may or may not be reliable. it may or may not be as provide as they remember, and the contemporaneous record, including thousands and thousands of oral histories that were done almost simultaneous with the advance that occurred,
8:38 pm
many of them done by very fine army historians is so vast, so deep and broad that you don't need recollections 70 years after, in my judgment, so i do mostly use archives and try to use contemporary archives, and, of course, to say the least, there's a lot of books written. amazon lists something like 60,000 world world war ii hard r titles, some really good, niecely to say, and so i fry to comb through that, dill gem in what others wrote. >> host: where was your dad stationed? >> guest: got to europe in the end of the war, enlisted in 4 3 #, went to the officer school, a second lieu -- lieutenant, and he was in a very interesting unit formed right as the war ended. i can still remember his helmet, had a yellow band around it, a big yellow "c," and they were to
8:39 pm
keep order in baa vary ya at a time when bavaria, mew -- move nick, and other cities were utterly destroyed, 7 million dead germans, no food, no power, no running water. it's horrible. it's a nation of 80 million people utterly smashed. he was there for a year, came back, went to college, and penn state, and then went back into the army liking it enough it was a career subsequently as a career army officer. you know, he had an interesting role of the europe at the end. >> host: where did you grow up? >> guest: born in munich, sent to salsburg, a nice place to be stationed, when the u.s. army was still in austria, and the first three years of my life were in austria. the army hospital was in munich,
8:40 pm
and from there, an infantry officer so that's the life of the officer, georgia, idaho, san fransisco, hawaii, pennsylvania, moved around quite a bit. >> host: where didand what did r a living prior to writing books? >> guest: i went to east carolina, and then i went to the university of chicago, and i studied english thinking i wanted to be a college english professor. seemed a little sedentary, peter, after awhile. it didn't feel like the right thing, and i got a job after finishing my master's degree in the newspaper business, a small paper in southeast kansas, pittsburgh, kansas, and i found it was a calling. i found the news room, loved being a journalist, worked there for a year and a half, and then i went to kansas city and worked in kansas city for several years, and then i ended up at the "washington post" 30 years ago, and i was a reporter and
8:41 pm
foreign correspondent, war correspondent, and editor, investigative reporting for the post for some time, and all the while writing books periodically. i wrote a book on the west point class in the 1956, for example, in the late 80, and then when i took on this topic, this task, i left the news room pretty much for good. i've been back to the post twice since taking this up, both times for a short period. >> host: this is "indeathdeath penalty" -- "in-depth," and here's the book z as mentioned. the "the long gray long: american journey of west point's class of 1966", and then in 1993, contract qsh "the untold story of the persian gulf war" came out, and "the beginning of the liberation trilogy" started
8:42 pm
in 2002 "army at dawn," and then he went off away from the liberation trilogies in 2004, and "in the company of soldiers," a chronical of combat came out in 2004, the iraq war" day of battle," second of the trilogy in 2007, and "war in silly and italy," and then, finally, just last moments, "guns at last light." you'd like to participate in the conversation this afternoon with rick, the numbers are on the screen divided by region, and we've also set aside the third like this afternoon for world war ii veterans given his focus on world war ii. we'd like to hear from you as well. 202 area code, 585-33880 in the east or central time zones,
8:43 pm
585-3881, and if you're a world warble ii vet and want to talk, dial 202-585-3882, and we'll leave the number up. in just a minute, but we can also -- you can also contact us via social media. you can send a tweet @booktv is the handle, e-mail us at, or comment on facebook,, see right there at the top of the facebook page, right in our facebook page, a comment field for rick atkinson. beginning with your first book, "the long gray line: america's journey of west point class of 1966", why that class? >> guest: i stumbled into the story, peter. my dad had a close friend in the army who has a son who was in the class, mike fuller, who was probably as close to an older brother as i'll ever have, and one day in 1981, mike started
8:44 pm
telling me about his class and what they had gone through and how they arrived at west point in 1962 as the leaders in the generation, and then charged off to vietnam in 1966 and 67, and they were shot to pieces. 30 of them killed in vietnam and cambodia, more than the other west point classes, and then they came home and found they were pariahs within the generation, no longer the leaders, but outcasts effectively as the country went through this great upheaval over the war and many other things. i just felt -- i went to the 15th reunion in 1981 at west point, meet in the cemetery where a lot of the dead are buried, and everyone's crying, and it was -- it was so heart breaking. it was clear this was -- this was a powerful story that allowed you to tell a social history of america over a quarter century, and i went back to the 20 #th renne union and
8:45 pm
that's when i started it as a book, and i do feel that there were 579 men in the class who were all male at that appointment, and they are an extraordinary bunch, for not what they went through in west point and vietnam, but things that happened to them subsequently. the book is built around three central characters, and i'm still very close to the men from that class. i always think of them as 18-year-old boys showing up at west point on r day, reception day, july of 1962, and ifeel a great sense of attachment. >> host: who are jack wheeler and tom carhart? >> guest: two of the three central characters in the same company, e2, easy deuce, at west point, and boast went to war. jack went to harvard business school. tom was wounded a couple of
8:46 pm
times. they went through various stages and found themselves on opposite sides of one of the most contentious issues that happened in my lifetime in washington, d.c., and that was over how to honor the dead of the vietnam veterans memorial. jack was the chairman of the committee that built the wall, and tom was the most outspoken violin designer of the black wall, and points of view were formed, very, very bit every, and sense reconciled, and jack was murdered years ago in delaware, an unsolved killing, and no one knows what really happened other than the killer, i suppose, and before that happened, the two had reconciled, but it was an interesting and part of the book, and i tell the story of the wall, the memorial, how to
8:47 pm
honor the dead, and it's part of the long journey this class of west pointers went through beginning in 1962. >> the story of the persian gulf war, first of all, did you embed? >> guest: no, there was no embedding per se. that was in the 2003 invasion. i got there right at the end of the war, writing the main stories for the washington post from washington. i got there, and i was there for six weeks in march and april reporting for the post, but also gathering strength to write a book, to tell the story of what happened from inside, and i spent a lot of time with the likes of the staff and the other generals and admirals who won the war and those at home and here, dick which i nee -- cheney, for example, and other senior policymakers who had been involved with it and the british
8:48 pm
and israelis because the israelis had a big part in the war with the scuds, unaimed rockets fell on israel. that was my involvement. >> host: that book in 1993, you said no america military decision since the vietnam war provoked more controversy, more debate, more commentary than the choice to offer iraq a merciful. >> guest: yeah, well, some of your viewers remember the decision was made after 100 hours of ground war when the iraqi were evicted from kuwait. they invaded kuwait from august of 1991, and they were evicted from kuwait, beat up thoroughly, and the air campaign e viz -- e vis rated baghdad and power nodes of the hussein regime, and
8:49 pm
when they were on the run, chased across the river, the decision was made to end the war, that enough was done, that the war aims had been achieve the, and, you know, that remaining controversial to this day. we went back in 2003. we invaded iraq again in earnest, and all of that came out of the decision making that had gone on in that earlier war. >> host: operation over lord, dirty words. here they are. here's the order. you enter the continent of europe, and in conjunction with the other united nations undertake operations aimed at the heart of germany and the drurks of d -- destruction of her armed forces. what's that? >> guest: the order begin to eisenhower, the supreme commander of the alled force to invade france from the combined chiefs of staff, his bosses, and it's the top generals and admirals in washington for the americans and counterparts in
8:50 pm
britain. these are his marching orders. this is what you do, invade the continent of the earth, defeat german armed forces, and you are to set conditions necessary for german surrender because the decision was made in january 1943 that the only way the war could end was through complete surrender, unconditional surrender by the axis powers, and this happened with italy and now the dperm nation was it happens with japan and germany, so eisenhower's task is to batter them enough to surrender unconditionally. >> host: what is the d and d day stand for? >> guest: it stands for nothing. soldiers joke it stood for death or day, day day, and it's just a code, and, you know, people have tried retrospecktively to figure
8:51 pm
out what it stood for, and, in fact, it has no meaning other than d. >> host: why june 6th, 1944, about 69 years ago today. >> guest: yes, that's right. it was supposed to be june 5th. that was the day that eisenhower picked, and it's very tricky to invade the norman coast, the tides are extraordinary, 23-foot swing in the tide, and the moon has to be right to go at night in order to allow paratroopers to see sufficiently and the pilots taking them and hauling them, and the winds and weather has to be right. june 5th picked and the weather was wrong. eisenhower never had good luck with the weather. it was stormy for morocco, the invasion of sicily, and it was stormy, indeed, unusually, june 5th, 1944. you can count on debine weather on the coast of fraps then, but
8:52 pm
it was awful. it was postponed for a day. there was a narrow window in which the tides, the moon, and all the rest of it obtain in a way that was suitable for this kind of invasion. if he delayed it much longer, the next appropriate period was going to be several weeks later. it was extraordinary anxiety that the germans found out if there was 24 hours of warning that the force was coming to normandy rather than another point on the french coast. it could have been, probably would have been catastrophic so the anxiety level is unbelievable when eisenhower has to postpone it, makes the decision to postpone it, but he did, and they got away with it, and june 6th is the day we celebrate as d-day. >> host: number of troops, number of deaths? >> guest: well, the -- there are five divisions that go in over the beaches basically. two american and three british and canadian, and then there's three airborne divisions so all together you're talking about a
8:53 pm
couple hundred thousand troops going in on june 6th. most of the dead, the worst beach was ohm ha where one of the two american beaches, there were several thousands deaths there. there had been concern that number of deaths could run into the tens of thousands, but this did not happen. by no means were the casualties light, but less than anticipated. utah beach, which was the farthest envision force, the british and cfarthest envision e british and canadians had a tough time of it, but by the end of june 6th, canadian troops were as far as six miles inland. at omaha beach, no more than 1500 yards inland. there's a disparity between the resistance that these allied invaders found, and their ability to push inland, and that is the trick in the invasion, get inland as far as you can and
8:54 pm
quickly as you can, hopefully five miles or more, push the enemy's artillery out of range so they can't shell the beach. that's when you come across the beach, and at omaha beach, it took several days to get to the point, but nevertheless, you know, turns out to be successful, and the casualties, wow, you talk 3,000 or so deaths all together. they are lighter than many feared. >> host: what about the gliders that went in, the paratroopers that went in ahead of time? >> guest: yeah. there was a decision that in order to secure flanks of the invasion force coming in over the beach that you needed an airborne operation, and it's a big one including men coming by parachute and landing by glider. at night, all flying from england, and the 101 # #st and 82nd airborne division for the americans come in and there's a british counterpart on the other
8:55 pm
side coming in. and all in all, despite confusion and catastrophe, gliders crashing, planes shot down, men shot and all in all, the airborne operation was successful. it did succeed in confusion of the defenders, shore of attacks, and ?fs a great debate a few days before the invasion, british air marshall named lee mali, trevor lee mallory felt that the germans reenforced normandy peninsula to a degree that would make it suicidal to send the 8 # and 101st airborne. he wanted eisenhower to scrub it. a senior air officer said it was suicidal. eisenhower was a terrible
8:56 pm
decision maker, very, very hard, and went to the tent, thought about it for a long time, enultimately, he decided, i have to do it. i can't launch an invasion and have the risk of attacks on flanks coming across the beaches without taking a luge risk on the airborne operations. it's the right decision and worked well all in all. >> of more than 6,000 jumpers, nearly 1,000 landed, and most of the 1500 odd who drifted far beyond the eight mile square in the division drop zones were killed or captured, a few made the way to safety with maps torn from local telephone books. more than half all supplieded bundles lay beyond retrieval at the bottom of water meadows, a devastating loss of radios,
8:57 pm
mortars, and 11 of 1275 millimeter packs, and sergeant peering into a barn found men lying in the straw wrapped in bloody, soiled parachutes, faces darkened, and bandages stained. >> host: that gives you an with idea of the fickleness of it. you had to be a gutful man to leap out of the plane in the dark, from a thousand feet or less, and in many cases 500 feet. with people shooting at you, and airborne troops were volunteers, and even though you had to be there, you had to believe when push came to shove, many had second thoughts about that it's part of the reason they are active divisions today, and they are 12eu8 revered because they
8:58 pm
attract troops who go through that experience, and you see the fighting elsewhere in britain, 101st notably in the battle of the bull ming, and they are extraordinary, and my admiration for them is unbonded. >> host: another quote, and we'll go to calls. this is from "guns at last night." "the preparatory bombings lasted barely half hour to get on with the landings. allies ships on june 6th fired 140,000 shells that few enemy casements destroyed. of 2218 huge shells and almost 1 # ,000 six-inch rounds flew at the battery, for example, only one direct hit recorded of 28 batteries capable of ranging utah beach with 111 guns, none completely knocked out in the dawn barrage." rick atkinson the guest.
8:59 pm
numbers are on the screen, set aside the third line for world war ii veterans this afternoon, 202-585-3882 is the number, and we have a call from robert in ohio. where in ohio are you calling from, robert? >> caller: in corralville. >> host: please go ahead with a question on comment. >> caller: yeah, i wanted to ask if 16 million people under uniform in world war ii, how many general officers was there in the military, and admirals compared to today? >> guest: well, there were about 1300 generals in the army in world war ii, and number of admirals, i don't recall offhand, but you can figure it's proportionate. today, there are somewhere in the order of a few less than 300. the ratio then and now is somewhat different.
9:00 pm
9:01 pm
>> what we did in north africa with two other hospitals to replace behind the front line. thank you. >> host: what was your job? >> i was a surgical nurse. >> host: were you a volunteer? >> yes. >> host: what do you recall about that experience? >> caller: it was unusual because we were so innocent about war when we went over there and we had to do work from scratch practically to set up the hospital unit to take care of the wounded. >> host: how many women were with the unit? >> guest: 47 i believe. that is terrific.
9:02 pm
i know the medical center weld my wife is from kansas. and my daughter is a surgeon we're very enthusiastic about what you did an enthusiastic about the university of kansas for my wife is a graduate and i come across the 77 periodically throughout my research so there were no units i am aware of surgical hospitals that did more or for longer periods of time they and the 77. i am aware of the extraordinary difficult circumstances field medicine in was pretty crude in those days compared to today and the ability to innovate and make you and staff in times by and in odd and my daughter i have told her about what you and your colleagues did and she works
9:03 pm
with surgeons at university of cincinnati at travis surgery and she has some sense of what you went through. >> host: she was from kansas now in north africa were all women volunteers? >> guest: yes. there was the women's auxiliary corps shore in the ladies -- shorted leader called the wac. deeper into the war we got the greater we had chances to be drafted in the deferment had dried up considerable if you were a woman because they were never recruited in the work in the aircraft factory or a welder for a dryer because -- driver because she volunteered. >> host: rick atkinson
9:04 pm
rights and a place of 70,000 casualties when continent was redeemed now to have combat experience of year-old mediterranean warfare expeditionary its dubious desert and mountain the used arms and progress trolling and they now knew what was like to be bombed with machine-gun and to go on. we have a e-mail. >> history will be kind to me. they had yet to write it but was he right to insist on an or -- never campaign maybe it would have been shorter if we did the european invasion. >> guest: this has been debated 70 years since then it is counterfactual to suppose other than what happened but having looked
9:05 pm
at it get played out as it should. i don't think we have the capability to invade france in 1943 i think it would have been disastrous. there were no good alternatives to north africa if you tried to liberate europe and ultimately. but there is the biggest of improvisation. and there is some miscalculations audi's you will be in north africa certainly this calculations what churchill called the soft underbelly. there is nothing soft about it. but though war in italy went on too long and it's a very
9:06 pm
sources but my feeling is and the decision to invade north africa is quite defensible. >> host: with the americans and british throughout the war on the same page? >> almost never. to what extent or another. it is one of the mysteries of the war how the of values and the national interest with the ultimate goal to win the war. so the issue where to favor north africa and that was franklin roosevelt. so this set the stage for disagreement subsequently over a large issues are strategic issues and to some
9:07 pm
extent tactical issues. it is a tribute to two men of goodwill to reach a compromise and to make it work ugly at times there are bad feelings between the blood allies. >> host: maryland please go ahead. >> caller: you may have already addressed this question but talking about italy's said we were attacked and the germans, if we nailed them the of rest of them would fall but what was the decision made to go into italy or go into france right away.
9:08 pm
also the other question is how well did the fdr in frustration handle the soldier if he was a top commander wasn't it kind of irresponsible to deep-sixed for a while because the war could have been finished early? he was one of the better general's. and the last question is i have heard i cannot remember the book but it was on c-span with patent where some historian said after rose 41 thus appears strained them specifically and they predicted there'd be another war with patent -- patton and eisenhower to be pulled into the the invasion. is there any truth to that?
9:09 pm
♪ --. >> guest: is taken on par it be because of the momentum once you commit yourself to north africa then there is a logic to being in the mediterranean with general agreement as a campaign in tunisia was unfolding at ended may 1943 but the next obvious step was sicily witches a large aircraft carrier in the middle of the mediterranean and you need space for that air campaign you want to launch against the axis enemies in germany but we invaded there july 10th but it is only 2 miles across the straits to the toe of the boot of italy but we think we will go to
9:10 pm
southern italy and there are more bases and there is a certain sense to that. it comes -- to become self-fulfilling process you get there september 43 and you want to get to rome that happens right away the italians quit as we are invading. so we end up in italy until the end of the war. part of that is to tighten up and german troops to keep them away from normandy and defensive positions but also there is a momentum the british are key in the ministry knew of 200 years of experience of material interest in the mediterranean and you find there is a momentum that occurs that doesn't necessarily hold up when you
9:11 pm
look at it 70 years later. the second question about patent -- patton he really lost control of himself those were in hospitals but if that would happen today he would be taken from the army and rightly so. you cannot have your general slapping private soldiers around but it didn't happen to patent he was pushed aside but the fact he slapped his soldiers remain secret for many months. it wasn't roosevelt that intervened eisenhower trying to decide what to do with the problem child. after contemplating he recognized that patent is a
9:12 pm
kind field commander it decided he would not but it cost him as a senior american ground commander in normandy. he is used for deception reasons and is shoved to the side for several months and he is miserable with this period of purgatory. my feeling is what happened to patton was deserved and he brought it on himself. but i think eisenhower chose a fairly wise course. the third question i am not sure that i understood to be honest. >> host: ready specifically trained after world war i? >> guest: no. eisenhower believe the second world war was inevitable they called him up alarmist ike but the army
9:13 pm
having been reduced to its skeleton of a self they're not thinking we will identify eisenhower and the the us cent -- the "journal" -- general he is the five-star rank over 45 months so there is not a deliberate attempt to cultivate the men as the surefire battle for the second world war but it happens in parts because they prove themselves to be capable professionals and stick with it in george marshall the chief of staff recognizes there merits. >> with a world war two veteran you are on with rick atkinson.
9:14 pm
>> caller: great to hear from you i have been missing for 30 years i was a teenager and marine corps private infantry world war ii. i read the african one it was a great book. point owe is looking to the next book with a battle that i was with their only three of us left with 220 min and 80 replacements but the key battle was never written about or covered on d-day there was the right flank with flanking power on the beaches and that afternoon and that day it was wiped out and we ended up taking it but it has not been written about plus we also need you to go after the academy who are not able to
9:15 pm
stop the abuse of the women. i am calling from palm beach gardens and i wish you all a great day. >> guest: musec of awfully good for a guy who was from iwo jima. i agree services general some of the leadership has been a little cavalier. first of all, you can expect to attract very capable women which is essential at this point unless you treat them properly and respect them and as women. i am hopeful that secretary hegel will take this on until the proper thing is
9:16 pm
done in training is done is important to remember they have only been at the service academy since 1976. there were relative newcomers so they still try a to get it right i think but in response to the first question and that untold story, i did agree it will not be done by me but i decided i will leave world war ii. 50 years is long enough and i have agreed with my publisher that i will do a trilogy on the american revolution i've been trying to get smarter over your right hand -- intent is to take on the revolution to talent from will sides with the british to the germans do talk about the tactical
9:17 pm
view and through characters of justice madeleine space to know about but those that you don't know about so that is what i will do but to have the frenchified historian who has written books on guadalcanal and he is doing a trilogy on the pacific as well i will tell him there is that story city can be sure to look at it. >> host: from a viewer can you discuss the writing process? had you know, when to stop? >> guest: that is a question that is critical even wondering into the woods and you could never wander out as some have found. having been a newspaperman is awful helpful and imposes a certain discipline you can
9:18 pm
type very fast and are accustomed to deadlines in making decisions what to throw out or the vendor had to make judgments about that. my process is to do the research i go to archives, i read the secondary material material, i do most of it myself i don't have researchers i think it has to go through my brain for me to understand it. that i put a mark on the wall and i will say i will stop here because this story is bottomless. i put them are gone though wall the allied the material i have got with all the computer files i've typed up more than a thousand and i
9:19 pm
build a very large out line and it allows me not only to serve as a book was also an index where everything is in my notes and that i write about 1,000 words per day so i can write pretty quickly in that is the equivalent of the newspaper delaware story so if you think 250,000 words it is only 250 days if you can fool yourself then you have a book so knowing when to stop the research knowing that you have a deadline is pretty important to get it done. >> host: rochester new york. >> caller: thank you rick
9:20 pm
atkinson for your great writing and your work on world war ii. we talked about the of pat and slapping did the care of battle fatigue did it improve? was that treatment like then angus compared to today''? rick atkinson that is a great question and important. we learned a lot in world war i what we call shellshocked but it was adopted for other terms of world war ii but by the time our involvement in north africa began year earlier war was forgotten they had to learn it again. not just with respect to and zero psychiatric areas we forgot about trench foot so they were learning again in north africa and they learned quickly that treating in various ways is
9:21 pm
more effective than others. one of the things that will soldiers who were showing signs with combat fatigue they show up exhaustion so they intend to knock them out sometimes letting them sleep for several days and except in the worst-case wrestle unglued there would not send into far to their we are they want to keep them close to the units to help preserve there self-respect in the link to the unit so this solvent on it is important to know there were men headed thousand american soldiers hospitalized for narrow psychiatric disorders in world war ii. today you have to save the treatment of pt st is
9:22 pm
sophisticated and we have learned a lot with that experience in vietnam and world war ii we did not have the diagnosis of pst until after world war ii but there were likely hundreds of thousands that came home that suffered some experience of it in ways that we would now recognize but yet he was not diagnosed they stigmatize in the have terrific combat leaders now as a top american general in africa as saying i recognize that i have symptoms of pt esty in any treatment that when the general say is that it allows the others to say i also need it will not be the end of my career so i think we have come quite a
9:23 pm
ways in that regard. >> host: you're watching booktv on c-span2. rick atkinson is our guest. the last of his trilogy "the guns at last light" the cable last month and in that book he writes from august august 1944, the u.s. stock market tumbled in anticipation of peace and the falling corporate profit >> guest: this is sought after the success that we finally have the normandy normandy, the germans have balled up said german-american for weeks and weeks and finally at the end of july we launched an operation called cobra to punch a hole in the defense of american forces to help lead them at that point and the british at that time breakthrough and the germans
9:24 pm
have no good place to defend until they get to the german border so we pushed them across france we have them bottled up between normandy in paris a lot of them are captured that many get away bet yet it is a great feeling of jubilation and the germans are on the run so what you find at home on august 2015 is the belief it is all over but the shouting the war is done the germans have been defeated in the next up is berlin people were making plans to celebrate the victory in europe day and of course, it doesn't have the -- happen as quickly as anyone hoped
9:25 pm
that it will drag on until may. >> host: august 1844 from "the guns at last light" sometimes replaced of the supplier and collaborators had sacks of excrement and women stripped to the waist and a swastika put on their breast leave her alone. with all collaboration the newspaper resumed publication of arrested purchase a 900,000 french men and women would be arrested in the purge of from 125,000 workforce to answer of their behavior during those days. >> caller: thank you for taking my call i wanted to
9:26 pm
speak with you. it turns out both of my questions have been answered already so i would like to say it deserves the same description of the campaign itself the mighty endeavor and the third volume it is comprehensive reading and eloquent so to address the european theater to pay attention to the pacific theater i had my father and two goals in those theaters and some in the european theater in another in another campaign in the philippines. my question is you did notice david kennedy from
9:27 pm
stanford did and conclude feat campaign and a tap -- italy was a cul-de-sac and i'd like your perspective especially when rome was captured they diverted a lot of divisions for those who opposed the day so they could say the campaign continuing after that was unnecessary? >> guest: thank you for your generous comment. and for the good question. i think there is a possibility to what you say. there is a sense in capturing southern italy because there are air fields and if you want to hammer said germans as a strategic bomber not only england but out of the south to get the
9:28 pm
oilfields and all the rest then having those exposed makes sense. as i suggested earlier the farther north you go the lessons it makes but part of the strategic rationale is to tie up as many german divisions that you can. there are those that will not be facing normandy. so there is justification with respect to that. you're absolutely right after rome falls the decision has already been made there will be an invasion of southern france it happens on august 15 that is supposed to be simultaneous with the normandy invasion but delayed a couple of months. and we pulled some of the best units out of italy
9:29 pm
including the 45th and 36 division and the french pulled all of theirs out now in my opinion they were as good for the allied and had the best field commanders but dingell said we have a country to liberate cannot justify having four or more french divisions fighting in italy when the opportunity is either to fight for normandy or southern france so that is seven divisions right there in many more to come pulled out of italy but the british are bitterly opposed churchill is beside himself and hysterical with the invasion yet he believes if you invade somewhere else not justified in italy fight your way up to the river valley in keep the pressure on from there but invade
9:30 pm
through the adriatic he was to go through the boot periodic gap to get to vienna. he said i will not go through a gap that i cannot pronounce but the americans did put their foot down and they're the big boy on the block and churchill pass to see the demands of eisenhower and roosevelt as it turns out that the southern france invasion will take place in the forces in italy will be reduced but the fighting continues in italy until the beginning of may 1945 partly to keep the german forces tighten up and not allow them to reinforce the normandy part. >> host: december 1944 with the guns that last flight with a cigarette shortage army soldiers alone smokes more than 1 billion
9:31 pm
packs per day. 1 million packs per day. >> guest: july eisenhower had more than his fair share he could smoke that one day himself. cigarettes were included in rations that the soldiers got several cigarettes in every ration package is to take away the he munition but don't take away the cigarettes and there was a serious shortage having to do more with shipping issues rather than actual shortages and the troops were riotous it was a big problem for eisenhower one place which prints to a cheaper brand to show solidarity instead of the camels he would smoke but he will pat was a cigar smoker he would smoke as many as 20 per day and pat give those up to show
9:32 pm
solidarity with the troops to have tobacco shortage. it is part of the culture. you look back and think what redoing to those guys? no matter that -- to wonder they're out of breath as they climb the mountains or as they fight december 44 but that was a different age that was the entitlement that they expected. >> host: it is hard to find pictures of eisenhower smoking? >> guest: no. heel is had as cigarette so there are quite a few with him at in cigarettes. >> host: we have a world war ii veteran from alabama. >> caller: hello. i am a world war ii veteran and i am 86 years old.
9:33 pm
i am concerned about the people from the battle i would give you to get the message that i would say that the reason i think soldiers are committing suicide is because of the money because a lot of them when they get discharged discharged, some of their parents may even be dead they go to a city where they don't know anyone in so many are sleeping under bridges because they don't have anywhere to go. maybe give them the help pay when they leave the army we got $300 but also for the
9:34 pm
first year we got $20 a week so we could get adjusted with my oldest brother i gave him $10 for iran and lived off of $10 per week. >> host: mr. adkins and is listening, where we stationed in rome were to? what was your experience? >> guest: i am from los angeles, california. >> caller: also france and germany for a short time i was in the 337 engineers, a truck driver. i would take the mp out to the airfield then to the red cross and then pick them up and take a back to camp. >> host: date you for
9:35 pm
calling. we appreciate it. >> guest: think fee-for-service. suicide is very alarming there is a story two weeks ago and the statistics are of great concern to anybody who cares about soldiers or the army in the relationship of the military to the republics the suicide rate had been less than the general population but now it is equal or greater than. and soldiers leave the military they do get certain benefits many gold in precisely for that education benefit for so they can deliver pretty good mistake but that doesn't necessarily deal with the psychological scars. there were suicides among world war ii soldiers and not have the exact number
9:36 pm
but there were 290 batting crowns and 40 on negative for headed thousand americans and that difference some more accidents and diseases but certainly the pentagon takes this very seriously and there are efforts to cancel soldiers as they get out and efforts to make the noncommissioned officers more aware of suicidal symptoms they thank you are right you are taken added that structured environment in the go off to school or a job and it is not just the military but look at the aggregate numbers of unemployment among veterans you see it is higher totally and there's something wrong
9:37 pm
we deal with veterans after they finish their service. >> host: eisenhower's marshall estimated in december 80,000 servants from the european theater plus another 10,000 of squatters the equivalent of military fugitives was believed to be hiding often joining forces to peddle the rations from the stolen army truck hundreds vehicles a vanished every day parcelling everything for just $5,000. >> guest: there was a lot of bad behavior. no doubt about it and i think it is important to recognize all the brothers were valiant and sisters were virtuous is nonsense.
9:38 pm
there were 23,000 deserters and thousands of court marshals four felonies and hundreds of thousands for misdemeanors and this was quite common when hundred 30 soldiers executed for murder canned or rape during world war ii and french villages that protested violently the american soldiers there were complaints to eisenhower that french women were afraid to go on a night without escort because they were accosted war makes good soldiers do bad things in terrible soldiers had horrible things but it is
9:39 pm
this behavior mischievous or felonious is part of world war ii. >> host: please go ahead with your comments. >> caller: i was a machine gunner in vietnam and cal state had a course and your comments are right on the many about what war does to soldiers but i want to ask you all three volumes is not just good it is brilliant i hope you get another pulitzer but at the command level there is enough ego mania to go around but to take the cake your descriptions of the
9:40 pm
political rigmarole are impeccable and i had to laugh sometimes to confirm this stuff that you have there. just to comment you personally felt about montgomery have you ever thought putting your x-ray eyes on to the vietnam war? thank you. >> guest: the key for your kind comments. and zero doubt about it and ask a question first but it is time for somebody to take kids could look at vietnam and you can believe 40 years after the fact there are still mattered -- many veterans and those documents that were classified and that the time may be right to take on vietnam's bryce
9:41 pm
think the best book is the bright and shining line it came out 1948. it will not be me. i have picked the revolution i can only do one at a time may be after the trilogy of the revolution we will see. montgomery, it is important to recognize i have a certain is a busy because he had a difficult childhood and grows up in tasmania off of austria and he hasn't awesome mother and she for ever is saying find out what he is doing and make him stop and then shipped off to boarding school and he had to make his own way and there is the emotional fragility about him that plays out in montgomery as self absorption so i think
9:42 pm
what we see is a guy who is very much involved with himself who has course social skills to recognize the other's see him he doesn't care but he doesn't pick up to accuse the would help but mchenry is important to the british empire that the government is on the ropes and it isn't clear that the british army will survive he is sent out to take the army and then churchill is forever in his dad and he has no illusions about montgomery someone told him that he was invited by montgomery to have lunch
9:43 pm
and churchill said i also have dined with him. but eisenhower had to deal with this guy from north africa, sicily, and tell dave those believed it is a great trial of eisenhower's leadership and skills as a politician this is why he is the commander roosevelt said he is the best politician among the general's car that is to hold together a coalition of all center for the forces to pull it apart eisenhower and make every almost fall apart to the extent he will have here relieved. it is a tribute to
9:44 pm
eisenhower he can finesse this somehow but he is fun to read about you could not intend to review a novelist. >> host: where it is charles de gaulle fin? >> guest: and other pre-madonna he is very good at dealing with the french most of them to test the call in the key is not really a democratic or to a knowledge said he is in fact, the legitimate head of free france eisenhower's sees de gaulle has broad populist support he is the only guy you can deal with and sees he has a certain legitimacy and he may be severable but eisenhowers capable to turn the cheek
9:45 pm
basically hard is saying the forces to a common good. >> host: speaking of a general eisenhower eisenhower was not much help he proved as an indifferent field marshal but now to be continued in that decision watching for more than a week without recognizing or rectifying the shortcomings of the chief lieutenant. >> eisenhower is not a very good marshall or unnatural battle captain he does not see the field like napoleon. he does that have the ability to dominate the that is not his job. his job is to be chairman of
9:46 pm
the board that is the phrase that he uses and his task is to hold together this coalition it is to provide the bullets and bombs necessary to win the war and to find the right man to lead another man of the battlefield commanders and is quite brilliant. and give them credit where it is due but i will call a spade a spade there are occasions where he simply does not see what is happening he does not intervene he doesn't see the germans will get away but there are several occasions he does not shows the skills needed.
9:47 pm
that's okay. that is not his job. >> host: here is a tweet we are so in on the ted roosevelt what did you think about his service? >> guest: he is in all three of tom and i love writing about him he is an extraordinary character. here is someone who has bothered to 26 president and young ted tries to live up to a father who is carved on mount rushmore who performs and rolled for one and between them his very accomplished one of the founders of american legion he is with doubleday and chairman of american express
9:48 pm
the governor general of the philippines is in explore and extraordinary then will the word to comes he volunteers to go back and he's in his 50s at this point he has been relieved of command and it breaks his heart he is given a second chance he is in the first wave utah beach and recognizing the landings are going badly navigation errors have pushed them off course and basically tells his man as the land we will start the war from here. he never knows because he dies of a heart attack a month later he'll be awarded the medal of honor for his heroic saying get his own
9:49 pm
division and eisenhower has just approved it he is an extraordinary character. i appreciate for what he is he writes beautiful letters to his wife i hated to say goodbye to him when he died. >> host: good afternoon the york. >> caller: hello rick. i have read two of your books with the first of the trilogy and i am well into this third. i have two questions. the first is about '08, the commander of the second quarter, the allies tried to cut off the germans from tunis and failed to do that.
9:50 pm
a disarray with defensive positions to defend a long french. then the famous pass was a disaster but he was commander of the second corps. but the allies said positive things about him up until then so my question is do you think he was a fall guy and you have any other insights? >> i think he was the wrong man for the job and demonstrated that it took eisenhower o awhile but incentive from the chief of staff 10 years older than
9:51 pm
eisenhower that when marshall in the chief of army ground forces since the not as a senior combat leader eisenhower will take awhile to realize he is not up to snuff there were some suspicions he may have been a physical coward. i of the the evidence is there to make that type of charge against him but there is ample evidence he is not the guy to lead the second quarter when the offensive begins in 1943 he is nearly a paradise it the on negative paralyzed he has taken in the precious
9:52 pm
engineering resources to gain from a the bottom of a cory and he recognizes he is nowhere near the front is showing signs of being afraid and the lethargy. so he is relieved and the command of the trading army that is the last time eisenhower will be so benign >> host: we are halfway through our program with rick atkinson we will get your phone calls. rick atkinson is the author of six books. the long gray line. crusade, that was in 1993
9:53 pm
then the beginning of the trilogy, "an army at dawn", "in the company of soldiers" was in 2004 and the war in sicily and italy cannot in 2007 than the final volume "the guns at last light" that came out last month. in 2003 we talk to rick atkinson about war correspondents and this is what he had to say. >> is a matter of keeping faith ultimately with issues that have come up i consider myself as a recovering journalist. i have not worked at a news room i write books specifically about world war two's so i know about war correspondents and their
9:54 pm
motivation but the issue has come up again recently with the crisis from iraq and i find myself examining my own motivations and relationship in the military even if i consider myself a historian and decided a couple of months ago if push comes to shove i wanted to be a part of it. why is that? might be still been as they used to i am used to the comfortable life why would you do this? and might find in i am hoping to deploy with the 101st airborne that's it is part of my obligation to those who have served and also to those here at home
9:55 pm
to tell the story as completely and fairly as possible and as completely the u.k. and to honor the service without being co-authored with the military in there is not a lot of people that can do that. trying to woo toe is a fine line to be a part of the institution and representing the interest of the larger republic to fall on a fairly small group of people in this case war correspondents i think it is incumbent upon those who are willing to do it to find a and
9:56 pm
attractiveness about this kind of work to go ahead and do it when you can. and. ♪ ♪
9:57 pm
9:58 pm
>> host: we continue in the next call comes from connecticut a veteran of world war ii. >> caller: hello? they give for taking my call. i was commanding officer of
9:59 pm
the gunboat. >> host: turn down the volume on your television and listen to the phone. >> guest: i was in the south pacific of world war ii and i was part of a transport squadron in the middle east and south africa during korea so i've read in the third volume on churchill and i wondered what your reaction was to that book? . .
10:00 pm
>> my question is can you recommend a similar book? >> guest: you know, i rely on first-person accounts that have been written by guys in europe and also by journalists. i use journalists more than most historians. i have some sympathy. but a lot of them


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on